7+-NGM-logo The

7-Plus-NGM Digest March 2001

Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 19:42:24 -0000
From: miniaturerailway@bigfoot.com

Subject: Worldwide miniature railway list

We've taken on the mammoth task of trying to compile of list of all small gauge railroads around the world. We're basically interested in anything between around 7" and 20" gauge, be they park trains, scale trains, steam, diesel, electric etc. All railroads must offer some kind of public passenger-carrying service (no private railroads please). Club tracks are welcome providing they offer at least a handful of public running days each year. A categorized list will eventually be published.
Please note that we're NOT looking for info regarding UK railroads, this area has already been well documented.

Information can either be sent via this Email address or by visiting our website and filling out the online request form - click on the 'Worldwide Miniature Railway' page when you get there.

If sending details via Email, the type of stuff we're looking for is railway name, railway location address/contact phone number), gauge, website (where applicable), track length (maybe also a brief description of the track layout?), number of steam locos and number of electric/I.C. locos. Don't worry if you can't fill out all these details though, just send us what you know and hopefully we can piece all the bits together!

The Miniature Railway Links & Photos page.

Links to miniature railways around the world, equipment suppliers, book and video dealers, discussion groups, magazines, enthusiast pages and an extensive online photo gallery (nearly 400 images) detailing miniature railways in the UK.

Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001 22:13:09 +0100
From: "Hubert Wetekamp"

Subject: 200 members

Hello all,

it's a little bit quiet actual, but no I have a really impressive newsmessage:

As I checked at yahoo this evening, I found, that we no have over 200 members (201).

And that in less than a year.

I'm really impressed and wish to thank you for this wonderful support.

Hope, you enjoy our mailing-list as I do.

Thank you very much.

Moderator of the 7-plus-ngm - mailing list

Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001 14:11:16 -0800
From: "Quentin Breen"

Subject: Re: Worldwide miniature railway list

The Klamath & Western Railroad offers rides to the public every on Sundays between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM, between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. This 7 1/2" gauge railroad has 9,000' of track winding through a Ponderosa Pine forest and features a curved timber tunnel and a twenty foot long bridge. The club uses two Railroad Supply GP-40 engines that pull twelve passengers each plus engines owned by members of the Over-the-Hill Live Steam Club which operates the Klamath & Western Railroad. The railroad is located at 36951 South Chiloquin Road, Chiloquin, OR 97624. (541) 783-2670. While no admission is charged, donations are welcome for maintenance of the railroad.

Quentin Breen

Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 23:19:46 -0500
From: "Rich D."

Subject: Re: Worldwide miniature railway list

Mid South Live steamers. Monthly public operation.

Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 02:10:27 EST
From: KGV30@aol.com

Subject: Re: Worldwide miniature railway list

Kitsap Live Steamers offers rides on the second and fourth Saturdays April through October 10:am to 4:00 pm. Further Information see our website.


Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2001 10:11:13 -0500
From: Stan Zdonick

Subject: Re: Worldwide miniature railway list

Pioneer Valley Live Steamers in Southwick, MA is a club celebrating its 49th year. We have a few public meets during the year, other club members are welcome to steam-ups, blowdown meets, etc. We run four gauges up to 7 1/4". For more details see http://www.pvls.org or http://www.pioneervalleylivesteamers.org

I'm the web master and a member for a total of 1.15 years.

Stan Zdonick

Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 10:46:24 EST
From: Jubilatede@aol.com

Subject: Re: Worldwide miniature railway list

Try: trainline@worldnet.att.net which puts you in contact with Tom Keenan, Editor of Trainline, the house organ of the Florida Live Steamers, an unberella organization of 7+ (and minus) tracks in Florida. My slot down here is the Largo Central Railroad (try that on a search engine - I think we have a page) in Largo (FL) Central Park which meets your criteria. Well, maybe: in our deal with the city we are open for free public rides the first full weekend each month. My "home" club up north is not open to the public so I shant bore you with such information.

Why stop at 20" ga. when you can pick up such nice outfits as the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway and Museum, Alna, Maine.

Good fortune with your enterprise.

Cam Brown

Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 16:22:16 EST
From: rainbowsat@aol.com

Subject: Re: Worldwide miniature railway list

The LCRR page is www.webom.com/lcrr/
Cameron Wilkes

Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2001 23:02:55 -0000
From: "Curtis S. Ferrington"

Subject: Boiler Pressures.

Why is the standard boiler pressure in the hobby 125psi?

What are the implications for pressures over 125psi?

Do any clubs limit the psi?

125psi is a nice number providing plenty of horse power, and occasionally too much. However it is just not as efficient as higher pressures. As soon as one starts looking at professional operations the pressure usually jumps to 140psi and higher.

A friend of mine has a boiler under construction (for a 1.5" scale 4-8-2) that is going to be ASME rated for 600psi and he plans to run at 200psi on Diesel #2. His reasoning is for the efficiency and better sound with the small loads. He's well experienced with running both model and full sized engines thus plans to have many notches on his Johnson Bar, and use them all. His philosophy is to touch the throttle as little as possible.

For some reason I have it in my head that running with that high of pressure has some legal ramifications in the public settings of most clubs.

I welcome everyone's perspective on this.

Thank you,
Curtis F.

Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 18:10:09 -0500
From: "Lewis, Woody"

Subject: RE: Boiler Pressures.


I have seen some live steamers run as high as 200 PSI. Typical club standards do not really have a limit on the pressure as long as they pass boiler inpsection testing at 1 1/2 times operating pressure (or whatever the club standard is). The things which seems to be the limiting factors are the external pipes, water glasses, valves, throttles etc. They start loosing their ability to withstand failure at the higher pressures. I saw one guy blow a silver soldered brass pipe joint when he was running at 200 lbs, but before that he had plenty of steam power to run around the track.

Woody Lewis
Colorado Springs, CO

Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 17:50:18 -0700
From: "Mike Decker"

Subject: Re: Boiler Pressures.

Hi Curtis:

One of the limiting factors are the valves and pipe fittings. If you are going to be insured to ASME Code, once you get above 150 PSI, the next size fittings are 250 PSI valves. They are considerably larger (and more expensive) than 150 PSI valves. That's one reason we limited our operating pressure to 150 PSI on the 15" ga. locos we built at Sandley's.

Mike Decker

Date: Wed Mar 7, 2001 3:27pm
From: davidh8602@aol.com

Subject: Fwd: [7-plus-NGM] Boiler Pressures.

