Tuscarora Railroad

The Tuscarora Railroad is a 1:20.3 garden railroad located in suburban Denver, Colorado. The railroad is based on the East Broad Top RR which still operates today as a tourist line in Orbisonia, PA (south-central PA). Be sure to check out Garden Railway Basics , Kevin's book on building and maintaining garden railroads for information on how the TRR was built.

Location: Denver, CO

Monday, January 10, 2011

Recent Projects

Okay, so it's been two months since I posted anything here. It's not as if I haven't been busy in the workshop, though. Anyway, I'm writing this from a hotel in Durango, Colorado, which--as most know--is home to the Durango & Silverton RR. Alas, the trains aren't running on Mondays or Tuesdays, and even if they were, I don't have time to ride. (Oh, if I did, though... I am squeezing a trip to the roundhouse museum tomorrow morning before I leave town, though. It's not a total wasted trip.)

However, since I have absolutely no interest in what's going on on the BCS championship game that's providing background noise at the moment, (is it wrong that I want the Ducks to win for no other reason than they're named the "Ducks?") I figured it high time to update what's been going on in the EBT shops over the past few months.

First off, a little something to make things move...

I found this photo on a recent trip to the East Broad Top. It's the first photo I've ever seen of what would become the EBT's 3rd #2 while it was in service as the shifter at the Rockhill Furnace. (A job it would have for only a few years, as the furnaces shut down shortly after it arrived.) I had recently traded for a Bachmann 0-4-0T, and this was just the perfect project.
I wasn't expecting this to be an exact copy, because I didn't want to have to do such things as build a new cab or change the domes. But with a little bit of work, I got it pretty close.

The biggest cosmetic change was shortening the tank so it was no longer even with the front of the smokebox.

The tank itself was rearranged, too, so the bell and forward sand dome switched places. A thin wrapper of styrene sheet covered the seams nicely. The aluminum tape underneath holds the lead shot in place inside of the domes. I'm using a single 7.4-volt Li-Ion battery to power this, but to fit it, I had to remove the stock weight. It's so light that I need to add more weight so the loco actually pulls more than its own shadow.

The boiler and cab got lowered, too, bringing it around 1/8" closer to the ground. This was actually a surprisingly easy chore.

(Auburn just won. Bummer. Wait, I don't really care.)

New pilot beams complete the loco. This loco is manually controlled. It's my "someone's here who wants to see something run" loco. No pilot wheels to derail on switches, no need to have to carry a controller. Just put it on, turn it on, and set the speed. It's also got a MyLocoSound soundcard in it, and the switch on the right will blow the whistle.

Here's the "guts" of the electronics under the boiler.

Painting was fairly simple. I didn't need to paint the cab, since it was already black. The rest got painted with either Krylon's flat black primer or their semi-flat black. I must admit to being less and less enamored of Krylon's reformulation. It's definitely not quite as good as their old stuff.

Decals came off of my ALPS printer, using a font that was about as close as I could find to the original lettering. It's not perfect (do you know how much of a royal pain it is to find simple fonts on the web?) but it's close enough for me. I really hate decals, but sometimes they're a necessary evil.

Next came a bit of weathering, using my usual application of washes.

Finally, the finished product, ready to head out on the line.

The other "lastest project" is something of a conjectural model. Well not so much conjectural in terms of being purely freelance, but more in terms of it having roots in the prototype, but with a few liberties taken.

It started when I found an AMS D&RGW refrigerator car on sale at a really good price. It was the same length as one of the EBT's early "miners'" coaches, so I figured a new roof, some cut some windows in, and I'm all set. Alas, once I got the car home, I discovered the roof is all but permanently attached. So much for that project. So, what to do with a refrigerator car on a railroad that never had them?

The answer came not from ice, but from water. The EBT did have "water cars." These were ordinary box cars with roof hatches cut into them and drains installed in the floor for carrying water. In the dry summer months, the creek up in Robertsdale would sometimes not supply sufficient water for the boilers that powered the mine equipment, so the EBT loaded water into these box cars and ran them up the line. This happened as early as 1904, though it's likely the practice was older than that. The box cars would be sealed on the inside, some sort of baffling arrangement installed, and the car filled about 1/3 full with water via the roof hatches. Once in Robertsdale, the drains would be opened and the water drained.

In the 20s and 30s, these water cars were used for loading clay from the Shirleysburg clay mine. Again the roof hatches made for easy loading of the clay, though it was removed via the side doors.

So, I had this refrigerator car that was pretty in size to the EBT's "2nd-generation" box cars (though it sits around 6" too low), but has these roof hatches. Well, we don't *know* that all the EBT water/clay cars only had two roof hatches, one cut into the center of each end. Why couldn't the EBT have had borrowed from other railroad practice (they were good at it), and build a car with 4 hatches instead? Thus an idea was born.

So with a little bit of work, all the trappings of a D&RGW refrigerator car were removed, to be replaced with details consistent with an EBT 2nd-generation box car. After a bit of paint and weathering, this is what came about.

The lettering is from the FEBT Company Store. It's sold as hopper car lettering, but the EBT used the same style of lettering on all their freight cars.

Weathering is done with my usual mixture of acrylic washes and Bragdon's powders. These powders have a binder mixed in, so you don't need to seal them.

A little dry-brushing brings out some more detail, such as simulating chipped paint on the tin roof panels. All in all, not too bad for a "plan B."