Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New Haven EP-3 Motors

Motor #352 @  Danbury, Connecticut 1958  
Casey Cavanaugh Photo, Copyright NHRHTA Inc. Reproduced by Permission

General EP-3 Information

The successful New Haven class EP-3 motors built by General Electric were designed to pull 15 heavyweight passenger cars. Assembled during 1931 these were the first for the railroad with a 2-C+C-2 wheel arrangement and twin AC traction motors per driving axle, they were geared for 70 MPH. A large electric at 403,500 pounds and 77' long at the pulling faces. Steam for train heat was provided by a oil burning vertical boiler with a 1,800 gallon water capacity. Ten of these box cab design motors were built, NH road numbers 0351-0360, the "0" prefix was later eliminated from the road number in the 1950's when the car body was repainted in #13 Pullman green as pictured above.

Comprehensive EP-3 Information

More comprehensive EP-3 information can be found in the book, New Haven Power, by J. W. Swanberg.

A complete 34 page detailed history of the EP-3's authored by New Haven electric expert R. L. Abramson was published in the New Haven Railroad Historical & Technical Association magazine, Shoreliner, volume 34 issue #2, the issue cover is seen below.

This excellent issue is still available from the association via their web site

EP-3's at Danbury

During the mid 1950's era of the layout, the prototype EP-3's regularly pulled round trip passenger trains between Grand Central Terminal in New York, NY and Danbury, Connecticut. Motors assigned to these runs were also stored overnight and weekends at Danbury.

Modeling EP-3's are a must for the layout, building them will be the subject of the next post.

                                                       Modeled Motor #352 @ Danbury, Connecticut 1957

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Danbury Turntable Model


Articles authored by two of the best of the best New Haven modelers, the late Bob Rzasa and late John Pyrke, provided the inspiration to include a model of the Danbury turntable on the layout although it was not in the original track plan.

An excellent five page article by Bob Rzasa on scratchbuilding a model of the Danbury turntable was published in the New Haven Railroad Historical and Technical Association ( magazine, Shoreliner, volume 13 issue 1. This article includes all the necessities, photos, drawings and measurements to scratchbuild the Danbury turntable. Although this article is about a specific turntable it would be helpful to build a replica in any scale of a different prototype. Unfortunately this volume is no longer available from the organization.

An article on modeling the New Haven Hyannis Ma. turntable by John Pyrke was published in the September 2010 Model Railroader magazine. His six page article described how a combination of scratchbuilding and kitbashing methods were used to convert a HO Diamond Scale craftsman kit to represent this Cape Cod turntable as it appeared in the 1950's. The article mainly concentrates on building the through girder turntable bridge.

Overcoming Obstacles

As mentioned above the turntable was not originally planned to be a part of the layout, this was for two reasons. One, concerns that where the model would need to be located on the layout in respect to the prototype yard location, the turntable would protrude into the operators isle. The second reason, the turntable would have to be completely scratchbuilt, adding yet one more time consuming project to a layout where almost every structure needs to be scratchbuilt.

The operators isle where the turntable needed to be located is 34" wide, but at a location where the layout operation is limited, so narrowing the isle to 30" to accommodate a 4" bump out for the turntable seemed feasible overcoming that obstacle.

A used built up motorized turntable at a very reasonable price became available, taking a chance that it could be converted to a reasonable model of the Danbury turntable it was purchased in hopes of eliminating another large scratchbuilding project.      

Modeling The Danbury Turntable

The used model purchased is a Walthers motorized turntable, it is pictured below. This motorized turntable comes ready to operate out of the box after simple wiring hook up, has the ability to program stops and changes the table track polarity as necessary.

The Walthers turntable is a scale 90' in length, the prototype Danbury turntable is 95' in length, therefore this model can never be a true prototypical replica.

The decision was made to use it regardless, free from the confines of absolute correctness it would be "Danbury-ized" as well as possible in a reasonable amount of time and effort. Inspired by the aforementioned articles, the dimensional data and reference photos were employed from the Bob Rzasa article in the Shoreliner, the idea to kitbash the bridge came from the John Pyrke article in Model Railroader.

