Truss-bridge works part 2

September 28, 2015

Bridge 218-3

MRL Bridge 218 has progressed a little recently. Five piers, two end abutments and the approach spans have been completed in a bid to span a large gap at the west end of the 4th Sub mainline where it crosses the Clark Fork River at Paradise MT. Without this structure, trains cannot begin to operate as intended. Using Kato Unitrack truss spans has saved some time and considerable amounts of money over using truss bridge kits, despite time-consuming modifications to the spans to off-set them to cross the river at an angle.

Bridge 218-2

As of today, the track panels for each span are complete and a timbered bridge deck to create the impression of ‘bridge track’ is being installed using strips of 40thou styrene card. That is a mind boggling task in its own right, but given that Micro Engineering Company track bridge track is difficult to find in the UK, it is a viable option. The gauge of 9mm for N scale is achieved by soldering code 55 rail to copper clad sleeper strip, spaced to match the trussing members. The gaps are then filled in with styrene strips to represent the larger timbers used in bridge track. Each truss section has its own track panel and the truss spa track sections will be joined using the track rail joiners when assembled on the piers.

Bridge 218-1

The structure is loosely placed on the layout to check the height of the bridge track with the adjacent abutments. There remains a few millimetres of adjustment to do in raising the bridge which can be done by completing the bearing pad detail. The piers are constructed of 80thou styrene with a wrapper of embossed stone card by South Eastern Finescale which was leftover from another project. The real Bridge 218 has concrete piers which, until recent repairs were undertaken by MRL, were looking pretty weathered and heavily patched and repaired. Embossed styrene card provides a key for a smear of Squadron filler which will be roughly rubbed down to create the desired worn concrete effect – some of the outline of the stone embossing may show though in places adding to the patched effect. Smooth styrene sheet would not have been so visually effective.

The structure will be used on the layout in unfinished condition for a time until the spans are painted dull black and weathered; the piers painted in some lovely warm concrete colours and a newer highway bridge constructed and placed immediately behind the rail bridge. Some additional detail remains to be added to the Unitrack truss spans over the next few modelling sessions.

It is turning out to be a long, long project, but one which I think will produce a passable representation of Bridge 218 on MRL at Paradise MT. Whilst there are some significant detail differences between the real truss spans of Bridge 218 and the Unitrack models, the compromise will be acceptable to me now the spans are off-set to cross the river at an angle and in the process of being detailed. There is not N gauge kit which could be used to make the truss spans making up Bridge 218 that is readily available. So rather than slip a piece of plywood in as a stop-gap, the Unitrack spans seem to be a fair substitute and should carry heavy (for N scale) 10 to 12 foot long trains without difficulty!



One for Wednesday: 37 417 at Tulloch.

September 16, 2015

297220 OMWB

Tulloch and the Fort William – Euston via Edinburgh Waverley sleeper arrives. The picture was taken on 24th June 2005. EWS Class 37, No. 37 417 in charge.

More Caledonian Sleeper stuff…

September 13, 2015

sleeper 67 009 OMWB

My day out to Beinn Teallach and Beinn a’ Chaorainn last Thursday started in Kingussie at 07.15 to meet the 1S25 Euston – Inverness sleeper hauled by 67 009 and 67 010. The cloud, at that point, looked ominous despite the good weather forecast.

sleeper 67 010_1OMWB

sleeper 67 010 OMWB

sleeper 67 009_1OMWB

With time to spare, I took a slow drive down past Loch Laggan to Tulloch on the West Highland line to meet the 1Y11 Euston – Fort William sleeper which departs Tulloch at 09.21. Class 67, No. 67 011 was in charge.

67011 Tulloch OMWB

The roughly East-West nature of the line between Tulloch and Fort William means that the train for Fort William is back-lit on a bright morning, making photography challenging. Tall trees on the south side of the station adjacent the Fort William platform makes things even harder at times!

sleeper Tulloch OMWB

sleeper 67 011 OMWB

The passenger crossing to the opposite platform (and a footpath through the woods) is down the ramp and over a board crossing. When leaving Fort William bound trains, passengers have to take some care when crossing the line in front of the train!

