Saturday, September 4, 2010

26 Left Hand Fork

Figure 1 Possible Location for Left Hand Fork
Previous to its new location in St. George, the ATSG included a Howe truss bridge and a steel arch bridge over Left Hand Fork. After a search of the virtual, yet to be created, terrain for a suitable location the bridges were located in the mountains over Left Hand Fork. The first photo shows the bridges sitting on the layout in a possible location for Left Hand Fork. At this stage in its development the roadbed and track were in place but no scenery.  The second photo shows the same location but here the roadbed had been cut and terrain under the bridge lowered to create Left Hand Fork.  The fascia was cut to accommodate the creek as it runs off the layout. The cardboard  profiles that will support the scenery is in place.  The third photo shows Left Hand Fork after the scenery was completed. In the early fall this creek is dry with water only during rain storms. Perhaps the rain will come and the creek will flow with water in the near future.

Figure 2  Terrain lowered and cardboard 
Construction details: Previous posts showed the spline roadbed used on for the ATSG. The bridges were already constructed, so a suitable location was identified where the spline was straight enough to accommodate the bridges. The length of each bridge was carefully measured and marked on the spline. Supports were added under the spline just before the cuts for the bridge. The spline was then cut out and supports for the bridges installed. The bridges were then carefully put in place and the track relaid through the them.

Figure 3  Start of Scenery at Left Hand Fork

The bridges were installed in the spline before the scenery was in place. Obviously they looked a little out of place connecting two ends of the roadbed with no other visual means of support. The cardboard profile armature was then constructed around the bridges.  The bridges were then removed and cheese cloth and plaster applied as described in previous posts. Rocks were hand carved into the cliffs on either side of the creek. The rock were then colored with a spray bottle with diluted paint matching our previously determined rock color. Rocks, consisting of broken bits of plaster, were then glued into the stream bed and colored in a similar way. The rocks were given variety by the application of powered pastel colors in earth tones. They were then sprayed with matte finish to protect the color and keep it from running. Then the shrubs, ground cover and trees were installed. Finally the autumn colors were added to give the look of early fall. Water will probably be added in the near future so that we can add some fishermen to the scene to give it more life.

This post is being updated June 11, 2014.  The scenery is now finished on both sides of Left Hand Fork. This area appeared as in Figure 3 for almost 4 years until the construction of Echo Canyon.  The scenery is now complete eastbound around the outside of the layout from Sulphur Gulch to Ascape to Left Hand Fork to Hidden Meadow.  It is also complete westbound around the layout from East Tunnel via Echo Canyon via Left Hand Fork via Sage.  The peninsula area formerly Tucker Junction has been renovated and is under construction for industrial section of the city of Tennsion and for the mine at Jerome.  There is no finished scenery around the peninsula between Sage on upper main to Hidden Meadow on the lower main.

Figure 4 Water Stop and Maintenance Facility at Left Hand Fork

The water tank is a early Campbell kit, the section house is scratch built from card stock.
Figure 5 The Howe Truss Bridge at Left Hand Fork
 The Howe Bridge is a Campbell kit.  The steel arch bridge is scratch built from Micoengineering structural shapes.
Figure 6 The main and high line main crossing Left Hand Fork.
 The train on the steel arch bridge is westbound on the upper main.  The train crossing the Howe bridge is eastbound on the lower main.  These two trains can pass one another on the siding at Sage or the siding at Hidden Meadow.
Figure 7 Left Hand Fork 

Figures 4, 5, 6, and 7 all enhanced via Helicon Focus.  See Post 30 and 34 for more details.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

25 Yards, Sidings and More Track

Posting to this blog was very sparse during 2010.  It wasn't because there was no progress on the ATSG Railroad.  The activities of the year consisted primarily of building infrastructure -- that is, track.  At the Open House in January the main line was in place allowing us to run trains on the railroad.  However there were only two passing three passing sidings on the railroad -- one at Ascape, one at Tennsion, and one at Echo Jct.  This allowed trains to run from Ascape to Echo and then reverse and return.  The passing sidings allowed another train to return from either location and for them to be able to pass one another at Tennsion.  It was fun for visitors but not very interesting for operation.  The next big task was to lay track -- lots of track.  This blog describes some of the major track laying activities.  I apologize in advance for the depth of field in the photos.  I'm learning.

