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Author Previous Topic: HTRR - Chapter 2 Topic Next Topic: NMRA AP Civil Eng.Certificate  Support Thread
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Posted - 08/24/2010 :  2:13:11 PM  Show Profile  Visit nhguy's Homepage  Send nhguy a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
The progress looks good. Just some words of 'experience' when building a helix. Test and run trains on every level as you build it. It is better to find flaws in track and wiring on each level as you progress NOW then to find it later after it is built. Use a strong track glue so you won't have to come back and re-tack it down. I used Liquid Nails for Projects which is plastic compatible, very strong bond, and easy to use. A tube might just get you through the whole helix. I used two as mine is double tracked. To hold the track while the glue is setting I used #8- 1/2" screws with washers. These I screwed in between the ties about every 4-6 inches. I removed these as the glue set and I went to the next level. You can see how I built mine at the link listed below my name. Looking good so far.

Bill Shanaman
New Haven RR
Hartford Division
in Colorado.

Edited by - nhguy on 08/24/2010 2:18:51 PM

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Premium Member

Posted - 08/25/2010 :  01:10:06 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for some sound advice Bill! Yup, the helix track has to be perfect on each level before you move on to the next as once it is covered up, it is difficult to maintain.

Well, we had another work session tonight, but this was more of a 'planning and BS session'! But we actually got a lot done. Both Rick and Bruce came over tonight to discuss some track ideas I've been mulling over. What really motivated our conversation was a new book I just bought called 'Pennsylvania Railroad Facilities - Northern Division' by Robert J. Yanosey. This book is absolutely awesome as I feel like it was written for me! So much information and pictures on the area I'm modeling, and so many answers to many questions I've had about the area. I've only skimmed through it so far, but I plan to soak in every ounce of information.

So using some of the information in the book, we began to lay out some ideas for the trackage in the Sunbury area of my layout. I thought I had this all figured out, but once Rick and Bruce got to talking and exchanging ideas, well things really took shape. Rick brought along some track templates he had which allowed us to layout all the track and turnouts. By the end of the night, much of what I had planned previously got changed, and for the better!

I will take some pics and post them later on, but I have to tell you that having friends close by to run ideas by and challenge your thought process is so beneficial! The two of them came up with some great ideas! And now its on to laying it all out and getting track down!


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Premium Member

Posted - 08/25/2010 :  06:29:09 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Those "facilities" books look great - I was thumbing through one the other day. They are just so darn expensive! All the books I want are in the $50+ range unless I can find them used online. It just isn't in the budget right now.

Okay ... so much for my rant ...

Mark, I look forward to the photos! I think it is incredible how much you have gotten done to date.

Joe <><

Joe <><

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Mike Hamer

Posted - 08/25/2010 :  08:41:47 AM  Show Profile  Visit Mike Hamer's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Great views of the helix, Mark. Thanks for posting the pics! It won't be too long before trains will be running on two levels! I have a slew of those Morning Sun Books...they're a great source of information with super pictures and captions throughout.

Mike Hamer
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Edited by - Mike Hamer on 08/25/2010 08:43:17 AM

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Premium Member

Posted - 08/25/2010 :  09:47:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Joe, normally I would agree with you, but in this case, that book contains so much valuable information that relates directly with what I am doing that for me, the cost was well justified this time!

Mike, my short term goal is to have something running on the lower level by the end of September. By then, I know Bruce will be done with the helix and our attention will turn in that direction.


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Premium Member

Posted - 08/30/2010 :  10:10:50 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As mentioned above, we had a good planning session last Wednesday with Rick and Bruce both taking turns throwing ideas out. Rick brought some neat track templates made years ago by Arbour Models. There are various curves, straights and turnouts, allowing you to place these pieces around and get a great visual of your ideas.

We started out by looking at some pictures in the new book I got, as well as comparing those pictures to a map I have of the Sunbury, Pa. area.

We used the map as a reference to the track arrangements in Sunbury. Keep in mind that on the prototype, Sunbury was an important area. First, there was a fairly large passenger station in town. Secondly, it is a unique area in that the mainline of the railroad ran right through the middle of town right in front of houses! This will make for some interesting modeling!

