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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 Rayís 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)
Michael Hohn Posted - 12/02/2019 : 09:59:12 AM
Looking good! The balsa foam appears to work very well for representing stone.

Coaltrain Posted - 12/02/2019 : 07:47:54 AM
did a little more work to the office. started on the porch and did the stone base using balsa foam. I also got my Epax X1 printer and will get it set up a printing by the weekend if all goes as planned. the plan is to print the vault, chimney, and the remaining interior details.

Mark, the office will be right next to the stone engine house, just like the real Manns Creek, the difference will be that the trains will be going the wrong direction at that point, oh well.

in the original track plan I called the office a "house", this this is the location of the office. I am not going to make the road cross the tracks as shown, they will cross behind the office.

I am working on some changes to the track plan and when I make some final decisions I will post what changes I am considering.
quarryman Posted - 12/01/2019 : 07:30:30 AM

Could you identify where the office will be on your track plan?


Mark Chase
Richmond VA
Michael Hohn Posted - 11/29/2019 : 10:34:43 AM
I think your rendition of a kerosene water heater is very credible. Similarly, the exposed pipes. Overall, a very good bathroom. I noticed the tub needs a little clean up.

Iíve collected pictures of store and other interiors but rarely get around to using them.

jbvb Posted - 11/29/2019 : 08:28:20 AM
A good start. I also get stalled by the work required by interiors. I've tried one that's partly photographic but I have a lot more to do.
Coaltrain Posted - 11/29/2019 : 08:09:38 AM
the trouble with life is there are so many fun things to do.....and then there is something called a job. Same old song, my work is just really busy and there is nobody that seems to be qualified to hire to help. I have been working 70+ hour weeks on a very large protein concentrate plant in Russia, building a 1000 sqft shop, and rebuilding my Nova motor to factory stock. however snow is falling and the shop is not heated yet so I am crawling back to the basement.

there is something about trying to get motivated to model again after a long break, I find if very hard. I think for me it is because I typically work on stuff with motivation I get from the spark of an idea, and if I let that fire cool off I lose the that spark and motivation. such is the case with my two current projects, the shay and the office building.

The shay project got stalled for two reasons, first I am having a hard time finding the parts I need to build the new drive line. I am looking for a supplier of gears and timing belts (like the ones Bachmann uses in its HO scale locomotives). Also, I needed to get an STL printer set up and operating. I am still looking for drive parts but I am in the process of setting up the printer to make some test parts. The second reason is that after I returned from the Thunder Mesa I got inspired to do a building, so I started on the office.

the office building project got stalled because my work ramped up, and because I had to paint up all the interior detail parts. I always found build interiors fun to look at but I never really liked to do them on my stuff. I had purchased that pile of parts and I was just dragging my feet with the painting. well I made myself paint the stuff and it re-energized me to work on the office again.

sometimes the best way to get going is just set a really small goal that is easy to finish, so I picked the office bathroom. I had almost all the parts I needed to finish the interior so it seamed the easiest. I also came into possession of a hand drawn diagram of all the details of the office interior from a former employee of the Manns Creek railway. the drawing was made in 1974 it is very detailed. the only omission was what the walls looked like (color). The bathroom on the office is interesting because it has a Kerosene water heater in the corner and a bathtub. I had no idea of what a kerosene water heater looked like so I googled some images and still didn't have that great of an idea, so I just tacked glued an object in the corner as a place holder and decided that if I ever find a good image, or see one in person, I can 3D print a replacement. I figured that the water heater may have been an add in item so I ran pipes along the wall to the bathtub, I am not sure this is what was really there but it added some detail to the plain looking walls. I am going to add a mirror over the sink and maybe a towel hook.

Coaltrain Posted - 11/08/2019 : 05:49:42 AM
thanks for checking in, I am still around, life just stepped in for a while. I will get back to RR stuff soon.
us-okrim Posted - 11/07/2019 : 1:49:11 PM
Jeff, we have not heard from you in a long time and I am sure a lot of us are itching for an update on your inspiring model railroading adventures. Winter is about to set in in Minnesota so.... Any progress on the workbench or in the layout room? Maybe even another change of mind and a new inspiring layout plan?

Greetings from Atlanta, GA. Mirko
Chris333 Posted - 05/25/2019 : 2:25:52 PM
I drew up some 3D pilots for a HOn30 Climax. I printed them on my Photon, but thought it would be better to have the large part in brass for weight. Even though I swore not to use Shapeways again, they did a good job on the brass parts:
Coaltrain Posted - 05/24/2019 : 10:38:25 AM
Made some good progress on the Shay 3D models, I got the outside cylinder casting done. I left off the covers on the ends and side of the cylinder so I can make those separate parts for two reasons, one it will hide the seam, and two it will allow me to have smooth covers or exposed bolt head covers

this is the 37 ton cylinders, the 42 ton version will be 2" taller in the cylinder area only

Coaltrain Posted - 05/22/2019 : 12:31:46 PM
using a photo that Mark Chase corrected I made a quick dimensional layout of the side of Shay #8. I can use this drawing to build my 3D model. The 3D model will be created in Autodesk Inventor. I will use Inventors sheet metal function to generate the flat patterns for my photo etched parts. the parts I plan on casting in brass using Shapeways 3D printed investment casting process I will model in inventor as solids. Test parts will be printed using either a FDM printer or the Anycubic resin printer. The nice thing is that I can generate some quick crude plastic parts to test fit and function (especially the drive line) before I spend the big bucks on the brass parts. If I were to do more of this in the future I would consider investing in my own casting equipment.

