Erie & Pittsburgh Branch Model Railroad 2004 Pictures
December 26, 2004
Before covering over the staging yard completely, I decided to add rerailers to at least one end of the staging yard. This was based on an idea I read about in a Model Railroader magazine article by Tony Koester. (Why didn't I think of this months ago?)
December 17, 2004
We began the upper layer of plywood on the upper level.
Blaine poses with a large clamp that we named "Widowmaker". It is useful for holding pieces of wood while drilling pocket screw holes in it. The first time I saw that clamp, I had a painful mental picture which led me to give it its name.
December 15, 2004
On this day, we finished the bottom layer of plywood for the upper level.
November 19, 2004
This day we constructed the benchwork and the bottom layer of plywood for the upper level between the Castle wye and the New Castle freight station area. Here is the "before" picture: a 2x4 attached to the wall with tapcon screws.
The first "after" picture: open grid benchwork between the wall and supports attached to the staging yard. The plywood will go on the top of this. Noticed the recessed leg and the unimpeded access to the staging yard from below.
A side view of the new benchwork section. The E&P main will curve away from the camera, but the area closest to the aisle will have a small industrial area, representing downtown New Castle industries served by the Houston Secondary, originally the PRR-owned Western New York & Pennsylvania.
The final "after" picture, with the first layer of plywood clamped into place. Like on other parts of this layout, this section will be built using two layers of half-inch plywood to form a 1-inch layer which will be very strong and require a minimum of support.
October 31, 2004
Halloween was celebrating by setting in place the bottom layer of plywood for the upper level trackage near the New Castle freight station. The blocks are to hold the wood down and help it to conform to the shape it will be permanently attached in.
October 03, 2004
This picture shows how we measured grades while building the upper level of the E&P through New Castle. A drill bit was placed under the 2-foot level at the appropriate mark, and when the bubble in the level was centered, the desired grade was achieved.
Blaine had brought over an O scale boxcar he bought at the Berea train show the day before. Just for fun, we put it on the tracks on the Mahoning River bridge. Surprisingly, the main lines there are spaced just right so that the car would roll on the rails! We put one of my "suicide fleet" boxcars next to it for a size comparison.
August 8, 2004
I spent most of this afternoon working on the Castle Tower control panel. Here I am working on attaching wires to the NCE Switch-It stationary decoders inside the panel cabinet. The panel is hinged and is open here to allow easier access.
Detail of the wiring on the underside of the panel. I used a marker to make a crude outline of the markings on the reverse side to aid me with the wiring. I've taken great pains to keep the wiring neat.
This is the mostly-completed switch wiring on the left side of the cabinet. There is one more Switch-It which will be installed in the blank space on the right. Five wires are used for each turnout: two wires for the normal and reversed pushbuttons, a common return wire for the pushbuttons, and two wires carrying Tortoise power to light the switch position LEDs.
June 20, 2004
Here is the completed facia board along the west end of Moravia Yard. The facia board has doors in it which fold down to allow access to the staging yards for the inevitable derailments that will someday occur.
Another view of the facia board, showing an open door. This not only hides the staging yard, but makes gives the front of the layout a finished appearance. The green board attached to the door is a Digitrax UP-5 panel.
April 25, 2004
Some of the finished facia board, ending near the Mahoning Valley Sand & Gravel plant. The angle-cut 2x4 will be used to attach the next piece of facia board to. The missing facia in the right background has been cut out in an area where the scenery will drop below track level at an overpass over a road.
To celebrate a job well done, we decided to have some fun running some trains around the staging yard and the E&A main line. Two Atlas Master GP40s in New York Central colors pull an expanded test train past a stand-in for Castle Tower.
The test train crosses the Mahoning River bridge. Do they look great or what? Below the future riverbed, the tracks of the staging yard can be seen. Yes, the clearance down there is tight...more on that later.
Between Moravia Yard and Wampum Junction, the facia board was cut out where the tracks will pass over a creek and a road, roughly modeled after this one on the prototype, where PA Route 168 goes under the former E&A (now the NS Youngstown Line). Cutting out the facia board will allow a viewer to better see the overpass and the road.
This picture demonstrates the benefits of a small digital camera. It was taken from inside the staging yard, looking out at the aisle. Here you can see the feeder wires that come up the inside of the support and were fed through the wire staple before going to various tracks and turnout switches.
After we had some fun, we also built and installed this yardmaster's desk at Moravia Yard. Placing switchlists, car cards, pop cans, pencils, uncoupling tools, coffee cups, etc., on the layout surface will be forbidden, so part of the layout design involves creating enough places around the layout to properly place such paraphanelia. This desk is large enough for a yardmaster or train crew to lay out their car cards or switch list while they work.
About that low clearance underneath the Mahoning River...here is photographic proof of it. The double-stack cars clear by less than a quarter-inch. The high-cube boxcar has some more room to spare. At the very top of the picture is the airplane control rod which remotely controls turnout 24.
April 18, 2004
We continued around the corner from Wampum Junction with the facia board. Here was the framework built at part of the corner to hold up the facia board. The facia board needs good support for when tired operators try to lean on it.
April 4, 2004
March 28, 2004
More wiring and turnout installation at Moravia Yard. Here were the switches for two turnouts at the west end of the yard. Because they ended up so close together, guess who got to wire them? Seems like everything is made in China anymore...
