Conrail Old Colony branch - Plymouth Cordage Park

chandlerusm Dec 30, 2018

  1. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    I've recently re-entered the hobby, thanks to my wife who decided we needed a better train under the Christmas tree. After 40 years or so the hobby has moved on quite a bit. My (our, I guess...) long-term goal is to build a large layout in a couple of years once we move post-retirement. For now, along with the Christmas tree setup, I have been building an N-Scale bookshelf switching layout as a way to learn about the state of the hobby today.

    It is based upon the Plymouth Cordage Park, the leftovers of the incredibly-busy-until-it-went-out-of-business Plymouth Cordage Company. At one time this rope-making giant had the world's longest ropewalk - at 1200 feet it was the determining factor in the longest length of un-spliced rope it could make. My grandfather worked there from his 16th birthday until it closed in the, I think, late 60's or early 70's. The company historical society has a photo of the rails during WWII, with dual-track main plus long sidings on both sides of it serving warehouses. Every track is full of rolling stock and motive power. They had their own narrow-gauge line to deliver coal to the power house and stock from the docks to the warehouses and to the mills, using compressed-air engines.

    I grew up in a factory house, went to the factory library, had a paper route all around it and rode my bike through it after it closed. In the late 70's I think some buildings were re-habbed into a mall of sorts, and office space. Later life brought a Wal-Mart, then commuter rail, a marina where cargo ships used to dock. These days a lot of the old mill buildings are gone but what remains is a fairly busy place.

    In the mid-1980's there were a few industries there that are attractive to model. In MY version of the universe, they use rail a lot more than the real life version. Boston Insulated Wire and Cable made specialized cable assemblies, including 1000-foot plus hydrophone cables for the US Navy. There was Cantoni Coal and Oil, though by then they just delivered oil. They had one of those old coal loading buildings, though. Finally there was L. Knife and Sons, the local Budweiser distributor. The neighborhood was, at the time, heavily Italian and the company was owned by Mr. Louis Cortelli. Cortelli being Italian for knife, therefore the Anglicized name.

    So, enough to keep a bookshelf switching layout busy. Enough to let me experiment, learn and play.

    So far I have built a wooden frame and XPF base, wired it for DCC and laid my track. It's mostly Peco Code 80 #4 turnouts and flex track, with a few bits of Atlas flextrack where I ran out of Peco. about 3 feet at a time is all soldered together, and there are 8 feeders on this 12x36 inch layout. The DVM shows good continuity all over.

    I've begun scenicking...quite an adventure. My ballasting started off looking pretty poor, then got a bit better. Ground cover has begun, barely. I have so far managed to spill a large gob of Elmers right on top of a turnout and have spent some of my spare time digging out the dried residue from the frog and the points...

    I have been VERY careful on track layout - it is all smooth, and kept very clean. The top of the rails are spotless. The inside was scraped clean by toothpick after ballasting. The engine is an Atlas Gold SD-35, and I have double-checked to be sure both wheelsets are getting power - I can lift the front or rear off the rails and the other wheelset still spins. I also just ordered a used DCC Atlas U25B as well.

    A question for the knowledge of the group -

    My SD-35 stalls too much, even with what looks to me like clean rails. It will stall on a section of flex track that has power leads, though not in the same places each time. That tells me the issue is in the engine, though it is almost new. I ran it over some alcohol-soaked paper towel and no grime came off, but I am wondering about little bits of glue or whatever getting it there. How much internal cleaning is needed? These things are a LOT smaller than the old HO scale I had. Any other suggestions?

    That is all for now. I'll post some pictures here as things develop. Right now there are some card placeholders and cars on the layout as I decide what should go where.
     
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  2. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Check the contact strips under the walkways. They should be seated in a groove in the frame. They should ride on the upright portion of the axle end wipers and transfer electric power from the wheels to the frame and then to the motor. Sometimes these become misaligned and create contact issues. I use transparent tape to keep them seated properly in the groove of the frame.
     
  3. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Does it always stall on the same spot on the flex track? If it does, check the gauge of the track in that area. Depending on how careful and how sharp of a radius you bend the track, you may throw off the gauge a little. Also check the gauge of the loco wheels while you are at it.

    Is the loco new or did you buy it used?
     
