Author Topic: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway - GMU extension layout  (Read 1502 times)

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packers#1

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Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway - GMU extension layout
« on: September 07, 2021, 04:15:23 PM »
+5
Finally had time to sit down and type out the first post for my layout engineering thread. As some may remember and others not, I had posted some layouts off and on during high school, and then for the most part dropped the hobby during college. After graduating, I had moved out to Memphis and had tried a couple switching layouts, but they never really held my attention that well, mostly due to a lack of space and roots, but also because I had no loop to sit back and watch trains roll through scenery, which I've realized is something I really enjoy in this hobby. In the spirit of that desire, after I moved back to SC and bought a house, I've been kicking around layout plans for a while. Some were loops, others loops to an industrial park, and others just industrial parks (I'm still probably going to build an FEC layout based off the Lance Mindheim one turnout layout, only it will be two turnouts to include a frozen food warehouse, but more on that later after this layout is off the ground). One plan I've kept coming back to is the Carolina Central from MR, which has enough operating interest because I have enjoyed swapping cars, but also has a roundy round loop with some fun scenery to build, which is something I really enjoy. Finally, the defunct shortline here in Greenville, the Greenville and Northern, is a perfect basis for a malleable story that, with a few tweaks, could certainly still be around today. So without further ado, let's get started.

I'd like to start with a brief explanation of the Greenville and Northern. If you're interested in it, I can't recommend the second volume of Carolina Shortlines from Morning Sun enough! Find it here https://morningsunbooks.com/products/carolinas-shortlines-in-color-volume-2?_pos=1&_sid=4b64c5636&_ss=r . @davefoxx you might want to pick up the first volume, as it goes into the Aberdeen and Rockfish RR in pretty good detail. But anyways, a quick synopsis.

The Greenville and Northern was a small shortline that was part of what was a big mid to late 1800's push to connect the Upstate of SC with Knoxville, TN, through a direct rail line over the Blue Ridge. Stumphouse Tunnel in Walhalla, SC, was one such route, and the Greenville and Northern was another, stretching from Greenville, SC, well, north, through Travelers Rest and Cleveland SC into the Blue Ridge. Over time, the line was pared back, as it never crossed out of the state, and eventually ran from connections with the SCL (Piedmont and Northern) and Southern Rwy up to Travelers Rest with a set of GE 70 tonners, like so many other Carolina Shortlines had; its shops were even reached by trackage rights and were in the heart of downtown Greenville. It was part of the Pinsly group of shortlines for a long time, and at the end was part of Railtex and operated for a couple years in the mid 2000's as a northern division of the Carolina Piedmont shortline. The FRA condemned two bridges on its route in 2008, at which time operations ceased and it was sold to Greenville County, which elected to pull up the rails and build the Swamp Rabbit trail from the line's former shops up to Travelers Rest, mostly following the old right of way. I've been on a couple sections, and there are some lovely warehouses that have been redone as food halls, crossfit gyms, and breweries, amongst other small businesses. The trail is called the Swamp Rabbit trail after the railroad's nickname it had earned during the steam years. The right of way is along the swampy and unstable Reedy River for most of the way, and with the way the train would hop along the uneven track, it looked like a rabbit hopping in the swamp. The local minor league hockey team is even named the swamp rabbits.

So what does all this have to do with my layout? In a word, both nothing and everything. While I will be using the name and operating area, I'll be deviating from history in four significant ways.

First, rather than the historic red 70 tonners, in my world they purchased an Alco RS3 painted in a green and white paint scheme (possibly add blue, yellow, or grey. Haven't thought the paint out yet). I really like the RS switchers, and another interest of mine for another house is to have an n scale Interstate RR line set primarily in the 1957-1963 time frame, during the peak of the Interstate's RS3 rule (I'll also get a Bachmann 2-8-0 and some Southern F's, GP7's, GP38's, and SD35's to backdate or update, but that's another layout for the future), in addition to an HO scale industrial switching line. So having an RS3 will be fun, and I'll have motive power invested for the Interstate layout. They typically ran with two 70-tonners, so the RS3 horsepower would make sense.

