10 Backdrops Signals Scenery by Verryl V Fosnight Jr
Verryl V Fosnight Jr's Gallery
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  1. Verryl V Fosnight Jr's Gallery
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Scenery & Backdrops 090116 07
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Beginning a look at the photo backdrops done by Kelly Daniels, a local artist. He downloaded period (ca 1957) photos and spliced them together with high plains sky and clouds and the prairie to match the locations on the model. He worked about a year on it. We provided the Masonite substrate and taped and seamed it to give a smooth surface for him to glue his photoshopped pictures which he printed on vinyl. Then he hand touched up most of the seams between vinyl sections. This is the Indian Village in west Cheyenne and on out into the high plains prairie. The elevation of Cheyenne is 6,000 at milepost http:// (501 miles from Council Bluffs, the start of the Intercontinental RR.
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This is a view starting up Sherman Hill westbound from Cheyenne. The two big posts with the backdrops wrapped around them are 1/3 of the way (25 feet) from either end of the building. The wiring above the backdrop is a Wilson cell phone antenna repeater/amplifier so we get good cell coverage inside the steel building. This view shows tracks #1 and #2 (west and east bound) running along the photo backdrop. Under the emergency lights is the UP Granite quarry and tailing dump. Track #3, the Harriman Cutoff and its siding is shown. It is an alternate route that is 19 miles longer to Dale than the 35 mile Track #1 route, and it cut off 50 feet of elevation change over its 54 mile length. These (mostly the added 19 miles) cut the constant grade up the Hill from 1.55 to 1.15%. #3 is also used as a direct E and W route to and from Denver to Ogden, bypassing Cheyenne by the Speer Wye. With respect to Denver it is often called the Borie Cutoff.
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Just beyond the Granite Quarry the iconic rounder boulder, pink granite rock out croppings of Sherman Hill start. The model maximum elevation is right at this second building beam. Note the huge roof beams necessary to adequately support the mezzanine which is only supported from the two beams and the ends at the building walls. The yellow stairs for the west end of the mezzanine are shown. The junction of tracks #1, 2, and 3 is Dale Junction. We change the current of running from right hand to left here, left hand running down (and up) from Laramie. Up runs left hand up the west side of the Hill to take advantage of the newer 1905 Track #2 grade as compared to the original 1860's #1. The west twin portals of the Hermosa tunnels (Tunnel #1--numbered as one tunnel) can be seen. The mountain through which the tunnels are cut looks hardly worth it in height in real life--it must be very hard rock to warrant two tunnels. Laramie is 10-15 feet to the bottom left of the tracks.
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A little further along with Sherman and Dale Junction. This show is taken looking west along Track #3 (Harriman Cutoff) from Harriman, Wyo and the coal tower there toward Dale Junction in the distance. There are two of the iconic Sherman Hill "hillocks" that Allen made out of laid up foam board. Track s 1 and 2 can be seen next to the backdrop. The valley visible as the dip in the fascia at the very corner of the aisle is the Dale Creek valley. Dale Creek was just a trickle, but a huge bridge was needed to span the gap. There were 2 or 3 bridges, and the last was finally replaced with Dale Fill, famous because of its huge size.
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Close up of Dale. The tortoise machines hanging under the roadbed (plywood here instead of spline for ease of mounting the Tortoise machines) are controlled by rocker switches mounted behind the yellow panel to the left. Each switch is mounted in a slit in the wall of a piece of PVC pipe glued perpendicular to the back of the panel. The holes are 1 inch diameter and a finger can be stuck inside it to rock the switch forward or back. A track plan of the Dale area is shown on the panel face and the routes, through or diverging, are shown by green LED's on the red "tracks." The back of Ideal cement plant is seen from the rear of the lower level bench end cap. This is aisle is left open for access to the lower level tracks because of the width of the end cap.
Panel and Tortoise Count
A table of the 16 panels and number of turnout Tortoise switch machines operated from each. Some turnouts are synchronized in pairs, so the number of electrical switches is less than the number of turnouts.
Dale Creek Tresle
The original wooden trestle over Dale Creek. It was 450 feet long and stood 150 feet over the trickle of the stream. What a bridge for a creek that could be stepped over without jumping! This bridge burned and was replaced by at least one steel bridge, and finally by Dale Fill of dirt.
