Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Coal Gondolas on the Stockton & Ione

Ten new coal gondolas sit on tracks next to the storage bins of the mine. The mine structure was salvaged from my former layout and will eventually be incorporated into the railroad.
Recently, I was looking through the Shapeways website and found some HOn3 low-side gondolas (https://www.shapeways.com/product/2QVG8295Z/hon3-25-foot-gondola-2-planks-high?optionId=43338423) for a reasonable price. I ordered a couple, liked them and ordered some more for a total of ten cars. I added truss rods from fishing line, a brake wheel and trucks. Now I have cars to carry the coal from the mines at Ione City to Holden.
      The finish on the cars are a little rough but this works on cars which are supposed to have been beat up due to the load they were carrying. The weight is a little low but there is not much room for more weight anywhere. I am still working on that problem.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Little John Creek Bridged!

The bridge at Little John Creek is supported by stone abutments with the scenery roughed in around the bridge.
At long last, Little John Creek has been bridged. Just south of Farmington,
this water course is crossed by the Copperopolis Road. Up until now, the crossing has just been a piece of 3/4" plywood. I had been planning to install a cast iron Phoenix-style bridge but hadn't quite figured out how to make the Phoenix columns.
     The prototype columns were constructed with four pieces of cast iron, each formed in a quarter circle. Flanges were then riveted together to form a hollow tube. I ended up by using a styrene tube with .020x.020 styrene strips glued around it. With the size of the tube and the distance from the viewer, you just don't see whether or not there are rivets. The rest of the bridge was constructed with other strips and shapes of styrene. To build something similar, see Jim Vail's article in the May/June 2001  Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette. I used Jim's article plus drawings for a similar bridge in the California State Railroad Museum.
     To facilitate track cleaning and eventual scenery, I decided to make the top part of the bridge separate from the track-bearing portion and removable. The trusses themselves were made using a jig to ensure that the two sides were alike. Chooch stone bridge abutments were used but had their height and width cut down to match the location and bridge. They were then colored with acrylic paint to match the colors of other stonework in the area where my railroad ran.
     The bottom part was eventually glued to styrene bridge shoes and to the abutments. The plywood temporary bridge was then cut out beneath the track and the roadbed and ties removed so all that was left were the rails. The rails were then coated with Barge cement on their undersides. Wooden wedges made from construction shims were coated with white glue and slide under the abutments gradually lifting them until the rails just touched the bridge ties. They were left to dry and then a small heated iron was used on the rails to melt and the glue and bond the rails to the ties.
The abutments are in place with the bottom part of the bridge lying in place beneath the rails.
Glue-coated wedges allowed the abutments to gradually be slipped beneath the rails. The excess parts of the strips were sawn off after the glue dried.
     Typical scenery forms made from cardboard strips overlaid by kraft paper forms the basis of the adjacent hillsides and riverbed. Eventually, plaster cloth will be added to form a hard shell.
   

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Conventions and Operations

Americans and ten-wheelers, all made from 3D printed materials abounded at the American Civil War Railroads convention. Drivers were from the Mantua/Tyco General or imported from Great Britain.
The last few weeks have been very busy, not in modeling, but in attending a couple of conventions. The first was in September when I attended the American Civil War Railroads Historical Society annual meet in Harper's Ferry, WV. There were several interesting talks on Civil War railroads topics. I gave one on producing smooth-running locomotives. In addition, some of the people brought models of locomotives made almost entirely by 3D printing. Wheels, motor and other parts were commercial items but the frame (brass) and superstructure (a plastic) were all 3D printed. This opens up a new way to built that locomotive which no one has ever made. A field trip to the Martinsburg,
WV 1866 roundhouse was also made.

A supply train at the Aquia Landing pier is ready to depart for Falmouth on Bernie Kempenski's U.S. Military Railroad. The white shape on the left is a hull of what will eventually become a side-wheeled supply ship.
     The highlight of the weekend for me was the chance to operate on Bernie Kempenski's U.S. Military Railroad's Aquia Line (usmrr.blogspot.com). It is O scale with just about everything being scratchbuilt. Several of us spent a few hours moving trains across the line and delivering goods to the brave Union soldiers facing Fredericksburg.

The yard at Falmouth is the site of much switching The small disks on the car tops contain the car's destination and if it is loaded or empty.
     The second convention was the annual Virginia and Truckee Railroad Historical Society conference in Carson City, Nevada (vtrrhs.org). This is my favorite convention of the year. The speakers are very knowledgeable and they speak on a railroad that has been of interest to me for a long time. I was honored to give a couple of talks on the prototype V&T locomotives and on building ore cars.
     Unfortunately, these great get-togethers only come once per year but it makes me look forward to the next one. Now, back to modeling.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Video Tour of Milton

Before we finally leave Milton and turn to other subjects, I wanted to try my hand at another video and also show some details of the town. Here are the results of my efforts.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Finishing Milton

Milton in the afternoon when the temperature is high and no wind blowing. The Walthers corral is in the foreground while the Revell handcar/section house is beyond.
After much effort and time, I think that Milton can be considered complete, at least until I decide to add something else). The last things to be done was to build the turntable and add the corral and tool house.

