Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ballasting on the Rio Grande Southern

With the construction of the raised retaining walls, the scene has really changed.

First, this is the view of where Bridge 2B will be located where it crosses the creek from the switch across to the other hill. I have decided on a standard of about 250 feet to a "mile" on the railroad so 2B would be the second bridge in this section. 2A is the upper switchback tail track bridge.

The retaining wall at Oak Falls was raised significantly. It is also being lengthened to end at what will be Bridge 2B's abutment.

This is the route of the lower switchback tail track up towards the barn and the creek.

The lower switchback switch was disconnected and relocated another 10' up. It will soon be ballasted.

The raised wooden retaining walls shows how much filling will be required.

The tracks were removed up to above the car barn switch so the ground can be raised. Above this spot it will be filled with ballast alone.

The s-curve on the switchback has been ballasted and will be tweaked after the kinks and dips are removed.

RGS #10 sits on the newly ballasted section of the House Track which leads to the future engine house.

Pine Hill has seen a great deal of work ballasting and leveling.

Ballasting began a couple weeks ago with the delivery of 11 tons of clean #67 washed rock. RGS #11 and flat #4686 was once again in ballast train service. The buckets of ballast come from the pile along the driveway in the back of the tractor and are loaded onto the flat for shipping to the front. I can move 14 buckets total at a time with this rig.
It's a lot of work but good healthy outdoor work.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Switchback work

With the help of my nieces we raised the retaining walls of the switchback a foot at the bottom and decreasing amounts up the hill. I'll finish those here soon and will get the tracks at the top (down to the car barn switch) ballasted. The tracks below this point have been removed for the grade to be filled in with dirt and then ballasted.

After I repaired some broken tools and added some new tools to use, progress was slow but steady as it took 12 wheelbarrow loads of dirt to raise the 20' of track down at Oak falls (the lower switchback switch there.) Uphill we'll be needing to bring dirt in from elsewhere. The dirt we dug was from the creek lowering it a foot and widening the channel to prevent flooding of the tracks.

Again, once *I* am done working on this, I'll move on to *my* next project as I am the one doing the work.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Changing Plans

After some additional work, I decided to raise the lower switch and move it an additional 10 feet to the north so it will align with a bridge I decided to add to cross the creek. The problem is that the creek falls quickly in this area and the new end of the track would be near the creek - 24" higher than the switch just 50 feet farther up. That's a 4% grade. So I decided to raise this switch 12" (although I might go one course of wall stones higher to 16".) This reduces the grade above but will mean the switchback will need to be raised 100' as I will be cutting the grade down by 1%.

One advantage of changing the switchback's grade is raising the carbarn switch so it aligns nicely with the car barn tracks.

The reason for the bridge is that it was found to be too hard to go down the hill on the west side due to trees and the necessity of a sharp curve below the switchback's upper tail track. By crossing over, we can use the natural basin on the other side to skirt around and then cross back over on another bridge. This basin does have a fairly sizable side creek in it so it will need a short bridge in there as well - probably 10 feet in length with a single bridge pier in the middle. Then ends will just set on abutments.

Bridge 2A, the one closest to the switchback should be nearly straight and be around 40' long. The 10' bridge mentioned above is Bridge 2B and then to cross back over the creek, Bridge 2C will be a longer bridge, curved on the east end and could be around 6 to 8 feet in height, but that has to be surveyed. It will be around 60 to 80 feet in length.

Coming off Bridge 2C, the tracks will when pass below the upper switchback tail track about 25' down the hill from the current end of the track. It will then curve around to the left across 3 short bridges which crosses 3 side creeks which converge in the middle of the basin it will skirt around. Once around the curve, the tracks should be near the hill top below which is a long, low hill which will provide an easy grade down to the bottom of the property.

Once the track crosses over at the bottom of the property and heads back up this other side, it will ultimately meet up with this new loop so trains will return to Telluride through the switchback to have the locomotive turned, run around the train and head back down.

Photos will be provided later.

Once the switchback, switch and tail track are in place and ballasted, the plans are to begin work on the engine house / car barn. After this building is built, I will continue to build on the railroad.

I know I have offers for help but I really need to just plan on me being the only one building the railroad so the schedule is dependant upon my being able to work on it and afford the materials needed.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Car and Locomotive Frames

RGS #100 will be based upon the WP&Y 100 class of Alco-built locomotives. They are Co-Co wheel arrangement (3 axle trucks) instead of my Bo-Bo (2 axle trucks) but I am only wanting to use these locomotives as a basis for my biggest diesel.