Date: Wed Mar 7, 2001 5:13am
From: "Lee Balkum"
Subject: Re: [7-plus-NGM] Boiler Pressures.
To: DavidH8602@aol.com

I strongly recommend against higher pressures.

First, they aren't needed. For proof you can watch Gene Allen pull 3 or 4 cars loaded with men all over Roy Pickard's Comanche & Indian Gap (ruling grade = 3 1/2%) at 100 lbs. And that's on an Allen American. With 4, count 'em, four drivers and an engine that weighs about 500 lbs.

Second, your plumbing can't cut pressures as high as is being discussed.
Most whistle valves and throttles leak now. Imagine what happens when you blow a sight glass......

Third, these engines are never, repeat never, lacking in horsepower - just traction. That and an engineer that can keep the drivers from sliding.

Fourth, Efficiency? In a model? Who cares?

Finally, at 200 lbs and above, a failure has a far greater chance of being a catastrophic failure with shrapnel being flung far greater distances and the risk of injury going up exponentially.

Lee Balkum
Houston Area Live Steamers, Past President
Southwestern Live Steamers, Past President

Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2001 17:15:41 -0000
From: dmmcomo@socal.rr.com

Subject: Re: Boiler Pressures.

Curtis -

I have to agree with what Lee Balkum has said. I tend to build my boilers healthy stout and do test them to 600 psig but normally run at 125 to 130 psig with safeties set at 135 (#1) and 150 (#2).

Since I use injectors as my sole source to water, the higher pressure would require a rebuild, and all pumps and valves would have to be much stouter. No Superscale or Cole's valves would be safe.

Also, cylinder lubrication becomes far more critical. What would be a minor problem for low pressure saturated steam would be a disaster for cylinders running at 200 psig. If superheat were added at that pressure, you could easily get carbonization of the cylinder oil even using the newer synthetics.

Avoid a lot of headaches and stay below 150 psig; with the right size cylinder you will have all the power you can use.

Rudy van Wingen
Como Roundhouse Products

Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2001 13:04:13 EST
From: btflco@aol.com

Subject: Re: Re: Boiler Pressures.

I think that most of us are running at 100# - 125# of pressure. Rudy is right about the cylinder lubrication. I have a 3.75" scale loco that has the pops set for 105 & 110. I usually operate right around 90 with lots of power. Remember that steam is very powerful due to its expansion rate.

Even on the local tourist line here, they run safely at 150-175 psi with power to climb 8% grades.

Jeff Badger

Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2001 22:00:43 -0000
From: minrail@hotmail.com

Subject: Miniature Railway Books

To all potential US clients. I am pleased to advise you that payment for books on my site, www.miniature-railway-books.com can now be made via credit card or check in US Dollars thanks to the PayPal service.

I hope I can now provide a better service to you!

Adrian Sant

Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2001 21:55:34 +1300
From: "Hansen-Hill"

Subject: Fw: NZ entry

railway nameTot Town Railway
railway locationKowhai Park, Wanganui, New Zealand
addressAnzac Parade near Dublin Street Bridge
contactLions Club-Bob Horsley
phone number64 6 345 2955
schedule1:30 - 3:30 weekends and school holidays, 2:00 - 4:00 daylight savings weekends and school holidays or by charter anytime
websiteunder construction
track length252 Metres
brief description track layout - egg shape with tunnel around moat, castle, pirate ship and Moa Forest adjacent to large unique playground along the Whanganui River. The 12 # rail was layed used in 1963 and had rusted away by 1999, replaced with new 16 # rail in 2000.
loco petrol 0-6-0 number PZ1 built in the NZ Railways shops in 1963 using jigger wheels and mechanism, later converted to hydrostatic drive.
rolling stock4 straddle carriages = 16 adults or 24 children
specialities beloved by generations of children and and, with the new rail, even more generations can be expected to ride and love this train

Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2001 06:36:05 +1300
From: "Hansen-Hill"

Subject: (unknown)

railway nameEsplanade Scenic Railway
railway locationPalmerston North, New Zealand
schedule Saturdays, Sundays and School Holidays 10 AM to 3 PM. Work parties are frequently weekday mornings.
phone number
gauge/scale10 1/4" / 3"=1'
website Unknown
track length1.7 Kilometres and growing
brief description track layoutDouble loop to single loop with 2 stations soon to be joined into oval of over 2.5 Kilometres
locos 1 X NZR Da (B-B) being repowered to three cylinder Kobota diesel and 3-speed transmission all wheels powered in red and yellow
1 X NZR Dc (C-C) with three cylinder Kobota diesel and hydrostatic drive in red and yellow
1 X NZR Dx (C-C) with three cylinder Kobota diesel and hydrostatic drive in blue
rolling stock4 X NZR carriages in blue
3 X NZR carriages in red and yellow
2 X flat wagons for construction set-up for rail transport
1 X ballast wagon bottom dump
specialitiesNew long bridge replaces low section. New section to be built along river bank will complete oval.

Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 16:42:14 +1300
From: "Grant and Donna Alexander"

Subject: Progress at Squirrel Valley

Hi guys,

Just a quick note to let you know of recent progress at Squirrel Valley bush tramway.

Well we finally got rash and bought about 5 cubic yards of ballast and spent a couple of happy days distributing it around the track. And with the ballast in place I can finally fix some of the unplanned positive and negative camber, and this I have completed too. The ride now is much improved, and even the sound of the train has changed although I don't know if I would say it's changed for the better!

Another major change, the passing loop at "Lakeside" is now complete, and ballasted of course too. This involved building and laying a over 40' of track, but more importantly replacing a turnout that was facing the wrong way. We can now leave my little tram and passenger car on the loop when visiting loco's want a run, much more dignified than dumping the Tram off on the grass! Oh, "Lakeside" has been temporarily renamed "The Bog of Eternal Stench" as the lake has nearly all dried up leaving a smelly bog that even the frogs moved out of.

The final area of improvement has been the reinstatement of the petrol motor in the 6 coupled diesel outline switcher. After a few initial overheating problems this now is starting to become more reliable, and in fact was in revenue service this last weekend at our local clubs track, running for over 2.5 hours without a problem.

And that's about it for the moment.

Grant and Donna Alexander
C/- Squirrel Valley Railway

Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 03:09:57 -0000
From: dmiracle@mediaone.net

Subject: (unknown)

Hello My name is David Miracle and I've been lurking and enjoying the list and thought I would share a little about myself and post a picture to the files section in folder called Miracle Valley Railway of a project I'm building (still under constuction) for my wife Connie. It's a 7.5" Rail Truck that she can ride inside, It's about half size of a model T pickup.

