Casper Construction Progress Part 4 – 2022 – October through December
10 October 2022
I started building the four turnouts I need for the Holly Sugar trackage today.
On the 3rd I posted my latest layout construction update video.
27 October 2022
Here I am testing the reach at the sugar plant. the spurs closer to the wall are for cuts of beet cars, so there won't be a need to reach way over to uncouple cars. When they're delivered, the couplers will be set to delayed mode in before the cars are pushed into the spurs.
Only the spur by my hand is tacked down at this point. The other tracks will be elevated a bit over the beet and coal bins, so they're just laid in place.
During this time I also was adding some amenities to the layout in preparation for an upcoming operating session. First I made location names for all the areas of the layout that have functional trackage:
I made the signs in PowerPoint, then pasted them onto .040 styrene sheet using Super 77 spray adhesive. After that was dry I cut them out, blackened the styrene edges using a black paint marker and finally gave them a coat of Dullcote to protect the letters.
I decided to play it safe before the ops session and added temporary fencing on all the functional track at the peninsula ends. Where the track will be visible it will be removed as scenery is added.
Here's the Wind River Canyon / Thermopolis tracks:
The upper track is the hidden CNW line to Lander, and the fences will remain there. The lower track will be in a tunnel for much of the curve, so I might leave the fencing there also.
Finally, a couple days before the ops session, I started cleaning the train room and, most importantly, all the track. I haven't run the layout (except for testing new track) since the last ops session in late June. I also put together the first trains that will leave Casper at the beginning of the session.
On October 25th it was operations time! Here Larry, near foreground, has taken on the task of running the Casper local switcher. Phil, behind him, is Casper yardmaster for this go around. In the distance Harry, farthest away from the camera (guy with the black hat) is at Shobon taking the CNW local up the hidden track to Riverton. Frank, in the camo shirt, is watching.
Homer, on the left, is sitting on a high stool watching the chaos (and thoroughly enjoying it too!), while Judy, Frank's significant other, is watching and learning. My good friend Dave, the retired BNSF engineer from Basin, is out of view of the camera behind the refrigerator wall working the new Holly Sugar plant.
Everyone reported that they had great time. I'll try to do this again in about four more months.
23 November 2022
On November 3rd I posted my latest layout update video.
This curve represents the real Himes Curve, though on the layout it curves the opposite direction of the real one:
The longest wheelbase steamer that could navigate this 10-degree curve (one degree sharper than Horseshoe Curve in Pennsylvania) was a Mikado. Northerns could not make the curve. Even today, trains are limited to 10 mph on the curve. Dave told me he could feel the trucks on the six axle SD's he used to run through here buck and jump on the curve, though he never did have a derailment.
At this point work on the layout came to an unexpected screeching halt for about two weeks. I learned that my operating concept, which I thought I had based solidly on prototype operations on the line, was seriously flawed! 🙁
I thought all local trains came out of Casper on the division, and I was very chagrined to learn that all of them came out of Greybull for the entire Big Horn Basin, including the Cody branch! I spent a lot of time for nearly two weeks looking at how I could incorporate the changes in my scheme, and how that would impact the track plan. Dave (who had been the bearer of this bad news) and I spent hours on the phone and in emails going back and forth about what might be possible to do without major revision to already-built parts of the layout.
Greybull had been envisioned as just another switching location on the layout. I knew there's been an engine facility in Greybull during my modeling era, but I had left that out of the master layout plan. Greybull also had a yard, and that was left out as well. I hadn't yet detailed out the track arrangement for Greybull; I've been doing that for each town as I approached it during construction. But it would be similar to what I came up with for Thermopolis, here:
None of these or several other arrangements were satisfactory. There just wasn't enough room to build the trains I needed! Then I began thinking about train routing and traffic flows. I wondered if I might be able to combine Greybull with the Frannie and Orin interchange yards. The Frannie-Orin combined yard had a lot more length along one wall than Greybull did on the peninsula. So I did a schematic of train movements along the entire line. Here's the first one, with all trains originating from Casper in my original concept:
- Moving Greybull opened up another spot for a town I had omitted in the original plan - Basin. This makes the eastbound local out of Greybull much better;
- Greybull has the length to allow trains to be built on one track (see the following layout of the new Greybull), rather than breaking them up onto two separate tracks. Also, the stub-end tracks have much greater capacity; and
- This is maybe the most important. On all the other concepts, trains to Cody had to make an unprotypical turn-around move at Frannie to go down the Cody branch. Now the train will leave Greybull headed in the right direction. No more turning around mid-route.
Here's the new (and semi-final) Greybull arrangement:
While I was reworking the track plan anyway, I took the time to revise the Cody branch design to move Powell under Worland and eliminate a bunch of hidden trackage. I also completely redesigned the west and east staging to straighten out traffic flow into staging and eliminate a bunch of hidden track.
16 December 2022
The afib has settled down, so I was back to working at full speed.
The next couple days had the track installed nearly all the way up to the turnout where East staging and the Cody Branch diverge, just this side of the liftout that leads into Greybull.
On December 3rd I posted my latest layout update video.
Over the next couple days I cut the threaded rods to length and cleaned up the threads on the ends so the nuts would go on freely. These are the same threaded rods I used years ago on my Behemoth Helix in the early 2000's back in New Jersey. Several times I thought about tossing that bundle of rod. Now I'm glad I didn't.
On the 15th I also posted the latest episode of Building Casper, going over wiring and how I moved the yard from New Jersey to Casper.
31 December 2022
I spent a couple of days putting together a Christmas Day layout tour:
Beyond that I spent the remainder of my modeling time working on Basin. By the day after Christmas, I finished all the measuring and head scratching and began installing the subroadbed. By the 28th I had the townsite subroadbed installed and a few risers in place. The level is clamped to the plywood to take out waviness in the plywood for installation of risers.
Also on the 29th I unpacked my most recent locomotive acquisition. It's a Spectrum ten-wheeler in CNW livery. These were made about 20 years ago for only a short time. I bought one back then, and ever since wished I'd bought one or two more, but generally haven't been able to find one. I got this one on Ebay at a pretty reasonable price. I put it on the workbench and hooked it up to an old Backmann trainset powerpack to make sure it runs.
I'll be adding a TCS Wowsound kit to it before it goes on the layout. I also need to renumber it - the only road number Spectrum made for the CNW is 236.
These 10-wheelers were the usual motive power for the CNW between Casper and Lander, and as far as I can learn, was the only steam motive power after the last of the small Class L Pacifics were retired in 1935.
The 10-wheelers will be the mainstay of the motive power to Lander on the layout, though a Consolidation will also be found on those tracks on occasion, even if they weren't strictly prototypical.