Wednesday, April 28, 2021

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 25) - Wye? - Because

I'm moving the focus of this post back to the construction of the layout itself.  Specifically the wye at Owenyo.  The original plan to drop any concept of a continuous running option results in my absolute requirement to have a working wye at the end of the branch to turn the C-class and Mk-class local engines.

The placement of my station of Owenyo was dictated by the arrangement of the wye in town.  This forced the design of my layout to put Owenyo in either the SE or NW corner of the room.  Because of the bookcases along the north wall, that option was out.  The SE corner was open and the wye could fit between the large desk in the middle of the room and the east wall. 

The new top skin of 1/4" MDF applied to the top of the wye.

Still with the need to keep the shop functional and the options to bring large pieces of material into the work area west of the large desk, I needed to make the wye removable.  Because the layout already needed to have two removable sections for the doors, what's one more removable piece?  For that matter, I just made all the sections of the layout able to be quickly dismantled, if needed.


Some of these photos have been posted before in the Owenyo #1 structural posts, but they are worth touching on again here, as this is the foundation for the wye structure.

Underside of the Owenyo #1 module, with Wye "Keel Spar" in place.

The Owenyo #1 (East) module will support the tail of the wye as a cantilever, so there's much more support built into the underside of this yard module.

Overview of the bottom of the wye support structure.

Basically all the structural load for the wye tail will be handled by this box structure and an 3/4" x 2" oak "Keel-Spar" forming the structure of the wye module.

The cantilever Keel Spar in place.

The Spar extends out from the far side of the layout about 40".  I tested the spar several times at this point to be sure that it could be easily slipped into the Owenyo #1 module and then back out again.  It is still a good tight fit, requiring both hands; one inside the staging yard and one outside under about where the wye switch will go.  I'm happy with the fit, last thing I want is a loose wye module dropping a brass Mk on the floor!

The End Plate with notch for the Keel Spar mocked up.

Additional MDF support will be added around the edges to support the 1/4" MDF top skin sheet of the wye.

Mock-up of the Keel Spar and the End Plate clamped in place.

This shot gives an idea how long the wye tail will be.  Most recently I have also added a removable 'leg' under the front of the layout, which helps support it.  I may stay with this method, or consider an additional diagonal brace down to the wall brackets to support the very front edge of the box structure. 

During construction of the wye and the switch and track spiking on the wye tail, I had a pair of 2x2s clamped together, forming a support the right height to put under the tail of the wye.  I'd rather not need something like this under the tail permanently, but it is always an option.  Alternately, I could build a folding brace to form a triangle, reaching down to the workbench.  Hinged maybe 1/3rd of the way in from the end of the tail and with a scissor brace locking over-center at the workbench end.  There are plenty of options to add that little bit of extra support.

Spanning the Joint

East curved portion of the wye, the oil tank and engine layover spot are in this area.

I planned to leave out some of the ties across the module joint to the wye.  These locations will be replaced with wood ties, and spiked in place.

Laying out the equilateral wye switch.

Roughing out the flex track coming out of the 26" radius curve.  I reworked the geometery and found that for the No.5 frog, I needed to maintain the 26" radius into the frog, then allow all of the easement between the frog and the headblock of the switch.  It turns out that I had the frog a bit too close to the main line at Owenyo.

After the fact engineering of a No.5 frog on a wye switch.

It turns out that doing the CAD calculations for the placement of the No.5 DTW frog, it should be 2-1/16" from the point of tangent (PT) of the two curves.  The 5-1/2" (40 scale feet) is the length of easement and transition to the headblock of the switch.  This headblock placement could be farther, maybe up to 45ft from the point of frog (PF).

Reworked switch with all ties installed.

I needed to move the frog about 0.300" towards the headblock to get the geometry to work out.  One can see the number of PF's that have been marked from various methods, including offsets from the spiral easements, which aren't needed on a No.5 alignment!

