August 18, 2016

By the Right Flank, March!

Trackmobile and bucket loader for switching the factory

I decided to proceed with  a much more limited expansion to the PoLA layout. I ruled out the full expansion that I discussed earlier, at least for now. But, I want to try my hand at a larger ship model. Earlier, I had shown a drawing of portable module tacked on the left flank of the layout where my crew lounge couch is (see the dimmed out part of the plan below). While that plan would give me more tank car spots, I never really liked the idea that it would be over the couch, as I do use the couch for guests and the occasional movie viewing.  If the module was portable, I would need to store it.  If it was set up, the couch was compromised. 

With the left flank unassailable, I looked at a frontal attack, but that was quickly dismissed. Frontal attacks are almost always a bad idea especially since  the room needs to be open in the middle for other uses. So, we got out our binoculars and took a good look at the right flank. Yes, we saw an opening.

A few sketches showed that with a minimum radius of 19 inches for the tracks into silo unloading shed of the borax factory, I could expand the layout on the right flank and still have room for a fairly large bulk carrier ship. The ship would be about 52-56 inches long and have a beam of about 8.5 inches. That works out to a prototype length of roughly 115-120 meters.

The added benefit on the railroad side is that the sidings would be long enough to hold 4 cars on each side of the loading shed. With that many cars it would make sense to include the trackmobile that the Borax factory uses to shift cars. This creates a new job on the layout - the Borax shifter using a trackmobile. The prototype uses a track mobile and a bucket loader for that task. An operating bucket loader would be a challenging task in HO Scale, but BLI makes the correct trackmobile with DCC, so that is a non-problem. The other aspect I like about this expansion is that it better reflects the large extent of the US Borax facility at this location. By adding to more space I will be better able to simulate the numerous buildings, sheds, silos, and ship loader that are there. The complex will look like a facility that needs serious rail  and ship service.
Google Street View of Front Loader switcher.

Mock Up
Before proceeding I mocked it up using my camera tripod as a support. I lived with it for a few days to get a feel for the traffic flow in and out of my office. I was happy with it, but CINCHOUSE felt it was too much clutter. To keep a clean look I decided to try cantilevering the expansion without using legs. I used a 1x4 box beam screwed to the Ivar legs as the main cantilevered beam. I built a slightly wider 1x2 box on top of the 1x4 box, which matches the benchwork on the rest of the layout. I was pleased with how study it was. Nonetheless, I added one diagonal brace. I stained the brace black like the Ivar legs. The colored stain helps the brace visually disappear.  To test the bench work, I bumped into it as if I was walking by. It held up nicely. I wouldn't walk on it, but it is plenty sturdy for the model trains.

So far so good. 

Once this expansion is complete, work will proceed on Aquia Landing.
Look Ma, no legs! The 1x4 cantilever beam is visible on the middle right.

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