Author Topic: Millvale, PA Diorama  (Read 6678 times)

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Jesse6669

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Millvale, PA Diorama
« on: October 24, 2014, 05:29:24 PM »
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I've been a dedicated armchair modeler for many years--with the exception of some development of T gauge models--but have decided it's time to get busy on a new layout.  Here are my requirements, and I'll ask for some help and guidance on the process from track plan to construction, from the Railwire faithful. 
--Size:  Shelf or other compact up to 8' long, 24" deep.  Want it to be relatively portable and fit in a 12x12 extra room (liberated from a teenager in college).  Potentially expandable in the future.
--Type:  Focus on creating a detailed, prototype-based operating diorama for my favorite fallen-flag rolling stock, with some fun switching opportunities.  Mostly one-man operation.  Roundy-round option for the mains after ducking "off set" with a return loop behind the backdrop. 
--Scale:  N.  The selection of rolling stock, track and details available are really good these days.  Anything else I have 3D printing skills to put to the test  :D
--Era:  I've always wanted to model a bit of the old B&O/Chessie or Conrail during the late 1970s-early 1980s.   
--Location:  Specifically one of the areas I railfanned as a teenager in Pittsburgh -- Millvale, PA.  The B&O P&W sub ran parallel with the Conrail Conemaugh Divn for a stretch along the Allegheny River.   There was a small yard (Willow Grove) between the double track main (which sits on a fill to cross over the PRR/CR main) and the river.  The yard is reached via twin leads going down-grade to a switch-back.  The yard is actually on the original B&O grade elevation. 
--Traffic:  Two mains had through trains--coal, autos, mixed-- but locals and manifest frequently set-out cars to/from the businesses in the North Side, the CR interchange in Etna, businesses further west on the P&W, across the river the interchange with Conrail/Allegheny Valley 2ndary.  I believe the locals also switched the old Pittsburgh Brewing Co. and maybe even the coal for the powerhouse behind Pitt/Carnegie Library/Museum complex.

I do have a general plan in mind already;  See the track diagram and highlighted areas which would be modeled.  The exact prototype track layout looks remarkably similar to the traditional TimeSaver layout.  And since the B&O boxcar service was named "Timesaver", heck I feel that liberty can be taken even if it isn't a John Allen timesaver layout exactly.

The green lines are going downgrade/below the grade of the mainlines in blue.   The yard track in red are probably not needed.  Probably..  Does anyone with expert track planning skills care to take a stab at selectively compressing this layout?? 

Also attached are a couple prototype photos from "in the day".  These are looking Westbound, one on the main (EB) and the WM GP9 on the yard lead.   

Any and all input, questions, comments are certainly welcome!   -Jesse


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The "Raw" track diagram.
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The potential layout schematic.
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An EB coal train from Washington's Crossing Bridge.
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A Hagerstown Geep switching.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 04:36:34 PM by Jesse6669 »

ScrewySqrl

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Re: Millvale TimeSaver
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2014, 05:49:14 PM »
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that certainly bears a very strong resemblance to the Tymesaver.

I'll warn you that the Tymesaver is often more an exercise in frustration than anything like un, and its the exact opposite of real railroad operations.  Still, I like puzzles (I love teh Inglenook sidings).  and the Tymesaver can be made a lot easier with a bit longer run-around.  you have 8 feet of space and a 24" depth, which is enough for an 11" diameter loop.

Do you have any locos and/or rolling stock already?

I might have a couple ideas  that might make for a quick to build layout.




ScrewySqrl

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Re: Millvale TimeSaver
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2014, 08:31:07 PM »
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I looked over the area with Google Maps, and most of that trackage on both sides of the Allegheny has been ripped up and replaced with hiking trails. I saw what looking like a single industry between 40th and 43rd on the Pitt side of the river, and an interesting point where the single track crosses over the double track.

Not knowing what used to be there, here is my idea for a starting point:


This is a simple 2x4 track, from Chris Roper's well known N-scale for beginners track plan:



(http://users.iafrica.com/c/ca/caroper/tutorial/compact.htm)

It consists of a short loop, a small yard, and a tymesaver.


The Tymesaver is your Millvale industrial switching.  The inglenook is Sharpsburg Yards, just up the river.  Your main locomotive works the yard, and a dedicated switcher the timesaver, your main loco backs its cut of cars onto the 10" exchange track while the switcher spots them.  A third loco could switch the yard, leaving your prime engine always on the main.  the 9.5" loopback is the bridge over the allegheny at Herr's Island back into Pittsburg.


It can be stretched out  bit (to maybe 4.5 feet long) to add an extra snap track section or two into the timesaver runaround to improve operations.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 08:40:19 PM by ScrewySqrl »

Jesse6669

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Re: Millvale TimeSaver
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2014, 09:16:24 AM »
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Do you have any locos and/or rolling stock already?

I sold off my fairly extensive MicroTrains/Kadee collection, many Kato and Atlas locos etc. etc. about 5 years ago... I do still have a few kits and some rolling stock leftover, generally for the correct era.  I may on occasion run pre-Chessie, so I can justify trains with B&O 2-bay hoppers, and wagon-top boxcars and cabeese.   

I plan to use combination of Atlas and MicroEngineering track (since I think I have some ME flextrack somewhere still).  Probably will use DCC control as I am starting literally from scratch for locos.

As for design, what I'm thinking is I will use the Washington's Crossing Bridge as a scenic block EB, with Willow Grove yard --between main on the fill and the river--disconnected on the lower elevation.  There isn't room for the entire downgrade/switchback anyway.  Possibly use a cassette to transfer cars from yard lead(s)..   The view across the river would serve as backdrop for the length of the layout.  The scenic divider on the WB side will be the selectively compressed Rte 28 overpass in Etna (Rix modern highway).  Then the return/roundy loop would run behind the scenes and contain a couple staging tracks/sidings.. one for each main? 

