Field Notes: The Bridges of Bentley Springs-Part 1

The original NCR/PRR/PC line from Baltimore to York passed through the village of Bentley Springs, Maryland, which is right down the road from our house. Bentley Springs at one time had a freight station, good-sized station for the size of the village, a water bottling plant, and a 40 room hotel. The rails also bridged Beetree Run three times in the distance of perhaps two football fields. If you go about another half a football field south of Bentley road, then you have the fourth bridge in the area. South of this fourth bridge , the right of way bridges the Little a Falls of the Gunpowder twice within a hall mile. While walking or riding a bike on the NCR hike and bike trail, you can see all these bridges. If you prefer a stream side view, it is possible, just be sure to bring a good pair of water shoes. If you would like to see some vintage photographs of Bentley Springs, Maryland, visit Bruce Cubbin’s website. He has some great photographs of the original station.

I have always liked how Beetree Run and the Little Falls meander back and forth under the  right of way. In designing Beckleysville, I want to incorporate a meandering stream causing multiple small bridges. A completely plausible possibility for “Beckleysville” with the many small meandering streams that would be common in the northern area of Baltimore county.

Northern most bridge in Bentley Springs

Northern most bridge in Bentley Springs

The bar underneath

The bar underneath

Wider view of north bridge

Wider view of north bridge

Station bridge, north abutment and lower retaining wall

Station bridge, north abutment and lower retaining wall

Stream side shot of the bridge at the station

Stream side shot of the bridge at the station

Closeup of the north abutment of the Station Bridge

Closeup of the north abutment of the Station Bridge

Field Notes: The Bridges of Bentley Springs-Part 1©

By H.Mathews June 2016

Posted in Field Notes, Northern Maryland, On30, Prototype | Leave a comment

Is it concrete or wood?

I painted the center pier with an acrylic paint, Parchment. I think it needs a coat of light gray after some more sanding. Compare the wooden version to a real abutment in the photos below.

After one coat of Parchment

After one coat of Parchment

The north abutment of the bridge next to the station area in Bentley Springs

The north abutment of the bridge next to the station area in Bentley Springs

Is it concrete or wood?©

By H Mathews, June 2016

Posted in Misc Thoughts, Northern Maryland, On30 | Leave a comment

Bridge Piers and Abutments from 2×4’s

I have always used a cast hydrocal abutment or bridge piers in past layouts. I was planning on doing it again, but in one of those forward thinking moments the idea of what to do when the cast broke during moving the module came to mind. So what to do for something more substantial? Good question, what to use? While tossing some scrap wood into our outdoor fire pit/ grill, it came to me that scrap wood could be used as the core of the abutments and piers.

So I decided to test the idea.

Laying out the center pier on the 2x4

Laying out the center pier on the 2×4

 

Laying out the ends of the center piers. Visually, a 30 degree angle looked correct.

Laying out the ends of the center piers. Visually, a 30 degree angle looked correct.

Final layout prior to cutting

Final layout prior to cutting

The north side of the pier

The north side of the pier

The south side of the center pier.

The south side of the center pier.

The center pier that supports the steel beams will be concrete. Next step is to make it resemble concrete!

Bridge Piers and Abutments from 2×4’s©

By H. Mathews, June 2016

 

Posted in Northern Maryland, On30 | Leave a comment

Update on South Wye switch module

Thought I would take a few photos of the South Wye Switch module. The center pier is a piece of two by four cut down to be a pier. The “south abutment”  is temporary which is why the beams are not level.

An aerial view of the steel beams section of the bridge over Gunpowder Run

An aerial view of the steel beams section of the bridge over Gunpowder Run

First look of the steel section of the bridge over Gunpowder Run

First look of the steel section of the bridge over Gunpowder Run

Update on South Wye switch module©

By H. Mathews June 2016

Posted in Northern Maryland, On30 | Leave a comment

Layout Design: Beckleysville

In a previous post, I discussed some of my ideas about layout design that need to be discussed before you jump to pencil and paper.

In this post, I’m going to use my latest project, Beckleysville as an example.

(1) How much time and money do you have to pursue the project?

