As promised (OK, maybe only to my friend Eric Hansmann), here is my first blog post in two years, three months!
Why so long you ask? Well, mostly because of "life stuff". But, since about January, I've been gandy dancing all over the basement!
Ya gotta be careful with that Micro Engineering track....
So what was so special about January? Nothing really, but I did get the urge again to get the railroad running towards the end of last year, and I also really wanted by friends Chris Barany, John Zelehoski, Doug Burrell and Dave Abeles (yes, THAT Dave Abeles of Onondaga Cutoff fame - https://onondagacutoff.blogspot.com/ - to come over and see the layout. The problem? It hadn't seen an op session since 2013, AND the basement was a wreck!
Not an actual photo, but not far from the truth, either
Coupled with that recent epiphany to see the layout through and not go for a total rebuild, I took stock of the situation to rebuild some trackage that had been bugging me for years, and go forth with a ton of improvements. I'm not going to get into all the key points in this
"return to blogging" entry (I've been using Facebook to keep my friends updated -
Look for the layout on FB under - Ralph Heiss' Lehigh Valley Terminal Railway
Of course, that’s assuming that you're a Facebook'er, but I am going to probably “dueling posts” different from each other, so…...
So in the month since the guys were over, I have been rebuilding most of the key points of the layout, things that have bugged me for months, if not YEARS! Literally NOTHING has escaped the track crew, be it the Washington St. Yard throat, the CNJ's Jersey Ave Branch, or the LV's Edgewater Branch! So in today's post, I have come seeking your thoughts, suggestions, comments and whatnot......I have worked by way around the layout and the small (but very important) Grand Street/West Yard, and am looking at several possibilities to redesign access to the yard. I will say that I have departed from strict prototype track arrangements and instead am going with "what works best with model railroad operations" plan, and I'll try to impart those differences first by using some visual aids.
First, the prototype, from a hand drawn map issued by the railroad -
First, the prototype, from a hand drawn map issued by the railroad -
Not exactly finely drawn, but it WAS part of a circa 1960's vintage Company-issued document, so I say i can be considered canon. The spatial representations of things is what is wrong with the drawing, not so much any actual tracks or buildings, which are accurately represented. The view looks compass north (main yard is to the lower right to the right, horizontal to the Hudson River), and the large arc of parallel lines to the right of the yard represents the Holland Tunnel extension of the NJ Turnpike, aka my backdrop.
Now, here's a photo from my era dated 1956, showing the West Yard and the new TOFC ramps, and looking in roughly the same direction as the map shown above -
Too bad the angle wasn't a little higher up so we could see if there was a runaround where those four boxcars to the left are sitting. Honestly, in this era (a post 1954 photo, but probably before 1960) this yard was used for the LV's new TOFC operation, and cars would be backed in from the main, so there really wasn't a need for much flexibility in the trackage. The track running off to the left side and ducking back under the Turnpike bridge in the far distance served the Edgewater Branch and the Grand Street freight station and team tracks, probably still used in the 1950's (but not for much longer). Of course, in the model railroad world, most of our yards and other such distances are horribly foreshortened, and what worked for the railroad may not work out so well in model form. Case in point, my Yard throat is not the same as the prototype, so after the first few shakedowns many eons ago, it was suggested to put another through track across the yard to help expedite movements, so, like a good Terminal Superintendent, that's exactly what I did -
Not only did I loose a yard track by doing this, but it does kind of
stick in my craw that it's not 100% prototypically correct, too
There are possibilities I'm exploring, and I'd appreciate you, my faithful readers, for help. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll let you see for yourselves.....
First, I'll give you a "photographic tour" of the yard, starting at the Edgewater Branch, looking compass north and railroad east, and then turning around and facing south and west....
So, as you can see in this last photo, the "unprotopypical" through track is the track directly to the right of the gray building, leading to one leg of the wye into the main yard, and to the noth or westbound side of the main float yard at Washington Street, while the wye track with the boxcars on it in the distance leads to the south or east side of the yard. You can see the connecting pair of turnouts between the two legs, which, if I had had the room, would have both come to a point BEFORE the split in the wye legs.The other or west leg of the wye comes in from the upper right out of the shadows. So from right to left, you have your main running track to the Edgewater Branch, a runaround siding, what could be another through track, and/or access across the two diamond crossings into the Grand Street freight station and Monmouth St. team tracks (as seen in the first and second pictures beyond the lolly column), three stub ended yard tracks, the "east through track", and then the two TOFC ramp tracks.
I'm currently suffering from "which way do I go, George?" in regards to the track arrangement, and how to achieve a good level of "correctness" and operating flexibility. I thus present you exhibits A thru D with track just kind of plopped in to represent the possible routes, with each pair looking right/left.
First up, Version "A" get the most flexibility out of the yard, with what amounts to four separate through tracks across the length of the yard, two separate routes to/from the branch, and the ability to run around a cut of cars in three different places.
Version "B" eliminates that foreground curved connecting turnout, but is otherwise the same.
Version "C" is yet another variation of the above, except we now loose one through track and now GAIN a new stub storage track, but otherwise everything is the same.
And finally, Version 'D" is the most "scenically pure" version of the yard. In the first photo, you can see I lifted the mid yard through track, which now gains me back a TOFC ramp track, AND elimination of this track and associated turnout lets be extend a siding to that factory JUST that much more, which is always a good thing. I still keep two routes in/out of the yard (that come back together at the entrance to the branch next to the column), but also now just ONE runaround and that re-acquired yard track from the last version above. Only drawback? I have to buy a new turnout.
In the last photo above, trains can come off the western leg off the wye, and trains can come out of Washington Street on the east leg, and stay on the next track in, which is the runaround track.
So, I said it would be a long post (what entries of mine AREN'T?), but I hope you stuck with me through it all, and I'm REALLY gonna try to keep the updates regular so they stay a manageable length.
As always, thanks, and I hope to hear from any and all of you on this, and it's great to be back!