Heavy Electric Modular Group
Hey guys!

I'm happy to announce that a few other guys and I have gotten the ball rolling on a heavy electric modular railroad. We seem to have plan for overcoming some of the technical issues, and a few of the modules have already been built. They only need track and catenary.

Each module will have 4 track mainlines (going full Pennsy Broadway for this), and will have live catenary. So far it looks like we've only got Northeast Corridor guys involved, but I don't see why there wouldn't be other electrified routes included (though granted, not many other railroads had 4 tracks under wire for long stretches).

Here is a photo of the module. I did not build it, but I might learn how. It is "light weight" but sturdy. it is 5' by 18". The legs can be adjusted to be 40" or 52" high, depending on our needs.

[Image: HE-N2-001.jpg]

My plan is to model the Northe Elizabeth commuter station on the Northeast Corridor in New Jersey.
Modeling New Jersey Under the Wire 1978-1979.  
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Good to hear!
Whow that is a cool idea, maybe you could introduce a "branchline" standard that would have less tracks to cover more routes and allow for flexability?

Keep us posted!!
Be Wise Beware Be Safe
"Mountain Goat" Greg

nice Cheers Thumbsup Cheers
 My other car is a locomotive, ARHS restoration crew  
mountaingoatgreg Wrote:Whow that is a cool idea, maybe you could introduce a "branchline" standard that would have less tracks to cover more routes and allow for flexability?

Keep us posted!!

I'm sure I sounds silly, but what do you mean by more routes and flexibility? Do you mean connecting with other group's modules, or other electrified routes ( Reading Company, Milwaukee Road, Virginian, Great Northern, etc)?

Personally, I think this is a case where a 4 track PRR/NH (now all Amtrak) modular set up allows the greatest flexibility. Almost all popular and easily accessible Electric models operate on the NEC, or did operate on that line during some point in it's existence.

It make the NEC an ideal location to operate these models. Other railroads, not so much. Amtrak is the only completely represented electric fleet. Everyone else has huge holes in the available roster. Even Resin kits and Brass don't seem to include everything. I'm not even talking obscure electrics. You can't model the PRR with just GG1s. If Concor didn't produce the MP54s, the only choice would be obscure resin kits, or brass. MP54s are fixtures on the PRR, so you can see why it was an issue.

So in the long run, I think we're probably accommadating most people. The majority of available models is compatible with the 4 track plan, and there are plenty of places between New Haven, CT, and Washington DC to model.
Modeling New Jersey Under the Wire 1978-1979.  
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Right now I'm still thinking I'm gonna stick to North Elizabeth, though there is a road underpass that might be trouble to model properly, since the module is a flat top. Its easy though, since it is just a straight section of track.

Here is an overhead shot from 1979. I'm modeling the are between the underpass and the overpass. Technically, the module lenght is 5 feet, but each module will only have two catenary structures spaced at prototype distances.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials.php?scale=4E-06&lat=40.680374885964&lon=-74.2060601419073&year=1979">http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials. ... &year=1979</a><!-- m -->

The catenary towers will be at scale distances from each other (or approximately so on the slightly smaller modules). Each module will be as follows-


This means in aerial photos, I can nearly prototypically model any area between any two sets of towers, and any area about half way to the next tower. North Elizabeth seems to fit in well with that measurement. I might have to cramp things only slightly to accomadate the basic features of the area.

Using the same reasoning, it would take several modules to do princeton junction, but it could probably be compressed and still give a good idea of how it works. I figure if I follow my rule of "catenary towers", It would take three modules.

Princeton junction is cool since you could make the Princeton Branch automated. Its literally a single track spur that travels a few miles west to Princeton University and such. The trains run every half hour to meet up with Corridor trains. a few MP54s or Arrows would look at home here.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials.php?scale=8E-06&lat=40.3165819598224&lon=-74.6234630545655&year=1979">http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials. ... &year=1979</a><!-- m -->

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Modeling New Jersey Under the Wire 1978-1979.  
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Heck yeah, a group who'd know what you're talking about Misngth Very cool

Model Conrail

PM me to get a hold of me.
tomustang Wrote:Heck yeah, a group who'd know what you're talking about Misngth Very cool

Don't even get me started!

