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  • Topic: Big changes at Staver Locomotive for Spring Steamup

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    • February 26, 2018 5:57 PM EST
      • Carlsbad, CA
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      Thanks for the comeback Karl, your explanations help us all understand the "flavor" and how stuff works. The web site just gives the location and the steamup info, it sort of implies "drop by any time". The history and the players would be a welcome addition to the web site, but I can easily see you all have your hands more than full!


      I hope to visit some time, the trackwork looks awesome!




      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.

      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
      PLEASE NOT­E: Please do NOT use private messaging, i­f you have­ a questio­n, feel fr­ee to emai­l me priva­tely, u­se regular­ email onl­y: greg@el­­m

    • February 28, 2018 2:42 PM EST
      • Portland, Oregon
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      Had a busy day yesterday and no time for posting.  I've got a few more pictures to post of progress at the end of December.

      After the mainline loop was finished, it was time to start doubling up the trackage. This picture was a day or two after first Tuesday
      operations. I can tell because the stacks of ties were delivered by work trains while we completed this section.

      When joining two sections of already laid track, we install an expansion joint. In this case, the radius of the turn increases as the track exits
      the curved crossover. I prefer, when possible, to put the expansion joints in straight track or the widest radius available in the work zone. After
      building the double track in the last picture up to near the point of greatest radius, we switched to building from the curved crossover to meet up
      with and install the expansion joint with the other run. The joints are basically tongue and groove, I will try to remember to get a picture of one.

      Trying to join up two sections of track on a curve is very difficult without an expansion joint. Even a few thou of an inch will cause binding when
      you try to install the last few ties and the track gets forced out of gauge by the mismatch. The expansion joint needs about .025-.03" gap to
      work well, so I can grind the track to size with a little lee way and join the sections in perfect gauge.

      In the next picture you you can see the final ties being installed for this section, somewhere in there is the expansion joint, but I didn't think to
      focus the camera on it. You can just make out one of the rail butt joints after welding. We weld the rail on the outside only to provide smooth inside
      edge of the rail for the trains. Experimenting with different heat settings and welding techniques, we arrived at a process for connecting the rails
      that has served us very well.

      Instead of trying to weld a small bead along the outside rail joint(which leaves a slightly raised surface), we settled on a higher temperature, and Jenn
      melts the rail together without filler rod. The bottom third of the rail flows together, with the puddle shrinking inward slightly and leaving us with a
      surfaces that ties will fit over without grinding, or we can clamp a straight edge against while building long, straight runs.

      A closeup of one of the welds. This doesn't look bad, but the welds look better in person. This angle makes it look different than what I see with
      my eyes, but the penetration is obvious. We don't need the weld to penetrate the entire rail for the joint to be plenty strong for what we do.

      Ive got time for a couple more pictures, but must first head to photoshop for a few minutes to prep them.

      Back soon...


    • February 28, 2018 3:23 PM EST
      • Portland, Oregon
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      Back again...

      While building the section in the previous pictures, Larry and I were also making plans for the other areas of railroad that need reworking. When
      trains come back in the building from the single track outdoor loop, the mainline encounters a turnout splitting into a passing track. Because of
      changes to the yard throat in the middle loop, and the interchange for running the inside loop when its raining, and the limited space for
      building the interchange...we decided to build a second diamond crossover. Building the first one went much smoother than we thought it would,
      and when I realized I could use special mill fixtures I made for frog production to produce all the angled pieces needed for the crossing, I made
      enough more parts for four diamond crossovers. There are 24 angled pieces per crossover used to create the diamond. More on the parts for
      crossovers later.

      This picture is the Templot template created for the crossover. and this is the approximate location for it...

      After completing the loop up to the curved crossover, it was time to start building the newly double tracked section around the inner middle yard loop. Here is
      a shot of the middle yard throat with a salvaged turnout that fit like a dream in this section.

