Yes, it is a lunatic idea. Why do you ask?

eidsvolling Feb 12, 2016

  1. eidsvolling

    eidsvolling TrainBoard Member

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    Hello. My name is Charlie and I am a lunatic. Well, not full time.

    I have been overcome by a desire to build a working diorama of the Alaska Central Railway, predecessor to the Alaska Northern Railway which in turn became the Alaska Railroad. Hmm, doesn't sound too crazy yet.

    Take a look at this:


    BTW, I've never owned a model train set, much less built a layout.

    Now do you understand? :LOL:

    Looking forward to getting help here in dealing with my affliction. I'm already having a ball with the planning.
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Welcome to TrainBoard!

    Glad to read you are having fun! That's what it's all about. :)

    Interesting video clip. I notice at the bottom it seems to be from something related to the Northern Pacific RY. I don't recall previously seeing these scenes. Nice!
     
  3. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Well, the first step (if it's important to you to be historically accurate) is to decide if you're in love with the loop district or the A.C.Ry itself. That vid is not the Alaska Central, which went bankrupt in 1908 and became the Alaska Northern in 1910--before that locomotive was built.

    The actual A.C.Ry likely ran not much but construction trains (which is why it went broke).
     
  4. FriscoCharlie

    FriscoCharlie Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Welcome aboard Charlie in New Hampshire. I'm Charlie in Maine. :)
     
  5. eidsvolling

    eidsvolling TrainBoard Member

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    There's lots more material in those archives and in archives at the University of Washington. The Alaska Central Ry. Co. brought in equipment and management from the NP. As a native of Minnesota who has lived in Alaska, that only adds to the attraction I have to this project.
     
  6. eidsvolling

    eidsvolling TrainBoard Member

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    Well, the Loop was built even before they went into receivership, much less the bankruptcy –
    http://tinyurl.com/hdcb55m

    And yes, I am that enamored with the crazy notion of representing, if not quite replicating, it.

    BTW, there's a very strong case to be made that it went broke through the misfeasance, even malfeasance, of the investors that were brought in for much needed capital. That's a whole saga in itself that very neatly demonstrates issues in Alaska that continue to this day.

    .
     
  7. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Not such a crazy notion. It will involve a lot of work, sure. But it should be spectacular when done.

    Yes, that lovely pretzel of trackage in some of the world's best scenery remains the same. It will upstage your trains no matter what era or owner you model. You could, in fact, have two sets of equipment from two eras, as the landscape details will change little or not at all. So, you can change from 1908 to whatever other year at will, if you wish.

    To model the A.C.Ry, which was a twentieth century railroad (barely) but with their used equipment, didn't look like one, is essentially to do the Old West thing. You're looking at a handful of small locomotives and short trains of primitive wooden cars. I love the idea, myself.

    To model the later incarnation shown in that vid you found would also be appealing. It would allow you to add pretty passenger trains, for one thing. Just don't run your trains that fast. That footage was taken with a hand cranked camera and a photographer from the Mack Sennet school--it's essentially time lapse photography. He made the train look like it was going faster than any sane engineer would ever operate a train through those curves.

    So, what do you need to know? How to do the benchwork? How to wire it? You could do it without DCC--this single track line never supported a whole lot of traffic. You could keep the mechanics of the thing quite simple. Do you know if you want to do point-to-point, or would prefer continual running? Have you chosen a scale yet?
     
  8. eidsvolling

    eidsvolling TrainBoard Member

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    The whole point of the diorama is to emphasize the challenge presented by the terrain, as a representation of how different Alaska is from things "Outside." Which is why I've chosen N scale, so I can convey that impression and somehow squeeze in a representation of the circular trestle among the mountains and glaciers. The simplicity of the rolling stock of the era is one of the advantages to this project. I want to end up with point-to-point, and here's where it gets even crazier: INCLUDING the dock and yard in Seward.

    I don't have a list of questions yet, but I sure will later on. I'm already impressed by the attitudes here toward the project.
     
  9. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Here you have experienced model railroaders. Crazy is all in a day's work for this bunch.

    Well, remember that a forty-something mile bit of railroad requires a basement a quarter of a mile long to model in perfect N scale. There will have to be 'compression', so don't let your eyes get bigger than your stomach, as my grandpop used to say. A point-to-point is real railroading, and the Sewell section is definitely a point to work from. But terrain like that sure makes it easy to hide a reversing loop, and even a few extra tracks for other trains. So do think about a point-to-hidden-loop type setup. You might wind up glad you did. The second endpoint would take up a lot of room that could be better used for that scenery!

    Good luck with it--you're contemplating creating a beautiful thing!
     
  10. eidsvolling

    eidsvolling TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, I have actually chewed over the idea of hiding a return loop, for the very reasons you cite. The mountainous terrain lends itself to that to some extent.
     
  11. fitz

    fitz Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Welcome aboard, Charlie. Looks like a good idea to model that line, judging from the video. I am sure you will find plenty of help and advice here, and see that it has already begun.
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The UW has all kinds of great data in their libraries. I've used them to research a couple of things. Did note a few mislabeled photos, but found answers I was seeking.
     
  13. Ironhorseman

    Ironhorseman Staff Member

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    Welcome to TrainBoard, Charlie. We, all of us suffer from your sort of lunacy to some extent, or we wouldn't be here! *grin*
     
  14. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    We all come to the hobby from different motivations, no matter how strange they may seem to others. Have fun!
     
  15. Russ Prentice

    Russ Prentice TrainBoard Member

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    There is nothing crazy about what you want to do at all. Sounds like a great idea. Having never owned a set or built a diorama you are going to have a great time with a ton of things to learn. The board is a wealth of knowledge with modelers of all skill levels, scales, and experience. My guess is if you can't find the answer here, then there is no answer :) So keep us all posted as you move through your journey.

    Best wishes.
    Russ.
     
    acptulsa likes this.
  16. Jeepy84

    Jeepy84 TrainBoard Member

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    Depends upon how crazy you really want to get, tip toe or dive in head first? I'm sure some one can find the exact issue for you but back in the mid 90s Model Railroader did a piece on modelling the modern Alaska in N Scale, you should hunt it down and could backdate it. It took up a two car garage as I recall.

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
     
  17. eidsvolling

    eidsvolling TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for your encouragement.
     
  18. eidsvolling

    eidsvolling TrainBoard Member

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    As a matter of fact, that issue arrived here yesterday. :)
    It was the June 1996 issue, and it contains this (amusing to me) passage:
    "The Seward Division also contains an 'S' curve that replaced the famous 'Loop' where the track crossed over itself on a high trestle. Create that trestle of yesteryear if you like, but ..."
    I'm going to hunt down the author of this excellent article and let him know there's at least one lunatic out here in the weeds.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
    Jeepy84 likes this.
  19. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Charlie, Welcome. I sense you prefer the approach of creating a scenic area with a railroad running through, vice lots of track with a bit scenery plopped here and there. If so, then Z-Scale may be a better size. Granted, you would have less engine and rolling stock selection, but you would have more ability to create the diorama you are envisioning. Looking forward to following your effort. (y)
     
  20. TrainboySD40

    TrainboySD40 TrainBoard Member

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    I use paper towels soaked in plaster for all my scenery. Sometimes I wonder if foam is easier, but hey - I've got plenty of this stuff. Depending on the location, I either support it with cardboard/bristol board lattice or aluminum screen wire. Works for me!
     

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