RGS #11 when it arrived was orange and did not have a headlight any longer.

This is the pile of frames at the barn. On top if the diesel locomotive's frame and engine bed. Under the locomotive is the steel frames for 5 new narrow gauge rail cars. These are set up to be wrapped in wood so they appear to be wooden cars but will be STRONG steel (and heavier) cars. The shorter frame will become a flat car to use with the #10 switch engine as the engineer's car as well as a general use flat which is handy for track building. The longer frames are going to be built into RGS (long) caboose 0404, box car (no number yet) and two flats (also not numbered yet.) These cars will require their trucks and couplers and I plan on using Rolls Models as the supplier for these as well as Mountain Car Company for the supplier of the brake systems (which will have to be altered for the larger car trucks.) I will also alter the brake cylinders for dual action air brakes to give these cars automatic air brakes.

The #100 diesel will be built similar to the White Pass and Yukon's hood diesels (as shown above) and will be powered with a large gasoline engine and the Eaton 11 hydraulic transmission. I have been looking at how to transmit the power to the axles and decided on using a smaller axle closer to the bolster which I can put the gear box on and a smaller gear set to transmit power to the chains connecting the wheels. That way the axles on the trucks do not need to be modified and having the gear box closer to the center bearings of the trucks, there would be less side-to-side motion in the drive lines.

Here the trucks for the #100, spare battery and motor for the #11 were waiting to be moved. The battery was used on the powered switches for the railroad's switchback and the other parts stored until later.

Close-up of the engine frame and engine bed steel. This will be a strong pulling locomotive which is what I will need to haul wood on the railroad when the #20 is not in service.

New Rollingstock Arrives

On Sunday August 8th, the new (to the RGS) switch engine #11 arrived along with frames for 5 more rail cars and one diesel locomotive.

The newly numbered #11 was painted in the railroad's standard yellow paint scheme and the new headlights installed. The dome light and electrical connections for the train will be added later, as will an air brake system.

Lexie, my niece and engineer trainee, at the controls of the new #11 with the coach on Pine Hill Siding.

Also completed over the past week was the electrical for the switchback which allows trains on either end to control both switches. In the middle is a repeater signal (and I am now considering adding another signal for farther up the switchback since even this signal would be difficult to see from the upper switch.

The mid-switchback signal which shows the aspect of the signal ahead as well as indicate if the carbarn switch is aligned to the siding and not the mainline.

With two working locomotives, it is now possible to switch the yards. With the switch stand for Pine Hill siding repaired the train has been parked there out of the way for ballasting the switchback and house tracks.

Pine Hill - looking south. Notice the green light on the switchstand indicating it is lined for the mainline (uphill) track.

Pine Hill looking north. Gondolas #300 and 302 are on the switchback track right now full of ties for the tracks below. These cars have been relocated to the siding on the left (where the train is) so the ballast train can get past them. Gondola #301 is out of sight on the house track loaded with wall stones for the tracks below. It too was moved so that track can be ballasted.

RGS #11 and RGS #10 showing off in the yard at Telluride. Behind the #11's engineer car (yes, it has its own dedicated car for that) is Fred's Santa Fe coach which we'll be working on. Currently it's parked out of the way at Pine Hill. Behind the #10 is Fred's flat car which we use for the engineer car behind the other diesels (the #10 and his own diesel he's working on.) Behind that car is the big #4685 narrow gauge car which will be loaded with ballast here soon.

Later this month I plan on ordering a full load of 6/7 ballast to complete the ballasting of the tracks down the switchback so the lower switchback tail track can be built and then the retaining walls, roadbed and tracks for the tracks which will head down and around Pine Hill. This is one of several projects going on at the same time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Progress being made - July 26th, 2010

Progress has been slow this summer at the temperatures soared. But the railroad is taking shape through the switchback.

Some new cars are on the line, rolling stock belonging to my friend Fred, who needed a new home for his equipment. These cars will augment my own rolling stock and be reconditioned (replacing and cleaning parts) and painting or varnishing.

RGS 302 (left) is in tie service, RGS 300 in wall stone service (middle) and Fred Wood's coach (number and name unknown.)

Almost all the ties are in place on the switchback. The rails were connected to the lower switch and soon the wires for power, signalling and controlling will be run and the "initial" ballasting and tamping done. (Final ballasting happens about 6 months later when the ground is settled.)

