End of the line, Branch operations in NH in N scale

Jim Wiggin Jun 21, 2021

  1. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    B&M Branch 1.jpg

    I've spent the last year working from prototype data, maps and Google Earth, trying to find a nice, simple switching layout for the 6-foot by 14-inch shadow box I have in my room. While I have not successfully found a prototype, what I have here is based on a few different prototypes.

    The layout is based on one of the many branch lines that used to extend from the city of Manchester NH. It's the end of the line and serves a Grocery Distribution warehouse as well as another warehouse. It also serves a team track with room for up to 3 50' cars. The runaround loop was put in when the line west of here was abandoned in the late 1960's. Simply put, Trains arrive from the east, emerging from the thick over growth and the 393 Bypass. The local, usually a NW-2, GP7 or 9 comes in with five to six cars, runs around it's train and and spots the buggy (B&M for caboose) on the drill track and starts switching out the two warehouses and team track, using the drill track (track north of the warehouses) as a set out track to assemble the train heading back to Manchester.

    It's simple, based on prototype and Lance Mindheim style of track plans. One track serves multiple customers or spots. A Cassette is utilized at the left of the layout, past 393 and also connects with another 6-foot shadow box that will based on Manchester Yard as it looked in the 1970's to 1980's.

    Let me know your thoughts, this track plan has given me the most interest in the last year and I'm hoping to start laying track soon. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    That is a neat looking switching area Jim. I like the track arrangement. (y)(y)(y) The only thing that looks a little tight is one end of the run around but I suspect that will just add to the fun when trying to do the run around if you have more than two pieces of equipment.
     
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  3. gmorider

    gmorider TrainBoard Member

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    Looks well balanced and interesting. Should be fun to build and operate. I admired Lance M.'s Indiana Monon layout in Model Railroader. Also the cassette idea should be a game changer as well. Good luck.
     
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  4. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thank you. Are you speaking of the area to our right? Yeah I have thought of that and may experiment to see where to locate the turnout to give a bit more space.
     
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  5. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thank you sir. Sometimes simple is better and I'm hoping that the river feature and room for scenery will make this an interesting layout. Another form of inspiration has come from YouTube and a channel "Boomer Diorama". He has a great approach to the small shelf/shadow box layout I would like to emulate.
     
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  6. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes Jim, that right end is what I was looking at. It looks like it works but might be a bit tight. Regardless, I like the overall feel of the track plan and switching potential.
     
  7. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    I have a question, more about industrial buildings served by more than one freight car, than this layout in particular.

    Is/was it common for a single building served by multiple freight cars to have the spots separated, and thus require uncoupling and spotting each car, or set the dock doors the distance apart for two coupled freight cars? I guess I can see a building built for two 40' box cars having to be remodeled later to be served by 50 or 60 footers, but not the other way around? Maybe inbound freight is on different cars with different door spacing, than outbound. Or do the two cars spotted at each industry consist of an empty and full freight car for product and raw materials, respectively.

    Or these being warehouses (rail to truck?), is the rail freight all inbound?

    These are issues I never really thought about before...

    Separate spots for each car certainly adds to the operations steps, and associated interest, while supporting a variety of railcars of different types and lengths.

    Will the team track have a side- and/or an end-platform?

    Looking forward to seeing this!
     
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  8. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    You could more than likely find all those variations were I've lived. Easter Wisconsin were there's a mix of old and new industries. And every difference in-between. There would be lot of fun modeling it.
     
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  9. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Great questions, let me answer them based on my experience and research. In the early days of RR, it was very common for a town to have a freight house or transfer station. Cars of 36-foot, 40-foot and later 50-foot would be spotted along these warehouses. A long wooden deck was beside the track and the warehouse had many sliding doors. Spotting cars was not as critical then as the combination of the many doors and the deck allowed freight to be transferred from freight car to warehouse to buggy and latter truck. It was also fairly common for many towns to have a freight station, passenger station and a team track like in my home town of Pennacook NH. The team track was usually used for large and bulk items.

    By the 1940's warehouses got bigger and more grocery items were shipped by rail and truck. Grocery warehouses usually have spots for multiple cars, mainly refrigerator cars, box cars and sometimes tank cars for corn syrup. By now, warehouses had become more specialized so certain cars had to be spotted at certain doors. If you look at modern day metal or concrete warehouses, you will see the spacing of the doors are farther apart than 50 or 60 feet, designed for a variety of freight car sizes. Generally in a grocery distribution warehouse, bulk food items come in by rail, are unloaded in the warehouse by type, dry goods, refrigerated goods and frozen goods, then picked up by semi trucks and delivered to individual supermarkets.

