Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Longest Bridge

Just south of Southern Huntingdon High School stands the longest bridge on the East Broad Top Railroad.  The Pogue bridge is 210 feet long as it passes over Aughwick Creek, some 40 feet below the tracks.  The bridge still stands, although the rails and decking have been removed and the stone piers are in dire need ot repair.  The last train passed over the bridge in 1955, but the iron work Pratt truss deck bridge and the 50 foot deck girder bridge at one end can still be seen,  just a few yards from the main road to Three Springs.  Here the southern span of the Pratt truss bridge is visible through the trees.

The deck girder bridge at the southern end passes over the old road to Three Springs.

My interest in the Pogue bridge was piqued when I stayed at the old Pogue Station, a mile from the south end of the bridge.  It occurred to me that a model of the bridge would fit perfectly in a vacant spot on my EBT railroad.  But the thought of scratch building all that lacey girder work discouraged me from taking on the project.

Recently, several events rekindled my interest in the bridge.  Two fellow EBT modelers, Ric Case and Ron Pearson, both of whom live in the Cincinnati area, shared photos of their models of the Pogue bridge as it appeared in common carrier days.  Their modeling was stunning.  Here is a photo of Ric's version of the bridge.

And here is a picture of Ron's model, offering a panoramic view of the valley, the creek, and the bridge spanning both.

While my enthusiasm was renewed, I was still put off by the prospect of scratch building the bridge.  But then I discovered that Walther's now offers a single track Pratt deck truss bridge kit, Walther's number 933-4520.  And what's more, when I ran across the bridge on the Walther's web site, it was on sale!  I immediately ordered two of the kits, along with a 30 foot deck girder bridge from Micro Engineering.

As it turns out, the Pratt deck truss sections are slightly longer than the EBT version.  As mentioned above, the EBT bridge was 210 feet long, not counting the girder deck bridge at the southern end.  The Walther's bridge sections are 15 inches long in HO scale, which works out to approximately109 feet in length, or 218 feet overall, 8 feet longer than the EBT prototype.  The Walther's bridge is also built for HO gauge track, and is somewhat heavier in construction.  In order for the bridge to support HOn3 track, I would have to modify the support beams to fit the narrower gauge.  To save time, I decided not to use bridge track, and simply lay the code 70 flextrack over the bridge.

Assembly of the various parts of the bridge followed the directions that came with the kits, and was uneventful.  I also purchased  Chooch cut stone bridge piers and end supports from my local hobby store.  The end supports were resin castings and the two central piers were hydrocal.  Because of the height of the trusses, I had to cut down the bridge piers.   This turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated.  It took forever to saw through the various pieces of stonework.

 In addition, the bridge runs along a wall and I needed to leave room for a backdrop mounted on Masonite; so I had to shorten the back of all the piers and supports to allow a 1/8 inch space for the backdrop. Turns out that I cut a bit too much off the piers, and so I had to raise them up using tongue depressors and popsicle sticks as shims.  Fortunately, when the scenery was added, all trace of the shims disappeared.

The effect was exactly what I had hoped for.  Pogue bridge is part of a return loop that runs between Robertsdale and Blacklog, a free-lanced town that is modeled roughly on Mount Union.  The loop allows for continuous running when I am in the mood.  Between the bridge and the aisle is a curving 2% narrow gauge right of way from Blacklog to Orbisonia.  Separating the narrow gauge track in the foreground and the bridge in the background is a double track standard gauge line, which interchanges with the EBT at Blacklog. The fact that the Pogue bridge is set back from the aisle helps to minimize the differences in the bridge's length and structure.

I was so delighted by the way the bridge turned out that I decided to pose a train on it for a photo.  So I replaced the track on the bridge and was about to set a short train on the structure, when a friend watching all this said, "Why don't you just run it across the bridge?"  It was a preposterous idea!  The tracks weren't even wired for power.  The only electrical connection was the metal track joiners at one end.  But  with my friend urging me on, I gave it a try.  Imagine my delight when the little train dutifully chugged across the bridge!

This concludes part one of how I built the Pogue Bridge.  Part two will go into detail on creating realistic bridge stonework, scenicking the woodlands and stream beneath the bridge, scenicking the embankments and approaches to the bridge, and installing the backdrop.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Scratch Building Orbisonia Station

The East Broad Top Railroad began laying track south from Mount Union in January of 1873.  By the end of the year, rails extended all the way to Rockhill Furnace, located just across the Aughwick Creek from its twin borough of Orbisonia.  Initially, the station was called "Rockhill", but the name was later changed to "Orbisonia" to avoid confusion with other Pennsylvania towns called Rockhill.  In the early days, the station did not have its the overhanging roof above the platform, but was a simple rectangular structure.  Other than the porch roofs, little has changed over the 145 years that the station has stood at the intersection of Meadow Street and the EBT main line.  Here is an early photo of the station before the roof was added over the platform.  The locomotive in front of the station is EBT #1, the Edward Roberts, which was sold to the Tuscarora Valley Railroad in 1911..

Here is another view of the station, from a postcard dated 1909.  The two photos suggest that the overhang was added to the front of the station early in the 20th century.

And here is a recent photo of the station as it appears today.  Notice that the station has only two chimneys, whereas in both of the preceding images there were three.

Here is a shot of the south end of the station today.  Note that the door on the end is was not there in the earlier photos.  This end of the station was used as the Orbisonia post office and Railway Express office for many years.

