Minneapolis, Louisville & Southern Railroad

hoyden Dec 24, 2012

  1. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    This thread inaugurates the formal introduction of the Minneapolis, Louisville & Southern Railroad. ML&S got its start in 2005 with a prototype mainline, hereafter referred to a Prototype Line #1. In 2007 the ML&S constructed a Scenery Branch. In January, 2010, the ML&S started construction on their second mainline, hereafter referred to as the ML&S.

    The ML&S is located in a 4.5' by 8.5' area in the second downstairs bedroom. The ML&S consists of a two track main, a 4 track yard, and two stub yards. Branching off the main there are two routes that will eventually lead to a larger staging yard. The goals of the ML&S are ambitious:

    Allow simultaneous operation of two trains.
    Supply branch lines to support reversing the direction of travel for trains on the mainline.
    Provide a switch yard with adequate leads and arrival/departure tracks to allow switching without having to tie up the main.
    Provide two remote stub yards; one for a coal mine and the second to serve the town.

    There were many lessons learned in the construction of Prototype Line #1 and the Scenery Branch that will benefit the new ML&S. Here are two pictures depicting the overall track plan and construction progress on the main line.

    ML&S trackplan.jpg ML&S construction.jpg
     
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  2. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    ML&S Prototype #1 abandoned

    The ML&S formally abandoned their Prototype #1 mainline yesterday and immediately commenced scrapping operations in order to support construction of the new ML&S. Track and insulated rail joints were in short supply. Trains have not run on Prototype #1 in over 6 months. With the onset of Winter the location in upstairs bedroom #3 is especially chilly.

    ML&S Prototype #1 provided critical experience in constructing, maintaining and running a complex railroad. The ML&S was plagued by alignment and grade problems. The original track plan was laid out by eyeball, and the eyeball was more optimistic with fitting the desired track into the limited space than the space would allow. Hence there were many opportunities for derailments baked right into the ROW. In addition, many of the turnout frogs were inadequately fed resulting in locomotive stalling and various operational disruptions. The yard also suffered from inadequate leads and working space.

    On this somber occasion the three representing railroads (the ML&S owns no rolling stock or motive power; MLS provides trackage rights to the connecting railroads and occasional foreign power) sent locomotives for a farewell roster shot at Linden Yard. Although the two track main is still in tact, it's not anticipated that any trains will ever run there again.


    P1 abandoment.jpg P1 aereal view.jpg
     
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  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway F units. Nice to see you are featuring that RR. :)
     
  4. TrCO

    TrCO TrainBoard Member

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    Goodness, what a shame that you went through all that. Ah well, at least you have learned many lessons I'm sure :) When do you anticipate Prototype #2 being in the works?
     
  5. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hi BoxcabE50,

    I learned about M&StL after riding their ROW, which are now bike trails. I further developed the connection with books and rolling stock. I drove by the M&StL corporate headquarters a few weeks ago. I guess I was born about 50 years too late to enjoy their heyday.
     
  6. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hi Chris,

    Prototype #1 was always intended to be a testbed and thus had a limited shelf life. The new pike is one I will take with me to Assisted Living when I can no longer live a home. I would like to have the main line in place in a couple of months. That way I can check out the electrical aspect.
     
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I gained an interest from curiousity about what the M&St.L was, with my childhood, (1950s, 1960s), Lionel trains decorated for them. Then later a friend who was raised nearby that RR insisted I should buy "Mileposts on the Prairie". Been hooked ever since.
     
  8. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    It's interesting how we connect with various railroads. Reading history and living near the railroad doesn't guarantee interest but both have influenced me. I will put "Mileposts on the Prairie" back on my reading list. It's been a few years.

    After riding the ROW for several years I first read about M&StL history in Don Hofsommer's "Minneapolis and the Age of Railways." Then I found Gene Green's "Minneapolis & St Louis In Color" on sale at the LHS, finally rounding out my reading with Hofsommer's "The Tootin' Louie" and "The Minneapolis & St Louis Railway A Photographic History".

    I trace my interests in Louisville & Nashville RR to living near the tracks in TN. I walked the tracks with my brother collecting insulators. The Southern crossed the campus at college and I rode behind 4501 in about 1975; my very first encounter with steam. I also appreciate Southern's green paint; my favorite color.
     
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  9. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    The ML&S continues to lay track towards the goal of restoring the main stem and running trains. This weekend track was extended through Sheldon Junction to Linden East at MP 0.0. Here is the view at Sheldon Junction looking west towards Linden East.

    P1050919reduced.JPG

    Here is the view at Linden East looking east.

    P1050920.reducedJPG.jpg
    Mile Post markers are measured starting at Linden East, MP 0.0, and increase moving west. MP's are designated in inches divided by 10 from MP 0.0. The looped main returns to Linden East at MP 41.1.
     
