Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Signal Station 199

The Interlocking Tower at Berkshire Junction

The interlocking tower, signal station 199, at Berkshire was erected in 1924. This was the second tower structure that once stood at this junction replacing the original that had been demolished by a Boston to Maybrook NY freight that derailed at the junction. This tower was manned 24/7 until 1960 when movements at the junction were then controlled by a CTC dispatcher located in New Haven CT, the structure was razed the following year.

The low height of this structure in relation to the track provided the tower operators an eye level view of the passing trains making it appear to be a single story tower in most photographs taken at the junction. The photo below of the west and track side of the tower is an example of this. The smaller structure just to the west of the tower in this photo is believed to be a storage shed for coal to heat the tower.


These two rare photos of the rear of the tower show the actual height of this structure as it was built into the side of the track grade embankment. The west and rear sides below.


The east and rear sides below.


The rear of the tower is the side that will face the operators isle in the layout room. Building a model of this tower to any degree of accuracy would be impossible without these photos of the rear of the structure. A sincere thank you to J. W. Swanberg for graciously sharing the three photos above from his collection!

The photo below is the east side of the tower.


Modeling signal station 199

Researching this tower provided no elevation plans or dimensions, therefore sizing a model from these photographs is speculative. Windows and doors that "looked about right" from Tichy Train Group are used, the model will be sized from these components comparing their size in relation to the proportions of the prototype structure in photos.

Below the Tichy windows and doors are fitted into the four sides made from .040" styrene clapboard siding sheets and various sized strips.


The roof is held square while gluing between a straightedge and two combination square heads, the roof panels are made with plan .040" styrene.


Fitting the sides together with flooring and a foundation.


The rear and west sides below. The stair stringers are from Central Valley #1602 steps & ladder package .


Rear and east sides.


The west and track sides below. The track side will be unseen once the tower is placed into the layout.


Below is the coal shed under construction.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Signals for Berkshire Junction

Signals at the Junction

The Berkshire junction portion of the layout is much compressed from the prototype, although reduced in size modeling the junction prototypically will still require some signals that were typical to the Maybrook line in the modeled era. Besides filling a visual purpose these working model signals will also aid when operating the layout.

The Pittsfield MA to Grand Central Terminal passenger train below is on the Berkshire line about to cross over onto the westbound Maybrook line at Berkshire junction. The interlocking signal in this photo is one of the two types of signals that will be modeled. Also of note in this photo is the brown signal station structure in the distance that will eventually be included in the modeled scene.

          Casey Cavanaugh photo, Copyright NHRHTA Inc. Reproduced by Permission

The photo below shows a three light automatic block signal that were the standard on the Maybrook line. This particular signal was at Botsford CT 24.2 miles west of New haven CT, although not at Berkshire junction this photo was used for reference when modeling the second type of signal to be included in this portion of the layout.

                                                         NHRHTA Inc. Collection, Reproduced by Permission

Below is a New Haven Railroad track diagram showing trackage between the east end of Danbury yard at the bottom and Berkshire junction at the top.

Although this diagram is after the modeling era when CTC was installed it indicates the locations of the signals to be modeled circled in red. The top two are the junction interlocking signals and the automatic block signal E 36.7 just below will be the three signals modeled in the junction diorama.

The green lines on this diagram indicate the limits of the 33 feet of modeled track that is unseen from the operator isles between the Danbury and Berkshire junction dioramas on the layout. This unseen trackage is protected by the automatic block signal E 36.7 at Berkshire junction and signal E 34.8 at the east end of Danbury yard circled in red at the bottom of the diagram. On the layout these two operating signals will indicate occupancy of this trackage between the two dioramas.


The four signals described are shown below during construction. The tall one with the dummy mast is block signal E 34.8 and will be located on the Danbury diorama. The short one will be block signal E 36.7 and the other two will be the interlocking signals, these three will be located on the Berkshire junction diorama.

These signals are constructed from K&S brass tubing, the plastic signal targets, LEDs and other plastic bits are from Oregon Rail Supply. The plastic single targets and service platforms are in place at the time of this photo because they are captive between two soldered brass parts on the interlocking signal masts.


The notches visible in the signal masts are for the wiring of the LEDs.


This westward facing photo shows the three Berkshire junction signals in place and operating in the diorama. The interlocking signals indicate the alignment of the Berkshire line switch to the west bound Maybrook main and the alignment of the crossover between the eastbound and westbound Maybrook mains. The automatic block signal in the distance indicates the occupancy of the trackage between the Berkshire junction and Danbury dioramas.