      Same basic shot from the other direction. this is the curve with super elevation that I left in place. I spent last night with the tedious job of grinding through
      about 40 welds so I could remove the inner steel wall of this loop. We are rebuilding this section of benchwork to provide more space for the yards and
      associated steam up areas and storage tracks. Although the mainline is 8" track spacing, as well as all adjacent tracks, Larry has decided that this yard
      will be restricted to trains that can fit withing 5.75" track spacing of the yard trackage. This is still scales out to 15.3' and and is wider than most spacing of
      12-14 feet in yards. 14' in scale is 5.25" spacing. Although we did quite a bit of research on prototypical track spacing, Jenn and I also went down to the BNSF
      yards with a tape measure. Many of the people who run European prototype 1/32nd trains have traditionally used this yard, so we decided having more room
      through less track spacing would be prudent.

      While we are building inside, Larry, Joe, and I consult and try to figure out what to build outside. Here is a picture of for what is now, the basic layout for outside.
      We use a lot of PVC pipe to layout possible runs for the mainline and indoor to outdoor interchange possibilities. Larry is always open to changing his mind, so
      this may or may not be a final configuration. But it is close enough to allow Joe to start on some infrastructure to build it. We have torn all this temporary stuff
      out already, and Joe has been busy pouring concrete and such for the last few weeks.

      Larry has some space to fill with trains...more pictures of outdoor work to come.

      Time to go work on the railroad.


    • February 28, 2018 7:54 PM EST
      • Phippsburg, Maine
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      Very cool thanks for sharing!  

    • March 2, 2018 4:00 PM EST
      • Portland, Oregon
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      Have time for another quick update.

      It was time to complete the mainline loop around the 1/32nd yards.

      We started building from the top of the loop.

      This shot shows the rail after bending. It holds its shape quite well as we build out around the curve. This area is tough because the table was, to
      some extent, built deliberately a little rough in shape so things didn't look to smooth. Holding a smooth curve, while leaving as much room for the
      yards to be built as possible, and still being able to hold the alignment to the bridge we are heading toward, was a challenge. In a future post, I
      will describe a method we use to actually measure the curve accurately, and then virtually build into our Templot plan of the entire railroad.

      Although this curved turned out nice, and the trains look wonderful traveling around the big curve, and we had a fair bit of time invested in building
      it all, once we measured the curve, Larry wasn't satisfied with the amount of changing radius' around the loop, and wants to build the curve using
      Templot to create templates to form the curve and transitions. Since the table is what forced the tracks alignment, two days ago Larry told me
      to tear it all out back to the bridge by the yard throat, rip the sides off the table, and rebuild the curve. We will widen the table as needed to get a clean curve, built to
      spec, and let that drive how much we change the table, as opposed to building the railroad to fit the table.

      So all the pictures in this post, are of track that will most likely be gone by today. I can see some long hours coming in our future...

      It isn't that there was anything "wrong" with the curve, Larry has simply decided he wants to rebuild almost the entire railroad using much more
      calculated techniques than they used to build the railroad years ago. Back then it was pretty much..."that looks good, go with it."

      This shot the mainline curve is close to finished, and the double track is moving right along...

      Here is an overall view of the mostly completed curve. Looks nice, but it is amazing the the total number of different radii in any part of the curve.
      I completely understand why Larry wants to rebuild it...but April is coming fast...

      The next shot shows where we stopped work, this was 6 weeks ago, long before we decided to measure it and tear it out. We stopped before the bridge
      for a couple reasons. One is we didn't want to block the entry way to that loop until we had the track ready to build a three track bridge crossing. Second,
      we had to decide and design the interchange and yard throat leading up to the bridge from the other side.

      That's all for now, next time I will show what we built coming from the other direction. It was all built using Templot and turned out excellent.

      For now though, out of time, must go demolish our hard work.


      (Edited to include picture I forgot earlier)

      This post was edited by Gearhead at March 3, 2018 4:36 AM EST
    • March 6, 2018 6:26 PM EST
      • Portland, Oregon
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      Sorry guys, haven't had time to post last couple days.


      Talked Larry out of demolishing our curve until after first Tuesday. We hadn't any plans for the replacement anyway.
      So instead we dove into installing switch stands and completing the temporary inside loop. We finished last night at
      midnight. Also finished designing the new curve, so demolition will happen tomorrow.

      However, I am posting right now because first Tues is happening, and Larry has a live camera traveling the track. For a
      short while longer, you can go for a ride along at this link.

      Live train camera at Stavers

      Alternately, you can click on Live@stavers on his website home page.

