Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Modifying A Concept

Pardon me as I hop-scotch back to the HO layout this time, as this seems to be the way my mind is working lately as I ponder the new twin scale stacked layouts.

With the impending Minnesota winter weather looming just around the corner, my efforts have been to complete outside projects at our new home before the snow flies. So modeling has been confined to working on the On30 steam saddle tanker conversion and keeping the pencils worn-down as I work and rework plans for the new layouts.

My latest thoughts for the upper-level Hawaiian-theme modern HO scale shortline railroad is to downplay the Big Island Rail concept and play up more of the gritty industrial sugar company railroading concept. In my former layout, the Puna Sugar Company sugar mill complex never was built. In it's old supporting role,  the mill's bulk sugar and sugar cane unit trains had trackage rights over the BIRR to the 'mill' from the cane fields and from the mill to the Hilo Harbor area with bulk raw sugar for transfer to ocean-going ships. Other than that, a mill switcher would have shuttled cars around the mill.

In this new concept, the BIRR takes on the supporting role and the PSCX takes center stage. With a much smaller layout area to build in, I'm trying to develop a plan that will offer a lot of operation possibilities as well as my desired continuous running loop.  One of the features of the HO layout will be a compact Puna Sugar processing mill (built over the workbench in the basement) where fresh-cut sugar cane is brought in - with unit cane trains (using my cool see-through cane cars home-built from retired boxcars - a la U.S. Sugar in Florida) - to the dump for crushing. Bulk sugar is loaded in covered hopper cars and back hauled to the BIRR interchange for shipment to the Bulk Sugar Transfer Facility at Hilo Bay (which may be located on a long spur to the back of the staging yard over the washer and dryer in the basement.)

With my current track plan for the HO layout, the sugar mill would be reached via the diamond at "Sugar Jct." where the track squeezes passes through beside the AC/Heater unit. The mill will, as stated earlier, have a cane dump track, as well as the bulk sugar loader. If there is room, bagasse loader and molasses pipe spurs will be worked into the mill facility. PSCX transfer runs will connect the mill with the BIRR interchange in Hilo over branchline rails. Cane trains will run from staging to the mill via "Sugar Jct." A mill switcher will work trackage.

Big Island Rail crews will have some work to do as well on the branchline with a possible ethanol plant (or maybe a HELCO power plant or intermodal ramp), plus the Hawaiian Fruit Exchange cold storage spur and maybe a spur into Hilo Auto Recycling to switch in the "Sugar Jct." industrial district. BIRR will offer "Live Interchange" working the South Hilo interchange tracks to set out cars bound for Puna Sugar and hauling outbound cars to the BIRR Hilo yard (staging) or the C and H / Puna Sugar Bulk Sugar Transfer.

All this and continuous running to boot!

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment if you'd like!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Sketching Continues

As we work on all the projects that need to be done on our recently purchased home before winter hits our corner of Minnesota, the basement home of the future On30 and HO layouts is basically a storage room for the old HO layout sections, boxes of rolling stock and structures and a lot of bins with parts, tools and other model railroading junk.

I have started to tinker on my conversion project to make a On30 Logging steam engine from a HO scale Bachmann 2-8-0 loco. After totally taking the loco apart, (above) I have started rebuilding the tender, widening the frame and cutting the tender body apart in half lengthwise in order to widen it to a scale 7 1/2-feet. That is the progress report on the loco conversion for now.

Of course the pen and paper sketching continues on the proposed On30 and HO layouts. Following a session with a tape measure noting basement dimensions with a bit more 'reality' than I had before, I have been able to get a better idea of what will fit in the new space.

Not to exact scale, these track sketches are more accurate than my earlier efforts.

Here is my latest effort to design the On30 Swamp Logger layout. The space is roughly 11 x 10.5 feet. The track that exits the layout area between the wall and the AC/Heater will head to a small staging yard over the work bench in another part of the basement.

As I've noted in previous posts, the logging layout will be the lower of the two layouts in the space. I'm looking at building this layout at about 44-inches above the floor.

Below is the proposed Big Island Rail/Puna Sugar Co. HO scale layout that will be mounted above the On30 bench work. Despite what the drawing shows, this layout will hover at about 64 to 66 inches above the floor.

The track that leaves the layout area at "Sugar Jct." between the AC unit and the wall will head to the Puna Sugar Co complex, to be above the work bench in the basement.

Comments are always welcome. Thanks for reading and following this blog.

Friday, October 7, 2011

More Inspiration

While packing books for the move, I rediscovered a fine hard cover logging book about the Caspar Lumber Company railroad called "Mallets On The Mendocino Coast." I forgot how cool this logging operation along the rugged Northern California coastline was! The standard gauge rail operations lasted into the late 1940's with an array of steam locomotives including a small shay, a Climax, a few small tank engines and two massive articulated Mallets with tenders.

Thumbing through the book provided additional inspiration for my planned On30 coastal "Swamp Logger." The Caspar had a fleet of compact coastal steam freighters that hauled rough-cut redwood to the San Francisco Bay Area docks. With my planned harbor trackage, I would love to build one of these steamships and tie it up at the Pier One complex.

I've also found a few photos of narrow gauge steam engines to base my HO-to-On30 2-8-0 tank engine project on. A couple nice shots showing all the piping, domes and cab structure as well as the tender to tag onto the tail end of my new logging engine. As much as I'd like to say I can fab all the parts for my steam engine conversion, but I will have to make a trip to the hobby shop, which is a couple hour drive from where I live. Of course I can order parts over the Internet, as well. What's on the parts list? Lots of details typical for the classic steam loco - 1/4-inch scale back head details, piping, whistle, bell, headlight casting among other goodies. I also need to mount a pair of On30 trucks under the loco's tender which will be widened and contain the power pickups, DCC decoder and sound system components as mentioned in my last posting.

Thanks to the Internet, researching logging photos and history is relatively simple and provides lots of inspiration for these types of projects. Yet, I'm an analog guy in a digital world, and like to have a piece of paper, magazine or book in my hands. One of the other inspirations I garnered from the Caspar book was how woods crews switched out loads and empties using a wye and a single run-around track at the interchange between the woods and the run to "town.". What's cool about this is I had planned a similar track arrangement for my On30 logging layout. Reading about how they used the woods switcher to help the woods road engine set out and exchange loads for MTs and be in the clear to head back with the MT's to the log landings and have the loads ready for pick-up for the trip to the mill was very interesting. This insight helps reinforce how to operate my On30 models in a prototypical way.