Friday, April 22, 2011

To Finish the Shortline's Benchwork...

I have a quick update for you, another 'what happens when you build a permanent model railroad in an old house' post.

To complete the shortline benchwork, I need to build only about 8 linear feet of remaining subroadbed.  We are CLOSE!  It will connect the stair-tunnel, which is already in place, with the bridge for Skaneateles Creek, which is ready to go as well.  However, it is anything but conventional.  This will be a 90-degree, 20" radius turn that needs two 3-foot approaches, and the whole thing is built right along a stone foundation, over the wooden landing from the stairs, and beneath the electrical panel on the wall.

Further, the big turn will be in front of the domestic water supply and meter for my home.  As I was measuring, I noticed some wet drips from the unions around the meter...

See all that nice blue-green color?  Yup.  Corroded copper line.  The water company was called, and came to look only to advise that they do the meter, not the unions, so this is my problem.  This is upstream of my shut-off valve, which complicates things as they need to turn off our supply at the curb for us to even do this work.   I do most of my own plumbing, but this one is just a bit out of my league!

For sure, this needs to be addressed before I bury it with the shortline benchwork.  So, a plumber has been contacted, I am awaiting a quote, and we will see how things go. 

Most things are NOT easy on the Onondaga Cutoff!

Finally, Happy Easter to those that partake, and Happy Passover to the rest!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Cima Hill, and Afton Canyon

It's always a wonderful 'reset' when you can get to the desert for a while :-)

This and other prototype photos from my recent trip to California are viewable here:

I have other albums coming along, too; enjoy!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Euclid Yard - Benchwork Complete!

Hello, all!  I have just returned from a week exploring two California railroad landmarks:  Cajon Pass, and Tehachapi Pass.  It was an amazing trip!  Photos to follow!

As mentioned in the last post, there has been significant progress in short-line construction recently as well.  The Minoa & Euclid Railway will terminate at Euclid Yard, and the benchwork for that yard and for most of the shortline's main route is all now in place. 

First, Euclid Yard.  This is across the aisle from Onondaga Yard on the Cutoff, which is on the left in this photograph.  I made sure to leave plenty of space for operators to walk around each other here, about 40 inches, thanks to some recommendations from you all!

The main route for the M&E will climb the grade in this photo up to the tunnel through the staircase, while the level piece will be an industry - Central Car Repair Shops - which will actually be right at my workbench, and will be a big customer of the M&E. 

If you look below the surface of the yard in the photo above, you can see that this was a non-conventional set up.  The issue is that the sewer main for my home is directly below the studs, necessitating some creative supports for the railroad.  This began with setting a height for the yard, which dictated the length of studs I would need.  Once cut, I used heavy through-bolts for the thinner joists, and lag bolts for bigger joists, both with washers to hang 2X4 studs from the floor joists above.  Here is an installation of 1/4" lag bolts in one of my home's huge 10"x10" main beams.
A special thanks to my wife, Kristen, for help positioning these studs - they are not easy to support before clamping and bolt installation.  Those studs come down to about 3' off the floor, allowing me to use 2X3 longitudinal bracing to set the stud spacing, and more 2X3 diagonal bracing to support the horizontal cross-members.  Gusset plates, cut down from scrap plywood, are used to connect the diagonal bracing and the cross-members.
In all, it seems very solid to me, if unconventional!  If needed, I can always add a few legs to the horizontal members closer to the aisle, but I hope to avoid that with this heavy bracing.

Once the main route of the M&E begins to climb out of Euclid yard, it works through a gentle s-curve on a 2.5% grade over the workbench area and up to the stairs, where it passes through a tunnel to stay along the foundation. 
At the top of this grade will be the start of a tunnel through the stairs.  This will require a bit of creative carpentry, to allow trains to pass without getting stepped on.  As you can see, the entire stairway shifts at this point, so this should work out well, but I will need to cover the track here to ensure rail traffic and foot traffic do not mix. 
All that remains is to connect this subroadbed with the construction on the front wall, only about 6 more feet of benchwork!  However, it will be on a curve in front of the water supply line, which has a small leak from the meter.  The water company will be looking at this during the week, and then it's time to connect everything together.  Good times coming on the M&E and the Onondaga Cutoff!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April's Status

Shortline progress continues, with all major framing in place to support the far south end of the short line at Euclid Yard!  This took some doing, as just before I was about to mount the footer beam to the concrete floor, I realized I was over the gravity sewer main for my house - not a wise spot to permanently place a full-height wall, and an even less wise spot to drill holes for masonry anchor bolts. 

That could have been some bad news.

Having realized the dilemma, I consulted with my friend Rick, who suggested framing the area out with 2X4's through-bolted to the floor joists above, to create a hanging table.  If I then tied together the studs with a horizontal girder and stringer arrangement, it should result in a sturdy table.  He recommended adding legs, too, but instead I used diagonal bracing running from the middle of the table back down to the bottom of the hanging studs.  The result is actually very stable, and so far it seems to be just what we need to support the table. 

Also in progress is the newly-built through-truss kit for Skaneateles Creek.  This is a nice, long through-truss built from a Walthers kit that will be painted and weathered for use on the short line.  This will be one of the first scenes people see when they come down into the basement, so I want it to be impressive - and a big bridge is always impressive!

The last benchwork needed is the odd arrangement required to pass through the basement stairway in a tunnel, and make a 20-inch radius turn along the foundation to connect both halves of the shortline benchwork.  This will require some creativity - stay tuned!

Photos to come soon!