  4. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

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    I had an issue not to long ago on some newly installed track with stalling in almost the same spot every time. Because I only had an issue there I did not suspect the loco and instead turned my attention to the track. Turns out that one rail joiner was not properly seated and under the track and a simple push down with a finger on the track confirmed that. Once I got that rail joiner properly installed the problem was solved. Since the track was not yet ballasted in it could settle some when I ran a heavier loco over it making contact and only my smaller lightweight loco had the issue.
     
  5. bman

    bman TrainBoard Member

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    The Atlas Gold SD35's do not use those contact strips. There are wires from the trucks to the frame.
    Photos here: https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=45158.0
    The Gold C630's are wired the same.

    I'm wondering if the decoder itself just a bit loose in the frame and not making good contact. That would explain why the loco stalls
    every now and then and not in the same place twice.
     
  6. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    No, not always the same spot. The flex is all straight, and mist sections have power leads soldered to them. I have gauged the track throughout and made a few adjustments so all is well.

    Yes, it was bought new.
     
  7. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    Great point - I will check that next chance I get.
     
  8. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    I mocked up some buildings out of index cards and put a half-dozen cars on the layout with 4 coming in and 2 going out. One change I made was to turn off F7, switching mode. Using speed of 4 out of 28 I ran all over the layout with only a few hesitations that the engine kept going through. Abut half-way through I turned on the sound, and the hesitations got more noticeable. Anyways, over about a half hour I had to give it a shove once or twice. The worst spots now appear to be the central complex of turnouts, so more toothpick work to clean out old glue is the next chore.

    Along with checking the decoder, per bman.

    Thanks for the help, will update once I can get some track time.
     
  9. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    A few updates...

    I’m heading back to work today after the holiday break. Mostly finished ballasting track and started some ground cover. I’m not thrilled with either but I am getting better at it as I go along. I’ve added a little field grass in one corner to see what that looks like. [​IMG]

    I’ve cleaned the locomotive and the track and most of the stalling issues are resolved but I need a small stiff brush and some compressed air to really get into the narrow parts of some turnouts.

    There are a few placeholders for industries I’ve been moving around as I run a few switching drills to see what goes where. I am looking at a few simple buildings to sit down and take up empty space while I start to hopefully scratch build what I remember from the prototype.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    That’s it for now. What with work and all things will slow down a bit.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
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  10. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Wow -- things are looking great! Those cardstock mock-ups are a fine idea.

    Regarding your switches, sometimes plastic frogs can be a stalling culprit.
     
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  11. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

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    Great weathering on that hopper!
     
  12. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    Wish I could take credit - I bought a 3-pack all weathered with Penn Central marks in keeping with the lineage of the location (i.e., Old Colony Railroad => New Haven => NY, NH & H => Penn Central => Conrail.

    I'll weather things later, the Chessie covered hopper there looks too new to me!
     
  13. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Heh, when I was very young, we lived in Cohasset, MA and my elementary school bordered the abandoned (?) Old Colony/NYNH&H right of way. I was told that trains no longer ran there, but during recess I'd always stand by the fence hoping for a train. At that age, my imagination had more power than the facts. :)

    Imagine my surprise when I recently learned that the line had been put back in place for commuter service ….
     
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  14. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    That reminds me of the Mercedes Benz commercial they have been playing during the holidays where it starts with a young boy getting up during Christmas to see if he has a car (assuming MB) waiting for him on the driveway. No car. Then a pre-teen, a teen, a young adult, all no car on Christmas Day. Then it shows him as a father with a wife and two kids, coffee cup in hand, bleary eyed getting up on Christmas Day, walking past the window expecting no car like the rest of his life and then Bingo! A Mercedes in the driveway! :)
     
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  15. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    I think it was the early 2000's that the MBTA finally extended commuter rail to Plymouth. A few trains a day, they built a spur to a commuter lot in Kingston that needed a short tunnel under Route 3 by the old Howard Johnson's on Route 3A. That stop had quite a few trains each day and was quite well used when I was up there.

    The new line was all concrete ties and limestone ballast...and they ripped up most of the old track that had been there for a century or so.
     