      Hopefully the camera will keep working for an hour or two more...

      More pictures and build story to come, but I need to find some time first.


      Thanks and hopefully happy viewing



      This post was edited by Gearhead at March 6, 2018 6:26 PM EST
    • March 7, 2018 3:12 PM EST
      • Portland, Oregon
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      Hi all:

      Well the video link was probably anticlimactic for the few that might have seen the post in was working quite well for a short while, unfortunately
      the guys had started winding down for the day. When on the website, the two current camera feeds on the "live@stavers" page, are actually hi resolution
      micro video cameras pointed at scenes Larry likes to set up. Each camera is controlled by a Raspberry Pi, and the video feed transmitted through a high speed
      wifi connection. During future steam ups, the plan will be to have feeds around the building, the track, and in trains. From the web or your phone, you will be
      able to access the feeds at any camera and watch the crazy action that is a live steam event at Stavers.

      I captured a few pictures of the 1st Tues event yesterday, but will follow the basic timeline of the build story and post them at the appropriate time.

      We came up with a curve that will fit the yard area, and a yard throat design. So demolition of the middle yard curve and table edge will commence today.

      In the mean time, we will return to the build.

      So at this point in the work, we needed to design the interchange between the outside, and the inside loop interconnect, and also consider traffic needs
      for entering the yards, and/or exiting the yards for bi-directional operations. We began this process by setting Jenn upon the task of making the four
      turnouts needed to construct the diamond. In the mean time, Larry and I began working on the design for the interchange and drawing it up in Templot.

      In future posts, I will discuss Templot and how we use it. The important thing to know here, is that Larry and I were getting good enough with the software
      that Larry decided we should use it to build the railroad as much as possible. Our success at this is what let to the decision to tear out the middle yard loop
      the other day.

      To start, I will show the progression of the diamond. Over the next day, Jenn built the four new #7's we needed using our tried and true jigs I made 5 years
      ago. I will show pictures of those at a later date. The next step is to lay out two of the turnouts on the welding table and align them by the V-crossing of the
      frog. Also, we set the 8" spacing and then weld a couple .125" x .25" braces across the turnouts to lock them in place. All the while, we have .25" x .375" lengths
      of high quality steel to use as straight edges using 1" throat Kant-Twist welding clamps to hold our work in place.

      Once the first two turnouts are square to each other, and the straight edges clamped and aligned, we can use the straight edges to locate the 3rd turnout.

      Once the 3rd turnout is put in place we clamp pieces of straight steel here and there to lock things into place and start building the diamond. I start by cutting
      the straight rails for the mainline tracks as close to length as possible, then use the micro chop saw with cut off wheel to trim the final few thou off until the
      rails fit perfect and Jenn can weld them. This next pic shows that already completed. Here we are using some of the 24 individual angled pieces needed to
      create the diamond.

      All of the angle pieces are made just longer than the shortest we need. The rest will need a straight welded to them, but this is key to our process...we clamp
      the angled piece in place, them trim a straight just longer than we need, and weld it together. Now we trim the length overall until it fits as well as I can get it,
      and Jenn will weld it in place. In this picture, you can see some already installed, and one laying in the middle ready for trimming.

      Making all the short angled pieces the same length is what allows me to set up a fixture in the manual mill, and make lots of them fairly fast.

      So far the process is actually pretty straight forward, and on the two we've built the results fantastic for using no jigs or setup fixtures other than clamps and
      straight edges. The next steps, to fill in the diamond are a little tougher, but still goes smoothly and gives excellent results.

      Here I did make some helpful set up tools. They consist of two straight pieces of rail, with cutouts that allow us to overlap them in the crossing. In the picture
      you can see them clearly because they are marked in black sharpie for contrast so we don't get confused looking at the assembly. If you look close, you can
      see where the cutouts are so the rails can overlap. The overlapping pieces allow us to clamp and weld all the rest of the components in place. After we are
      done, the set up parts can be removed by pushing them through to the front of the crossing.

      Here is a Jenn action shot. She is just welding the last support piece for the turnouts. In the box at the front left in the picture, is a stack of the angled pieces I made...I think I made about eighty of them on the
      second run, so we have enough left for three more diamonds. The parts will only work for #7 crossings though, if we switch to #8's outside for the mainline, I will have to laser cut a new fixture and make more
      at the #8 frog angle.