Turntable Pit

Not being overly impressed with the Walthers factory weathering job and the 4 1/2 scale foot thick ring wall that would not be correct for Danbury, the first modifications were made to the molded pit.

The pit was repainted with a base concrete gray color, then lightly over-sprayed with tan, dark brown, white and black holding the air brush high above the pit surface while spraying then followed by an initial weathering wash. The ring gear that is molded as part of the pit floor was masked while painting, the concern was that paint on the gear may impede the the performance of the bridge rotation in the long run.

To make the pit wall thickness appear more prototypical to the one surrounding the Danbury turntable, an overlay of .010" styrene was applied to the top of the models molded ring wall. Without knowing the exact thickness of the prototype wall, a scale 2' overlay was applied.

As seen above several ring wall overlay pieces were necessary to complete the circle, these pieces were cut initially to a width greater than 2 scale feet. The correct radius representing the outside of a 2' thick wall was cut into the overlay pieces before affixing them to the existing ring wall. The inside radius was cut into the overlay pieces after they were permanently affixed by trimming off the excess width with an X-ACTO knife using the inside of the wall as a guide insuring the inside radius would be a perfect fit.

The .010" styrene overlay is just thick enough to have a hard edge to butt the ballast up against. As seen below, once the over sized ring wall is covered with ballast a faux 2' thick ring wall remains.

Turntable Bridge

The out of the box turntable bridge is a separate part from the pit, it fits nicely into a receptacle hole in the center of the pit that allows the bridge to rotate smoothly.

The bridge comes assembled with an operators enclosure, power arch and bridge hand rails attached, the style of these three parts of the bridge are distinctly different from the prototype, therefore they will need to be changed to "Danbury-ize" the bridge.

The offending parts have been removed in the photo below. A piece of thick foam with a hole cut into the center the same size as the one in the turntable pit made a good work surface to kitbash the bridge.

The bridge deck has nice wood grain planking very similar to the prototype. The small platform cantilevered off the side in the center off the deck seen below is not on the prototype and will be cut off flush with deck.

The photo below shows styrene cross timbers below the deck have been added, spacing dimensions were taken from a drawing in the Bob Rzasa turntable article.

In this next photo hand railing matching the prototype is being added again using dimensional data from the Bob Rzasa article. Additional deck planking sections have been added between the rails as per prototype.

The power arch is the next piece to add. The prototype arch girder has a diagonal lattice pattern on the outside. To model this an easy route was taken, Central Valley bridge girders were used. The photo below shows that the lattice faces of two bridge girders has been separated from the solid web portion of the girders. Again using the dimensional data from the Bob Rzasa article the correct radius curves were bent into the pieces, then the pieces were trimmed to the needed height and width dimensions. The Central Valley plastic is very malleable and will hold a shape after bending, in this case a specific radius.

In order to assemble the two halves of the arch together a quick jig was fashioned. Working on a flat glass surface a straight edge was held down with some masking tape and five styrene blocks were temporarily glued the the glass outlining the height and width of the arch.  

Below using the jig to align then glue the two halves of the lattice arch together. After the lattice arch was glued and now one piece, strips of .010" x .030" styrene were glued to both inside edges of the arch, this was done in two layers staggering the joints. The styrene strips significantly reinforce and hold the desired shape of the arch.

Here the arch has been attached to the bridge.

The prototype operators enclosure is pictured below. Flat sheet metal forms the exterior surfaces. There is no door but the door opening has an unusual radius corner at the top left and a square corner on the other side. A control lever can be seen inside. Sure wish I took more photos of this 40 years ago!

The operators enclosure that was included with the turntable is reused, but the molded on detail of the four sides was filed flat so the enclosure can be re-sided with new styrene sides simulating the flat sheet metal sides of the prototype. Below the four new sides are shown before gluing to them to the enclosure.

