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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Coaltrain Posted - 10/13/2010 : 09:14:03 AM
This is the first official post for my new layout I am building in On3, the Slater Creek Railway. I became a fan of the Manns Creek Railway while researching information on coke ovens for a project on my HO railroad, the Roanoke and Southern. Shortly after discovering the MC an article on building MC hoppers in On30 by Sam Swanson was published in the Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette. For fun I built one hopper with the intent of it being a static display. One thing led to another and I built the car to have operating unloading doors controlled by a DCC decoder. Wanting to see the car in action I started to consider building a layout in On30, but since I had only one small space to model railroad in would mean that my HO layout would have to be torn out. My HO layout met all my goals, was published in Model Railroader, and was complete, so I decided I missed layout building and decided that I would tear out the HO layout and try a new modeling adventure.

While I really enjoy modeling prototype railroads and their equipment, and swore that the next time I would model a prototype RR, I decided to once again do a fictional railroad. My reason is I like to have a little freedom to take pieces that I like of other railroads and put them together to form my own railroad that I believe will give the viewer a good idea what form of railroading I am modeling would be like, which I do by carefully picking features of railroads that do what my railroad does. I would do not pick "one of everything" to be on my layout, rather I pick features that would have been typical of railroads that are in my area and do the same work.

I liked many of the features of the Manns Creek railroad, I liked the area where the MC was located, but I wanted to be able to do a few things differently. I wanted to have a couple Rod locomotives, I know the MC did have some at one time but I want something a little bigger than they had, and I wanted to have a few different pieces of rolling stock and do a little more than haul logs, lumber, and coal. So using Google maps I searched around the area of the MC to find a location that I could place my railroad. I found another creek a little further up the New River called Slater Creek, located along the New River at a town called Thayer on the C&O.

From what Google showed Slater Creek looked a lot like Manns Creek and was close enough to each other that I could say that coal was discovered in Slater Creek canyon as well. Actually there was a coal mine there at one time and my story is that as that coal was mined out a narrow gauge RR was built up Slater Creek to reach new seams of coal. I am using many pieces of the Manns Creek on my railroad, one of which is the car shops which I plan on building to scale.

Now I know that some of you expected me to build this layout in On30, so did I, but just recently I decided to switch to On3. I switched to On3 after having a conversation with a fellow HO modeler, who after listening to me describe what I was going to do, what scale I was going to use, and how I was going to scratchbuild almost everything and he asked me why I was going to build it in the wrong gauge. I told him all the reasons why modelers choose On30 to represent three foot gauge railroads but he said that if I was going to hand lay all my track, scratchbuild all my rolling stock, and maybe even scratchbuild a locomotive or two why would I not just build it in scale three foot gauge. I decided that he was right, all the reasons to model in On30 did not really apply to my situation, so I switched to On3.

Here is the final track plan of the Slater Creek Railway. My room is very small so I had to pick a few key scenes that I wanted to model. the first scene along the top wall (by the room door) is the coal dump trestle. I struggled for a long time with this section because I wanted to have a place to dump the coal that could justify the need for lots of coal. The MC first dumped coal into a bin that was used to feed their coke ovens, later as demand for coal increased they built a sizing plant just above the coke ovens. In the later years the coke production decreased and most of the coal went to the sizing plant. I decided that I only had room for one place to receive coal and figured that the sizing plant would be the better choice. I had a hard time fitting in the sizing plant because in O scale the structure would be huge. I condensed the sizing tipple as much as I felt it could but it was still a huge model that took a lot of layout width, pushing the narrow gauge track way to the back of the layout. I decided to try flipping the sizing plant so that the standard gauge loading tipple would be at the back drop and the narrow gauge coal dump house would be at the front edge of the layout, which puts the operating track close to the front where it is easy to reach and watch the hoppers unload coal. Flipping the tipple around also allowed me to use trees to hide the fact that the entire tipple is not modeled, cutting down on the layout width required.

Flipping the coal sizing plant will allow me to model the Manns Creek Ray’s stone engine house close to the front of the layout where it can be viewed up close. I also located a storage track here so I can have a place to store a few freight cars or work equipment. In the later years the MC did not use the stone engine house, they had built a new wood engine house at a different location, so I am going to use the stone engine house to store a passenger car and something else, maybe a locomotive used at this location, not sure yet.

The one strange feature of the flipped sizing plant will be the scenery, which will fall as it moves toward the backdrop. The narrow gauge track at the front of the layout will be at the top of the hill and the scenery will fall 16" actual inches as it goes to the backdrop. I don't know how this is going to work out, I hope it gives the operator a feeling of being high on the side of the mountain but we'll see, this will be a bit of an experiment.

Where I did have to deviate from the MC is where I located my switch back and which direction my RR leaves town, a forced compromise caused by the constraints of my room. My SCRy travels clockwise around the room as we leave the coal dump trestle, across Slater Creek and around a tall rock cliff and out of sight. As the tracks turn to the right wall they will be running along the wall of my layout room where my work bench will be located under the layout, this is the one spot there the benchwork supporting the visible track can be thin and high to provide enough room for a workbench. In the middle of the right wall there will be a turnout, one leg will continue along the south wall without an elevation change to a three track storage yard, the other leg will turn along the south wall and start a stiff grade up to my switch back located in the far left lower corner of the room.

