Sunday, September 17, 2017

Layout Design Crowd Sourcing

Crowd sourcing a layout design is certainly a new experience for me, and I'm not sure it's going to actually result in a workable layout design, but that hasn't stopped several people stepped up the plate and asked for the "brief" on the "Richford theme" layout. I sent each of them the following (NOTE: This note has been revised slightly this morning to clarify a couple of questions - so if you 're one of the "volunteers" use the specs below - changes shown in red italics): 

Central Vermont Railway v3.1 – to be built in Gainesville, Va. (a.k.a the new house)

I’m looking at four possible themes for the next layout – one of these is definitely in the lead but at this point all these options (and perhaps others?) are in the running:

1. Essex Junction – Richmond – Waterbury Vt., on the northern division mainline (Essentially a reboot of the last incarnation of my previous layout)
2. Richford Branch, 
3. Palmer Mass. – Millers Falls prototype modeling on the CV’s southern division. 
4. Southern New England – return to my prototype freelanced SNE – this time either circa 1925 OR circa 1965….

The following specs are focused on the Richford Branch, the other themes require different curve radii, governing motive power, and the like and therefore some adjustments to the list below will be required for those plans. 
 I plan to design the entire layout but complete construction in stages - one town at a time. Ultimately will include Richford, Sheldon Jct., Sheldon Falls, East Berkshire and/or Enosburg Falls.

Era: pre-September 1954 (plywood mill in Richford burned down in late Sept 1954) 

Governing motive power and minimum radius: N-5-a class 2-8-0s, 30” min. radius
Governing train length: 2 N-5-a’s, 16 40-foot cars +van. 

Space: The overall size of the room where the layout is to be located is approximately 26 x 42 feet. I have no intention of ever filling this room with a model railroad layout. The layout area is the area shown in the diagram – from the post to the exterior wall, and the approximately 30 foot length.

Aisle Width: 4 foot, minimum. Pinch points acceptable at ends of lobes, etc..

Grades: Although the Richford Branch was a helper district (the daily freight was frequently double-headed, and often needed a shove from the St. Albans switcher) – I’d prefer to keep the track level. In my experience, model railroad grades and “realistic” helper operations are asking for trouble. 

Control System: NCE wireless

Track: Micro-Engineering code 70 flex, handlaid turnouts. No 7s on passing sidings, No. 6 minimum everywhere else. Blue Point turnout throws. 

Schematic: Point to point (from staging into Richford) acceptable but MUST include “hands off” turning of locomotives on both ends of run. Richford can either use a turntable or the CP interchange wye, “St Albans” staging can use the Walthers 90-foot turntable I have on hand. 

Operating Crew: When the entire layout is complete I’d picture the following as a typical operating crew:
1. Richford Local Engineer
2. Richford Local Conductor
3. Paper Mill Switcher
4. CP Interchange Job (can be same as Paper Mill switcher person)
5. Dispatcher/Session coordinator

Must have scenes/elements on complete layout:
1. Richford Plywood Mill and Yard
2. Richford interchange with CPRy (nice to have would be the Agway feedmill on the CP in Richford, which was switched by both CV and CP.)
3. Sheldon Jct – interchange with St. J & LC. And three-span through truss bridge. 
4. Sheldon Falls – Paper mill 

I’ve sent the folks who expressed an interest (and Bernie, who didn’t express an interest but got drafted!) the following:
1. Article on Richford Branch from CVRHS Ambassador
2. Valuation Maps of the Richford Branch
3. Scans of pages on Richford from the Nimke Conn River book. 

Town maps, redrawn from various sources can be found on my blog – do a subject search for “Richford” and they should all show up, along with some photos. 
If you want to take a crack at one of the other themes feel free. I can answer any specific questions you might have - but suggest you start by searching the blog for the appropriate subject area (ie., "SNE", or "Palmer") - 

Finally, although the ultimate goal is a workable accurate plan, I'm well aware that it's impossible to accurately plan a layout when the  space is currently a hole in the ground.

So at this point use the estimated dimensions shown in the sketch on the blog, and keep the design "lose" - blocking in key elements, benchwork shapes and the like. I'd hate for someone to spend a lot of time coming up with an excellent design - and then find the basement is actually 10" shorter or whatever....
Thanks again! 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Benchwork footprint - initial try 1

Bernie Kempinski and I had lunch today, and spent some time thinking through possible benchwork footprints for my new layout. 
So here, for the first time, is the very, very preliminary sketch of the Richford Branch in my new space. I'm not going to attempt a critique of this sketch - it's obviously just that - but it is a starting point and shows that a "spread out" Richford branch is certainly a workable theme in this space. 
I've included labels showing some key dimensions that got buried in our pencil work, as also show where Richford and some other key pieces might fit. 
I'm not sure we have the ideal arrangement. Perhaps Richford would be better on the other end of the line - staging could be located in my workshop accessed via the open space behind the powder room wall? And, though obviously not drawn to scale, the "squares" we worked with allow for 30" radius curves. But the peninsula lobe may be too close to the stairs. 
I'll likely try a few different benchwork footprints over the next few days and weeks. Obviously, detailed scale drawings should wait until there's an actual basement!
I will say we did discuss a Essex Jct - Richmond - Waterbury plan - I might pursue that a little more, just to see what it would look like, but immediately after broaching the subject the same old issues with minimum radius, the need for two staging yards, etc... all reared their ugly heads.  
So, for the moment I want to pursue the Richford branch plan to, as Mr. Spock would say, it's logical conclusion. 

I can put together a "brief book" with information on the Richford branch and some various must have's, nice to haves, etc.. for anyone who might be interested in taking a stab at a layout design for this space. Email me directly at mjmcguirk AT comcast DOT net....

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

CV Shower Car #4546

Ryan Mendell is building a very nicely done model of a Grand Trunk MoW car - which you can see on his blog here. 
In the comments section I mentioned how even the CV shower cars had the "Flammable" sign on the side - a common feature of most of the old CV wood work equipment. (And while I certainly thought about it, I didn't pry one of these signs off the cars laying about in East New London  yard way back when ... almost wish I had - it would make a nice conversation piece hanging on the walls in the basement.)
Back to Ryan's post. Although he's not building a shower car, my comment led to a question about what a shower car is, or was.... seems pretty obvious to me - it's a car with showers - in this case six shower stalls (and nine coat hooks??).  
Does this mean the "bunk cars" didn't have showering facilities? Honestly, I don't know. 
I do know the CV rostered three shower cars, nos.  4546-4548, from the late 1940s through at least the mid 1960s (based on the date on 4546 below).  George Dutka obtained some information about the interior arrangement of the shower cars from Jim Murphy, and included them in an early issue of the CVRHS Ambassador. Reproduced below:

A number of years ago, Pete McLachlan sent me a stack of photos of CV work equipment he photographed at St. Albans, which included a photo of CV 4546.  Based on the reweigh date, the car was weighed at St. Albans, Vt., in May, 1965, so this photo dates to after that date. I don't believe this car ever got the white maple leaf that was applied to some of the MoW equipment after 1954. In the 1950s the lettering would be identical except there wouldn't be a pregnant tapeworm logo on the side of the car. 

Note the "Flammable" sign. 

Wordless Wednesday #163

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Westerfield I-GN boxcar - ready for weathering

I finished dealing the Westerfield I-GN boxcar, and added an overcoat of Future floor polish followed by a coat of Vallejo Matte clear. I think it makes a nice addition to the "late 1920s" roster. 

I think I'm going to hold off on weathering the car until I get some other half-finished freight car projects completed.