Wye Tail being built from second hand tie sections, threaded on to the tail of the wye.

The wye tail I made from left over flex track tie sections from thinning the tie spacing in the two sidings at Owenyo.  The piece of oak flooring, which makes up the Keel Spar allows for nearly 19" of wye tail.  As there's no other obstruction in the middle of the room, I decided to just lay the extra 5" of track beyond the 14" needed for the Mk-2/4 and -6 class 2-8-2s.

Completed wye tail flex track and wye switch roughed in.

The extreme end of the wye tails often are pretty ratty.  Usually operationally the engines are kept towards the switch end of the tail, with the tender or other cars pushed out onto the 'rickety' wye tail trackage.  I decided to simulate this with increasing tie spacings towards the end of the wye, and tighter spacing for the engine length (about 50ft) closest to the switch headblock.

Cutting the Tail Loose

Pre-stained 8ft ties are glued and slipped under the rails at the module joint.

I hand spiked each wood tie at the joint.  I'll probably end up removing at least one more plastic tie on each side of the joint and getting a little more hand-spiking in to secure both rails on each side.

Close-up of the cut rails on the 26"R curve.

I've tested the wye's 26"R curve with the SP 3203, which seems to be the most finicky of the Mk-series of models when it comes to minimum curve radius.

Separating the wye tail module from Owenyo #1 module.

Good to see that the module slips apart easily.  The long Keel-Spar still holds it in place vertically.  To keep the wye tail from rolling on the Keel-Spar's axis, I drilled 1/4" holes, like I have between the other modules, to accept the alignment pins.

In Closing

Nearly completed wye being held rotationally by the clamps as 3203 is test run on the main.

I probably will still need to do a little fine tuning on the 26" radius curves to get them smooth and consistent and a little more tuning on the module joints in the middle of the curves.

The wiring for the wye will be a fun challenge.  I'm also looking forward to building in some safety interlocks to keep any engines from diving off the ends of the wye when the tail is removed!  I'll get into covering those points in an upcoming post.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP "Jawbone" Branch Index Page - Links to all my blog posts on my new Jawbone Branch layout.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

SP Tender Swapping (Part 2) - "Tender Migration" Between Shops

In my previous post about SP Tender Swapping (Part 1), we looked at various prototype tenders, and ones that are commonly available to trade between models to get the 'right tender' to match a given photo.

Tender Migration

This time I'm looking at a different take on the "tender swapping" game.  How were tenders moved between the various shops?  What happened when engines were scrapped and the tenders migrated to other divisions to be put behind engines which were still in service?

During the various decades of service from the 1920s, through the 1930s, then the 1940s, and finally in the mid-1950s, the SP's steam engines tended to keep getting larger and larger tenders assigned as the smaller engines were scrapped.

An early photo of SP 5000 with the single 120-C-3 class tender.  Most of the SP-series of engines received 120-C-5 tenders. - Eddie Sims collection

It's hard to believe that the SP (4-10-2) class engines were delivered with 120-C-3 and -5 tenders, during the swaps of the late 1940s, they received 160-C types instead.  Many of the SP's F-class 2-10-2s also traded up their 120-C-series tenders for 160-C types during the 1950s.

A few SP 'Decks', such as F-4 class 3704, received very large square tenders from the AC-9s or foreign roads, for use in desert territories. - Eddie Sims collection.

In some cases, engines such as the AM and AC-1/2/3 classes were scrapped and their tenders filtered down to F-1, Mk-2/4, Mk-10/11, and various other engines.  As the AC-4s and 5s were retired even larger 160-C class tenders became surplus and were transferred to other smaller engines, then those tenders moved down to Mk-2/4 and 5/6s and C-classes.

SP 2771 with a 120-SC-series tender off an AC-3 or AM-series articulated.  This one still has the pressure cap on the oil bunker! - Eddie Sims collection.

These shuffles resulted in some weird combinations, such as C-class 2-8-0s receiving 120-SC-series "whale-back" tenders!

