Lewiston Branch: Layout Plan

Continued from The Lewiston Branch in L-Gauge: Introduction

My next challenge was turning 7.5 miles of branchline into a realistic, operating, achievable layout plan.  As with any era-specific model railroading project, I started with my historical references.  In this case, primarily the Robertson and Davis’ book Grand Trunk 713 and the Lewiston Branch, but also Grand Trunk Heritage by Philip R. Hastings and Grand Trunk in New England by Jeff Holt.  These were filled with images of trains operating in various points along the line and gave me ideas for the “scenes” I wanted to model along the line.  Most of the line and places I want to model from the 1950s are still here today and I could turn to Bing to help me out.

1. Danville Jct. 2. Lewiston Jct. 3. Littlefields Crossing 4. MEC Overpass 5. Auburn Depot and Androscoggin River Bridge 6. Lewiston Yard

I was able to identify 6 scenes that appeared in historical photographs and I think really captured the essence of the line.  The idea is that any observer familiar with the branch could look at these places arranged together and identify the railroad I was trying to model without any explanation. I’m trying to keep the layout achievable, so for the near future I’m going to focus on the following two scenes:

Littlefields Crossing

Aerial view of Littlefields Crossing in Auburn, ME

The branch crosses a 120’ truss bridge over the Little Androscoggin river.  In the early 1900s until the 1930s an electric tram service, the Portland Interurban Line, crossed the Grand Trunk tracks and over a stone arch spanning the river.  The line was abandoned and a truss road bridge erected next to it, however the stone arch of the Portland Interurban is still there today and is used to carry pipes over the river.

If anyone knows a good technique to model an 80-stud wide stone arch like this, I’m all ears.

StreetView of the Littlefield’s Crossing bridge from Hotel Rd. The vegetation in the foreground is the stone arch of the Portland Interurban.

The Lewiston Yard

1. Lewiston Depot 2. Swift Meat Packing Plant 3. Freight Shed 4. Store House (Platform?) 5. Enginehouse 6. Armour and Company Meat Packing Plant 7. Freight Transfer Platform 8. Freight Transfer Platform 9. Hall and Knight Hardware Company Shed 10. Shed 11. Cross and Company Grain Mill 12. Max Millar Scrap Company 13. JB Skinner Coal Shed and Trestle 14. US Bobbin Company Shed 15. Oil Tanks 16. Lewiston Handle Company

As you can see from the yard diagram I’ve reproduced on the Bing map, the Lewiston yard was full of industries and operating potential.  It could be (and may very well turn out to be) a layout in itself.  There’s plenty of demand for all sorts of rolling stock whether its boxcars, refers at the meat packing plants, gondolas at the scrap company, tankers for the oil tanks, or hoppers at the coal trestle and engine shed. Within the yard the focal points are the enginehouse at the center and the depot at the east end.  A canal bisects the yard providing a visual break and some varying elevation in an otherwise flat surface. 

The track plan.

The 1st draft layout plan in BlueBrick

I opted to make Littlefield’s crossing my westernmost scene instead of the Androscoggin River Bridge.  The Androscoggin River Bridge is about 360 feet long which works out to be 9 baseplates at this scale.  Building the bridge and the river itself would be a pretty significant undertaking, and in my opinion not as visually interesting as some of the other scenes on the line.  I felt like the truss at Littlefields could convey the impression of a bridge at the west end of the yard, but also serve the purposes of representing a scene further down the line.  I’m going to try to put the track and roads at an angle like builder MTM-MD does with some of his creations to make the scene more interesting. 

The yard itself I’ve applied a generous amount of selective compression.  I have an 8-foot long banquet table to use, which pretty much decided how much space I have for the yard.  Full 1:48 scale, the yard would be a good 25 baseplates in length, and I’d guess maybe 10-12 deep, which while super accurate is highly impractical for my basement (and my marriage!)  The structures will be compressed to about 75-80% scale size which allows them to both fit in this smaller space and saves my budget for the project whilst still creating the impression of being full scale.  The northern sidings with their various industries will have to be represented by some short 1-2 car sidings and façade structures.

One shortcoming with this plan is the track is squeezed so tightly that the northern bay where the locomotive would park will have to be non-functional.  This won’t impact switching operations though.  The other shortcoming is that this uses R40 switches which aren’t very realistic looking and may give my 713 model some problems.  Given the price of printed R014s and my space currently available, I figured this could wait for another day.

