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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)
thayer Posted - 10/15/2020 : 9:31:03 PM

Very nice videos, thank you!
Coaltrain Posted - 10/15/2020 : 06:42:06 AM
had a busy summer with 1:1 projects, but this week I am back to the basement.

one thing I did do over the summer was make a 2 part video of painting a casting (I used a Bachmann On30 side dump car) to look like wood using washes. Part one is how I paint the wood parts, part 2 is how I paint the metal parts.

Part 1

Part 2
Coaltrain Posted - 09/04/2020 : 5:21:54 PM
progress on the Heisler has been slow. I did get an order from PSC for some parts and I am now able to push the project forward. I started add the bead around all the roof and tender, I added the window frames to the sides (still have to do the front), and I started some of the piping. The steam dome has been an issue for a while, I had to significantly modify it but now I think I have it as good as it is going to get without just switching it out for a new one (which I do not have). I still have to add the hatch to the top of the cab and then a little more piping and I will pretty much be done. The generator and the air tank will be fun details to add due to their uncommon locations.

while I was photo etching the window frames I made these interesting perforated plates that are on the sides of the firebox on Cass Heisler #6, I thought they were interesting so I added them to mine, they are just ahead of the cab and below the walkways. I also needed to find a way to reduce the height of the stack, which I ended up hiding by building up a spark arrestor that I made from more photo etched parts, it might not be prototypical but it helps visually reduce the out of scale size of the stack.

Coaltrain Posted - 08/19/2020 : 07:10:47 AM
Originally posted by TRAINS1941

Did you ever write on how you did it and detailed it?

i did a search and when I built the climax i was still doing On30, however I did not show the the building process, just photos of it.

Coaltrain Posted - 08/19/2020 : 07:04:19 AM
Originally posted by TRAINS1941

In the third picture the painted Climax is that the Bachman you converted to ON3?

Did you ever write on how you did it and detailed it?

It is a Bachmann On30 gauged to 36". I did it very long ago, i don't exactly how i did it but I remember it was really easy and fast.
TRAINS1941 Posted - 08/18/2020 : 10:27:41 AM
In the third picture the painted Climax is that the Bachman you converted to ON3?

Did you ever write on how you did it and detailed it?
Chris333 Posted - 08/06/2020 : 5:13:15 PM
Crazy someone spent all the money to have those made and couldn't even give them the correct scale ratio...
Coaltrain Posted - 08/05/2020 : 1:06:57 PM
the new project is actually an old project, somewhere in this post i started to work on an old On3 Westside brass Heisler. After purchasing it I learned that when Westside had the O scale model made they just told them (or someone did) to double the size of the HO model, which as we now know does not exactly work. The model is way oversized. it is shipped with O scale and On3 trucks and with the O scale trucks it is semi-passable but with the On3 trucks on it and sitting next to my other equipment it just looked odd. if you search back in this post you can see that I set out to make a new cab and totally chopped up the frame and other parts with the goal to make it look closer to O scale. I also wanted to repower it with a better motor. I contacted Lee Snover before he passed and he sent me a chain drive and coreless motor, which made it run ok, but one of the sprocket was not exactly the correct pitch and the chain jumped a little, plus the chain would ride funny going downhill and the locomotive had a bad buck.

in the previous post I showed my new gearbox design, it uses Athearn HO scale locomotive truck gears. The backhead will serve as the gearbox cover and there will be some simple detail parts printed in it and some casting applied. these days I don't go over the top on interior details anymore, I would rather have the locomotive be durable and easily serviceable then have lots of hard to work around details. the new gearbox moves the motor from the tender to the boiler, the bottom of the boiler is cut in half and the new gear box now forms the bottom half of the boiler.

all the cut apart pieces that I posted photos of years ago are now all put back together and I can now see how it all worked out. I am pretty happy with the new proportions, it is now only a little bigger looking than the Bachmann On30 Climax I have (gauged to On3)

here is the original cab compared to the new cab I am building. the cab is built from parts I photo etched in 0.015" sheet brass using a Micromark etch kit.

here is the new gear box, it was printed on my Epax X1 printer.