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The seven turnouts of Dale Junction where Track 3 joins Track 1 and 2. This is where we change the current of running for operations from right hand running up from Cheyenne (to the left under the backdrop) to left hand running down to Laramie and through the Hermosa twin tunnels, numbered together as #1. Allen made a great video of a three way meet at Dale. See YouTube at https://http://
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Here is Laramie with the view reversed from Hermosa behind the camera. We use Baagdon Enterprises Geodesic Foam hard shell over foam insulation and cardboard strips for support, and it is all held together by hot glue. We have gone to the ore expensive purple foam, 1" thick, because the hot glue does not melt it. We have no ballast yet. The texture visible is the 1/4" thick cork flooring underlayment material that comes in 48" wide rolls x 50 feet. We cut it on an angle with a carpet knife along a fence on a vacuum hold down box I made for a big shop vac. The cork roadbed as "ballast" fits the UP standard 24" x 13 foot width for a single track. Just visible are the edges of the outer spline of the spline roadbed which we glued in place with the curves bent as we glued along. The storage silos of Monolith Redi Mix plant of Laramie is at the end of the bench just before the Laramie Tie Treating Plant.
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This is an overall view of the last few photos with Laramie in the foreground. The clipboard, with an 8 1/2 x 11 Train order, a 1/2 sheet card stock block card, and a 1/4 sheet car card and pencil on it, is not to http:// ice dock (2/5 of the 15 foot planned dock in placed in 2 sections) is at the far end. This shows the widened and modified Laramie to allow two full trains to ice at once and the reduced stock yard track (extreme left spur). This upper level of the mushroom design is reached by operators standing on a plywood riser 17" above the concrete floor. The lower level just peeking up from between the benches behind the coal tower is worked from the concrete. Notice a hidden advantage to the mushroom design--neither level can see the other level, neither tracks nor operators.
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A train level view of Laramie. The arch at the end of the aisle is an escape hole for personnel to crawl through in case a fire behind them blocks exiting to the ramp up onto the upper level riser. The ramp is 2 aisles to the left. There is a single ttrack on the arch, which is the beginning of the OSL (Oregon Short Line) that emerges from a mouse hole on the left and bends around on a large radius curve under the lower level (i.e., on a 3rd level) to run as hidden track under the third level to a separate staging yard representing Portland.
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More of the Laramie backdrop. The view is east down the streets of Laramie. (The E-W tracks run due north through Laramie). Note that only two of the required 5+ sections of ice docks are built. When finished it will be 17 feet long to handle an entire 30 PFE car train on each side.
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Leaving Laramie, we go across the end cap and the Rock River. Around the end cap is the Team Track and the stock yard at Medicine Bow, which is a prime ranching area. The old Highway 2 lane US 30 is shown as the Masonite curving strip between the tracks and the backdrop. The crossover at the very left of the photo is for freight trains to pass passenger trains that may be stopped in front of the depot, just out of the photo. Normally, only hot shot PFE Specials or perhaps a Forwarder (our name for through trains that only stop for fuel, water, sand and ash dumping, and loco changes) would pass a passenger train.
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(Referring to the previous photo): At the Laramie west yard limits are signal masts, each with a 3 aspect (R, Y, G) head. The west bound (silver back) signal across the tracks from the black face of the east bound signal, is an ABS--green if the next two blocks are unoccupied, yellow if the second block ahead is occupied, and red it the first block ahead is occupied. This is the normal characteristics (the reds are permissive reds--trains can proceed slow with the ability to stop for any blockage, bad turnout, and so on.) Just past Medicine Bow and the Medicine Bow River, more prairie and the town. The wide space is for the Virginian, a Victorian style white 4 floor hotel which was where Owen Wooster lived while he wrote the world's first full length western novel, "The Virginian." "Smile, when you call me that."
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Close up of the Medicine Bow Team Track and the Stock Yard with the photo backdrop in the rear. The Hanna yard with its yard limits at the pair of signals straddling the two tracks is in the far end (further west). Highway 30 continues on beside the tracks.
