Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Um.. What was the question again?

OK, I'll admit it..  I'm a little OCD.  I get an idea into my head that I need a certain thing on the layout and I'll spend days, weeks, months sometimes obsessing over it till I've either found what I wanted for the layout or completed the task I felt HAD TO BE DONE before anything else could progress.  Case in point?  I give you exhibit number 1: the manual turntable I absolutely had to have for the fiddle staging module at the Red Lion end of the layout.  Handling freight cars on and off the layout by hand was acceptable, but handling brass engines, especially to turn them at the end of the run for the return trip was definitely not!

So, for close to 1 year, I researched making my own manual turntable.  Then I figured that would be another one of those never gets done projects so the next best thing?  Buy a ready made one.  The Atlas turntable has been around almost longer than I have and it's manual (though there is a motorization kit for it) and there had to be some out there for the taking, cheap.  New ones cost over $30 so buying one of those was out.

After looking on and off for over a year on eBay, at train shows etc. I found one in Springfield at the Amhearst Show for $8.00, after a little haggling.  Joy and jubilation!  Now I could put this one obsession behind me and finish building them damn staging modules.

First the modules needed to be wired.

I built the turntable part of the staging module from a frame I had on hand from when I had a machine shipped to my shop at work.  It was just the right size.  I cut some plywood I had on hand to fit the top of the frame.  BTW, yes that turntable has brass rail.  That's how old it is.

The turntable portion of the portable staging module completed.

And finally.. The whole thing assembled together, ready to be put to work.

After I finished building it, I sat back feeling smug and gave myself the obligatory pat on the back for a job well done.  Feeling the relief of getting this monkey off my back I had time to reflect on just how my new creation would fit into my operations scheme.  Then it hit me..  the Ma & Pa didn't run out and back locals or manifests or passenger trains.  Everything that started in York ended in Baltimore.  Everything that started in Baltimore ended in York.  Theoretically, nothing needed to be turned in Red Lion staging except for the helper engine that was part of each manifest freight till it got to Delta, PA where it would be turned to help the next train in the other direction.  I still have the hand print on my face from the face palm I gave myself.  

So with the turntable being semi useless, and the engines still needing to be handled to take them on and off the layout, I'm back to square one figuring out what to do about handling engines.

For now I'll just deal with other things I've been obsessing over: Where am I going to get the ingredients to mix up Ground Goop? Can I use black sanding grout for cinder ballast like I've seen reported about online, and which brand?  I see another building construction site has extruded Styrofoam, and I wonder if they have leftover scraps?  But them guys in the hard hats look mean, and they'd probably look at me like I had two heads when I tell them what I want it for. And I really want a pickle car but did they ever run over the Ma & Pa?  To be continued...


  1. To me brass locomotives survive handling much better than plastic freight cars. But after breaking the steps from a plastic car it is easier to put on the track than a many wheeled steam loco. The turntable could well help.

    Your visible model railroad runs only to Red Lion. Unless there is staging beyond Red Lion you need to accept that yours is a foreshortened model and plan operations accordingly.
    Dick Bradley

  2. I friend uses lengths of plastic gutter material to move locos off the layout or to turn a loco. He uses multiple unit diesels. He cuts the gutter to the length he wants then he sands the ends to a finer lip. I think he even added guide ways for the flanges on the ends of the material to enable easier placement onto the rails. This is probably a cheap experiment ready for your attention. - Eric