Time is always at a premium with a family and a fulltime plus job. That said how much time could I reasonably devote to the project? Originally, I thought at least two to three hours a week. No way, some months I have spent that time. recently though I decided that 1-2 hours a week would be good starting point and to stick to this approach. If anything as a pastime break from everything else in life. Money for a project as small as Beckleysville shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The decision to eventually use battery power will be perhaps the most costly.

My plan is to  hand lay my track and I have a good supply of ties, but will eventually need more. There is enough rail to finish the project. Same goes for cork sub-roadbed. I will need more plywood for modules and finger jointed stock for legs.

As far a motive power, I have two engines that will be used on Beckleysville. A Bachmann 2-6-0 that I want to resemble Colorado and Southern’s 3 foot gauge No. 22. Why, because it is a plausible locomotive in the motive power purchasing progression of the Northern Maryland. The Mogul will require some work to get to a daily player. It’s tender has hit the concrete floor and is in need of a new truck and various stirrups . My second engine is another Bachmann locomotive, a 4-6-0. The newest of the Northern Maryland’s motive power. I have always liked the ET&WNC’s ten-wheelers and I’m glad Bachmann made one in O scale. I will start with DCC since the ten-wheeler has DCC. However, my goal is to go to battery power down the road.

Rolling stock is an issue. In looking at Beckleysville’s operations, I will need about 10 freight cars. I have two, an AMS DRGW 3000 series boxcar and  a Foothill Model Works 20 ft high side gone kit. I want to scratch build 3 flats based on the Elk Creek lumber company’s flatcars and three ET&WNC hoppers. Two more 3000 series boxcars will be more than enough. I do want to  switch to San Juan Car Company’s couplers. Which one is still to be determined.

Since the Beckleysville train is a mixed, I will need a milk car, a passenger car, and a unique to Northern Maryland Ry baggage, express, and caboose combination car. I have a Bachmann baggage car that will become a milk car. I have two San Juan Car Company DRGW passenger car kits to build. The combination car is going to be a scratch-building effort.

As you can see, the project is going to have a significant amount of time devoted to building rolling stock. For me, this is not a problem since I want to learn more about how wooden freight and passenger cars were built and there is no commercially available cars.

(2) How big is your CURRENT SPACE and more importantly will you ever move?

Yes, a move is in my future. Beckleysville is going to be modular and will be portable. I designed the modules to be used inside or outside and they will fit in a 12×19 room.

(3) What qualities or memories are drawing you to the prototype? For the freelancer, why am I freelancing?

Modeling a small rural narrow gauge railway serving an agricultural community pre- WWI has always been of interest to me. The operations are a little slower, certainly not tied to a strict timetable. Ironically, they are a little more focused to just a few items. Coal, lumber, livestock, grain, corn, and of course milk. Less than a carload ( and narrow gauge at that!) freight and express. The ability of even this short narrow gauge railroad being able to bring mail, express, and other LCL items to a small rural village sounds like the nice slow switching operations I like.

The “what if” factor is what if narrow gauge had not only survived but somewhat flourished until the automobile and truck became more popular in the United States. Even the choice of gauge, 30 inches, speaks to the fact that narrow gauge somewhat flourished, even in the eastern US. Thirty inch gauge, more popular outside the United States as a common carrier, was used in western mining operations. It was used in Mexico, Brazil (EFOM), and in Argentina. Baldwin did advertise and build 30 inch gauge motive power. Some still runs in Brazil and Argentina in 2016.

(4) What do you want to get out of the layout?

I want to build my first multi modular fine scale layout. Along the way I would lie to improve many of my skills from design and telling a story, track laying, scenery, scratch building O scale structures and rolling stock.

(5) What scale/ gauge do you want to use for your layout?

This question came down to one thing, the availability of an ET&WNC ten-wheeler in On30. If an ET&WNC ten-wheeler had been available in On3, Beckleysville would have been O scale, three foot gauge. Same holds true for S scale. Actually I think I would have preferred S scale three foot gauge. I like S scale a lot, especially for modular layouts. However, it would have required modification of a Railmaster Export Sn3 kit, and time to do this is too prohibitive right now.

(6)Do you know how to make the scenery?

Yes, but the plan is to try some interesting new methods that I have been reading about. New materials and some old materials.

