Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Working on Whitefield

I've spent a few sessions continuing to work on the scenery in Whitefield, starting from the area where I added trees up to the diamond crossing. I ballasted the B&M and MEC tracks and added dirt and grass between. The MEC track is straight Arizona Rock ballast, NS/CSX blend. The B&M is a mixture that includes Northern Pacific gray along with sone various other ballasts I have on hand to create a dirty blend to represent older ballast. The MEC in my time period was regularly ballasting the Mountain Division and I wanted the clean look that is evident in many pictures.

The other areas include various Scenic Express blends of dirt and turf. I added static grass with a Noch Grassmaster, and also some sections of Heki wild grass fibers. I still plan to add more, and then fill in more trees as well.

It is nice to see the structures in a sceniced area. It is a lot of fun to bring the scene to life with some added details I've had for quite a while. Included is a casting for the B&M call box. Plenty of more details will be added, especially around the MEC section house. But for now it is a good start.

An overall view of area. In the back is a dark brown patch where I will add a structure for Whitefield Plastics.

A lower level view of the ball signal with a B&M and MEC train staged. 

Looking back towards the ball signal, this grade crossing links to the section house parking lot. Additional weeds and treatment to the gravel will be done here.
The siding for Whitefield Plastics is in place, but I need to build a structure and some tanks for the covered hoppers to unload. I like the way the the gravel road came out, which has a number of different materials added and final dusting of granite dust.
A close-up of the section house. Pretty cool Dodge pickup model that will look good in this prominent location. Just need to add the NH license plate decals.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Scenery Work

I have not posted in December, but I have been doing some work on the layout. As in previous posts, I continued work on the Johnson Rt. 15 scene. A cleaned up some scenery areas that were missed in the initial round. I also added a paid of bicycle riders and road signs, along with highway guardrail. Next up will be putting the concrete walls on the highway overpass. That will finish up the majority of the background scenery items. Moving forward I plan to add a gas station to the gravel lot area, finish track detailing and ballasting, add some more trees to the hillside, and finally address the talc mill buildings needed.

A couple of bike rides take a break going up hill. A wash out of the road next to the guard rail is posted with safety cones. The new Pass With Care road sign is installed.

The gravel area to the left will have a small gas station added in the future. And next to the truck will be the concrete sides of the VT Route 15 overpass that crosses the Lamoille Valley track below.
I jumped over to Groveton NH and finished up track ballasting that was not initially completed. It is amazing that if you stop work on something just how long it can sit in a certain state until it gets addressed again! I had roughed in scenery and the paper mill buildings, plus the wood chip pile, but the scene was still not really finished. It looks better now with the ballast, but I need to push forward and add the wood chip unloading conveyor, sone vehicles and people, and some weeds and other details to better finish the scene. I also need to paint the water tower. But at least the ballast is in, the track cleaned up and a new coat of CRC 2-26 on top of the rails to ensure good operation.

The other half of the Groveton scene now has ballast on the track along with rust chalk to the rail sides.It looks a lot better, but I still have more I want to do here.
With the ballast out I figured it makes sense to continue that work and ballast the trackage through Whitefield. I've operated enough to know I am not going to change any track at this point, ad ballasted and rusting up the track will go a long way towards making the scene look complete.

I will also focus on the tree line along the backdrop, to extend from where to stops at Crawfords and continuing all along the Whitefield area. To get that started, I decided o address the harder part of getting the spot where the B&M and MEC tracks leave Whitefield and go through the wall. No actual tunnel here on the prototype so some trees are needed to hide the departing tracks. I got a good start on them and the view is decidedly better from most angles now. Once some more trees go in, plus the Whitefield Plastics building, the entrance to the hidden trackage should be less obvious.

I did the ballast first and let that fully dry. Doing the scenery and trees can be messy, so there will be some vacuum work to clean up things, like the spilled red ground foam on the turnout. The B&M track in the back is pretty well hidden now. The MEC track to the front still can see the hole in the wall, but it is less obvious. There will be more trees added, but the view from this area makes it tough to fully hide.

Looking from the edge of the wall shows the start of the trees to hide the track. The spot here will house a somewhat newer building for Whitefield Plastics, which will receive a covered hopper of plastic pellets on the track to the front. I think in front of the track and around the end will be paved or gravel (or a combination).
I have to identify the building for Whitefield Plastics. I have a number of DPM brick kits and parts, but somehow a brick building here does not seem appropriate. The real building arrived after the MEC stopped running here, and never had rail service despite being nearby the tracks. I am thinking a metal sheathed building is more appropriate.

Next up will be continuing the ballasting through Whitefield and extending the tree line the rest of the way along the backdrop. I think these tasks will do a lot to make the layout look more complete, which is something I want to address for the coming year as the layout approaches 15 years since it was first started.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Simple Brake Holding CP Train RS-1 on Grade

For Canadian Pacific train RS-1, a local that leaves Newport (staging), it's first assignment is to switch cars at Lyndonville, which is an industrial park with a trailing point siding leading to a few industry spurs. I have a couple of temporary tracks in Lyndonville now, but want to add some more soon.

Due to the grade of the mainline coming out of Newport and progressing all the way to St. Johnsbury, Lyndonville has the main line on a grade, while the industrial park itself is flat. What this means is that CP RS-1 passes the switch for Lyndonville park and then backs its whole train into the siding and the park. It cannot leave any part of the train on the main line due to the grade.

This has worked OK as the operator can use the whole train to switch the training sidings, and work around keeping his caboose in the right spot. I thought about adding an extra unused siding where the caboose could be dropped. But it has always bothered me that the operator switches with the whole train, even with it being a short train.

I've seen various articles and pictures of different methods to hold a train on a grade, using ground throws, levers, Tortoise machines, etc. However I did not want to invest a lot of effort into something that would be used once per op session.

While doing some switching and using a wooden skewer to separate cars at the Kadee couplers, I thought that it would be easy enough to "assign" a skewer as a brake to hold the caboose and through cars on the main, and allow the train to pull forward, back into the park to do its work and then return back out to the main to pick up the waiting through cars and caboose.

It only took 5 minutes to implement the solution and the pictures are pretty self explanatory. I doubt I am the first to think of this specific idea, and sticking something like a pin into the track is something I have seen, but I like the ease and visibility of the "Hill Brake" skewer.

The caboose for RS-1 and the 1 through car wait on the main as the locomotive and Lyndonville cars will back down to the track in front to serve the local industries.
(Eventually there will be scenery and trees between the CP mainline and the MEC mainline above and behind. The CV/LVRC track is part of hidden staging)

Looking upgrade - the skewer nicely holds the train using the the Kadee coupler of the caboose. I put a little flag on the skewer so it would be more obvious what it's purpose is!

A close up of the Hill Brake skewer. It sits off to the side of the roadbed, easily accessed. Silver Sharpie marks the location of the holding hole as well as the spot to keep the skewer.