Track Pushes West Out of Oneida

Last week I added about another quarter mile (a bit over 15 feet) of roadbed and track to the Louisiana Central mainline.  Track is pushing westward out of Oneida now, and is well on it’s way to Monterey (the end of the line).  Here’s a snapshot of the progress:

West_of_Oneida

The track will continue toward the doorway down at the far end, and then curve left, passing in front of the opening.  There will be a lift span across that doorway.  The edge of Monterey is off to the left (out of the picture).

This roadbed and track is complete, and it’s wired up.  I’ve declared it ready for operation.

-Jack

The 4th Anniversary

It’s hard for me to believe that today marks the fourth anniversary of the Louisiana Central layout construction.  No, it doesn’t seem as if I just started last year.  But neither does it seem like four years!

I’m pleased to report that significant progress was made over the past year.  To be sure, I went into full retirement last winter, so now have more time to spend on the construction.  But I’ve also been in better spirits, and as a result, have been a bit more productive with the work.

If you’d like to follow along as I discuss the construction, you can click here to open a track plan in a new tab.

All three of the intermediate towns along the line (Oneida, Whitcomb and Maynard) are complete (with reference to roadbed, track and wiring).  The only thing preventing them from full operation is the pending installation of the control panels so that the Tortoise switch motors can be controlled.  The entire Spencer Lumber Company railroad operation has been completed.  This includes the mill complex at Oneida, and all the way out to the re-load point up in the woods at Camp 6.  Again, only the control panels need completion for operations to begin.

Indeed, the only Louisiana Central mainline trackage left to be laid is in the turn-back curve at the alcove, and about 30 feet of mainline west of Oneida, and in to Monterey.  And that won’t be undone for long.  I’m almost finished with the first 15 feet of roadbed out of Oneida and track should be going down on that next week.  The hold up in the alcove is the small overpass bridge west of Whitcomb.  The bridge itself is built, and I’ve started building the forms for the abutments and wing walls that I plan to cast in plaster.  Once the bridge is installed, the mainline can proceed across, and around the curve in the alcove.

As a side note, the only downside to filling up all these areas with track has been the diminishing areas of storage for all of my clutter!  But that’s a good price to pay.

The remaining un-laid trackwork is at each end of the layout.  The yards at Willis and Monterey have to be constructed, and there is an industrial complex between those areas that must be done.  And finally, there is the locomotive service area at Willis that must be installed.  That will likely be the last trackwork to go in.  Fortunately, the sub-roadbed for all of this trackwork is complete, and the track centers have been laid out.  So it’s just a matter of putting down the track and installing the Tortoise switch motors.  All of this trackage will be code 70, and I still have to modify about 25 more Shinohara switches for DCC compatibility.

And there is one more major thing that must be built: the bridge across the doorway into the room!  This bridge is a few feet east of Monterey, and until it’s built, Monterey is isolated from the world.  It’s not going to be just a narrow bridge with a strip of track.  It will be a long timber trestle crossing a small spillway.  Plans call for a bridge section nearly four feet long by one foot in width.  The trestle will span most of that length.  I feel that at least a 12″ width is needed to suggest the land and water that the trestle must span.  I haven’t decided yet whether this bridge is going to swing down or lift up, but am favoring the lift up.  This will be done similar to the pop-up that I built over in Monterey, but on a larger scale.  I can’t swing the bridge up vertically, as it would hit the valance.  Hence, the entire span must lift about two feet so that one can walk under it.  I think that I’ll probably tackle this project this year so that I can complete the mainline.  Wish me luck!

Any questions or comments about what I’ve done, or where I’m going?  Shoot me your words . . . I’d love to hear ’em.

-Jack

Spencer Sawmill Trackage Complete

Back in May I reported on the completion of the Louisiana Central trackage in Oneida.  In that report I mentioned that I’d probably get started next on the Spencer Lumber Company’s sawmill complex in Oneida.  And I did so within just a few days, figuring I would probably whip that out in just a couple of weeks.  So much for my optimism.  The trouble with the model railroad hobby is that it’s so easy to get distracted by other interesting things that pop up.  I could go on for the next five or six paragraphs rambling about these distractions but I really need to stay on topic, so I’ve put my distractions into a separate post.