Park City Yard
Park City.   The picture at the left shows the small yard at Park City.  This is the home of the Silver King Ore Tipple which will be the foreground of the picture straddling the two tracks containing gondolas.  The track to the left is the main entrance to the yard and contains a locomotive pocket that allows the locomotive to run around the cars to push them into the sidings.  The turnouts for the run around track can be seen left of the second gondola and toward the top of the picture at the beginning of the ladder track.  The turnout in the distance serves the small turntable and engine house at Park City.  A brass shay and brass climax  at the engine house await service in hauling ore from the tipple (use your imagination please).  In the future you will see this scene finished. 

Technical details:  track is code 83 flex track.  Turnouts are from a variety of manufactures. Uncoupling ramps are included in all stub end sidings but not on through tracks.Turnout control is with Caboose Hobbies hand throws.  Park City is a bit difficult to reach so these will probably be replaced by Tortoise machines in the future
Ascape Engine Terminal

Engine Terminal.  The Ascape engine terminal is the primary servicing location on the railroad.  It is accessed directly from the mail line as shown in the lower left of the photograph.  This track then divides into two tracks on either side of the coal, sand, water, and oil facilities.  Both tracks lead to the turn table beyond the service facilities.  A round house is under construction and will be located beyond the turntable in the upper part of the picture beyond the engine facilities.  The track to the right in the picture is the drill track with the first couple of turnouts in the classification ladder showing.  There is a crossover just this side of the coal tipple.   This allows locomotives arriving from the East to pull into the drill track, uncouple their train and then move beyond the coal tipple, drop their ashes in the ash pit, and pull onto the turntable for servicing in the round house.  The switcher locomotive,  that is usually positioned at the end of the drill track,  can then sort the incoming traffic into the classification yard. 

Ascape Engine Facilities
Ascape Passenger Station.  The photograph also shows a passenger  track that was put in front of the Ascape station.  There were two reasons for this addition.  First, the front of the station has the interesting detail and the original plan was to have it face the main line with the back of the station to the aisle.  When the chairwoman of the board saw this she suggested, strongly, that the station should be turned around making the passenger track necessary.  Second in its original location the station was subject to bumps from elbows of operators.  Adding a passenger track in front of the station moves it back a bit from the aisle slightly decreasing the danger of damage from passing giants.  

Ascape Station

Sunday, June 13, 2010


For those who follow this blog, sorry for the lapse. Much progress has been made and I'll catch this blog up in the near future.

John Westbrook delivering a mine train to Park City
Goals when the revised AT&SG was started --(1) Have trains running by Christmas 2009. The first trains ran for club train tour in November. Trains ran again for the open house Jan 2 1010. (2) Have an op session by June 2010. We made it. The first mini op session was Saturday June 12. Doug Whetstone, Chris Mauzy, Jack LaDuke, John Westbrook, Ed Kruger.

Jack and his daughter Natasha, who as an artist liked the scenery.

Jack LaDuke and his daughter Natasha, who as an artist liked the scenery.

Doug Whetstone and John Westbrook at Ascape Yard
Chris Mauzy working Castle Coal

Dave demonstrated classification in the Ascape Yard.
Jack ran the coal train assisted by Chris who finished the run.
John ran the mine train assisted by Doug.
Doug did some classification in the Ascape Yard and delivered traffic to Ascape industries.

Lots of tune up needed but at least folks ran trains.

More about operation to come.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

23 2010 OPEN HOUSE

On January 2, 2010 the Ascape Tennsion & Sulphur Gulch Railroad was on view for the first annual open house for the railroad. More than 60 visitors signed the visitor's log. In addition to the railroad there was socializing among neighbors and friends together with delicious soups and breads. Doug Whetstone (for whom Whetstone Ridge was named) served as engineer to keep trains running for the visitors. Many commented on the beauty of Whetstone Ridge, Lost Creek, Cadi Falls, and Sulphur Gulch. While much of the railroad is still under construction there was sufficient for visitors to grasp the concept of the railroad.

It is hoped that the New Year's Open House will be an annual event. The new year's resolution from the management is to have the track work complete and many industries in place for the 2011 Open House. The goal is for the open house to be an opportunity to witness an actual operating session on the ATSG. Of course this means that the management anticipates the commencement of operating sessions by mid 2010. Interested engineers should contact the management to be placed on the call board.

Unfortunately the management was so busy with visitors that they neglected to take photographs during the open house. Photos will be scheduled for next year as well as for early op sessions.

