Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Modeling Buffalo | 14 Comments - Click Here :

Derrell Poole provides an editorial contemplating his decision to model Buffalo, Colorado in Sn3:

Denver Public Library
    First, after much comparing to that of a Breckenridge layout, I came to the conclusion that the space I have isn't very conducive to such a project. There are allot of interesting things about Breckenridge including the two 3-way stubs. But I went back and took a second look at Buffalo. I really like this plan; it does have some shortcomings however. The depth of the town itself, placed more or less in  the middle of the tracks, presented some reach issues. I think I figured out a fair solution - not ideal but doable. The back drop will be left open at Mod-D. A panel will be provided for photos or show type ops (like there would EVER be a show here!) - well, visitors at least. Do I even get visitors? The other thing that is lacking is more switches in the plan. But look anywhere on this railroad and find were more than a couple of switches occupy any given Station (Breckenridge would be one of those few exceptions with 11 switches within a stones throw of the depot!).
     Buffalo has a lot of opportunity for building some interesting structures. Unless you have acres of layout there are not that many structures at Breckenridge immediately around the depot; a couple of sheds, a water column (novel, but not a tank) a sampling works and a small power plant. If I extend the line south as far as I can I can get in a bridge. I'd love to build the Dredge Boat northeast of the Depot (at the north end of the yard but I don't have the acreage for it so at best it would be painted onto the backdrop - as would most of the town! And we aren't anywhere near getting the Gold Pan works in.
     Buffalo is quaint. It has a number of interesting structures to build including the Riverside tank which was built on the side of the hill. The layout is easily expandable to include Pine. That's nice. Breckenridge isn't very expandable without deviating from the layout of the prototype considerably. Whats nice about this plan of Buffalo is that it is pretty close to the prototype size where as Breckenridge was gonna be compressed quite a bit. No, Buffalo isn't perfect, but I get two pretty good sized bridges in to boot.
     One of the problems with any layout is return loops. I have developed a true hatred for them. They eat up a huge chunk of space - and for what? So you can turn a train around and more or less run continually?
     So I got to thinking; "continuous running". Where is it written that continuous running means the same train? Is it not still continuous running so long as something is always moving? It's not like any of us are building layouts that can operate 20 trains at the same time anyway. And who among us plan to "continuous run" for more than an hour or so at a time anyway?
     You will see in the plan I have divested myself of the return loop! None! Zero. What I've come up with is two pivoting fiddle yards where I can stage 5 (or more) trains. My longest train would be 94" (3 engines, 10 cars and a bobber). If I stage 3 freights and a couple of passengers I can put as many as 12 or 13 engines to work and never see any of them more than once while "continuous running". This is about as much as I would want to do in an operating session anyway. Of course there are more details to it all that but I think y'all get the idea.
     The plan is shown below. Comments are welcome, of course - maybe you see a glaring issue I've over looked. But I'll tell you this - I'm just about ready to start building. I'm getting my materials together and working on the design of the modules. I'll probably set up an L-girder substructure to mount the modules. You'll notice too that the modules are really pretty uniform even tho they have some odd angles. I don't think anything is bigger than 2'x6' and they will be built to come apart. I'm going to put in a lighting valance partially suspended from the ceiling. The Town module in the middle is nothing more than a blue foam drop-in that can be lifted out as an alternative to the open backed of Mod-D; if you were standing in the middle of the town you could definitely reach everything in Buffalo - but I like those stone buildings!

 Thanks for looking.
Derrell Poole
Hamilton, MT.
14 Comments - Click Here :
  1. It seems as though that you lose a lot of operating room in the size of the fiddle yards.The two yards combined is almost half the size of the operating part of the layout.If I measured them right,the two combined measure out to be longer than Darel's complete layout.Why not build two additional layout modules and stage on them using the 0-5-0?I still think you ought to go back to modeling Trout Creek/SW South Park-there are very few people modeling this area.

    Bob McFarland,Wichita KS

    1. I had a 6’ “train table” on my last layout. It was built upon an old AV cart. When not in use, they can be stored out of the way and are much more convenient than rotating rolling stock individually.
      I can understand where Derrell is coming from with a “been there done that” attitude. I don’t know of any layouts which have included an accurate representation of Buffalo.

    2. Bob,

      Thanks for your comments and compelling points. In all fairness I didn’t explain what my core motives and expectations of a layout were. My friend Bill Meredith also cornered me on this so I guess I’ll reflect a little. You mentioned Trout Creek - I have to admit I really miss that layout. One of the things that drew me to Trout Creek was how it struck me as one of the purest examples of WHAT the C&S really was. There was NOTHING there except a HILL and a bunch of locomotives determined to move tonnage over THAT hill. In terms of operation, if the C&Sng was anything it was a HILL HUMPER! Nearly 50 engines for just 350+/- miles of mainline? Really? Conversely if you want to operate this RR in the grand ol’ Tony Koster tradition you have to cram a LOT of the stations into any given space; most stations had few sidings or spurs. This RR was the poster-child of Team Tracks. They certainly built spurs to big producers but usually you drove your team into the “yard” (anything with more than one track was a yard) and loaded or unloaded a waiting car. BIG operation….

