Casper Progress – 2023 – April Through June

Casper Construction Progress Part 2 – 2023 – April through June

26 April 2023

The last four weeks have been pretty busy. Here we go!

April 1st I built the code 55 turnout for the Poposia Mine spur out of Hudson.

That turnout is the first one that will use my 3D printed ties. Here they are laid out under the turnout as a test fit.

With the caboose track now moved to the old drill track, that freed up the old track for a new industry in Casper. I moved Todd Brothers there to see how it would look.

On April 3rd I published Layout update #41.

On April 5th I finished the passing siding in Hudson by installing the Poposia mine turnout.

On the 7th I laid out the chain link fencing that will go around Rocky Mountain Drilling.

On the 10th of the month I went to Basin to visit Dave. We worked on some 3D printed caboose steps for him, and also built some of the chain link fencing for Rocky Mountain Drilling.

On the 13th I laid the Poposia Mine spur. This is code 55 track.

With the new spur installed and wired, I posted a YouTube short of the first delivery of hoppers to the new mine.

On the 14th to the 16th my wife and I went to the North Platte Train Show with some other members of the Casper club. While there I sold several diesel locomotives and the 130' turntable and roundhouse I've been lugging around with ne since I lived in South Carolina! I was sure glad to get rid of that thing!

Once back from North Platte I began working on several different projects, chief among them the Powder River stock pens. Here, on the 18th, I've attached the first couple of pens to the black foam core board and added a few gates.

Since I had to stop frequently to let glue dry on the pens, I bounced around doing other small things on the layout. Here we're looking back towards Rocky Mountain Drilling and Todd Brothers. If you look closely to the right of Todd Brothers behind the green truck, you can see that I've installed a long section of chain link fencing. Dave made this section for me when I went to Basin on the 10th.

I also added painted and added the missing windows on the larger North Casper house. They were on order from Tichy and arrived on the 18th.

Back to the stock pens - on the 20th I was assembling the first loading chute.

Also on the 20th I packaged up the replacement ties I'd made for the different kinds of track I use. These are a close match to the ties on the flextrack except for color and thickness. These are juse a few thousandths of an inch thinner to allow them to slide under rail joiners at track joints.

Right after packaging up the ties, I used some of them for the new turnout in Hudson.

By the 23rd I had both sets of loading chutes finished for the stock pens. I had to stop construction at this point because I was out of scale 2X10's. More are on order, and should be here in early May.

On the 24th I added tar paper roofing to the larger North Casper House. Here it is with the paper (320 grit sandpaper painted black) glued down but not trimmed.

Here I've trimmed the paper at the roof edges and added "tar" to the seams. I also added the plumbing vent, but I still have to add a chimney for the heat. I also still have to weather the building. That will kill the roofing shine.

On the 24th I started assembly of the truss bridge over the Popo Agie River between Hudson and Lander. This will be a through truss. I'm building a Central Valley kit for this bridge. Here's an in-progress shot of the deck on 25 April.

Yesterday evening I finished up the deck, and today I painted the ties and the steel deck itself. The paint is dry but not hard yet. Here the deck is sitting on two machinist blocks to let air circulate all around it, and I laid the ties on top to take this shot. In a day or two I'll start on the trusses themselves.

And finally, today I put the two houses in their rough spots near Rocky Mountain Drilling. The white house still needs a roof, and the bigger house still needs a chimney and weathering. I need to finish scenicking this area before I can extend the trackwork east towards Douglas, because I won't be able to reach this area easily after that track is in.

26 May 2023

Long update this time...

On 1 May I started building the trusses for the Popo Agie bridge.

Basic Construction went relatively quickly. This was the first truss on 2 May.

On May 3rd I published Layout update #42.

On 6 May I got started on the layout room entrance swing gate, building and installing the lower support frame.

Then I picked up some 1X3 red oak for the gate structual members. This was a bit pricey, but the oak is strong and very stable, reacting only slightly to changes in humidity and such. I figured the extra cost was worth it for this application. I wound up using four 8' planks.

I got right to work constructing the hinge mount and the main pivot support column. I opted to use door hinges because of the tighter tolerances compared to gate hinges.

Here's the hinge mount.

And here's the pivot with the hinges temporarily clamped in place. It's still the 6th.

On the 7th I had the hinges mounted. I was a bit concerned about getting the hinge pins properly aligned with each other, since even a small misalignment would cause binding when the gate is moved. Fortunately, I got the hinges properly aligned.

I also started building the deck frame of the bridge on the 7th. Here's the first of the horizontal members temporarily clamped in place.

On the 8th I finished the basic framework.

Here the basic frame is complete and the gate is open.

The next step was to install support block that the free end of the frame would rest on when the gate is closed. It's still the 8th.

By the 11th the gate framework was complete and I was in the middle of attaching risers for the subroadbed. This was finnicky work, since the subroadbed has to exactly match the fixed subroadbed at both ends of the bridge.