Indicated in red is where the signal station 199 structure will be placed, building this model will be the next project for this diorama.


This is a close up of signal E 36.7, the number on this signal indicates that it is located 36.7 miles east of Hopewell Junction NY on the Maybrook line.


None of these signals are an exact replica of the prototype but will serve a purpose on the layout well.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Moving North

Danbury Connecticut

The Danbury Connecticut diorama of the layout is fully operational and nearing completion in this westward facing photo below. The remaining projects to do here are the details and weathering that are the fun things to be added as the layout matures.


The eastward facing photo below shows near the same level of completion. Remaining to model are two small buildings and a diesel refueling rack that were located in the far east end of the yard just beyond the sand storage bin. These remaining structures that existed during the layout era are still being researched for modeling, while research continues layout construction will move north on the Berkshire Line to the next layout diorama at Berkshire Junction.


Moving North

Berkshire Junction is the location where the New Haven RR Berkshire Line branches in a northerly direction from the east/west New Haven RR Maybrook freight line. This junction point is 3 miles compass north of Danbury station, but for accuracy is considered eastward in New Haven RR timetables. The map below shows the location of the junction in relation to Danbury.



This junction is also the location of this blog's namesake Signal Station 199 where the blog header photo below was taken by Leroy Beaujon in the late 1940's. Signal station 199 interlocking tower and accompanying coal shed will be modeled, the larger structures of Stearns Lime Co in the background would be in the operators isle and therefore not modeled within this diorama.

           Leroy Beaujon photo

Brief History

The 3 miles of trackage between Danbury and Berkshire junction dates back to 1868, this was originally a portion of the New York, Housatonic & Northern Railroad Company a proposed alternate route to New York branching from the existing 1840 Housatonic Railroad at Brookfield Connecticut.

The 5 1/4 mile portion of the NY,H & N from Brookfield Junction to Danbury was the only portion of the road completed. The railroad acquired and graded an additional 23 miles south from Danbury into Westchester county New York but this portion was never finished. The Housatonic Railroad purchased the finished portion in the 1870's.

Below is an original stock certificate gifted from a relative that was a descendant of the certificates bearer. Assumption being these 3 shares of the NY,H & N were in lieu of land granted to the railroad in South Salem, NY that was graded but unfinished.


The east/west New York & New England Railroad was built thru Danbury during 1881, this railroad joined a common grade with the original NY,H & N right of way at 3 miles north of Danbury where these two railroads then ran parallel from that location into Danbury but did not connect with each other.

By 1895 both the New York & New England and Housatonic railroads were part of the New Haven Railroad, under New Haven ownership Berkshire Junction was established in 1908 at this location 3 miles north of Danbury. 

Berkshire Junction

Steam era Pittsfield MA to New York train #141 is about to leave the Berkshire Line and cross over onto the west bound Maybrook Line at Berkshire Junction for the remaining 3 miles to Danbury station. The Maybrook Line gains elevation from the junction and curves to the east just above the RPO car in this photo. Also of note are the backsides of the junction interlocking signals controlled from the operator at SS-199.

           Thomas J McNamara photo

This recent photo taken at approximately the same location shows Stearns siding that was hidden behind the train in the above photo. Stearns siding was a location where Maybrook freight trains would drop or pick up cars for the Berkshire Line during the modeling era, these movements are included in the operational scheme of the layout.

The Maybrook Line is down to a single track in this photo, this was done beyond the modeling era during 1961 when the line was switched from automatic block signals to a CTC system by the New Haven RR. The destinations captions in the photo refer to the lines when this was the NH RR. Both these lines are presently operated by the Housatonic Railroad Company


In this 1957 photo taken at Berkshire Junction the Danbury to Stateline MA symbol freight RI-2 with cars for interchange with the Boston & Albany at Stateline MA crosses over from the east bound Maybrook to the west bound Maybrook, then will cross over onto the Berkshire Line at a switch just beyond the lead RS-3. In the distance some or all of the cars sitting on Stearns siding may be picked up also for interchange with the Boston & Albany.