It is powered by 24 volt batteries with all wheels powered with a 1/2 hp dc motor to a 5 to 1 gearbox with dynamic braking.It has a single pedestal mounted axel up front and a 2 axel truck in the rear, both are powered.

We are mainly in 7.5" gauge, Our current projects are the rail truck and a Baldwin 2-6-0 mogul in 3 3/4" scale modeled after a 2' gauge locomotive. And as most any railroader lots of little projects that seem to multiply on their own and are never finished.

David Miracle

Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 20:29:30 -0800
From: Russ Wood

Subject: Model T Truck!


Great job on the truck! What is the grille made from it looks "right on the money"


Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 11:20:18 EST
From: DFWSVW@aol.com

Subject: Annual Boiler Testing

During the past week or so there has been discussion on this 7+ site regarding boiler operating pressures. It has been very interesting and informative. I would like to continue the dialog on boilers but in a slightly different direction.

Annual hydrostatic testing of our live steam boilers at 1.5 times operating pressure appears to be a standard throughout the hobby and would be a non-issue. New boiler construction initial hydro testing at Kitsap Live Steamers (KLS) is three times operating pressure. During the KLS March, 2001 monthly meeting the following decision was made as reprinted from the meeting minutes.

"Also a extensive discussion ensued as to reference internal inspection of the boilers, and after it was completed the result was that if possible to open up your boiler for internal inspection please do so then hydro testing."

Questions regarding this polich are as follows:

Do any of you belong or know of another recognized Live Steam Club who has a similar rule of mandatory water side inspection each year?

If so, then what was the basis of such a rule and can it be traced to real boiler safety concerns that needed to be immediately addressed and where the hydrostatic test could or would not identify metal thinning safety type problems?

Making visual inspections of the water side of our boilers would appear to be important for determination of plugged water legs or indications of untreated or improper water treatment or internal corrosion but should such inspections be mandatory or only strongly recommended?

With no exceptions being allowed for such internal inspections as the result of boiler style, type or construction, are such inspections necessary for copper boilers, where internal corrosion is non existent or for Briggs type boilers where there are no water legs?

Doug from Seattle

Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 10:19:35 -0600
From: "Tom Casper"

Subject: RE: Model T Truck!

Russ, where did you see the photo of the truck?

Tom Casper

Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 15:59:07 -0500
From: Stan Zdonick

Subject: RE: Model T Truck!


go to

Stan Z

Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 21:53:53 -0000
From: dmiracle@mediaone.net

Subject: Rail truck

Thanks Russ,
The grill face is made from lazer cut stainless steel and has been polished to look like chrome and has a edge of chrome plated plastic.

It will be edged by a radiator shell when it is done. Lots of work yet but hope to have it ready by the Central Carolina Meet ia April, at least that is what the boss wants.


Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 08:30:55 -0000
From: "Chris Draper"

Subject: A question of practical track standards

Greetings all,

I'd like to raise the topic of private line track standards for discussion.

For me, a fat little locomotive plying hairpin bends and surmounting impossible grades appeals, and suits my situation. But all that I have read to date appears to focus on lines built to take a variety of equipment that inevitably means broad sweeping curves and minimum grades.

Tighter and steeper suits my steeply sloped 6 acres, but my experience with the smaller indoor scales has taught the lessons of reliability, and I imagine these same lessons should not apply to 3" scale. So the question becomes one of how tight and steep can you go and still get enjoyment with a home line?

So for a private home railway, (tramline), where visiting equipment is likely to be rare, (but lets not preclude it!), what should the minimum reliable standards be? And just as importantly why? I think the why is most important in forming a personal opinion on where the inevitable compromises must be drawn.

My current thinking for my 7.25", gauge, 3" scale proposed line is as follows:
1)Minimum radius:10m (32ft)
2) Max mainline grade (Straight track) 4% (1 in 25) )
3) Max mainline grade (at min radius) 2.5% (1 in 40) )
4) Min track spacing??? )
5) Min mainline clearance (eg tunnel) ??? )
6) Max grade to get to storage barn5% (1 in 20)? )

What do you think? And why?

Looking forward to your answers,
Chris Draper

Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 11:09:49 -0600
From: "Lee Balkum"

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

See comments in red below............

1) Minimum radius:10m (32ft) Will preclude some larger 8-coupled and above, probably not a problem for you.
2) Max mainline grade
(Straight track)
(1 in 25)
In 3" you may not have any problem as I gather you won't be looking to pull trains over 3 or 4 cars. Key is weight on drive axles. Get to 200#'s per axle and no problems.
3) Max mainline grade
(at min radius)
As above.
4) Min track spacing??? Just check expected car widths plus whatever clearance you're comfortable with. Watch for knees passing trees, etc.
5) Min mainline clearance (eg tunnel) ??? If by "clearance" you mean height, whatever you're comfortable with while doing maintenence.
6) Max grade to get to storage barn5%
(1 in 20)?
You'll be surprised what you can pull with emptys. 5% will be just fine.

Lee Balkum

Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 12:22:49 -0500
From: "Bruce Mowbray"

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

I too am building my railroad on a hill side. It sure is a lot of work with all the earth moving and trestle building that has to be done to make a track with suitable grades. Your track profile is not unlike mine exept I when for 45 foot radius curves. Why, because I could. A good friend of mine has a small backyard line with 22 foot radius curves and he has no problems with smaller locomotives. He also likes the small industrial branchline locomotive as you do. He has already had a visitor or two to his small pike. Even small to medium sized 1 1/2"- 2 1/2" scale moguls (2-6-0) can handle a 32 foot radius curve. A little spread (+1/8") of the gauge and some super elevation will greatly improve performance of tight curves. Your grades don't seem too steep either. They might be a little on the steep side if these grades are on curves. Curved track adds to the rolling resistance. Try to keep your grades on tangent track as much as possible. You will not be able to pull long trains with your small locomotives anyway, although 3" scale is big and heavy, and some hills will make running your train interesting. You may need a little spped to get you over your ruling grade. Grades into things like storage barns and steaming bays can be steep as these are not used all the time and the train can usually be helped along by hand if necessary. Track center to center distance should be at least 3 1/2 feet. Wider is better as this will prevent your riders from banging feet and grabbing each other as they pass.

I have been keeping a journal of the building of my railroad. Feel free to take a gander at my webpage and ask questions.

BTW...your in 7 1/4" gauge country? Where abouts? I'm in Northeast PA.

Bruce Mowbray (president)
TMB Manufacturing And Locomotive Works
1 1/2" Scale & 2 1/2" Scale (Narrow Gauge) Live Steamer

Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 13:05:17 -0500
From: "Rich D."