The following is a photo of the rear of the station, not often modeled.   Note the car port and the tower bay, which I assume to have been a staircase from the first to the second floor.

My HOn3 railroad was designed to model the EBT as it appeared in the summer of 1950, some six years before it ceased common carrier operations.  I had wanted for a long time to add the station to my model of the Rockhill shops, and initially hoped to find a kit for the structure.  Webster Classic Models made a kit briefly some years ago, but it is no longer in production and extremely rare.  At the 2017 Reunion of the Friends of the East Broad Top a built model of the Webster kit was offered during the annual auction.  I bid on it, but when the price went over $200 I decided to pursue a less expensive alternative.  Here is a photo of the Webster Classic kit.  Interestingly, after I started my scratch built model, I learned that there would be a Webster kit at the auction for the 2018 FEBT Reunion.  Oh well, I probably had more fun building my own!

Working from the plans drawn up by Lee Rainey in 1956 and published in 1987 in Along the East Broad Top by Donald J. Heimburger, I decided to scratch build my own version of the Orbisonia station.  The plans in the book are in S scale, but it was a simple matter to use a copy machine to convert the drawings to HO scale.  Using the published plans and my own photographs of the station, construction took about six months.

My first step was to print off copies of the plans in HO scale and glue them to a foam board mockup to get an idea of how the model would look on the layout.

Once I was happy with how the structure would look on my railroad, I laid out the plans on a drawing board, and using a T square I began to fit windows and doors to the drawings.

Finding appropriate windows and doors was not easy, since all the windows in the station and the shops were hand made to non standard sizes.  According to Rainey's plans, the station windows were approximately 7 feet high by 4 feet wide.  Grandt Line had gone out of business when I began the project, so I used Tichy for the 2/2 windows.  These windows have a scale size of 64" high by 36" wide, but when placed on the plans they seemed "close enough".  Double windows were made by sanding down the adjoining edges of two 2/2 windows and cementing them together with plastic solvent.  The bay windows also required 1/1 windows on the sides, for which I was able to use Tichy 28 " wide by 64" high windows.

The doors were even trickier than the windows.   While a number of the station doors are standard 5 panel doors (for which I used Tichy doors and frames) most of the doors had extra large transoms. Tichy had nothing similar.  A few of the station doors were similar to Tichy's D&RGW station doors but also required unusually large transoms.  I ended up using Tichy storefront windows and double doors with frame and transom, then cannibalizing the windows to create transoms that looked like the EBT ones.

The freight doors were another problem, as the prototype doors were much smaller than anything I could find commecially.  I ended up using a pair of D&RGW station doors glued together, adding the kit bashed transom windows to create a set of freight doors of the right size.

The three bays had to be handmade by glueing Tichy windows together to form the bay windows, then cutting Evergreen V-Groove siding to form the upper and lower portions of the bays. Once I had all the windows and doors in place, the next step was to cut out the window and door openings. For the walls, I used Evergreen .060" V-Groove styrene sheet (#2060) to make cutting the many openings easier.  It was easier, but the walls were so thin and flexible that they needed extensive bracing.  I used .250" square rods to brace the edges, tops and bottoms of all four sides.  Additional bracing was added as needed.  Here are front and back views of the walls.before painting.

I made the decision to paint the walls before gluing them together.  Painting required care, because of the green trim along the bottom of all four walls.  The prototype appears to have had slightly different colors over years, but I opted to use Floquil Depot Buff for the main color.  (I just happened to have a bottle of Floquil in my paint drawer!)  For the green trim, I masked the depot buff upper part of the walls, then used Model Master medium green in a spray can.  I was delighted how the station came to life with a coat of paint!

The bay roofs were made by sandng 1/8 inch thick balsa to the proper shape.  I painted the roofs black and glued them to the tops of the bays with Walther's Goo.

With the walls painted and the windows and doors installed, it was time to assemble the station.  I used .060" square rod for the corner posts, then cemented the walls together with Plastruct.

The main roof and the porch roofs were cut from black styrene sheet and covered with B.E.S.T. self-adhesive 3-tab red shingles to match the red roof of the prototype.  Gutters were made from .060" channel and painted with Model Master german silver.  The gutters were tacked to the eaves with Walther's Goo, then permanently secured with Plastruct cement.  An order board from Durango Press was added to the front overhang.

I mounted the station on a sheet of .0125 styrene sheet.  Using a hobby knife, I carved in 5 foot scale blocks to simulate the concrete foundation of the prototype.  The base was spray painted with Model Master aggressor grant to resemble cement.  I placed the station on the base allowing 20 feet from the front wall to the tracks, then glued pieces of .250" rod to the base along the inside of the station walls.  This allows the station to be removed when necessary, but keeps it from sliding when being moved.

The photos and drawings show seven support posts for the front roof and four for the car port roof..  Each post sits on a concrete base.  I measured and cut the post and beam supports for the roofs using the Rainey drawings as a guide.  Posts were cut from .060" square rod.  I cut .100" square tubing to create the concrete bases and glued them to the floor.  I added Tichy station eave support brackets to the front porch as shown in the following:

My Orbisonia station sits on 2 inch extruded foam covered by a 1/8 inch sheet of cork.  Using the base of the station as a guide, I cut out a section of the cork so that the base fit neatly into the hole, making the base even with the cork.  With the addition of grass, trees, and a gravel driveway,Oribisonia station is ready for the next train.