Author Topic: The Average Eastern  (Read 10498 times)

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kelticsylk

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The Average Eastern
« on: April 02, 2014, 11:49:25 PM »
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Since I'm pretty much starting over (yet again) I went for a new thread.

For those of you who haven't followed the saga a quick overview. The Average Eastern is a "generic" layout. The plan is to model just what the name suggests, an average railroad in the eastern part of the US. The inspiration comes from the coal hauling lines in the Northeast; railroads like the Erie, Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, Lackawanna and others. I'm attempting to model a short bridge line between two major railroads. One has a four track mainline while the other road's right of way is double tracked.

The evolution of the trackplan is a VERY long story. Suffice it to say it looks like this...

Having gotten that all out of the way here's a progress update copied from the layout blog "Milepost 15"....

Running Trains

I'm not sure how many months it has been since it happened last, but yesterday trains were running on all four of the mainline tracks. The "trains" consisted of locomotives, two steam and two diesel, running light around the mainline loop. At the present time only the loop is operational...

Mainline Loop

The loop simulates the two railroads the Average Eastern connects to. It appears as a Class 1 four track mainline at Average and along the river east of Quotidian. Passing Carbon Point and East End it resembles the two track main stem of another Class 1. The track is laid, but really needs a lot of tweaking before it will look like the well maintained roadbed it's supposed to be.

Mainline trains are powered and controlled by two MRC "Dual Loco Pack" transformers. Both have modulated DC, or "pulse power options. The pulse power leads to some unexpected results. It's easier to show than explain so I made a video of the test runs. Please forgive the quality, they were taken with a cell phone...

The Pennsy L1s is a Kato Mikado with a pewter GHQ kit. It runs as we've come to expect from a Kato product. The real surprise is the Pennsy I1s. It's a ancient Minitrix model. It has been modified cosmetically to center the steam pipes on the smoke box. The driver flanges were ground down to suit codde 55 rail. Other than that it is pure Trix. No motor or gear mods. I think the electrical pickup may have been improved with extra wiring from the tender, but I didn't do it. I bought the beast second hand. A good part of that crawl can be attributed to the modulated DC. I did find that this stunt requires VERY clean track.

I've been going through the roster and checking to see what locomotive needs what work. Looks like most of them need some kind of repair. A lot of it is cosmetic, but quite a few don't run well at all. The rolling stock also needs a good going over.

Some of the Average Eastern roadbed is already in place but it'll be a while before a train can run through from Average to East End. To save money most of the switchwork will probably have to be hand laid. Fortunately I standardized on #7 turnouts. That should make that portion of the project a bit easier.

That's all for now.


Regards,
Frank Musick

Building a dream layout on a nightmare budget

The Average Eastern Railroad

glakedylan

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014, 07:17:20 PM »
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greetings, Frank!

it seems we share some things in common
I always provide for at least a good portion of PRR like 4-track main
and I run just about every northeastern railroad on my tracks

I am currently without a model railroad due to a recent move and
finding the current basement to be impossible (i.e. moisture and radon)
but I continue to plan for the next one as I also continue to collect
locomotives and rolling stock

I like to model both passenger and freight, and even some light rail transit
(via RDC). my current planning is to include a representation of 30th St
station, Philly.

In my fantasy scheme, the PRR did not get consolidated, but rather, made
it possible to share track with other railroad greats from other part of the
country. so my passenger consists include most of what Kato has produced
in the last several years and some Con-Cor, as well. To that I have added
kit-bashed LV and Reading.

I will be following your thread and looking forward to how this plan comes
together into a model railroad.

all my best...
G
"the gift is today ... the promise is tomorrow ... the freedom is that yesterday is past"

kelticsylk

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2014, 11:52:47 PM »
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LAYOVER

In the past I've related how operating the "virtual" trains on the track plan revealed shortcomings in the track arrangement. Running real trains can do the same thing. Watching the test trains moving around the loop it became apparent that a single loop wasn't a good way to represent two different rairoads. One problem is the fact that all the current consists are all Pennsy, so both PRR equipment appears on both "railroads". The other issue is the schedule of the Class 1 trains. The run is quite short and the trains appear too frequently for my tastes. It's not a problem when operating the loop for the grandkids. During actual operating sessions, however, it is not gonna cut it.