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

After having been involved in building two 7-1/5" tracks, one home and one club track on a small (4 acre) site, I casn give what is tolerable.
Maximum grade 2.5%. 3% is a bit of a stretch.
25' min radius will work for small 2-8-0's and regular 2-6-0/4-6-0's with the gauge widened to 7-9/16 to 7-5/8".
Track spacing for passing trains 36".
Tunnel clearance 41" width x 60" center height (on a 50' radius).
Super elevation max 5/15" for 50' radius. (SE is an excellent asset to comfort and safety). This must be tapered in and out at the tangents.
Rich D. Atlanta

Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 12:33:05 -0800
From: "Quentin Breen"

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards


My principle comment is on tunnel heights. You would be surprised how many times you are going to have to walk through that tunnel for maintenance and such. Walking in a crouch is for fraternity initiations, not a railroad you are supposed to enjoy. As I am 6'6'' tall, our minimum tunnel height (in the center) and bridge clearance is 7'. I like double track on four foot centers to keep passing passengers from grabbing each other. I second the comment on avoiding grades on curves if you can because a sharp curve will effectively turn a 3% grade into a 6% grade. Of course, it depends on how much weight you want to pull.


Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2001 09:47:05 EST
From: PrototypeB@aol.com

Subject: Re: Test message

I got your TEST message.
I went to your site the other day... very nice pix from the show...
To bad we don't have more LARGE scale people around here ( Connecticut-USA).
I model 2 1/2" RMI , kit and scratch built.


Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2001 11:01:06 -0500
From: Arno Martens

Subject: Re: Test message

Yup Rich, you new provider works.

Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2001 11:18:19 -0500
From: "Rich D."

Subject: Re: Test message

No new provider. YAHOO has forgotten my password and I cannot enter the web site to access my account. All attempts to create a new password fail because I have don't have the info that yahooo requests because the old Egroups did not require it. I still get all the groups I have set to email to me. But, they say my accounts are canceled. WHAT A MESS!
They're customer service is a robot, not a real person.
Rich D.

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 10:31:46 +1200
From: "Grant and Donna Alexander"

Subject: A question of practical track standards

Chris and team,

Here's a couple of examples from practical experience that may help.

I have run my 6 coupled diesel outline shunter on 28 foot radius 7 track that circled a chaps house that was located on a acre block of land. It did get round okay but I couldn't suddenly accelerate as the leading driver did want to climb out of the rails. Note, my loco weighs in at about Ton. This chap had a couple of pinches on these radii and I needed to physically guide my loco through these to avoid a derailment. My little 0-4-0 tram outline battery/electric cruised round this track without any problems, as did his 9 foot long "sit-in" style FA1 loco, but of course both these loco's have a short fixed wheelbase.

With regards to gradients, I am aware that you intend to use battery/electric traction in your "fat" engine, and I have found these to be a lot more susceptible to gradients than infernal combustion powered loco's. I have a short (about 20 feet) section of perhaps as much as 4% on my tramline and this really takes a lot of current to overcome. This wouldn't normally be a problem but my average train length is under 20 feet, so my entire train is on the steeper gradient and this does impact the speed (and current consumption) noticeably.

Also, from experience, I find there is a large difference in the hauling ability of my little battery electric tram if the carriages I am hauling are fitted with wheels that are free to rotate with respect to each other.
Yes I know all about taper of treads and all that but I'm speaking from actual experience. And in fact on this basis our local club is embarking on a program of fitting extra bearings to allow this differential action.

Grant Alexander
C/- Squirrel Valley Railway

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 08:51:15 -0500
From: Stan Zdonick

Subject: CT (was Test message)

Hey Barry,

I don't know where you are in CT but you're welcome to come up to Southwick MA. I'm a member of Pioneer Valley Live Steamers, we're here, come on over. We have plenty of members from CT in the club already.


Stan Z.

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 09:18:01 -0500
From: Robert Herronen

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

Howdy ya'all,

I am sure glad you all are talking about the track standards you are using. And in such good timing too! After hearing the preferred radius (radii?) that people are using I resurveyed by route down the hill (Pine Hill). It made the S-curve into a gentler S-curve (have to swing around the well) and increased the gradient to about 3 to 3.5 percent. It also meant that some big trees were spared and I don't need to build the viaduct anymore. Thanks! (I was lowing the gradient by increasing the length, It meant a sharp 22' radius curve on a viaduct. That would be every hard on equipment - even on the 2.5% gradient.)

This weekend I finally got the subroadbed at Home Ranch done and started to assemble the track panels. (Home Ranch is only about 50 feet long but it will allow me to store my train on the rails off the trailer so I can use IT again.) Now it is DOWNHILL, literally, from there.

Again, thanks!

-Rob Herronen Superintendent of the Rio Grande Southern R.R. of N.C.

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 09:23:38 EST
From: PrototypeB@aol.com

Subject: Re: CT (was Test message)

I am a member of PVLS, I saw you there several times, I think.
I ran my 0-6-0 diesel, riding car, boxcar and caboose many times last summer.
I even subleased space with Tracy.
My comment was to large scale equipment-- 2 1/2 and up...there are very few of us around, that I know of.
Barry Bridges

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 09:00:21 -0700
From: "Mike Decker"

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

Grant & Chris:

The "loose wheel" was used by Sir Arthur Heywood on his fifteen-inch gauge cars. He didn't have anything as fancy as separate bearings though, one wheel was simply bored for a running fit on the axle. The close fit between the axleboxes kept the wheels in gauge. The differential action allowed him to use curves as sharp as 25 feet on the mainline and 15 feet in sidings, though I'm not sure that his wagons would stay coupled together on the sharper curves.

I plan to have a two percent grade and twenty foot radius curves leaving the terminal on my 7-1/2" gauge "Heywood" style tramway, but I'll use the widest curves and lowest grades I can once away from there. The first loco(s) will be IC powered, four wheeler's.

Mike Decker

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 11:19:37 -0500
From: Stan Zdonick

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

Grant, Chris, and anyone else,

The biggest problem we run into at our club is a lack of traction for the engines. Most are over-powered for the task of pulling a few cars. This might be a good solution for engines that simply can't handle any more lead. My little critter will spin its wheels at will since I haven't even started to add weight.

I'm wondering if this issue is improved by using larger diameter wheels? The car I pulled last year had small 4.25" wheels. I'm about to build riding cars around either 5" or 6.25" wheels. I assume these will run much better.

Any thoughts?


Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 10:34:44 -0600
From: "Lee Balkum"

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

Smaller pull better, larger are for speed. I added 175 #'s of lead to my 2-8-0 to make it pull. Get as close as you can to 200 #'s per drive axle.

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 11:49:20 -0500
From: Stan Zdonick

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards


I was referring to the wheels on the riding car, not the engine.

Thanks for the weight tip, I must be at least 200# light right now.


Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 10:57:23 -0600
From: "Lee Balkum"

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

Sorry, I read it quickly.

A freelance 3 3/4" scale diesel loco, for 7.5" gauge track. Here is the loco with a temporary wood frame for testing track clearances. Running on 7.5" gauge, most have small 1.5" scale clearances and their 'head' takles less room at 45 inches up than a diesel cab, 23 inches wide.

Here I am, sitting in the cab of my 3 3/4" scale loco. The main reason for the larger scale was room to ride inside the cab!

The 3 3/4" scale loco with a temporary body 'skin', for size feeling and color. Its to lite of green, but does give a sense of size here.

Frolin Marek
Marek Mountain Railroad
San Antonio, Texas

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 13:44:44 -0500 (EST)
From: drgw50tc@webtv.net

Subject: Re: CT (was Test message)

Hi Barry, saw your note on the narrow gauge page about larger scales. My name is Thom Cleesattel, I'm a member of the Tonawanda Creek Model Engineers here in Amherst,NY about 10 miles north of Buffalo,NY I have a model in 2 1/2 scale of the #50 D&RGW diesel switcher with a low side gon and flat cars. My buddy and myself usually make the Adrondak Live Steamer spring meet and Fingerlakes Live steamers spring and fall meets .We are going to try to make the PVLS run this year if time,work and wife allow it, ya know how it goes. It would be nice if we could hook up somehow at one of the meets

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 13:54:45 -0500 (EST)
From: drgw50tc@webtv.net

Subject: Re: CT (was Test message)

Hi Barry ,Its Thom again. I'm having trouble with this webtv thing it will only let me type one page today for some reason. Anyway our annual meet will be I believe July 27-28-29. You and any of your guys are more than welcome. We have about a mile of dual gauge 1 1/2 @ 1in. and about a 500 ft loop of 3/4in. hiline on4 achers of mostly wooded land. Hope to see ya somewhere this season. Take care TC

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 11:59:28 -0800
From: Russ Wood

Subject: Re: Test message


Good test, must be everybody is out in shop getting ready for the season! :o)


Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 21:45:43 +0200
From: Hannes Paling

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

My current thinking for my 7.25", gauge, 3" scale proposed line is as follows:

1) Minimum radius: 10m (32ft)

Radius 10m (gauge widen 3mm)

2) Max mainline grade (Straight track) 4% (1 in 25)

To steep (1 in 40 Max)

3) Max mainline grade (at min radius) 2.5% (1 in 40)

Compensate for flange friction 50% (1 in 60)


Hannes Paling
Sunny South Africa

Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 03:00:58 -0000
From: "Chris Draper"

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

Thank you all so far for your input. The real reason for posting the original item was to stimulate discussion on why and anecdotal illustrations or stories of hard won experience. Hannes - would you care to expand on the why behind your preferences?

Also flange wear appears to crop up a lot in the responses. Is this really a problem for one or two cars?


PS: anyone care to comment on brakes for the downhill half of the ride?

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 22:40:57 -0500
From: "Rich D."

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

I use straight air supplied with a steam/air compressor/governor and clippard regulator control supplied to all cars. Soon to be automatic.
Rich D.
PS: Stopping is every bit as important as starting.

Jeff Badger's Meg Steam Wendy 3-25-2001 at the PV&A for its first steam-up after a winter overhaul and remodel



Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 21:01:05 -0700
From: "Mike Decker"

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

Hi Chris:

I second Rich's note. Stopping is at least as important as going.
Automatic air is easily done using truck brake components, and it uses less volume of air per application than straight air. An electric or a belt driven compressor on a gas loco would do the job very well.

Mike Decker

Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 01:21:58 -0600
From: "Lee Balkum"

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

If you're using aluminum rail and widen the gauge on the curves, flange wear won't be any big deal. You can even lengthen wheel life by not running cars in the same direction all the time.

Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 14:16:38 -0000
From: boomer37321@yahoo.com

Subject: Arch Bar Construction

Do any of you have information on the construction of Arch Bars? I am building a scale Soo Line Caboose for our 7 1/2"Ga. club and it will require period type trucks.

Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 09:45:31 EST
From: PrototypeB@aol.com

Subject: Re: CT (was Test message)reply

Sorry., I'll try again.

Thom, yes , we met at the ALS meet.. I saw your InternalCombust. #50 and you offered a trade for my RMI 0-6-0.. You were joking, of course. Thanks for the invit to your club, it's probably too far a drive, but maybe ?
Anyways, see you at the ALS spring meet. What a super railroad ! If I were closer I would go every week, I did join up and will support their new land purchase.
Barry Bridges

Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 08:33:56 -0800
From: Russ Wood

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards


Depending on the club layout, train brakes may be quite necessary on rolling stock. When I run at Train Mountain with its long grades, both up and down, train and engine brakes are necessary. If I run my engine and empty cars and maybe just one loaded passenger car everything will stop using just my Railsystems engine braking. Anything more than that and we do a lot of sliding! :o)

Train Mountain has not set their rules for train brakes yet but the last I heard was a number like one car worth of train brakes per 2000 pounds of train. Quentin runs a train with 40 or so cars in it and it will have at least 5 cars with train brakes laced throughout the train. The experiments done at Train Mountain shows that it doesn't take make much train braking to work really well. Also by having train brakes you can keep the coupler snap action from banging the passengers around coming down grade.


Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 10:07:11 -0800
From: "Howard Springer"

Subject: Reply to Rich D. (and other stuff)

Rich - -
What, exactly, do you mean by "automatic" (brakes)?
Perhaps this is the time for me to reveal the braking system I have used for two years: My brakes are configured, insofar as linkage goes, similar to the Bendix AB brakes. (As I understand them. That is, extension of the brake cylinder, or tension by the hand brake chain, applies the brakes.)
I have provided a tension spring that acts upon the same point as a full size brake cylinder, and which is tensioned by the brake handwheel. This allows the brake to be applied and released by the handwheel as in the prototype. I have also provided a 1.5" Dia. air cylinder (if in tension) which pulls the brake end of the spring to release the spring tension applied to the brake rigging. Thus, the brakes are set up initially with the handwheel, then released by the application of at least 50 psi to the trainline.
The trainline air pressure is controlled by a cam operated Clippard regulator (Mod. MAR-1CP), built into a fairly prototypical brake stand. The brakes are applied by venting air from the trainline, as prototype. The trainline is built of 1/8" ID urethane tubing connected with barbed type fittings. At each end of each car, where the normal air hose would be.
Presently my train uses a 12 V battery operated compressor riding in the car behind the loco, which also carries my trusty long bar and re-railing jacks. The lokey has a beautiful cross-compound Westinghouse pump, but I haven't had time to take it from "dummy" to operating - no doubt a winter's project in itself ! Incidentally - a standard car battery seems to be able to keep me in air for two days without recharging.
As to grades, altho my Mike weighs about 1100 pounds, I have found some conditions it doesn't like - rain, even with very slight grades. If you get over 3% grades and haul trains of any tonnage - be sure to have your sanders working !
I don't believe that flange wear is a serious problem to model trains - at least normally used ones. I've only seen one (very old) pair of trucks with overly thin flanges, and I believe they were machined that way to begin with.
Curvature: I'd like to find a test track somewhere that allows me to determine the minimum curve that I can negotiate. Before Rudy VanWingen & Tom Artzberger operated on my pilot truck, I believed that about 50 feet was my minimum radius. Maybe they found somthing I could never see while running the engine, as it now seems to run well on substantially smaller curves. Time will tell this season.
Thanks for hearing me out - Howard Springer

Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 13:30:13 -0500
From: "Rich D."

Subject: Re: Reply to Rich D. (and other stuff)

I'm replying in plain ascii text. Html is very hard to read and the ad banners keep bugging me to go online.
If I read you right, your brakes are applied solely via spring force. Air is used to release the brakes by however much you need. They are automatic as loss of air pressure allows the spring to reapply the brakes. The Westinghouse system uses a special valve to sense trainline pressure which is stored on each car. When pressure is lost, the stored pressure sets the brakes, same as your spring.
I am using the AAR/Westinghouse rigging layout. A miniaturized "Triple" valve will be added latter to give automatic operation. Presently "straight air" is used to apply the brakes.
If you have ever run a train with functioning brakes, you will always feel like a one legged man thereafter, running a train without.
Rich D.

Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 12:33:23 -0700
From: "Mike Decker"

Subject: Re: Reply to Rich D. (and other stuff)

Hi Rich & Howard:

I'll have to admit to not having (yet) a lot of experience with 7-1/2" gauge equipment. So far, my tramway consists of two 1/2-size Heywood style wagons and a gas-mechanical loco still in pieces :>)

I'm kinda familiar with larger equipment. For fifteen years, I ran, designed and built 15" gauge equipment at the Sandley Light Railway Equipment Works, Inc.'s "Riverside & Great Northern Railway" at Wisconsin Dells. Since 1977, I've been running coal trains for the BN out of the Powder River Basin.

Right off the top, in my opinion, getting them stopped is at least as important as making them go. If they won't go, it's only embarrasing or inconvenient, if they won't stop (or can't be controlled), that's when people can get hurt.

During the last 12 years I ran at the Dells, we had Automatic Air Brakes on our trains. Like Rich says, after you have run trains with air brakes, you are always at least vaguely uncomfortable when they aren't equipped.

I can see how Howard's system works, it looks to be simple and effective. The effort at the brake shoe is probably about the same, and it would automatically apply if the trainline was separated.

I've got to say I'm partial to a full-blown (as it were) Westinghouse type system with a working Triple Valve. At Sandley's, we used a diaphragm operated tractor-trailer "break away" valve made by Williams for a triple valve. I understood at the time that Henry Becker, of the Centerville and Southwestern, discovered that valve. It controls the air the same as a Westinghouse valve, but it's not a "scale" valve by any means, it describes a "cube" about 4-1/2" on a side (it's not really that bulky, but that's about the overall size). Williams no longer makes the valve that we used, but they catalog a "normally open relay valve" that's almost identical. I think, but Rudy will have to help me here, that scale size gladhands for the trainline connection between the cars are available in "lost wax"

Howards' Engineer's Brake Valve operates the same way as the full-size #26-L valve, maintaining against brake pipe leakage regardless of the brake pipe reduction. We used several Clippard valves in our locomotive air systems. Another style Engineer's valve is the rotary valve, as used in the steam locomotive #6-ET and #8-ET brake systems. The only disadvantage to the rotary valve is that it will "leak" the brakes on tighter over time. This really shouldn't be much of a concern, except on long, downhill runs.

I'll stop rambling now, I expect the crew caller on the 'phone anytime. I'm looking at an empty for Black Thunder Mine at about 2:00PM.


Mike Decker

Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 07:20:37 -0000
From: "Chris Draper"

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

I agree. Air brakes seemed the logical choice to me. The New Zealand clubs appear to have standardised on vacuum brakes. Grant, do you or anyone else know why?

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 08:11:31 -0500
From: "Bruce Mowbray"

Subject: Re: Vacuum vs. Pressure Brakes was Standards

My Opinion,
I always thought vacuum brakes would be much simpler to build and operate. No worry about line condensation. Vacuum is created with a simple steam ejector or vacuum pump. Brake hoses basicaly hold themselves together. Brake cylinders are easy purchased at auto parts stores. Easy to isolate part of train brakes by inserting a simple plug in the brake line. Anymore on this?

Bruce Mowbray (president)
TMB Manufacturing And Locomotive Works
1 1/2" Scale & 2 1/2" Scale (Narrow Gauge) Live Steamer

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 08:41:35 -0500
From: Arno Martens

Subject: Re: Re: Vacuum vs. Pressure Brakes was Standards

What if you're out of steam, accelerating down hill?
Do you carry a battery powered emergency pump on the tender?
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 08:13:14 -0600
From: "Bill Laird"
Subject: Fw: A question of practical track standards

First a little background. Chris Draper originally posted a message on the 7+ NGM list asking for input on practical track standards. I forwarded his message to Nick Edwards (who is not on the 7+ NGM list). Nick is a long time live steamer, has built two railroads, and has been involved in the vendor side of the hobby. He has a manufacturing background and is very interested in the subject of standards. I am currently working with him in constructing a 7,000' railroad in Wimberley, Texas. Nick moved to Texas from the northeast and has a collection of both 7 1/4" and 7 1/2" gauge equipment. The railroad in Wimberley is being built to accomodate both gauges (basiclly this involves laying all track at exactly 7 1/2" width and milling out the width of the switch frogs).