    Another good industry that will have various cars spotted on it's spur is a bakery. A bakery will typically receive covered hoppers for flour, starch, sugar etc. They will also have tank cars and box cars as well. Generally, bulk items are sent in, items prepared and then sent out by truck, sometimes rail depending on the size of the bakery.

    Also in the real world, it is not uncommon to have multiple customers on one spur. This makes operations more challenging because in order to move customer B, you have to move Customer A's car, then spot B and return Customer A's car to where it was when you started. In other words, not every car is ready to be switched out.

    Regarding the team track, I will have a side loading platform with ramp so delivery's such as heavy equipment and Less then car load or LCL can be performed here. Having a team track is like having a Wild Card in your deck of operations. It can be virtually any car at any time for any customer and is a great way to prototypically ad an area of operations interest.

    Hope that helps explain things a bit. Also, search Youtube for some of the vintage Grocery shipping videos. I got a lot of inspiration there as it explains how it was and is done.
     
  10. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Jim,

    Thanks for the thorough answer, but now that brings up another question.

    If a warehouse has simple loading docks/doors, it can handle box cars, reefers, and perhaps even flats and gondolas. But hoppers and tank cars would need specialized equipment to load/unload them, correct? A dedicated industry siding could have that equipment, but what about a team track?

    Equipment for un/loading tank cars can be portable (and perhaps included on a tanker truck/trailer,) but what about hoppers?

    I want to include a team track on my upcoming layout, and am wondering what kind of auxiliary equipment would be provided, or whether such equipment would be provided temporarily by the shipper/receiver loading/unloading at the team track? All I've ever seen first-hand are dilapidated old team track platforms, with any equipment long since removed.

    These issues sure seem to highlight the advantages of containerized freight, and not just for shipping overseas...
     
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  11. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    More great questions. Let's tackle the warehouse question first. Going back to the old days, turn of the last century, almost every town had a siding. That siding would also sometimes have a spur at the end of it. On this siding would be a passenger station, a freight station and team track. Some even had milk service. Typically box cars were spotted at the freight station and could include everything from grain to a piano. The team track would get box cars with larger loads and flat cars with farm machinery or that Sears & Robuck house kit that was ordered.

    I the modern age, roughly after WWII into the 1950's, both freight transport and freight terminals were becoming more specialized. We didn't see wide use of covered hoppers until the mid 1960's. Remember, grain was still hauled in 40' boxcars right up until the 1960's. When Pullman Standard and American Car & Foundry introduced their covered hoppers, it revolutionized the not only the grain market but other bulk commodities.

    Warehouses generally still received either box cars or refrigerator cars, but many warehouses had a section of track that would allow them to receive tank car loads by having a system of pumps and pipes installed on one end of the track, sometimes before or aft the ware house. Some warehouses also have a dedicated track for covered hoppers. This section of track will have a small building alongside of it and grates where the covered hopper is to be spotted. The contents of the hopper are dropped into the open grate and by means of a conveyer, transported to the main building. This process can be seen in grain operations, bakery operations and concrete just to name a few.

    Regarding team tracks. Some can be a simple as a spur track that runs into a gravel area with just a lone light post, while others can feature a loading/unloading platform, a gantry and conveyer for covered hoppers and even facilities for tank cars. Fortunately all of these items can be found ready to build in both HO and N. Team tracks I have found in both the North East and Midwest run the gamut of the simple which may just see a load of utility poles every other month, to an elaborate set up that has the loading/unloading ramp for flats and box cars and specialized facilities for tank and covered hoppers. When designing your layout, try to think of industries that are not seen from your layout but could be serviced by a team track.

    For my layout which is based on B&M in the mid 1970's, my team track will have a loading/unloading ramp and a simple flat area to allow utility poles to be unloaded. The ramp will have flats with heavy machinery and boxcars for local industries. In the case of petroleum products, a tank car could be spotted and Fuel semi's could unload the goods.

    A book I highly recommend is one I use often. Space-Saving Industries for your layout by Tony Koester is published by Kalmbach and is a wealth of information. I also suggest looking up Lance Mindheim as he has written a few books on industrial switching but more from the modern age. Both authors give a great explanation of how industry works and how it interacts with rail. It also makes operating your layout more fun and realistic.

