Repurposed Bridge Parts

Deciding to keep the Homasote sub roadbed spanning the creek limited my choices for the type of bridge to install. A girder type bridge would work, simply installing girders on either side of the Homasote might look reasonable.

Way back when I built the roadbed in this corner of the layout, I had a large inventory of HO scale components from my previous layout. One of the HO items I saved was an Atlas through girder bridge kit. I used the girders from that kit to determine how wide the bridge in this corner would be.

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I dug out the old Atlas girders and placed them in position after I had narrowed the roadbed across the bridge span. Everything fit just fine. The girders hid the Homasote with room to spare along the top for cross ties. Just like I had planned it all those years ago. Only problem was that I did not like it.

My impression of a right and proper bridge for a soapstone operation has been affected by seeing flatcars used as bridges. Flatcars were used as bridges in at least two locations that I saw myself.

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In the mill campus at Schuyler, an old fishbelly steel frame flatcar was used as a bridge to cross Ivy creek, and a few miles away another flatcar was used to bridge Sharon Creek. Neither of these bridges was used to carry the railroad across the creeks, but they still inspired me to try something creative as a bridge span on my layout.

Rummaging around in my collected bridge and crane pieces and parts, I came across a
Walther's N scale heavy duty overhead traveling crane kit. The profile of the crane spans appealed to me. I could see how they might be used for my bridge, with a backstory about resourceful repurposing of an old overhead crane or perhaps a (very small) standard gauge turntable bridge.

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The N scale overhead crane was too short to span the creek on my layout. I cut it up to create one long span out of the two that came in the kit.

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I used the lengthened bridge girder as a pattern to cut another one out of 2 mil PVC. The crane kit girder will be on the side of the bridge that faces the aisle. The PVC copy will barely be visible on the back side.

Time for a Bridge

With the card stock fascia in place, I saw that working on the bridge in the corner would be easier to do before the fascia was installed. The bridge is in a horizontal and vertical curve, with the track to the right dropping down the hill and the track to the left being level. I decided to leave the Homasote roadbed in place to minimize kinks and bumps.

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Handlaid code 70 track comes up to the bridge from either direction. A short section of ME code 70 HO scale flex track makes the connection over the bridge site.

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In preparation for doing track work, I traced the railhead location across the bridge site and removed the HO flex track.

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Since the Homasote was going to stay, it had to be trimmed to the approximate final width of the bridge. Since the track curves here, the bridge would have to be wider than it would be if the track going across were straight. Thinking about how wide to make the bridge, I used a section of O standard gauge flex track to determine how wide the bridge would be if it had originally been a short standard gauge bridge that had been moved here by the soapstone company to use on their 30 inch gauge line. A saber saw was used to trim the Homasote down to the revised width.

Fascia Mockup

Eventually blocks were added to all the joists to support the fascia. Along the front of the Ariel Church and Horse Mountain sections of the layout, I approximated the height of the fascia at each joist and cut posts for each location.

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I attached the posts to the joists temporarily, and tiled together a large piece of cardstock to create a pattern for the fascia.

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Everything was taped and thumb tacked together in a flimsy fashion.

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I sketched a profile line along the cardstock and trimmed it out. Then left it like that for a while to look at it over time.

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The more I looked at the fascia mockup, the less I liked the places where it rose up high.

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Over time I trimmed the peaks down lower and lower until I was happy with the profile.

Thinking about the Fascia

The 18 inch gauge tram for the talc dump crosses over the 30 inch gauge line. I felt like the time had come to get serious about the fascia.

My plan for the fascia is for it to be constantly curving, with the top edge constantly rising or dropping with the profile of the foreground scenery.

Way back when I built the benchwork for the layout, I cut the joists to the length I estimated necessary to support the fascia, at an angle approximating the angle of the fascia at that point.

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A butt joint connection to the end of a 1 by 4 joist was not going to provide adequate support for the fascia, but that was not a problem I had to deal with back then. Now the time had come to deal with it. I decided to add small blocks to the top and bottom of each joist to turn them into I-beams with more surface area for making a connection.

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Adding blocks to each joist was a severe test for my clamp inventory. But now the joists provide better connection points for firring strip posts that will in turn support the fascia.

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precut blocks wait for clamps to be freed up so they can be attached to joists

Planning for Talc - 2

One thing is leading to another around the talc dump. I felt like I needed to have a better idea of the arrangement of the buildings before proceeding with the scenery.

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Since many of the talc dump buildings were to be connected by the On18 tram, I built a section of right of way. Since the tram will not actually run, all track components including the roadbed itself are styrene. I used Grandt Line 18 inch sectional mining track as a guide for gauge, crosstie placement and length.

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Using sheet styrene for roadbed will allow the tram tracks to undulate along the uneven surface of the ground at the dump site.

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I mocked up a suitable arrangement of buildings for the scene.

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With the arrangement of the buildings determined, I was comfortable with the idea of continuing with base scenery to the left of the talc dump.

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Rather than use Gypsolite to cover the plaster cloth on this hill, I tried Fusion Fiber. I found it to be very easy to use with easy cleanup. The ground surface is not as brittle or prone to cracking.