One car to a switch….

One reason I built the original layout from MR’s plan is because it had an oval loop to run trains around if I so wished, but it also had quite a few switching opportunities even for a small 4×8, especially with some of my own changes to the original plan.

This new expansion also adds more industries, in fact, eight within about 19 feet total. Perfect if you like a switching layout like I do. In testing the switching capabilities in and out of all the sidings and running trains back and forth between both sides of the layout and between both yards, I ended up spending four hours in a session before I realized it.

When you’re working with 2×4 foot modules however, you have to plan your track layout carefully to take advantage of space, especially when you have a 2 ft wide space to work with. Tracks, locations, and scenes in general have to be condensed when you don’t have 3,000 sq ft and 36 inch radius curves to work with.

With this in mind, at the end of the left hand side of the layout, I had to squeeze tracks and switches in to accommodate the industries I wanted, and still make the trackage look prototypical, with a bit of flowing curves, which I think I’ve done.

I have a lot of tank cars, and one for now chemical hopper, so I needed a loading track plus storage track for an enlarged Allied Chemical, but I also needed a switch lead in here as well. All in 5 ft long by 2 ft wide. The solution? Come up with this layout pictured below.

You’ll notice, and I’ve mentioned elsewhere that the switch lead will only accommodate a small switch engine plus one car basically, to get in and out of the ladder, and sidings going into the baking company. This is why I planned to station my Alco S2 down here for this purpose.

Pulling one car at a time might be time consuming, but not if you like switching. It may be boring to some if you don’t like switching. I think it adds more time to a session, and more complexity to the whole operation, for you have to plan your switching moves more carefully. I believe it adds, and will add more interest.

Some scenes this week from the Hitop…

Just some photos I’ve taken the past several days of progress on the layout. I also did a thorough track cleaning yesterday and ran trains, switching out cars in their appropriate industry sidings. Today I received a gracious gift of a Walther’s ADM elevator complex kit built by good friend Rich Rineer with the Colorado Model Railroad Museum, which is pictured below.

Industries that interconnect….

In planning my original 4×8 layout based on Model Railroaders plan, I of course researched the area I wanted to model. I knew it would be the Appalachians, particularly West Virginia. Having traveled the state made the choice easier, for I had a good idea of not only the scenery, but the industries as well.

In modeling Penn Central and having NYC and PRR locomotives and cabooses, it narrowed the area down even further. I knew from railfanning the West Virginia Secondary in the Conrail era the history of the line somewhat, especially that it was ex-New York Central. It wasn’t until I really got into more research using among other reference sources the great book ” A Sampling of Penn Central “, that I learned even more about this trackage and of the Hitop branch proper.

In reading the section on the area I intended to model, I learned that the Hitop branch had numerous load outs for coal, but two major ones were covered in the book, and that these mines were owned by Union Carbide to supply coal to their plants in the Kanawha Valley.. in previous sections here and posts I’ve outlined why this branch fit the track plan perfectly.

Even today currently I’m still doing research on industries in the valley, what their company names were, what raw materials they received, what finished products came out, and what railroad served them. This of course is due to the layout expansion, where further industries are located. In the final track plan for the expansion, I came up with eight additional industries.

I had graciously been given two kits by a friend, Walther’s ADM elevator kit with their additional add-on silos kit, so I knew this would be incorporated into the layout. In again doing research I discovered there was at least one, and I believe two big grain elevators in Charleston, one being an Early and Daniel operation. Of course I used a bit of modelers license to add this industry to Dickinson yard.

I also wanted to replace the “old” PC freight house that was now going to be my Dickinson yard office with a much larger freight house. Again, in research, I found Walther’s Water Street freight terminal which looks very close to a PC building in Charleston that housed among other departments the train dispatchers for the Secondary. Perfect for what I had in mind. This also is going on the industrial lead in Dickinson yard. Finally, I needed a small kit/building to fit between the elevator complex and the freight terminal, so I came up with Blair Lines fertilizer plant. More on why I picked this in a moment.

