East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

Roadbed/Track

Track revisions - turnouts

The Demo Crew left the track work on the layout full of gaps.

200318_04

Two of the gaps were to accommodate the Fast Tracks turnouts I had built for the new Shop Track. As is typical for Demo Crews, they were not particularly careful about how much track they ripped out.

200318_06

I placed the new turnouts as precisely as I could and held them in position with map tacks. Rails were trimmed to length and everything was marked up.


200323_11

The Fast Tracks jig I used to build the curved turnouts is actually for HO standard gauge. By now Fast Tracks probably produces On30 curved turnout jigs, but I worked with what I had. I brought the turnouts back to the bench and replaced the HO standard gauge crossties with On30 ties everywhere but under the frog and guardrails.

200325_27

The turnouts were then moved to my trusty old piano jig so I could cut the new wooden On30 ties needed for the install. Even though the turnouts are curved, I was still able to use the jig for tie length and spacing.

200325_28

The strings of ties were pulled out of the jig and glued on the roadbed per my earlier turnout test placement.

200326_30

Turnouts were placed on the ties to verify placement again.

Building Turnouts

The revised track configuration for the Piedmont-Standard requires two new turnouts.


I initially assumed I would build the new turnouts in place and just drew the new shop siding on the plan without a lot of thought given to frog angles or track geometry.

200212_12

It occurred to me to pull out my old Fast Tracks fixtures to see if I could use any of them to build the shop siding turnouts. Using the fixtures is preferable to building the turnouts in place since they make it much easier to maintain consistent dimensions and tolerances. I have built turnouts in place but it is a long process of fitting, adjusting, and tuning. FasTrack fixtures get me 90% of the way toward a reliable turnout and allow working at my bench rather than reaching over the benchwork.

200229_28

My curved fixture with a #6 frog angle was close enough to what the shop siding needed for me to give it a try. Over ten years since the last time I used them, the instructions, tools, and materials still felt familiar and the process went fairly quickly.

200228_25

I built the turnouts with overly long stock rails coming off to tie into the existing track work, hoping that would give me some "wiggle room" to splice new track into old.

200228_27

Test fitting the new turnout for the shop siding west end.


200305_01

New turnout for shop siding east end sitting on top of the old Ariel Church siding.

Installing Flex Track

Having decided to use cork roadbed for the standard gauge track, it was time to install it.


191115_06

Liquid Nails adhesive was used with plenty of weight applied until it set.

191112_04

And so it went with the new sections of Homasote roadbed.

191120_11

Once installed, the new Homasote roadbed was painted dark gray to seal it.

191127_14

Micro Engineering On30 code 70 flex track was installed on the hidden sections.

200210_04

New and revised On30 tracks that are not hidden will be hand laid.

Standard Gauge Roadbed

My meager supply of leftover Homasote went toward new roadbed.

I was able to piece together sections of reasonable length to do the hidden tracks.

191109_10

The long, straight standard gauge sidings would have required a puzzle of Homasote scraps, so another approach was needed. I had good results on the Railroad Display for the Quarry Gardens at Schuyler using Midwest cork roadbed and Atlas 2 rail O gauge flex track.

191107_04

Setting some O scale cork roadbed in position with a stick of O gauge flex track on it did not look right to me. The cork roadbed appeared too wide, and the flex track did not have the look of an industrial siding.

191108_09

Three strips of HO cork roadbed are narrower than two strips of O cork roadbed and appeared to be a better fit under O scale crossties.

191118_09

I went with three strips of HO cork roadbed for the standard gauge sidings at the mill site, which will be hand laid to P:48 gauge.

Installing Roadbed

With the sub roadbed ready, risers were cut and installed

Spirit and line levels were used to set the height of new roadbed.

191002_03
sub roadbed for hidden track along west wall

All new track is level, which made installation pretty straightforward.

191010_08
Sub roadbed for hidden track in northeast corner

I had enough leftover Homasote scraps to piece together roadbed for the new tracks. For the most part, it was a simple matter to use the plywood sub roadbed as a pattern for cutting out Homasote roadbed.

191014_10
Location of new locomotive servicing area

Locomotive servicing used to be in the northeast corner of the train room, but that is now the location of the transfer with the standard gauge Piedmont & East Blue Ridge Railroad. Narrow gauge locomotive service is now along the east wall near the junction with the northeast hidden track. I mocked up some small buildings to help visualize how the service facilities would fit in this small, odd shaped space.

191014_15
The mainline runs between a company access road on the old Scale Track grade and the new engine shed

There was no new section of plywood sub roadbed that could be used as a pattern to cut out the Homasote roadbed for the new locomotive service track.

191014_25
Full size plan of locomotive service area

I laid out a full sized plan of the new service track on the shop floor and used building mockups, locomotives, and rolling stock to make sure the plan was workable.

191015_26
Full size planned positioned on layout

Once I verified that the plan was OK as is, I placed it in position on the layout. I was able to use the plan as a guide for cutting the Homasote roadbed for the new locomotive service track.

191016_27
New roadbed for service track

Barely having enough leftover Homasote to try this one time, I carefully cut and fit the new roadbed.

Installing Subroadbed

Planning to revise the track layout, I noticed there were two thicknesses of plywood sub roadbed.

There were complex combinations of blocks splicing sections together, and it soon became apparent why.

IMG_3360
Thick on top of thin to the left, and thin on top of thick to the right

The plywood for new subroadbed matched the thinner plywood that was used before. Masonite shims brought the level of the thin plywood up to a close match to the thick plywood.

190930_04
A Masonite shim to raise up new thin plywood to match old thick plywood sub roadbed

A bridge girder taped to a flatcar helped determine the height of a loading dock that will have standard gauge tracks on one side and narrow gauge on the other.