  10. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    I am working through the process of designating the various blocks and turnouts with a logical and physical enumeration that will be used to label wiring. The original layout became a complicated nest of wires that were difficult to trace. I want to establish a wiring labeling scheme that will tell me at a glance the the essential information I need to know.

    There are 64 turnouts controlled through 8 Team Digital SMD-8 and SMD-82 controllers. Most turnouts are powered with twin coil switch machines. A single turnout controller can switch one turnout every 5 seconds; the limit being the time required to recharge the capacitive discharge energy source. I wire companion crossovers to separate controllers so that a single command to a logical turnout can switch both simultaneously.

    Thus, each turnout is designated in a numerical order from 1 through 64, a controller number 1 through 8, and a channel number 1-8, as well as the MP and named location. Track is divided into blocks that can be designated as main 1, main 2, yard, and branch tracks. Track logical blocks will start at 1 and increase in numerical order moving east to west from MP 0.0. Each block will also have a name.

    Another problem I dealt with on the original layout was the location of control devices: switch controllers, auto-reversers, and block detection circuitry. The location of these devices relative to the location of the track they control influences the maintainability and overall wiring complexity.

    I need to resolve all of this enough to allow actual train operation and that task is ongoing with laying track.
     
  11. TrCO

    TrCO TrainBoard Member

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    Sounds like an absolute must! I am in a similar position, but it sounds like you have it far worse than I do lol.

    I must say, I'm always so impressed when people are able to put together (what is to me) such complex electrical systems for their layout. Saying that, the majority of that post was absolute greek to me! But still, very impressive. I look forward to following along and seeing if I can't learn a thing or too.

    Keep up the great work!
     
  12. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    Chris,

    I built my first prototype layout in order to explore how to electrically wire and control a complex layout that had 40 turnouts (including a double slip, and scissor crossover) and two reverse loops by the time I finished it. I used JMRI to create a model board to control the whole thing.

    I like to build a simple or basic element and then add the complexity a little bit at a time. With my ML&S I can start complex with a high probability of success because I've done it before; it's a variation of my first prototype.

    I learned that the wiring can get out of hand quick. Each element, a turnout or block, is simple (although I had to experiment with the double slip and scissor crossover to get them right) but simple multiplied by 40 got complicated. I know I need a system to manage the complexity.

    Yesterday I read that I have my numbering backwards; railroads start mile post mileage in the west that increases heading east. I will update the diagram and then apply my numbering system to the whole layout, and see if it survives.
     
  13. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    My wiring complexity got unmanageable when I tried to add signals to my first prototype. I developed a simple logic circuit that could display three indications: stop, approach, and clear. Each signal had three lines: on-sheet, yellow-green, and switch normal.

    On-sheet was low when a block was occupied.

    Yellow-green was low when the the home signal displayed stop

    Switch normal was low when the facing point turnout at the signal was in the reverse position.

    The yellow-green signal propagated to the signal in advance of the home signal in order to control whether it displayed approach or clear.

    The switch normal signal set the home signal to stop if the trailing point switch was reverse. On sheet also set the home signal to stop when the block was occupied.

    Later I added two more indications, approach diverging and diverging clear. This required propagating the turnout state, normal or reverse, to the signal in advance.

    While trying to implement this on a two track main with complex interlocking, I learned why railroad pole lines had so many wires on them. I could verify the basic concepts but got lost in the implementing it on my layout. I still need to crack this nut before I add signals to my current layout.
     
  14. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    This morning the ML&S achieved a significant milestone with the completion of laying the mainline track. Train operations will commence in the coming days. The final stretch covers the viaduct at Altavista. By installing shoofly track the goal of restoring operations, even limited, was advanced many months. Here is a shot showing the track installation looking east from West Linden.

    P1050929R.JPG

    Here is an elevated shot showing the overall system.

    P1050930R.JPG

    All switches work in armstrong mode but remote control will be at the top of the priority list.
     
  15. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Congratulations on driving the golden spike. :)
     
  16. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thank you, BoxcabE50. I started construction January two years ago. Now I am getting the power cut in to the main line blocks so that I can operate trains again. I want to verify the integrity of my track laying before getting too far along. Then I will have confidence bringing remote switches on line and continue laying yard track and branches.
     
  17. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Nancy-

    Sounds like you are doing it all correctly with that trackwork. Maybe when you have trains running, we can see a video! :)
     
  18. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    All right, let's do a video to celebrate the occasion....

    [video=vimeo;59953267]https://vimeo.com/59953267[/video]
     
  19. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    As an M&St.L fan, I am delighted by your choice for the first train!

    Also, I would swear to seeing the two Atlas box cars I have on my want list! :(
     
  20. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    Got a CTC panel going this week. I still struggle with how to enumerate the various artifacts on the layout, such as turnout and block identification. If I wanted for the right answer or the best answer I would never get anything done. I am satisfied with my mile post numbers being inches from MP 0.0 divided by 10.
    CTC.gif
     

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