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    • March 27, 2018 11:32 AM EDT
    • Karl,

      Good to see the progress! Really great design for the lift bridges.

      Are you going to double track the existing outside loop?

      Also, I have a spare Canon digital SLR body I probably won't ever use again. It's a Canon Rebel XT 350D, 8Mpixels. You would have to get a lens for it. But it's yours if you want it. Contact me offline if you want me to send it up.

      Rob Lenicheck

    • March 26, 2018 4:26 PM EDT
    • Hello:

      This cold turned out to be quite a bad one, I'm darn near coughing up a lung every few minutes last couple days. Oh well.

      On the Sunday before first Tuesday, the weather was really nice, so Jenn and I took our first day off in a while that wasn't
      full of chores. We ran up to Ridgefield Wa., a small town on the Columbia river about 20-25 miles North of Portland, by
      following the BNSF mainline and had an annoyingly expensive lunch at a local place. However, a couple trains sped through
      so it wasn't all bad. It was still relatively early, so we decided to head east out the Gorge to one of our favorite spots on
      the Columbia.

      This spot is about 30 miles east of our home on the Washington side of the river. The BNSF mainline has a bridge to cross
      an inlet to a lake formed by the built up road bed of the railroad. Anyway, you can easily get down under the bridge and out
      onto a rocky outcropping that people use to fish. From there you have a beautiful view of the sunset, the Columbia River Gorge,
      and the UP mainline running for miles along the Oregon side right across the river. About 20 feet behind and above you is the
      BNSF mainline just exiting the bridge.


      Just a great place to hang out, and there are trains too.

      On Monday, we had a lot to do so that a full loop would be available for first Tuesday. First up was to complete a temporary loop on the inside.
      We just quickly welded up some track that will be torn out later when we redesign the interchange on the other side of the railroad.

      Although I have designed a new switch stand mechanism, it would not be ready for first Tuesday, so Jenn got to work installing the ones we
      have on all the new track work.

      First Tuesday arrived and we had everything working, at least enough for good times. Here the on coming train is using the temporary indoor
      loop branch line.

      Next is a picture of the dispatchers desk. I took these pictures when things were winding down for the day and quite a few had left already.
      There seems to be a growing interest in first Tuesday operations, with a few new people showing up each month.

      The dispatch system is pretty low tech at this time. A telephone system is used. Hardwired phones are located around the railroad, upon arrival
      the engineer should call dispatch for instructions.

      For those who have never met Larry, that's him with the beard and black cap next to the locomotives.

      One of these days, I'll remember to have Jenn take a picture of me working on something, but I'm not much to look at...

      Here is a picture of the temporary line connecting the soon to be removed loop. I must have messed up a setting on the camera, because most
      of the pictures seem to have affects from a slow shutter speed. Can't wait for a real camera again but haven't had time to acquire one.

      One of the steamers that showed up to participate.

      Another steamer getting ready, as my slow shutter makes a prototypically slow train look like a high speed runaway.

      Finally, a European prototype in the narrow gauge yards.

      Anyway, I have to go suffer some more, I mean work on the railroad. Next installment will be the new yard throat, and some pictures of the
      tie making machine.



    • March 22, 2018 3:31 PM EDT
    • Hi everyone, my cold decided to play hooky and I thought I was over it, but then it came back home and assaulted I am unhappily sick.

      Oh well, next installment...

      While we were busy inside working on building track, Joe was very busy outside prepping to add some more bridge tables for lack of a better term.

      The weather was quite variable in February, and we alternated between sun, heavy rain and wind, and snow. Anyway, here is a few more pictures of
      outside. First is just a picture that I thought turned out kinda cool, but it does show a few things.

      In the center of the photo across the alley from Larry's yard, is Sasquatch brewing which has great food and Beer.

      Above Jenns head in the same building as Sasquatch is the Boedecker Winery.

      In the blue building on the left is a giant Zinc plating company that dips light poles and other infrastructure, and provides industrial clanging noises
      to the ambiance at Stavers. Also, the railroad still delivers rail cars to businesses near Stavers, so now and then a locomotive strolls right by the
      back of Larry's yard. There is yet another brewery across from the winery to the northwest.

      The two tanks in the left center are part of a water collection system that is fed from all the runoff of the north side of the building, which then fill up
      and feed the pond. There will be more of these in the future.