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Tulloch station OMWB

A picture of the lovely station building at Tulloch to finish and then off back up the A86 for a few miles to Rough Burn for the start of the walk to Beinn Teallach and Beinn a’ Chaorainn.

The smallest ‘Munro’ and Beinn a’ Chaorainn

September 11, 2015
Beinn Tellach OMWB

Beinn Teallach – the joint lowest of the Munros with Ben Vane. This view of the mountain was taken during the climb up Beinn a’ Chaorainn.

I am fortunate in having most if not all of the 283 ‘Munros’ within several hours travel of my Moray coast home making walking a low-cost hobby for me. It gets me away from model trains from time to time which can be a relief. Ninety-minutes driving from home is one of the joint smallest (allegedly) Munros which at 3001 feet (915m) could be demoted to a ‘Corbet’ if a careless walker was to dislodge a boulder from the summit. According to the Munro Magic web site, it is joint 282 of the currently acknowledged 283 Munros.

The trek to tackle Beinn Teallach and its larger neighbour, Beinn a’ Chaorainn,  started at Rough Burn on the A86 Loch Laggan road which, with extended stops for photography, took me about seven hours to complete. The typical time for this route is five and a half to eight hours, so that was reasonably good. I don’t believe in rushing things anyway, wanting to take time to enjoy the views and the experience of being on Scotland’s high places – the very thing which makes this country so unique.

Rough burn north OMWB

Following one of the tributaries of the Rough Burn.

Rough burn OMWB

The Rough Burn.

Beinn Teallach panorama OMWB

360 degree panorama from the top of Beinn Teallach.

It took me around 100 minutes to walk from the car to the top of Beinn Teallach. Most of the lower slopes consisted of quite boggy ground which I sometimes find hard-going, preferring to walk on rock which comprised the last quarter of the climb.

Beinn Teallach summit OMWB

Fantastic views and peace…always take the time to enjoy the experience.

Early morning cloud covered both Beinn Teallach and Beinn a’ Chaorainn for the first couple of hours of the walk. It cleared fairly quickly to leave a warm, sunny day with patchy cloud, allowing pictures to be taken at the top of Beinn Teallach. My planned route ran off the top, around a slightly lower hump of rock and down a craggy tail to the north of the summit back onto boggy ground.

Beinn a Chaorainn OMWB

Beinn a’ Chaorainn summit viewed from the north top – looking south.

Beinn a’ Chaorainn was tackled from the north, up to the north top. Soggy at the base, rocky as the climb progressed.

Beinn a Chaorainn north top OMWB

Looking down the east side of the mountain and its crags.

Beinn a Chrainn to Creag M - OMWB

Looking east from the summit of Beinn a’ Chaorainn towards another mountain I tackled recently – Creag Meagaidh.

Beinn a Chaorainn full pan OMWB

360 degree panorama from the summit of Beinn a’ Chaorainn. Loch Treig can be seen in the distance to the south-ish. The west highland line runs alongside the east side of the loch south of Tulloch station.

Beinn a’ Chaorainn has three tops: the north top; the south top and the summit itself. All three can be experienced on the traverse from north to south.

Beinn a Chaorainn summit OMWB

Another day, another cairn – the summit cairn. Just a small pile of stones. That IS a Montana Rail Link baseball cap just in case you were wondering.

Beinn a Chaorainn tramping OMWB

Beinn a’ Chaorainn summit is in the back ground of this picture taken at the south top.

Beinn a Chaorainn from south top OMWB

Looking north from the south top.

Beinn a Chaorainn tramping about OMWB

Tramping around with Loch Treig in the far back ground.

The walk out route took in a small pile of rock half way down the south end of Beinn a’ Chaorainn called Meall Clachaig. A tramp across heather, grasses and quite boggy ground took me back to the Allt a’ Chaorainn and the walk back down the banks of the Rough Burn to the main road.