            Peter C. McLachlan photo

This recent photo of Berkshire Junction faces south toward Danbury. This is again the track configuration at the junction after the New Haven RR installed CTC in 1961. After CTC installation the double trackage in this photo continued for 5 miles thru Danbury to the west side of the city ending at the fairgrounds, this double trackage segment remained automatic block signaled. The Berkshire Line in the lower right was manual block controlled from Berkshire Junction to the lines northern terminals.

Signal Station 199 was no longer in use after CTC was installed and the structures were removed. It appears there is a retaining wall between the conifer tree and the track in this photo, I believe this is where SS-199 once stood.


The Berkshire Junction Diorama

There is 18 feet in length and 2 feet in width for this diorama on the peninsula portion of the layout.

This photo below taken during early layout construction faces compass north at Berkshire Junction. The crossover between the eastbound and westbound Maybrook tracks is in the foreground as in the above 1957 prototype photo, the switch to the Berkshire Line is just beyond. A caboose and boxcars sit on Stearns siding.

As the prototype, the double track Maybrook Line starts to gain elevation at the junction then curves to the right. The Maybrook will then disappear off stage thru a backdrop into the helix beyond, climb 3 turns to a return loop staging yard on the opposite side of the layout peninsula.

The Berkshire Line will also enter this helix but go down 1 1/2 turns to the next northern diorama on the map New Milford CT, this is also on the opposite side of the peninsula where the orange handle clamp is in this photo. 


Since the above photo was taken a masonite fascia and backdrop have been installed along with an extruded foam board "sky" covering the benchwork above.

The first step to bring this diorama to completion will be to build, wire and install the signals that were at the junction during the era of the layout.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Boston & Maine Baggage - Express Car 3280 - Model Finished

Modeled Boston & Maine #3280

Building a model of this converted B&M baggage express car has been an interesting adventure and learning experience starting from the 1958 J. W. Swanberg photo taken in Danbury Connecticut. New Haven EP-3 # 352 was obviously the primary focus of this photo but coupled to motor #352 was an unidentifiable baggage express car with a vestibule on only one end. Thinking that this Non-Haven car would add operational diversity from the home road baggage express cars piqued an interest in building a model of this car.


Fortunately several knowledgeable people answered my blog and NHRHTA forum questions for the identity of this car, they are named in part one and I once again thank them for their contributions.

Photo and dimensional evidence of the prototype car is very limited, what remained unknown is conjecture on my part but I hope finished end product below can be considered a credible model of the prototype.




What is going on in this photo?

The below photo attempts to recreate the original operational movement captured in the 1958 J. W. Swanberg photo.

New York Grand Central Terminal to Pittsfield Massachusetts Train #140 The Mahaiwe has arrived at the end of the Berkshire electrified track at Danbury Connecticut at 10:19 AM.

Motor #352 and Harlem River to Danbury express car #3280 are cut off from train #140 and are pulling forward to clear the crossover from track #6 to track #8, once clear the express car will be backed thru the crossover onto track #8 to a location near the station for unloading. Motor #352 will then pull forward to motor service further east in Danbury yard.


Train #140 continues with diesel power departing Danbury station at 10:29 AM for the remaining 89 mile run to Pittsfield, MA.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Boston & Maine Baggage - Express Car 3280 - Part 4

Car Ends

When originally built for the C&O this baggage/express car had two different design ends. The vestibule end as seen below in the 1958 J. W. Swanberg photo had a design that appears to be the same as the Branchline coach kit that is the core model for this scratch-bash and will not be changed in this build.

Also note the lavatory vent on this end of the car. Most of the B&M converted baggage/express cars had the lavatory facility constructed on one side in a center location of the car. It appears that the two ex-C&O converted cars retained the original location of the Women's lavatory for this purpose instead of constructing a new lavatory in the center of the car..


The opposite car end was originally the RPO end when built for the C&O, this had a different design as below. This end will have to be scratch-bashed.


The below photos show the development of constructing this end with sheet styrene and strips.

Below the unnecessary parts of the Branchline end have been removed leaving a foundation for a new styrene end.


Two styrene strips on each side box in the diaphragm mounting surface.


End sheets have been added to each side of the diaphragm mounting surface and an upper panel has been mounted. The two small filler pieces between the diaphragm surface and the upper panel are there because a height mistake was made when cutting the diaphragm surface pieces, hopefully won't show when sanded smooth and the end is completed, painted and diaphragm mounted.   


