To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Friday, July 1, 2016

What Factors Have Influenced My New Layout Decisions?

One of my past employers had a small lab/manufacturing room. It was equipped with an industrial quality "Whiring Blender". The blender came with a 1 gallon metal cup and the base contained a 1+ hp electric motor. This industrial blender is mentioned because we need to toss together several ideas to understand how I came to the conclusions reached during the writing of this Post. A heavy duty blender will help to blend my ideas into one thick, usable mixture.

Along the Walls, Stand Alone, or Modular
As mentioned in the prior post the area available is roughly 16' x 18' (corrected) with built-in book cases and cabinets along the walls. Also to be factored in is, we do not know how long we'll be living at our new location. My prior layout was built in along the walls and difficult to remove when we moved out.

The cabinets, bookcases, and furniture can be seen. These have to stay and remain untouched. Some of the smaller items can be moved and/or stored. In the front, my work on planning for the new layout is visible.

For these reasons The best layout to build is a modular one. The East Penn Traction Club (EPTC) uses both HO and O scale modular layouts. For both scales a 16" x 48" size is the basic module. A module can be larger or smaller if factors require it.

The EPTC has a way to "control" cars on the layout. You should check their website for more information.

I also recommend your joining the EPTC no matter where you are located. They can use your support. Every other odd number year they have a Trolley Meet usually in May. The next EPTC Trolley Meet will be in May 19th and 20th, 2017 in Allentrown, PA.

Over the past few years I, along with some friends have attended the EPTC Trolley Meets. If you bring along your models, they can be run on the layout set-up for the trolley meet.

3rd Rail, Trolley or Pantograph Wire, and/or What?
The new layout can be outside 3rd rail (fake 3rd rail with the models operated from 2-rail) ala CA&E and "L" like the Westchester branch. The other choice is to make it direct suspension trolley wire or simple catenary. The trolley wire could be over private right-of-way like the Mundelein branch of the NSL or over a street.

If the CA&E expansion to and through Utopia, the by-pass, was completed; the entire line would be 3rd rail without trolley wire. This choice would exclude my friends from running their trolley pick-up models on my layout. Not the best choice!

This leaves trolley wire pick-up the only choice for the layout. Direct suspension is fast to erect. Catenary wire takes a little longer to erect. I like the looks of catenary wire. But, I want to get the layout built and running as soon as possible. So, it looks like the new layout will have direct suspension. I can live with that!!

What's Left?
After selling off a number of my models, mainly interurban, what's left are streetcars, some interurban, and "L" models plus freight cars I just could't part with. What does this mean for a future layout?

The streetcars can be operated in the street - a no brainer. Depending upon the model, the cars can be operated on  as little as 9" radius curves. However, from experience a 12 or 13" radius is better.

Interurban cars can be operated in a street but with wider curves. Some interurban models be operated on 12" or so radius curves. But, if interurban cars are coupled together due to coupler swing restrictions, an interurban train of 2 or more models will require a larger radius curve.

This is an example of the trolley models in my collection. The 3-car NSL Replacement Electroliner made up of Silverliner cars plus a mixture of other interurban, "L", and streetcars are seen. There are a few more models which are mainly streetcars. 

The "L" models are much like the interurban models. The major difference is the mode (if that's what it can be called) of operation. Interurbans have steps for ground loading; "L" cars do not and require high platforms at stations.

Last are the freight cars and what to do with them. I have some small electric locomotives which can be used to pull 1-3 freight cars in a train. However, normal freight cars are too wide for operation with "L" platforms. Both the NSL and CA&E had different methods to deal with freight cars and high level platforms.

This is an example of my freight car models.

The other "problem" to resolve is the radius required to operate close coupled freight cars around. Most close coupled freight cars require a 15" to 18" radius. What can be done to give the freight cars the appropiate radius?

The Solution
If you live in the Chicago, you should be familar with the La Grange line of the Chicago & West Towns Railway (CWT). If you are not familar with the La Grange line, it operated in the street, Cermak Ave. or 22nd St., from Kenton Ave. (the border of Chicago and Cicero, a suburb) west to Harlem Ave. where the track turned south and started to operate on private right-of-way (r-o-w) in the center of streets for a while. A turnout at the intersection of Cermak and Harlem allowed the CWT to acess its barn and yard plus a single freight customer.

The freight customer was a commerical florist who grew plants (flowers). The florist received fuel oil in tank cars, wood and other small supplies in box cars, and shipped flowers and plants in insulated box cars. The CWT received supplies in box cars, low sided gondolas, and coal hoppers.

About 1-1/2 to 2 miles away from the CWT barn, yard, and florist was an interchange with the west route of the Illinois Central called "Parkland". There was a curve in the CWT route between Parkland and the intersection of Harlem and Cermak. This curve at about 26th St, and Harlem is recorded as having a broad radius for the freight cars.

It's best to consult the Central Electric Railway Association (CERA) Bulletin B-138 The Chicago & West Towns Railways  to see the maps and read about the La Grange line. If you do not have acess to this book it is still available from the CERA  From this web site you can also become a member.

On to the layout - from the photo of the basement included in this Post, it looks like the best design for the new modular layout is a "U" shape with loops at each end. One of the legs of the "U" has to be shorter than the other. Using the CWT La Grange line as the prototype the loop and modules for that leg can have in-the-street operation.

A complete circular layout was considered and rejected. It would require ducking under the layout to get inthe center of the layout.

A "U" shapped layout requires two 90 degree curve modules. One curve module has to have built in-the-street track while the other can be private r-o-w. The curves in both modules can be 18". This would not only accomindate freight operation but also the interurban and "L" models.

Due to space restrictions each loop in the end modules would be 13" to accomodate streetcars. For interurbans and "L" cars not able to operate on the 13" curves, the models can be turned back using right hand crossovers installed in the main line near the loops.

Unfortunately there are no drawings of the layout available. What drawings which exist are small pieces of paper of the individual modules or the general shapes of the modules together to verify the size of the total layout.

The layout may not be exactly the La Grange line of the CWT. Since it ended in La Grange which is south and east of Utopia, IL an arguement can be made to change the name of the Chicago & Utopia Ry. (C&U), But, this is railroad modeling and anything is allowed within reason. Furthermore, years ago when Mitch Markovitz came up with the name of C&U; Utopia was not only a location but also a state of mind.

My layout location in the basement of my new home is Utopia to me and should be for you!


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