The Lewiston Depot today. The signage painted on the brick in the early 20th century is still visible.

In the end though, I have 7 spots for switching cars, a spot for the combine, and plenty of space for building up the return train to Lewiston.  The basement is cleaned up (mostly.) and the tables are in place.  Now it’s time to hit the brick.

Prague Main Railway Station, a Diorama

Railway Stations are massive things, definitely in the scales we as Lego Trainheads are building. A great example is Cale’s post about the PennLUG Lines, which shows that a Main Railway station easily rivals with its Staging Yard when it comes to size. However, that doesn’t mean you should not try building one. And thanks to The Lego Company (TLC), there is now a great example you can visit, as long as you are willing to travel to Kladno, Czech Republic. More specifically, we are talking about a model of Praha hlavní nádraží, the main Railway Station of Prague.

Praha Hl.N.

Thanks to a link shared on the Lego Train Fan Club page over at Facebook which caught my eye, I started to do some more research to find out as much as I could about this Diorama. There is a good reason for that: Having lived in Prague for two years and being in that station on almost weekly basis, it’s very close to me. Everything that makes Praha Hl.N. the station I love is there: The old station building, the Magistrala (the highway in front of the Railway Station), the new railway station and its interior (visible in front of the highway), the metro, and the actual double canopy above the tracks.

It turns out it’s not only a great model, but it even has running trains (one Shunter, one Main Line Locomotive which is about to couple with a rake of Intercity coaches, and a Metro!), moving elevators, lights… You name it, it’s there!

Continue reading Prague Main Railway Station, a Diorama

Research – Where does he get those wonderful toys?

Over on our Facebook page, reader Martijn van der Linden asked a great question about where, exactly, some of us find our research material while building.

My short answer was, everywhere.

For a longer answer, here are a few of the places that I look for information and inspiration.

  • Online: The Internet has, literally, the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. The difficult part can be sorting out useful information from not-so-useful information. I tend to follow some of the scale-modelers websites, some modeling blogs, and a lot of Facebook forums that include information on the railroads or scales that I am interested in.
  • My Personal Collection: I’ve been collecting information on trains for a number of years, so I have a decent collection of books, magazines, and photographs that I’ve picked up along the way. Much of this was second-hand, either from modelers who were leaving the hobby, or from train show vendors with good deals.
  • Libraries: Everything I have in my personal collection can be found in libraries. Here in rural Vermont, libraries tend to be small, so I may need to look in more than a few for the information that I need, but it’s usually worth it. Many libraries, especially the small local ones, haven’t had their collections digitized, so you’ll often find information that you can’t find online.
  • Historical Societies: A number different organizations have historical societies who collect and sometimes publish information about the past. In my case, The Rutland Railroad Historical Society publishes a quarterly journal that contains photos, drawings, and sometimes interviews with past railroad employees. This gives me a wealth of information about that particular railroad. Outside of the Rutland, I also like to visit town historical societies. A lot of times these small places will have photos and documents that, like small libraries, can’t be found online. Some will even have museums with artifacts from the railroad that you’re trying to model.
Rutland Flatcar
Rutland 2762 with its real-life inspiration at the Danbury Railway Museum
  • Museums: Museums are amazing places, ranging from the small town ones mentioned above, to the big railroad oriented ones like those in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. Several years ago I had a train display at the Danbury Railway Museum with a couple of friends. As it turned out, their collection of rolling stock included two Rutland cars that were being saved for preservation. I was able to get detailed photos of the cars, and chat with a couple of the guys who helped moved them originally.
  • Train Shows: Train shows are my version of the best holidays. Surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other train fans, browsing through tables of products ranging from brand new to decades old, I always find inspiration. A couple of the large shows that I attend include collections of photographs, where I can sometimes find photos or drawings that have never been published before. I generally can find a book or magazine to add to my personal collection as well. A lot of the attendees go there to buy models. I go to attain information.
  • Other Modelers: Many of my friends are modelers, and most don’t focus on the same things. For instance, while I tend to collect information about the Rutland Railroad, I know that if I ever need information about the Ma & Pa, Cale would be a good source. My friends also model in different scales, so I can, for instance, ask my Live Steam friends how a particular boiler arrangement might work, or an HO modeler where to find information about older diesel locomotives. Some of these friends have, or do, work for the railroad, so they can sometimes give me information based on experience.

