A day at the track – Cinder Sniffers Aug 2014

In august, my brother and family came to town for two weeks.  We decided it would be nice to spend a day running trains.  In 2013, we had run the 305 for Carillon Park’s Railfest, but this year we decided to run 1″ scale trains instead.

My son Charlie and I met Dad, Bill and Nick at the Cinder Sniffer’s track.  We brought the #778 and they brought the RS3, the handcar, and other rolling stock.  The hope would was for this to be the first successful run of the #778 (we had one failure to maintain steam and one failure to a broken whistle, so 3rd time’s the charm).

I did not get any photos of the #778, but it did run.  I still need practice in keeping steam.  Actually, needed more care in keeping the water height in the boiler.  More than once I was late in adding water, then added too much, cooling the boiler too much.

Here are a few photos from the event.

Charlie seen riding the handcar around the track with Papa Jim looking on.

Charlie seen riding the handcar around the track with Papa Jim looking on.

Nick as engineer of the RS3.  His mother in tow.

Nick as engineer of the RS3. His mother in tow.

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Transport for the #778

Dad and I decided that I’d keep the #778 at my house, thus I needed to be able to transport the loco in my 2007 Pontiac Vibe and store the loco in my garage.  For transport, I constructed a board that would have room for the loco, riding car, and one more car.  For storage, I built a double wide roll around cart for the loco and riding car.  There is room to store another car on a lower shelf with the other required gear for operating a live steam locomotive.

#778 and the riding car are loaded on the board in the back of the vibe. The rails are aluminum angle, the cars actually ride on their flanges.  The cars and loco can be secured in a matter of minutes with a few bungie cords.

#778 and the riding car are loaded on the board in the back of the vibe. The rails are aluminum angle, the cars actually ride on their flanges. The cars and loco can be secured in a matter of minutes with a few bungie cords.

A 48" long spanner track connects the storage car with the board in the car.  The riding car is ready to be unloaded.

A 48″ long spanner track connects the storage car with the board in the car. The riding car is ready to be unloaded.

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#778 – A new loco

In December 2013, my dad and I acquired #778 a one inch scale 0-4-0 Little Engines loco.  The loco was first run in July 1978, hence the number 778.  It’s been owned and operated by 3-4 members of the Finger Lakes Live Steamers.  We are happy to have it, as it is a small manageable loco that I can keep at my home and transport in my Pontiac Vibe.

Here are a few photos of the engine and trailing car.

#778 and Riding Car

#778 and Riding Car

Backhead of #778.  The cab roof is removable

Back head of #778. The cab roof is removable

The open smokebox for cleaning

The open smoke box for cleaning

Closeup of the engineer's side

Closeup of the engineer’s side

Under the seat is the water tank and hand pump.  The tanks on the side of the loco have been decommissioned.

Under the seat is the water tank and hand pump. The tanks on the side of the loco have been decommissioned.

A battery powered pump enables the engineer to top off the boiler with the flip of a switch.  Be careful, as it's easy to over fill and kill steam pressure.

A battery powered pump enables the engineer to top off the boiler with the flip of a switch. Be careful, as it’s easy to over fill and kill steam pressure.

Dad seen cleaning the flues

Dad seen cleaning the flues

778_8

Preparing to steam in the driveway.  It's been a while since firing a coal fired loco, so practice is needed.

Preparing to steam in the driveway. It’s been a while since firing a coal fired loco, so practice is needed.

Pop values work

Pop values work

 

 

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Woodlark Central #3 – What’s the grade?

Yesterday my son and I surveyed the grade.  I setup a laser level on my camera tripod.  It was not easy making it perfectly level when rotating round and round.  Then my son rotated the level and I took measurements on a 4′ ruler mounted to a stiff 1×3.  The measurements were taken at key locations around the proposed 28 foot plan (click here to see the proposal) and entered onto a copy of the plan.  Then I entered the measurements into the plan which is drawing using XtrkCad model railroad planning software.  Finally using the profile tool, I was able to see the grades as if the railroad was laid directly onto the ground.

The Profile

Below is the profile as output from XtrkCad

Woodlark Central - Railroad ground profile of the 28 foot proposal

Woodlark Central – Railroad ground profile of the 28 foot proposali

  • The elevations are listed in inches at right
  • A problem in program (or user) means that the loop is no 100% captured.  The left side is at 16 inches, but the right is at 19 inches.
  • The missing segment is about 30 feet the goes from 19″ down to 16″ elevation.
  • The length of the RR show is 175′, but add the additional 30′, makes the overall length around 205-210′
  • The maximum grad is 3.0 percent
  • The measurements go clockwise around the loop and take the inside track (of the passing siding)
  • The shed is about 1/3 of way across the profile, the trestle will be at the lowest point, the house is at either end.

Thoughts

  • This is a very rough estimate.  The level was not perfect, and my son was quite eager to complete the activity, and I guessed where to measure.
  • I had though of a 12-16″ high trestle, but that would result in lots of fill.  Significant amounts of water do flow through the yard, but 8-10″ seems sufficient
  • 8-10″ is going to greatly reduce the grades and will not result in that much fill.
  • If I do not mow the lawn, then the trestle might go be hidden.  I’ll like put rocks and gravel below the trestle to impede the growth of gravel under the trestle.
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Woodlark Central #2 – Proposed design for 28′ radius

Here is a proposal for a 28′ minimum radius version of the Woodlark Central.  Click here to understand the Woodlark Central.