Truss bridge works

September 9, 2015

River bridge23OMWB

Work on my N scale Montana Rail Link layout has taken a back seat to Dudley Heath and Wheal Annah in recent times. This summer saw a resurgence in activity as I reconsidered the layout plan and track layout. The experimental building of a removable door bridge over the layout room’s entrance door changed my perspective of how the layout could work. Furthermore, operations revealed some shortcomings too – it’s a good idea to really operate a layout before starting any scenery! A new track schematic was devised together with some layout planning to relocate certain layout design elements.

I use an MRL profile book for my track planning, copying real life track layouts where possible to fit in a square layout room. However, working out a high level schematic takes a little doing at times. The idea is to work out how trains will be routed around the layout, incorporating staging yards and features such as a helix so trains flow over the layout as the real railways intended. Details such as the track layouts at certain locations can be determined after the basic route has been planned.

Planning the revised route for my MRL 4th Sub (water level route) meant I could eliminate one staging yard which was awkward to locate, saving a great deal of track at the same time. I am not a great fan of extensive off-stage storage and both of the yards at both ends of the line will act as scenic staging. After all, this layout will not host massive operating sessions, so having vast numbers of trains waiting off-stage to traverse the layout will not be necessary. As the plan developed, I realised that one of the blocks to further development of the layout was not just the determination not to cross the door way to the room, but the location of the helix too. It had to be moved – no small undertaking.

Removal to a position at the complete opposite corner of the room entailed the removal of a great deal of track and some bench work. Once disconnected, it rolled across the layout room floor without difficulty. Anyone who has undertaken such a huge revision to a layout will know that once track lifting starts, there’s always a little more to take up and so it goes. In the end, the only remaining track and wiring to survive the redesign was the formation at Missoula West and the west end of the reception roads. The yard reception roads were lifted and the turn back loop at the east end of the run taken out to accommodate the helix and the revised track formations. It is now all back in place and hopefully better designed.

The upper deck of the layout was also revised with a new, longer, double-ended staging yard replacing the two originals. It feeds directly into the helix at one end and allows trains to be staged for either end of the run. The upper deck of the layout is now a continuous loop whilst the bottom deck via Missoula West is a large return loop around the room. The secondary 10th Sub line fits better too and is now correctly pushed into its secondary role in the redesign as originally intended.

The new scheme has a longer main line run for less track and much less complexity. In common with the real MRL 4th sub, I wanted the track formations to be straightforward as possible. I can also install a reasonable representation of the small yard at Paradise MT together with the Clark Fork River crossing. And that is the current hold up to getting trains running once again. Until that four-span truss bridge is installed, trains are not going anywhere!

River bridge 288OMWB

To speed the job up a little, I decided to carve up four Kato Unitrack truss bridge spans so they would be reasonable, low cost stand-in structures for the real bridge. To fit, they would have to be skewed.

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This involved cutting off one side and fititng it one support along, with suitable modifications.

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I have to confess, that by this stage, I was not sure if this was such a good idea over kit bashing some Central Valley truss bridge kits.

River bridge 300OMWB

More detail remains to be added to each truss bridge span to further disguise its Kato origins. Once painted dull black and weathered, and fitted with some code 55 track, they will look great on the layout.

River bridge 121OMWB

The last picture of this blog entry shows the spline track bed (recovered and reused from the rebuilding of this section of the layout – in fact virtually all recovered materials were reused) leading towards the bridge location itself. The helix once occupied this site…amazingly. The Tortoise point motor just visible in the top right hand corner belongs to my Folkestone East layout which occupies the third deck of the layout room. Despite the chaos of partially rebuilding bench work and sorting out track and wiring, the changes are bringing numerous additional benefits to the project. Some scenes fit better and some hitherto ‘givens’ being relaxed has made the layout more enjoyable to work on. Sometimes, too much rigidity in layout planning can turn into an iron shirt which constrains the project and ultimately stifles progress.

Tomorrow – all being well with the weather, I am back out on the Monadhliath mountains!