(7) Making a track plan

Next time: Paper, Pencil, and some frustrations

Layout Design: Beckleysville©

By H. Mathews June 2016

Posted in Layout Design, Northern Maryland, On30 | Leave a comment

Field Notes : The Store on Freeland Rd

I am starting a new type of blog post, Field Notes, to keep track of information I collect for projects.

One of the buildings I have always liked is the old store along the NCR/PRR at Freeland Rd. I have driven by it for years on Freeland Rd, and have walked or peddled my bike by it on the hike and bike trail. Recently, the building has taken a turn for the worse structurally, so I thought I should go and take some photographs before it is gets any worse.

When I started to develop the idea of a small town in northern rural Baltimore County served by a narrow gauge railroad, one of the railroad’s customers had to be a local lumber dealer and general store. The store  on Freeland Rd came to mind, even the prototype railroad approach from the south made a good scene for “Beckleysville.”

I like the small annex with the road running along side the building. I can see a draft horse team here with a wagon being laced with boxes and burlap bags for delivery to local farmers. The Freeland Rd side, or north side would be better with a porch roof.

Through the trees is our buildings. This is trackside on NCR/PRR gong north towards New Freedom, Pa.

Through the trees is our building. This is trackside on NCR/PRR right of way going north towards New Freedom, Pa.

South wall

South wall

East side of store, or trackside

East side of store, or trackside

South end of store

South end of store. On “Beckleysville”, the road will be the dirt Beckleysville Rd

North end of store

North end of store. Two doors. The one closest to me is a double door. The building would look better with a front porch

Under the annex

Under the annex

Cellar door under annex and timber support for floor

Cellar door under annex and timber support for floor

This is the south side foundation wall under annex

This is the south side foundation wall under annex

North side of annex note cinder blocks. Part of timberframers support is missing

North side of annex note cinder blocks. Part of timberframe support is missing

Double door

Double door

Double door full view

Double door full view

Underfloor support

Underfloor support

Back side of southwest wall

Back side of southwest wall

South wall of annex

South wall of annex

This is the side I want to have a horse drawn wagon loading boxes and bags for delivery. The wall and roof have seen better days

This is the side I want to have a horse drawn wagon loading boxes and bags for delivery. The wall and roof have seen better days

Noerth side wall along Freeland Rd. This appears to be the main door. Through the missing siding by the window, you can see the back side of the lath boards and plaster that oozed through.

North side wall along Freeland Rd. This appears to be the main door. Through the missing siding by the window, you can see the back side of the lath boards and plaster that oozed through.

The other front door by the annex

The other front door by the annex

Close up of main building corner and annex

Close up of main building corner and annex

The front porch field stone supports

The front porch field stone supports

North corner of annex

North corner of annex

Field Notes : The Store on Freeland Rd©

By H. Mathews June 2016

Posted in Field Notes, Northern Maryland, On30, Prototype | Leave a comment

Layout Design: the vital forgotten questions

Layout Design. I was going to do a search and count how many books are dedicated to this one concept of layout design. I decided against it, far to many and I suppose it would only prove one thing…layout design is a tough nut to crack for many modelers.

I think the first challenge is space, one always limits the design by space. After all, that does seem to make sense. What doesn’t make sense is why someone wants to build the mainline of a class 1 railroad in an 8 X 10 room with 18 inch radius curves. I guess that why there are some many modelers working on the next version of the mainline in a 10 X 8 room with a helix and three levels.

Layout design needs to start with some vital questions. I have been pondering why over the years there have been so many modelers including myself changing so many layouts. Here are some of the vital questions I started to ask about “Beckleysville”. You may have some more I haven’t considered as of yet. Feel free to share!

(1) How much time and money do you have to pursue the project?

(2) How big is your CURRENT SPACE and more importantly will you ever move?

(3) What qualities or memories are drawing you to the prototype? For the freelancer, why am I freelancing?

(4) What do you want to get out of the layout? For example do you want to learn about timetable operations? Do you want to learn more about grain movements on the prairie branch that you remember from your youth. Do you want to learn more about your favorite railroad and its operations in 1928? what is the scope of the project?