Second, while they did have an industrial area in Berea, just north of Greenville, my layout is going to mainly represent a short western branch into western Greenville. My two primary industries are going to be a paper recycler and a new packaging film plant. There will also be a couple customers who unload a freight car here and there in a gravel lot along the spur down to the film plant, primarily an oil recycler and a brewery. I'll also be including the Reedy River and a couple bridges over it, but in reality that would be a different part of the line and is more there because I want to include some river scenery and crossings to watch trains roll over.

Third, rather than it be Railtex purchasing the line in 2007, and then the line being abandoned due to the bridges, it would be the Western Carolina Rail Services, who leased some CSX trackage from Pelzer to Belton in 2006 as the Greenville and Western (where the CSX tracks that the G&N interchange with run). Railtex had managed the line for Pinsley for about a year, year and a half if I remember, so I'll just swap in the Western Carolina Rail Services company instead. They'll keep the RS3 going, and then with the bridges going out they'll repair what they need to serve the customers in Berea and still serve my area (the film plant would have been constructed in the early 2000's and provided income for the line to keep going, along with the other industries, which will include in Berea a corrugated box plant and a brass fittings plant, these customers being added my fourth major creative license). Then, in 2009, Michelin will choose Traveler's Rest for a tire plant with G&N service. The rail line will be upgraded and portions of the RoW realigned, allowing for the creation of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The line into TR would have already been abandoned in my world, so no need to mess with the town. The line would end up with a pair of U23Bs that provide most of the power for moving tire cars and serving local freights, with the RS3 used for turns and switching the plant as well.

Plausible? I think so, but you may disagree. I enjoy thinking of the what if, and this will allow me to bring in a lot of prototype industries that I like, along with being able to bring in some references to my favorite shows, with a Bob's Burgers restaurant, Mort's Funeral Home, Tropical Cafe, and Rose Apothecary spread around as they fit in. The general vibe of the area is these industrial plants interspersed amongst businesses and homes, so it will fit. I'll also have some kudzu corners along the Reedy, and will recreate one of my favorite shots along the CPDR of an old house along the railroad with kudzu all around (http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1527555 and http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=3601614).

So the track plan. As DFF suggested in the weekend update, I'll be adding a switch in the upper left to go off to a staging shelf. The track at the back will be hidden, and the right side will be against a wall as will the back. The paper recycler will be in the lower right, with the film in the upper left, and the unloading happening on the spur. I'll have a road through the area with most of the stores off it, with Mort's and a park in the front. The park will have a disc golf basket, for my other hobby. The Reedy will be in the lower left, and will have a girder bridge at the front and wood trestle at the left. The blue house will be behind the switch by the bridge, and there will be a lot of space over there to breath. We'll see what fits once I get the track wired and soldered and trains running, as that's my priority now. As always, comments, questions, and constructive criticism are welcome, but overall I am happy to be back and will be able to really dig back into the hobby in a way that fits my time with this!

« Last Edit: October 31, 2021, 12:48:52 PM by packers#1 »
Sawyer Berry
Clemson University graduate, c/o 2018

PiperguyUMD

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2021, 08:30:24 PM »
+1
Holy smokes another SC N scaler!!! Is this the beginnings of  :ashat: southern command LOL!

Following along and looking forward to seeing progress!

Philip H

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2021, 09:49:51 AM »
0
Sawyer,
Welcome back!  This is going to be so grand to see come together.  Your alternate reality is well thought out, and gives a nice compact givens and druthers fro your space.  Plus the look ahead in rolling stock and locomotives is a smart move.

Now if we can just get you to root for a real football team . . .

 :trollface:
Philip H.
Chief Everything Officer
Baton Rouge Southern RR - Mount Rainier Division.

"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

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Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2021, 09:50:11 AM »
0
Awesome!

davefoxx

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2021, 06:06:05 PM »
+1
Sawyer,

I’ve already got Volumes 1 and 2 of Carolinas Short Lines books, which are great resources.  So, I can read about the G&N.  At first glance, all you need to do is go back in time and shoot the FRA inspector that condemned the two bridges and put the G&N out of business.   :D

GP8 No. 704 on Page 15 is hawt.

DFF

General Counsel to the Laurel Valley Ry.
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BUY ALL THE TRAINS!