Because the enclosure has no door, a lever and some controls can be seen on the inside of the prototype. Some basic control details seen above were added to the inside of the enclosure before the sides and roof were glued on.

The thru the floor control lever below was made from some brass bar stock and rod. This was attached to the enclosure floor before the enclosure was reattached to the bridge deck.

The finished "Danbury-ized" turntable bridge now painted all black as the prototype was in the 1950's.

Couple of photos after some weeds have been added to the scene.

It is doubtful that a prototype Alco DL-109 was ever turned at Danbury, but what the heck!

Not a perfectly accurate model but it will do the job. Maybe some more weathering in the future. The Walthers turntable operates very smoothly, a great addition to the layout.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Danbury Turntable

Danbury Turntable

The turntable at Danbury served a nine stall round house in the steam era.  Installed in 1917 the 95' turntable was located at the East end of the Danbury yard along with other steam era servicing facilities of coal, water and sand. The turntable was used into and thru the Diesel era by the New Haven Railroad and continued use after the New Haven was merged into the Penn Central in 1969.

The turntable can be seen in the lower right in the Danbury yard aerial photo below.

The turntable appears still in a serviceable condition in these the two photos I took in the late 1970's during the early Conrail era.

Decline and Restoration

The turntable eventually became unserviceable under Conrail ownership and fell into disrepair, the pit was filled in with trash and debris from the yard. Fortunately the turntable was never removed.

A second life for the turntable began with the incorporation of the Danbury Railway Museum in 1994. By 1998 the once neglected turntable had been restored to a serviceable condition by the efforts of the dedicated hard working volunteer members of the museum. More about the restoration can be read here. Today visitors to the museum can take a 360° ride on the turntable.


During the modeling era of the layout the turntable and roundhouse were still in use. Below are photos of the turntable as it appeared in the 1950's, this is the look modeling efforts will try to achieve.

The Model

A motorized offering from Walthers below will be used as a beginning for the model, next post will show an effort to "Danbury-ize" this turntable.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Modeling Danbury - Signature Structures, Freight House, Finishing Up

Loading Docks

The loading dock models for the freight house were built separately from the freight house then added to the layout scene after finished structure was in place. Thinking was that it would be easiest to integrate ballast, weeds and other assorted items into the scene that would naturally be under the wooden dock and around the freestanding auto dock before they were in place.

The Freight House Dock

The prototype dock is constructed entirely of wood, surrounds the freight house on three sides then continues beyond the easterly end approximately 90 feet. There are two stair cases on the west end and a ramp on the east end.

The model dock was built with sheet styrene and strips. The underside of the dock during construction is shown below. A simple jig was made to construct the 66 support bents and a spacer block was made to equally space and keep the bents square when gluing them to the bottom of the docks decking.

The top side of a section of the dock after the support bents were glued it place.

At 54" in actual length the finished dock is an impressive size model in its own right.

The Auto Unloading Dock

The free standing auto dock that was at the east end of the freight house is the only remnant of the freight house that still exists today, it is on the grounds of the Danbury Railway Museum.

The kindly folks at the museum permitted me to go into the yard to take measurements and the photos shown below for modeling reference.


As seen above the prototype dock and ramp were constructed with a rail tie surround filled with sand/gravel and topped with a concrete pad.

On the model foam board insulation is subsututed for the sand, styrene sheet for the concrete and strips are used for the tie surround.

Completed Freight House Photos

Below are some photos of the freight house installed on the layout.

This was a lengthy build in time and dimension, but was a fun build! The freight house is now the nucleus of the Danbury portion of the layout. Still needed is some freight for the docks, trucks and grease spots left by them in the driveway, all those neat details that will come in time.

Now it is time to run the daily symbol and extra freights that run thru and in and out of Danbury.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Modeling Danbury - Signature Structures, Danbury Freight House Part 3

As mentioned in the last post it took some time to collect enough reference photos to be comfortable in building an accurate model of the yard side of the original single story section of the Danbury freight house.