Now to tie it all in industry-wise. I already had quite a few grain hoppers collected over several years, and no industry for them. Now I do, the grain elevator. But what to do with these hopper cars after they’re filled? Well, there was a baking company in Charleston named Holsum. So now to find a kit for a commercial bakery for the other side of the layout. Again, I turned to Walther’s and their Magic Pan baking kit. So now hoppers would come onto the layout, be loaded at the elevator, with some being directed to Holsum Baking across the layout.

I already have a fertilizer unloading industry on the original layout, albeit just an industrial silo, and I had some fertilizer hoppers. So what would fill the bill for this industry? A fertilizer plant! I knew Blair Line made a fertilizer plant, so I checked the dimensions, and found this would fit on the expansion. So now I’ll have a spot for hoppers to be loaded with fertilizer, then taken over to the unload facility.

I had also collected quite a few gondolas filled with scrap loads, but nowhere for these to go. Now I also have two interconnected industries. On the left hand side of the expansion I had room for a scrapyard. The gondolas would be filled with scrap here, then directed over across the layout to a kit to be used for Union Carbide’s Electro-Met plant, which among other raw materials, took in scrap metal.

One other car I have quite a few of are refrigerator cars, but had nowhere for them. Now I have the larger freight terminal for some, and a wholesale grocery distributor (Davis Wholesale) for these to be switched.

So, you can see, with good planning and good research, you can find the industries that not only fit the area and region you’re modeling, but ones that also can be interconnected to add more switching and operational opportunities as well….

More work, and details, details….

Quite a bit accomplished today on the layout. First, I was able to get the last two switch stands down, then ballast around them. Afterward, came finishing the ballast glueing on the left side.

Next, I was able to place the remaining track bumpers on this side as well, along with two “concrete ” curbs at the end of Holsum Baking to keep trucks from backing out of Davis Wholesale and hitting the track bumpers. I’ll do a little more work on the track bumpers tomorrow to make sure they’re secure.

Speaking of the track bumpers, being plastic they’re not the most secure things to keep cars and locomotives on the layout if someone should run through one. I think I’ve made mine a bit more secure as I’ve secured (or will by the end of tomorrow), with a track nail in the base, drilled down through the last tie. I also decided to come up with a little idea, as I had some of the base rails sticking up in the air above the rails. The solution was to install two spikes, one on each base rail, then color these with one of the rust colored markers. The photos below show this solution. Unless you were told about these, I’m not sure anyone would notice these, or if so, might think it’s part of the track, or bumper itself. It works, and that’s the important thing.

I was also able to put down some Scenic Express earth between the two tracks into Holsum Baking, plus put some down between the rails at the end of the scrapyard, as this area will be buried in dirt. After all this was finished, I brought down one of the two recently completed syrup tank cars, and rolled it down into the siding, along with several gons filled with scrap parked in the scrapyard to judge how many I could fit in there. Photos below of this:

In the photo above you’ll notice a cork pad behind the two tracks. This area was a bit uneven still from some Sculptamold work, so I’ve sort of installed a base to fit Walther’s Magic Pan Baking kit. Better photo here:

I’ll add some ground cover and or static grass between the two tracks soon. Finally, other photos below show the rest of the track bumpers in place but not secured, plus some extra details I added around the Dickinson yard office:

Layout update….

Work continues today on the expansion. All the yard mix ballast is now down, with the exception of just around the last two switch stand pads. The last two stands still need to be installed, and should be here by Wednesday hopefully.

All the yard mix ballast is glued down on the right hand side, as well as all the bumpers on this side are installed. Just started to work on glueing the ballast down on the left side, but ran out of time before the heat and bad air quality got me. I’ll install the remaining track bumpers on the left side soon. Tomorrow I’ll finish glueing down the ballast on the left side. Finally, some extra details were added to the yard office area of Dickinson yard, including more rusted rail and rusted joint bars.