Author Topic: The Thompson T-trak module  (Read 2776 times)

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randgust

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The Thompson T-trak module
« on: July 03, 2022, 04:10:47 PM »
+5
Those of you that have been at Altoona for a while are familiar with my "Hickory Bridge" module know that it started a whole chain of events, this is the next one.

To do a single-track T-trak module (splitting the mains) for the bridge meant I had to do something with the second main, in this case building two 'adapter modules' to throw the inner main as far back as possible.   Rather than hide it in the hill, I made two adapter modules (Jamison and Trunkeyville) to dodge the main to the rear, with a second, VERY narrow single track module behind the view block of Hickory Bridge.   Jamison is the oil well module I finally finished, and Trunkeyville is the tiny flagstop station with the oil tanks (both very real places) and Trunkeyville won the 2020 Virtual T-trak module award.

I always knew I wanted to try this one, but finally getting to it.   What do I do with a single-track, narrow piece of T-trak with no redeeming operational value other than dodging the main behind Hickory Bridge?



Link:  http://www.randgust.com/Thompson%20vertical.JPG



link: http://www.randgust.com/Thompson%20end%20view.JPG

(the Jamison module is in that view showing the 'dodge' I designed in two modules

Well, I grew up along the Allegheny, where is where all the PRR module, logging railroad modules, etc. come from.   But where I grew up is one of the narrowest parts of the valley, between Thompson Island and R. Thompson Island.  As a very young child, I could see PRR trains on the other side of the river, on a narrow shelf above the flood level that was constructed in 1864.  It evolved into kind of a directional main line to move coal between Pittsburgh and Buffalo, water level, between Oil City and Olean, following the Allegheny River the whole way.  When the Kinzua Reservoir was built in 1965, the line was severed, and was abandoned between Tidoute and Irvine about 1970.   I remember watching the rails get lifted across the river.  The grade is still very much there today though.   Single track, not signaled, but heavily built for loaded coal, and home to double and triple-headed I1's boosting coal to Lackwanna at Buffalo.

Here's the 1926 USGS of the location.  You can see how steep the hillside is, and how narrow the river valley is.



link:  http://www.randgust.com/Youngsville%20Quadrangle%201926.jpg

And here's a photo of what it looks like from my property today, looking slightly northeast at Pennsylvania Hollow, across the river:



link:  http://www.randgust.com/THOMBACK03sm.jpg

So, operationally, this is the most boring construction thread you'll ever see.  Single, straight track on a T-trak module.  But pulling the view off on something this narrow, scenically, is a real challenge to get it right.   And it will double as a photo backdrop.    I've got a bridge and a culvert to scratchbuild, the river edge in water, photo backdrops, and a whole lot of trees......

So, with nothing better to do with this oddball module, I decided to model what I had in my view as a child, which operationally, is nothing except straight track along a river in a very narrow, steep river valley.    But, as added incentive, I've got to get this 'done' for the 2022 Altoona meet in September.  So hang on.... get moving Randgust.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2022, 04:13:45 PM by randgust »

wm3798

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2022, 11:46:23 AM »
0
I like the way you adapt the TTrak standards to create a more representational scene.  Looking forward to seeing it in the mix at the Big Show in September.
Lee
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Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

randgust

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2022, 12:04:03 PM »
+4
OK, so this is catching everybody up, the actual module (as of yesterday) is about ready to actually start the hard shell work.

But this gets you much further along here.

What I'm trying to do is show the track right along the riverbank, with the hills rising steeply behind it.   So the photos I took establish the backdrop and the scenery is developed AFTER I place the backdrop mock-up, follow?   I printed the photo run I made (using a lot of horizontal flops in Photoshop, but it works well) on regular paper and placed it on the blue skyboard to see what looked about 'right', then started to match the hill profile more or less following what the distant backdrop indicates.    Here, there are two very distinct drainage areas, "Pennsylvania Hollow" to the right, which is a named stream, and a second unnamed little run just south (left) of it.

