M&K Junction Railroad

M&K Junction Railroad
Another train of eastbound coal crosses the Cheat River

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Progress

Nothing focuses your attention like a deadline. We've had an earthquake and a hurricane locally here over the last week, but the only thing that has been on my mind is my upcoming layout open house in two weeks.

So new benchwork has risen over the track arrangement that I lofted onto the basement floor last week.

The track plan was left on the basement floor as a guide for placing the benchwork as well as an aid in placing the subroadbed. I'll probably leave it there until the track is laid.

The left hand side of the benchwork is attached to the 2x4 supporting the stairs and to the adjacent section of benchwork; this section of benchwork has no legs supporting it. I'm going to try to keep this section clear as a 'crawl under' to get out of the dead-end aisle that is created at this section of the layout. When a crew brings a train to this point, the train will enter the central spiral which acts as serial staging and that crew's run is over. Therefore the the dead-end has no operational implications. But the crawl-under may be useful as a short-cut to get to the other side of what will be a double sided backdrop to retrieve a tool or a Coke.

Subroadbed was put into place next.

This part of the railroad is on the Cheat River grade which was literally blasted out of the side of a mountain. The subroadbed is on raisers so that on the aisle side of the track the scenery can fall away from the grade as it does in real life. the subroadbed is set level in this picture, as a next step I will raise the subroadbed to the 2% grade here. That will result in the subroadbed to being higher to the left as seen from this angle.

Here's a photo of a special piece benchwork under the straight subroadbed at the far end of the picture above.

This section of benchwork will be the future location of a model of the Tray Run Viaduct and in this area the scenery will extend significantly below the roadbed, almost to the floor.

Here's a picture of the real Tray Run Viaduct.

The Tray Run Viaduct is 443 feet long, has four 90 foot arches (the left most one is not visible in the 1974 picture above as the B&O has dumped fill over the side of the viaduct almost filling the easternmost arch), and stands about 105 feet high. I've been to this bridge; it's nestled in a deep and steep gorge and is a very impressive structure. My model will be about 65% scale size, making the model just about 6 feet long. Each of those exceptionally high track risers made out of 2x4 lumber will be one footing of an arch.

Right now all track risers and subroadbed in this section of new construction are held in place with clamps. When I adjust the subroadbed to final grade the clamps will be replaced with screws.

This new construction which intrudes into the center of the basement is the first departure from the around-the-walls route that has been the rule heretofore. It provides a hint of the involved benchwork/trackwork to come and really gives the feel that this is becoming a basement-filling model railroad empire.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Work On The Mainline Resumes

Although the staging that I've just about finished installing will greatly expand the capacity and operational potential of my layout, it has taken an inordinate amount of time to complete. My open house is just a few weeks away and I would like to finish some more of the mainline so that the usual crew of visitors will have more room to run on.

I've come up with a harebrained scheme to temporarily connect the end of the Cheat River grade with staging and allow trains to run in and out of staging, into the center of the basement, and around the walls to a point above staging; that should be over a scale mile of running.

To do this I have to finish the track on the Cheat River grade to the point where it would ordinarily enter the central helix (section in yellow on the track plan below). This section of the track plan is the most difficult for a few reasons. The only choke point (i.e. less than 3 ft. wide) in the operator aisle is located on this section of the layout (see #1 below). The track itself makes it's only close approach to structure in the basement where the track must pass between the supports for the basement stairs and a lolly column holding up the house (#2 below). Finally the bench work in this area is tricky. Do I build a double sided bench that holds both the Cheat River grade on one side and the top of Cranberry grade on the other? The grade separation between the two will be over 15 inches at this point and the two scenes must be separated by a double-sided backdrop which could make the bench work difficult. Or do I build two separate benches? If I do this the bench holding up the Cheat River grade will need to be somewhat shallow (16" or less) which could limit scenic possibilities and/or lead to problems supporting the backdrop (#3 below). Click on the track plan to enlarge it to see the details.

I designed the track plan with 3rd Planit and, so far, the tack plan has been right on; everywhere the track was supposed to fit, it has fit. However, the track plan is only as good as the measurements that I took of the basement. If my measurements that positioned the structures in the center of the basement were off, then there is a possibility that the track will not fit. Heretofore this has not been an issue as the track has not been close to structure. Furthermore, when I measured the basement it was cluttered with 'junk', which has since been moved elsewhere, and I made at least three passes at measuring the obstructions in the basement and they did not all agree.

To help resolve these questions I decided to lay out ('loft' in nautical terms) the track arrangement for the last of the Cheat River grade on the basement floor. I began by lofting the curves and straightaways on kraft paper per the track plan. In this way I would not be tempted to cheat on the curve radius to make the track fit. I then taped the completed kraft paper templates to the basement floor using the track plan and measurements offset from the basement walls and existing track to locate the templates; again to prevent cheating by forcing it all to fit.

To my great relief everything fit, exactly as the track plan indicated. The picture below shows the overall view.

The lolly column in the center is the choke point in the operator aisle. The aisle should be about 2' wide at this point and is, but I'm a big guy and from actually standing there it feels tighter. However it is literally only one point that the operators have to pass, using John Armstrong's design principles this should be OK.

The next photo shows where the track must pass between another lolly column and the support holding up the basement stairs.

It should JUST fit. The leftmost line on the paper template is the left hand side of the allotment for that track, 2" offset from the track center line. Since I did my 3rd Planit using track center lines, but lofted the templates using the full clearance for the swing of cars, I believe that the two are in agreement. I'll have to test this point with both full length passenger cars and articulated locos when I lay the track, but I have no qualms about notching that 2x4 if I need more clearance.

This final photo is the overview from another direction.

The faux wood grain cabinet next to the lolly column (right) has been moved back to make sure that it does not contribute to the choke point.

Seeing the track lofted on the basement floor confirmed a decision that I had already made, I will build separate bench work for the Cheat River and Cranberry grades. This is partially a decision of convenience, I can get this section done faster that way and put off some vertical alignment decisions until later. I hope that I will not regret this choice later on.

Now back to building.