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Closeup of the 3 track plus runaround track yard of Hanna. The stub track nearer to the backdrop showing the sleepy and presently nearly deserted town of Hanna is the Team Track. Coal mining was stopped in Hanna in 1957, so we just barely catch it for our era. The mines are around the corner accessed from the end of the ladder. We have a nice depot built by Rich Neuland. I do not know how the coal tower got there. We do not have one for Hanna yet, This one must have been moved from someplace else when the backdrops were pasted up. Note how we make multiple car car boxes with polycarbonite sheet and screws through spacers and scrap Masonite glued across the bottom.
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Here are the 3 Hanna mines with a supply track, in a tight radius "4 x 8" layout. The curves are so tight we have a 4 axle diesel switcher for the YM to use to make up the Coal Extra. There is a 2 diesel consist of 6 axles for road use. The East bound and West bound mains are right next to the backdrop. The mine "hills" act as a view block. The coal marshaling yard seen in the last photo is where the Hanna job acts as YM to make up a coal Extra--after he has acted as Coal Agent, and has walked around to fill in a form to count empty hoppers east from Medicine Bow, Laramie, Harriman (on Track #3), and Cheyenne Yard (coal tower, power house), and local Cheyenne industries (Frontier Oil, City Coal and Ice, Wycon Chemical). After making up his train as YM, he becomes a road crew to deliver the required number of loads to those places. He picks up the MT's and returns them to the mines or to the marshaling yard.
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Just around that bend between the Hanna Mines and the backdrop is the Sinclair Refinery. Even though this is a fairly wide bench (36"), with two Mains, an Alternate Main a Storage track, a Loaded and a Loading track, the bench was not wide enough to model a refinery, do we "settled" on a backdrop made from 1950"s photos. The detail is exquisite!
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This is the Cheyenne Frontier Refinery I built from 2 kits combined with a lot of scratch built towers, and loading dock, and pipe rack with a raft of piping made by 3D priting. I have several details to add, and the the tank farm will fill in all around it. This is at the eastern end of the Cheyenne bench adjacent to the Cheyenne Classification yard. The small helix leads down to staging on the lower level. Entered from this end, staging represents North Platte, Chicago, Marysville KS, KC and St. Louis. Entered from the other end through Ogden directly from the lower level, the same staging represents LA or Oakland. The separate Portland staging yard is reached by 168 feet of hidden track on the 3rd level down between Westvaco and Rock Springs (both on the lower level). Physically it is on the lower level of the bench to the right of this aisle with the plywood ramp seen leading up to the riser.
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The west of the Sinclair refinery and Rawlins. A fine model of the Rawlins Depot is mounted here on a shelf extended through the backdrop to replace it for this section. The depot is visible from the front (street entrance side) from the lower level aisle behind this backdrop. From the bench edge are the following tracks: East Bound Main, West Bound Main, Alternate Main, Refinery Storage Track, Empties/Loaded Track, and Loading Tracks, the latter two being stub sidings. There are just further on a barely visible stub Team Track and a Freight House Track. To the left of the Mains beyond the coal tower is the Stock Yard Track and Pens. The depot is partially hidden by the coal tower, and beyond it is the Mercantile Co. Stub track. Rawlins is a challenging yard to work for a part time YM with all the traffic to stay out of the way of on the mains, and the numerous runarounds moves necessary due to the stub tracks. Plus, it only has the Alternate Main and the Refinery Storage track for classifying.
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Here is Rawlins bordering Sinclair Oil. for spots it has a Mercantile company (hidden beyond the coal tower, the Depot, The Stock Track, the coal loading track, the Freight House, and the Team Track (turnout just showing). Around the end cap an into the Red Desert, a dry part of the prairie. The signals on the left bench are the ABS signals for the Rawlins Yard Limits. Rawlins does not require a permanent YM; usually I act as a floating YM for it, Evanston, and Echo (the last 2 on the lower level. Or I assign someone to that floating job.
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In this greatly foreshortened photo (as they all are) these are the signals at the Rawlins west Yard Limit. The backdrop is covered with plastic sheeting to protect it from the flying wet Sculptamold use on the seams and transitions of the Bragdon Geodesic Foam. All the signal masts have about 1" long support tubes through which the 4 wires are run (G, Y, R, and common) that extend through the bench. Allen glued blocks of wood in place and drilled them for the tubes, then fished the 4 pigtails through the hole and left a long loop of wires hanging under the benches with the other end soldered to the ABS logic boards. So if they get bumped, they tend to get knocked over, and not bent or broken, and they can be pulled out if we need to work of them.