With all this said, the following is Nick's reply to Chris, which I felt worthwhile in sharing with the list.
Bill Laird
Canyon Lake, Texas

Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2001 9:45 PM
From: "Nick Edwards"
Cc: "Bill Laird"
Subject: Fw: [7-plus-NGM] A question of practical track standards

Dear Chris,

Having received this message from Bill Laird, I will try and add you your standards. Of note, I hope to put this together in a year or so as a response to MODELTEC's survey of last year. These "guidelines" are tempered by what we are doing at our railroad in Wimberley, Texas, to accommodate narrow gauge equipment, including 2 ft gauge prototypes. In my search, the widest locomotive that I have found is 27" and the highest is 40"
Min Track Spacing: 39" main line, 36 " yard
Min Mainline clearance; 68" vertical, 20" to each side.

You might contact the 7 1/4" Gauge Society in the UK to see what they have established. Their editor is Dr. Mike Taylor, Eskdale,112 Sutton Park Road, Kidderminster, Worcester DY11 6JG, England. I would suggest getting a copy or their old standards that were out many years ago, plus the new ones sent out around 1995 which were much tighter (the added to minimum clearances).

Good luck on your study, I look forward to seeing your results.

Cheers! Nick Edwards

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 08:18:03 -0600
From: "Bill Laird"

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

Chris Draper asked if anyone knows why the New Zealand clubs appear have standardized on vacuum brakes instead of air. I can't speak for the New Zealand clubs, but I can make the following observation. It is a whole lot easier to create a vacuum source on a steam engine than it is to create an air source. For a vacuum a simple steam venturi will do, air requires a more complex compressor.

Bill Laird Canyon Lake, Texas

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 09:17:30 -0500
From: "Bruce Mowbray"

Subject: Re: Re: Vacuum vs. Pressure Brakes was Standards

I would expect one to stop at the top of the hill if you didn't have enough steam to to operate the brakes. This would hold true if you didn't have enough steam to run a steam powered air compressor. Also, one could have a vacuum reservoir in the form of a tank for emergencies. It dosent take much vacuum to operate the vacuum brakes or much steam to operate the ejector..

Bruce Mowbray (president)
TMB Manufacturing And Locomotive Works
1 1/2" Scale & 2 1/2" Scale (Narrow Gauge) Live Steamer

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 10:12:45 -0500
From: Robert Herronen

Subject: Re: Re: Vacuum vs. Pressure Brakes was Standards

Out of steam on a hill with no way to "pump up the brakes"?

That is why I have pondered using some sort of automatic air brakes. Having a system that will be on when there is no air (or vacuum) in the train line is the ideal way to prevent runaways and is why our larger cousins adopted it!

I, personally, like the idea of the springs forcing the brakes on and the air (or vacuum) releasing them. A simple loss of air results in the brakes in emergency.

It solves serveral problems;
One, vacuum naturally looses efficiency in higher altitudes.
Two, vacuum and straight air is rendered useless if the train line is broken.
Three, automatic air brakes require triple valves (or their eqivelent) and a reservior. And inexperienced engineers can piddle their air away fast (release, apply, release) before the system can recharge. And recharge times do take some time too. Full sized trains with 5 cars can take minutes depending upon what kind of compressor is doing the work!
Four, when the engine's reservior is nearly empty, the train brakes can still come on.
Five, when disconnected, the brakes are on.

So, personally, I want to apply the spring-hold, air-release style brakes on my equipment. I plan on using a form of brake wheel linkage to "pull" the brakes off.
That way they could be used in other trains or moved around by hand on the rails.
Otherwise they would need an air reservior and regulator in the train somewhere...

One question is, how would I be able to adapt my cars to work with other methods of train brakes? I think I'll apply a straight-through pipe to allow the cars to be used in other train sets with brakes, their brakes not being used. When in my train set, I can use these lines as a vacuum or compressed air line for other types of brakes, it just means that the engine would need two different brake stands. Or these lines could be used as a signal line from the conductor way back in the back, three whole cars back from the engine. Naw... Sticks and pinecones work well to get the engineer's attention.

Enough of my rambl'n. Ya' all have a nice day now ya' hear!

Robert Herronen
Currently the Track Monkey of the Rio Grande Southern R.R. of N.C.

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 07:24:36 -0800
From: "James Hoback"

Subject: Re: Re: Vacuum vs. Pressure Brakes was Standards

While on the subject, I have a question. I have been under the impression that the vacuum created in the intake manifold of a gas engine would be sufficient to operate brakes on 7+ gauge equipment. Is this correct?

My assumption as to the popularity of vacuum systems, in addition to Bruce's list, is that vacuum would be easily available on both steam (ejector) and I.C. (manifold vacuum) locomotives.

A spring operated, vacuum released brake system would provide the fail safe feature. Anyone using that system?


Jim Hoback
Sonora, CA, U.S.A.

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 10:31:16 -0500
From: Stan Zdonick

Subject: Re: Re: Vacuum vs. Pressure Brakes was Standards

I.C. vacuum is very strong in an auto engine. I have no idea how strong it is in a one or two cylinder engine. I would assume it is more than adequate if the engine is in good repair.

Stan Z.

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 08:01:45 -0800
From: "Howard Springer"

Subject: Re: New file uploaded to 7-plus-NGM

I spent about 45 minutes trying to get thru the labyrinth of Yahoo's system.
I was a member before it went to Yahoo, but seem to have been dropped. How does on access this file?
Howard Springer

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 11:03:39 -0500
From: Stan Zdonick

Subject: Re: New file uploaded to 7-plus-NGM

I heard there was a method to transfer your old membership by going to the old www.egroups.com site I created a blank profile at Yahoo, which I have since updated with real information. You don't need to set up an email account or even give correct information if you choose. I belong to a list that requires correct information so I ended up fixing mine.

Yahoo has not abused the information as far as I can tell. No spam, no excess junk mail.

Stan Z.

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 16:15:34 -0000
From: ddickens@E-Z.NET

Subject: Automatic Vacuum Train Brakes

I've uploaded two drawings and an explanation of the Automatic Vacuum Train Brake System to the files area. The drawings take about two and a half minutes each to download but it would help to have them before you when you try to understand how this system works and work it does and very well!

Automatic Vacuum Train Brakes
This system for applying brakes in a train is not new. It is not my invention. I read of it in two or more English magazines yet did not want to go to the work of producing the double sided vacuum diaphragm. When I became aware that there was such a diaphragm available from an auto parts store, I decided to try to develop the rest of the system from easily obtainable parts and materials. An article describing its construction was printed in a long ago issue of the 7+ Narrow Gauger of which I was then the publisher and editor.