There was a terrible storm in the valley in the early 1900's that was bad enough to wash nearly everything in West Hickory downstream, and wash out the Trunkeyville bridge.  A poured concrete deck girder was in place after that and still is, and another surviving bridge is at Jamison.  So it looks to me like PRR did that will all the little stream crossings up the river - short poured concrete structures.  And it was a coal line, too.  So while the actual Pennsylvania Hollow bridge is gone now (property owner destroyed it) I can use a standard.   For the smaller culvert, I'm not sure what was there but I'll settle on a PRR 10' concrete standard (plans on the PRRTHS website).  I know there was a culvert there but whatever was there is long washed into the river, the embankment is blown out right there.

So the addition of a couple little bridges (made from 1/8" basswood sheet) make this module a lot more interesting.   And the drainage in the backdrop defines their location, size, and also defines the hills.   

There were a few locations along the river that mild cuts were made into the hillside, now well grown over, but still some excavation into rock.  I've always like cork layers for rockwork, did that here too.



link:  http://www.randgust.com/THOMMOD01.jpg

So that combination of backdrop into drainage into hillside pretty much starts to define the entire module.   And I want just enough embankment BELOW the track to allow me to cast water in there so that the idea of parallelling the river is shown, so that's the 'shelf' where the river will be cast.   Yes, it is really steep.  When I go over there to fish you pretty much roll down the railroad embankment to get to the river.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2022, 12:06:57 PM by randgust »

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2022, 12:06:47 PM »
0
Love. It.

randgust

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2022, 01:13:44 PM »
+1
I'll post this again as this is one of the most 'intact' PRR concrete bridges along the river, that I found at Trunkeyville, but this is the apparent PRR standard on the line for crossing little streams.   There's no standard plans for these I've seen, but this was most certainly done by PRR after the massive washout at this location about 1908.   There's another one line it downriver at Jamison, where the grade on either end is gone and the bridge was left up in the air over the creek.



link:  http://www.randgust.com/Trunkeyville bridge.jpg

Note that you're looking toward the river, you can see it under the bridge, and get an idea of the elevation of the track above the river as well as how close it is.  I actually ran a PC GP38 over this one in August of 1975.

So here's a shot of the 'bridge' so you get an idea of how old-school I am here, it's still a wood-and-cardboard-and-hardshell world to me here.  But it takes a beating on modules.  So you've got 3/4" plywood on the bottom, 1/4" roadbed, a vertical stiffener UNDER the roadbed to make a girder, and a 1/4" removable skyboard bolted into the 3/4" plywood from the back.   The contours are scrap light corrugated cardboard, with waterproof wood glue.   The hard shell newspaper will be balled and taped, a final newspaper layer taped, and the hard shell (2 layers) put on that.

Being this narrow and long (T-track Triple) vertical stiffness is an issue, this has been banging around unsceniced for four years already, so I think I solved that part.

The 'river' on the backdrop photos will not be visible, only the top treeline, it's densely forested, which is also how I get away with having creeks just disappear into trees like I did on the Trunkeyville module.



link:  http://www.randgust.com/THOMMOD02.jpg

All I can say is I did the Hickory Valley module like this in 1976 and it's held up wonderfully, and I've dropped it down a flight of stairs.

Oh, and the track - is most certainly NOT Kato, except short sections at the end.  You're seeing Peco C55, with the ties already painted and weathered, won't paint the rails until later, and ballast comes last - and it's on cork.  I'm using Arizona Minerals PRR ballast that has that 'brownish' tint, looks right compared to the ballast samples I've gathered on the line.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2022, 01:42:15 PM by randgust »

randgust

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2022, 03:39:47 PM »
+2
To get you connected into the mindset a little better here.....   What started this was the Hickory Bridge module, which has become a real crowd pleaser at the shows, and the oddball single-track T-trak triple that makes Thompson even necessary:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=41271.0



Link:  http://www.randgust.com/WHDP036sm.jpg

Then to the right of that is Trunkeyville, with the second track dodging behind:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=44197.0



link:  http://www.randgust.com/TRKMOD26c.jpg

And to the left, Jamison, the animated oil well module: 


So that's the scenery standard here, and you can see my SOP on linking photo backdrop trees into the scene, but planning WAY ahead is part of it.