RGS #302 and the 8' long gap waiting for ties.

RGS #300 is sitting on the house track waiting for the switchback to be ballasted so the wall can be built below. This car will then be spotted down where the 302 is now parked. Then the house track will be completed. All the tracks need at least some minor ballasting.

RGS #300 and Fred Wood's coach on the house track.

Fred's coach we have been talking about working on soon. We'll set it up so little kids can ride in it but we'll also add a removable roof and windows so we can use it for Maintenance of Way (keeping track tools in it.) We'll also set it up for lights - marker lights, mars light and headlights.

My idea is to have plugs on the ends and wires under the coach. The plug will be on the right side of the couplers. Using standard 4 pin plugs, it will give us a ground, marker lights, mars light and headlight circuits. To control if the coach lights work and what side of the car, we will have a SPDT (center off) switch under the car on the "A" end which allows us to control with side the of the car the lights come on, if at all. It's single pole because it will be on the ground only...

Fred's coach. We are also discussing painting it too.

Pine Hill Siding switch needs a new staff. The switch broke when something caused the very heavy switch for the lower switchback to fall off the flat car as it was parked alongside this switch. I have replacements so I need to drill holes and paint one up.

Pine Hill Siding switch - broken

Chloe checks out the tail end of the upper switchback. This is the track which will be extended another 20' on a bridge.

One big milestone was met with the powering of the upper switch which was needed to access the switchback. The signal head is a simple design which displays green when it's uphill, yellow for downhill and red when the switch is moving.

Green signal - going uphill.

Amber (Yellow) Signal - downhill travel.
The switches are controlled from either end with two buttons. The upper button is the upper switch, the lower button is the lower switch, way off in the distance (not powered yet.) Halfway up the hill is a repeater signal which shows Amber if the switch ahead is aligned or Red if it is not. Also, there is a second red light below which flashes red when the car barn switch is aligned to the car barn track. This means the trains going uphill can not go through the switch but the ones going downhill would enter the yard at the car barn.

The switch controller. Below next to the end of the deck is the main power switch with its two test buttons (which do the same thing as the controller head above, just in closer reach to the switch for making adjustments and repairs.

Casey walking the track. On Pine Hill siding is the battery which will be located in the wind turbine tower about 40 feet to the west next to the chicken coop.

The maze of tracks at Pine Hill.

Chloe and Casey on a hot summer day down at Pine Hill. The different grades are obvious.

The switchback track, car barn switch, gondola #302 and the lower switch beyond.
Fred's flat car was originally set up to be the engineer's car at the Triad Live Steamers. They tore the car up and it's next to undergo repairs. I will fashion a new end beam and paint the sides and varnish the top. The trucks will be checked out as well and couplers inspected. Then we'll run the wires for train lighting. I'll have to add those same wires to the other equipment as well. Then it will get the engineer seat put back on it and it will be used for RGS #10 and Fred's F-unit diesel locomotive which is being worked on at his home. I hope to see it on the tracks soon. Of course I'd like to get RGS #20 going too!
Fred's flat car (number / road name unknown.)
Telluride is a busy place now, holding materials for walls, ballasting, track repairs and rolling stock in service as well as waiting repairs and inspection for service.

All the equipment at Telluride covered in case of rain. On the mainline (left) is RGS #10, the switcher, RGS #301 and RGS #4686. On the siding (right) is Fred's flat.

Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31, 2010 - Switchback progress

Over the past 2 weeks I constructed the new lower switchback switch which, like the one at the top, it a motorized switch allowing me to control the switches from either end of the switchback without having to get off the train.

The new switch has the standard 3 aspect LED light signal head; Red for when the motor is running changing the direction (when the points are not aligned to either normal or reverse,) amber for when it is aligned reverse (the switchback itself) and green for the regular tracks.

The signal was hauled down and parked on the engine house track on the 4686 flat car and parked until the grading is completed for it (subroadbed ballasting using the driveway gravel.) It's on buckets so it would clear the switch stands and swivel over the gondola being used as the idler car between the flat and locomotive.

RGS #10 was out on the road with all three gons working the ballast train (buckets on the right.) This picture is taken from the lower track of the switchback and the house track shows in the middle below the train which will extend over to the new engine house (when built.)

This is the mid-switchback signal. It repeats the signal from either farther up the hill or down the hill depending upon what side you are on. They only show red and amber. If the switch is set normal and green, this signal flashes amber. If the car barn switch just ahead is lined reverse for the car barn, the lower signal will show steady red for going uphill and flashing red for down hill. This is because this is not a spring switch and the train can not run through it.