The first bit of subroadbed in Greybull went on later that day. Initially it was installed as a single piece right across the swing gate, to ensure the heights matched. It would be a couple of days before I cut the subroadbed apart, so meanwhile I crawled under the gate to get in and out of the train room.

By the 13th I had the gate subroadbed cut away from the Greybull piece, so I could swing the gate open again. I first cut it on the 12th, but the cut went the wrong direction so I had to build a repair patch to correct it. You can see the repair patch just to the left of the final cut if you look close.

Meanwhile I was continuing work on the bridge. Here it is on the 13th with the two trusses finished and connected together.

On the 14th I laid the cork roadbed on the swing gate.

By the 16th I had the diagonals installed in the truss panels on the bridge. At this point work on the bridge stopped, as I was waiting for some additional parts from Central Valley, the kit producers.

On the 15th I started cutting out the subroadbed for Greybull. By the 17th I had the main section at the north end cut and laid on the framework, with the old Orin yard throat I'd kept from the layout in New Jersey fitted into place. Everything will be lifted to the correct elevation with risers later.

By the 19th the riser were in and the subroadbed was mounted.

I spent the next several days gluing sheets of cork to the subroadbed. By the 24th that was all installed.

I'd received the bridge parts from Central Valley on the 22nd, and by the 24th I had the completed truss structure painted and the bridge essentially complete. I still have to permanently mount the rails on the deck, but that will come nearer the time I install the bridge near Lander. For all the challenges this kit offered, it came out pretty good!

Putting down the sheet cork in the wide end of Greybull was a real pain, because I had to lean over and squeeze between the Greybull and Lander benchwork. Laying decent track, especially at the back where the track to staging would be descending on a 2% grade would go, would be very difficult. So I spent a few minutes and simply disassembled the Lander benchwork in that area. It was much easier to work in Greybull after that.

On the 25th I spent several hours cutting the hole for the Greybull turntable and mounting it.

15 June 2023

This is the second time I've had to add this update, thanks to WordPress (which is the CMS I use) bugs. Site may go down for awhile if I can find a better service.

26 May I started pushing new track onto the swing gate. Here Himes curve has been laid and I'm waiting for the caulk to dry.

The next morning I extended the track completely across the gate.

By late afternoon the caulk had dried and I was able to cut the track at the end of the gate.

I tested the gate to make sure the rail ends didn't collide when opening the gate. It works as planned - the gap slowly opens up as the gate swings open.

On 30 May I extended the new track all the way across the Greybull benchwork to tie in to the mainline of the old Orin yard that I brought from the layout in New Jersey.

On the 31st I did phase 1 of the wiring for the gate.

On the 1st of June I finished phase 2 of the gate wiring - installing switches to act as interlocks to turn off power to the gate tracks and approaches from both ends, to prevent a train from running off the track and onto the floor when the gate is open. Here's the switch that controls track power on the gate itself and the approaches from the hinged side of the gate.

Here's the switch on the Greybull side, which cuts power to the approach tracks from that side.

Then I assembled a test train and ran it all the way from Casper to Greybull, across the swing gate. Worked perfectly!

While all this was going on I was also spending time on the Powder River stock pens. Here they are as of 2 June. I'll get back to them later.

On 3 June I posted my latest layout update video.

Back to the swing gate for a moment - By 8 June I had the Cody branch and East staging lead laid across the gate. That's the track to the left in this shot.

By the 12th I finished construction of the stock pens! I sat them by the Powder River siding and took this shot.

Work has continued on Greybull trackage, with construction of a couple of new turnouts (one of which was installed on the swing gate) and laying of the Greybull passing siding. I also started adding the new buss wires for the staging tracks.

On the 13th my wife and I drove over to Douglas, where I took a series of photos to stitch into the Douglas backdrop on the layout. Here's one of the photos, severely reduced in size and resolution to fit on the website:

Once we got back home, I finally got back to work on the Rocky Mountain Drilling area in Casper. I began construction of more of the chain link fencing around the industry. Here I have the first section of framing laid out on a template my friend Dave Todd gave to me.

After a couple of failed starts on adding the link mesh itself, on the 14th I finally had this.

Now that I know what I'm doing, today I constructed two more sections that will go behind the track. Here's the first one. The second one is in the garage with the paint drying.

I started installing the new sections of the fence today. First I puled up the long section Dave had made for me a couple months ago, "planted" some grass tufts (which he also made for me) and reinstalled the fence section.

Then I installed two of the three sections I've built in the last few days, including adding tufts under the section on the near side of the track. The section on the far side of the track doesn't have tufts yet.

Also today I cut away the scenery at the Powder River stock pens and set them into place. I'm debating over whether to add a few spots of hot glue to hold them in place. I'm sure the dirt and such that I have to add to the pens will secure them.

And a trackside view.