TiogaTracks

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2021, 07:26:51 PM »
0
Sounds like a cool plan!  I appreciate how you took your ideas of what you want in a railroad, found a prototype time and place that can work, and then went that key one step further: you left plenty of room to adapt that time and place.  Sounds like you’re on the right track!

-Steven
Wellsville Addison & Galeton RR in 1:29
Still dabbling in N scale
Restoring a full size 1951 Brill bus

SAH

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2021, 09:30:54 PM »
+1
Hi Sawyer,
I knew I had this model in a box somewhere.  It took some digging to find it but find it I did.
There's a story behind the model of course.  If you've moved to the Greenville area, PM me and I'll fill you in.
Steve



prr7161

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2021, 10:45:03 AM »
0
Hi Sawyer,

Are you aware of Scott Lister?  He is doing a proto G&N layout and I bet would be a great source of info and / or sounding board:

https://www.facebook.com/modelingGandN/


The Mon Valley in N Scale

packers#1

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2021, 12:48:30 PM »
+1
Hi Sawyer,

Are you aware of Scott Lister?  He is doing a proto G&N layout and I bet would be a great source of info and / or sounding board:

https://www.facebook.com/modelingGandN/

I’ve been following his Facebook page, that layout is wonderful.

Man I haven’t made much progress, but really the summer down here is the prime indoor modeling time. I never understood the North and winter modeling season until I interned in Cincinnati for a summer; there were only 3 weeks of summer weather and August felt like late October!

As for the layout, I’ve changed my mind on my goals for the layout but won’t be abandoning the G&N concept, just adjusting what I’m doing to fit a more plausible what if. My two main problems have boiled down to what I want the room to be and my dissatisfaction with how I’ve been making this fit in an area of Greenville and a type of scenery that won’t make sense for the Reedy River, as you can see in this proto photo (which is actually the branch I’ll discuss below).

http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=3834180

The first point: living with the layout in the space, albeit just in top of some shelves, I realized it was eating up more space than I was willing to give it. As such, I’m now going to build two layouts; a switching layout based off my what if G&N and a generic New England layout with my Schitt’s Creek and Bob’s Burgers reference buildings, a nice bridge over a road and river, and a tunnel. Basically, have some fun with scenery. That’ll be over the dog’s crate in the corner.

As for the G&N, I realized after doing some digging that I was really overlooking a much more plausible story, and to begin we’ll need to discuss a much different area of Greenville; the Norfolk Southern Donaldson job (which has me kicking around the idea of doing a blog on some cool proto ideas for layouts), which runs from the Norfolk Southern line on the other side of the Reedy from the G&N down to the Donaldson Airport outside Mauldin where they now build the F16. There are some unique industries and for a little while I was considering swapping to this. But if I need to make a huge investment in cars to build a layout I’d rather shelve it for a future move to HO for a switching layout (n scale will still reign with the Interstate RR). But this made me look back at the Swamp Rabbit trail and their plans to take it further down the old SCL trackage.

So basically, what you used to have in Greenville was the Southern’s mainline from Charlotte to Atlanta, with a secondary main down to Greenwood paralleling the old Piedmont and Northern line. Piedmont and Northern, meanwhile, was an electric and then Alco line that had two divisions that they were never able to connect thanks to the Southern; a line from Greenwood through Belton and Pelzer to Greenville and ultimately Spartanburg, and a separate line between Charlotte and I think Gastonia (?) that doesn’t matter for this discussion. Then there was the Atlantic Coast Line’s Charleston and Western Carolina that came up from Laurens through Gray Court, Fountain Inn, Simpsonville, and Mauldin into downtown Greenville and up the Reedy River to the P&N River Jct yard. The Greenville and Northern was basically a northern extension of the ACL line up into the mountains, and had they been successful, would have connected to Knoxville TN. The G&N actually had trackage rights down the ACL to the G&N shops just above downtown Greenville. Eventually the SCL owned the ACL and P&N tracks. Now, when CSX came along, they pretty much drove off local business in addition to trucks, and due to clearances couldn’t run any intermodal or car hauler traffic on the line. They then turned around and sold the SCL line to South Carolina Central (Railtex) in the mid to late 80’s, which formed the Carolina Piedmont RR. This line continues to operate from Laurens up to just below I85 and serves the GE turbine plant to this day (I live along that line in Simpsonville). Through those tracks the CPDR connected to and eventually bought the G&N from Pinsley, and then through the bridge condemnation sold it to the Greenville Economic Development Council, who created the Swamp Rabbit trail (and a couple people there probably wish the whole line had went bust so they could build the trail to Laurens, but I digress). Also in 2006, CSX sold off their branch from Pelzer to Belton to Carolina Western Rail Sevices, who created the Greenville and Western Railway. These tracks go all the way back up to Greenville, and CSX originally kept them to run coal trains to a power plant in Pelzer, which converted to natural gas. But a huge ethanol terminal was built just outside Pelzer so they swapped coal for Ethanol basically.

