Saturday, February 8, 2020

Maxwell House Coffee plant mock up

I mocked up more buildings today and I laid out the grounds for Maxwell House Coffee. There are several building in the complex, and I have to cut a couple of the them due to space.

I'm also having a bit of a think on whether to extend the layout to get in the coffee barges on the river. They are essential to the scene and understanding of how the plant functioned, but I don't want to pinch down my aisle too much. I just need to find the proper balance.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Happy 2020!

I'm alive, the railroad is alive, and there may be more posts this year?! :)

A few operating sessions per year since the last post, but not much on the layout itself is new. 14th Street switching tracks have been reshuffled to allow for a track to get to the engine house (see below) and US Testing.
New non-operable track to the engine house. Perhaps a curved crossing could be scratch built to make it a working piece of track. The 14th street trackage is actually supposed to be behind the engine house, but that is out of reach. Compromise is the uncomfortable, but necessary at times.

Reconfigured 14th street track. from top right to left, the engine house, Kelly Springfield Tire/Xzit/National Cleanser, then finally Continental Baking (Hostess Twinkies) All buildings are very close to actual prototype size gotten from historical maps and Google maps measurements.

US Testing is almost in the correct orientation. It should be perpendicular to the yard, but there isn't enough room to curve the track properly. More compromise *sigh*, but, it's very, very close...

Recent activity is turning towards sketch buildings to ensure the track alignments are good. These will also provide good templates for final models.

Engine house with brakemen waiting for assignments. The shack is the scale house.

Engine house (left) and (right) Xzit/Kelly Springfield Tire/National Cleanser

Kelly Springfield Tire/National Cleanser (left) and Continental Baking (Hostess Twinkies) (right)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Op session No.8 + stuff

A foam core and Photoshop mock up of the small freight house.

Lots going on at the PoNY, and not enough extra time to talk about it as of late. We've hosted another op session and progress is being made on lighting, scenery, structures, photography, and operations fronts. 

The highlights include Op Session No.8 that is in the books. Our regular crew from David Barrow's slipped in a session on the PoNY during the regular op night. I managed to take no pictures, which could mean things were so bad I was scrambling putting out fires, or that it was so enjoyable it didn't occur to me to snap any pics. I'm happy to report it was the latter. A crack yard crew proved that a full work shift is possible, and job balancing seems to be consistent across the board which makes tweaking possible now. 
track tools employed at 14th St
Before the session, I realigned the 14th St track towards the front of the layout to make reaching it easier while making it possible to get in the track to the engine house and US Testing. The great thing about gluing down track is that it is easy to move.

I also started testing LED strips for layout lighting on the 27th Sta. module. This one that I had on hand from another project is not bright enough. The challenge here is that there is a 19 story building that is going to be on top of it. That mean some hidden lighting to operate in the buildings as well as the general lighting. Interesting problems.
Behind the scenes

While I've been at all this, I'm also getting familiar with my camera and lights for shooting photos for articles. LEDs are a game changer here as well, as they are getting cheaper, produce daylight color temperatures, and don't get so hot like the old photo floods did. 
Assembling the mock up small freight house

Workers don't seem to mind that it is only a mock up. They are already hard at the business of the railroad - moving stuff.
The small freight house mock up only took a couple of hours to put together. I found some corrugated metal textures at, arranged them in Photoshop,printed and pasted for a satisfying stand in/test fit. I'm not going to tell anyone that I accidentally made it too big. That's what happens when working while under the influence of allergies late at night. I can fix it easily enough, though.
Don't these guys ever take a break?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Op session no.7

We had a great visiting crew last weekend for the largest operating session, yet. Nine operators put the railroad through their expert paces. Some minor hiccups, but nothing catastrophic, so I will count that as a success.

Most (all?!) played the Brakeman! game with the newly created action figures:

The Brakeman! game is about modeling the actions of the train crew. If there is an action like throwing a switch, uncoupling or coupling a car, unlocking a gate, etc., there must be one of the crew on the ground within an uncoupling tool's length in order to perform that action. In conjunction with momentum and braking in effect on the locomotive, this slows operations down a lot.

Following are some candid shots from the session:

Keith Jordan and Lance Mindheim debate the merits of something. I think we decided the world would survive.
Tom Pearson repairs several cars in place while Denny Taylor and Larry Sternberg switch the Docks Job. Jim Diaz and Kirk Baer work the Float job. 
Chuck Hitchcock and Tom Lawler figure out the HBS yard - the hardest job on the layout...?
Maneuvering the slip switch ladder in the middle of the HBS Yard. 

Kirk eyes the next move while Jim drops float cars in the float yard.
At Maxwell House Coffee Plant: "I'm pretty sure that car goes here." "Are you really sure?" "My brakeman doesn't want to walk all the way over there unless you are sure."
Denny guides Larry to the American Export docks.
"Maxwell House has too many outbound cars for this little 44-tonner." 
Paul Dolkos weighs in on the serious discussion. 