Well, the Spencer trackage in Oneida is complete, along with the switch motor installations and all of the wiring.  In fact, ALL of the Spencer operation is complete.  Trains of empty skeleton log cars can leave the mill and head up into the woods, and then return fully laden with prime timber.  Spencer’s railroading days are winding down here in 1964.  The only trackage left in the woods terminates at Camp 6 located a few miles to the east of Whitcomb.  Camp 6 is now used as a re-load point for the logs.  Trucks have taken over hauling the timber from the various cuttings, but the trains still get them from this re-load point back to the mill.

Here are a couple photos of the recently completed trackwork.  In a couple days I’ll get a few additional photos posted on the main website for your perusal.

Spencer-Sawmill-Complex
Here is an overview of the mill complex.  In the center of the photo, the mill pond will be in that depressed area, and the sawmill itself will be in the open area at the upper edge of the pond.  The switch at the lower left is on the mainline coming from the woods.  The diverging route (to the left) is to the loading track for the finished product (the spur track to the left of the pond).  The track branching to the left from the upper switch is the connection to the Louisiana Central.  This connection will allow the mill switcher to retrieve the occasional load of supplies and fuel oil left on the loading track by the LCRR.  Heading straight up from the mainline switch, we enter the yard.  The track nearest the pond will have a log dump.  The crossover is to allow the locomotive to run around the cars.  The run-around extends past the crossover to the locomotive service track.  The spur at the far right is the RIP track for the logging cars, and will also double as the caboose service track.

This view above is taken from atop a stool to enable a better view of the track arrangement.  Actual track elevation in Oneida is 54″ above floor.

Spencer-Sawmill-Complex-2
And here’s the view from the sawmill area.  Again, the track closest to the mill pond is the unloading track, the center track is the run-around and engine service, and on the left is the RIP track.  There will be a bit more rolling terrain beyond that last track, and the Louisiana Central mainline will be wrapping around in the distance and then heading down the far left side of the peninsula on it’s journey to Monterey (off to the left of that doorway).

Other than the LCRR mainline trackage mentioned here, and a bit more down in that alcove, the remaining layout trackage is for the yards at Willis and Monterey, and the industrial trackage at each.  While that’s still a lot of track to lay, I can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel (and I think it’s a train).

-Jack

LCRR Trackage in Oneida Complete

The largest town on the line between Monterey and Willis is Oneida.  Oneida is pronounced wah-nee-duh, an unusual pronunciation for sure, but typical of naming habits in Louisiana and Mississippi.  J.D. Spencer (founder of the Spencer Lumber Company) named the town after his oldest daughter when he built his sawmill complex on this ground back in the early 20s.

The Louisiana Central trackage here was recently completed.  The switch motors have been installed and the electrical feeders for all trackage are terminated at their respective terminal blocks.  The only work remaining is to connect feeds from the power bus to those connection points.  Here are a couple photos:

Track-in-Oneida-East

Above is the view from the east end of town.  The (future) bridge across the Little River will be at the lower right above the plywood river bottom.  The first switch is the Spencer Lumber Company mainline heading to the mill complex.  If you recall from an earlier post, the Spencer has obtained trackage rights across the LCRR bridge.  Once over the bridge, the lumber road splits away to their own mainline.  The next switch is the passing siding, and the track coming off the pass and heading back toward the camera is the spur for the sand and gravel pit.  Off in the distance, we see the spur for the Wildcat Petroleum Company, and way down at the far end, the spur for the Spencer loading track can (barely) be seen.

 

Track-in-Oneida-West

Here we see the view from the west end of town.  The mainline (on the cork roadbed) presently ends here at the switch; extension westward to Monterey will be in the near future.  The passing siding branches off to the left.  The first switch is the Spencer loading track, and the next two switches lead to the Wildcat Petroleum Company and the sand and gravel pit, respectively.

