All posts by sarailfan

Alberta & Columbia v.5 “Trying too hard”

Another partial layover night shift in Grande Prairie (at least aided by some Gibson’s Finest today), so here goes with another blog post! After a big photo post last time, let’s take a look at another layout design for the space I’m planning in the basement. This is version 5 of the A & C, last days off I was working on either version 10 or 11 (all that tells you is that I’m way behind on the blogging!)

Since this design was drawn, the space outline of what I’m going to have available has changed. However, if you’re looking for an L-shaped plan, here it is. I titled this one “Trying too hard” because of the reduction in the minimum radius for the plan. I’ve been using a 28 – 30″ minimum for all my designs to this point, but for this one I decided to step it down to 24″ to see what I could fit into the space. I left the turnout standards (#5 in the yard and industries, #6 on the main) alone. I used 24″ years ago in my parent’s crawl space, and successfully ran SD40-2s and a U33C, but they didn’t look great. I’m planning a maximum of a 2-10-2 (though I have to admit that brass Selkirks, either a T1a or T1b are tempting), with the bulk of the power being no larger than a 2-8-2 or 4-6-2, so if I would speed restrict the Santa Fes and let the Mikados and Pacifics run free, the 24″ minimum would be acceptable.

Following the completion of this design, I decided there was no point in dropping the minumum radius down, as the appearance and operation concerns just weren’t worth it. Part of the problem is how tight it makes the aisles, and that’s just not worth it in my opinion. I’m not real wide at the point (even then, I’m over 200 lb), but I can’t say for sure that I won’t be later in life! Even a 24″ aisle that I’ve been using as a minimum to this point is tight, and this plan drops that down to 18″ in a couple spots. Let’s take a closer look at the plan, and go through it a piece at a time.a-and-c-v5-lower

One major difference with this plan is the relocation of the main yard into the corner at the lower right. This eliminates the possibility of a town in the lower left, and to be honest, I’m not sure at this time how to scenic or operate the loop at that end. I am planning to use Sergent couplers, so the curve through the yard won’t be an issue, however, if you want to use Kadees, that can be an issue. Heading out of the yard the benchwork drops down to a bare minimum of around 8″, and the mainline (beyond the yard lead), starts down a short descent. After crossing under the line from the peninsula, it begins a long, steady ascent (see the profile later in this post). The biggest advantage of the smaller radius, is the addition of the peninsula to lengthen the mainline, at the expense of benchwork width on each side, and aisle width as well.v5-profile

As shown on the profile, once over the lower line at the base of the peninsula,  the line drops off briefly before starting the ascent into the helix. The steepest part of the line (deliberately placed in advance of the helix, to avoid stalls therein) is before that little drop, and the helix is steady 2.32%. It’s a tight 24″ radius spiral, as noted on the plan a smaller climb per turn reduces the grade, but leaves less space for hands when it comes time to fix derailments.a-and-c-v5-upper

Once we make it to the upper level (above the four-turn helix), be wrap around the outside of the helix, and arrive at a siding at the top of the hill. From there line drops to a wye which is the junction with a branch atop the peninsula (another advantage of the smaller radius is fitting branchlines in easily). That line climbs sharply past one mine, then terminates at a pair of mines (and runaround track), one of which is served by a switchback. I envision the branch being served by one or two three-truck Shays, as the CPR did in the Rossland / Phoenix (BC) / Motherlode areas. They could either run down the main (slowly) to the smelter at Anaconda, or trade off their traffic to mainline trains at the junction.

The tail end of the line is a smelter town based on Anaconda (in the Grand Forks area of BC). It had a small yard, allowing mainline trains to make simple lifts and setoffs, while a local switcher works the variety of spurs, including the slag dump across the mainline. With a larger space, to allow a larger minimum radius, this plan could have lots of potential. Unfortunately, as drawn, I’d consider the aisles to be too small, and the curves overly restrictive of what equipment can be run. It did show me that it wasn’t worth reducing the curves in the space I have, so I’m using the 30″ minimum when I do finally get to construction.

As usual, should you choose to build this plan, drop me a line and I’ll offer whatever help I can. Thanks for looking!

Playing with trains

I know it’s been a bit since I posted here again, but I’ll try to make up for it here. I’ve been keeping busy at work, at home, and out railfanning. I’ve also been keeping up on the model railroad side, as I’m slowly converting all of my equipment to Sergent couplers, and still sketching track plan ideas. I did have an issue with the setup of the room (the location of the door needs to change), but that’s a subject for another post. This will be a basic photo post from here on!20150210_115113[1]

I had to swap the decoder in this loco recently, as the factory QSI gave up the ghost on me. I installed a TCS WowSound decoder, with KeepAlive and man, is it a nice decoder. The sound is head and shoulders above the factory decoder, and the motor control is excellent. I don’t know for sure if it’s related, but the engine seems to pull more now as well. This train weighed in at 60.5 oz of trailing weight, and while the Mikado was just barely able to get it over the 2+% grade into Bain, that’s fully 8 oz more trailing weight than it was able to do before.20150210_115155[1]

I didn’t do any switching on this day, just had fun running my train over the layout. I have another set of cars (plus one of my Decapods) converted, but those will be getting tested tomorrow. For now, enjoy the chase of the grain train over the SAMRC layout. I tried to get a few wider shots today so you can see the overall layout too, not just the train!20150210_115239[1]

Here we see the train thundering by the depot at Larkhall.20150210_115307[1]

Rounding the end of the peninsula, approaching Namaka.20150210_115347[1]