      What Trout Creek taught me was that operation on a C&Sng layout isn’t a puzzle-game of peddling freight cars around the room. Operation was Trains Moving. Operation was centered on locomotives - not so much cars. When 3 engines reached the top of the hill 2 of them turned around and went back from whence they came. And when they get there they turned again and waited for the next heavy. While they work a train their crews are gonna be talking to each other the only way they could – with whistles! That’s what I’d hoped for Trout Creek and that’s what y’all would have seen had it survived.

      What about Buffalo? There is a lot of traditional “operation” at Buffalo. There is the team track in front of the depot, a warehouse and a freight platform, a lumberyard and a stock pen. If a reefer needs ice a wagon will pull up to the car and throw it in the side door! At least 2 passenger trains a day will come through too. There isn’t the same purity of the Helper Operation as at Bath but you will still see triple-headers and light engines on the return.

      There are a couple of reasons I’m using the fiddle yards – they are 8 feet long btw. First I have trouble “compressing” of the prototype, ad-libbing, and generally doing tongue in cheek stuff. It goes to my core motivations – experiencing history through models. I feel that accuracy of the models will help me better understand how the RR really was. It is more important to me to use an 80” radius than shoehorn in another switch. Buffalo is a model.

      By no means am I knocking what anyone else does. This is my version of fun.

      I didn’t include all the clutter of the 7th Street Shops operation, shelves, utilities, and other accoutrements on the plan. Buffalo is an odd station and it wouldn’t work in this space if it had to be against the wall. So first, the fiddle yards allow Buffalo to be a pretty accurate model without too much compression. Second, they provide a chain of trains that have already been set up for continuous running and they can be rotated and used again. Put another way I’m not prepared to do another station yet anyway and the FYs provide what I feel is the best way to obtain my objective.

      Either FY can be moved to make way for an additional station. The west FY will likely remain as shown. But the east FY will move one day. Right now Grant could go in around the corner but I’m working on Pine Grove or perhaps a couple of other options. But I will proably move before I finish Buffalo and I ain’t leaving it behind again.

      Thanks again for your thoughts, Bob, and of course you are welcome to make more comments.

    3. The 8' Fiddle yards are designed to rotate. The East yard will stay fixed in place and will clear the stair at it's lower left on the plan. The west yard will undock so it can be rotated. I don't know where I'd find AV carts around here but that's a good idea. I'll build the carriers out of wood.

      I'd encourage anyone interested to take a little time and really look at what all was at Buffalo. There is a lot of modeling interest - if you like buildings - there were ar least 3 stone buildings - and where else do you find an ice cream parlor on the C&Sng? The Riverdale Tank has to be nearly the most unique tank on the railroad, the twin tanks at Garos not withstanding. Buffalo is just chock full of charm and a great place to tell a story from!

      I can understand why no one has done a really good job of buffalo in anything but HO (not sure but it seems I've seen someone did) and all you have to do is look at my plan to see why. Much of it is spread out perpendicular to a pair of S curves - ya got depth problems. Yikes.

    4. You mean to tell me the basement isn't clean and empty as depicted on your plan, or like it was with the Trout Creek layout?
      Thanks for the clarifications and to Bob for getting them out of you.
      Working for a school district, obtaining an old AV cart is easy. I built the carrier out of wood and attached it to the top of the cart. It had shelves also, so it made a great place to store rolling stock etc..
      The key is that however they are built, that they don't tip over while turning. ie: the AV cart.

  2. Yes, tipping over is one of my main concerns. (Had a shelf full of models come off the wall a while back and the experience was "stunning" to say the least...) I've thought about putting the rollers on outrigger footings but of course then I'd be tripping over the outriggers! Grace I am not! So! We'll see what I can come up with.

    The area above the right 2/3'ds of the layout on the plan is clear but the rest of the basement is, well, ummmm... like Denver. (Good griefff!). I also have hopes of maybe putting in a small shelf layout of Proto 87 steam in the opposite corner of that in the upper right on the plan. (The basement is 27 feet wide and 43 feet long). But that is low priority.

  3. Brother D's observations about operation on the C&S are well stated. The profiles are like that of a camels back with ruling grades far enough apart to give both train crews and the dispatcher headaches. Moving a double (or triple) header over this railroad is more than a satisfying challenge in this writers view than following green lights across the plains in the cab of a Berkshire. (no altitude--er attitude here).

