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Topic: Pere Marquette & Chesapeake RR Track Plan  (Read 549 times)

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Offline GTMills

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Pere Marquette & Chesapeake RR Track Plan
« on: February 04, 2019, 08:45:46 pm »
Back story for this track plan:  I grew up with a lumberyard next door on the C&O, in the sleepy little town of Northville, Michigan, where I watched as the last steam locos, mostly 2-8-0's, were sadly trudged off north to the scrap yards in Flint to be converted to Detroit V8 iron. 

7 years later at age 12 I saved up my lawn care money and bought a 2-8-8-2 N&W Rivarossi for $39.99 plus tax, about $43.00 in all.  The last time I had an HO layout was about three or four years later.  Our family moved a lot so I couldn't keep a layout together and lost interest.

Last February I was sorting through a box in my storage room and found my old Chesapeake loco, sans the tender and the pilot broken off.  Looking on Ebay for parts I discovered a lovely Rivarossi in excellent condition, a rare Silver Limited Edition with small flanges! that I won at auction for a very fair price under $120.00.  Heck, regular Rivarossi's of this Whyte go for that, let alone this special one with small flanges :).  Very few Rovarossi fans even know this model run ever existed.

There’s is a Facebook group dedicated to people who grew up in Northville and moved away.  On that blog are many photos and stories of the town of our past.  Posted at the time were a series of photos & stories of a trolley that ran into town beginning in the 1920's, as well as plat maps of the city from the turn of the 20th century.  These showed the C&O RR R-O-W that ran next to our early home as the “F&PM RR”.  I discovered this stood for Flint & Pere Marquette RR, which soon after these maps were drawn became simply the Pere Marquette, which was later acquired by the C&O in the 1940's. 

Few people realize the significance and importance of the PM to rail history.  I certainly did not until after studying it this last year, and I grew up in Michigan and have been a rail fan all of my life!  The PM built and owned trackage from St Thomas, Ontario, west to river crossings into the USA at Port Huron and Detroit, and fanned out across Michigan to Indiana in the south where they continued via trackage rights to Chicago, and most importantly terminated in what is now known as Ludington, originally called Pere Marquette.  Thus the name of the road.  There, it connected via the world's longest rail ferry route to three ports on the western shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin! 

To the east, it continued via trackage rights to cross back into the USA at two points just south of. 

Getting back to the trolley lines, it turns out that the greater Detroit metro area was home to the world's largest complex of trolley lines, some 850 miles/ 1275 km.   

Historical study and my growing Ebay HO auctions addiction have led me back to my old passion:  HO RR modeling.  (I had an N scale layout built on a door from about 1977 - 2001 which got sold at a moving sale for a $15).  I decided to acquire a series of locomotives which somewhat represented the evolution of the American steam giants and bought so many that I had to get a wall unit to display them all, including:

C&O 2-6-6-2 (prototype to be in operation this year on the Western Maryland), “American” 4-4-0, C&O “Allegheny” 2-6-6-6 (two remaining museum units), B&O 0-4-0 camel, a pair of B&O 2-6-2’s, PM 2-8-0, PM 2-8-4 (still in operation in Michigan, and star of the movie “The Polar Express”), brass 4-6-0 “Ten Wheeler”, 3-truck Shay (a Michigan-designed logging loco, many still in operation), 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” (to be in operation May 2019 in Wyoming), B&O brass 2-8-8-4 “Yellowstone” (displays), Clinchfield (more popularly known by the UP road) 4-6-6-4 “Challenger” (still inoperation I think), N&W 2-6-6-4 Class A (In operation in Virginia until 1994, now static display), N&W 4-8-4 Class J Streamliner (still inoperation in Virginia), SP 4-8-8-2 “Cab Forward” (display), and a few of the smallest industrial gas and diesel shunters I have been able to find on Ebay to date.  Got a thing for the very small, as well as very large. 

Next thing that happened was I developed a yen to run my engines on a track.  I built a 2’ x 8’ shelf in my study, and set a couple of lengths of flex track on it.  One day, as I was testing my really, new, really expensive Broadway Limited N&W 2-6-6-4 with DCC+sound, I wasn’t ready for it to keep rolling after I shut off power.  I was used to the old style models that abruptly halt when you cut power.  This one kept right on rolling – right off the end and onto the floor below!!!  Luckily nothing was permanently damaged, but I learned my lesson:  time to built a real layout for my babies. 

