Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Rebuild

One of the topics I frequently emphasize in any training I do is the need to adapt to constant change. Change seems to be one of the constants in my industry. It's also a constant in my hobby.

When I set out to build what is becoming the West Central Minnesota Railroad years ago, it was envisioned as what is now known as an ISL, or Industrial Switching Layout. Small 4 axle switchers would be the order of the day, along with lots of boxcars and tank cars serving a paper mill. As a result, tight radius curves and #4 turnouts were designed in, as everything I envisioned would operate nicely even with those limitations. A couple of years later, things changed when I decided to model something that would involve bigger equipment, 6 axle locos, and unit coal and grain trains. The newer part of the layout was built with this concept in mind, but the original section still had a lot of tight curves and sharp turnouts. Friday I decided to change part of that.

Here's an end view of my old yard. On the left you can see three "classification" tracks, served from either end. The switch lead is connected to all three through a ladder as well as to the main through a crossover. The main is the second track from the right, with the passing siding the far right track. The engine terminal was crammed against the wall. The track leaving the yard on the far end makes a very sharp 90 degree curve as it parallels the basement end wall.

You can also see that the main is stuck right to the foam top, with no sub-roadbed to build it up above the yard tracks. That was done purposely, but with a different concept in place it now looked foolish to run the main at the same level as the yard. I also needed more space for all these cars I've been accumulating, and when I gapped the rails prior to DCC, the gapped areas made for problem trackwork. All in all, I just wasn't happy with the whole thing. So Friday, it started to come out.

Some of this was already ballasted, and glued down with diluted matte medium, which is not water soluble. I was worried about trying to save a bunch of switches. Then I remembered having read that ammonia will dissolve matte medium. Well, it's true. If you can stand the fumes. I did, and am no worse for the wear. I was able to get all the switches and about 90% of the track taken up in reuseable condition, which made my wallet happy.

This afternoon and evening I finished pulling up the old stuff and started to lay a new main through the area. This one will be elevated on pine roadbed I sawed myself. In this photo you can see the main, which has so far been polished by a single train. Lots of feeders and rail joints to solder, but at least it's in place.

There are 5 switches off the main in this area now. As you travel from the far end to the near end, you will come to the east switch for the arrival/departure track (will be the first track left of the main), the east siding switch, west A/D switch, west siding switch, then the switch for the switch lead. I contemplated leaving the last one out, but stuck in a #4 anyway. Better than installing it later. There will be 2 double ended yard tracks left of the A/D, then 2 more stub ended yard tracks. The engine facility will sit roughly where it is in this shot, with access off the switch lead so no switchback is needed. In addition there will be a crossover from the switch lead to roughly the middle of the A/D track, which can be used to run around a car if needed.

So thats the story of the rebuild of the WCMR yard. Hope to get some more time to work on it soon, but don't expect to have all the track laid before New Year's.

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