    When selecting my own modeling subject, I briefly considered Black Hawk and Central City. I liked Central for the small yard and the awesome depot. A photo of the engine terminal at Leadville caught my eye, and I realized it was mostly intact and had many of the features I was looking for: an unusual depot (brick, not clapboard), a small yard and a roundhouse. Noone has really done Leadville, either. I have also been fond of the railroad operating in the street as at Idaho Springs, and Leadville has a bit of this too. The juxtaposition of mines is a good place setting, and the opportunity to model some housing along Hemlock Street has been an added plus.

    Rick Steele created a great folio plan for me to follow. Though I selectively compressed the plan, and have mirrored some pieces, the yard has all the parts. When Brother d and I have operated just the yard, it has proved good entertainment for a couple hours, even though I think he grits his teeth when I assign him one of the big Brooks locos that stabled here.

    As this is the end of the line, I don't have the need for cassettes, though I do have a slightly freelanced interchange with the Evil Empire: it justifies modeling the narrow gauge diamond where the Ibex Branch crosses the main line to Denver.

    1. Great reply Keith! Like Derrell, the writer in you just created the next blog post.
      Though you got the big D little d backwards. Lol!

    2. Hey, Big D/little d sounds like C&S Switchman talk for Denver and Dillon !

      Derrell, this all sounds very fascinating, I would have been wanting Pine Grove on a/c of the Coaling Chutes but there was no Tank nor Bridges so your want is better than mine.
      I don't know about those fiddleyards, all too Brit for me but probably the best to simulate the operational poles. Only drawback I can see with rotating the whole train is that they didn't turn cars just the locos at either end. I have seen in operation a FY with a traverser in the centre for rearranging cars quickly and a turning disc for the locos which kept everything right way 'round so to speak.
      Can I be so bold as to suggest a single double-ended FY along the backwall?
      Buffalo to Grant w/ Pine Grove included as the ultimate progression, has the drawback of two towns to model and that might be asking too much.

      Didn't Eric Lundberg model Leadville and include the LMB in his layout at CSprings?

      in NZ
      (Upsidedown C)

  4. Keith, you model one of the few places on the C&Sng where more intense operation, in the Koster-esque sense would have taken place. In fact a layout of the Mineral Belt would be a wonderful "operational" type layout. At the 20th TOC there were at least 3 C&S switchers in place and thru the years Leadville continued to be relatively active! Witness how it was about the last ng hold out in the early '40s being converted to sg (along with Denver).

    Thanks for your comments.


  5. Is this the Riverview Tank and siding to which Derrell is refering to?

    It [i][b]almost[/b][/i] appears to be connected at both ends but after looking in "Platte Canon Memories", yes it was, and was mentioned in Poor's "DSP&P" as a 27car siding aka Riverview spur at MP 39. The Tank proper at mp38.8.

    and here as well


    in New Zealand
    (Upsidedown C)

    1. Yes Chris, Riverview. And in fact there was a pretty interesting tho simple siding at Riverview (and even a couple of those really interesting Cattle Guards, Keith at and around Riverview). The actual tank was officially the Buffalo tank e3ven tho it was thru an "S" curve to the EAST of Riverview. That tank had a peaked roof in the 1902 wreck scenes but it burned down in 1905. The RR replaced it with a slightly larger (11'x16' as opposed to the former 11'x4' (iirc) tank).

      Knowing these facts helps date the photo Darel has posted at the top of this article (since L.C. McClure took photos of Riverview at the same time he took that fabulous shot of Buffalo). There are a couple of boxcars in the photo with 1899 lettering ("C&S Roman") at the stone warehouse and in the background is the Buffalo Hotel (burned down in September 1912 (Sorry, Tom, but I'll take a Newspaper Account over someone's diary ANY day). So we know the photo was taken between those dates. I'm guessing closer to 1906 since the New Heralds were instituted in June 1906 tho there were lots of the old lettering still evident in 1910. Both cars appear to be inherited types and as the dates progress more and more of those cars were scrapped so their presence ALSO contributes to the earlier date of the photos.

      As to my track plan I developed it last year and I've forgotten how much I did compress it - more than I remember as it turns out. I've been toying with the possibility of shoehorning the Riverview siding in between the tank and the east switch of Buffalo siding. But that siding has been shortened so I'm sot sure what I'll be able to do - I love that tanks.

      Anyway I do have issues with how much I did compress the plan. The spur behind the Store may be as much as 4 feet too short and this throws off where the stockyard is located to the rest of the town! Grrrrrr!).

      Thanks Chris!


  6. One minor construction suggestion. Make the side of Mod-I that faces Mod-D angle a little away from parallel to Mod-D so you can insert the city element without difficulty.

  7. What is the building behind the J.W.Greene store and warehouse that looks like a small version of a modern concrete grain elevator?