For a few specific places that I like to look online, here are some links. Keep in mind that I’m a northeastern United State modeler. Other countries may have other sites worth looking into.

  • Steam Locomotive Dot Com – Includes builder’s photos, specifications, and locations of existing equipment.
  • Fallen Flags and Other Railroad Photos – Photographs and manuals, organized by road name.
  • Railpictures.net – User-submitted photos from all over the United States, searchable by road name, locomotive type, and location.
  • Google Books – Digitized books going back to as far as the 1700s. A couple of my favorites are the Car Builder’s Cyclopedia’s, and some of the Railroad Structures books. You can also sometimes find railroad timetables, and industry information from the time-period.

The Lewiston Branch in L-Gauge: Introduction

Much like Elroy, a scant 50 miles from me on the other side of the green mountains, I’m a huge fan of incorporating realistic railroad operations in minimal space with my Lego trains.  Our influences are the same, Model Railroader and the old Railroad Model Craftsman magazines, the late Carl Arendt’s micro layouts website, and the Trevor Marshall’s Port Rowan in S Scale blog.  I’ve built a number of L-Gauge operating layouts over the years such as my freelanced Port Lego – North Bay, an Inglenook based on the BR Railfreight Distribution of the 80s, and even a tiny switching layout based on modern Claremont and Concord Railway operations in Claremont, NH. 

Continue reading The Lewiston Branch in L-Gauge: Introduction

A follow-up on a follow-up

After Elroy followed up on my article about scaled Lego Trains within an already scaled L-gauge environment, this time around with a moving example, I had to follow-up on that one again. For good reasons though. Just check out the video and see it for yourself.

Miniture Train Video – by Alexander

Of course all credits go to its builder, Alexander.

Continue reading A follow-up on a follow-up

FINDING INSPIRATION IN STRASBURG PENNSYLVANIA: PART 2

It’s time for part 2 of my Finding Inspiration in Strasburg Pennsylvania. In part 1 I introduced the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and the models I’ve built, that have been inspired from there. That article can be found here. Now it’s time to take a stroll across the street, literally, to the Strasburg Rail Road.

The Road to Paradise

Strasburg’s 89 is pulling an opening day passenger train past 475 as it waits in the siding with a special photo freight charter.

Continue reading FINDING INSPIRATION IN STRASBURG PENNSYLVANIA: PART 2

Matson’s Landing in L-Gauge – A Question of Scale

On the last installment of the Matson’s Landing in L-Gauge series, Mike Pianta asked what scale the locomotive will be if I build it as an 8-wide model. Fortunately, that’s just the topic I had planned to cover in this post.

Generally LEGO® train builders fall into two camps: 6-wide and 8-wide. Traditionally, official LEGO train designs have been built to a “scale” of 6 studs wide. Since the LEGO Group’s trains aren’t really scale models, the width of the design is less important than the playability of the set. Builders wishing to add more realism to their models tend toward the 8-wide “scale” (roughly 1:48) which is a good match to the scale height of a minifig.

For the Matson’s Landing layout, I had originally decided to go with an 8-wide, 1:48 scale. This would allow me to quickly convert real life measurements into studs (real measurement, divided by 1.25, equals number of studs). However, as I began researching logging locomotives to build, I had a realization.

Logging locomotives are really small.

Climax Locomotives
Climax Locomotives

As I wrote in my last post, I’ve settled on building a Climax locomotive. While researching, I found that Climax Manufacturing Company, in their catalog, offered three different models of geared locomotive. The Climax “A” style locomotive is most like the Clishay locomotive that I wrote about before, with an upright or T-style boiler on a basic flat frame. The Climax “B” style is a more traditional looking machine, though the angled side-mounted pistons drive gears beneath the locomotive, instead of directly moving the driving wheels. Their “C” style locomotive is basically a style “B” with an additional tender and more wheels. After reading through the Climax catalog, I really liked the look of the Climax “B”. The gearing is more involved than what I had originally planned, but a challenge while building is always a good thing.

With a definite prototype model picked out, my next step was to research measurements. I took to the Internet in search of articles, photos, and builder’s drawings. I was fortunate to find a mention of scale drawings of a Climax “B” in the February 1985 issue of the magazine Railroad Model Craftsman. I was even more fortunate to find that I had a copy of that issue in my personal magazine collection. I quickly found the issue and read about the Cario & Kanawha Climax No. 5.[1]

(Tip: If a model railroader in his 80s offers to sell you 30 years worth of modeling magazines, especially Model Railroad Craftsman, buy them).