Stage one would be the elevated main and yard leads.  Stage two, complete the return loop and staging;  Stage three Willow Grove yard. 

I harbor no illusions this will be a quick build, but hopefully, time and budget permitting, I can get some track down this fall.


« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 09:20:25 AM by Jesse6669 »

Jesse6669

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Re: Millvale TimeSaver
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2014, 12:04:54 PM »
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Update... FINALLY purchased turnouts (Atlas #7) and flex.  But it's progress. 

Jesse6669

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Re: Millvale TimeSaver
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2015, 06:21:20 PM »
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After thought and some playing around with the flex, turnouts, some foam, and a topo of the area I've decided on a course of action;  The Willow Grove "layout" will be really just a diorama, at least at first.  I need to polish up techniques many years dormant while also recognizing the limits on my free time would preclude anything much larger.   The diorama will be expandable when time allows.

Note the location of the photos on the topo.  The EB Coal Train above is #1;  The WM GP9 is #2.  The other more recent photos are #3 & #4.   One interesting element I want to add to the model is the red B&O wagon-top boxcar visible above the 2nd GP9 in the coal train used as storage, adjacent to the old yard office.   It may have to be squeezed a bit closer, but otherwise the whole area can be modeled almost exactly to scale. 
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« Last Edit: January 13, 2015, 06:26:02 PM by Jesse6669 »

Jesse6669

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Re: Millvale
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2015, 11:08:28 AM »
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Did some shaping of the foam and planning the underpass and cribbing/retaining walls as at least the underpass has to be in place prior to any track being laid.   

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I was thinking of using a kit (modified Merchants St. Underpass hydrocal kit) but decided I want to try retain as much authenticity as possible so I'm going to scratch-build it.  I did a basic drawing and ordered Evergreen styrene that I'll be using for construction.  I also ordered a FVM M-53 wagon-top boxcar that is destined to be a dilapidated yard storage shed.. it's going to be painful to weather and distress that nice model! 


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Jesse6669

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Re: Millvale
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2015, 11:52:22 AM »
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Built a retaining wall/cribbing out of ties.

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« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 11:54:01 AM by Jesse6669 »

Jesse6669

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Re: Millvale, PA Diorama
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2015, 10:16:14 AM »
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Working on the concrete underpass for Bridge St.  Trying a technique using foamcore board (just the foam, ma'am).  So far-so good.  Not done but most of the basic shapes are in place.
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They will need to be finished of course, and one thing I did notice from the photos is the 'run' is a bit longter than the 'rise' on this wing wall.. should be able to correct this with a little slicing/dicing.  It's not a 100% accurate reproduction but I feel it will be close enough and a good test of the material for this purpose. 

Once the underpass is in place I should be ready to get the landform shaping further along, with the retaining wall in place and paint a base coat of earth.  Then the tracks and roads.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 10:21:16 AM by Jesse6669 »

chicken45

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Re: Millvale, PA Diorama
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2015, 01:19:28 PM »
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You could always go to the real Millvale to pick up supplies at Ester's Hobby!
Josh "John" Surkosky
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Jesse6669

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Re: Millvale, PA Diorama
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2015, 11:05:37 AM »
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You could always go to the real Millvale to pick up supplies at Ester's Hobby!
  Like a need another excuse!  I get back to "da Burgh" about 3-4 times a year but may have a business need in the near future and will be sure to stop in.

chicken45

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Re: Millvale, PA Diorama
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2015, 12:40:02 PM »
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Don't forget the French bakery next door. Best macarons I've ever had.
Josh "John" Surkosky
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Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Millvale, PA Diorama
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2015, 07:41:12 PM »
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Don't forget the French bakery next door. Best macarons I've ever had.

Have you been to Bonjour next to the HDC in Mount Washington?

Jesse6669

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Re: Millvale, PA Diorama
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2015, 09:46:44 AM »
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More progress on the underpass, the pieces being test-fit.  The center pier is just a thicker piece of foamcore with the paper removed; The rounded ends were made by sanding down, then "painting" with matte medium to make the surface smoother.  When dry, I sanded it with a finer grain paper, then the end joint lines were embossed with an old bit of guitar wire.   The main deck has cardstock laminated to it with matte medium--on the foam and a layer on top. [ Guests cannot view attachments ]  

The pavement will need to be poured before fixing this in place and I may paint the landscape earth color first as well to help prevent any spatter or anything on the walls.  I was going to use a thin coat of some lightweight spackle for the road and carve it up a bit.  The actual street was paved, but it was a typical Pittsburgh "lunar landscape" of potholes and in the yard itself was more cinder/gravel than paved.

PS--the wing wall in the foreground on the model was (IIRC) there before they demolished it along with building the bike trail post-2000, and installing the RR tie retaining wall.  I think it was just falling to bits so they replaced it!

So far so good, and I'm having fun with this project!
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 09:49:32 AM by Jesse6669 »

chicken45

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Re: Millvale, PA Diorama
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2015, 10:13:28 AM »
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Have you been to Bonjour next to the HDC in Mount Washington?
No. It's good, I trust?
Josh "John" Surkosky
Darth Vader of Penn State
PRRT&HS Member
Bass Trombone Enthusiast
Bearded Dynamo
Kentucky Colonel

              The Pig 
The pig, if I am not mistaken;
Supplies us sausage, ham, and bacon.
Let others say his heart is big—
I call it stupid of the pig.