I’ll probably get started on the Spencer trackage for the sawmill complex next.  You can see the Spencer mainline heading this way toward the mill (the distant track at center that currently ends at a switch).  The Spencer track will curve to the far side of the mill pond (that depressed area at left), where there will be a log dump, and a couple servicing tracks for the steam locos and rolling stock.

I still need to get started though on those bridge abutments over near Whitcomb.  It would be hard to get over the line without that bridge!

-Jack

Whitcomb Open for Business

The town of Whitcomb is now a revenue source for the railroad as the trackage there was essentially completed this week.  The mainline through town has been laid for some time now, however the passing siding and industrial spur have languished.  But no longer . . . track is in, switch motors are installed and everything is wired up.

Track-in-Whitcomb

Pictured above is the first train to enter Whitcomb.  Well, it actually backed into town as the bridge at the west end of town hasn’t been installed yet.  It’s waiting for the abutments and wing walls to be poured.

There will be one additional industry in Whitcomb, a builder’s supply store.  The mainline switch is already installed (it’s around the curve, behind the train), but track cannot be laid until the structure is complete as the track will enter the property on a concrete trestle (a former coal dump).

I’ll be turning my attention to the aforementioned bridge, and also will be commencing trackwork in Oneida starting tomorrow.  Oneida as you may recall, is where the mill complex for the Spencer Lumber Company is located.  In addition to the Louisiana Central trackage in town, there will be a good bit of track laid for the Spencer mill pond and yard area.

-Jack

Back On Track

Really . . . I’m back on track, having reactivated my program of modifying Shinohara code 70 switches to be “DCC friendly”.  Regular readers of this blog will recall that I was suffering from “layout construction fatigue” back in late February.  Well, I’ve been ready to get back at it again for over a month, but have been continually distracted by other things.  To be sure, I’ve been doing mostly railroad related tasks, but meat and potatoes production on the layout, -namely trackwork- has been stagnant.  I spent time evaluating, ordering, and then changing out my DCC system back in March.  And I finally got my plate girder bridge assembled; it’s waiting for abutments and wing walls now.  I finished some miscellaneous support framing for the scenery base that will cover the staging tracks, and that area of the layout is just about ready for the hardboard fascia.  All the wiring is caught up with the installed trackage.  I even put some time in on my waybill creation program, redesigning the waybills and empty car bills to more closely resemble the real thing (thanks to Tony Thompson and his work in this area).  And as you know, I’ve been playing a lot, A Mini-Reunion at Covington.

But I have been distracted from the trackwork for much too long, so I determined that I was going to get something done under that discipline today.  That mission was accomplished.  Now that I’ve broken the ice so to speak, I think I’ll find it easier to get back into the swing of things.  I only have about 30 feet of track left to complete the mainline, but I’m holding off on that as I want to complete the trackage in Whitcomb and Oneida before I continue with the main.  I need eleven code 70 switches to be modified and installed in order to complete those areas, so I really need to get with the program.

It’s good to be back!

-Jack

LCRR Mainline Reaches Oneida

I thought I’d post a brief update of the progress at Oneida.  Since my last post, I’ve completed all the roadbed within the area, and I’ve completed the mainline through town.  The roadbed took a bit longer than I thought it would as it had several variations in height.  The mainline roadbed is 3/16″ thick.  The roadbed tapers down to 1/8″ through the passing siding.  Then it tapers down to zero at the sub-roadbed (the Homasote base) for the industrial spurs.  But I also had a couple conditions where I had to slope down to just 1/16″.  This happened at a switch and also at the crossing.  I didn’t want them located on a slope, so I leveled the roadbed out at 1/16″, then later continued down to the Homasote base once past those areas.  It took some time, but it came out well and I think both the operation and visuals will be worth the effort.

Here are a couple photos:

Trackwork at Oneida - 02
This is entering the east end of Oneida.  The first switch directs to the private Spencer Logging Company’s trackage leading to the Spencer log pond.  The next switch is the start of the passing siding.  The third switch will be the spur for the sand and gravel pit.  The mainline track and switches are completed, as is the crossing.  The other trackage is in the process of being fitted, and then installed.