For those interested in operation the following is scheduled for the ATSG Railroad. As you consult the history of the ATSG (Blog entry #1) you will note that the railroad is connected to the D&RG from Ascape to Provo via Sulphur Gulch and on the East from Echo Junction to Grand Junction. [Both Provo and Grand Junction are represented by staging]. Each day (op session) a D&RG freight travels across the branch from Provo via Ascape to Grand Junction via Echo Junction. This train leaves traffic from Provo and points West destined for the ATSG at Ascape and picks up traffic from the ATST industries to points East via Echo Junction to Grand Junction. A second freight enters the branch from Grand Junction via Echo Junction leaving traffic destined for the railroad's industries at Ascape and picking up traffic destined for Provo and points west. The D&RG has been petitioned for a Westbound and Eastbound passenger train to travel across the branch. It is hoped that this petition will be granted in the near future.

The Ascape yard operator prepares this freight traffic for the daily Eastbound and Westbound freights. He also sorts incoming traffic for delivery by one of the two local trains that run each day on the branch. Two locals are run each day from Ascape to points on the branch. Two passenger trains are also run each day delivering passengers, milk and mail to destinations on the branch. Each day there is a coal train from Provo to Castle Coal to deliver empties and retrieve loads destined for iron and steel works in Provo. Each day there is a mine train that delivers empties and retrieves loads of ore from the Silver King tipple and the mines at Park City for processing at Provo.

An op session on the ATSG requires at least 6 operators: a yard master for staging, a yard master at Ascape, and several engineers to run the scheduled trains and any extras that may be required. We hope that you will join us for an op session. Contact the management to be placed on the call board.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Uinta 2-6-6-2 is hauling a string of hoppers loaded with coal across the trestle at Sulphur Gulch. Upper Cadi Falls is visible in the upper left of the photo. Behind the trestle one can see Lower Cadi Falls. The locomotive is just passing Devil's Slide.

The major activity during the month of December was the construction of Whetstone Ridge, Lost Creek, Upper Cadi Falls, Lower Cadi Falls and Devil's Slide.

The remainder of this posting will describe the construction process of this key location. Because of its scenic beauty and the significant expense required the board of directors decided to include Sulphur Gulch in the name of the railroad. It has turned out that this location is a major tourist attraction for passengers.

Whetstone Ridge and Sulphur Gulch were constructed for two purposes: first to hide the helix and second to provide the scenic attraction for which the railroad is named. The picture (right) shows the trestle installed across what will become Sulphur Gulch with the helix behind the trestle. The helix has been wrapped with cardboard strips to prevent any derailed trains from falling to the floor inside the mountain. In order to construct Sulphur Gulch it was first necessary to make sure the trestle fit perfectly and that the track across the trestle was completely dependable. After the trestle was checked for a good fit it was removed from the canyon so that the scenery could be constructed.

The next step was to form the mountain with cardboard strips held together with hot glue. Mother nature (aka Chairwoman of the Board and the artistic director for the ATSGRR) suggested that mountains should contain ridges, crevices, streams to feed the waterfall, and other scenic details. The actual forming of the mountain was modified a couple of times to comply with Mother Nature's tendency to provide interesting terrain and a stream to feed the waterfall falling into Sulphur Gulch. Once the basic shape was formed the cardboard lattice was covered with cheese cloth which was held in place by diluted white glue brushed on to hold the cloth in place (left).

The next step was to brush a coat of plaster over the cheese cloth to form a thin plaster shell that provides the basic form of the mountain and canyon. The picture (right) was taken after a couple of plaster casts of rocks had been added to the top of the mountain.

Now the fun began. A single casting of a piece of a rock that resembled limestone was placed as a ledge near the top of what would become the top of Lower Cadi Falls. Using this casting as a pattern the rest of the cliff behind Lower Cadi Falls was formed by placing a layer of plaster about 1/2 inch thick over the shell. As plaster of Paris sets up it becomes soft like clay for about 30 minutes. While it was in this stage the rock was carved using a pen knife and a small pallet knife. A small piece of wire brush was also used to flick pieces from the cliff and to provide some irregularity in the stone. The challenge is to avoid repetition. Only one cup of plaster can be worked at a time so the process was repeated many times working from the top to the bottom of the cliff until the cliff was all carved. The close-up picture shows the detail of this carved limestone rock. This sculpture process required 8 or 9 hours to complete.

The picture at the left shows the entire mountain with all of the rest of the rock carved and in place. The upper rock was carved to resemble a different type of rock. The rock behind each of the steps that support the trestle was carved to resemble rock that had been blasted away to make a support for the trestle bents.