So what does this have to do with me? Well, I’m scrapping my west Greenville industrial district and moving the industries down to the Downtown Greenville airport, inspired by Norfolk Southern’s Donaldson job. In my mind, what happened is in the late 1980’s, when the whole line was sold to Railtex, the northern tip, from downtown Greenville to below I85, was leased to the G&N instead, with CPDR starting up like normal. In my version, there were two industries down by the airport, a lumber yard off Laurens Road just below North Pleasantburg Dr, and a paper recycler on the other side of North Pleasantburg (on Google Maps, look up Think Tank Brew Lab and you’ll be right in the area. I’ll eventually get down there to that brewery and do some scouting and beer tasting). G&N couldn’t get the capital to get the equipment to operate to Laurens, but was able to undercut Railtex for those couple miles to the two customers. Railtex would have had trackage rights to interchange with Norfolk Southern in Greenville, but in my world a bridge over Verdae Blvd would be condemned to split the line. Then in 2002-2004 Sonoco builds a plastic film packaging plant on the G&N in the same area as the lumber yard and paper recycler. The G&N, instead of being sold to Railtex, is purchased by Western Carolina Rail Services and they expand the operation to include the CSX trackage to Belton, with the TR and Berea tracks cut off as per history in 2008. CSX still runs down to the power plant, and the G&N basically operates from Greenville in three directions; down to the downtown airport, out to Belton, and switches a couple small customers for CSX going to Spartanburg, a la the Buckingham Branch RR. There’s also a large trans load that CSX currently runs in their former River Jct yard that could be included as well. As for power, I’ll stick with the pair of U23Bs and RS3 story, although I’m not opposed to junking the RS3 story for the actual switcher history of the G&N (I could also have it acquire a C420 from the Piedmont and Northern and may go with that story instead), although the U23Bs will stay regardless of the backstory.

As for my layout, I’ve pretty much got the track plan laid out, but will be making a couple tweaks. I’m just going to focus on the protolanced airport spur and will be leaving the rest of my backstory in imaginary land for now. I’m typing this on my phone while waiting for inventory to end, so I apologize for the rambling. If there’s any confusion, please ask for clarification and I’ll be happy to provide an explanation. The rail history here in Upstate SC is FASICNATING and there are so many what if’s and also just pure prototypical coolness to explore that I really do think I’ll start a blog.
Sawyer Berry
Clemson University graduate, c/o 2018

packers#1

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway - GMU extension layout
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2021, 05:09:10 PM »
+3
After some delicious scouting at Think Tank Brew, I’m pretty dang confident in my layout plan and story. Next time I’ll scramble down to the old right of way to get some pictures of the Pleasantburg Dr overpass. For now, here’s the layout and the different industries.

First up is the paper recycling firm. I haven’t quite figured out the name yet, perhaps Upstate Reclamation or Foothills Services or something in those veins.



Next up is where N Pleasantburg will cross; right over the grey hoppers. Between the bridge and the left end will be mostly trees and kudzu and brush, except for the recycling company.



Finally, here are the other three industries off the main. In the back left is Sonoco plastic packaging films. The hoppers will just have plastic handling equipment and some silos; the building will be brick on the backdrop. The far right will be a lumber yard just across Airport Rd. Finally, the grain hopper is in the area the trans load lot will be. The idea for that is they will be one off cars that would be too expensive to run through the CSX managed transload yard further up the line. This area also has much easier access to the Interstate.