Chris333

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2022, 03:42:03 PM »
0
That area had to be crawling with coal mines.

randgust

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2022, 08:43:30 AM »
0
While this area was crawling with coal trains to feed Buffalo, this region is all timber and oil that made it in equal measure.

You have to go further south and east to find coal - the bituminous coal starts in Forest County into Clarion County, toward I-80, and almost exclusively strip mines, east into Clearfield County for the big coal deposits.   The 65-mile B&O Pittsburg & Western branch out of Mt. Jewett was kind of legendary when I was a teenager, as there was a 70-ton truss bridge at East Kane that restricted the entire line to 50-ton hopper cars, GP's with tiny fuel tanks (separate class) and even a couple wooden cabooses, with it's own 'division point' (Marienville) halfway down.   The real Hooterville Cannonball, originally built narrow gauge.  But almost all the stuff is high sulfur so it died quickly in the late 80's.   We had a coal-fired power plant near here with a constant stream of trucks coming out of Clarion Co., that's gone too.   But the lifeblood of this river line I model was the lowest-grade option to route coal up the Allegheny River from the Pittsburgh region to Olean and then north to Buffalo and the Lackawanna steel.

Passenger-wise it was the home of the last PRR D16SB 4-4-0 in regular operation Oil City to Olean local which is why I built that, and a rather surprising through pullman connection to Buffalo right up through 1930.   My only dim memory of PRR steam was my father making a 'big deal' of holding me up to the windows on what I 'think' was a funeral train of steam headed north for scrapping.  I remember big gray locomotives with side rods moving, but no smoke or sound.  Whole train of them across the river.

This whole area was a dense nest of E-L, B&O, PRR, NYC branches originally built in for the oil and timber boom that had all passed, and painfully hung on until Conrail was formed.  As a teenager, it was real scramble to record activity, as over 50% of the mileage locally was abandoned.   This line went early due to the 1965 Kinzua Dam construction, but it's return path for empties (Buffalo-Brockton-Corry-Titusville-Oil City) was abandoned north of Titusville, that's today's Oil Creek and Titusville railroad.

But when you look at the rail infrastructure built to move coal between Pittsburgh and Buffalo, it's mind-boggling:

West to east -
NYC Sandy Creek line to Conneaut - abandoned
B&LE to Ashtabula - now CN
PRR Pittsburgh & Erie - abandoned
PRR Pittsburgh-Oil City - mostly abandoned
PRR Oil City-Brockton-Buffalo - abandoned north of Titusville
PRR Oil City-Olean-Buffalo (my line) severed 1965, abandoned to Olean.   Olean-Buffalo now WNYP/NS/B&P
B&O (BR&P) Newcastle-Buffalo - abandoned north of Machias, routed over PRR to Buffalo B&P.

Today, to get to Buffalo by rail you either head due north from Pittsburgh to Cleveland over NS or CSX, take the overland route NS to WNYP to B&P at Salamanca (rarely used), or go NS all the way to Binghamton NY and go up the original Erie.

And that doesn't even begin to touch on the coal feeder lines like the B&O Mt. Jewett, half of the Clearfield Cluster (PRR/NYC/PC, now R J Corman), LEF&C, Shawmut, Erie RR Bradford branch, etc.

There's no rail coal moving at all now in this region except for export and spot market coal out of the R J Corman Clearfield cluster.  All the Mon coal headed north is gone, a train or two may remain on CSX on the lake line but doubt it, all regional power plants now on gas.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2022, 04:40:22 PM by randgust »

randgust

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2022, 06:02:02 PM »
+2
OK, some progress shots....

1)   Completion of the corrugated cardboard profiles and support structures:



Link:  http://www.randgust.com/THOMMOD06.jpg

Tip on that process is make sure you use some waterproof wood glue.