The first concern can be overcome  issue by creating two separate loops. That's a bit challenging because there really isn't enough room. One of the loops has to cross over the other. Crossing at grade would result in collisions. The only solution is to go up...

Average Eastern Trackplan, April 5th, 2014

I backed up a bit on construction and revised the roadbed. Thankfully, the styrofoam splne makes this pretty easy. There are now two independent loops. The lower one passes through Average...

Lower Loop

The upper one connects to the AE at East End...

Upper Loop

The upper loop is supported by 2.5" styrofoam columns spaced on 8" centers. The roadbed for the Average Eastern is supported on similar columns, but with varying height. The highest point on the AE main is About 7" off the "deck" or top of the benchwork. This is just west of Carbon Point where all three mainlines cross over each other...

Triple Crossing

The resulting triple crossing makes a tempting scenery element, but won't be readily obvious. This is because the rear of each Class 1 loop will serve as "staging". There are no staging yards, so it's more like layover trackage. This will solve the frequency issue on the Class 1's. The trains will simply stop and wait for their scheduled appearence time at Average or East End. This probably won't happen right away. Some sort of timing circuit will need to be created. In the near future the trains will just loop the loops.

The Q Co tracks will be supprted on columns the same way as the AE, but at 7.5" to 8" above the benchwork.

Those of you who may have noticed that there is only .5" of clearance where the tracks cross over each other can take heart in the fact that there will be openings of the proper size. With the spline construction it's just easier to create the proper opening after the spline is in place.

Regards,
Frank Musick

Building a dream layout on a nightmare budget

The Average Eastern Railroad

kelticsylk

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2014, 09:13:51 PM »
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It took a few hours, but I was able to get both loops operational. I made a quick and dirty video with the cell phone...

Please ignore the passenger consists. All my PRR stuff is under repair.

I also took some photos, but they came out worse than the video.

I need another Dual throttle for the upper loop. Currently both tracks are controlled by one.

High Hood

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2014, 11:39:24 PM »
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I've never seen foam spline before, can you elaborate a little on this technique?

kelticsylk

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2014, 10:34:29 PM »
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I've never seen foam spline before, can you elaborate a little on this technique?

The spline I'm using on the Average Eastern was actually built for a earlier layout. It remains somewhat flexible and can be realigned.

There's a whole thread on how the original spline was created here...
https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=29383.msg316168#msg316168

There are also some blog entries here...
http://kelticsylk.blogspot.com/
Look in the 2013 entries.

kelticsylk

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2014, 11:32:29 PM »
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Average Eastern Right Of Way

With the Class 1 loops in operation it was time to move on to the Average Eastern roadbed. I'm reusing the spline from the aborted Allegheny Eastern so it goes pretty fast. Rather than building roadbed I just have to join recycled sections with splices. These are just styrofoam strips glued to both sides of the joint. I'm only using splices on the elevated sections. Where the roadbed sits right on the deck I just fasten the sections in place with drywall screws. It's crude and looks kind of "Frankensteinesque" but it's effective.

I started at East End and worked "west"...

East End

The vertical supports are stacks of spline roadbed cut into short sections and glued together. The shorter columns are anchored to the top with screws, the tall ones are glued...

Looking Towards the Powerhouse and Carbon Point

I used the 2" thick sheets that were once Juniata at Quotidian. The 4' x 6' industrial area is one big styrofoam slab. The spline butts up to it on either side...

Quotidian

I used a combination of curved and straight sections. The spline is really flexible when split into single track roadbed (it was four and two) and can be easily adapted to the new track arrangement. Alpha is a prime example of tightening and straightening curves...

Alpha

Coming into Owertown I was able to use some long pieces of straight spline. Some of the sections are straightened curves...

