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Posted - 12/21/2016 :  08:17:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Here is the first official post of my Manns Creek railway in On3. If you are here for the first time you can find my original post here http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=31112 . Basically I started building in On3 because loan a book from a friend about the Manns Creek Railway. I became hooked on it and tore down an HO layout that I was building so I could build an On30 version of the Manns Creek. When I realized that I could not get a satisfactory MC plan in my small room I decided to build a fictional layout based on the MC and other Appalachian narrow gauge railroads. Before I spiked the first rail I converted from On30 to On3. For the last 7 years I have been building the Slater Creek Railway but there was always a nagging feeling that I wanted to build a layout of a prototype railroad. a few months ago I toyed with the idea of double decking my layout, and once I deemed it possible I revisited the idea of returning to modeling the MC, and when I felt like I could do condensed version of the MC on two levels in my room I decided to give it a shot.

As you can see from the lead photo that I officially have a Manns Creek locomotive. I had build this shay for my Slater Creek Railway based off of a photo of Manns Creek shay #2. If you are unfamiliar with the MC you might be wondering why the tender says "Babcock Coal and Coke Company". Babcock bought the MC from the Longdale Iron company in 1912, which is they tender is labeled Babcock Coal and Coke. Actually the none of the Manns Creek equipment ever said "Manns Creek Railway" on it.

Shay #2 is one of three shays operated by the MC. The main road locomotive was shay #8, a 42 ton two truck shay. The third say was #5 and it never carried the Babcock Coal and Coke lettering, instead it retained its previous owners name on the tank, the "Wilderness lumber company". When I built my shay #8 for my SCRy I did a composite of both MC #8 and #5. After I get my layout running I will rebuild it to match MC #8 and I will build a new MC #5.

The MC did have a single Climax locomotive (#6), although it did not operate into the year I am modeling. Since I have a Climax from my SCRy I will be converting it into the MC #6 Climax and run it anyways.

Since I built my caboose and hopper cars following the MC I am ready to go with those cars. The MC did have some other cars (flats, "boxcars", and some other odd items) but there are few to no photos so I will have to come up with some reasonable models of my own for those cars. One of the things about prototype narrow gauge modeling is that you may still have to do some freelancing because photos are sparse at best for some of the less know lines.

Edited by - Coaltrain on 11/07/2017 4:19:54 PM

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Posted - 12/21/2016 :  09:03:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
now, onto the layout. After I decided it was possible to go to two levels I had to decide what I was going to do. What was tempting was to run the railroad the "wrong way" and have shays leave the coal dump trestle to the right and head up to Clifftop clockwise with the mountain to the back of the train so the active side of the shay faced the operator. Also, my first thoughts were to try and include tank trestle in the plan, which is a signature feature of the MC. For those that do not know, Tank Trestle was a tall curved (almost 180 degrees) wooden trestle with a center steel I-beam span, a classic model railroad feature to build. However the more I thought about it I decided the best thing to do was to focus on the operational features of the MC and not the scenic features. Scenic features are fun to build but since I do enjoy prototypical operating sessions it would be better to include what operation features would make it interesting to run trains. Sure it would be fun to see a train cross tank trestle but if it takes away from the operating fun then it is not much value.

I decided to look at how a train operated over the line and what did it have to do to get from point A to point B and back again. In this case it was how did it go from Sewell (down by the New River) up to the mines at Clifftop. And while it was going from Sewell to Clifftop and back, what did it have to do.

In a nut shell, in the years I am modeling trains actually started up top at Clifftop. A locomotive would gather up loaded coal cars and build a road train. Then a second shay (normally #8) would take the loaded train 9 miles down the steep grade to a switch back. Photographs show that a train headed down grade locomotive forward from Clifftop to the switchback. Also, photos show that trains leave the switchback and enter Sewell locomotive first. Somewhere the crew swapped ends of the train. Since the photos show that both the caboose and the locomotive were swapped that meant that was an operational feature I wanted to include. The act of swapping ends will add work and time to the run from Clifftop to Sewell. My feeling is that they used gravity to perform the swap but there was a run around track located just up the line from the switch back that I could use to do the same operation since gravity does not scale well.

After leaving the switch back trains entered Sewell where the coal was dumped on an unloading trestle, then trains traveled backup to the switch back. Photos seem to indicate that the train was pushed caboose first up to the switch back and then from there they would head locomotive first up to Clifftop where the cars were spotted back at the mines.

