Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Friday, December 30, 2016

Listening to my operators

Through the 5 operating sessions I have held so far I have received some good feedback on the layout and the operations. Some suggestions have been easy to address, like train sequence, which I have done through schedule changes in each subsequent session. Others have been more "infrastructure" related, involving track. Sometimes this has been addressed by explaining something about the layout and the prototype operation, and that has resolved the issue (like running from Whitefield to Crawford Notch to use a passing siding).

However one suggestion has been mentioned a couple of times by different people, so I am thinking it may have merit. Interestingly enough it involves a location where I freelanced the track plan instead of following the prototype. The prototype usually gets it right, so this comes as no surprise.

In the Morrisville yard I provided a passing siding to assist in breaking down and building trains. It works, but it could be easier if the siding was longer and also if it was not one of the yard tracks. With a limited number of yard tracks, it becomes tough to tie up the mainline and the siding and still have room to move power onto and off trains and also maneuver the yard locomotive.

I have watched these operations and also did some test running after the last session to see how things work. My conclusion was that the suggestion to drop in a pair of turnouts to create a second passing siding would really help things.

The siding to Lamoille Grain parallels the main line (left). The turnout installed is the start of the yard ladder and also one end of the existing passing siding. As suggested, dropping turnouts as shown will allow a second, longer, passing siding on the other side of the main. 
Adding the curved turnout on the main will involve removing a piece if the ballasted main line and a little scenery, but that shouldn't be too difficult. I will need to do some roadbed transition as the siding height is 1/8" lower than the main. The regular turnout on the siding will be even easier, a simple drop in for a cut out track section.

All the turnouts in this area are controlled by ground throws mounted at the layout edge (see earlier post on this). However doing it the same way for these 2 would require some major work that would damage scenery. I think the better solution will be to use Tortoise switch machines. For one, it will not require ripping out and rebuilding some scenery. But also throwing one turnout really requires the other to also be thrown. This is easy to do having one control throw both machines. I'lll just have to determine the best place to add the control. It will be my only Tortoise not controlled by DCC or a Touch Toggle!

Of course, checking my supply of turnouts on hand (I still have to finish track in North Stratford and Lyndonville) reveals that I have a #7 curved turnout, right hand even, but what I really need is a #7.5 for the 28" inner radius curve. And I could use a #5 or #6 left hand turnout for the siding, and all I have are right hand turnouts. Figures! 

As the overhead shows, I need a less sharp curved turnout and a left hand (not right hand) turnout on the grain siding. Of course, I don't have these on hand!
So time to pick up the 2 turnouts I need and then see if I can get this installed without too much down time. I have the layout restaged and ready for another op session, so I'll have to see if I want to wait until this is done, or have the op session first and then come back and do track work.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

ET & HK Ide Building

I've started work on replacing the photo mock up stand in building for the ET & HK Ide building, a signature element of the St. Johnsbury yard scene. I constructed the mock up probably 12 years ago. At first glance it does a pretty good job, but of course lacks many of the 3 dimensional details that make it look better.

Photos printed and applied over a foam core base - 2004.

An early picture when St. Johnsbury was still being built and only some of the track in place - 2004.
I have since built the nearby coal shed and the Allen Lumber building. I'll need to also complete the Caldbeck-Cosgrove building to finalize the main structures for this area.

From an op session last year, at the top of the photo, the coal shed behind the red CP boxcar, the ET&HK Ide building, the Caldbeck mock up, and final the Allen Lumber shed building. Behind are freelanced buildings for an ice distributor and a propane dealer.
Using basic dimensions provided via the MEC Yahoo group many years ago, I built up the core using plain styrene, and applied Evergreen styrene metal roofing. I built up the unique trim pieces using dimensional styrene as well as cut sections from sheet for the really wide trim. I am not building an exact replica as the building was deeper than I have space for. There is also a side extension that I am deciding if I want to include.

The unique siding material appears to be 4x8 sheets of embossed metal, giving it a brick like pattern, but clearly showing the individual panels. I found that a material produced by Laser Modeling 3 that replicates this. You can see it on their AR Gilmore Grain building here. The ET & HK Ide building does not have the pronounced overlap that the Gilmore kit displays, so I am not overlapping the pieces.

Here is an in progress picture:

Adding strips of the Laser Modeling 3 embossed panels. The top section appears to have a slightly different panel applied, although it is hard to tell for sure. I am just using V groove siding for that part as it seems to better capture the look of the prototype.
I'll post more pics as things progress. The next steps will be adding the loading dock, its roof and assorted doors. Painting the large block letters will also be a challenge, along with building the grain elevator chute and platform. The delivery tubes will use styrene tube already on hand. Overall I expect this will take a while, but it is good to get this structure started finally!

For reference, here are some pictures I took in 2002. You can also find many more online, and with trains actually in the pictures too! The building is still there and the yard looks a lot better now that the Vermont Railway has taken over operations of the line.

The coal shed is seen to the left of the ET & HK Ide building, and the spur track leads right into it. Up to the right is the corner of the Callback building and some add on buildings.

Trackside view. The dock roof has seen better days! To the left is the add-on section that I may include - I am reviewing different pictures to get a better idea how it looks.

This loading dock is right up to the track. I believe the elevator chutes led to below track level, although I have no pictures of that. These chutes were added later and are not in earlier photos. They were added right around my timeframe, so I will include them as they are a nice detail item.

The panel sections are evident in this shot, and the overlapping is not as pronounced as the Laser Modeling 3 kit, so I am butting the panels up to each other and not overlapping. I will pull a few seams out to match some of the wear seen on the prototype.
There is actually a historical web site for the ET & HK Ide building with some neat older photos. Check out