While the article on C&K No. 5 was interesting, what I was really after were the scale line drawings by Ed Gebhart. The basic dimensions shown on the drawings where close to what I had read in the Climax catalog, so I felt fairly certain that any other dimensions would be correct. I scanned the drawings and loaded them into LEGO Model Scaler, an online tool by Paul Kmiec, a.k.a Sariel, of Poland.

LEGO Model Scaler
Prototype drawings in LEGO Model Scaler

LEGO Model Scaler is an awesome tool. Upload an image from the web, draw a known dimension over top of it, enter how many studs that dimension should be, and hit the calculate button. From there on out, any other dimensions you draw over your image will be shown in studs. Incredibly handy for building truly scale models. The other nice thing about the tool is that if you enter your dimensions at a 1:1 scale, you can quickly find dimensions that aren’t listed on the drawings. For instance, on the C&K No. 5 drawing, the narrow gauge track is dimensioned at 3 feet wide. Entering 3 as my base dimension in Scaler, I can quickly see that a Climax “B” locomotive was only 7.5 feet wide. At my target 1:48 scale, this would only be 6 studs wide. While this does fit the scale, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for the PF components (battery box, IR sensor, and motor) needed to run the locomotive.

Climax Rear
Too narrow?

With this in mind, I thought about a few options. I could keep the original scale that I had settled on, and put the PF battery box, and possibly more, in a separate car that would always be attached to the locomotive. Stephen Pakbaz did this very successfully with his Shay Engine. I see the Matson’s Landing layout as a switching layout, however, so I really want the locomotive to be independent of any other cars.

Another option would be to build the locomotive in scale with the track. Climax locomotives were offered in both standard and narrow gauge. Narrow gauge would give me lots of room for electrical components and details, but the model, and therefore the layout, would be huge.

A third option, which I’ve decided to go with, was to base the locomotive scale on the size of the driving wheels. Measuring the standard LEGO train wheel, which I’m planning on using for the drivers, I found them to be about 2.5 studs wide. Looking at the wheel diameter listed in the Climax catalog, I found that the prototype wheels were, on average, 28 to 30 inches. Using these dimensions, and LEGO Model Scaler, I found that I could build my locomotive at roughly 1:33 scale. This should allow me enough space to keep all of the PF parts on board the locomotive, but still be small enough to have a workable layout in the end. Oddly enough, I found that the Climax, at 1:33 scale, turns out to be 8 studs wide. So, while the scale isn’t originally what I had planned, the dimensions are.

In the next post, I’ll go over the start of the locomotive build, and my iterative process for building a (hopefully) functioning model.

[1] Kline, Ben. “The Mystery of Cairo & Kanawha No. 5.” Railroad Model Craftsman, February 1985, 73-76. Drawings by Ed Gebhart.

Carriages matter

Einheitswagen I der Rhätischen Bahn (side) by Leuchtstein

We as Model Railroaders have a tendency to love locomotives. This is pretty understandable, seeing that without loco’s, our trains would just be big pieces of metal rusting on tracks. However, we should not neglect our carriages, because they deserve our unconditioned love as well. Thankfully Leuchtstein at 1000steine has understood this as no other and has build the iconic Einheitswagen I from the Rhätische Bahn, the well-known narrow gauge railway in Switzerland.

Continue reading Carriages matter

Glenn Holland: The Rebuilder

This past week, I watched an episode of James May: The Reassembler. In the opening episode of season two, May walks through the reassembly of his first ever toy train set, a Hornby Flying Scotsman with realistic chuffing sound, which he received one year as a Christmas gift. Quite ironically, a week before, I had begun exactly the same endeavor, rebuilding my first ever LEGO train set.

https://cdn.globalauctionplatform.com

The 9-volt era had several diamond sets: the Metroliner and Santa Fe Super Chief among them. There were also several oddball sets, with no real prototype counterpart. Set 4561 Railway Express, which I received on Christmas morning around the year 2001, was one such set. But this didn’t stop me from enjoying the set. I built it with the aid of my father and we watched it run around the simple oval track for hours, loading and unloading the wagons countless times. Then, after I got bored of the set, I tore it apart and begun making my first rudimentary train MOCs.

Continue reading Glenn Holland: The Rebuilder