Engine 8 is being turned on the turntable.Behind it is a small scratchbuilt water tank and an older baggage car which has been de-trucked and is now used for miscellaneous storage and, occasionally, sleeping quarters.
The turntable was built from plans for a standard Southern Pacific turntable of the period. Wood was used for the construction and the table is moved manually through a worm and worm gear arrangement. It's a little different than that seen on most models but it is very prototypical. This type of table is called an A-frame turntable, not to be confused with a gallows type turntable which has a square timbered structure in the center rather than the type which give this table its name. Both types can also be called Prairie Turntables which were designed to be set up on the ground without benefit of a pit. They were used when the turntable was planned to be temporary or when the tracks coming off the table were minimal. There are no pit rails installed but just some wood buffer blocks which ensure that the rails are of the right height at each end. A thin strip was styrene was glued over the blocks to make the table slide easier.

A special excursion train departs Milton. In the foreground is the old baggage car now used for storage and, behind it, the water tank. 
The original set-up at Milton did not have water facilities but Peters, which did have a tank, was not too far away and one was not need. On my version of the S&C, I extended the tracks to Copperopolis and, since Milton is at the base of a hill, I might use helper service some day and wanted to provide water for the engine that would be stationed here.

The corral was built from parts of a Walthers corral kit and the little section/handcar house was an old Revell model I assembled many years ago and which was on my layout in California. Copious amounts of static grass and California dirt completed the scene.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Livery and Blacksmith Open Shop at Milton

Stages are lined up at the passenger platform to take travelers to Sonora, Angels Camp, Chinese Camp and Jackson. The stages were part of the 12-15 vehicles built for Milton.
Since my last post in April, I have been doing quite a few things on the railroad but none that really show up. In my campaign to get Milton finished, I've built around 12-15 wagons and buggies with which to populate the town, painted around 30 figures and numerous bits of boxes, baggage and other junk to pile on the platforms. Two new structures have been added, however, which should be the last ones needed on this area of the railroad.
   
Martin's Livery sits next to the road leading to the town of Jenny Lind and close to the railroad tracks. A corral will be erected at the rear of the building to contain the horses.
The first new structure is Martin's Livery based on an actual livery stable in Milton in the 1890s. I knew the footprint of the building but that's about all. I could see the top of the roof in one of my overall photos but that's it so freelancing was the only way to really model it. A few months ago, I helped a friend of mine, Doug Taylor, make some decals. He wanted to repay me and asked me if I needed a structure. I gave him some drawings and Martin's Livery emerged. While Doug built the building, I painted it and added the signage but it's mostly Doug's work. I think it fits pretty well with the rest of the town.
   
Wagon and tool repair are a product of the Milton blacksmith, Diedrich Helm. Since he has a forge, he also gets to act as the local farrier and show horses.
The other structure was the Blacksmith shop which was adjacent to the livery stable. Since blacksmiths did a lot more than just shoeing horses, I added some welding and metal forming equipment and even included a drop hammer.
     I intended to start work on the Milton turntable this week but did not have the right size beams. These are now on order and then work will begin.
     Thanks, Doug, for your contribution to the Stockton & Copperopolis.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mining Equipment on the Move

Here are cars carrying a feeder, stamps for a stamp mills, the camshaft for the mill, a retort, crusher and Wilfley table base.
The well car with 20-foot gear. The bottom of the gear extends below the car deck, almost to the rails to provide enough clearance for the tunnels. The second car carries a steam engine frame while the third car carried the rest of the engine parts plus its flywheels.


I like loads on flat cars. With the railroad bringing goods to the gold rush country, it seems logical that some of this heavy equipment would show up on flat cars on the S&C. I had an old kit made by Western Scale Models which represented such a load of various types of mining equipment. I finally decided to put the thing together and place them on a couple of flat cars. The original plan of the kit maker was that everything would fit on two 40-foot flats. When you're using 30-foot flats, the load takes up three cars. Adding in the steam engine load from American Model Builders increases the train to 5 cars. When I had gotten this far, I realized that I had to build one of my favorite loads, a 20-foot diameter gear on a well car. This particular load was copied from 1875 newspaper articles and an photo of the car. So now we have a six-car train which, due to the gear (which barely clears the tunnel portals), will have to operate very slowly, not exceeding, say, 10 mph. We'll see how that weaves in with the other traffic on the line.
   