My first intention was to make a small dogbone and extend my shelf test “layout” in the study.  This would have to include a roundhouse to keep dust off the precious locos.  A roundhouse meant I needed a turntable, one large enough to accommodate the big articulateds of course.  So I Ebayed them.  In buying the roundhouse, I found that the same seller also had many other magnificent buildings for sale, and I bought a whole bunch of them. 

It wasn’t long before I realized my cat was going to be a problem with a serious layout in the study, so I turned my sights to the 13’x 19’ bedroom we use for storage – which has a door I can close to keep the puss cat out.   This opened up a whole new world of possibilities!  I had expanded my plan from my simple, original intention of building a simple point-to-point trolley a-la the early one that ran to my hometown, to a significant mainline complete with a mountain, narrow-gauge ore mine on which to use old and new N scale equipment as HOn30, logging trail for the Shay, and a dedicated N&W passenger loop as well as the freight trunk for the big steam, and yard and spur operations for the smaller locos).
At 64 I still have a business that I run.  I have sorely neglected my customers these past few weeks as I have been absorbed in designing “the” layout.  I first used the freeware version of Anyrail, and was delighted with its functionality and ease of use.  After expanding my intents and notions from a simple, glorified shelf layout to a full-blown room layout, I took the next step and paid for the license for the full version. 
After dozens of attempts to  design something that would: run two mainlines at once, plus a logging trail and a HOn30 mine; include the huge passenger station I got along with my roundhouse kits and turntable; include a decent staging yard plus plenty of industrial spurs and a town; and do this all w/o having a spaghetti mess of track and little room left for buildings and scenery with ample access to everything…I have come up with this plan.     

This will be built as a modular layout, as we will be moving to a new home as soon as we are finished building it in the next year or two.  I have nearly completed the roundhouse-turntable module, and built it on a very heavy, stiff,  ¾” x 3’ x 4’ ¾” flooring plywood sheet.  (Photo attached).  I did this on purpose since it was what I had on hand for free, and figured it had to support the scale 130’ turntable without ever warping, w/o additional framing underneath.

The rest of the layout will be built for light weight, and will be ¼” flooring underlayment plywood, which has an exceptionally fine finish, no knots, etc., flexible, and with sufficient 1” x 4” and 1” x 3” framing is sturdy enough to support everything without giving, sagging, or warping.  Grades will be cookie-cutter sub road bed.  Various types of scenery modeling methods are to be used including foam, card board webbing, plaster molding and cloth, etc. 

The central area is accessed via a lift bridge section for the two mainline tracks and another roadway bridge.  When not needed for access, a hinged, plexiglass trap door is flipped up and locked into position to fill the large empty space with a large water feature.

I know…I’m long-winded.

Happy railroading

from Gerg

Modeling the Pere Marquette & Chesapeake RRs

PS:  I have on here some buildings which you may wish to use.  One is the Walthers Diamond Coal mine, another is a popular single-stall engine house, four more are industrial buildings available from Railway Design Associates which I got on Ebay direct from RDA January 2019 and are still available from them there, and a coaling station which is typical of several makers though I don't know off hand who made the one I modeled here.  All dimensions are accurate to 1/16", and the RDA kits are clearly labeled as to the maker's kit name for them.  Note that these are not flat, boring footprints, but highly detailed Anyrail buildings with shadowing effects and details to enhance the structure appearance in the AR plan.  You'll need to use 3D to see what's going on with the logging and mining areas, as these are multi-layered sections which look exceptionally congested in 2D, but which more closely come to life and properly unravel in 3D.  The HOn30 has a section that is bridged in parallel and atop the HO sidings for transfer dump loading the iron ore from the narrow to the standard gauge hoppers.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 06:57:32 am by GTMills »

Offline GTMills

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Re: Pere Marquette & Chesapeake RR Track Plan
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2019, 06:45:53 am »
So as you can see in the previous post I have the (Stage I.) Plymouth turntable and roundhouse module built and ready for integration with Stage II., Ann Arbor.  This is a modular empire, and you didn't really expect to me to wait around until everything was done just to run my trains around a loop now did you??  Ha!  The Stage II build of the Ann Arbor section includes a temporary annex to allow continuous running so I can finally see my roster in action - VERY soon!  Can't wait to get those doggies rollin'.  Although this is going to be a DCC layout in its final evolution, I am going to run the Ann Arbor on DC for now.  I plan to build the framework and start laying track by end of February.  I added a photo for quik viewing comparison of how Ann Arbor as a stand-alone layout "fits" into the greater scheme to come. 