Knowing the operation pattern I decided that Sewell needed to be modeled, which I had already done, then the switch back needed to be included, and last Clifftop. Model Railroad Planning would have called these places "LDE", or layout design elements. I would model these LDEs the best I could but my space is small and this is O scale so there was going to be lots of compression and in some places I will have to relocate some features to either place them where they fit while trying to retain all the operation rather than making it scenically pure.

To keep trains traveling in the same direction as the prototype I decided to make my switch back scene as if the operator is standing on the mountain looking down on the train. I did this at Sewell and it works ok. By placing the operator on the mountain it puts both the active side of the shay toward the viewer and it also makes the runaround closer to the operator, which makes coupling and uncoupling easier as the operator is not reaching deep into a scene. My switch back is very condensed and the run around is really close to the switch back, but it does follow the correct order. I did add a fictional truck dump here because it was there on my SCRy layout and I wanted to keep it. I could use this siding for log loading if I ever backdate to the years when Babcock logged the area around the switch back.

after the train leaves the switch back it once again goes behind the furnace on a grade and will cross in front of the room entry door on a drop down bridge. once across the door the train will be on the wrong side of the mountain for a little while (can't get around this one) until it enters Clifftop. There will be a switch that will go off to the left that I can use for future expansion. For now this switch will represent the branch up to mine #7 and I will spot hopper cars there for loading. Next the train will pass the Clifftop Strip tipple, which has been flipped and relocated to the other side of the track so it will not block the operator from their train. Also, I plan on making the tipple work and it will be easier to load hopper cars if you are facing the tipple. I flipped the tipple so that in photos it will still look correct.

After the train passes the strip tipple things start to look "normal", although compressed. I have all the turnouts in the right order so trains will be able to operate like the prototype. The company store has been rotated to fit the narrow benchwork but it is the correct location, as is the single stall engine house and the car shop. I did move the turnout to mine #5 next to the car shop and there is a possibility that I can add a spur to the power plant that was used to generate electrical power for mine #7 and the town. There was a siding to the power plant where coal hoppers were unloaded.

The plan is compressed but everything is there, and if I ever move and get more room I can maybe fix a lot of the "errors" and be able to use all the models I have made.

one of the things that did not work, or should I say was not needed, was the staging yard I built. I assumed that I would need a staging yard for my SCRy but once I started operating the staging yard did not work as intended, and it really did not make since for the MC. I tore out the staging yard and instead was able to convert it to a two track exposed fiddle yard that would represent the interchange tracks at Sewell station. The tracks are short but not much interchange was done in the later years so these tracks should be fine. One other area of interest with the interchange tracks (fiddle yard), they were dual gauged and a third rail was laid up to and through the dump shed so standard gauge cars could be hauled one at a time up to the dump shed. I am going to also lay my fiddle yard as dual gauge and once I am up and running I will extend the third rail into my dump shed to be able to mimic this operation.

enough said, here is the plans.

Edited by - Coaltrain on 10/24/2017 05:39:22 AM

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Posted - 12/21/2016 :  09:24:45 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
with all that said, where am I with this project. the lower level and what I call the mid level are well on the way of being converted. I have all the road bed in and tracks have been laid behind the furnace (not an easy task). the lift bridge that once went to staging has been converted to a drop bridge. I ran my first train from Sewell dump trestle around the furnace and up to the tail track of the switch back last night. All I have left to do on the "middle level" is to build the run around and I will be able to run all the way to the upper drop bridge.

I wanted my drop bridge to be operational with one hand and be able to lift and drop it with ease. I did not want something that was so hard to use that I never felt like dropping it and have it end up being a duck under. I came up with an idea to use a door knob and latch to make a quick and solid lock. The knob also allows the bridge to be able to be dropped from both sides with ease.

since the keep alive capacitors can make a locomotive travel far with no power I am going to use switch machines to raise and lower stop pins to block trains from running off to the floor. I am in the process of mounting a button on the bridge that will lower the stop pins when the bridge is locked up in place. The little brass foot in the photo has a slotted hole and is used to align the tracks. The bridge is slightly sprung off center so only one alignment foot is required.

here is the fiddle yard that will be laid with dual gauge track.

here are the two tracks that run behind the furnace. The lower track was in there from the SCRy layout, but the upper track had to be installed, what a pain!

this photo shows the roadbed for the line coming from Sewell (lower track on the left) and the upper run around (upper track to the right). These photos show only roadbed but all the ties are in place and rail is laid all the way up the switch back to the tail track and only the run around needs rail. all the track around the furnace is flex track.