*babbles on about stainless steel cars that all look identical to everyone else but me*

To be honest, even some of them don't know what I'm talking about. A lot of people were into the Northeast Corridor aspect, but it appears i'm the only one with major prototype information on specific pieces of equipment.
Modeling New Jersey Under the Wire 1978-1979.  
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I have to upload photos, but track and cork have been laid, and at least one end of the module has been "locked down", so that the tracks can be matched up to adjoining modules.

It is REALLY satisfying to have even a PIECE of a 4 track mainline. For one thing, my Amtrak trains don't look "out of place". I can't find any good scale diagrams of the south end of the North Elizabeth Station, but using photos, a ruler, and some fairly insane math, I think I've managed to get the main features of the station roughly approximate to its real-life size and orientation relative to eachother. There doesn't seem to be a need for much selective compression.

In fact, I may only selectively compress in order to allow MORE stuff to be on the module. The module was built by my friend to help get everyone started, and so it was built to an unusual 5' X 18" shape. If I were modeling a straight section of 4 track Northeast Corridor with nothing special around it, this would be more than enough. However, the 18" width cuts out a handful of "landmarks" for the station, and because there IS a station there, the catenary poles are spaced out partially, giving less space "trackside". I'm considering adding 6" "wings" on each side to increase the width, but only if necessary.

Hopefully if I have time this semester, I can begin construction on the "north" end of the North Elizabeth station, which has a roadway underpass beneath the NEC immeadiately north of the station platforms, negating the use of this module to fit the stat in a more "centered" format with just one module.

If I ever get the time and feel brave, I'll have to model south of Elmora, NJ, and do "Six roads", a portion of the NEC with 6 tracks! This 6 track portion continues to Rahway at Union interlocking, and then the Corridor goes back down to 4 tracks.

Each module fits "two" catenary structures, with half the distance between poles on each end, looking somewhat like this:

--------K----------------K-------- Where "K" is a catenary pole.

The current module will cover where the photographer is standing back to halfway beyond the catenary pole immeadiately on the other side of the bridge (roughly the location of the cylindrical hoppers in this train). The photographer is looking south, away from New York.

[Image: GG1%20PC%204858%20&%204857%20_%201-17-76...,%20NJ.jpg]

The next module will "complete" the station, modeling from the current module to halfway beyond the signal bridge. The photogapher is in roughly the same spot as in the last photo, but this time facing north.

[Image: US%20-%20E60CH%20AMT%20957%20@%20North%2...8-7-76.jpg]

hopefully, This gives you guys an idea for what I'm going for!
Modeling New Jersey Under the Wire 1978-1979.  
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Well, I didn't get to post about it, but my module, and the rest of the group, are hooked up at the East Penn Traction Club's bi-annual convention, right by the front door. I transplanted the catenary off my layout and have managed tom impress many of them. The E44s are a big draw as well as my Arrow III.

Apparently, this show continues late into the night, opening at 11AM and continuing until almost 10 PM at night! we're open again tomorrow, its $25 to get in but eh.

We're at Hall C of the "Oaks" Philadelphia expo center, off route 422 in Pennsylvania.

because my camera is dead, I haven't been able to take any pictures though.
Modeling New Jersey Under the Wire 1978-1979.  
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Well, it looks like I can finally resurrect this thread.

Many of our main members have not been able to be very active lately, and in fact, my module wasn't even in my possession for over a year, since last year's Mass Transit & Trolley Modeller's Convention. This past MT&TMC I was only able to contribute my Reading Company module, and we couldn't really operate.

Hopefully, that will change. We are again set to appear at the East Penn Traction Club Bi-Annual National Meet in Philadelphia this May. I'm hoping to have SOME scenery built by then, as well as some catenary. The only challenge will be transporting the module, since once I put anything on it, it will be too big to fit in my car, especially if I build a protective box for it.

I have finally got my module back, and its nice to pose some trains on it, empty as it is. I am looking forward to it though, since I've been itching to get back to modeling the prototype I love!

My E33s surrounded by some new equipment, on Track 2, giving a taste of things to come.

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Modeling New Jersey Under the Wire 1978-1979.  
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No pictures to post, but I will be moving forward with my Module.