Looks like I'd better get busy collecting some more dried weeds right away for more trees! 
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 07:09:37 am by GTMills »

Offline David

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Re: Pere Marquette & Chesapeake RR Track Plan
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2019, 12:14:46 pm »
Looks good, and great enthusiasm!

I'm slightly worried about reach. Can you walk around it, and is the 'Mill Pond' a manhole where you can easily stand?
To simulate, you can use some kitchen chairs and put them 22" (55cm) apart, and see how easily you can walk and turn around in that space.

With the extra turnouts, the 'Bad Axe' shunt tracks might be a bit short.

You also have a number of return loops, and a triangle. You need to take special precautions to avoid shorts there.

The incline on Mt Holly is a bit optimistic at 4.8 % in a curve!

But all in all, I like it!

Offline GTMills

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Re: Pere Marquette & Chesapeake RR Track Plan
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2019, 08:58:41 pm »
Thanks, Dave!  All good points. 
I set up a table next to my roundhouse module before I got serious with the Anyrail designs a while back.  As a test area I found a width of  2 ft/ 55cm worked great for me.

The plexiglass pond is hinged as a fold down feature.  The two, track and road, bridges are hinged lift-ups, so I won't have to always bend down underneath them.
The additional turnouts in the yard are just for getting the switchers in and out after pulling a string of cars in from the head end while breaking up full trains.  Once the loco is out of the way I can push the rest of the string completely into the ladders.  This is meant to help prevent derailments in those areas otherwise caused by pushing longer, heavier strings over the short #4 turnouts. 

In designing the layout base I inserted 2 ft radius circles all over the place to make sure I could reach everything.  I am 6 ft / 183 cm  and can easily reach 30"/ 75cm, and retrieve cars from 38-40" / 96 - 101 cm away.   

Yeah, the Mt. Holly 4.8% grades + tight curves are optimistic.  It's for showing off the spectacular little Shay geared loco.  I want my viewers - and me - to appreciate what it is, what it was designed for, and how well it performs.  I read somewhere that the prototype Shays actually operated over such extremes in the forests, and after searching the Model Railroader and Model Railroad Hobbyist forums found a number of posts from modelers who are running Shays at these grades and radii successfully - although doing both at the same time is going to be a bit tricky ;)  I will definitely test every inch of track before securing anything in place so that if I do run into trouble I can go "back to the drawing board".  It will be interesting to see if my Shay will cut around such tight turns and at the same time climb these steep grades w/o the drive shafts binding or pulling out of the U joints, with a haul of 5-6 timber bogies in tow.  I can't wait!

I posted the layout on the MRH forum, and mentioned I might include the PMRR's prototype rail ferry.  Today I found a spot for it and now intend to add it as the final module.  See attached update file and screen shot of the ship and loading approach dock roughed in...

This is my 5th layout, but the first one since I built an N scale road for my son & I to enjoy together when he was a pre-schooler back in 1990 on a hollow 32" door.  I sold it at a moving sale in 2004, but the leftover bits and pieces of it which I still have on hand are what inspired my going with an HOn30 mining section here. 

« Last Edit: February 06, 2019, 09:08:38 pm by GTMills »

Offline GTMills

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Re: Pere Marquette & Chesapeake RR Track Plan
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2019, 09:30:07 pm »
Here is the Stage II build I am embarking on as we "speak".  I dont' intend to finish scenery & bldgs etc before dumping the annex and adding the other sections and pond access where the annex is going temporarily.  So I'll just need easy access to the next stage tracks shown, for construction and running, since the roundhouse module stuck in the middle is "complete".  I will most likely cut out the dead area in the middle of the annex for emergency turntable access.  I only need 15" wide for a "duck under" hole, so there is plenty of space there I can open up for access.

This screen shot shows how the Stage II layout is oriented within the entire room, with plenty of walk-around access as shown.