      In the next picture is the east end of the pond and gardens. The wind storm the night before tried to tear off the fabric tarp along the last
      unimproved section of fencing. Jenn and I repaired the fencing after this picture.

      The two red doors on the side of Larry's building will be under a large covered patio to be built along the north side of the building. Final plans are
      done and the construction crew will be showing up after the April steam up to begin work. I believe this part of the fence will also be replaced with a
      really nice gate and small ticket booth type of entrance, but I don't know the final plans for certain.

      I scaled a satellite photo of Larry's yard and have begun planning the track layout in the outdoor space. I'll show a picture of that another time, but for now
      you can see that Joe removed the PVC pipe and poured some concrete footings into molds for the new bridge table.

      Heavy rains filled the pond almost to the spill way of the dam. Here is a better picture of the concrete footings. I don't envy some of the conditions Joe works
      in...on the other hand, we freeze near to death working on track sometimes. Still, wouldn't trade it for anything.

      The next shot I just thought was kinda cool. In the top edge of the picture, you can see the snow line in the west hills was at about 250ft. Makes the warehouse
      cold and damp at night. Freezing level kept going up and down that week, and we got varying amounts of snow around the area all week.

      You can also see the other brewery (Pyramid Brewing), in the tall tan building on the right top corner of the picture.

      Sure enough, the snow level came down overnight. Fortunately, not to much so we could get there without much trouble. Would have been a fun day to play
      with a snow plow. Against the building, you can see the molds Joe uses to pour the concrete bridge footers.

      Out of time, I have been editing many more pictures of track work, a few of first Tuesday, and some shots of other tools we use. But I must go work on the
      railroad. Since the new shorter frogs have worked out so nice, it has also allowed us to completely change the way we make them that should save
      significant time, and allow us to create any angle frog easily in two operations instead of six.

      The last few days I have spent much time learning the new cam system that comes preinstalled in Solidworks. Larry and I don't like Mastercam and want
      to shift away from using it for the new system. So far pretty good success, I am by no means a good user with only a few hours invested, but thankfully,
      having used a few cam systems allows me to adapt relatively pain free to the new one. At this time, I have created what look to be good toolpaths
      for #7 frogs, making two at a time on Larry's Haas mill.

      Happy steaming



    • March 18, 2018 4:07 PM EDT
    • So here is a replacement post for the one I deleted...

      The topic was that Larry would like to replace numerous lift out bridges with draw or lift bridges of some type, and he set me to thinking about it last summer.

      After mulling over various ideas and concepts, one finally started to take root, and Larry gave permission to start modeling the prototype in Solidworks.

      This is what I came up with...laser cut 3/16" steel, adjustable in every plane, robust construction, over center lift to hold bridge out of the way and let gravity
      keep it open, adaptable to many of our needs on the railroad.

      And here is the prototype after Jenn welded it together. It has ball bearing slides with adjustable friction from teflon thrust washers compressed
      by Bellevile washers. This video shows testing of the slide friction and movement.

      Installed on the railroad and attached to the lift out bridge that is normally in this spot.

      It fit like a charm in the closed position. However, I tried to design it with as close a tolerance to the framework as possible...I overdid it a bit.
      Like I said, it fits wonderfully, and the myriad adjustments makes it easy to install, but when open, the clearance just too tight.

      The next picture shows that I need to increase the radius of the lifting slides. It did fit, but with a few issues that need addressing. I guess that
      is why they call such things prototypes.

      I've already designed a new one which is lighter, and has a larger radius. One problem we have is that even
      though I can adjust the tension(friction) of the movement, and get a very nice feel for the operation, the
      bridge will drop to fast  on its own if someone just lets go of it...which of course, someone did while we
      weren't around and broke the bridge. Our plan was already to install a door stop piston at the bottom
      of the travel...but while sitting open overnight, someone just pushed it closed, and it hit just hard enough
      to pull the screws holding the track down and split the plywood forming the bridge.

      Oh well...Larry wants a light weight metal bridge anyway, so I guess more time at Solidworks.

      All in all, very satisfied with the results, and the new revised prototype should be here this week. Larry's laser is 500w and we can cut 1/8" steel,
      but for 3/16" we use a local laser cutter near the shop. $125.00 for one which includes steel price, plus 10-$15 in hardware. If we order a full sheet
      of kits, probably less than $100 each. I think that is pretty reasonable for one off production.