Owertown

The roadbed for the mainline is almost complete. I made it to the east end of Average. I'm currently in the process of figuring out the yard. I have some sections of 2" slab left and I may use those. In the meantime I laid track between East End and Quotidian. After dinner I took a break and set up some staged shots. Since three levels are now "tracked" I decided the best place for the pictures would be at the triple crossing. The ABC Railroad d'jour is the Pennsy. The XYZ Railroad is represented by the E6 and the FM "Baby Trainmaster (I'm looking to buy some Lackawana F Units). The top level is the Average Eastern. The Connie is still lettered for the NYC because I'm a bit skiddish about removing the lettering...



 



The rooadbed for the "fourth" level, the Q' Company, has yet to be constructed. I'm out of recycled spline and will have to lay up one for the mining operation. When I do I'll document how the spline is created.

Regards,
Frank Musick

Building a dream layout on a nightmare budget

The Average Eastern Railroad

kelticsylk

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2014, 10:26:25 PM »
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New Spline

Since I've used up the recylcled spline I decided to create new roadbed in Average. I thought I might go over the process again. The construction has gotten a lot simpler since the PRR layout. The spline only has to hold a single track. Much easier than the four track beast required before.

Building a new spline meant cutting new styrofoam strips that I could laminate. I have some good size pieces of the 1/2" thick material so I used that. The "styrospline" is pretty easy to make. I use 2" high strips that I make with a homemade cutting tool...

Cutter Guide

The tool is an 8' long aluminum straight edge. It's used for guiding circular saws when ripping 4' x 8' plywood. I bought this one decades ago, but I think they may still be available. The straightedge has been modified by bolting on an 8' long piece of aluminum channel that serves as a stop. It's set at 2". I place this cutter guide on the styrofoam sheet so that the channel is up against the side. The sheet is cut by a razor blade mounted on a scrap piece of aluminum (mine is from a Xacto miterbox). I bent the piece so that it slides along the guide...

Blade Carriage

I make one pass with the blade and it cuts most of the way through. I then break the strip off from the rest of the sheet...

2" Strip

It only takes a few minutes to cut a 4' x 8' sheet. I had enough styrofoam to make about 120 linear feet of spline strips. That's 60 feet of single track spline...

Spline Strips

Laying up the spline is just as easy.  I decided to redo Owertown so I started the new spline just east of Owertown Road. I simply butted the new spline up against the old. The length of the first sections are offset to make sure the joints are staggered. Typically I make one about half as long as the other.....

Spline Butt Joint

The strips are laminated together with tacky glue. This glue stays sticky for quite a while and gives you time to adjust the strips. I use short drywall screws to clamp the strips together until the glue dries. The screws can be left in place or removed and reused....

"Clamps"

The spline is held in place by capturing it between 2 1/2" drywall screws. Using these screws I can hold the spline straight or set the direction and radius of the curves...

Forming Curve

It didn't take too long before I was around the curve and headed west into Average. The results in Owertown are quite a bit better than the recycled spline sections...

Owertown: New Spline

Owertown: Recycled Spline

Before I laid up the spline in Average I made sure my "drawing" was lined up and pinned down with thumbtacks...

Average

When everything was nice and straight I continued construction. I did not use the 2 1/2" screws in Average. The tracks are almost dead straight.and the vertical screws are not really necessary. Besides I need to work on the adjacent yard tracks. It helps if I can move things around....

Average: New Spline

The only "mainline" left to build is the Q Company roadbed from the mine. How do I create an elevated spline? The truth is I don't. I lay up the spline on the top of the benchwork. Once the spline is constructed I elevate the entire thing. It's backwards from conventional methods, but it works.

I start the Q Co spline at the location of the turnout for the powerhouse siding. Once again, I use a butt joint...

Powerhouse Siding

The powerhouse siding is actually the beginning of the Q Co.trackage.The powerhouse is over the same tracks that serve the mine. Empties going into the mine come out of the power house. Loads going into the powerhouse come out of the mine. So the spline will run from the siding all the way to East End.

There is a slight problem with laying up this particular spline. The Q Co tracks are the highest on the layout, level four, if you will. How can I build it on the benchwork with the other three levels already constructed? The solution is simple. I just build the spline like I would normally. At the location where all four levels cross I don't glue the joint. I just capture it between the screws. This way I can disassemble the spline, remove it and reinstall it where it actually belongs....