2)  Paper wad fills and covering the final surface with a single layer of newsprint:



link: http://www.randgust.com/THOMMOD08.jpg

3)  Completion of the entire hard shell underlay structure:



Link:  http://www.randgust.com/THOMMOD09.jpg

4)  Beginning the actual hard shell layer with conventional plaster, 1 layer plaster-soaked paper towels and a second light coat brushed over before it sets...



Link:  http://www.randgust.com/THOMMOD12.jpg

randgust

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2022, 11:33:38 AM »
0
Finished up all the plaster work, have to do cleanup and a little carving, but glad that is done.

I did do one 2x4 foam module layout many years ago, was never particularly happy with it - for a hobby shop I worked for.   Poor thing got beat up on the scenery so bad.   I think that's why I still like old-school plaster and plywood, after you put the glue and turf layer on it, it takes a beating.  May have to touch up edges, but the longevity of how it holds up will well outlive me.    The biggest problem I've had with plaster is bad plaster that wouldn't really cure HARD, which happened on one module and required an overcoat of better material.    There's something to be said about having a shell so hard that you have to drill it to plant trees in it.

The front edge where I want the river is going to be problematic for sure.  The Deep Water wants to climb up any vertical edge surface, sealed or not, so this experiment will be to have the pouring containment edge exactly as high as the finished water level and we'll see how that goes.

randgust

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2022, 08:55:52 PM »
+4
Project updates:

Hard shell finished:



Link:  http://www.randgust.com/THOMMOD14.jpg

Hard shell painted and rockwork stained:



Link:  http://www.randgust.com/THOMMOD15.jpg

Starting the texturing layer - ground leaves on the forested portions.  The module is laid 45 degrees on it side to stabilize it during application.



Link:  http://www.randgust.com/THOMMOD16.jpg

Chris333

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2022, 03:30:45 PM »
0
The leaves that I put in the blender ended up looking like brown pepper when I was done. Plus I had to add a bunch of water just to get it to blend so it made a mess. Yours looks much more useful.

DKS

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2022, 03:34:28 PM »
+1
Over the years I've accumulated a variety of teas. Different types/flavors of tea leaves have a nice variety of natural colors, and it's already ground up for you. Plus it makes the layout smell nice.

randgust

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2022, 01:56:30 PM »
0
In this part of PA, it's lovingly referred to as the Allegheny National (rain) forest, and the forest floor and ground are RARELY visible, unless there's recent disturbance, erosion, water, etc.   It's all green with vegetation in summer, something even grows on rocks.   So all this work for soil and surface texturing is kind of irrational, by the time it's over, the only thing that's visible is the edges at the treeline, any place that erodes, and a narrow strip along the river between the water level and the high water line that floods enough to keep the vegetation drowned.   So while I'll put a soil and leaf color layer down, if I do it right, you'll see almost none of it in the end.

The other thing that's interesting is in summer, the sediments in the river that are on the banks, and on any exposed rocks - is almost white.   Any exposed river gravel is white.  The river color UNDER the water is mud brown, including the rocks, but when it dries, color changes.  See what I did on Hickory Bridge for the river edge.    There's a couple truly epic large flat rocks in that exact spot between the two islands that are favorites for fishing and they are visible in Google Earth, I'll have to add a couple shortly.   I may even add a canoe and a fisherman on them.

When I ran a train down the river in '75, the overall impression of the line was it was so weedgrown and thick with vegetation by then you could not ever see the track under you, just some railhead in some places.  There was a chain saw on the walkway of the GP38, leaves stuck on the handrails, and in the radiator vents.   I'm sure it wasn't that bad during the PRR era, but unless it was cut, sprayed, washed out or steam burned, it was all green.   Well maintained until about the 50's though with a 40mph speed limit. 
« Last Edit: July 26, 2022, 02:14:21 PM by randgust »

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: The Thompson T-trak module
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2022, 04:00:17 PM »
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Beautiful.

Do you want me to print you a version of the backdrop without the seams? I have the technology, after all.