In addition, there were many industries in and about the town, as well as the junctions for two of the branchlines that I model; the Wilkes-Barre branch and the Shamokin Secondary.

While I thought I had a good plan for this area, by the end of the night, not only had we significantly changed this plan, but it is closer to the track arrangement of the prototype and includes more industries for switching!

This shot is looking north from the heart of Sunbury towards the bridge that crosses the Susquehanna River. Near the bridge, the Wilkes-Barre branch comes off and heads towards the backdrop. This track will be hidden by buildings and scenery and make it's way towards the helix. On the right hand side are some industries located in this part of Sunbury, including Westinghouse Electric, a plant were various transformers were manufactured.

The major deviation from the prototype here is that technically these industries would be on the left hand side, not on the right, but we felt it would be better to place the mainline towards the aisle and these buildings against the backdrop.

Turning around and looking south into Sunbury, here is where the Shamokin Branch will come off onto what was known as the 'Horn Track', called this because of the pattern the trackage took through town, forming the shape of a horn. If you look closely at the map above, you can make out the 'horn track', winding it's way through town and leaving the map at the top of the picture. You can also see the Wilkes-Barre branch track to the left against the backdrop and entering the hole in the wall on it's way to the helix. This track will be hidden by buildings and scenery.

This is the heart of Sunbury, with the main line in the foreground. The 'Horn Track' can be seen in the middle and then making it's way into the hole in the wall to the right and onto the helix.

Another view of Sunbury, showing how the main line continues south in front of the helix. This is where the Sunbury passenger station will be located. The helix will be hidden with a backdrop.

And finally a view of the mainline as it continues south. South of Sunbury is another industrial area, which is represented here. There will be a passing siding and lot's of switching!

Further down, the main line continues south, through Selinsgrove Junction where the Selinsgrove branch will come off, and then the main line continues back into staging.

While I thought I had a good plan in mind, these guys helped me take it to the next level! With a solid plan in place, I am moving foward with laying roadbed and trackwork.


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Premium Member

Posted - 08/30/2010 :  10:23:39 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It's coming together nicely Mark. Looking forward to future progress!!

Look out for #1, but don't step in #2!

Andy Keeney
Dewitt, MI

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Posted - 08/30/2010 :  11:25:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Planning is one of my favorite activities.....executing, not so much! LOL.

Between Mark, Steam, and myself, those old Arbour Models track templates got a real gold-plated workout that evening <"Hey...gimme a four right hand...no, the OTHER right hand!"). I think the word "synergy" is applicable here...the three of us were bouncing ideas off each another back and forth until something eventually emerged resembling sanity...it's a VERY exhausting process. <"That won't fit there!" "Oh yeah, watch!">. While certainly not perfect representations (ask me how I know that), the templates do help separate dream from reality.

OK, Mark....you have track, you have a plan.......

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 08/30/2010 :  10:19:03 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great update Mark. As always, well documented so we can all follow along and understand the thought process around the adjustments that are made along the way. Kudos to Bruce & Rick as well. Nice job.


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Vagel Keller
Crew Chief

Posted - 08/30/2010 :  10:51:49 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vagel Keller's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Looking great, Mark! I can almost hear the S&L local whistling through town now! Or am I too late to catch steam once more?


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Steam Nut

Posted - 08/30/2010 :  11:49:39 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Oh he does own a few staem engines, He just does not like to talk about it!

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Premium Member

Posted - 08/31/2010 :  12:42:26 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the great feedback and comments guys. And oh yes Vagel, I do own a few steamers. You never know. Someday we may run a 'special' for visitors!


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Posted - 08/31/2010 :  06:16:36 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
But he runs diesels when he want's to represent real railroading!

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 08/31/2010 :  5:11:09 PM  Show Profile  Send vzjtothalo an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Nice progress, Mark!

John Loesch

John Loesch

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Premium Member

Posted - 08/31/2010 :  5:17:41 PM  Show Profile  Visit LVN's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Amazing Mark. Two levels of RR paradise. Looking forward to your continued progress reports.

Chris Lyon

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