Friday, March 14, 2014

Risers and more Risers

I spent last night cutting risers, lots of them. I need something like 200 for the layout and cut up probably 70. But like I did before with the support structure, set up a quick jig, i.e., a piece of wood clamped to my mitre saw at 5" and started cutting up the left-over ripped 1x3s. Next up is to drill all the pocket hole in them. I have a Kreg Jig that I use in wood working and have gotten a lot of use out of it in a relatively short time (mostly fixing stuff I cut wrong or short o had the wrong wood for, but that's another story). My thinking is putting two risers on each cross-brace and screwing pocket holes up into the 1/2 plywood roadbed. I'm going to have to make sure everything is level and the like. I do need many more risers so I'm probably going to be buying a few 2' x 4'  handy panels of 3/4 plywood and ripping them into 1x3s for use in either riser construction or more supporting structures.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Plan and more

As of this past Sunday, the basement floor has been cleared of anything on it and mostly cleaned up but I should probably do another vacuum/mop of it. This came as the result of our sump once again not turning on and my wife happening to go down into the basement to get some milk out of the refrigerator down there. Had that not happened, who knows how much water would've been in the basement when we came back from our day full of activities. The good news is I had most of the basement cleaned anyways, I just happened to be able to call a bunch of friends over to help me remove the rest of the junk. Also, I've been attempting to get the first-level plan done because I'm at the point now I have enough wood, track, turnouts, and wire to get started on the next phase in this journey. I managed to play around with some things and extend the cover of the prototype line to Orrville, home of Smuckers (at least it used to be). This will let me use the corn syrup cars I originally bought for Hersehy here. I also found out that they received crushed grapes in these cars too. Who knew? A couple other hangups on industries in Alliance and the Republic Steel representation prevented me from getting everything figured out but with the help of Google Maps and Bing Maps, both of which should be an everyday tool for model railroaders like an Razor saw and soldering iron, I found the industries to model in the areas I had available. They won't match the prototype locations 1 for 1 but will in operational flexibility and hopefully some in actual appearance as best I can. Anyways, without further ado, here is the new, first-level plan:

One other item I discovered while researching the prototype, my railroad will essentially be 2 separate ones as only 1 train (to/from) will traverse the helix, COLT and LTCO. Most of the trains feeding the steel mill came from Haselton Yard in Youngstown and/or unit trains using the Youngstown Line from Pittsburgh and Ashtabula.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Proto Location - Finally

Over the holidays I cleaned up the basement. In respites of that, I continued to formulate what I wanted to do in the basement within the context of the existing benchwork. I talked a number of times with one of the members of the operating group I participate in, Chris Conaway, as I thought he has a nice setup. Chris has a double-track mainline running around his lower level with thru staging and a branch line that runs off to a second level. You can see pictures of the layout starting here. I've operated on this layout a number of times and really like the setup even with some of the tightness in the aisles. Chris has done a great job of getting an operating layout in his basement with all of the obstructions and extremely low ceiling.. I talked with him about how/why he designed it the way he did. Chris said he always had the double deck in mind and it wound up that the lower level was a good height for his kids and friends to run the trains on and the branch ended up being good for him to run on. He had built the layout more with different scenes and industries in mind then a specific area. I remember visiting it in 2008 before I knew any of the guys I currently operate with and it was a PRR "located" on the Northern Central. By the time I joined the operating group in 2010, Chris had changed the location of his layout based on the PRR Panhandle line through Newark, Oh., with the Branch running towards New Lexington. The towns actually lined up nicely and he had interchanges already setup and/or planned where they were on the actual line. The industries aren't modeled as faithfully, but where appropriate, provide accurate names of the industries for the towns they are in, consider it a proto-freelanced layout driven by operations.