Later that same day... the yard crew at Tommy Holt's was Kirk, Keith and Paul. The GGM, AP, EXP trick in the schedule went really smoothly. No switching on Diner Siding (Tommy was looking), but eastbound trains did depart through there to keep the B Lead clear. It was a really smooth session and everyone left with all of their fingers and toes.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Op session No.6

A quick recap of op session no.6:
Mike Barrett at 27th Street clears the car float, then fills it up again.

The Harlem Station after Barrett's completion of work before he moved over to 27th St. 
Steve Jackobs heads out of the yard to switch the HBS industries.
David Petersen (left) and Steve Jackobs (right) dropping their pickups in the HBS Yard.

Barrett, Jackobs, Petersen were on shake down duty operating the new 27th Street Lehigh station, Erie Harlem and the HBS industry jobs, but no yard this time. This was a last minute gig that conflicted with a large train show an hour away, so I didn't expect to get a lot of takers, but I needed to have trains run to find some more problems before the next session. The original idea was to have a stress test since I can now handle 11 people, which is what I was gearing up for the following weekend.

No big surprises, and mostly it confirmed work load balancing and how much time it takes to complete jobs. After this is was back to work on converting another locomotive to battery power, adding a car float and a bunch of battery charging for the next session...

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Lehigh Valley 27th Street Freight Station - Pier 66

I've finally started on the 27th Street Freight Station of the Lehigh Valley Railroad - and I "finished it" the next day. Well, operationally, anyway. I needed another 2 operating slots a little earlier than I had in my master plan of layout construction, but pending visitors will do that to a schedule. :) So in a couple of days, I was able to go from nothing to completed yard while watching the Olympics.
Just the essentials: TV remote, glue, architecture history and Dr Pepper (not necessarily in that order.)

On the way home from work on Friday afternoon, I stopped off at the local big box hardware store and picked up a 3/4" sheet of blue rigid insulation board. I sliced it into three 2-ish feet by 8 foot pieces, laminated those together with Elmer's glue (I know not the most sophisticated glue around, but it seems to have worked!), and I let dry for about 24 hours. I then finished off the three exposed edges with black Gatorfoam board to match the Harlem baseboards. I glued this and then screwed with black coarse threaded drywall screws to hold it until it dried. Then the next day while watching some inspirational Olympic competition, I covered with black flooring underlayment left over from the Harlem Station pocket terminal.
I get by with a little weight from my books, and furniture to secure the track while it dries.
Lots of turnouts including two double slips and also 4 crossings, which will make for some fun switching maneuvers. Black flooring underlayment is my subsurface for gluing down the code 75 Peco track. No insulated rail joiners here, because I run battery powered locomotives.
This material, as far as I can tell, is very similar to Woodland Scenics' roadbed. I am using the underlayment mainly for sound absorption, and it seems to accept Elmers glue well, which is how I glued down my track after letting the underlayment dry for a couple of hours.

The completed track work.
If you go have a look at Phillip M. Goldstein's amazing web site on all things New York freight railroading, you'll see some great diagrams of the track over the years and some history of the building that inhabits the air space above, the Starrett-Lehigh Building. I will somehow model this so that the lower floors are accessible for operation (maybe just have structural columns) and then have the full building above. The unique feature of the Starrett-Lehigh Building is that it had truck elevators that would carry delivery trucks to the upper floors for loading and unloading. This will be pretty cool to model!

Also go check out David Ramos' excellent New York Harbor version. I referenced his translation and research material to create my version, which is pretty close to his. Great minds...

Slotted into an existing bookshelf at the same height as the rest of the layout for car float compatibility.The top shelf will be gone soon to make room for backdrop and building model.After the track
Relationship with existing Harlem Station pocket terminal. A car float will transfer cars between these yards and the Hoboken Shore portion of the layout in the other room.

Locomotive eye's view of the two yards.
This lightweight baseboard/bench work technique goes extremely quickly, and it is as light as you can get for a layout that needs to be movable. I think the black provides a very finished looking unfinished platform to operate on until the scenery goes in. Much better than bare plywood with no muss and no fuss to get that way.

At some point I may provide strategically located handles on these rotating pocket terminals. The idea is to keep building them and then swap them out for different operating sessions. This allows me 1) to forever keep expanding my layout while remaining in the same size physical space, 2) to try out different techniques of construction, scenery, etc. in a confined area, 3) to keep buying new locomotives ad infinitum for any railroad on the east coast, and 4) to provide new operating interest and challenges for the operating crew. 

Up next is some locomotive work on the Lehigh switcher that will be based in this yard, and then it will be ready for some operations!