Edited by - Coaltrain on 10/24/2017 05:48:44 AM

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 12/21/2016 :  10:49:19 AM  Show Profile  Visit vamodeler's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Layout changes look GREAT! I'm looking forward to seeing what you do. The Shay looks great, of course. The progression to Manns Creek looks well thought out. I really like your drop gate concept. Keep up the good work.


My Website: http://sites.google.com/site/deercreekandlaurelry/

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Premium Member

Posted - 12/22/2016 :  06:27:25 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great plan.

Love the weathering on the loco and rolling stock


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Premium Member

Posted - 12/22/2016 :  08:48:35 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Jeff, your use of the door hardware for your drop section is ingenious!


Modeling the railroads of the Jersey Highlands in HO and the logging railroads of Pennsylvania in HOn3

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Posted - 12/22/2016 :  08:53:49 AM  Show Profile  Visit quarryman's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Big changes in your little train room. The NNGC is at Minneapolis in 2018, so you have a little time to get the MC ready for the Layout Tours

I was looking at your track plan, and was thinking what it might be like if that entire side of the layout was flipped:

For whatever reason, I like this arrangement. It puts your largest generator of loads at the extreme end of the line, with the relative relationship of all the features the same ... you are just looking at them from the other side.

Just a thought

Mark Chase
Richmond VA

Visit my Piedmont & East Blue Ridge Railroad

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Premium Member

Posted - 12/22/2016 :  09:03:32 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Beautiful track work. I see near your furnace, duct hose. Will that be difficult to change if you need to install a replacement hose? Do they make a more permanent duct hose for same installation, and is it a vent hose, or something else? Just wondering.
Your scenery is amazing in every detail.


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Premium Member

Posted - 12/22/2016 :  10:14:48 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Details! Coal shovels hanging on that swaw back cover! Great looking steed you have there!



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Posted - 12/22/2016 :  12:29:40 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks everyone.

Mark, I like the look of it but if I flip it that means that every structure will be a mirror of the original and if I move and have more space some day to do this scene better then I would have to rebuild every structure, and I don't want to do that because I want to spend a lot of time on each building to make them really detailed. The reason I flipped I put the strip tipple where it was is because even though it is on the other side of the tracks I flipped the siding end for end so the structure is an exact match to the prototype, again in case some day I can orientate it correctly.

Rich, that duct you see is just the cold air return from the adjacent room. I actually moved that duct up a little myself to clear the lower track years ago. I am going to replace the furnace myself next summer and then I am going to "tune up" everything around there and make some of that stuff not so tight.

So far I love the door knob drop gate, it works very well, nice and solid also. this week I am working on the protection for the tracks. I will get photos soon.

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Posted - 12/22/2016 :  2:06:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Nice track plan and a really sharp Shay. Coal cars are nice too.

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Michael Hohn

Posted - 12/22/2016 :  9:59:34 PM  Show Profile  Visit Michael Hohn's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Really well done Shay and rolling stock. Very nice looking track plan. It's a pleasure seeng the care you put into planning and the craftsmanship of your work.


Nobody living can ever stop me, as I go walking that freedom highway -- Woody Guthrie

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Ray Dunakin

Posted - 12/22/2016 :  11:15:56 PM  Show Profile  Visit Ray Dunakin's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Looks great!

How do you access the track behind the furnace?

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George D

Premium Member

Posted - 12/23/2016 :  10:06:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I like your door knob idea, Jeff. How'd you get everything so precisely lined up?


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Posted - 01/01/2017 :  10:46:30 AM  Show Profile  Send CieloVistaRy an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Following, and enjoying the ingenious solutions you are constantly coming up with. This is definitely one of my favorite layouts to follow.



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Posted - 01/04/2017 :  2:41:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ray Dunakin

Looks great!

How do you access the track behind the furnace?

I had to lose 25lb to install that second track, and if I keep it off I should have no problem getting to it if there is something wrong. I am hoping that the new furnace that I will install will be a little smaller and allow me to slip by a little easier.

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