WoodlarkBackyard_r28_withDad_2

Woodlark Central – Proposal for 28 foot minimum radius (click to see larger version with 5’x5′ grid)

Thoughts

  • The house is not shown, it as at the bottom of the drawing.  The house sits 4-5 feet above ground level (basement foundation is visible), so it’s not possible to walk out to track level.
  • The other borders of the image are the property lines.
  • The passing siding is not long, maybe 200″ or so (engine and 3 cars).  I wish it were longer and the siding and mainline were parallel.
  • The inglenook would be the right end of the yard.  One could switch.
  • The spur goes into the shed, so one turnout is reused for storage in shed and switching operations
  • As the curves approach the bottom of the image, the radius increases.
  • If I want more switching a second switch could be added to the opposite side of the passing siding.
  • The shed as drawn is 6×12′
  • At this time, no proposal for gardens or plantings.
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Woodlark Central #1- Background, Givens, and Druthers

Ever since I was a boy, I’ve thought it would be cool to have my own live steam railroad.  Now that I’m a grown up, I working to put that dream into play.

Background

When I was a boy, we’d travel back to Riverside, California where my grandfather had a track in his back yard.  It was a simple loop of 1″ scale track (probably 300+ feet around).  It contained a simple  bridge, a wye, and a turntable.  I do not remember running trains on the track (we ran at the Riverside club and later my grandfather went to 7.5″ gauge).  What I remember the most was riding flat cars around the railroad and even more exiting was to try crossing the trestle/bridge while standing on a car, a challenging and risky endeavor.  The end of the bridge was near a crab apple tree littering the yard with apples of varying degrees of decay….Standing on a flat car is harder than riding a skate board.  A skate board curves under the rider as one leans, but a flat car just goes faster away….

A second influence was the track of Dick Jackson.  My dad talks fondly of the track where he and his father first ran trains.  My father was in his late teens and my grandfather was finishing up the #300.  The track was a small loop with a passing siding and a turntable.  My dad loved the scale trestle and water tank.  The Southern California Live Steamers have two pages with photos of Dick Jackson’s home track:

  • Click here to see a photo of the yard.  I love that he hosted people at his home.  I do not think it was just “Live Steam” enthusiasts.  My grandfather and father are in this photo along with the #300.
  • Click here for a page dedicate to Dick (Richard B. Jackson).  This page shows his trestle.

Finally, my father is building his own track.  His track is not progressing as fast as I would like.  His property has a steep hill away from the house, so requires switch back to get to the bottom.  He is interested in gardening, so he has put his time to creating a garden first, then building the railroad.  Like him, I think a live steam railroad can go through an attractive garden.  His track is documented on this site too.  Click on the Backlot Railroad category at right.

Givens

  • Backyard is 76 feet deep and 87 feet wide
  • Gentle slope from front to back of 16-20″.  More drop on the right side
  • Two tall trees with  3 foot diameter trunks.  They are 10-15′ from the house and in middle of property
  • Two tall trees on the left side property boundary.  These need to be avoided
  • No fences on either side of property
  • The fence at the rear is chain link and owned by the home behind
  • The front of the house is more roughly four feet higher than the backyard.  The driveway and garage (where locos will be stored) are in front.

Druthers

  • A loop of track for continuous run to give folks a ride.
  • Passing siding, so that two trains can run
  • An Inglenook Sidings puzzle built into the loop.  Inglenook is a popular model railroad switching puzzle that emulate prototype switching.  Inglenooks are much simpler than a timesaver and more realistic.  I propose it would be fun to test ones engineer abilities by performing switching operations rather than going round and round.
  • A steaming location
  • A trestle/bridge and maybe a cut
  • A railroad like shed to store garden supplies and some train cars
  • View blocks (gardens/trees) around the inside of the loop to make the ride seem like it goes farther.
  • In community with neighborhood.  To be considered a positive to my neighbors rather than a nuisance or eye sore.
  • Be in harmony with my wife.  She enjoys gardening, so this is an opportunity for use to share a hobby together.  However, she may have a higher standard for looks.
  • To host gatherings of railroad people and/or family or friends (non-railroad) where the railroad is part of the event.  Thus the backyard should become a pleasant place to be.

Choices/Challenges

  • Minimum Radius – We (my dad)haveanRS3, 0-4-0, 4-6-0 that are operable and a 4-6-4 that requires a new boiler (we think).
    • The RS3, and 0-4-0 can probably do 15 foot radius and possibly down to 10 foot radius.
    • The 4-6-0 can probably do 25 foot, maybe 22 foot.  With gauge widening it might get down to 20 foot radius.
    • The 4-6-4 probably requires 28 foot radius.  The size of this loco may make it hard to get to the backyard and the track will be small for it’s size.  As such, 28 foot is being considered “nice to have”.

Parting Thoughts

I have a 9-year-old son and there are many kids in the neighborhood.  As such, my father and have decided now is a great time for the Woodlark Central.  Where as the Backlog Railroad is on an aging street without many kids and friends.

 

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1″ Scale Track Standards

My father wrote a web article about the 1″ scale track standards.  Read it here.

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