Coaltrain Posted - 08/02/2020 : 11:48:05 AM
the photo does not have a date on it, but Chris is right that it is for sure before 1955. the photo of the man loading hoppers in a white shirt (looking rather clean) was taken by Phil Hastings, and I have seen other photos by Phil Hastings taken of the MC in 1953, and judging by the tipple modifications I would say the loading photo was taken during the same 1953 trip. Aside from what may or may not have been the case I did add some coal dust under the shed.

I posted a "how to video" on Youtube that shows the tipple all broken down, but if you have followed along with this post you pretty much have seen it all.

As the last post about the tipple until it gets installed on the layout I did two more things to it, the first is installing lights in the car loading shed. I am not sure how may bulbs are in the shed, but from the photo I know there was at least one builb, however I added four. the bulbs are 1.5V bulbs that I 3D printed bases for. the bases are a little over sized but they look better than no base at all. I could have used LEDs but when they were off they would not looked as good as standard bulbs.

The last thing I installed, and the special surprise...wait for it.....I installed a micro camera under the loading shed so it is easier for an operator to see the cars load! I am sure it will be fine to operate without the camera but it never hurts to provide another viewing / operating option. IT is amazing the possibilities these days, and how cheap it is. I am using a small wired camera that I found on Ebay, along with a 4.5" backup camera screen, both powered by 12V.

well, that's it, it is time to move on to something new, and did I find it. Again, I had full intentions of starting on Shay #8, but when I started digging through boxes to look for parts I found another project I put aside. It is funny how easy it is to get side tracked (no pun intended), but this is a hobby and you have to go where the fun takes you. So, as a way to cleanse the palate from all this intense prototype modeling I am doing a (I hope) quick semi-fictional project, and here is the start.

Chris333 Posted - 07/30/2020 : 5:51:54 PM
Well the whole railroad shut down in 1955 so all photos are before then.
BreizhSteamer Posted - 07/30/2020 : 3:11:57 PM
Do you have any information on when your photos were taken? Same question to Arthur.
I'm no expert on industrial history, but AFAIK concern for workers' health was neglected until the mid 20th century. Here's some reference concerning coal miners, other labours in the line of coal production would follow suit instead of spearheading improvements, I guess. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coalworker%27s_pneumoconiosis#History

So, dating the pictures might help in understanding or at least making a argument for the model's sake. As in: "The coal loading facility of the model layout is equipped with sprinkler systems, which were quite new at that time, to keep the dust development in check".
That would give you some freedom to decide whether you want the grimey look of early industries or a more cleaner look.

Arthur: Do you happen to have information on when that picture was taken?
Coaltrain Posted - 07/30/2020 : 10:31:02 AM
I guess I read it wrong. You’re correct that it should be dusty from coal loading, and when when I made the statement “done” I guess I should have said “done for now”, I still have lights that need to have the wires routed and my little surprise installed.

Since you mentioned coal dust I had to go back and look at the photos I have and what is interesting is that I don’t see a lot of coal dust, even in the photo I have of them loading a car. I wonder if they treated the coal at the strip mine so it was dustless. What is interesting is in the photos I have of workers in the photos, the workers are not all that dirty, and you think they would standing in the shed with the cars. I may have to look into that more.
Craig H Posted - 07/30/2020 : 09:21:23 AM
Black Lung Disease.... Lots of coal dust in that picture.
CieloVistaRy Posted - 07/30/2020 : 07:03:40 AM
Correct, the prototype loading/unloading was always a terrible mess until water was utilized as a means of tamping down the dust.

In the below picture, you can see the hopper in the upper left.

BreizhSteamer Posted - 07/30/2020 : 03:35:40 AM
Originally posted by Coaltrain

Originally posted by CieloVistaRy

Only one thing I'd nitpick over. With all that loading/unloading, there had to be a huge amount of coal dust. Are you going to hit the structure(s) with a good deal of soot to simulate all that coal dust getting on everything?

Thanks! Coal dust won’t be an issue because I am not using coal, it is screened black aquarium rock.

It's a very good idea to use that aquarium rock, it will make operations a lot cleaner and thus you will have no maintenance due to clogged hinges etc.
However I believe Arthur is hinting at the prototype: A coal loading/unloading operation would throw up a lot of coal dust, so your model might be considered as appearing too clean.

That being said, your model and whole layout is an amazing piece of work and art! I totally adore models that are so detailed and on top of that fully operational. Keep it up!


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