What does all this have to do with me? Well, Chris suggested I sit down and just map out where I wanted towns and the like, and, if possible, find a closely-resembling area of Conrail for the layout to be set in. With that and figuring my layout was setup perfectly for the same type of setup he had (we both have/need a gate for continuous running). So with that, I drew out what I wanted or what I could think would fit and labeled it on a string-line diagram.
So what I came up with was an East-West line with a branch that headed north to a steel mill. This sent me on a search around the Conrail system. This actually led me to two areas. The first being the Chicago Line in northern Ohio with the Steel Mill being Lorain. The branch off to the NS line wasn't as long as my upper level would be so I didn't pursue it much further. The other area was looking back towards a previous area of the prototype I researched 6 months or so ago, the Ft. Wayne Line. The Lordstown Secondary comes off just east of Alliance and runs north towards the Youngstown area to serve a pair of GM assembly plants. Further north of those plants, it connects with Conrail's Niles Secondary which served over the course of its time a number of steel mills. Just west of this connection is the town of Warren, Oh. Located there, during my modeled period, was the LTV Steel Mill (then WCI, then Severstal, now closed and most likely going to be demolished) as well as a coke battery that is now owned by ArcelorMittal. Looking at this area, it is almost too perfect to model as an integrated mill. There's only 85 batteries in the Coke Oven, which through compression could be reduced in half and still be believable, one blast furnace, one Basic Oxygen Furnace, a continuous caster, 2 rolling Mills, and an interchange yard. When I saw the layout of the plant and its components, I knew I had my prototype inspiration. This mill combined with the auto plants could give the branch line the heavy industries that would make its existence through Conrail's life believable as well as provide for interesting movements. As such, I modified the above line diagram putting real places on the map based off of this information.
Now, looking at the map, I had a few dilemmas. First, 90% of the traffic coming from Pittsburgh would've taken the connection in Alliance to Cleveland and not continued on the Ft. Wayne Line. Second, some of the interesting industries in Canton don't line up 100% in the order I had planned things around the yard. After some quick doodling, placement and analysis, I figured for operational purposes, I could just model the trains that traveled the Ft. Wayne Route, about 8 manifests and 4 Mail/TVs, and not worry about any of the Cleveland traffic. COLT/LTCO was the main manifest that went up the Lordstown Secondary and actually had a number of cars on it for a refinery all the way out in Pennsylvania. To add some more interest, this could be brought over to the branch line to add some more operating instances and perhaps add another local or manifest to the mix. Another study in all of this was that Canton was a mixing point of these manifests and locals that would set out and run miles for switching the industries. For example INPI would drop auto parts box cars in canto for COLT to add for delivery and vice-versa on the way back. This would make Canton a perfect model railroad size yard as only locals originate/terminate from here, everything else block swaps. With that, I played around with the locations on my benchwork and as it relates to the overall basement to come up with the following layout/space usage:
and once liking that layout, I produced a schematic that would help in doing more detailed planning that I am about to embark on:
There are some really cool scenes along this route, including a picturesque bridge in Massillon, Oh. Other crossings/interchanges will definitely add to the ops facility. I must say, when I kept coming back to this area, I knew it was calling me and while to add operations I'm adding a few things or taking liberty with some (like assembled autos really went out on CSX not Conrail), I think this area will meet everything I'm looking for out of a layout.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Update 12/16/13

I spent the weekend putting up the plywood shelving, five 1 ft. boards in all, under the main layout. After I did that, I thought to myself, those would work for a staging yard. Anyways, after that, I started to cut up into 12" strips all the cardboard I've been saving. It turns out that only getting through half of it yielded an 8' pile 14" thick so I'm going to recycle the rest as most of what I have down there are products we get regularly at the moment, like a lot of bulk items from BJs or Sams Club. Tonight is clean the floor area so I can start moving around tubs and I may go get one of those metal shelving to use as a work bench as the one I've been keeping my eye on is now down below $80.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Update 12.06.2013

I've seen this on a few other blogs I follow so I'm going to attempt to do that here, a small update, any update each day. This way, I can focus on accomplishing something, no matter how minor, each day, on the layout, the layout room/space, etc. As for today's update, I was able to clean out some of the basement and put in the two cabinets from my parent's house I got from them:

This will replace all the tubs I had here, or most anyways, that you could see here:

Again, small steps to organization.


Welcome to the my Conrail Model Railroad site. I will document the research, design, construction and operations of my N-scale model railroad based loosely on Conrail's operations across it's system.

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