An end door is now in place, this came from the kit's inside vestibule wall. The window was sheeted over, maybe this should have been left as a window for emergency egress as B&M practice with the baggage doors? Not having a prototype photo of the brake gear, the gear and chain were harvested from the Athearn car that the roof came from. All holes for hand grabs are also drilled.


Archer rivet decals are again used, the rivet pattern is more prototypical here that the sides. The diaphragm and roof are trial fit.


The Roof

In the photo below that was taken after the B&M conversion it appears that the roof most likely retained the original 10 Garland vents as when built for the C&O. Drip rails have been added over the baggage doors.


Because of the overlapping roof sheets of the Athearn roof, slots need to be cut into the raised roof sheets for mounting the drip rails.


All the roof details are in place in the below photo. The Garland vents are from Custom Finishing Models, the lavatory vent is from the Branchline kit. Not enough brass bar stock was on hand so styrene was substituted for the side drip rails. Grabs and ladder rests are also in place here before painting.


I noticed in the prototype photos that the stirrup steps below the baggage doors have a 45 degree bends above the second rung and are mounted underneath the car. To be consistent with the other baggage cars on the layout steps from Bethlehem Car Works were again used and 45 degree bends were added to the otherwise flat steps.


Below is the finished car body painted B&M maroon.


Next time will show the finished car.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Boston & Maine Baggage - Express Car 3280 - part 3

Car Sides

The sides of car #3280 are plain in design and could be fairly uncomplicated to model with layers of styrene.

A B&M mechanical department document indicates each car side of #3280 has 2 door openings that are 8' wide. An enlargement below of the car circled in the opening photo of part 1 shows that this car has 2 sliding wood construction doors per opening.


The above photo also shows this car had reinforcement plates under each door opening, a belt rail and what appears to be a batten strip separating the letterboard area from the lower part of the sides.

It is my understanding that it was standard B&M practice on all converted baggage/express cars that each baggage door had one window large enough for a person to egress in an emergency. The photo below of a B&M converted Pullman clearly shows the one window large enough for that purpose per door, this is the wooden door design that will be used on the model.


Above are the known and photo evidence details of B&M #3280 car sides. What is not known for modeling is the placement of the baggage door openings and any rivet pattern on the car sides. The 20' to center door opening placement in the drawing below is only conjecture but this measurement looks like it could be near to correct and will be used on the model.


Making the Sides

The sides will be modeled with a four layer styrene system used on other rolling stock previously built for the layout. The photo below shows the first 2 layers.

The base/1st layer is .010" thick styrene cut to the length and height dimensions required for the sides. A strip of .060" 1/4 round strip styrene is glued to one end only of each base layer for modeling the car corner posts, an existing vestibule door jamb will frame the opposite ends when mounted to the Branchline core.

The 2nd layer is also .010" thick. This layer covers the base layer and will form the exterior surface of the doors that will be visible on the finished model. All other areas of the base layer will also be covered with .010" filler pieces that will be unseen on the finished model after the 3rd layer is applied over them. A .025" slot will be left open under each door, this will be for a .020" thick door sill to be mounted later.



There is more on this blog about layering and how the doors were modeled using styrene strips and jigs, this method was also used when the RPO cars were built and can be seen there.

Below are a sample of the many parts that comprise a door, these are just the vertical pieces that will be used when assembling the doors on the second car side.


The 3rd layer will represent to outer surface sheets of the sides, these side sheets are all .040" thick.

Each side sheet has 3 basic parts, the upper side sheet, lower side sheet and a .015 x .060 upper belt rail piece. The .060" wide surface of the upper belt rail piece will be glued sandwiched between the upper and lower sheets, leaving .015" x .020" protruding further out from the side sheets to represent the top of the belt rail.

The .010" thick batten strip and lower belt rail piece are actually parts of the 4th layer of detail. The lower belt rail piece will be glued directly under the upper belt rail piece completing the belt rail and the batten glued were needed.

One of the six completed side sheets is at the top in the below photo.


Below are both finished sides.

Pieces of .040" thick strip styrene fill in between the side sheets above and below each door and .040" 1/4 round strips make up the door jambs to complete the 3rd layer.

The 4th layer door opening reinforcement plates are in place under each door, these are also .010" thick. The door sills will be added later before painting.

The windows openings will be cut out and mounting holes will be drilled for all hand grabs before the sides are attached to the Branchline core.

Not having photographic proof of the rivet pattern on the prototype, a generic rivet pattern was applied with Archer rivet decals.


Next time will finish the car ends and roof.