The carbarn switch and the mid-switchback signal. Additional work for the carbarn siding will be completed after the lower track for the mainline is ready for fill. This lower track will be built up on a retaining wall since it is above the creek in a narrow area when the creek cuts into the hill.

Looking upgrade from Oak Falls where the new switch will be installed. This area has not been ballasted yet as the landscape fabric and final grading for the switch has not been completed. It will then be ballasted and the tail track installed up to almost the creek (yeah, it's close...)

Looking downhill along the newly graded stretch of the switchback to the switch location.

RGS #10 with train in ballast duty today. The newly rebuilt RGS #302 is the car right ahead of the locomotive. It is a well performing car now.

RGS #10 and the ballast train parked at Pine Hill Crossing for ballast unloading.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Switchback work continues

Spring has Sprung!

Work continues on the switchback track.

#10 works the construction train with flat 4686 and gon 300. Gon 301 is being used for ties in the background.

Looking upgrade on the switchback. The switch will be in the foreground and head down the hill to the left above the creek.

Construction on the Engine House Track will facilitate easier unloading of the ballast for constructon of both the Mainline (switch back) and Car Barn Lead Track which is between the switchback and the Engine House Track. Since this photo was taken, 10 additional feet of track was added to the Engine House Track with plans to add another 10 before resuming work on the lower tracks (easier to unload ballast where there are no trees.)

After all the subroadbed ballast is used up and the tracks are in, a load of clean ballast will be ordered to finish all these and the existing track.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Track Construction - Switchback

Today I'll show how I lay track on the RGS. It's much like how the prototype railroads lay track and I find it works great for me since I do all this work myself.

First, I grade the area. It's important to grade it to the same level as the existing track's subroadbed grade. I like to have between 3 and 6 inches of ballast under my ties (where practical.) After grading and compacting (I like to grade an area about 3 months before I lay track there so it settles) I lay landscape fabric which allows drainage, stops weeds and keeps the dirt out of the ballast. I then lay about 1.5" of ballast on top. I have a large pile of driveway gravel the trucking company delivered to me instead of the washed rock. So I am using it for all the subroadbed ballast.
Once this is spread out, I load up the train with the pre-gauged ties (I'll show how I do this in a later entry) and all the tools. I also know what the curves are to be so I pre-bend the rail (more on this later too...)

The train ready to go, flatcar loaded with empty ballast buckets.

At the end of the "front," the track being expanded, I first need to connect the new rail. I like to stagger my rail joints which helps prevent kinking of the rails. Some joints have fish plates (joiner bars) which require drilling and bolting the rails. Here's how those are bolted together:
The rail is fit into place, the holes marked.

The holes are then drilled and the rail returned into place.

The rails are bolted in - notice the direction of the bolts are staggered - that is so a derailment does not sheer off both nuts at the same time.

Gauge bar in place up from the joint.
The new tie is slid into place. The plates are already pre-gauged.

When the screws are next to the rail and the plates aligned under the tie, I screw them down.
First I add the outer rail's screw. This holds the tie in place for me.
Then I add the other screw. Note that the screws are staggered. This prevents the ties from twisting off the rails.
Then I tighten the other screws.

Then it's time to move on to the next tie. To space the ties out evenly, I made me a gauge. It's 3" wide which seems to be right on for my narrow gauge railroad.

The other style of rail joiner I use is manufactured by Train Mountain called a sprall rail joiner. It wraps around the rails but allows some flexibility so the rails can expand and contract with the changes in seasons.

The rail just slides in.

Using two gauge bars, I align the tie (which has only one plate on it) under the joint.

I then put 4 screws around the joint. There is also a hole in the joint which I also (using a self-taping screw) drill through the rail and into the tie.
Then the new ties is gauges and secured.
This is what the first 10 feet of new track looks like with the next rails secured waiting for its ties.

The completed 20' of track. It still needs some good, clean 6/7 ballast to be leveled, superelevated and tamped. In a year, it will need another tamping and more ballast as the ground compacts.

Pine Hill. The train is on the mainline. The siding is to the left, switchback to the right. Ahead, the mainline is on the left and the engine house track right above the tree.

Note - the trackage is not aligned exactly where it will be. The next curve (to the right) will aid in the final alignment of the upper tracks further from the retaining wall. But it probably will not move much more than 2".