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This is adjacent to the last photo. There are several shallow cuts with rock castings (unpainted as yet) in this section of the Red Desert west of Rawlins.
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A test stained rock casting.
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Around the end cap from the last Red Desert area (still Red Desert) this is Wamsutter, just a depot and Team Track and Stock Yard. This is sheep country. Center sidings (Harriman Sidings) like this are common on the wide open spaces of Wyoming. Note the two headed signal on a single mast west bound approaching the siding. This, and the Harriman, Wyoming siding on Track #3 up Sherman Hill each require an Arduino computer to operate ABS. The setting of the 3 sets of turnout points is required to be fed to the little program on each Arduino to keep the signal logic straight, so we had to replace the Caboose Hobbies ground throws with electrical slide switches to direct a current from rail to rail (limited b a 10K resistor) to an occupancy detector logic unit so the Arduino could correctly light the lower and upper signal heads.
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Close up of a two head signal mast on a "concrete" block Allen cut from low density modeling foam. He scratch built the stock yard also. The town behind is Wamsutter, nearly deserted in 1957, but today with a lot of gas well activity.
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Town more in focus with stock yard in focus. Note old vehicles.
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Standard UP depot. We have 3 of these, Hanna, Wamsutter, and Echo.
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This is the west end of the center siding with the approaching signal mast (east bound) having two 3 aspect heads. We call this Table Rock, Wyoming although Table Rock and Wamsutter are miles apart. This siding is long enough to hold an eighteen foot long train with loco(s) and caboose. Allen wants to drive to Wyoming with a dozen 5 gal paint buckets in his pickup and collect dirt from places along the line to sprinkle on the SculptaMold and Geodesic Foam terrain.
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Somehow I missed taking any pictures of the first aisle after the Main Helix down from the center siding at Table Rock. That aisle is Rock Springs on both sides of the benches with 29 industries to switch. This did not leave any room for a Rock Springs yard, so every thing goes into and out of Green River, shown above. the Green River cliffs on the north side of town are shown well here. The 1/2 sheet cards are Block Cards (number of cars designated by the card as to Road, color, number and type on each end of the block), and the 1/4 sheet cards are car cards, one destination per line (From, To, Load?, MT?, LCL?, Loaded?, Unloaded?). We lean the cards on the cars when sorting a large yard, otherwise keep them in numbered card boxes like those above on the overhead fascia.
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West end of Green River Yard. The 9 stall roundhouse has been removed for the installation of the backdrop, and we have no coal tower or station or other buildings (which will be mostly flats). Allen wants to build the Green River Depot with its built in "observation tower" and the classic Ogden station. Westvaco and Alchem are two huge Trona (soda) mines spread over about 150 sq miles of prairie west of Green River. We have a loading track, a bagging track, and a runaround track for Westvaco shown on the left. The red painted lines on the concrete were my as-designed bench lines we laid down from my plans right after Thanksgiving, 2011. The steel legs of the bench skeleton with leg levelers can be seen, and one of the 8 lower level phones to Dispatch is hanging under Westvaco.
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Lenny applies SculptaMold to the layer of foam around the east portals of Altamont and Aspen tunnels. These tunnels were 6,706 and 5,941 feet long, respectively, on the prototype. Ours are about 13 and 11 feet long, and they wrap around the end cap as shown. The hidden track for the OSL is below these tunnel lower level tracks, and here the OSL has completed its 360 degree turn to run back to the third level 9 track staging yard under east Rock Springs and Bitter Creek. From here this single track follows under the very edge of the lower level except for the 180 degree turns at the end of this aisle (behind the camera) and the end of the next bench to the left and the end of the next aisle. At these 180 degree turns the track is run at the very rear (or front) of the lower level to make those turns have a 36"+ radius.
