Monday, September 13, 2021

Passing Time at the Airport

We were early back at Sea-Tac and had a couple hours to pass before boarding, so I spent some time taking photos.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Night at South Lake Union

Nice view after great Neapolitan Pizza at Tutta Bella

In the air again

A quick trip to the Pacific North West.

As we start our descent into Sea-Tac, the sun and clouds frame our shadow with a circular rainbow.

I don't think I've flown the approach from the North into Sea-Tac yet. Great scenic loop over the Pudget Sound and past downtown Seattle. However, I don't think the locals are as excited about this flight route as me ...

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Der Tunnel - Verbindungsbahn der S-Bahn Stuttgart

It's rare that railroad projects are documented in vast detail from the perspectives of civil engineering, economics, and social impact in a single book. "Der Tunnel" is one of the exceptions. It describes design and construction of the central element of the S-Bahn Stuttgart: The city tunnel between Hauptbahnhof (main station) and Schwabstrasse, and it's underground continuation to Vaihingen via Universität. In over 35 detail-loaded chapters the authors work through early plans and financing of the project, discuss in detail the various construction sites within the city core, including engineering challenges of constructing a tunnel in the middle of a bustling city with difficult geology. They keep the high level of detail as they discuss the concerns and engineering challenges building the Hasenbergtunnel towards Vahingen.

Along the way they touch on such diverse topics as re-routing of sewers, tram lines, and car traffic; digging next to, or under, historic building; construction impact litigation; project financing; operational aspects resulting from tight headways of S-Bahn trains; supply and material logistics; geology of Stuttgart's underground; triangulating underground with high accuracy and verifying construction to plan; etc. etc. etc.

Hamburg method vs. Berlin method of open tunnel construction - spot the difference!

In addition to the general civil engineering aspects of the project, what I found most interesting are the many descriptions of when things were built differently than originally planned, or when things went wrong unexpectedly and what to do about it. Above is an example of how a different tunnel construction method was chosen in Rotebühlstrasse near Feuersee to get a narrower construction site and gain just under two meters extra space between the construction site and buildings lining the street to facilitate surface traffic and building access.

The book has answers for civil engineering questions I asked myself when riding the train. E.g. the lower half of the Hasenbergtunnel is constructed as two single-track tunnels that merge to a single two-track tunnel in the upper half towards Universität. You can hear the difference as the tunnel transitions when riding the train between Schwabstrasse and Universität. The reason is due to geology. The lower half of the tunnel lies in keuper gypsum ("Gipskeuper") which can develop a lot of pressure on the tunnel bores due to swelling of the gypsum in combination with water. Constructing two smaller circular bores made it simpler and more cost-effective to provide for the necessary fortification of the tunnel against rock pressure in this stratum. In the upper part of the tunnel, the gypsum over time has been washed out from the keuper rock and thus it can't develop the same amount of rock pressure on the tunnel bore. Building a larger diameter two-track tunnel was more economical in this section.

While I was studying at Universität Stuttgart, I used the infrastructure described in this book daily, so I -- along with many others that lived and live in the Stuttgart area -- have developed a special relationship with the S-Bahn. We use it daily and take it for granted. This book is an interesting look behind the scenes of what goes into such major infrastructure projects, and also provides historical perspective on changes in planning and construction methods during the early 1970's and early 80's, a period of transition towards a computerized world. 

"Der Tunnel" (ISBN: 3-925565-01-9) is written in German, was published in 1985, and can occasionally be found secondhand on abebooks, booklooker, or other sources for antiquarian books.

Monday, September 06, 2021

ETE: Bay Area Module Group at Oakland Aviation Museum

601 004 traveling across the Danish country side.

Fast-forward 50 years: 442 206 crosses a bridge that could be located in the Black Forest.

Today I hung out with the ETE Bay Area Module Group at the Oakland Aviation Museum. I even brought some trains with me.

This was a great opportunity to run the BR 601 in Intercity service in its full length consist with 8 cars, which looked great running on the long main line loop the group has set up. 

I had a lot of fun running trains, chatting with friends, and enjoying the atmosphere. The museum was quite empty, which was a pity since there's lots to see besides model trains, especially if you're into planes.

I took a short video, too.

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Roco 43012 - Preparing for an Outing

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I haven't worked on the BR 601 3-rail conversion project for almost 3 years now. I was stuck on a mechanical drive train problem, how to install lights, and how to power the sound decoder for the rear motor unit. In addition, the full train is too long for the Welztalbahn. So several intermediate cars stayed in the box, and a shortend train with the two power cars sat on a storage track in staging. 

Now I have an opportunity to run the train in its full-length glory on a larger layout in public, so I finished swapping all wheel sets for their respective AC counter parts and installed the hand rails at all doors. I'm not going to be able to finish installing the sound decoder in the second motor unit before Monday, nor lights or passengers. That will have to wait for another time. I hope that I can resolve the drive train problem today or tomorrow.