Trackwork at Oneida - 04
Here we are at the west end of town, looking back toward the east.  Down at the alcove, you can see the Louisiana Central mainline (the upper track) curving from Whitcomb (at the right just out of the picture) to Oneida at left.  The lower track is the Spencer Lumber Company’s mainline coming from the woods (at right), and into Oneida.  Note that the Spencer has trackage rights down there where the (future) bridge is crossing the (future) river.  In the foreground, the first switch is to the passing siding.  The next switch (on the passing siding) will be the spur to the loading area of the Spencer mill.  The depressed area (where all the clutter is resting) is the mill pond.

I have a few more photos of Oneida that I’ll be posting on the main website in the next day or so.  If interested, you can find the track plan here.

The last code 83 switches have been installed here in Oneida.  All remaining switches here, and in the yards at Monterey and Willis, will be code 70.  These are (as I’ve mentioned before) not “DCC friendly”, therefore will require modifications.  Unfortunately this will slow my progress down somewhat.  However, I’m thrilled that the mainline only has to finish curving around this peninsula, run back down to the far end, and then cross the room entrance into Monterey where it will be complete!

-Jack

Photographic Proof of Progress!

Earlier in the week I finished installing the sub-roadbed (plywood topped with Homasote) in the town of Oneida.  This town is located on the 2nd peninsula, which happens to be the 5th and final major area of benchwork.  Today I sanded and filled joints between panels and did general cleanup in the area.  Tomorrow I’ll likely get a coat of paint down to seal things.  I’ve been promising for weeks (months?) to get some pictures posted of the work that’s been done in both Whitcomb and in Oneida.  Well I’ve finally done it!  Here are a few to start things off:

Looking down the aisle
Here’s an overall view looking down most of the length of the room.  That’s the Spencer Lumber Company’s Camp 6 on the right, along with the double switchback required to get up the hill.  To the left of that is the Louisiana Central mainline.  Way down at the far end is Whitcomb.  Over on the peninsula at left we see Oneida.

Whitcomb up close
Here’s a closer view of Whitcomb.  I’ve started the trackwork in this area and the mainline (left) is complete and wired.  The passing siding (center track) and the industrial spur (right) aren’t installed yet . . . the pieces are being cut and fitted, and they should be going down soon.  The next track to the right (on it’s own supports) is the Spencer mainline from the woods.  It’s heading back to the mill at Oneida.  And the high line against the wall is the tail of the 2nd switchback on the track up to Camp 6.

The alcove
Down in the alcove, both the Louisiana Central and the Spencer mainlines make a 180 degree curve, then head back to Oneida on the peninsula.  The gap in the roadbed at right is where the plate girder bridge will go.  The Spencer mainline passes below the bridge here.  The two mainlines join at left for a bit of joint trackage over the river bridge to be located just east of Oneida.

I’ll get a pic or two taken at Oneida in a few days after I finish up the painting and cleanup.

If you’d like to see more photos, you’re invited to visit the photo section of the website: Whitcomb and Oneida.  And you can find the track plan here.

Happy New Year to all!

-Jack

A Benchwork Binge

It’s been over three weeks since my last post.  This time of year gets kind of hectic with all that’s going on.  But even so, some significant progress has been made on the layout.

I’ve been on a benchwork binge for several weeks now.  I mentioned back in November that I’d started cutting out the sub-roadbed for the two turn back loops contained within the alcove in the train room.  That has been completed and installed along with the cork roadbed.  Track can now be laid.

But I didn’t stop there.  Coming out of that alcove, one enters the second peninsula of the layout.  This is the 5th and final major section of layout construction.  I had previously installed the joists in this area in preparation for the sub-roadbed.  As of today, all of the Louisiana Central sub-roadbed has been installed through the town of Oneida (located on said peninsula).  I’ve cut the sub-roadbed out for the Spencer trackage that will be in the mill site, and will probably get it installed within the next few days.