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Lenny is working on the Aspen and Altamont tunnels. In 3+ years of operations before the hard shell was applied, we had no derailments, and never had to reach through the cardboard strip terrain forms to rerail a train. The inside of the tunnel can be reached with difficulty from the upper level aisle from the back of the mountains. If it becomes necessary, we will cut through the Bragdon Enterprises foam to create a hatch on this side, but we do not see the need to do so now. The OSL is visible as the "hidden track" here as it rapidly falls in elevation. It originates just under Lenny's right hand at the mouse hole (bright streak of light). It is hidden track, because it is not going to have scenery. It can be seen entering into the wire tray below his left hand. On the bench to the left tray door is open. The OSL is also seen under the bench to the right where the wire tray normally is. At the aisle ends it always swings way to the back for maximum radius.
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Here are the unfinished western portals for Aspen and Altamont. From here the tracks drop in elevation into Evanston a few feet behind the camera. A thunderstorm is brewing in the clouds above the prairie. The last time Sharon and I were there we drove through a thunderstorm and some rain every afternoon about 4 PM for several consecutive days.
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Lenny has finished the hard shell and tunnel portals for Aspen and Altamont. Aspen is the inside one here and is the older drilled in the 1860's and Altamont was finished the turn of the century. This is a good view of the "mouse hole" that leads to the hidden track of the Oregon Short Line. It bends around the end cap under the tunnels and runs around the outer edge of the end cap. The single track OSL can be just seen below the tunnel portal before ti bends back under the illuminated electrical switch for operator control of a panel switch indicator as part of the ABS system. The panel light is normally red (as shown). When your train is stopped on the other side of the mouse hole ready to come onto the main on the layout (tracks shown in foreground) the procedure is to call Dispatch and ask permission to come ahead. When so ordered, the operator presses the button to turn the panel switch yellow and enter the main. The yellow automatically reverts to red in 30 seconds.
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The back side of the mountains through which the mile long tunnels #2 and #3 (Aspen and Altamont) are drilled. We have only very, very rarely had trouble on the tracks inside the tunnels. Prior to applying the hard shell we could reach through the cardboard strip skeleton and rerail a train. We can still get to the tracks through the back of the "mountain" on the end of the upper level aisle. If it ever causes trouble in the future we will cut a hatch into the hard shell for access, but it probably will not be necessary. Cleaning the track is the big problem; part of it close to the other portals to the left are not accessible through the back (one has to reach around the opening and behind and to his right from that side). A small hatch will be cut near those portals to clean track. The hidden track of the OSL can be clearly seen diving down in grade rapidly to beneath the lower level.
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This is where the small hatch needs to be on the beginning of the straight part of the lower bench. The slit in the lower fascia is where the OSL hidden track becomes visible from across the end cap where it enters the mouse hole.
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This is the west portals of Aspen and Altamont tunnels. the signals show green, although the one laying in a zip lock bag needs to be put back in its mounting hole with the lights facing the tunnels. We left long loops of wires hanging under the benches so we can bump into them and not break anything or pull them out for scenery and maintenance.
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Going into Evanston we cross the Bear River, and a moose is wading--in the fast moving stream--in the middle of the high prairie. Moose spend hours grazing in still streams where water plants can grow, and usually only in streams that flow though densely wooded forests, like in Yellowstone. I trust that our artist found this photo of the prairie river on the web someplace. Any eastern folks seeing these photos may wonder at these streams being called rivers, and not creeks or streams. It is the prairie, where the annual rainfall, mostly snow, is 12-14 inches a year! in the Sedona, AZ area where the layout is, we get about 18 inches, and we call it "desert." The crossover here is to provide a way around a passenger train stopped at the depot, not shown to the left in Evanston.
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This is our Evanston. Like all the photo backdrops the photos are captured from the web for that particular place. Evanston has a small depot and team track and an oil distributor and stock yard. It is a minor yard that uses the floating YM to occasionally move cars from the yard tracks to these spots and back from the spots to ready them to be picked up. The ranch barn and corrals on the model setting askew on the bench belongs across the aisle out in the country. It was set here to make room for other work there.
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This is Tunnel #4 just inside Utah and just beyond Evanston, Wyoming on the layout.