(5) What scale do you want to use for your layout? A rather important consideration. The answer to number one really does play into the answer to this question. If you are modeling the Bridgton and Saco River in 1938 in Sn2 are all the engines and rolling stock available or is it a major scratchbuilding affair? Time and Money. I would also like to throw in operational preference. If timetable operation is your think maybe N or if you have a big area HO. If switching or branch line is your thing, consider a larger scale like S or O.

(6)Do you know how to make the scenery? If not consider a test module to work on techniques and ideas. You are still modeling and learning how to improve your skills, just not on the finished layout! Also gives you a chance to test minimum radius, turnouts, and track spacing. Plus it helps give you a visual for your design.

(7) Having answered all of these questions HONESTLY, pull out paper, pencil, compass, ruler, etc.. Start working on your track plan. If the plan includes a favorite building, will it fit? How much are you selectively compressing to make everything fit? Ask the questions now while everything is on paper. If you can, make a 3-dimensional drawing. Figure out elevations and if they will work. If you made a test module, use it to figure out any issues.

Layout Design: the vital forgotten questions©

By H. Mathews, May 2016

Posted in Layout Design | Leave a comment

Working on the blog post design

Hello everyone,

I’ve  been working on some blog changes. You probably have not noticed, but I have been making a few tweaks. After looking at several other blogs, I have decided to include a “First time here” page. I am also working on a “Projects: Past and Present”. This second page is as much for me as anyone visiting. It is still in a draft stage at the moment. I will post a notice when it goes live.

Why the “Projects” page?  Sometimes I forget how I did something, or more importantly what tools and materials I used and want to go back to my notes. Some days, I spend more time looking for my notes on something then I do work on a project. For example, my recent post on “Ties for the Northern Maryland,” does not include a list of paints. I realized that the ties on “Slow Train down South” are quite different in coloration than those on the first “Beckleysville” module. I have no idea what mix of paint I used, but wisely I photographed the paint for “Beckleysville’s” ties. By having a list of projects and using the categories feature more selectively, I hope to be able to retrieve my notes in a timely fashion.

For future posts, I decided to include a list of tools and materials along with where I obtained said items ( if I know myself!) at the beginning of the post along with a short description of the project. If it isn’t of interest to a reader they can move on. If it isn’t the correct reference, I can keep searching for the correct blog entry!

Working on the blog post design©

By H. Mathews, May 2016.

Posted in Misc Thoughts | 1 Comment

Ties for the Northern Maryland

Ties, what to use.

In the past I have used On3 ties for On30 layouts, why change? Well, I have been testing Sn3 ties under On2 to see if the arrange looks like the Maine two footers. I briefly thought about doing the same, but with S standard gauge ties. A while ago, I started a test module in On30, “Slow Train Down South”, and I used On3 ties on it. So back to the test module to see what worked. Great think about having a test module to see who thinks work!

A view of the Slow Train Down South from above

A view of the Slow Train Down South from above

From above, looks okay, but what about close up?

A close up of the ties with a little bit of ballast

A close up of the ties with a little bit of ballast

I like the height of the O scale tie because it gives the ballast a deeper bed. Yes, I will be using more ballast, but I am also use HO cork sub-roadbed, so the On3 ties go right to the shoulder of the sloop. After all, this is narrow gauge, we are not making a wide sub-roadbed. Next question, what about the black ballast I will use on the Northern Maryland? How will it look?

Not bad, at least I thought the ballast looked good with the On3 ties. I think the “Slow Train” ties look a little to red though. So, it will be Mt Albert 5″x7″x 6 foot ties

Black ballast

Black ballast

I went with the On3 ties

I went with the On3 ties

Mt Albert, 5"x7"x 6 ft

Mt Albert, 5″x7″x 6 ft

 

Posted in Northern Maryland, On30, Slow Train Down South | Leave a comment

A new type of C

The first module for Beckleysville is using the new  C design that can be transported or attached to the wall (once a French Cleat is applied to the back). Why the change? I wanted to have a little more flexibility in both layout design and where the layout could be located. The freedom to set up in a room, or even outside, or even at a train show was too much of an opportunity to pass. I wanted to post a photograph of the first module under construction on its legs. I will post more about the construction of this new type of C section in the coming weeks as I get

The New C on its legs

The New C on its legs

It has legs!

It has legs!

ready to build module #2.

Posted in Layout Design, Northern Maryland, On30 | Leave a comment