Slip Joint

The spline gets completed all the way to East End. Because the thing is so flexible I can make adjustments and set the curve radii. I use the tall screws to hold it in postion...

Q Company Roadbed

Once the glue sets and dries the spline will retain it's shape. All I need to do next is create vertical supports.

Regards,
Frank Musick

Building a dream layout on a nightmare budget

The Average Eastern Railroad

S Class

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2014, 02:56:05 AM »
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The spline gets completed all the way to East End. Because the thing is so flexible I can make adjustments and set the curve radii. I use the tall screws to hold it in postion...

Q Company Roadbed

Once the glue sets and dries the spline will retain it's shape. All I need to do next is create vertical supports.


you may want to check that curve there chief, doesn't look like a constant radii off the left side of the image.
Regards
Tony A

kelticsylk

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2014, 12:18:15 AM »
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you may want to check that curve there chief, doesn't look like a constant radii off the left side of the image.

It isn't. The spline still needs to be elevated so that will change. The spline stays flexible even after the glue sets, so I can make adjustments.

kelticsylk

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2014, 12:40:41 AM »
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The Fourth Level

Today I elevated the roadbed for the Q Company. This is the last of the "mainlines" on the layout and forms what might be called the fourth level. The highest track on the layout, it's passes over the other "railroads" at seven or so inches above the deck, about 60" from the garage floor. This summit will be the location of the #10 Colliery...

Quotidian Company Right of Way

The elevation is complete into East End. It's a pretty steep climb back to the mine, I'm not sure what the grade is. The curve into East End is pretty tight by layout standards, maybe 10 or 12" radius. Since the traffic consists of short cars a wide curve wasn't really required, nor was it desired. This is a mining operation after all. The largest motive power Q Co owns is a class B Shay...

Q Company, East End

When I elevated the Q Co, I also rebuilt the taller supports for the Average Eastern roadbed. I wasn't happy with the haphazard stacks of random styrofoam. I cleaned everything up and made sure everything was the way I wanted it...

Revised Vertical Supports

While rebuilding the vertical supports I also worked on the 2% grade climbing east out of Quotidian. This is where the spline meets the slab on an angle. I tried different ideas including a styrofoam ramp...

"Styroramp"

Wasn't what I wanted so instead I cut the slab so the spline could slope into it on a 2% grade...

Spline - Slab Transition

I also went around the layout removing temporary screws and driving new permanent fasteners. The permanent screws are countersunk into the top of the roadbed...

Swappmg Fasteners

I used a razor blade to shave and scrape any excess glue or styrofoam from the top of the roadbed...

Cleaning The Top

Finally. I added ballast strip. I cut my own from sheets of cork using a 1" aluminum straightedge and a utility knife. Lining the straightedge up with the side of the cork gives me the width I need for a single track...

Cork Cutting

To apply the ballast strip i lay down a thick bead of tacky glue and then spread it with a spackling knife....

Spreader

I lay the cork on the roadbed and then "massage" it a bit. I hold one end and smooth the strip out with my fingers. I keep working it as I go along. This seems to help the glue set up quicker. It gets stickier and holds the cork better. This is especially true in curves. I stretch the cork out as I work it around the curved sections of roadbed....

Ballast Strip

As I progress down the right of way I will constantly go back over the previous sections and make sure the strip is smooth and level. At this point the remaining lengths of finished roadbed are ready for track.

Regards,
Frank Musick

Building a dream layout on a nightmare budget

The Average Eastern Railroad

glakedylan

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2014, 02:03:51 PM »
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Frank, greetings!
This is such an interesting thread.
Of course, I am intrigued with the 4 track main
as a Pennsy fan and modeler! And the way you
use foam as subroadbed in a similar vein as those
who do the same with Masonite/hardboard is
really creative. I have yet to tryinf modelling with
foam, my past attempts have all been cork on
plywood. but this is giving me some ideas and
fueling my plans for my net layout. thanks so
much for sharing. it is appreciated!
respectfully
Gary
"the gift is today ... the promise is tomorrow ... the freedom is that yesterday is past"

kelticsylk

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2014, 10:09:07 PM »
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The First Train Leaves Average


Trackwork continues just about everywhere, but it is now possible to run an Average Eastern train from Average west to East End. The yards at either end aren't finished, but most of the mainline is complete. I spent the day on various layout related chores including connecting the Atlas DCC system for the AE...