This overview of Milton shows the Tornado Hotel at the left along with a barn which is a stand-in for a livery stable and blacksmith shop to be built. The Masonic Lodge is in the center with the town stretching behind it. Alongside the tracks are the various warehouses and freight forwarders. A corral will be on this side of the tracks along with a turntable to be at the right just out of the picture.
Here is another photo of Milton which I wanted to include in the last post. I think it shows the town in a better view. As I mentioned, I still need a few structures and a turntable to round things out.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Progress at Milton

Looking a Milton from the south, the town is arranged along the east side of the town plaza with the warehouses on the west side. The Masonic Lodge looms over the entire scene.
After several months of structure and scenery construction, Milton is starting to look like a town rather than a bare piece of plywood. So far, there are 17 structures which have been built, only one of which was from a kit. That was only because I had no pictures of the building and the kit was the right size.
 
Looking north up the main street, the Milton Hotel is on the right with the Peterson & Dake store on the left. Stores, barber shop, saloons and a livery stable are all present. Church's Mineral Springs was a hot springs in the area.
 It was a challenge to build a whole town to scale but rewarding for me. The only thing out of scale was the depth of the scene looking from the aisle. I just did not have quite enough depth but it isn't real apparent unless you study old pictures or have visited the actual location. The structures were styrene with Grandt or Tichy windows and doors. Dimensions were taken from Sanborn insurance maps of the town. Building colors were a little trickier. I had to take educated guesses based on the varying shades of gray from the old photos and compare that with other pictures taken with the blue sensitive film of the day. The names of the establishments were taken either from photos or the town directory of the 1890s.
The Tornado Hotel was named for an 1873 tornado which ran through town and turned the under-
construction hotel on the foundation. The owner finished the building and named it accordingly.
   On the prototype, Milton was the end of the line and almost all of the goods traveling to the gold country passed over the rails to end up here. Freight wagons carried the goods to the places like Angel's Camp, San Andreas, Altaville, Sonora, Columbia and Jamestown. The large Masonic hall on the hill was the dominant building in the town and lasted until January 2016 when it burned. It was the last remaining structure in the town which was there when the railroad existed.
 
An overall view of the town looking from the north. All of the platforms need some "set decoration" and the streets need wagons. The Tornado Hotel is just out of the picture to the left.
 There is still a lot of work to be done to build a turntable, stock pen, livery stable and blacksmith shop as well as stock the loading platforms with goods and the streets with wagons and buggies.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Moving Pictures Come to the S&C




Last week, representatives of the Edison Studios arrived at the offices of the Stockton & Copperopolis with the intention of filming parts of the railroad. Accordingly, a position on the pilot of one our locomotives was arranged and the camera secure thereon. Several hours were spent to produce a film slightly over three minutes in length but it was worth the effort, none of the staff having seen such a presentation.
   
Camera Car B rolls over the Stanislaus River bridge during the filming of the movie above.
 In reality, the management purchased a Replay Prime X camera with the idea that it could be adapted to model railroad use. I had previously not been impressed with the movies I had seen of other railroads due to two factors. The first was that the camera was aimed so that much of frame was filled with images of the layout lights. The second was that, on a curve, the camera pointed away from the track rather than looking on it. These problems were solved with the camera car that the S&C shops constructed.
   The car is built on the chassis of a Mantua 4-wheel bobber caboose. Some blocking was added to the car to hold the camera with a screw to adjust its height. The result can be seen in the short movie which was made just to test the concept, and to familiarize myself with the video editing program I have. More breathtaking movies will undoubtedly follow.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Beginnings of Stock Car Service

Canda Cattle Car Company stock car 1256 waits at Oakdale along with other CCCC cars.The hatch in the roof is for filling the onboard water tank while the pipes along the roof sides distribute the water to the water trays inside the cars.

The Stockton & Copperopolis had several stock pens along its route, at Oakdale, Burnett's, Peters and Milton, perhaps a couple more. Up until now, I had no cars with which to service this traffic. Taking a break from Milton scenery, I assembled four Silver Crash Car Works resin kits. They are models of the 36-foot Canda Cattle Car Company palace stock cars from the 1890s.
    Palace stock cars were common in this period and contained food and water bins so that cattle could be fed en route without having to stop periodically to let them out of the cars. Several companies developed these cars which were then leased out to the railroads during their stock shipping season. The cars represented here were first displayed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and were used up until about 1910 or so.
 
Builder's photo of a CCCC stock car. These cars were built by the Ensign Manufacturing Works in Huntington West Virginia. Ensign also built a number of other cars for the Southern Pacific.
The builder's photo that I have of this car shows that it is painted a dark color, most likely red or green. Extensive research did not turn up which color these particular cars were painted so I chose a dark green just so I wouldn't have another four boxcar red cars on the railroad. Assembly was fairly straight-forward. The trucks used are Canda trucks as made by Bitter Creek Models which are a fit for these cars.
     Before 1893, Canda also had an earlier design car which was quite different and was 40 feet long. Also, the Hicks Cattle Car Company and the Streets Western Stable Car Company showed up in this part of the country and models of those will eventually be built as well.