A passenger train waits to depart the station at Agatha.20150210_115531[1]

Looking towards the main yard and engine house.20150210_115558[1]

Coal mine atop the highest part of the layout.20150210_115611[1]

Heading back the other way now, passing the station at Namaka again.20150210_115851[1]

Western peninsula of the layout, representing a prairie town.20150210_115918[1]

Climbing the hill from Larkhall, past a drilling rig hard at work. Oil prices must be higher in the model world than they are right now in real life!20150210_120028[1]

The biggest wood trestle on the line.20150210_120042[1]

Topping the grade into Commerce.20150210_120050[1]

The caboose rolls by.20150210_120118[1]

Rolling into the far end of Bradshaw.20150210_120218[1]

Tail end departs Bradshaw as the head end approaches the summit.20150210_120331[1]

Sneaking into Bain.20150210_120428[1]

Passing the sawmill at Bain.20150210_120441[1]

Over a tall wood bridge on the descent to the main yard.20150210_120513[1]

Downgrade on the doubletrack, our final shot of the day.20150210_120538[1]

Hope you enjoyed the chase!

A catchall photo post

It’s another boring night shift on standby, imagine that! I considered doing another layout design post, but figured I’d reach into the archives and find a few shots that haven’t been posted yet.20140127_110053

None of these are posted in any particular order, and they aren’t all the same train either!20140328_131814


Unfortunately I don’t have many steam pictures uploaded onto the server right now. I have several shots on my phone (including a bunch of equipment with Sergent couplers, and a rejuvenated Mikado) but can’t access them on the laptop. They’re gonna have to wait til days off!20140128_11203420140128_11294120140128_11174020140328_121923

That’s all for now…looks like I have a bunch more that haven’t been posted, so I may have to do another of these posts in a few days.

Alberta & Columbia v4

This time around we’re going to jump ahead to version 4 of a track plan for the future space in my basement. I have a post on multiple bits and pieces, some of which were drawn between versions three and four, but that will come at a later date.

I titled this plan “Keeping It Simple” It’s a response to a challenge issued by Lance Mindheim back in January. I found it through Trevor Marshall’s blog on his Port Rowan layout. His argument is that layouts sometimes fail due to being overly complex. As such, the suggestion was made to take your typical space, and set a hard limit of 15 switches, as the number of switches is a good measure of the overall complexity of a layout. I kind of cheated by including a multi-train sector plate, but the balance of the layout uses a total of 14 switches.a-and-c-v4

A couple of notes should be made about the plan here. Starting at the bottom at Whisky Gap, I started drawing at the left side, and realized that I needed an aisle to be able to reach into the wye area. To make that happen, the whole town must be shifted to the right, as is noted on the plan. In keeping the layout simpler, I was able to use larger curves for most, and larger switches, particularly on the mainline. The mainline switches are primarily number 7s, with number 6s used on the spurs. Where I fit one of these branch lines into my other plans (schematically), it requires a minimum of a 22″ radius with number 5 switches, here, I’m able to use a 30″ minimum.

The next town is very simple as well, the only complication here is a curved turnout into the elevator track. As generous as the plan is, this space saver was needed to get an elevator track long enough for 3 cars at each elevator. I still wanted to maintain a longer open country run between the two towns, and this forces the town in the middle of the line up into the corner of the room. The rest of the line is more open running to the terminus on the sector plate.

That sector plate, as drawn, obviously won’t work. I need to remove at least one track from it, narrow it, and curve the ends so they will line up properly. I’d have to design a mechanism to both pivot the table at the end (where marked), and slide back into position to send trains out onto the line. That enables it to be used not just to stage trains, but also as a train turntable.

Overall, it’s a very simple plan. Perhaps, that would be a good thing which would allow the layout to be significantly completed. If you decide to build this plan, let me know and send some pictures!

Passenger train for fun pt 2

It’s been too long since I posted here again, but here goes! This time around we’ll follow the passenger train from a few posts back on its return journey from Namaka back to the main station.20140328_121109

The first shot is a tight one taken in the newest part of Larkhall. The welding shop on the right was built by Doug Wingfield, I don’t recall who built the complex on the right. Did I mention that I love the ability of a smartphone to get into locations that a traditional camera just can’t? The next shot was taken as the train winds its way past the small yard and station at Larkhall, a new angle for me. Kindly ignore the red monstrosity on the right hand side of the picture!20140328_121233

Leaving Larkhall we climb towards Commerce, winding along and over a river and a pair of big bridges.20140328_12132220140328_12134420140328_121421

I stand by my claim that Commerce is one of the most difficult locations on this railroad to photograph, but I’ve found a couple angles that seem to do it justice.20140328_12145320140328_121914

Tucked away in the back is this spot that most members of the public don’t get to see. For that matter, most club members don’t get into the spot I’m standing unless there was a derailment they need to fix. This is the other end of the siding at Bradshaw, very basic and unremarkable compared to the station and branchline junction at the other end.20140328_122020

Here’s the other end, in a grade crossing view and aerial view. 20140328_12270020140328_122713

Leaving Bradshaw we cross a couple bridges just before the summit of the railroad.20140328_12274320140328_122850

Halfway down the hill our passenger train winds its way into the lumber mill settlement at Bain.20140328_13182320140328_131904

The last couple shots are taken as the train approaches the terminal, where we turn on the wye and back into the station.20140328_13314020140328_133222

With that we finish another run over the Alberta Southern. Until next time…20140328_133630