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

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Fantasy of Lights at Vasona County Park

Every year Vasona County Park puts on a drive-through holiday lights show. This feels like a typical American thing to do, and we've never been here before. It's time.

A large portion of the park has been transformed into a sea of light displays.

This show is super-popular. As expected, the line of cars waiting to get into the park was quite long.

Nevertheless, with christmas music in the car and family, it was a very enjoyable way to spend the time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Bearded Dragons: Done Sleeping

Hera and Zeus were hibernating the last two months and, just like last year, woke up in time not to miss Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Back to Work

The ground is still wet from yesterday's "OMG WINTER STORM", known elsewhere as "rain". Nevertheless, I wussed out and didn't take the bike to the shuttle stop today.
Still nice clouds today, and it's amazing what software can get out of a smart phone camera sensor ...

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Saturday, December 15, 2018


The last early morning start into the weekend this year.

Friday, December 14, 2018

A Few Drops of Rain ...

... and a couple weeks later this turns green.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Anticipation, too

Been here for an hour. Still waiting ...

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Radius vs. 26.4m cars

The shipment had a circle of large radius K-track which I'm planning to use in the helix for the Murrbahn project. I had some concerns about clearance in the helix with long passenger cars, but as we can see this will work just fine, even for exact 1:87 scale cars. The cars shown in the photo are 1:93 scale length-reduced. The double track is 55.3cm and 61.8cm radius respectively.

I also got some curves at 90cm radius as used with the large radius Marklin turnouts. The cars look really nice with this large radius. I originally planned to use 90cm as the minimum radius on visible track when planning the Murrbahn project. Even though the room is quite spacious, doing so has been challenging. Since the crew is on the inside of most curves, I can go a bit tighter while still mostly maintain this nice look. We'll see how this will all play out once I get to that stage.

Meanwhile these cars are safely packed away since they look terrible on the tight radiuses used on the Welztalbahn.

Second Sunday of Advent

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Untergroeningen: Module Kits

The table saw got a workout today. I cut the necessary pieces to build the frames for the Untergroeningen module set. Those modules are sized and shaped to fit with the the future Murrbahn project, but for now I'm planning to attach the module to my existing Welztalbahn layout.

Even though this is a rather low-end table saw, the cuts are much more accurate than with the jig saw, or portable circular saw. The frame and cross ties will be built from 3/4" plywood. Admittedly that's overkill and heavier than desired. However, I hope that the modules will be more dimensionally stable.

All pieces cut and arranged.

The angled segment will take some effort to get right.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

'Tis the Season

The fridge at work is stocked with season-appropriate beverage.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Dave Parks' Cumberland West - Back at Williams Street

I'm back at Williams Street Yard. This time I was prepared. I knew what I was getting myself into. I had experienced tower operators at Virginia Street and Viaduct. I had most cars in the yard identified with their respective car cards. When the session started, I was ready to go. I made the moves I had planned for BO11, the train that started my slide downhill the last time.

Only that this time BO11 didn't arrive at Williams Street until almost the very end of the session. I even got to service BO29, the mail train. The afternoon session today apparently had run very slowly and everybody was well behind schedule.

BO29 normally gets switched on the West-bound main. We tried it on the freight siding instead, which worked well and opens the possibility for additional switching moves the B&O did to this train in 1953 at Williams Street, while at the same time not blocking the main tracks. The photo below has the Western Maryland Ridgley Yard on the right, the River Interchange track in the middle, and Williams Street Yard up on the embankment on the left. BO29 is the train with lots of express cars and the single passenger car. The Virginia Street Tower operator can be seen in the rear.

Here's BO29 after it has left Cumberland, climbing the grade from Piedmont to Oakland.

When BO11 finally arrived, it had only one car to set out and 5 cars to pick up. I switched the train with one switcher engine in less than 10 minutes, while keeping both the freight track, and the eastbound main open. The mental preparation had paid off.

End of the session. Time for a visit to the local bar.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

First Sunday of Advent


Niederegger Marzipan is hands-down the best marzipan on the planet. It's no surprise that in early December there are lots of freight trains bringing the good stuff everywhere. The Marzibahn trains of course get priority over any other traffic.

There's even a video.