Atlas Commnader, A Lenz System

The DCC I use is first generation, but it supports 99 mobile addresses and 99 accessory decoders. I actually own two of the Atlas Commanders. The second one is used to program decoders at the workbench...

Workbench Decoder Programming

The Connie doesn't have a decoder yet. I was able to run it using address 00 which is reserved for DC locomotives. I made a quick and dirty video of the first run...

I had thought the video went longer, but it only follows the train to Owertown where I stopped to clean the tracks. Sorry :|

The DCC system also includes some walk around throttles...

Walk Arond Throttles

The throttles can be connected to the system at various locations using XpressNET jacks...

XpressNET

So far there are only two XpressNET connections. One is located at Quotidian, the other at Carbon Point. I plan to add several more creating connections at Owertown, Alpha and East End. The Average Eastern is the only railroad on the layout to use DCC. All the other roads, including the Q Company and Owertown Transit use DC throttles.

Regards,
Frank Musick

Building a dream layout on a nightmare budget

The Average Eastern Railroad

kelticsylk

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2014, 10:00:34 AM »
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East End

More progress. Roadbed is complete except for the turntable at East End. Trackwork is progressing, but things have reached a point where turnouts will need to be created.

As mentioned before, the layout is "generic". Even though the Average Eastern is freelanced, it's the connecting roads where the term generic has the most latitude. Currently, the Pennsylvania Railroad interchanges with the AE at Average. The PRR is just one of several lines that had a four track main. It could be the New York Central, Erie, Lehigh Valley or Jersey Central.

At East End the options expand quite a bit. There are literally dozens of railroads with two track mains. Two tracks however can also be found on single track main stems with long sidings. I recently got a deal on some locomotives lettered for the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western. At the moment, the double track Class 1 that connects at East End is the DL&W...

East End

It's pretty busy at the moment. AE #11 is just arriving with a short freight. Off in the backgtound, the Company Shay is picking up a string of empty hoppers to run back to the mine. A Lackawanna Geep is working the interchange track as a pair of F units rolls west with a mixed freight.

The F units are currently lettered for the Erie Lackawanna, a merger that didn't take place until 1960. That's a bit late for the period the layout is set in. Fortunately the paint scheme on Lackawanna units is the same. The units can be backdated by replacing the nose herald and the side lettering.

I'm beginning to rough in some of the scenery. I started at East End. I'm using cardboard strips for the basic landforms. I tried to make a general shape and the randomness that appears in nature...

Rough Scenery East End


Carbon Point

I also started roughing in the general layout of Owertown. The roadbed for the Owertown Transit Co. is in place and ready for track...

Owertown: OTC Tracks

Quotidian needs a new full size drawing. I used the peninsula as a work area and the old one got pretty beat up. Once I have the drawing laid out I'll start on the track.

Average is starting to take shape. The roadbed for the yard is all down and ready for track. I also got a start on the turntable pit and base for the Average enginehouse...

Average Enginehouse

I tried to keep the track well in from the edges of the benchwork this time. Lost a lot of equipment to the unyielding concrete floor.There are still some places where tracks run too close to the brink. On the aisle side of these areas I have constructed what I'll call berms. I used 1" thick extruded foam strips. They look like walls right now. The idea is to shape them so they look like steep banks or rock cuts...

Berms

I made some more electrical connections and got power to all tracks, including the Q Company. Unfortunately the MRC throttle I was going to use for the Q is damaged so the Shay wisn't running yet. Anyway, I fired the layout up and ran some trains...

Regards,
Frank Musick

Building a dream layout on a nightmare budget
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The Average Eastern Railroad
« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 10:04:20 AM by kelticsylk »

DKS

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Re: The Average Eastern
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2014, 02:36:41 PM »
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You sure don't let grass grow under your feet...