Monday, January 21, 2019

Module 1: Electrical

I'm almost done with wiring up module 1. Another late evening job, and I sure hope this is actually going to work, since I have not tested the track yet. If it doesn't, ... well, at least I've gone through the motions once and know what to do for the next module.

I really like working on cabling this way. I sit or stand at the work bench, tools in front of me, soldering iron on the side. I can turn the module for convenient access, or rotate it like in this shot from earlier in the evening

No fuzzing around under the layout. Really nice.

The module is much lighter than a layout, so while it stands easily, it also easily tips over. But with no scenery on the other side yet, I can put it on its face as needed, too.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Testing Connectors

I wired up the experimental module end. The wiring follows the FREMO Puko 2.0 standard with 4mm plugs and couplers on each end per rail and a pair of plugs for the center studs. The cables are supposed to be stored inside the module, held in place by wooden clothspins glued to the module.

Module 1: Not quite perfect

I dusted off the frame for module 1 I built in October, and cut some Peco SL100 flex track. The idea here is to build a module that attempts to hide the Maerklin-typical center studs as much as possible, and get an idea about the amount of work it takes to do it, while staying compatible with regular Maerklin K-track.

This time I used the "melt-it-into-the-plastic-ties" method of attaching the pickup studs from Weichen Walter. This feels easier than the "screw-and-solder" method I used on the test piece. However, it's still quite easy to drift off the middle and not hit center line, so my studs are not 100% straight. I wonder how I'm going to do that on a curved module...
Attaching the center studs takes time, but goes faster than I expected. The strip sticks out below the track by about 0.7mm and that needs to be taken into account when mounting the track. I cut a V-groove into the trackbed, which worked quite well.

Overall, it turned out not too shabby, but I certainly can do better, and need more practice...

Friday, January 11, 2019

Track Experiment

After cleaning up the work bench, I'm trying something new tonight. A test piece with Peco track converted to operation with Maerklin rolling stock using Weichen-Walter Puko strips.

The strips are etched and stick out slightly under the track. On this test piece I ended up cutting a slot into the road bed for the bottom edge of the Puko strip. This is the technique described in the documentation using brass screws and soldering the Puko strips to the screws.

I have a few more strips to try another approach that should be easier with curved track.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Dave Park's Cumberland West - Western Maryland

Busy times at George's Creek Tower. Extra 185, the Frostburg Mine Turn is switching the mine at George's Creek in the Cumberland Narrows and has the rear of the train protected with a flag man. Meanwhile Extra 61, the Alphajet 12 manifest, creeps onto the scene and keeps their distance from the flag man.

My second assignment of the evening is Extra 174 with the Barnum Mine Turn, delivering empty coal cars to the mines in Barnum, and returning to Knobmount Yard with loaded coal cars later in the session. After several delays around MY Tower and Knobmount Yard, 174 got moving only fairly late in the session.

174 has reached Barnum and I'm happily replacing loaded cars from the mine with empty cars I brought up from Knobmount. This photo was taken at the end of the session. I finished the switching here, and then tied up in the yard at West Virginia Junction for the night.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Stories in Light at Villa Montalvo

We had a great evening at Villa Montalvo tonight despite heavy wind and rain, and enjoyed the impressive light installations after a nice dinner.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Food and Scenery around Big Sur

Rocky Point Restaurant remains a family favorite.

We did take photos at Bixby Creek Bridge, but I like this view, too.

We went as far south as Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and paid McWay Falls a visit.

At the end of the day we watched dolphins and seals play in the waves, and enjoyed the sunset from a turnout just south of Grimes Point.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Murrbahn: Layout Design from prototype track plans Gaildorf/West (5)

Quelle: Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg (PL 723 Bü 55). Used with permission.

The north end of the freight area is dominated by several wood storage and loading areas operated by Gebr Closs. A short Internet search did not reveal any information about this company.
A set of regular and double-slip turnouts allows for run-around moves in the freight area. As the single track main line leaves the station area it crosses a small access road at grade.

I simplified the turnout arrangement in the freight area and moved the turnouts further north to gain as much space as possible for car storage. I will model the wood loading ramp and facilities at the north end of the tracks.

On the main tracks I flipped the sequence of the turnouts to tracks 1 and 3 in order to avoid an S-curve coning out of the top of the helix. The railroad crossing will be modeled just to the right of the yellow area and the street will curve away to the wall.

