HAVOC in Indy

Between March and May, I’ve not been doing anything Sn2. Instead, I’ve was working on HAVOC. HAVOC is an HO scale free-mo based setup that is designed for TT&TO operations. In May we setup HAVOC at Indy Junction the NMRA try-regional convention.

See my post on the HAVOC website to see videos of the setup, operations, trains, etc…

Posted in Comentary, Free-mo, Video | 2 Comments

Bigelow Engine House Core Roof Cut

Last night I laser cut the roof sections and supports. Then did a test fit.

Some of the sports and the center roof. All were independent files and cut one at a time in the laser. K40 Whisper let’s me load each .svg file one at a time, then shift the cut origin before starting the cut. The upside-down “U” pieces are roof support posts.
Test fitting, front view.
Test fitting, looking in the portal at the support posts.
Test fitting, Rear view, showing the roof sections.
Posted in Bigelow, Modeling, Scratch Building | 1 Comment

Bigelow Engine House CAD

I thought some of you might like to see the 3D CAD images.

Here is a view looking in the fascia portal
Here is a front view. When working on CAD the assembly is often at an odd angle for visibility. The roof support posts between left and center stall are in place. I had not inserted the second set. The holes in the floor are for the second set of posts.

Posted in Bigelow, Modeling, Scratch Building | 2 Comments

B&SR Tank Cars and Tank Farm

PLW is preparing to produce B&SR tank cars and Standard Oil of New York (SOCONY) tank farm in Sn2 and OnX. They look cool, so I may freelance by adding tank farm in Rangeley and possibly Kingfield to get extra traffic. I can see a tank train or an occasional car. SOCONY had tanks in Farmington behind the MEC freight house, so it’s not a far stretch to think 2-foot tank cars could be filled near that same spot and travel the SR&RL to take oil to the far reaches of Franklin County.

Image taken from PLW page for tank farm.
Posted in Comentary, PLW - Portland Locomotive Works | Leave a comment

My laser setup

K40 laser and computer running K40 Whisper

Im not going to go into detail about my laser cutting setup and details. I’m a beginner.

  • Laser: K40, I don’t know the board in it. I got it of eBay for less than $500 US.
  • Water Cooling: still using cheap pump it came with. Plastic tub below laser has distilled water. I drilled small holes for electric and hoses. If I ran the laser harder, I might have to add ice to the water.
  • Venting: Blue plastic pipe that came with laser. Using same cheap fan that came for back of laser. Shimmed it too tighten seal and get better draft. The box fan in the garage window pushes remainder of smoke out the window. Double garage door is open when cutting and just six feet to left of laser.
  • Software: Using K40 Whisper (check Google and YouTube, it’s free). Has worked great on my system. Use inkscape for basic art work and adding color to paths. It’s also free. For detailed CAD, I’m currently using SolidWorks, but would go with Fusion 360 if I did not have access to SOLIDWORKS. SOLIDWORKS is run on my work computer, the rest is run on my home laptop, only 8GB machine. K40 Whisper reads .svg files output by inkscape and inkscape reads dxf from CAD. Use Google and YouTube to learn more.
  • No modifications to laser. Using stock bed, mirrors and no air assist. My laser has worked well straight from the box. I might be the lucky one or my expectations are low.
  • Materials – till now have only cut plywood. How to cut basswood in future, including miles sheets. Also likely to cut acrylic, styrene is a no no, the fumes are toxic and gunk up the mirrors, it melts so not likely to cut well by laser.

I’ve had my system for 4-5 years but never used it till now. Ok, I made a few test cuts. I think I’ll be able to get my money out of it, but if I were buying a tool now… I’d start with a 3D printer (resin) and then get a craft cutter for styrene. I’d bypass the laser.

Posted in Tools | 2 Comments

Bigelow Engine House Core – Laser Cutting a 3D Puzzle

For the past two months I’ve been using SOLIDWORKS to design the core I of the Bigelow engine house. Today I started cutting out the puzzle pieces on the laser cutter.

While I have SOLIDWORKS at work and manage a team developing a software application for it; I’m not an accomplished CAD designer. Mostly we use data provided to us. Sometimes I make simple parts, assembly and drawings so simple the geometry in them does not matter. The engine house core was not easy for me. I had to grind it out. I watched YouTube and has to go back to it and iterate again and again. It is just simple flat walls, but it has lots of angles. It to me time to learn in context modeling. That is the designing of parts inside the assembly. If never done that before.

At this time I have the core designed and I’m starting to cut the pieces out with the laser. The idea is to assemble the core of of 1/4″ (5mm) plywood then laminate it with milled clapboard.