      We have some bridges planned for outside where we will need a different mechanism, but this should work quite well on the indoor railroad and
      probably some locations outside.

      Happy steaming


    • March 18, 2018 3:24 PM EDT
    • Hi Ken:


      Thanks, but I got it now. When I embed videos (not very often since I don't do much online anymore), I don't like all the crap youtube tries to force on you, such as logo's, autoplay, size, and most
      important, suggested videos for which I have no control.

      It was just a simple matter of some studying, to find out how they changed and/or depreciated commands that control these things.

      All good now, and back to editing pictures and replace my lost post from yesterday.

      Thanks again


    • March 18, 2018 3:12 PM EDT
    • If it isn't httpS, it probably won't work here.

      Post the URL, someone can figure out how to display it here. 

    • March 18, 2018 2:53 PM EDT
    • Ok, I spent the night and morning learning xhtml so I could make sure my embedded videos work they they did for the last 10 years?

      What is with the world when they screw up something that has worked so long and is so common?

      So I will attemp to post a short video that is steam trains but not what I was going to post because I need that video i n the build story.

      Anyway, if this works, Jenn will be at the controls of a steam locomotive...if it doesn't, I imagine error code...


      I think I got it...back to regular posts


    • March 17, 2018 11:55 PM EDT
    • Edit: I removed the post because I tried to post a video and it messed up the formatting of the entire post half of it wasn't visible.

      I will try again tomorrow and maybe experiment with video posting.


      I tried to embed a youtube video I had uploaded, but it was only veiwable in some gigantic size which seemed to ruin the whole post.



    • March 17, 2018 4:32 PM EDT
    • Very short on time today, we've been very busy at Stavers designing the new yards, figuring out how to scale satellite images so we can design over the background image in Templot,
      and building the yard throat into the almost finished design for the yards.

      We don't always work on track at Stavers. Years ago I designed a vibratory table for casting concrete and Larry likes to experiment with various structures.

      This winter while it was raining, Larry had Joe build some molds and try to come up with a good looking but easy to build bridge structure. This is what Joe came up with...

      The first three piers were poured from some old bags of concrete and didn't cure well for quite a while, hence the dark hue. Also they didn't
      respond well to the vibratory table.

      You can see in this picture, much better results when using fresh concrete

      The idea is to use channel and weld it to plates pre-drilled to fit on the studs cast into the piers. Perhaps a top plate with some detail. This is just
      a prototype and may never be used, but it is one of many ideas we try out.

      To make the vibratory table, I laser cut some plywood that would accept small block chevy valve springs into pockets.

      Here is a view of the partially assembled table. The table top has mirrored pockets and sits on the springs. A steel table then sits over the assembly.

      Here is the finished table. I have since built a safety shield around the bottom of the motor and eccentric. The eccentric is adjustable.

      Must go work on the railroad some more...more progress reports on track work to come, but I haven't edited any more pictures yet


    • March 14, 2018 3:42 PM EDT
    • Thanks for the comments everyone. Sorry I haven't posted in a couple days, been feeling a little under the weather. Got a really mild cold, but enough to make me tired and achy.

      So here comes a few pictures of the #14 curved turnout Jenn and I built. I didn't get many pictures because it actually went really smooth and before we knew it, the turnout was
      basically finished. I took some pictures yesterday of the turnouts partially built for the yard throat that will show more detail of our methods. Until then, here is the curved turnout.

      First, we start by creating the Templot template for the turnout. With the bridge installed to the outside track, we used long sections of steel, and a chalk line, to find the angle of
      the curve. At the center point of the of the angle, I can measure to where we want to start the transition curve into the building. Once we know this distance, we can go to
      Solidworks and generate a .dxf of the angle, import it into Templot, and then create the curves and the turnout and know that it will fit. We now have a few more tools to help
      us perform these measurements more accurately. I will discuss these at a later time.


      Here is a picture of the turnout generated in Templot. You can see in the open window on the left, more info than you can imagine on the characteristics of this section of track.

      Taking a printout of the turnout and transition curves, I could lay out the entire curve, and use pieces of rail, and other things lying around to make sure of the alignment before we build anything.

      I didn't think to get many pictures of the process. But here is a couple showing the turnout template in position and gives a rough idea how we go about the alignment. In this picture, you can
      see the old curve on the other side of the bridge. This will get torn out shortly, but for now, we used it to help align the track work across the bridge.

      Shot from the other direction.