      Almost done...just a few more cross braces and guard rails to weld...tomorrow comes the tedious job of making and installing the ties. While Jenn makes the ties I am in the process of designing a new switch stand.
      It will take Jenn about 10 hrs to make the ties. We have ties of proper length pre-cut in bulk so Jenn can choose the appropriate length, take it to the slot angle cutting machine, and cut the slots.

      Our switch stands, by and large, have served us well but are difficult to install and adjust in our application. Also the nature of our installation has had clearance problems with some locomotives. So while Jenn was
      tied up for a few days (pun intended), I set about designing a switch stand we could laser cut and solve the various issues in an easy to install package.

      That's it for today. Last shot is the finished crossover ready for ties. We laid it out on the track for Larry to see in the morning. We use clamps and old track,
      and lengths of rail, to mock up and visualize the track. Now we do a lot of this with plotter printouts from Templot.

      Back to the railroad.


      This post was edited by Gearhead at March 7, 2018 3:15 PM EST
    • March 10, 2018 4:08 PM EST
      • Portland, Oregon
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      After finishing the crossover, we had settled on the interchange of the inside loop interconnect. This next picture is what we came up with...

      We welded the crossover to the road from outside outer curve to setup the alignment and help keep it in place. We knew already that this entire curve and entry turnout would be replaced in a couple weeks.

      This interchange was designed in Templot and was our first attempt to build the track and see how closely we could model it with the software. It worked out well, and because of this, the diamond crossover
      and inside loop interchange are the starting point from which everything else will be modeled and/or built. Here is a screen shot of the interchange in Templot. This can be printed out on our plotter and matches
      the track work extremely close.

      The triangle in the middle curve signifies the start of the transition curve. The ] to the right is the end of the transition. These can be easily
      modified and always form a spiral transition. The turnouts are #7 and match our turnouts. There are ways to measure various aspects both
      in the software and the real world to allow us to model the railroad accurately, and know that we built it accurately. More about some of
      those methods in future posts. The interchange allows trains on the inside loop to go directly to the mainline, or switch to the passing track
      which will lead to the yard throat.

      The next picture shows the just completed interchange, and a Templot printout of a curved crossover Larry would like built. Once we found that
      #14 frog would work well in the crossover, Larry decided it would be best to replace the one I salvaged with and identical #14 crossover. This
      would mean four custom curved turnouts before spring. I suggested we build one first for the replacement on the road from outside, and hone
      our skills. Also, I had an idea for modifying the frogs that we wanted to try on the larger number turnouts. More on this modification when I
      discuss building the switch.

      At this point, we began planning the new road from outside. We printed out a #14 curved turnout in heavy weight paper, and Jenn set about
      pre bending rail and parts for the turnout. More on building the curved turnout in a later post. In the mean time, I designed a transition curve that
      would work to further the track toward the yard throat.

      This time, Larry and I decided to print a template of the curve, and attach it to the table in the location to be built, and build the curve right over the top of it.

      This worked out well, and I can measure the distance between printed transition start marks, to find the distance between the curves, and build
      model into Templot. One more shot and then back to the railroad.

      Today we start building the turnouts for the yard throat at the end of this section of track.

      Weather is getting warmer, but it still gets cold in there at night.


      This post was edited by Gearhead at March 10, 2018 4:14 PM EST
    • March 10, 2018 5:08 PM EST
      • Vail, Az
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      Very elegant track work, the Commodore in the observation won't spill a drop at speed!




      The older I get, the less I know, please don't make me prove it.



    • March 13, 2018 8:26 PM EDT

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      It is nearly impossible to say enough good thing about Larry, Karl, Jenn and all the crew from the beginning of Larry's layout right through to today.  This includes all the people who help Larry during steamups to take care of us all with exceptional hospitality.  Larry's layout has to be seen in person to be believed.  


      Larry's layout, I believe, is the best steamup layout I have ever experienced.  It might even be a reason to move to Portland - but that would still take a lot of thought.


      Now if Larry just had some control over the weather in Portland.  At least it's rain and not snow.  And now Oregon is beginning to let you pump your own gas.  