Staging will either be a cassette or a shelf extension. If it’s a shelf extension it’ll be a small diorama or a small loop to run a train if the other layout I want to build is not feasible
« Last Edit: November 07, 2021, 05:13:58 PM by packers#1 »
Sawyer Berry
Clemson University graduate, c/o 2018

packers#1

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway - GMU extension layout
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2021, 09:57:18 PM »
+3
Got the first set of feeders wired up and shockingly they were able to power the whole layout, so I ran a full session swapping all three sidings and I’ve made one alteration; I’ve included the main going past the plastic film plant and the lumberyard. You can see the cut of boxcars and center beam on it below; I’ll mask it with some heavy brush (yes there is KUDZU inbound!). I’ve got some photos but I’m feeling brave enough this Friday to scramble down the slope behind Think Tank to get some pictures of the overpass; I’ll take some more brush pictures down there then. Really, the elevation separation between where the industrial tracks are imagined to be and the main was is quite large; since I’ve compressed it down to fit, a screen of brush will do for now.



Secondly, as I work through I’d like the peanut gallery’s opinion. I like to lay the track directly on the foam, so how to attach the switch to move the points and power the frog. My idea is to take a piece of styrene and cut it so it sits just inside the tie tips of the turnout, with a little stick I can cut the hole in for the switch to sit in. Anyone tried this before and have feedback? Did it go well? Did it suck? Details folks!

Sawyer Berry
Clemson University graduate, c/o 2018

davefoxx

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway - GMU extension layout
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2021, 10:34:26 PM »
+1
Did someone say, “kudzu”?  It’s like they’re calling my name.  :D

I think your plan to mount the slide switch turnout throw on a sheet of styrene will work fine.  Although I used cork roadbed, my slide switches sat in a hole in a piece of cork and were secured with CA.  They worked fine.  No reason why the styrene can't be substituted.

DFF

General Counsel to the Laurel Valley Ry.
Member: ACL/SAL Historical Society
Member: Wilmington & Western RR
A Proud HOer
BUY ALL THE TRAINS!

packers#1

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway - GMU extension layout
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2021, 10:39:55 PM »
0
Did someone say, “kudzu”?  It’s like they’re calling my name.  :D

I think your plan to mount the slide switch turnout throw on a sheet of styrene will work fine.  Although I used cork roadbed, my slide switches sat in a hole in a piece of cork and were secured with CA.  They worked fine.  No reason why the styrene can't be substituted.

DFF

I feel like the Bane meme is appropriate here; I remember riding on Hwy 25 from Aiken to Greenville looking at all the Kudzu patches between farm fields out the window  :D although I’ll definitely be finding your threads on your method, because your kudzu is identical to the real thing! And good, I’ll let it rip on the turnouts this weekend; girlfriend is going with her friend to a wedding so I’ll have some free time to play around with it.
Sawyer Berry
Clemson University graduate, c/o 2018

davefoxx

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway - GMU extension layout
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2021, 10:46:00 PM »
+2
Thanks!  I’ll be glad to help in anyway I can, including giving you the list of materials for kudzu, if you need it.

And while I’m thinking of it, you can also put the slide switches next to the throwbar and long ties, which saves space, especially important if the slide switch ends up between tracks, e.g., in yards.



Hope this helps,
DFF

General Counsel to the Laurel Valley Ry.
Member: ACL/SAL Historical Society
Member: Wilmington & Western RR
A Proud HOer
BUY ALL THE TRAINS!

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Protolanced Greenville & Northern Railway - GMU extension layout
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2021, 09:45:50 AM »
0
Secondly, as I work through I’d like the peanut gallery’s opinion. I like to lay the track directly on the foam, so how to attach the switch to move the points and power the frog. My idea is to take a piece of styrene and cut it so it sits just inside the tie tips of the turnout, with a little stick I can cut the hole in for the switch to sit in. Anyone tried this before and have feedback? Did it go well? Did it suck? Details folks!



I had a similar issue when dealing with the switches on my old shelf layout.

I wrote up an article all about it: https://conrail1285.com/mounting-slide-switch-turnout-controls-anywhere/

But then, in a similar vein, @Lemosteam designed a mount to help make things even easier.
http://www.keystonedetails.com/keystone-customs/2016/9/12/30pk-dpdt-switch-mnt-for-n-scale-atlas-c55-turnout?rq=switch