      I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to modify the frogs we use. This next picture shows why...Many years ago, when they began making
      turnout parts, a fixture was made for the manual mill that would allow frogs of any angle to be produced. As I have stated, most turnouts on
      the railroad currently are #7, however, many #5's, #8's, #10's, and #14's were made as well. I now make them using a different method, but
      we have a stash of the old ones still around and we want to use them. The problem is that they end up very long, which is fine for a straight exit, but
      will not work well on a curved turnout.

      It occurred to me that there was no real reason for them to be this long other than it is easy to attach rail to the design used. I suggested we cut the
      frog back to where it is exactly a 1/4" wide, (the width of to rails butted together), re-cut the slots on the surface grinder so we can bend the guard rails, and then the curved
      rails would work just fine.

      Here is the result...

      With the frog cut down and modified, Jenn was ready to start work. To build the turnout, we print out the the inverse of the Templot template
      and then build the turnout upside down on top of it.

      Nearly completed rail work for the turnout, and a proud Jenn showing off her work.

      Now it is time for Jenn to make ties. This turnout is a long one, so it will take awhile...this picture shows that she is almost finished.

      This next picture shows the clever router machine for making turnout ties. Jenn places a tie under the turnout and marks the rail positions as they cross the ties, then you can slide the tie into the slot in the plastic channel visible in the picture.
      There is a long piece of unstained tie sticking out of the channel, we use this to help in locating the tie in place. The channel is hinged on the opposite side of the router. The channel swivels under the router guide, and when Jenn has it
      lined up, she uses a foot peddle to activate an air solenoid that locks everything in place...then just slide the router across the tie. Sounds easy, but it takes practice and the router is loud, and the work repetitive, monotonous is the word.
      Fortunately, Jenn doesn't mind doing it so I don't have too...

      Time to install the turnout. Here is a rails eye view of the turnout in place.

      From outside looking in...sorry again about the lens flare, shopping for a new DSLR, better photography soon.

      From the other direction...

      And here we are almost done. The turnout is installed, the alignment worked out nicely, so it was time to generate the transition curve and
      build it to replace the existing curve and provide a short straight section before the diamond crossover.

      And finally, we now have enough information to start building the layout in Templot instead of just parts and pieces. We have enough hard
      locations built with Templot templates, that I can take measurements, and very closely replicate the railroad in the computer. Since this work
      was completed, we have measured and built models of the existing railroad, and we are using Templot to design the middle yards. I will, of
      course, document this in later posts.

      Back to the railroad...


    • March 13, 2018 8:26 PM EDT
    • It is nearly impossible to say enough good thing about Larry, Karl, Jenn and all the crew from the beginning of Larry's layout right through to today.  This includes all the people who help Larry during steamups to take care of us all with exceptional hospitality.  Larry's layout has to be seen in person to be believed.  


      Larry's layout, I believe, is the best steamup layout I have ever experienced.  It might even be a reason to move to Portland - but that would still take a lot of thought.


      Now if Larry just had some control over the weather in Portland.  At least it's rain and not snow.  And now Oregon is beginning to let you pump your own gas.  


      Thank you Larry.


      End of rant.

    • March 10, 2018 5:08 PM EST
    • Very elegant track work, the Commodore in the observation won't spill a drop at speed!

    • March 10, 2018 4:08 PM EST
    • After finishing the crossover, we had settled on the interchange of the inside loop interconnect. This next picture is what we came up with...

      We welded the crossover to the road from outside outer curve to setup the alignment and help keep it in place. We knew already that this entire curve and entry turnout would be replaced in a couple weeks.

      This interchange was designed in Templot and was our first attempt to build the track and see how closely we could model it with the software. It worked out well, and because of this, the diamond crossover
      and inside loop interchange are the starting point from which everything else will be modeled and/or built. Here is a screen shot of the interchange in Templot. This can be printed out on our plotter and matches
      the track work extremely close.

      The triangle in the middle curve signifies the start of the transition curve. The ] to the right is the end of the transition. These can be easily
      modified and always form a spiral transition. The turnouts are #7 and match our turnouts. There are ways to measure various aspects both
      in the software and the real world to allow us to model the railroad accurately, and know that we built it accurately. More about some of
      those methods in future posts. The interchange allows trains on the inside loop to go directly to the mainline, or switch to the passing track
      which will lead to the yard throat.