190930_05
Determining the height to make the standard gauge so floor level of cars matches the narrow gauge

The standard gauge track will be at a lower level in order to match up deck height with the narrow gauge.

Trackplan Revisions

Changing my On30 layout from the Piedmont & East Blue Ridge to the Piedmont-Standard Stone Company required making some changes to the track plan.


The most obvious changes were removing the extensions of the layout that went into my shop and my office. Those were pulled out a while back. The deletion of those two areas required making a few revisions to the track that remained in the train room.

IMG_3278
Revisions to the East Blue Ridge to transform it to the Piedmont-Standard

When I lost the extensions, I lost a mill site that was in the office and a standard gauge transfer that was in the shop. On the Piedmont-Standard, the mill site and standard gauge transfer are combined. This is a more conventional arrangement, as it would have been more typical for the narrow gauge to provide transportation between the quarries and the mill. Finished products from the mill are loaded into standard gauge cars for shipment to the Outside World. On this revised layout, the Piedmont & East Blue Ridge Railroad has become the standard gauge shortline connection which is represented by two sidings that will end at a mirror in the mill complex, implying that they extend a few miles to the Southern Railroad at Aberdeen, Virginia.

IMG_3121
Working out the placement for the new standard gauge sidings

The new mill site with its attendant new standard gauge sidings are on the layout where the locomotive service area used to be, so locomotive servicing had to be moved to the right a few feet, requiring a new track of its own. New track also includes the addition of two hidden tracks.

IMG_3110
planning sub roadbed for hidden track along west wall

Even though the P&EBR version of the layout was larger, it had less hidden track than the Piedmont-Standard. I am not a big fan of hidden track, but I came to the conclusion that the track plan could benefit from the addition of hidden tracks that might enhance operation enough to make them worthwhile. One is along the west wall, the other runs along the east wall toward the northeast corner. These hidden tracks open up the possibility of operating the layout a number of different ways, which could come in handy if I ever host any more group op sessions.

IMG_3113
There already was a hidden track in this corner, but it curved away from the wall in order to go through a hole in the wall to the office. The new hidden track stays straight along the wall.

To begin the process of adding track to the Piedmont-Standard, I cut patterns for the new sub roadbed from corrugated cardboard. Once the patterns had been trimmed and shaped to final size, I laid them on a sheet of 3/8 inch plywood and traced them.

IMG_3123
Preparing to cut plywood sub roadbed

Pulling Up Winwood

Out of another room


190205_01
The entire surface of the Winwood shelf was Homasote. I wanted to save and possibly reuse it.

190205_04
Scraping up the track and ballast was messy but didn't cause much damage to the Homasote.

190205_08
Track and Homasote roadbed were cut at the holes in the wall.

190205_05
The Homasote was secured to the plywood subroadbed by a few drywall screws. Once it was removed, I had a nice shelf that will remain in place.

Turning the Corner

The pace of demolition is slowing, and some repairs are made.


190129_01

The hole where the Mill Lead tracks used to go through the wall of the train room into the office is plugged and being patched for new paint. I am giving thought to reinstalling the pocket door that had to be removed when I extended the roadbed through the wall here.

190129_02

The hillside that was to be the talc loading operation has been removed. After all the sketching and mocking up and hand wringing that went into that scene, it has been deleted. The new focal point on the layout in this area will be about where the glue bottle is sitting. A nondescript wooded slope will be behind it.

190129_03

Trimming the rear scenery profile down to its revised height revealed an ancient petroglyph on the backdrop.

On30 Railroad That Shrinks - 4

Demolition continues in the train room


Skeletal remains of Piedmont ready for the scrap pile

Without the Piedmont or Winwood sections, traffic volume on the remaining layout will be reduced, which in turn will reduce the need for siding tracks.



The rails are pulled from the Scale Track. This long siding came in very handy over the years when Shops Yard became congested.



Lifted turnouts are piling up, as are the pulled track spikes in the square container.



Ties are scraped off the Homasote roadbed. The Scale Track is history.

On30 Railroad That Shrinks - 3

With the Piedmont section of the layout removed from my office, demolition began in the Shops area of the layout.



The sub roadbed was cut back to the new end-of-track.


The continuous run connecting hidden track was pulled up . . .


And the roadbed removed.


Rails were pulled in the locomotive service area and that section of the roadbed was cut away.


The new mill site and standard gauge transfer will go along this wall to the corner.

The On30 Layout That Shrinks

I can remember when Kalmbach Publishing released this book:


HO Railroad that grows

The assumption being that a bigger model railroad was a better model railroad.


After working in my shop for a few years on a big project, I started getting the impression that my layout was too big. There were terminal sections in two rooms adjacent to the room the layout occupied. Operationally, extending the layout into the office and shop was a great idea, and that was how things remained for over 10 years. During that time, I saw my entire shop building's primary purpose as being to house the layout, with some space allocated for other things.

Over the last year I could not operate the layout at all, spending all my shop time constructing a display for a garden in Nelson County. When time allowed me to once again turn on the track power and run some trains, I found I had gotten out of the mood to operate, and was much more interested in building. There would be plenty to build in the train room alone. I considered deleting Winwood and Piedmont, and operated the layout as if they were gone. The truncated track plan still accommodates a reasonable amount of interesting operation, and I could have a lot more free space in my office and my shop.

Winwood no backdrop
Winwood loses its backdrop

Initially, I had been planning on making revisions to Winwood that required rebuilding the shadowbox. But when I took the old shadowbox down, I decided I liked the shop better without a Winwood shadowbox at all.


Winwood no shadowbox
Winwood loses its shadowbox

So the demolition began, and is currently in full swing.