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  16. Rich_S

    Rich_S TrainBoard Member

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    If the track does not have any dips where the locomotive is stalling, all the wheels are in gauge and the track is in gauge, plus the DCC decoder fits snugly in the frame halves, then another possibility could be the brass wheel wipers on the axle ends.

    Before we go any further, I've had DCC decoders in Atlas locomotives where the decoder did not fit snugly in the frame halves. A small drop of solder on the brass trace that contacts the frame fixed that issue. Another issue I've had with Atlas locomotives, the contact strips from the motor to the bottom of the DCC board, were not making a solid contact. Some adjustment was required for a better contact, but be careful this stuff is fragile. If none of the above is the issue, then it could be the wheel wipers.

    It's a little bit of a fiddly job, but to get to those wipes as you have to remove the truck side frames.

    http://download.atlasrr.com/pdf/N EMD SD35 DIESEL LOCO B.pdf

    The only difference between your wheel wipers and the one in the above diagram, your wheel wipers have the wire attached directly to the wheel wiper.

    Your switching layout looks great. Are you sure you want to build a basement filling empire when you can have a really nice switching layout? It's just my personal preference, but I enjoy switching layouts and my current layout is built on a 24" x 80" Hollow Core Door. When it comes to ballasting your track, take your time. I use a nice soft 1" paint brush to sweep the ballast into position. Also make sure to use a good wetting agent before applying your adhesive. When it comes to wetting agents and adhesives, you know the old saying ask 10 people and you'll probably get 10 different answers. My personal preference is 70% Isopropyl Alcohol sprayed on with a very fine misting sprayer, get the ballast wet, but not so much that it starts to float. I then use 3 parts water to 1 part Elmer's white glue, dripped on with a pipette on the ties. Add the glue down the middle of the track first, then glue the sides.

    Here's a photo of my track using the above ballast method. Note this ballast is real rock ballast from Smith & Son which is similar to what's available from Arizona Rock & Mineral Company.

    DSCN1756.JPG

    Welcome back to the hobby and keep us posted on your layout build.
     
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  17. Rich_S

    Rich_S TrainBoard Member

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    My Turnout cleaning method.

    A few drops of Isopropyl Alcohol with a pipette
    DSCN0755.JPG

    Then gently work the area with a old toothbrush.

    DSCN0753.JPG

    I know other guys have used DeoxIt D5 for turnout cleaning. Make sure you only purchase DeoxIt D5, it's safe on plastics.
     
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  18. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    It’s been a while since my last update...

    Most of the ground cover is down and I have placeholders for every industry. After confirming the track plan let me switch cars everywhere I have begun increasing my rolling stock and playing with JMRI Operations.

    After a good bit of experimenting I now have JMRI creating train manifests and switch lists for me with coal being delivered, taking a while to unload, then being sent back empty. I have oil coming in by tank and leaving empty. The Budweiser distributor is getting boxcars of beer (I know, but it’s DOMESTIC. If I get a reefer I’ll use that for the imported stuff...) and so on. The cable firm is getting supplies in three different spots, and shipping product from the fourth. The team track is left random but the frequency is turned down to only about every tenth train.

    There are some temporary buildings now. They look good enough to let me spend some time on what I really want there.

    I added some LED lights above it, a few foliage clumps and so on. Little details here and there that let me try out different things. I’ll post some photos in the morning.

    As it starts looking better it’s more fun to run some switching sessions but it does make me think about what comes after!


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  19. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    A couple of photos. U25-B CRR 2664 pushes a delivery into the BIW Warehouse A slot...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
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  20. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    Well, I've made dribs and drabs of progress here and there, as time allowed. I've almost finished the beer distributor. I found a Bud delivery truck and that is there, two more trailers on the way. Some little details... loading dock stuff and figures are on the way.

    I've made up some removable lumber loads for my bulkhead flat, and am awaiting some MTL trucks to upgrade some balky cars.

    I've tentatively settled on an expansion plan... to integrate this bookshelf into a point to point with loop - down the road a month or so before anything starts with that, I'm thinking.

    I've got my styrene on hand now to start scratch building my long warehouse. I *THINK* I can manage it... but at any rate it'll be a good learning experience.

    I've been using JMRI Ops to run sessions, so far so good. Photos coming, promise!
     
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