SP Tenders Away from their Engines

SP 4279's tender is set aside while the engine receives a new set of flues and rebuilt super-heater unit

Spare tenders for another AC and a GS also rest in the 'Garden' at Bakersfield while the engines are in the backshops.

The SP 'Malley Shed' at Bakersfield, which was used as a heavy car shop after the 1930s, usually had a half dozen or so tenders stacked into one of the open-air stub tracks being worked on or stored waiting for their assigned engine to come out of the backshop facilities at Bakersfield.  A few could also be seen over in the 'Whisker' tracks on the west side of the turn table at the electricians shed or stored for a 'quick' flue job, such as on the SP 4279 in one classic shot from the roof of the water tower.

The Prototype Photo

Here a set of F-units approaches Tunnel 2 with the (Mojave) "Shorts", notice the pair of tenders at the right of the photo. - E.K.Huller photo

In the photo above a pair of tenders are being moved from Bakersfield or west of Bakersfield to Los Angeles.  It is also possible that the tenders in the photo are set of tenders assigned to MW service.  The pair of tenders appear to both be 120-C-2, or possibly 120-C-3/6 class tenders.

Sunset 120-C-2 tender

These could be made with either Sunset, PSC, or (in the case of the 120-C-6 tender) Athearn-Genesis spare tenders.  - Unfortunately, most of the 120-C-1/2 tenders around my shop are all claimed for various engines.  

Athearn-Genesis 120-C-6 tender for SP 3266

A pair of Athearn-Genesis tenders would make a very nice starting point, but the $70+ list price per tender starts making that a bit painful.  Unfortunately the Athearn-Genesis tenders that are in 'the pool' are already claimed by other engines.  Some of those tenders could of course be 'borrowed' until their engines are finished and the DCC installed, etc.  However, I'd rather not have to retouch the numbers on the back of the tender.  From some photos in Robert Church's books on the Ten-Couple and 4-8-2 Mountains, these tenders when unassigned usually had their tender frame numbers painted on the backs of the tank. - I assume that during transfers between the shops, this would be the method used to keep track of them.  Of course any tenders in SPMW service would carry their own MW numbers.

SPMW 8241 built from an MDC/Roundhouse 70-C-1/2 tender

On with the Project!

The easiest... and probably prototypically lazy way to deal with the problem of where to get your 'spare tenders' from is to do just what the prototype did.  Use your supply of extra tenders you're not using with your engines!

Spare Sunset Models 70-C-9 class tender

In my current case, there are a couple of extra tenders from Sunset M-6/M-9 class 2-6-0s which could use new homes, but by the late 1940s and early 1950s, the super small 70-C-9/10 class tenders were mostly relegated to small 0-6-0s.

SP 2757 with 70-C-9 tender after WWII. - Eddie Sims collection

In some cases 2-6-0s and even 2-8-0s were assigned these small tenders when assigned to local yard work.

SP 2718 with 100-C tender by post-WWII era. - Eddie Sims Collection

However for my purposes the 2-6-0s and 'bigger' C-8/9/10 class 2-8-0s working out of Bakersfield generally had the larger 90-C and 100-C size tenders, and my little SP 1213 already has a little tender!

Tender book, that I used to find the tender frame numbers for these tender classes.

Looking at Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society's Tender Book, I find that SP had only two tenders rebuilt to class 70-C-10, so these more rare tenders probably wouldn't have ended up coupled to each other in a transfer move as I'm considering modeling.  Ideally then, the spare tenders could be a 70-C-9 and a 70-C-10.

Painting and Weathering Choices

In the photos in Robert Church's books some of these unassigned tenders are obviously fresh out of the paint shops after rebuilding.  Some could have been stored for weeks or months before being assigned to a new engine or ordered to be transferred to another shop for assignment.

Here's an example of a traded tender, freshly cleaned, behind a dirty SP 3266.