At the switch back I believe I will have some room to model either a mining camp or a lumber camp. I think I can get a siding in here but I am not sure yet how I want to do it so I am leaving that off until I get to that point. the track plan makes it look like the switch back continues on behind the furnace and connects back to the coal dump area, which is how I intended it to be to give me a running loop, but a furnace duct passes too low to allow this and the switch back track will stub end in the wall as far as I can go. Instead the staging tracks that are located under the switch back will come back together and travel behind the furnace to form the running loop.

From the switch back the tracks will climb a slight grade to the car shop and foundry. There will be a spur on this slight grade that goes back next to the switch back to a coal mine. I am going to have a small earth loading ramp and dirt road on the mine spur where just about anything can be loaded or unloaded from railroad cars, like mining equipment, building supplies, and whatever else I can imagine.

The car shop will be the MC car shop located at Cliftop and it will be built to scale with full interior. The tracks around it follow the prototype pretty much to scale. Just pass the car shop will be a run around and a strip coal tipple, also built to scale from the MC's tipple at Cliftop. The strip tipple will be built to actual load coal into the hoppers. I am a little concerned that the tipple will somewhat block the view of the loaded hoppers but I may be able to work the scenery around it to make it work better.

Just past the run around tracks is the new wood engine house, also built to scale to match the MC's engine house at Cliftop. The engine house can hold two geared locomotives. And just as it does on the MC, there is a company store located at the end of the engine house spur. The company store will also be built to scale and have three stories above the road level in front with the scenery falling away to form what we would call a "walk out" lower level, which has a set of doors to allow the narrow gauge track to enter the basement for freight car to be spotted inside for unloading.

I know it seems like operation may be limited, but this layout was meant to be a test to see what I think of O scale narrow gauge modeling. I wanted to have it be a place for me to have some very detailed structures get a taste of this new gauge / scale. I would like to move someday to a get a larger modeling space and if I continue in this scale I can use the structures and scenes from this layout on the next. I made some changes to the room since my HO layout was torn down, one was the enclosure built around the furnace, that somewhat reduced the size of my layout space but will provide a nicer room to model in. I got very tired of the narrow aisles of my HO layout and I decided to run the layout only around the walls of the room to give the largest open space for people in the middle. I also wanted to make sure I had a running loop to be able to test and break in equipment, something I really regretted not having on the HO layout.

Well, that got a little long. I will be starting to benchwork soon, I am still doing the room remodeling. I did install the tracks behind the furnace already because once the walls are completed around the furnace because it was easier. I will be able to reach the tracks from one side if there is an issue but there was no way to install them if I had not done it first.

15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Coaltrain Posted - 06/30/2020 : 12:57:11 PM
Making more progress. I got all the wiring done and the slide pots installed in the control panel. I am going to make a temporary base for the panel until I get the layout started because I am undecided how I want the panel orientated on the layout. I figure after I get the layout up I will know if I want the panel vertical and operate the slides with my thumb, or have the panel at an angle off horizontal and operate the slides with my fingers. my thoughts are to have it at or near vertical and use my thumb on my left hand. A vertical panel will not stick out in the aisle. actually, a recessed vertical panel with an overhead light above the panel sounds like a good idea. I will post photos of the panel once the base is done.

with the wiring all done I was testing all the gates. while testing one of the solder joints I had on the ends of the gate rods broke, it was then I decided on a stronger way to make that joint. I spent an entire night building new and stronger tie-rod ends for and switched all eight rods over. I am glad i found this flaw now, even though I did make the front panel that covers the servos removable for service I still don't ever want to have to service them, so taking the time to make all the parts more heavy duty will hopefully make it so I never have to get to them.

with all the wiring and test done I am pressing on to start to add the more fragile details parts. I just printed all the jigs to start to construct the faux gate arms and all the arm supports and car shed roof. I also modified the truck dock bridge to now be mounted with magnets. The magnets are working out excellent and I plan to use them to also attach the car shed structure so it is also removable for service.

I added yet another layer of soil and coal under the structure. I think maybe just one more should do the trick, then I will add coal dust to all the ground cover and the structure under the bin. I painted the coal spill slot between track and the bin black and I am happy that it really hides it well, next I will paint the outer slot and the braces under the plywood base.

I had to adjust the side the coal bin shed, the prototype sides when back farther than I had made mine. the modifications also included removing all the bracing under the rear of the roof so I could move it back as well. I hope I am done taking backward steps.

the black painted slot is hard to see now.