I acquired some scrap extruded foam to start building the terrain on the module, as well as additional brass H column and Angles to built the catenary poles.

The catenary supports over North Elizabeth is of the "suspension" type, rather than the "K" brace. I have concerns with how solid this might be, but then I might use steel wire and try and seal it against rust. Steel wire is harder to solder, but MUCH more solid than brass or phosphor bronze.

I'm hoping to get this done in time for the East Penn Traction Club National Convention in May. I'm probably cutting it close, but fortunately this sort of catenary structure does not require much in the way of fancy engineering. It also helps that my tracks are uniformly space, i just need to create one pattern to do it all.
Modeling New Jersey Under the Wire 1978-1979.  
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Well, I finally got the brass stock to build the catenary poles. The poles themselves will be relatively straight forward. I might need to review some of the PRR Dimensions, but I will need to build two pairs of extra-height poles to bring the transmission and signal lines over "Hand place", a one lane overpass and pedestrian crossing.

You can see it with Bing Bird's Eye view here-

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Here is a 1979 Aerial image of the same location (VERY Convenient!)

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://historicaerials.com?layer=1979&zoom=19&lat=40.67925484619051&lon=-74.20663565397261">http://historicaerials.com?layer=1979&z ... 3565397261</a><!-- m --> via @historicaerials

Getting the proportions right

Here is where I crossed into crazytown. Though detailed plans of every specific catenary pole probably exist (or existed at one time), god knows where those are now.

In order to get the approximate pole heights, I used bing-maps "birds eye view" to get the proportions. According to most sources, the average PRR Catenary pole was between 70' and 80'. I measured several "normal height" poles near Hand Place with a ruler pressed against my screen to confirm uniformity. I made sure to remain in the same "picture" as I did this, since if you move too much, you will be given a different photo of the same location. I found that several normal height poles were 27mm tall on screen, then 30 mm tall, and then 33 mm tall on either side of "hand place".

Though these numbers cannot be reliable converted to actual feet, I can use them to create a proportion to match the prototype. Assuming a range of 70 to 80 feet, for the "intermediate height" pole, the height may be 77 feet to 88.8 feet, and for the poles on either side of hand place, the pole may be 85.5 to 97.77 feet tall.

This means whatever I choose to be my standard height, I can at least make them proportionally higher. At the very least, the slope is "linear". What I'll need to do, is determine roughly what the minimum allowable distance is between the signal lines and the transmission lines vs the ground and each other. This will make it very easy to determine whether I want to go closer to the 70 or 80 foot mark. building a mock-up of the Hand Place bridge will help as well.

More fun with math

Though I suspect I did some of this work already and lost it, I again used the aerial photographs to "approximate" the distances between major structures on the prototype. The pole spacing on my module is very similar to the average pole spacing on tangent track. Though I cannot gurantee that is the case here, it seems reasonable then to position the "Hand Place" overpass in a proportional location relative to the catenary poles on either side.

On the module, the catenary poles are spaced 2.5' apart, and 1.25' from the ends (for uniformity).

Using the Historic Aerials shot (which seemed closer to vertical), I measured the distance between poles as being 95 mm. The distances between the easternmost pole and the bridge abutments was 46 mm, between the westernmost pole and the other side of the abutment was 27.5 mm, and the bridge abutment itself was 21.5 mm. Fortunately, there was no fudging here, and everything added up to the total distance.

Heading "eastbound", the abutment should begin about 8 11/16" from the first catenary pole, and it should end 1' 2 9/16" from the next pole.

I measured the overpass itself (which is actually smaller than the abutments, it appears "half" the bridge was never built), and that came out to 9.5 mm. In real inches, this translates to exactly 3". As it turns out, this DOES appear to match closely the prototypical width of the bridge!

I know this from my use of the "rix" highway overpass kits. They are also just above 3" wide, but there is BARELY enough room for even two lanes of traffic with NO shoulders. With a side walk taking up a portion of that, that would certainly cut the traffic down to a single lane!

To confirm, I used google's Street view to transport myself there virtually. As luck would have it, some cars and trucks were following the google van that day. At least to my eye, the width of the road way is consistent with the estimations I made by measuring the aerial photographs.