The process of coloring the terrain required several steps. First, the plaster was sprayed with a mixture of a few drops of India ink and a few drops of detergent mixed in a mixture of water and alcohol This emphasizes the cracks, crevices, and irregularities in the rock. The next step was to spray the surface of the rock with a very dilluted mixture of water-based paint in the lightest color of the rock. The base color for mountain above Sulphur Gulch was a light tan color, the base color for the cliff behind Lower Cadi Falls included a tiny bit of blue acrylic tube paint to give it a more gray hue.

After the base color was sprayed and dry the next step was to brush color into the rock. There are two sources for this color: powered pigments (burnt sienna, raw umber, chrome green) and powered pastel chalks in various earth tones. These were dry brushed onto the rock in a way that hopefully resembles nature. The lower falls emphasized the raw umber and grays while the upper falls and cliff above Lost Creek used warmer colors such as burnt sienna and yellow ochre. Once the color had been brushed into place it was sealed with a Matt finish spray.

Water was formed using Woodland Scenic's EZ water, which melts at a relatively low temperature and forms a liquid that can be poured into the stream and down the waterfall. It has a tendency to blob up when it hits the cold plaster but this is easily corrected by using a heat gun to remelt the material causing it to liquefy and low into the rocks in a natural manner. After it hardens a bit of white paint is added for the rapids and foam occurring with fast moving water. Left shows upper Cadi Falls and the top of Lower Cadi Falls with a couple of trees added. Right shows Lower Cadi Falls before the trestle was in place.

Final details complete the scene. These include trees, shrubs, and ground cover all constructed from Woodland Scenics' ground foam in various colors. The ATSGRR is set in the year 1937 in the fall of the year. Consequently the undergrowth and a few trees have started to turn to their autumn spender.

Left shows Upper Cadi Falls under Whetstone Ridge with the trees in place and the autumn colors beginning to show. Right shows the top of Whetstone Ridge. The ground shrubs have turned red and the aspens are yellow against the dark pines. To create a feeling of depth trees were planted to force perspective, that is, larger trees were planted in the foreground but toward the top of the ridge the trees are smaller and smaller to appear further away from the viewer.

Left shows the finished Whetstone Ridge, Upper and Lower Cadi Falls, Devils Slide, and Sulphur Gulch without the trestle in place.

Right shows the completed project with the trestle in place and a coal drag crossing the trestle.

Perhaps you are wondering about the unfinished portion to the left. This will be a tunnel where the track enters the helix on its descent to Provo from Ascape. Because the track was not yet "bullet proof" the mountain across the tunnel was left unfinished to enable trouble shooting the track. In the near future a tunnel portal will be placed in this location.

There is one other note of interest for those who wonder about the sanity of the owners in constructing the large trestle at Sulphur Gulch. The engineer constructed this trestle from a single piece of 1 x 4 clear pine. He ripped the board into 1/4 inch slices on a large table saw. He then ripped these pieces into scale sized lumber for the trestle using a small table saw with a very sharp carbide blade which had been pushed through the plate so there was no clearance between the blade and the plate. The bents were first drawn to exact size on a piece of poster board. The upright timbers where then placed over the drawing using double stick tape. The cross supports were then glued to the uprights with carpenter's glue and weighted. After all the bents had been constructed the trestle was assembled upside down. The trestle is on a grade and a curve. A piece of board was cut to the exact radius of the curve and one end was raised to represent the exact amount of the 3% grade. The track support beams and ties were then placed on this board using double stick tape. The uprights were then glued to the support beams using a level to get them vertical. The diagonal beams for each pair of bents were glued in place using contact cement. Then the cross support timbers were glued in place. The construction of the trestle was spread over about 6 months working an hour or two at a time.

The trestle was stored for almost 5 years. Remarkably after a couple of moves it survived rather well. As seen in the photographs the walk and railing around the top of the trestle did not survive undamaged and needs to be repaired and the railing replaced (another project yet to come). The right end of the trestle did suffer some damage in storage so the last 4 bents, diagonals and cross braces was reconstructed before the trestle was returned to Sulphur Gulch.

The trestle is modeled on an actual trestle which existed on the Southern Pacific Railroad. This was pictured inBridge & Trestle Handbook for Model Railroaders by Paul Mallery 1972, The Builders Compendium. This handbook also contains detailed information about the construction of trestles. The original trestle has since been covered with fill. The model on the ATSG was constructed a number of years ago for the first Ascape Tennsion and Sulphur Gulch Railroad. Whetstone Ridge and Sulphur Gulch was constructed to accommodate this original model.

Tourists are welcome to come and ride the local passenger train across the trestle at Sulphur Gulch. Call to schedule your excursion on the ATSG.