Coaltrain Posted - 06/19/2020 : 1:00:48 PM
i am giving the sound thing a rest, i have watched too many videos of dump trucks. i will provide the ability to add the sound but I am moving on to other things for a while.

the tipple is moving along fine. it seems that there are days that look like nothing is getting done, then there are these big spurts where it actually is starting to look like something.

recently i have added in more ground goop around the bents. the color is off but it will all be covered. the ground around the higher elevations will be sand and about from the bin area down will mostly black coal dust. the goop is thick and it takes a while to dry.

i printed all the parts for the control board but...i didn't like it once it was finished. it all worked fine but it was way too big. i designed a smaller panel and I will show my plans for that when it is all assembled.

I designed and printed some parts for the wires to pass through the back wall of the coal bin rather than up and over it. parts turn down on the inside so the coal can't leak out of the bin.

I started on the removable roof and added sides to the coal bin shed. I made a mistake on the sides and did not extend them far enough back. I assumed the side walls of the shed extended back as far back as the bin but they actually go farther back, so I will have to add some more boards and alter the back of the roof, good thing I ran out of wood and never glued the rear roof section in place, must have been divine intervention.

the roof is working out well. I am bracing it up more than the prototype, it will need to be durable and it will not be able to be seen. One thing I a doing on this structure that is working out better than i had hoped is using small magnets to hold things in place. I used these magnets to hold the front wall in place and now to hold the roof down tight. I drilled shallow holes in the wood and just push the magnets in. the only thing to remember when installing them is to make sure they attract each other. I guess to make it easier I could have just used steel washers on one piece, I used two magnets, one in each piece, they have a nice "snap" when the parts go together.

here is how I am running the servo cables out the back.

this is one of the small magnets I am using, they are very powerful, I got them from Amazon.

this tipple is getting huge, here is a hopper and a man for size.

progress so far

artvdw Posted - 06/16/2020 : 08:36:48 AM
Would it be possible to have a loop that runs continuously and have the electronics connected to one of the speaker wires?

Art VanDeWater
River Falls, WI
Coaltrain Posted - 06/16/2020 : 06:46:21 AM
thanks Chris, that might work

18:10 of this one may work also. i am hoping to find one that is long enough to make sure it is longer than I will need it so it won't end before i close the gate
Chris333 Posted - 06/15/2020 : 5:33:17 PM
Coaltrain Posted - 06/15/2020 : 10:55:35 AM
thanks for those links. the hard part is finding the right sound. I looked at a lot of dump trucks dumping and there was either too much truck noise or the material dumping did not sound correct. I looked at loading coal into rail cars and it had the same results. I'll add the ability to have the recording play and keep searching, maybe some day I will find the right sound.

in the mean time I am working on the controls for the tipple. The plan was to use slide pots to simulate pulling on the levers of the prototype. I could not find slide pots with return springs so I pickup up the smallest return springs I could find locally. I designed a plate to hold all eight slide pots, set 1" apart. I designed a sliding plate that would go between the slide pot and the mounting plate, this plate will have a hook on the end for the return spring to pull on. the slide pots will snap in so there are no screws to be in the way of the return spring. the upper part of the plate is longer than I would have liked but I needed the distance for the springs, I will paint and decal the front of the plant, maybe I will find I need to put a set of operating instructions for the tipple in the open space above the slides and I will be glad it was there.

all parts are being printed and I will post photos of the finished products, if all goes well maybe tonight or tomorrow.

here is the design.


thayer Posted - 06/15/2020 : 01:31:08 AM
I've used this for downloading some music. Note that by clicking the share button on the video you can designate a starting time, so you don't need to download the whole soundtrack.
Chris333 Posted - 06/11/2020 : 5:50:03 PM
You might be able to lift the sound off Youtube videos. I'm sure there is something out there with a dumping coal sound.

jbvb Posted - 06/11/2020 : 12:05:15 PM
I've looked at (but not bought) players that start when power comes on. But I don't know start-up time - you want the sound to start as soon as the gate opens.
Coaltrain Posted - 06/11/2020 : 11:01:04 AM
thanks everyone. i am considering adding a sound effect that will be triggered when a chute is opened that sounds like rock or coal being dumped. I want to run the sound loud enough to almost drown out the actual sound of little rocks landing on styrene. does anyone know where I can get a good MP3 file and a device that will play it on a continuous loop until the gate is closed. what I plan on doing is adding a contact that will be closed when the gate starts to open, and will stay closed until the gate is fully shut. I will hide a speaker up in the roof that will go over the hopper cars so it sounds like the sound is coming from the cars. I may have three speakers spread across the top inside of the roof.

Anyone out there have any experience with this I would love to hear, thanks
brownbr Posted - 06/10/2020 : 07:19:37 AM
Amazing work
railman28 Posted - 06/09/2020 : 11:42:20 AM
this is coming along nicely. It's going to look super. I enjoyed the video too.

Michael Hohn Posted - 06/09/2020 : 09:29:19 AM
The dirt and rocks you worked in around the bents look very realistic.

TRAINS1941 Posted - 06/09/2020 : 09:17:03 AM
Now that was awesome!! Excellent job!!
Coaltrain Posted - 06/09/2020 : 07:22:23 AM
here is a video of the tipple test #2.


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