The only sub-roadbed work left now is the big loop at the end of the peninsula orb, then the mainline run back down the back side.  The track will then traverse the bridge across the room entry and enter Monterey (the end of the line).  The mainline has long been completed in Monterey, so I simply need to connect there.  Wow! the end (of sub-roadbed construction anyway) is actually in sight!

I’ve been saying for months now that I’d post a few photos of the recent construction.  As soon as I complete the work at Oneida near the mill, I will snap a few shots and get ’em posted.

I’ll likely shift to track laying soon as I’m getting way ahead of myself with benchwork.  I can put down about 35 feet of mainline right now, plus a passing siding and quite a few feet of industry trackage.  The Spencer mainline can also now get into Oneida, so I need to put that down (about another 35′ of that).

Again, I’m pleased with the progress.  I’ll be starting the new year on a positive note!

I’d like to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas!

-Jack

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Well, the automobiles were only used for transportation to see the planes and trains in this case…

The past month has seen somewhat sporadic progress on the layout.  I confess to several distractions during this period.

Three weeks ago Ron Findley and I motored down to New Orleans for the Airpower Expo at the Lakefront Airport.  This year’s show was again quite interesting, with a nice roster of war birds in attendance.  There were three bombers there (all flying): a B-29, a B-17 and a B-25.  A P-51D Mustang was busy all day with flights, along with an SB2C Helldiver and a P-40 Warhawk.  Also on display were an SBD Dauntless dive bomber, a P-51C Mustang in “red tail” livery, a P-39 Airacobra, a C-47, and several training aircraft of various vintages.  The National WWII Museum (co-sponsor of the event) had quite a few pieces of ground equipment ranging from trucks and jeeps, to small field pieces, to a light tank.  A great day with good weather and plenty of flying.

Then last weekend I headed over to Ponchatoula with Ed Dayries to take in the annual train show over there.  The show is primarily aimed at the 3-rail crowd, but there was also a nice S scale layout in operation, as well as a live steam display.  Vendors were offering their goods in just about all of the common scales/gauges.  We capped it off with a short run up to Hammond where we happened to catch Amtrak #58, the northbound train running from New Orleans to Chicago.

Progress on the layout has come in short spurts during this time.  I’ve finished the mainline track through Whitcomb and the switch motors are installed.  I’ve started on the passing siding and industrial spur trackage.  I’ve finished all the joists on the peninsula that I wrote of last month, and I’ve cut out the basic sub-roadbed shapes for Oneida…trimming and adjustments will be made later once it’s time to plot out the track centerlines.

Today saw an uptick in the production, with some excellent progress being made.  Wayne Robichaux and I made a lumber run this morning after enjoying the weekly ROMEO* breakfast.  After unloading the material, we proceeded to lay out and cut the plywood and Homasote sub-roadbed pieces that will be needed for the turn back loops located in the alcove west of Whitcomb.  We completed both the Louisiana Central and the Spencer Lumber Company’s sub-roadbed loops.  I’ll probably start making risers for all of this tomorrow.

I received the 72′ bridge that I needed for the overpass at Whitcomb but it still sits on the workbench awaiting assembly.  I’m going to have to start focusing on specific tasks for the remainder of the year.  There are many events (those distractions) between now and late January that I’ll likely participate in.  But that’s okay, because for me, that’s part of what I enjoy about this hobby.  As I age I’m finding the social aspects are becoming more and more important.  I can hardly wait for each event, whether it be a train show, an open house, or an NRHS banquet…I’m ready for it!  And of course, with the holidays coming up, I’ll also be enjoying good time with family.  It’s a great time of year!

But fear not, the Louisiana Central will continue to progress.  Ultimately, I can hardly wait for the day when trains are operational.

 -Jack

*Retired Old Modelers Eating Out

Whitcomb Anticipating New Railroad Line

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any updates, so I thought maybe I should peck out a few lines about what’s been going on.