    I hope my ramblings have been a help and answer to your questions.
     
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  12. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, Jim!

    I could read ramblings like that all day, and twice on Sundays!

    I model with Unitrack, and I'm wondering if something like their Ash Pit tracks, below, could be used or easily modified for a hopper facility with conveyor.
    [​IMG]
    OTOH, PD hoppers would use flex hoses/ducts and blowers. I'm thinking of a rail-truck transfer station sorta scene for modern PD hoppers.

    [​IMG]

    Where the "Storage" hopper could be a bulk transfer trailer...? But some of those trailers might have their own transfer blower onboard?
     
  13. Philip H

    Philip H TrainBoard Member

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    @BigJake - I think those unitrack pits would work well. Just get some etched metal grating to put in between the rails and Rix conveyor to sit to the side and pull up the commodity.
     
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  14. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Would there be an auger screw in the pit to pull the material to one end, where the conveyor picks it up? Or is the bottom of the pit actually the top of a conveyor belt?
     
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  15. Dave1905

    Dave1905 TrainBoard Member

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    Is/was it common for a single building served by multiple freight cars to have the spots separated, and thus require uncoupling and spotting each car, or set the dock doors the distance apart for two coupled freight cars?

    The spots would be set more or less for the common length of a car at the time when the building was built. A building from 1890 would have doors on 36 ft spacing, a building built in 1935 would have doors and 45 ft spacing and a building built in the 1970's would have doors on a 55 ft spacing (plus or minus). That would be for 34 ft, 40 ft and 50 ft cars respectively. They would space the doors wider rather than narrower because if they miss, you can always separate the cars.

    Or these being warehouses (rail to truck?), is the rail freight all inbound?

    Depends on what you mean by warehouse and what commodity is being stored. Generally warehouses are rail loads in, trucks out. For example if the warehouse accumulates cardboard, it could ship it outbound.

    On the other hand, what difference does it make? Its a closed car. Whether its loads in empties out, empties in loads out, loads in loads out, empties in empties out, the car movements as far as your layout goes will be exactly the same.
     
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  16. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Dave1905, (congrats on 200 posts, BTW!)

    Box cars, covered hoppers and tank cars are closed, and you cannot tell whether they are empty or not (without a scale.)

    But flat cars, gondolas and open hoppers are not closed, and you can tell empties from not.
     
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  17. Dave1905

    Dave1905 TrainBoard Member

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    Generally the only railroad supplied equipment at a team track was a platform (maybe) or an overhead or pillar crane (even more maybe). Most team tracks were just tracks that allowed a wagon (team) or truck to pull up next to a car to load or unload. In most cases, the railroad didn't provide equipment to load or unload cars, that was the shipper or consignee's responsibility.

    In a modern railroad setting a railroad might have a "transload facility" with more specific equipment designed for specific customers or going after specific business. But that's not really the same as a "team track". Team tracks were also called "public tracks" and they were the "general delivery" locations for the railroad. Customers who wanted to ship or receive by rail but didn't have their own track (a "private track") could ship to or from the public team track. Since theoretically any commodity could be shipped and received and most team track users were infrequent customers, it didn't make sense that the railroad would spend a lot of money on very specific unloading equipment. Pretty much the lowest form of facility on a railroad was a team track. A station could have a team track without any other building, even a depot.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2021
  18. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, Dave; that makes sense.
     
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  19. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sometimes art imitates life...

    While looking at my Maps, I found that I must have subconsciously copied either Manchester NH or Goffstown NH. Either way, both scenes would be good for modeling 1960's - 1970's rag tag B&M. If choosing the Goffstown direction, it truly is the end of the line. Serviced here was a furniture factory, grain and lumbar. The branch had the distinction of a small covered bridge that unfortunately burned and ended service around 1980 or so. The location in Manchester currently is off the Northern Mainline and serves a plastics dealer as well as a large warehouse.

    Modeler licensee rule 101 maybe in effect but the possibilities are encouraging. Then there is my old home town in NH which, despite everything that is going on, I hope to visit the old tracks.

    Right now the 6-foot by 14-inch shadow box is a blank canvas, awaiting it's track.
     
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  20. Penner

    Penner TrainBoard Member

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    The layout may be compact, but the amount of interesting info being shared on this thread is humongous! :)
     

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