This concludes the series of articles about how I turned a prototype track plan into a compressed representation of reality using various techniques to retain the general look and feel of the prototype location and most operational possibilities, but do it in 30% of the length. Of course I lost some prototype fidelity along the way, but I'm quite happy to find that I can achieve the operational needs I was after within the space I have available for this station. This track plan uses readily available commercial turnouts and track, so I will be able to build this rather quickly and ensure that it delivers on my expectations without going in that deep.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Murrbahn: Layout Design from prototype track plans Gaildorf/West (4)

Quelle: Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg (PL 723 Bü 55). Used with permission.
North of the freight shed is the freight yard of Gaildorf/West. These tracks are used for cars going to and from the weg branch line, local customers, as well as for layover of weg passenger equipment between runs as needed. Bahnhofsstrasse extends past the freight shed and turns into the access road for a team track to facilitate trans-loading between trucks and freight cars. This is used primarily for loading wood onto R-cars. There is a track to the freight shed platform and a storage track next to it.

A very unique and peculiar feature of the freight area is the branch line track from track 1 cutting across all yard tracks and continuing on the street side of the station building. weg trains departed from the street side of the station until 1967, afterwards the line starts at track 1at the station building.

The main line tracks extend past the passenger platforms near the station building and run parallel to the freight yard area to a usable length of almost 700 meters, a good option for passing and meeting long freight trains on this single track main line.

Just like the cut opposite the station building, there is a hillside cut along this area.

Once again length compression yields a somewhat different look and feel of the station, but retains operational possibilities. In order to allow full length passenger trains to stop at the platform, while at the same time squeezing both passenger and freight facilities into the available space, the passenger platforms extend parallel to the yard tracks. The diagonal weg track is omitted completely due to the space constraints. While it would have been a nice feature, it doesn't add anything to operations, so I'm not feeling terribly bad about leaving it out. I might model the old street side track in pavement, but don't connect it to the operating tracks.

The track to the freight shed is represented correctly, and the storage track is part of the team track  running besides the access road.

Murrbahn: Layout Design from prototype track plans Gaildorf/West (3)

Quelle: Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg (PL 723 Bü 55). Used with permission.

Moving along to the passenger area, the tracks straighten out. There are 3 platforms and no over- or undercrossing. Hence passengers need to cross the tracks at grade to reach their respective platform. The platform for track 3 is generously wide at roughly 7 meters, while it's only about 3.5 meters for track 2. The plan indicates track center distances at 11 meters and 5.5 meters respectively. Track 1 has a wide platform in front of the station building.

To the left of the station building is a small news stand, including a room for firewood storage. It appears that the platform fence is still in place. To the right of the station building appears to be the platform gate. Platform gates started to get abolished in Germany in 1965, and opened up everywhere in 1974. Thus it's feasible that platform access at Gaildorf/West was still limited in 1971.

To the right of the station building is a "Nebengebaeude" (auxiliary building), which likely houses the rest rooms. There are bicycle stands next to the Nebengebaeude. Around the corner are several storage units, including for oil lamp storage.

Finally, there are the ramp and the freight shed.

A note on scenery. Next to the bridge over Feldweg 33 the tracks run on an embankment. On the station side, the embankment widens to the Bahnhofstrasse, parking, and access to the freight area. Next to track 3, the station area cuts into a hillside, with the highest point right across from the station building. That's the location from where I took the picture of the station building 2 years ago. The cut is back at grade opposite from the freight shed.

The most obvious nod to length compression is how the station building moved much further to the south than in the prototype, and the platform for track 1 is much shorter at about 100m.  Aside from that I retained the building arrangement, and will experiment with exact building placement when I get moving on construction, since there is some room to move the station building and restrooms further to the right. I have some space to model the edge of the cut along track 3, more so if I widen the segments by 10 cm.

The reduced length of the platform on track 1 is acceptable here, since this platform will be used only by a weg DMU, possibly with one trailing car. For passenger trains on the main line, I need to retain 170+ cm platform length, which I was only able to do with another compromise that I'll touch on in part 4.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Murrbahn: Layout Design from prototype track plans Gaildorf/West (2)

Quelle: Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg (PL 723 Bü 55). Used with permission.

The space I have available for Gaildorf/West is 470 cm long. I need to fit the station and the approach tracks. Let's take a look at the prototype plan in more detail and start with the south end of the station.

The main line from Stuttgart exits the Kappelesbergtunnel and curves into the station area. Switching movements are allowed right up to the tunnel portal, but not into the tunnel. The weg branch line (short-dashed line) curves away to the bottom of the plan.