Today I test fit the pieces of the core to confirm the design goes together and looked good on the layout. The remainder of the post is photos of the tests.

Overhead view showing the floor. Locomotives are sitting in the first two stalls. The third stall is sliced off. From photo references it seems the engine house was close to the turntable. I’ve replicated that. The turntable is aligned with the lead. It will not align with the center stall like the prototype. Instead it lines up in between tracks two and three. The water tank sticks out to the rear. The engine is not long enough to handle a 2-6-2, but I do know that the prototype could. The longer engines will stick out of the engine house.
Looking down the lead track. One can see the three windows on the side, similar to prototype photos. The water tank is just above the temporary main roof. The design looks good from this angle.
The side view shows the close proximity of turntable and engine house. The near side wall is shortened due to the need to slice the engine house. The fascia wall as I call it has the long portal for looking into the engine house. The water tank sticks up at the rear. I expect the plywood core to be strong enough to withstand being at the edge of the module. The fascia wall may get painted fascia color or a simple primer gray.
A look in the portal. It will not be so bright once the roof is added.

More puzzle pieces to be cut in coming days.

Posted in Bigelow, Modeling | Leave a comment

Bigelow Engine House – References and Modeling Ideas

I’m making a push to move forward on completing my Bigelow Module. One of the most significant gaps in the module is the Bigelow Engine House. This post may get updates.

The Engine house was built in early 1900’s, was 3 stalls, and had a water tank at the rear. There are a few photos of the engine house, but as near as I know, no plans. It’s not even evident that it was used for much at all.


Many of the photos appear in multiple sources. I’ll capture all sources when time permits. GR=Guy Ruix

  • GR-Kingfield p195 Top – The rear of the engine house is show. The water tank is clearly a box structure on the rear of the engine house. The exhaust stack is visible over the first stall. There is one window at the end of the first stall abutted to the water tank. There might be a door at the back of the water tank. There is piping at the rear of the structure. Might be a water feed or run off. The trim is dark, but the main coloring is hard to determine. It is not as pale as the depot. The wood is darker than the wood on the freight house.
  • GR-Kingfield p195 Bottom – A distant approach view to Bigelow. Shows the new engine house to the left. The tank can be seen rising above the engine house. The color of the tank seems lighter than the other colors on the engine house.
  • GR-Kingfield p196 – Closeup of the engine house front. This early view might pre-date tracks into the engine house (so under construction). Three windows can be seen down each side of the engine house. The three exhaust stacks above each stall are clear in view. This might be the best single view of the engine house (certainly of the doors). The distance between the doors is quite narrow. Probably a single post, but it’s not clear how the trim boards were handled around the door. The doors are at angles to each other, so it’s not a single “flat front”.
  • GR-Kingfield p197 Top – Does not actually show the engine house, but it does show the Section House and the servicing facilities and final turntable. The final turntable is “typical” SR&RL design. It does have a few differences: 1) no angled board to each center post. 2) The horizontal boards between the three posts are nearly if not horizontal. That means they are not parallel to the truss rods. Only one truss rod is visible in the photos and that is the top truss rod.
  • GR-Kingfield p271 Top – This overall photos of the approach to Bigelow. Shows the freight house, depot, boarding house/store, Sawmill, and first stall of the engine house. The three windows on the north wall are clear. It’s still apparent that the north wall covers a portion of the foundation (4-5 extra boards). In earlier photos, it’s clear that the engine house was built up above ground and the ground was never filled in. The colors still remain a mystery. The main color is similar to that of other structures in town, as if the engine house was painted like the structures for the company workers.

Modeling Thoughts

  • Objective: Include all three engine doors. This will be a tight fit.
  • Objective: To have the approach track go to the middle stall (this simply might not be possible)
  • Objective: To have three windows along right side
  • Objective: To include water tank
  • Objective: To fit completely on the first module
  • Expectation is to get three engine house doors, but to slice the engine house so that there is no left wall. The slice will go from left engine door frame, to center of back center wall.
  • No expectation to have an interior. Just to have to have operating tracks into the right two most tracks. The right most track should handle a 2-6-2 sticking out the door the center track should handle a small forney and maybe a larger forney. The left track is a dummy and the doors will not work at all. The left stall will be cut off because it would extend being the module.
  • A portal on the fascia will enable operators to spy on the locomotives in the engine house.
For reference this photo shows the location of the in progress engine house. The track and structure locations are faithful to the prototype.
Posted in Bigelow, Modeling | 2 Comments

Honored! My work is in a museum

When I was 14, I joined the Eastern Loggers, a group that developed a layout based on a series of books on railroad logging in Pennsylvania. That layout has now gone to a museum and will soon be on display. To read more about that, checkout my post on the HAVOC website.

