Monday, August 25, 2014

Mountain Framework Progress

Ipve nearly completed the support framework for the mountains between Horseshoe Curve and the eastern portals of the Gallitzin Tunnels. I switched from using waded-up newspapers to cardboard strips due to the larger area I need to cover with plaster cloth. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Started Building the Gallitzin Tunnels

With scenery slowly moving westward from Horseshoe Curve, I figured it was time to start building the equally- famous Gallitzin tunnels. My usual method for tunnel construction involves building a large open box over the tracks. I started by taking a sheet of foam-core board and cutting it in half diagonally. I glued the halves to the edge of the layout. Next I cut supports for the tunnel roof out of an old cardboard tube that came rolled up in an area rug my wife and I bought. For the roof, I used more foam core board.

As you can see here, the four-track main line splits before entering the tunnel. In real life, two of the three remaining tracks go through the Gallitzin tunnels and though the center of the town of Gallitzin. Prior to the removal of the fourth track in the 1980s, these were the westbound tracks. One track was made bi-directional following the removal of the fourth track.

The two remaining tracks, went through the much steeper New Portage tunnel. As mentioned above, one of these tracks was removed in  the 1980s. Currently only eastbound traffic uses the remaining track. The New Portage Tunnel has its roots in the old Allegheny Portage Railroad. The APRR was the first railroad in that part of Pennsylvania. It used a series of inclined planes, connected by sections of railroad to move canal boats over the mountains. A new railroad line was constructed later to bypass the inclined planes. The line was called the New Portage Railroad.

A small section of the Allegheny Portage Railroad is preserved as a national historic site (Link). If you're traveling in that part of Pennsylvania, I strongly suggest checking it out.

In other news, Michael's had some good coupons this week, so I covered some more mountains with trees.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

When it rains it pours

I decided to wire up the two new staging yard tracks today and unfortunately it did not go smoothly. Wiring up the track itself went fine. I ran the wire to the control panel and soldered it to the track feeders. The problems started when I went to run a test train around the new track. I noticed the train (really a light engine) would stall on the second turnout in the yard ladder. "Well WTF?" I thought. I took out my multi meter and checked the turnout. I ultimately came to the conclusion the common rail wasn't getting power.

At any rate I decided to solder in some new feeder wires to the short spacer tracks between the turnouts. One soldered on with no problems. The other? Well, see for yourself...

The second feeder wire decided to put up a fight and refuse to solder to the rail. I ultimately ended up causing the ties to melt and the wrecked the whole spacer! So I spent the next hour cutting a new track and then gritting my teeth and cursing under my breath trying to get it in place. 

If that wasn't bad enough, in the process of fighting with the track, I manged to give the table a bit of a bump. This resulted in the N Scale equivalent of 10.0 on the Richter Scale. Several cars of a freight train parked at that end of the layout derailed and the engine, my I1sa 2-10-0 took a tumble to the floor.

The I1 did not emerge unscathed. The tender drawbar was broken. That's easily fixed with CA. The bigger problem is the valve gear crank pin. It sheared off on impact. These old Minitrix engines have been out of production for quite some time, so replacement parts are nearly impossible to come by. Sadly, this engine will be out of service for the foreseeable future. If I can;t find a way to fix it, it may be retired permanently.

After all this consternation I didn't even manage to solve the problem. Engines are still stalling in the same spot. Anyway lesson learned, when the universe is against you, just toss in the towel. It's not worth fighting because you ain;t gonna win.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Altoona Staging Yard Track Work Complete

I finally ordered up some more track and got busy building the two remaining staging yard tracks at the Altoona end of the layout.With that only a few pieces of track in the engine terminal need to be laid and all track east of Gallitzin will be finished.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mountains Around the Curve Contiue

I spent a bit of time last night building some more mountains. The mountains are now in place most of the way around Horseshoe Curve.

I also added some more trees near Kittanning Point. Unfortunately it really doesn't disguise the popup as well as I'd hoped.