There is a third track between the two that runs towards a maintenance of way building and storage area. I have several photos with cars or locomotives stored on this track, but it could just as well be still in operation to park MoW equipment, so I'd like to retain this track. I have space to represent the MoW building, as well as one of the two storage areas indicated in the plan. The storage area is crossed by a 20kV power line, which is one of the smaller lines and usually consists of three wires on a concrete pole.

Finally, just to the south of the turnouts is a set of narrow bridges that cross a small road (Feldweg 33, today's "Olgastrasse") and a creek, as well as several houses indicated.

Compression in the layout screenshot of the same area is quite evident. However, recognizable features abound. The turnout arrangement and placement of semaphore signals has been retained. Kappelesbergtunnel is correctly oriented and the MoW ("Bahnmeisterei") building and storage are present. The bridges crossing Olgastrasse will be to the left of the yellow area, and there is enough space to represent a few of the houses and backyards into the corner. The 20kV power line could be easily represented from the edge of the layout towards the left.

Replicating the prototype arrangement of the weg branch line would take up too much space on the layout. However, I do want to represent the branch line for the added interest it contributes to operations, so I decided to divert from reality and curve the branch line in parallel with the main and instead of descending into the Kocher valley, the track starts climbing. I don't know what signaling from the branch into Gaildorf/West looked like. It could be as fancy as indicated with main entry signal and distant signal, or it could be as simple as a trapeze sign. I'll find out eventually.

The mainline curves with a minimum 75 cm radius towards the tunnel, while the branch line curve has minimum 60 cm radius. Either radius works just fine with European rolling stock. The operator aisle is next to the word Backnang. 

Murrbahn: Layout Design from prototype track plans Gaildorf/West (1)

Quelle: Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg (PL 723 Bü 55). Used with permission. 

With just over 1000 meters track length (a bit over 3000ft) between first and last turnout and 2 sidings, Gaildorf/West is not a particularly large station. However, in HO this would still be 11.5 meters in a straight line, plus the approaches on either side of the station. Building Gaildorf/West with some gentle length compression as a set of segments with FREMO end plates would be a lot of fun, but I don't have regular FREMO modular meets in gym-sized sport halls within traveling distance, so that's not an option.

Instead, I considered what functions this station will need to fill if I were to use a representation of Gaildorf/West as the northern-most modeled station for my Murrbahn project:
  • Scheduled and unscheduled meets of northbound and southbound trains, as well as higher priority trains passing lower priority trains on this single-track main line.
  • Regular passenger service stops northbound and southbound on the main line.
  • Terminus for passenger service from the weg (Wuerttembergische Eisenbahngesellschaft) private branch line ("Obere Kochertalbahn").
  • Freight locals picking up and dropping off cars for the freight facilities. Mostly loading of wood and other forest products, as well as the occasional box car for the freight house, and cars for the team track.
  • Freight cars to and from the weg branch line are staged in the freight yard at Gaildorf/West for interchange between DB and weg. This will be primarily wood chips cars coming loaded off the branch, as well as various cars for consumers located on the branch.
In order to function as meeting point for mainline trains, the tracks need to be long enough for the longest planned train. The longest side of the room is 490 cm. To balance the appearance of straight track and train length the longest train should probably not exceed much beyond 200 cm. 
Hence, I decided to make the longest passenger trains about 180 cm. That works out to five 26.4m 1:87 length-scale cars, plus an engine. Freight trains could be a bit longer, but should not exceed 210 cm, i.e. about 10 Gbs "long" box cars, or more than 15 Gs regular box cars ... This is only 60% longer than on the Welztalbahn, but a full freight train in a siding at Emsingen occupies the whole track between the turnouts with no room to spare, a look I'm trying to avoid on the Murrbahn project.

The space I have available for Gaildorf/West is 470 cm long. I need to fit the station and the approach tracks which requires compromises, but I'm trying to stay as close to the prototype track plan as feasible.

A walk in the neighborhood

Enjoying the Christmas decorations in the neighborhood.



Monday, December 24, 2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Fourth Sunday of Advent

West Cliff Drive Santa Cruz

Sunday. Good weather. Nice waves.  Surfin' time!

Lots of folks in the water today. Even more folks watching.

It's now winter. The light starts fading in the middle of the afternoon.

Time to head home.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Hanging out at Capitola Beach

Capitola is a small town just south of Santa Cruz. The village and beach area has a unique vibe, and on a nice day like today quite a few people joined us hanging out.

At Soquel Creek
Capitola Wharf
Photo Opportunity