      The next picture shows the just completed interchange, and a Templot printout of a curved crossover Larry would like built. Once we found that
      #14 frog would work well in the crossover, Larry decided it would be best to replace the one I salvaged with and identical #14 crossover. This
      would mean four custom curved turnouts before spring. I suggested we build one first for the replacement on the road from outside, and hone
      our skills. Also, I had an idea for modifying the frogs that we wanted to try on the larger number turnouts. More on this modification when I
      discuss building the switch.

      At this point, we began planning the new road from outside. We printed out a #14 curved turnout in heavy weight paper, and Jenn set about
      pre bending rail and parts for the turnout. More on building the curved turnout in a later post. In the mean time, I designed a transition curve that
      would work to further the track toward the yard throat.

      This time, Larry and I decided to print a template of the curve, and attach it to the table in the location to be built, and build the curve right over the top of it.

      This worked out well, and I can measure the distance between printed transition start marks, to find the distance between the curves, and build
      model into Templot. One more shot and then back to the railroad.

      Today we start building the turnouts for the yard throat at the end of this section of track.

      Weather is getting warmer, but it still gets cold in there at night.


    • March 12, 2018 4:10 AM EDT
    • The Ruby will do just fine on small diameter curves. Mike was speaking of the larger steamers. Even the 2 cylinder shay needs something like 8 ft curves to be happy. I would think most of the small 0-4-0 steamers would run on smaller curves but if you want something with a bigger wheel arrangement then you will need to plan trackwork accordingly.


    • March 12, 2018 12:25 AM EDT
    • Our club module was at the Bluegrass Festival today.  The module set up we used today had 5ft and 6ft curves on it.  I ran my Ruby on it with no problem.  I had at least 6 two axle cars behind it and the module had some grade to it at one end.  I ran it many time with no problems.  We also ran track powered and battery powered trains on the module, but many of the attendees were amazed with the Live Steam Locomotives that we were running.

    • March 11, 2018 8:06 PM EDT
    • Lol, good one John!  


    • March 11, 2018 12:45 PM EDT
    • Uh oh .... I bought the Ruby it to add to my Empire, not to define my modeling interests...


      I'm already aware of the tightness of my big 10' curves and my toy like sectional track, but at the time it was available Right Now and I had the cash to burn. Besides there was the house and driveway taking up Live Steamer's Necessities...

      The sad fact is they did a hydro static test of my right cylinder and only 2/3s holds water ... so Miss Ruby had better like the pike or else!

    • March 11, 2018 9:13 AM EDT
    • Probably the most important aspect to a future live steamer is not so much the locomotive choice these days, but building his/her railway to suit live steam operation.   Level track with no grades unless you just want geared engines.  Broad curves if you desire any type of engine beyond a small switcher, and even those run better on big curves.  And by big an broad I am talking 12' or bigger diameter curves. 3m or 10' radius is the min for many of the larger live steamers and at that min, many struggle.  My Aster Schools has its lead pilot wheel against the cylinder head in a 10' radius curve and that wheel slides till back on the straight track.  There really isnt a fix for this without major changes to a classic model and that isnt something I am going to do.  My new layout will have bigger curves here at home and the owner of the portable layout our group uses is planning to build a new set of bigger curved modules to suit larger engines better.     Mike the Aspie

    • March 10, 2018 2:45 AM EST
    • Agree with Mike, the Frank S was the first engine I ever ran and it was very easy for me and I had no experience at the time. I had the chance a few years ago to buy that very engine but not the funds at the time. My first steamer was the Ruby kit as I wanted the experience and understanding of how it worked. Mine has the original smaller cylinders. I reversed the eccentrics during the build and did a fair bit of run in on the bench both on air and then steam. It runs pretty good now and even has a little throttle variation now. As for new or used engines to purchase I would say used (if you know the engines history) as they run better after some run in and sometimes you can get a used engine that has had some upgrades for less than the price of a new base model.


    • March 9, 2018 2:27 PM EST
    • Mike did get probably the best current production entry level engine on the market today.  The best I still think is a LGB/Aster Frank S, with its huge water sight glass, deep LGB style flanges that will traverse all brands and radius of common large scale turnouts without bouncing or picking the frog(which some Roundhouse and other brands will do).   But Frank S's are getting harder to find, Jay does/did have one for sale.  But if you want USA profile, the Roundhouse Sammie or Accucraft Ruby are your choices for entry level engine that is brand new.