      Thank you Larry.


      End of rant.

      This post was edited by Chris Scott at March 13, 2018 8:30 PM EDT
    • March 14, 2018 3:42 PM EDT
      • Portland, Oregon
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      Thanks for the comments everyone. Sorry I haven't posted in a couple days, been feeling a little under the weather. Got a really mild cold, but enough to make me tired and achy.

      So here comes a few pictures of the #14 curved turnout Jenn and I built. I didn't get many pictures because it actually went really smooth and before we knew it, the turnout was
      basically finished. I took some pictures yesterday of the turnouts partially built for the yard throat that will show more detail of our methods. Until then, here is the curved turnout.

      First, we start by creating the Templot template for the turnout. With the bridge installed to the outside track, we used long sections of steel, and a chalk line, to find the angle of
      the curve. At the center point of the of the angle, I can measure to where we want to start the transition curve into the building. Once we know this distance, we can go to
      Solidworks and generate a .dxf of the angle, import it into Templot, and then create the curves and the turnout and know that it will fit. We now have a few more tools to help
      us perform these measurements more accurately. I will discuss these at a later time.


      Here is a picture of the turnout generated in Templot. You can see in the open window on the left, more info than you can imagine on the characteristics of this section of track.

      Taking a printout of the turnout and transition curves, I could lay out the entire curve, and use pieces of rail, and other things lying around to make sure of the alignment before we build anything.

      I didn't think to get many pictures of the process. But here is a couple showing the turnout template in position and gives a rough idea how we go about the alignment. In this picture, you can
      see the old curve on the other side of the bridge. This will get torn out shortly, but for now, we used it to help align the track work across the bridge.

      Shot from the other direction.

      I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to modify the frogs we use. This next picture shows why...Many years ago, when they began making
      turnout parts, a fixture was made for the manual mill that would allow frogs of any angle to be produced. As I have stated, most turnouts on
      the railroad currently are #7, however, many #5's, #8's, #10's, and #14's were made as well. I now make them using a different method, but
      we have a stash of the old ones still around and we want to use them. The problem is that they end up very long, which is fine for a straight exit, but
      will not work well on a curved turnout.

      It occurred to me that there was no real reason for them to be this long other than it is easy to attach rail to the design used. I suggested we cut the
      frog back to where it is exactly a 1/4" wide, (the width of to rails butted together), re-cut the slots on the surface grinder so we can bend the guard rails, and then the curved
      rails would work just fine.

      Here is the result...

      With the frog cut down and modified, Jenn was ready to start work. To build the turnout, we print out the the inverse of the Templot template
      and then build the turnout upside down on top of it.

      Nearly completed rail work for the turnout, and a proud Jenn showing off her work.

      Now it is time for Jenn to make ties. This turnout is a long one, so it will take awhile...this picture shows that she is almost finished.

      This next picture shows the clever router machine for making turnout ties. Jenn places a tie under the turnout and marks the rail positions as they cross the ties, then you can slide the tie into the slot in the plastic channel visible in the picture.
      There is a long piece of unstained tie sticking out of the channel, we use this to help in locating the tie in place. The channel is hinged on the opposite side of the router. The channel swivels under the router guide, and when Jenn has it
      lined up, she uses a foot peddle to activate an air solenoid that locks everything in place...then just slide the router across the tie. Sounds easy, but it takes practice and the router is loud, and the work repetitive, monotonous is the word.
      Fortunately, Jenn doesn't mind doing it so I don't have too...

      Time to install the turnout. Here is a rails eye view of the turnout in place.

      From outside looking in...sorry again about the lens flare, shopping for a new DSLR, better photography soon.

      From the other direction...

      And here we are almost done. The turnout is installed, the alignment worked out nicely, so it was time to generate the transition curve and
      build it to replace the existing curve and provide a short straight section before the diamond crossover.

      And finally, we now have enough information to start building the layout in Templot instead of just parts and pieces. We have enough hard
      locations built with Templot templates, that I can take measurements, and very closely replicate the railroad in the computer. Since this work
      was completed, we have measured and built models of the existing railroad, and we are using Templot to design the middle yards. I will, of
      course, document this in later posts.

      Back to the railroad...


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