This makes me feel that my estimations are probably fairly close to reality. Short of going out and measuring it myself, I think this is "good enough".

North Elizabeth Station Part 1: The "West" End

This diagram has the catenary poles, and the Hand Place Bridge, placed to scale where they should be. Some of the other details like the parking lots and houses/apartments are approximate.

I hope by may to at least have the terrain and the catenary poles down. I might also have a mock-up of the Hand place bridge installed. I'm considering making a "brass" skeleton to solder the bridge brackets too, and then covering this up with styrene to make it look like concrete.

Lots of structure scratch building in my future! The station platforms are to the right hand side.

[Image: Module%20diagram.png]
Modeling New Jersey Under the Wire 1978-1979.  
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And so the electrification begins!

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This is the first pole, though it was a little disappointing. The real problem is that my soldering iron tip is finally done, and I don't have anymore replacements. Unfortunately, the tips were special order from Radio-shack, and I don't know if I can get replacements. As a result, while this pole is OK, it came out a little more sloppy than I would have liked. Hopefully I can clean it up a little. When the major soldering work is done. I'll add the grab irons, angle braces, insulators, and other details.

[Image: P4192716.jpg]

Then again, a new tool now and then isn't necessarily a bad thing, and if I'm going to be doing this much soldering, I better get a good one! I'm definitely going to refer to Schraddel's thread here and the brass crane he is building.

In any event, I did do my homework. Learning from my previous experiences, everything was planned out in detail before I began construction. all necessary holes an dimples were cut into the poles as I went, and so each piece of brass stock was ready for assembly when I was done with it. I also used new information I researched to make the pole dimensions more accurate, particularly concerning the size and configuration of the signal and transmission arms. They are matched to PRR diagrams.

The catenary poles around North Elizabeth are of the "wire cross-span" type, with the exception of the signal bridge, but this span is not on this "module", only the two spans adjacent to the Hand Place Overpass. Fortunately, these spans are identical to each other, and so one drawing will do all 4 poles.

[Image: P4192715.jpg]

The main concerns I have are the rigidity of a wire cross span, and the distance between poles. Many HO models have "Strong" pantographs and severely deflecting the wire could pose appearance and operational problems. In theory, both issues should be easily remedied by reducing the upward force of the pantographs on the wire.

This however is its own problem, as this is going to be part of a modular club. We're trying to reduce the amount of modifications we need to make to have all the trains be compatible, but my gut feeling is that most HO scale electric locomotives and cars were not designed to seriously operate under catenary, and many of them (like the new proto Metroliner) have a ridiculous amount of upward force.

Following the advice of Andy Rubbo (his layout was featured in Great Model Railroads a few years back), I'll try to solve this problem using dental rubber bands. Some pantotraphs are trickier than others to rebuild, but nothing is unattainable here.

The next problem will be developing the catenary profile. In this case, the catenary wire itself is mounted onto the Hand Place overpass as if it were a catenary bridge. This reduces some of the deflection concerns, but introduces a different issue. I need to adjust the profile of the catenary wire itself to fit. The natural "curve" of the wire is interrupted by the overpass, and all three wires (Messenger, auxiliary, and contact/trolley) are all essentially horizontal.

In order for this to look natural, I need to have the bridge be in place, or at least the catenary supports, so I can precisely assemble the wire in this area.

I'm thinking I'm going to make a "skeleton bridge" of large brass angle pieces, which will structurally represent the Hand Place overpass. Ideally, this brass structure will be rigid and able to support the catenary, as well as being "out of the way" enough for me to build the model of the bride around it, concealing it.

Or I can just "simulate" the support, and not actually try to build any real catenary support into the bridge, but this give the wire less of an anchor.

In any event, I know that I can at least get the poles and cross spans completed before the show. If I have to just put up "regular" wire, that won't be so bad, I can re-do the messenger wire to match the profile later.

Just gotta get a new iron tonight!
Modeling New Jersey Under the Wire 1978-1979.  
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The pole being modeled, for reference, is the pole in the background directly above the middle (blue) E44 in the picture. This is a typical example of the Tropicana Orange Juice Train of that era.

This is a slide from my collection.

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Modeling New Jersey Under the Wire 1978-1979.  
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