Thursday, June 25, 2015

Realignment No.1

As always planned, I am going to refine the track alignment in many sections of the layout. My overall plan was to get it down as faithfully as I could to the information I had on hand and get operating as soon as possible. This allows me to learn how the layout works, what could be brought out more in a session, see if any foci present themselves, and do more careful research on relationship of track to buildings and any prototype operational practices.
Original alignment
I have found multiple sources for track alignment of the railroad, so I can now cross-reference and verify what it was at what time. The below are for the Maxwell House/American Can complex in particular.

Left half of Maxwell House and American Can complex. (Hoboken Historical Museum)

Right half of the plant with piers into the Hudson River. (Hoboken Historical Museum)
I am nominally modeling 1959 at the moment, but that is mainly because of the Erie's situation of being at the end of it's solo career. It would be a hoot to model the HBS starting at the beginning in the 1800s, and making changes over the course of a few years evolving as the railroad did. That would be amazing, actually. Maybe I will model backwards since I have locomotive roster for that and I have to scratch build the earlier stuff. Hmmm. I like this idea. Makes scenery more of a challenge, but reworking track is easy.

Pulling up the track was easy, I use clear adhesive caulk that allows for quick removal. The only problem is if too much uplift is used, the rails will pop out of the ties, so some care is required.
Realigning was a quick exercise because of the adhesive caulk laying method: I used adhesive caulk on bare plywood. That simple. There are several areas I have eyed for realignment.

The 14th street industries might want to move back or forward so that I can model the buildings better (more on this in a later post). In particular, the US Testing building has an interesting 90 degree access track that cuts across yard tracks that make sit fun and unique. Similar for the Engine House. I would essentially need to eliminate the 14th street tracks to have enough room for this.

Also of interest is modeling the Seatrain operations that would be stunning with the crane lifts that move rail cars on and off the ship. A pier with a ship on it would be a crowd pleaser for sure. At the moment, the Seatrain tracks are about a foot long...

Rough new arrangement is not glued down, yet. I'm going to keep it unglued as I work on the American Can and Maxwell buildings so I can make adjustments. 
In the meantime, I have started on the Maxwell/American Can site with the goal to have more accuracy and more room for buildings. I've got a short film about the Maxwell House factory on order, and several great photographs. I will be scratch building/printing this large industry. I have the exact placement of the elements on a fire map, but there will need to be a little compression (of course). That is the price for being a track-centric modeler. If I were more rigorous in my prototype modeling, I would only model a portion of the railroad at true HO scale. Maybe someday I will be disciplined enough to create that type of layout.

Until then, compromises will keep the emphasis on the operations and dystopic setting on the waterfront instead of exact reproduction at scale of the physical elements. It's just one of the many challenging dichotomies model railroaders bravely face on a daily basis.


  1. Riley - I feel your pain about being "track-centric" (I like that term!) , as I have had bouts of this "affliction", too.

    Both versions of the LV Harbor Terminal suffered from this - One from lack of proper space and lack of knowledge, the other from not learning how to crawl before taking up running (lieterally!). I found that through initial operating sessions that some track, while close to the actual alignment, didn't operate well because of scale, one because of the need to shoehorn required track into a too sharp s-curve, and the other because of too much track (crossing diamonds in particular) in one place. I've had to add tracks to increase capacity (a switching lead in one spot, longer staging in another, double track the main in another) to both get closer to the real thing, and to get closer to operating more smoothly.
    I never have had a problem with both either adding or taking away trackage to achieve a proper balance of "operational smoothness", regardless of weather the photos and the track maps said otherwise, as long as it doesn't LOOK out of place. In other words, I'm not going to just put in a pair of crossovers or another crossing diamond because it "looks cool" (OK, I did do that in one spot along the industrial Edgewater Branch, but that's another story!)

    But to get back to what you mean by getting the tracks in, even if it means not being laid out like the real thing. I've come to terms with it too, and have ripped out entire yard ladders (and losing expensive Peco turnouts in the process because of it), just to get things more "right". My constant research (some might call it hoarding!) of Val maps, insurance maps, and photographs always seems to turn up something new, and much effort has been made to resist the desire to change things more often or not, but usually long deliberation among other things, keeps me from doing major "renovations".

    I look forward to keeping up on your overall progress and industry track "machinations"!


  2. It's all that pesky new stuff that I keep finding from my hoarding activities. I'm completely OK with making changes, though, as I strive for an optimal recreation of the HBS. Just have to manage all the pieces to find the appropriate balance.