The tenders probably would get a bit of running weathering en route, but would be given a quick wash down or steam cleaning before having their new engine number painted on the rear of the tank.

Tenders coming through this process would probably have a slightly different 'patched' appearance on the rear of the tank where the new road number is applied over the tender 'frame number'.  This is another detail which can be added to your paired steam engines and tenders.  As you change your engines and tenders around this prototype 'patch' painting work can be used to hide the fact that you've swapped tenders, without completely repainting a tender from scratch.

Painting the 70-C-9/10 Class Tenders

Sunset Models M-9 class 2-6-0 with proper replacement 100-C-1/2 tender.

Both of the 70-C-series tenders for this project came from Sunset M-6 and M-9 class 2-6-0s.  These tenders are too small for the prototypes my customer and I wanted to build them to be.

SP C-70-9 and -10 class tenders

Other side of the two tenders.

I mocked-up the two tenders with Tichy Andrews trucks.  For rollablity as cars and the fact that the metal trucks were needed to go under the Balboa 100-C-1/2 tenders.

SP 6855 & 7067 tender numbers in place of locomotive numbers. 

SP painted the tender frame numbers on the tenders when they were not assigned to specific engines.

Mechanical Changes

Mechanically the changes required will be very minimal.  On the prototype, obviously the stacked drawbars (one above the other) would simply be connected to the other tender instead of to the rear of the engine frame.  I'm sure the extra drawbars could be loaded onto the tops of the tenders or otherwise coordinated between the shops to have the proper number of drawbars at the receiving shop to connect the engines with their new tenders.

Tenders drawbarred in this version with a piece of PC-board.  I may replace this with brass section.

Generally the brass tender models have a threaded post at the front of the tender which slips through a hole in the engine's drawbar.  For this conversion I'll be swapping out the 1.4mm threaded rod-pin for a screw and a drawbar to keep the two tenders together.

The main consideration with using brass tenders in this way is that there is NO INSULATION between the tender frame and the drawbar pin.  Using a metal drawbar will cause a short between the two tenders.  One of two things must be done for this configuration to work: 1. swap the pickup side of the tender trucks to the 'wrong side' or use of a insulating drawbar or draft gear box for one or both ends of the drawbar.  Thankfully in most cases, converting these cars to plastic trucks should solve these electrical issues.

Truck Bolster Shims

Tichy Andrews trucks, 0.03" bolster shims, and some 1.4mm screws for the bolsters.

The Tichy trucks are lower at the bolster than the previous Sunset Models brass trucks, so I need to shim the bolsters up to fix the coupler heights.

Coupler Box Shims

SP 7067, 70-C-10, tender ready for the road.

I shimmed the coupler boxes with a small piece of 0.02" x 0.04" styrene cut to 21" long.  A little touch up paint could be used along the outer edge of the shim.

Coupler height adjusted on SP 7067.

A bit of adjustment was also needed to the rear pilot footboards, which looked like they got tweaked a bit somewhere along the line.

SP 6855 coupler height after shimming.

I may eventually put leaf-springs in the Andrews trucks, but for ow the cars will do.

In Conclusion

If for any reason in the future I might want to split up the tender transfer pair, ideally, this should be as easy as dropping the drawbar off one of the tenders, swapping back to the pin, and a quick patch job over the rear of the tank to reapply the new engine number to the tender.  Flipping the insulating side of the trucks on one tender is just asking to be forgotten about in 5-10 years when you might want the tender with another engine again, which is why I'm avoiding that option.

Hopefully this has been a quick fun project, and a way to 'use up' those spare tenders which aren't quite right for any engine in the current stable.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Friday, April 23, 2021

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 24) - Let There Be Light

The plan for lighting my layout has been kicking around for several months.  The rooms' current lighting is two 18" LED boxes, and a 12" LED box hung over my work bench.

The room lit with the previous 18" LED bar light and LED work lamp.

This is one of my previous ceiling LED work light bars.