The three photos found most useful are below. The first is a cropped version of a early 1900's photo shown in part one, this shows the number of freight doors and their spacing.

Click to enlarge photos.
The next photo shows the types of siding used, freight door design, the spacing between the vertical support posts of the long side, the building end with window and the eve support brackets on both sides. The loading dock detail will be useful when modeling that.

This last photo taken of a photo that hangs in the Danbury Rail Museum became very useful because the camera flash unexpectedly went off while taking the photo. The flash fortunately illuminated the photo, and by enlarging this photo showed that there was a freight door, siding and eve support difference only in the segment of the building shown between the two red lines in the photo below.

The freight door, siding and eve support differences highlighted by that photo are represented in that same segment of the completed model below.

Modeling The Sides

The long sides of the single story model are about 30 actual inches in length. There are over 100 individual pieces to be cut and fitted then mated/glued together. Because of the large number of pieces to be joined and the length of the sides, all these joints would need reinforcement from behind for strength and linear stability.

To achieve the reinforcement necessary the sides were built in two layers. The first layer being a plain one piece reinforcement layer cut to the overall height and length dimensions of the side. The second layer being the visible layer with the multiple pieces glued over the first layer, the one piece first layer reinforcing all the joints of the second layer simultaneously. Both layers are .040 styrene.

The below photos show the numerous board and batten, V groove, door jamb and vertical support second layer pieces being test fit over the one piece first layer.

Normally these sides would have been built on a glass work surface but they are to long for the one on hand so a piece of tempered Masonite was subsututed.

The next two photos show that all the lower siding, door jamb and support pieces that will be painted the darker brown color have been permanently glued to the first layer.

Below the darker brown color has been applied and the remaining pieces now painted the lighter cream color are being glued and slid into place.

The completed side.

With all the second layer pieces painted and securely glued in place, the openings in the first layer for the freight doors can now be cut out.

The Freight Doors

Below one of the freight doors is being assembled. The styles, rails and center mullion have already been glued to the V groove door panel, cross bracing is being glued in place to complete the door.

When there are angles needing to be cut that are not of the usual 30° -  45° -  60° -  90° as with the angled cuts for cross bracing above, a temporary fence cut to the angle degree required is made for The Chopper. In the below photo one of those plastic cards received in junk mail works very well for this application.

A few passes with a file smooth all the pieces glued onto the door panel to the same plain.

Just before painting and in lieu of getting out the bondo, rubbing a soft eraser of  a #2 pencil over the joints of the glued on door detail pieces fills in the gaps (fitting mistakes) between these pieces quite well.

To give the freight doors the ability to slide open and closed, door guides were made for the top and bottom of the doors. Below the top guides are being glued to the top inside of the of the buildings exterior side pieces.

After the building sides were glued to the foundation and floor, the bottom door guides were glued the building floor. To give the doors the ability to slide freely a small clearance gap between the all the guides and the back of the doors is necessary. In need of something to create these clearance gaps and would not be effected by the Tenax solvent glue used to attach the guides, a slick .012" business card from Pierre Oliver that came with the purchase of some detail parts at a RPM meet served that purpose well. Thank you Pierre.

Supporting The Roof

With the opening freight doors exposing the interior freight handling area, this area of the model was made to be completely open from obstructions from side to side and end to end. A ceiling was put in place over this long open span to affix the bulkheads necessary to adequately support the roof.

While browsing a hobby shop several years ago I came across these eve support brackets below made by Alexander Scale Models. Still at their original $1 for 12 pieces price they were a real find. These brackets are very close in detail to those of the prototype.

Note in the background of the photo below that a stone fa├žade has been applied to the foundation simulating the prototype , looking at the photo above one can see what a waste of time this was after the loading dock will be permanently in place!

Some of the eve brackets on the end of the building.

This post is way to long, so next post will finish up with the the freight dock, the free standing concrete topped auto unloading dock, and some photos of the finished freight house at home on the layout.