Last Saturday, Ron Findley and I attended the Greater Baton Rouge Model Railroaders’ annual open house up in Jackson, LA.  It was a beautiful day and there was a record turnout in attendance.  The highlight of my visit was seeing a gorgeous U.P. Challenger running on their live steam loop.  What a sight!

UP Challenger 3987

Progress in Whitcomb has been a bit slow, but still steady.  The sub-roadbed and roadbed work through the town is nearly complete, and reaches out to the edge of the (future) Louisiana Central bridge just beyond the west end.  Only some feathering of the vertical roadbed transitions needs to be done.  The Spencer sub-roadbed has been extended through the S-curve that passes below the bridge and is headed toward the alcove in the corner of the room.  Track on both lines has been extended a bit further and should be completed in this area fairly soon.

The weather outside has been very dry and a bit cooler, so I recently decided to drag the saw outside.  I cut the wooden joists that would be needed for the second peninsula (which is also the fifth and last major area of benchwork).  Last Monday I installed the joists along much of the peninsula, and today I started laying out the joists around the orb at the end.  I should wrap that up tomorrow.  At that point, the peninsula will be ready for the sub-roadbed.

A few weeks ago I completed the vertical roadbed transition at Willis from the mainline down the yard ladder.  It turned out quite nicely and it makes me want to rip out other transitions I’ve done and replace them with these long, very slightly tapered ones.  But I won’t….at least, not for now.  It’s all I can do to get this layout up and running without ripping things out for re-dos, especially when they’re cosmetic in nature.

A month ago I said I’d be posting a few photos shortly.  I have been waiting for the work at Whitcomb to appear a bit more finished.  It’s taking longer than I expected, but I should be there soon.  As I’ve quipped in my last couple posts, “I’m pleased with the progress being made”.

-Jack

I’m Hearing Spike Mauls

First, an announcement:  In less than a month The Greater Baton Rouge Model Railroaders will be hosting their annual open house up in Jackson, Louisiana.  Saturday, October 10th is the date, and the entire facility will be open for display.  They will have layouts in operation ranging from N scale, all the way up to G (and Fn3) scale live steam.  Lunch is provided and it’s always a great way to spend several hours.  Make plans to drive up there.  I’ll follow up with another post in a few weeks with further details and directions.

This past weekend was productive on the Louisiana Central.  I converted and installed another code 70 switch at the bottom of the Spencer logging operation switchback.  That completes both the Camp 6 and double switchback trackage.  I also advanced the trackage of both the Spencer and the Louisiana Central mainlines toward Whitcomb, getting about 25 feet of track down.  By next weekend the track should reach the end of the sub-roadbed presently installed.

I’ve also started a bit of roadbed work over in Willis.  A few weeks ago Wayne and I cut some long tapered pieces of roadbed from some 2×4 lumber for use as transitions from the cork roadbed down to the Homasote table top.  These will be needed in several places around the layout.  I installed the first of those vertical transitions at the beginning of the yard ladder in Willis.  This will enable me to complete the passing siding and to start laying the yard trackage.

In a few weeks I’ll be pushing the sub-roadbed beyond Whitcomb and into the alcove, where the L.C. and Spencer mainlines will be making some hairpin curves and then heading out onto the second peninsula where Oneida is located.  If you study the trackplan, you’ll see that the L.C. mainline crosses over the Spencer mainline just west of Whitcomb.  I had planned to use a Micro Engineering 50′ plate girder bridge there.  I opened the package recently to study and perhaps begin assembly of the bridge when it dawned on me that the bridge would be too short for the planned installation.  The problem is that the angle of the crossing is about 35 degrees and I hadn’t factored in the space that the bridge abutments would occupy.  Uh-oh . . . back to the drawing board.  I discovered that Central Valley makes the same bridge in a 72′ length.  That should work nicely, so I’ve ordered one and it should arrive within a few days.  Whew, dodged another bullet!

As a side note, the Louisiana Central mainline has finally pushed past the halfway point.  It is way behind schedule, however I’m now making significant progress in that area and am optimistic that the pace will continue as it is presently.  More photos will follow in the near future.

-Jack