The new layout needs more lighting with additional fill.  My old lighting bars focused the light over the work space on the work bench, which is good, but I'll be moving them to better places now.

New LED Strip Lighting

The process of lighting the Jawbone Branch is starting.  Three 5 meter (16.5ft) rolls of 4000-4500K LED strip were ordered a few weeks ago and have arrived.  

Roll of 4000-4500K LED strip pulled out of the bag.

A view of the 3/4" plywood strip I ripped on the saw to point the LED strip at the layout.

I wanted the light to shine down on the layout and not really need a valance to shield the operators' view of the layout.  The angle of lighting emitted from the strip is focused roughly on a 60-70 degree angle.  So I settled on 25 degree angle after testing some LED strip on the ceiling.  This keeps the lighting mostly off the workbench and floor.  Any extra light coming out the top against the ceiling will be bounced and help fill on the backdrop wall.

I cut strips of 3/4" plywood with a 25 degree angle to incline the LED strips.

My stock of spare 3/4" plywood worked out to cut three strips a bit over five feet long and a bit over 1" wide increasing with a 25 degree slope.  

Temporary LED Attachment

Close-up of the LED strip, east end.

The plywood strip is clearance drilled for screws to hold into the roof beams of the shop.  The foil-foam panels have the reflective silver foil down, which helps to bounce the light which spills onto the ceiling back down onto the layout as a high-angle fill.

The magnet wire I'm using to twist-tie the LED strip in place for now.

The LED strip is wire twisted to the Plywood with some fine magnet wire.  This is a temporary method to hold the LED strip in place.  The magnet wire has a lacquer insulation coating, so it shouldn't short out to the LED strip.

4000-4500k LED strip wired in place on ply strip.

Once I decide exactly where the LED strip will go, then I'll probably peal the tape backing off, but I'll be using some other adhesive too.  I don't trust the stock tape backing to stick in my passenger cars, so I won't be trusting it in this application either.  As the plywood lighting bar gets closer to finished, I'll probably paint it, sealing the wood.  Also there are three plywood strips, currently the LED strip just bridges over the ends of it.  If I'm going to be taking it down and painting the wood, etc. then I'll need to cut the strips and solder some wires or plugs between the sections.

As the layout construction continues, a second set of plywood strips will be installed along the opposite side of the room for Bartlett and Little Lake.  I may also make a shorter section to keep the lighting consistent around the west end of the room.

Color Temp Test Photos

The 4000-4500k LED strips are installed, let's see how it looks.

LED 4000-4500 strip installed on ceiling.

I cut three sections of 3/4" plywood with 25 degree angle to point the LED strips' light down onto the layout modules.  These LEDs actually light up the whole room with secondary lighting bounce off of the ceiling and the wall.

4000-4500K LED strip lighting only.

The new 4000-4500K LED lighting looks ok in terms of fill, but in-person casts too blue-green of light to my eye.  In some situations I feel there should be more light in general.  I believe there will be room to run the 2800-3200k LED strip next to the 4000-4500k strip which is shown in these photos.

I'm satisfied with the low-profile nature of the plywood strip.  I didn't want a large valance hanging down from the ceiling.  On this side of the room, I can easily reach the lighting and screw it in place while standing on the floor.  I suppose I could put a small additional valance, maybe 1-1/2" tall to shade the light from dropping straight down onto the floor and work bench under the layout.

SP 3259 Weathering Comparison

SP 3259 posed at Owenyo in 4000-4500K light. - Test weathered flex track in front of 3259.

While the SP 3259 won't be a regular Jawbone Branch engine popping up north of Inyokern, I decided to use it in the color temp testing.  The weathering on it matches the LMRC scenery color very well, so I want to see how it looks here.

SP 3259 at Mojave Yard, working the Blitz Local. - LMRC ops session

These two photos of SP 3259 with its weathering matching the color of LMRC's Mojave Yard.  The 3259 is not one of the engines shown in the ETT's suitable for service on the Owenyo Branch.