March 21, 2004
Two examples of how to do pushrod turnouts. The turnout in the front has the pushrod ending a distance below the slide part of the electrical switch. The far turnout has the rod closer. We found that there was just enough give in the hole drilled through the switch that the rod would cause the points of the turnout to wiggle open enough for a car to pick a point and derail. As a result, the near turnout will be redone like that far one when we get to installing the facia board in this area.
We also tested clearances. Yes, two 86-foot high cubes will clear each other on the inside yard tracks, but they look so ridiculous that their presence on those tracks will be banned via the employee timetable in the car restrictions section.
A group of NCE Switch-It stationary decoders mounted inside the control panel cabinet. They will be wired to the terminal strip, which will be attached on the other side to wires carrying the turnout power to the turnouts in the field. Wires to attach to control buttons will come in to the top and be wired up to the control panel.
March 7, 2004
This is an underside view of the turnout linkage for the switch leading into the east end of Moravia Yard off of mainline track 2. This pushrod uses a bell crank to reverse the normal direction of the throw. Ideally, the normal position of a switch has the pushrod pushed in towards the layout, so that operators don't catch themselves on the pushrod handle as they pass by. Sometimes, though, the usual position of the turnout would require the pushrod to be pulled out if it was attached directly to the switch. The bell crank reverses the motion so that when the pushrod handle is pulled out, it throws the switch to the reverse position, which is with the points away from the aisle.
Here we go! The historic first run completely around the staging yard and on the E&A main line is about to begin, as PC GP38 (an Atlas Master model) leads the freight car test train through the staging yard at the Pittsburgh crossovers.
Later on we got really brave and ran two trains at once! The stack car test train, powered by a Jersey Central SD35 (another Atlas Master model) passes the freight car test train east of Moravia Yard.
Here is a view of my track cleaning car, a CMX+ Clean Machine from Tony's Train Exchange. It uses a cleaning solvent (I used denatured alcohol) in the tank and a pad on the bottom to scrub the track clean as it gets pushed around the layout by a locomotive.
February 8, 2004
This view of the Tortoise for turnout 25A shows how the remote Tortoise mounts worked. The Tortoise is mounted to a 1x4 block, with a slot cut for the throw wire. The Gold-N-Rod airplane control rod enters the side of the block through a 1/4" hole and the throw wire goes through it. On the right side of the picture, two plastic mounts hold the control rod in position underneath the turnout. These mounts are made of pieces cut from a plastic edge protector, used on corners of walls and furniture. The mounts are cut from the edge protector strip, drilled, and then the corners are rounded off to prevent blood from getting on the tracks when the layout owner cuts his hand open on the sharp corner while reaching into the staging yard to clean the track or rerail a car.
Blaine Hays makes a solder joint for a track feeder wire at the west end of the Mahoning River bridge. The turnout being soldered to will eventually lead to the E&P Branch heading into downtown New Castle and beyond.
February 1, 2004
Super Bowl Sunday was spent in the basement while listening to the first half of the game on the radio. Lots of jumper wiring and working on manual turnouts on this day.
Fred's camera sometimes has trouble figuring out where to focus. Here's an example. This is a remotely-mounted power turnout control for turnout 23 at Castle Tower. The Tortoise is mounted a 1x4 block with a slot cut in it for the throwbar to move in. Drilled in from the side is a 3/16" hole for the red tube, which is a Gold-N-Rod model airplane control rod, made by Sullivan Products. The other end of the rod is positioned under the turnout, where a length of piano wire is inserted through the throwbar and into a hole drilled into the rod. The red tube is actually a sleeve that the nylon control rod moves within; a slot in the tube under the turnout provides clearance for the throwbar piano wire, while the tube is removed in the slot within the wood Tortoise block.
Yes, it is possible to mount Tortoises for turnouts that are mounted points-to-points...simply turn one Tortoise around. These are the Tortoises for turnouts 22 and 21B at the west end of Castle Tower. Category 5 network cable is used to connect the Tortoises to the terminal strips. It works well because it keeps the wires organized, and there are the same numbers of conductors in Cat 5 cable as there terminals on the bottom of a Tortoise (eight).
The topside version of the previous picture. The turnout on the right is part of a mainline crossover, while the switch on the left joins the Cross Cut Secondary Track (the short side of the Castle wye) to the mainline.
Two examples of the manual turnout controls, using slide switches and pushrods. The switch is a standard DPDT slide switch which I bought at Electronic Surplus in Cleveland. The rods are 1/4" dowel rods which you can buy at any hardware store. The switches are held in place underneath the throwbar with aluminum brackets that my friend Brad White made for me out of 3/4" aluminum angle stock. Depending on the circumstances, the wire connection to the pushrod can be made below or next to the switch. The contacts on the back of the switch are used like the auxiliary contacts on a Tortoise for power routing to the frog or switch position detection.
January 25, 2004
This day's highlight was the permanent mounting of the control panel on its cabinet. Two sides, made from 3/4" plywood, were cut at an angle to match the slope of the panel front. These support the panel in addition to its hinges. The side pieces were attached to 2x2 pieces dropped from the top of the benchwork to hold everything together.
January 19, 2004
The control panel at Castle Tower, temporarily mounted in place. There are no buttons or lights on the control panel yet, and it need some touch-up paint, but we wanted to put it in place to see where it might interfere with wiring at the west end of Castle interlocking.
Pictures from 2003 and earlier can be found here.