Michael Hohn Posted - 05/21/2019 : 10:40:40 AM
Your plans for locomotive building are ambitious; when you get started Iíll be interested in watching you do it.

The weathered siding turned out looking highly realistic, particularly in the variety among different boards.

Coaltrain Posted - 05/21/2019 : 06:46:20 AM
I almost forgot. After my visit to the Thunder Mesa I got inspired to work on a structure. I wanted to try and see if I could do what Dave Meek did and build one from illustration board, inside and out. Well it turns out I can't, sort of. I tried using paper to get the look of clap boards but not being an artist I could not get the boards to look they way Dave can and the structure I picked was going to be right at the layouts edge. I decided to do a hybrid method and use Dave's basic two ply walls but cover the outside with Chuck Doan style peeled paint boards. Chuck's method is pretty slick and I like the way it is turning out.

I decided to build the Manns Creek coke office structure that was located right behind the stone engine house. Brian Bond and I visited the site in 2014 and the only thing left of the office was the stone pillars it sat on and the brick vault. I was not able to include this structure on the previous layout because the mainline had to curve around behind the engine house, now the mainline will go straight for a few feet and I now have the space to include this structure.

here is the progress so far.

I am going to do a full interior, and thanks to Ted Schnepf and some fellow RRL members I have some good information of what the interior might have looked like. the most interesting features of the structure is the brick vault with its 1" thick steel plate floor and the barhroom with a bathtub in it (pretty strange for that time period).

Coaltrain Posted - 05/21/2019 : 06:27:42 AM
I have made some more progress on Shay #8, however I have not taken a photo yet. I lost some steam (pun intended) on finishing it because something happened last week that is going to cause me not to finish it. I purchased another Kemtron shay kit that is unbuilt and decided to redo my #8 to even better match Manns Creek #8. at the time I built my #8 I was did not know as much about Shays as I do now and I just freelanced something that looked like MC#8. Then as the years went on I learned that the boiler on my #8 was way wrong and it really bothered my, so a few months ago I made a new boiler, which is not correct either. After a few correspondence with Brian Bond I learned that MC#8 was a special 42 ton shay that was build with a longer tender that most, which gives it this look that is bigger than your typical 42 ton shay. Also, the Kemtron shay is a 37 ton shay, which just means that the cylinders are 2" shorter than a 42 ton shay (basically speaking). Also, the MC shay was a more modern 42 ton shay which had a bigger boiler diameter at the firebox and a very pronounced tapered section with the sand done over the taper. with the purchase of this "New" Kemtron shay I have the chance to start over and do it more correctly.

so here is the new plan, I am going to make flat pattern drawings of the boiler and cab of MC#8 and build a new cab/boiler out of brass. The steam and sand domes will be designed in CAD and I will have them 3D printed in brass. I am either going to modify the Kemtron cylinders to make them bigger or recreate them in CAD so I can modify the CAD models and 3D print brass cylinders. I will also have to build a new longer frame and this time I will do as I did with my #2 shay and use real wood for the floors and this time maybe even the pilot beams. I will also have to flat pattern and roll my own smoke stack because the MC had a bigger stack with a more squat top than the PSC casting. in he end I will pretty much only be using the trucks an the cylinder parts, the rest will most likely go back on Ebay with all the other Kemtron parts I will never need.

One side goal of the new #8 shay is that I want to see if I can figure out a better way to drive the shay so I don't have to use a coreless micro motor. The micro motors do not play well with all decoders and I really want to go back to using a Wow decoder instead of the ESU decoders, mostly because I like the way TCS does their whistles and the brakes.

So what will happen with old #8, it will become #2. "Wait a minute" you say, "you just finished shay #2"? I did, but I also did that one wrong as well. Again, when I did not know that much about shays I just looked at a picture and saw that MC#2 was smaller than MC#8 and built mine as such. The truth is that both of those shays are 42 ton shays, #8 just looks bigger because it is the later version of 42 ton shays with the bigger boiler, a modern cab, and that special long tender. I built my #2 from a 26 ton PSC shay with is much too small. I will renumber my #2 to a fictional number and just keep it as is to use on my little coal branch...maybe, and use my old #8 to build a new #2. MC shay #2 is a mid production 42 ton shay with a boiler much like the fictional one I just built for it when I was redoing it a few months ago. I may keep that boiler and just build a new cab and tender for it, or I may just start over and roll a new boiler to match a new cab and tender.

that sounds like a lot, and it is, but it should be fun to see these shays come to life again. After that if I find another Kemtron shay I will consider building MC#5, which is actually a 37 ton shay with a special order cab and tender, and it is also super heated, which is really cool.
Coaltrain Posted - 05/07/2019 : 2:05:14 PM
not much going on these days, just waiting for parts to show up. I had a few minutes to kill so I did a short video of the new Shay, pardon the missing backdrop, I did not survive the move and a new one has not been ordered yet.


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