Crew of the 3259 pose for the camera at Mojave between trips. LMRC ops session.

The second shot here shows how the color of the dust on the engine matches the dirt color at the LMRC Mojave yard.

SP 3259 sitting on the Krylon painted flex track.  Wood ties stained and stacked in the foreground.

I've already test painted a section of flex track with some Krylon Almond spray paint to make the ties look more dusty and mud covered, which is how Owenyo's trackage looks in the period color photos.

SP 3266 Weathering Comparison

SP 3266 with the bluish 4000-4500K lighting

I tested several models with only the 4000-4500K lighting.  The 3266 looks too cold and blue to my eye.

A couple of the boxcars sampling the 4000-4500K "sunlight".

These two cars are just a quick test of two boxcars.  I want the B-50-12 with the dust weathering to mostly match with the Jawbone (Southern California desert) scenery colors.

Passenger cars in staging with 4000-4500K lighting strips.

I tested a string of LED strip along the inside edge of the Owenyo modules to light the Mojave Staging Yard.  At full power, this is certainly plenty of light.  I might drop this strip to about 75%, as it is very close range.  The over-Owenyo lighting is about 30" away.  The staging lighting will be 4-12" away... so don't need nearly as much light there.

4000-4500K LED string under Owenyo, lighting Mojave staging yard.

The Staging tracks are on about 14' scale centers.  Trying to read car numbers on the rear tracks will be nigh impossible.  As staging tracks, I'll be planning to have the cars or train consists stored there already listed.  The "Main Track" is right at the front of the yard and the arrival-departure track being right behind.  This will allow the two tracks which will have the newest or most needed to see cars in front.

I'll be coming back and doing a future post about the lighting in the staging yard.  I will be cutting the strip and mounting it up inside the module structure.  I'll need to fashion some plugs to join the lighting between the modules.

Also, I'll probably put the staging lighting on its own control.  Turning the staging lighting off during operating sessions will keep the focus on the sceniced area of the layout at Owenyo.

A bit cluttered with construction stuff... but I foresee this being the Mojave Yard Clerk's desk.

The lead at the east end of Mojave yard (under the Owenyo wye and the end of the branch) is right above one of my desks.  So it should be a good space to work the yard and make lists with the cars pulled out on the main line next to the east door.

I may also put in a book case and places for switchlists and operational documents to keep the staging yard organized.  A computer may also find a place to live in this area.

Lighting Comparison

"Max Lighting" 4000-4500K LED with both work lamp and warm LED bar light.

Currently, this is layout with "Max Lighting."  Hopefully a second string of 2800-3200k LEDs will get the lighting up to this level "normally".

4000-4500K LED strip only.

Just as reference... here's only the new 4000-4500k LED lighting. Compare this with the photo below.

LED 4000-4500 with LED 18" bar light

Partial lighting without the LED work lamp.  This isn't bad... the bar light is doing a nice job of accenting the tail of the wye.  I might need to put a bit of extra LED strip to catch the wye tail when I'm done.

"Old" Lighting without the 4000-4500K LED. - With LED work lamp.

This is more like how the lighting has been when I've been building for the last three months.

PS - Edit 04-27-2021

The new 2800-3200K LED strip showed up, so I installed it beside the 4000-4500K strip.  I shot a quick video with the static 4000-4500K strip, and put the 2800-3200k strip on a variable voltage power supply.  The 2800 strip ramps up and back down.  The camera adjusts to the changes, which makes the color change less noticeable as it mostly keeps up.

In Closing

New switch tie material cut and stained to finish the switches.

Obviously, there will be more along this topic in future posts as I get the next LED strip of 2800-3200k temperature and continue the testing.  Also placing the lighting under Owenyo to light Mojave staging. Before then, in the next couple posts I'll be looking at the special construction and track laying on the wye.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP "Jawbone" Branch Index Page - Links to all my blog posts on my new Jawbone Branch layout.