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The east portals of the Curvo Tunnels # 5 and #6 in Utah. They were drilled many years apart at different elevations (1860's and ca. 1905) when UP double tracked the line. Naturally the new track was made with its grade less than on the hurriedly and manually built original track. The newer track is the higher one here and it meanders a lot to make it longer, giving it the gentler lower grade between Evanston to just past Echo where the tracks had to be side by side in the steep walled Weber Canyon of the Weber River. (Pronounced "Weeber"). Allen has built up the mountain from layers of foam. He has more control over the shape of the terrain with the foam compared to the epoxy sheet foam, and in such a tight place it was easier to use the insulation here. He will fill in the layer gaps with Sculptamold before adding paint and "dirt" and shrubs, but very few trees. These are the western foothills, and it is still high prairie, nearly treeless. The thunderstorm clouds are becoming quite dark now.
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The west portals of Curvo #5 and #6 and the overpass that causes the current of running to become left hand (west bound, west being to the bottom of the frame). The details of the all thread (left over from the helices) and angle iron supports of the higher track, used to save space so the Park City Branch could be hidden beneath it at the bench level of a constant 42 3/4." This bench height, for the lower level, was kept constant regardless of variations in floor unevenness or welded steel frame length by adjusting the surface height to that of a reference height with a water level (a 100 foot long clear plastic tube almost filled with water so that when one end was held with the water meniscus at the reference mark, the bench at the other meniscus was adjusted up or down to match the meniscus at the other end of the flexible tubing.
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This is left hand running territory just west of Curvo Tunnels 5 and 6. The overpass that takes the west bound track over the east bound track to switch the current of running here is at the right hand edge of the photo. The ranch setting on the bench at Evanston belongs down in the gap between the tracks. The threaded rod and angle iron track supports were used as a space saving way to hold the lower level tracks above another stretch of hidden track. This hidden track leaves Echo around the next end cap beyond and out of the picture and is the Park City Branch. Park City is the t track and main yard and manual turntable shown. Our benches are a uniform height off the floor; elevations are made with wood block spacers (rods here), and at high elevations there is room for hidden track. The Park City Local is a turn from Ogden thru Echo and on to this yard where a new string of cars is exchanged for the ones from Ogden Echo.
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Tunnel #7 (in Utah) just west of Curvo. Part of one rail of the track that does not go through this tunnel in the corner. This tunnel is about 201 feet long (interpolating the milepost markings on the UP Track Profile Charts I have). Our version is scaled down to about 12 inches. I scaled all the tunnels from their real lengths by the equation Lf = r(L + f(Lmax/L)) where Lf = the final model length. Lmax is the actual length of Altamont, L is the actual length of any particular tunnel and r and f are linear constants picked to make the tunnels together look about right as to how many cars each would hold. The 2 longest real ones hold mile long trains; the shortest 5 only 5 to 15 cars. I made up the equation to get a consistent but sliding range of model lengths, with a smoothly increasing proportion of cars in the real versus model tunnels as the tunnels got smaller. The result is the model tunnels will hold from 2 to 30 cars, ie., from a very few to about a whole train, ie 5/100 vs 2/30 in cars.
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Here at Wamsutter, Wyoming the local switcher is pushing a string of cars back onto the stub track at the upper right. The engineer/conductor has contacted the Dispatcher to so occupy the main to do this work. Both signal heads on the single mast protecting the right hand main beyond this signal are red. The upper red indicates that the main is occupied (by the switcher and 3 cars), and the lower red indicates that the center siding should not be used from this end, because the turnout leading to it is thrown for the main, and not to lead to the siding.
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There are 2 three aspect signal heads on this mast. The upper head protects the right hand west bound main, and the lower head signals the center siding. On the other main a single head 3 aspect signal on its own mast faces the other way to protect the other main leaving the siding (down out of the photo ). There is a pair of masts at the other end of the siding in the distance to protect the tracks at that end. Therefore, with the move being made by the local switcher both the upper red and the lower red are displayed to signal other trains both the west bound main (the right one) and the center siding are occupied. The dispatcher was called to get his permission to make this move on the main.
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Now that the loco and string of cars has cleared the main, the signal automatically turns back to green, but the lower signal is not illuminated, because the turnout on the right main is set for the main, and not the center siding. The other main on the left has a signal that shows the occupancy of that main (down and out of the photo). A green will indicate that both the first and second blocks of track ahead are unoccupied; a yellow will indicate that only the second block ahead is occupied, and a red will indicate that the first block ahead is occupied. There is another set of signals at the far end of the siding are similarly illuminated to protect both mains and the siding.
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