The club and my participation was not just about model railroading, but it also formed me as a person, a modeler, a designer/engineer, a manager, etc. Click the link to my post about the layout and my experiences to learn more about the layout.

Posted in Eastern Loggers | 3 Comments

Update – Tom Sullivan’s On30 SR&RL

Tom Sullivan continues to make great progress on his On30 SR&RL and I have some photos to share. But before you check out the photos, I’d like to complement Tom. Understanding my points will help you understand how Tom has achieved so much in such a short time.

  • Tom is a doer – He get’s a vision and starts with the whatever information he has
  • Tom listens – He seeks inputs from others and listens to it.
  • Tom has thick skin – He takes critique positively and moves on it to make his railroad better
  • Tom acks on feedback – Because Tom acts he get’s more and more input from others and his layout get’s better and better! He again the doer part comes in.

For reference, consider these posts about Tom’s layout.

On to the photos – A tour from Farmington to Strong. Tom has been working on Farmington structure and scenery, so that’s the emphasis of this tour.

Tom is developing an extension to hold the freight house at Farmington. Since this image, Tom has reduced the length of the extension by 50% so that operators can get through the door during an operating session. The extension will only be in place during operations.
A view of the depot area. Tom has completed the SR&RL canopy at Farmington. The depot behind the canopy is a stand in from a previous layout. The small Grey and Green building is the SR&RL freight agent building. To the left is the Coal storage building where standard gauge cars unloaded coal for the residents of Farmington. It may be that coal could have been loaded into narrow gauge cars for private parties along the SR&RL. While the curves of the MEC track are sharp, the trackage does capture the essence of the MEC in Farmington.
A closeup of the SR&RL Canopy in Farmington. The curved braces were custom laser cut wood. The roof is evergreen.
Looking north through Farmington Yard. The curve keeps the eye wondering and making the scene seem larger than it actually is.
A closeup of the coal shed and the SR&RL’s water crane is to the left.
The Grainery was an iconic structure in Farmington. The upper portion is wood and the lower is stones.
This closeup of The Grainery shows off the stonework and shingles.
There was a shed in the SR&RL’s Farmington yard that might have been an old engine house. Here is Tom’s rendition.
A closeup of the Farmington transfer tracks.
The northern end of the SR&RL’s transfer yard at Farmington.
SR&RL trains traveling north out of Farmington cross Rt. 4 and pass the Estes Russel Box Factory.
The Barker Steam covered deck bridge was an iconic photo location on the SR&RL. Here a Strong bound train is caught on the bridge. Tom still has equipment labeled for his earlier freelanced railroad.

We end the tour at Strong. A Kingfield bound train is collecting passengers before backing up through the Kingfield Switch. Once on the other side of the switch, the crew will move the points toward Kingfield and head north!
Posted in Layout Tours | 5 Comments

Out with 2021, on to 2022!

2021 started out strong. I had started the mushroom at the end of 2020, then started the Backdrop, Reeds homasote spline roadbed, and finally formally completed the whole trackplan. But then momentum was lost (like the Skipper, Gilligan, Professor, and Marianne…). I got stuck on spline roadbed not having a foam base, how to power turnouts, and more. I played with trucks and decided Blackstone’s would be the way to go but found out they were not in production. But the greatest impact was the weather. When it became nice, I went outdoors. I worked on the Woodlark Central and started playing Golf again!

One of the problems of losing momentum on the layout is that the mind dreams about other things. The blinders come off and I see the advantages of S-scale standard gauge or HO diesels or what’s neat that week. It’s hard to put the blinders back on. The best way seems to be to go back to the layout and grind through a project!

So, where goes the Sn2 SR&RL in 2022? For now, I’m focused on my Bigelow module. It’s existed for over 10 years but lacks completed structures. So, I’m starting my grind in Bigelow. The benefit is that I can take that to Greenford, OH for the Midwest NG show March 17-19 and share it with other 2-Foot modelers!

I’ll call winter 2022 a success if I can get Bigelow complete

  • Turntable
  • Engine house
  • Section House
  • Freight House (I have one by Matt Sharpe, but want a more accurate model)
  • Depot
  • Coal shed and other loco facilities
  • Scenery

I’m well on my way. I’ve started detailing the Turntable and I’m currently designing the core of the Engine House. We’ll see what 2022 brings!

Posted in Comentary | Leave a comment