Why this system rather than the normal vacuum system used by much of the "Live Steamer" fraternity? If there is any parting of the train or a failure of any of the vacuum components, the train and engine goes into full braking. Read the appendix to find out why this can keep the "happy" in your day.

The basic principle is that the diaphragm which pulls the brake operator rod has vacuum applied to both sides while running. Thus it remains motionless. To apply the brakes, the engineer (or conductor on the rear end of the train) bleeds air into the line which reduces the vacuum on one side of the diaphragm. The other side of the diaphragm still has the same degree of vacuum applied to it from the reservoir. It did not bleed down due to the check valve. Thus it moves and pulls on the brake operating rod. To release the brakes, vacuum is restored to the train line, equalizes on both sides of the diaphragm, and restores the rod to the non-braking position. If a coupler lets loose, the hose between the cars pulls off and opens the system to the atmosphere. The reservoirs under each car and the tender supply vacuum to the diaphragm in that car and apply its brakes.

I found that auto parts stores had fittings I could use since vacuum controls are found in many vehicles. Drip irrigation systems are another source of tubing and fittings but stores tend to stock this kind of material only in the spring. I found the check valves at a supplier of laboratory equipment. With the Internet to search on now, it should be easy to find what you need. The vacuum reservoirs were 12" to 16" lengths of large diameter (3" - 4") plastic water pipe.

Somewhere in the train there must be a device to create the vacuum and it must be capable of constant working. In a steam locomotive, the ejector is a tried and true concept except that it must now run all the time, not just when applying the brakes. Operators of battery or gas engine locos should not despair. I searched a bit on the Internet and found a company (Gast) that makes a neat little DC powered vacuum pump. This could be controlled by a vacuum switch to turn on when vacuum leaks down or is used. The whole rig could fit under a seat with a small battery charged at home.

The only objection I have heard is that you can't loan your cars to another guy who uses straight vacuum (Vacuum applied to the train line only when braking is desired). This is taken care of in the Duplex system which has two train lines. One allows straight vacuum operation and one provides Automatic Vacuum braking.

It is not that hard to add to a car after you get the rest of the brake rigging worked out. It works very well and is enjoyable to use after you acquire the skill to get the most out of it.

Controls for the Engineer can be as simple as valve to let air into the vacuum line. I ended up slightly more complex. My 4 wheel "engineers riding car" had a vacuum gauge, a needle valve to control how fast air was bled into the vacuum line, and a 90 deg valve with a bar handle as the actual brake application valve. With this set up I could adjust the needle valve for a long heavy train (maybe 12 or 13 passengers) or on down to just the engineers riding car. By watching the gauge I could make a partial application when coming down a grade and adjust the braking to quite a good degree of control. I ended up with an operators valve that had two positions for braking. One used the route through the needle valve and was for normal braking. The other position bypassed the needle valve and was for emergency braking.

I had built two new heavy weight gondolas with the Automatic Vacuum Train Brakes.
The first occasion I had to run them was a visit to a track which had some very interesting grades. I went a day early because I wanted to check the cars out before traffic on the line got too heavy. I was a bit concerned because I was unsure of coupler height since each truck of the cars had threes sets of springs: one to allow the axles to flex over high and low joints etc., one to carry the unloaded weight of the car body and a third set to carry the weight of the passengers.

As I pulled out of the yard on my first run with the cars, a man and wife whom I knew asked to ride. I agreed since the more weight the better for a test. Each got into a separate car, sitting properly in the middle. As we headed up the heavily treed hill I saw that another engine would be following somewhere close behind me. At the top of the hill, just before the crest, the couplers between the two cars rocked out of each others grasp.
The second car carrying the rather large gentleman started rolling back down though the trees toward the still invisible but climbing behind us locomotive.

I instantly knew what had happened because the locomotive and first car had quickly stopped when the vacuum line had pulled apart. They were as solid as if they had been welded to the track. I jumped off and ran back to see where the second car was and what it was doing. It was six to eight feet behind the first car and it too was firmly anchored by its brakes. The passenger was a bit pale in the face thinking of a wild ride down hill into the approaching locomotive. The block signals would have done little good.

I released the vacuum on the locomotive end, backed down to the second car, coupled up, connected the vacuum line and before I was back on the locomotive the brakes had released and we were ready to go back down the hill.

An adjustment to the coupler height prevented further such adventures but it sure felt good to know I had protection from break aways on hills.

Don Dickens

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 08:45:04 -0800
From: Dennis Dalla-Vicenza

Subject: Re: Vacuum vs. Pressure Brakes was Standards

If you run out of steam you stop. The vacuum turns the brakes off, not on. When you first start up your engine the brakes are in the on position and the vacuum pulls them to off. When you lose vacuum (no steam, line break, whatever) the brakes automatically apply.
Dennis Dalla-Vicenza

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 11:51:33 -0500
From: Arno Martens

Subject: Re: Re: New file uploaded to 7-plus-NGM

Real information???

Stan, you are still listed as a female !!!

Now, tell us, have you fooled all of us up to now?

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 11:56:38 -0500
From: Arno Martens

Subject: Re: Re: Vacuum vs. Pressure Brakes was Standards

Ah, that would make perfect sense.
I had never looked at vacuum brakes and thought it was the vacuum that did the actuation, the way it used to be with the door locks of several cars I had.

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 12:12:42 EST
From: Thime@aol.com

Subject: Re: Automatic Vacuum Train Brakes


I downloaded the files but cannot find any program to open them in...and I have a lot of programs. What do I open a .wps file with?


And while I'm at it, here's a quick break question.

If the hobby adopts a standard of automatic breaks, whether they be vacuum or air, then are we going to need a solution to moving cars when an engine is not present?
Currently yard switching is accomplished mostly by hand. However, if the cars have breaks applied we're not going to beable to roll our rolling stock very easily at all.

Has anyone tackled this problem yet?

Curtis F.

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 09:21:44 -0800
From: Dennis Dalla-Vicenza

Subject: Re: Automatic Vacuum Train Brakes

I have an article in AME that shows how this is done down under. They have a little portable vacuum pump that you plug in to the car(s) and a couple of pulls on the handle and the brakes are off. When the cars spotted where they are going pull off the vacuum pump and the brakes are applied again. The unit looks like a small bicycle pump and the connections required are slip fit rubber tubing.
Dennis Dalla-Vicenza

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 09:41:27 -0800
From: Don Dickens

Subject: Re: Automatic Vacuum Train Brakes

The drawings are jpg's put into a MS works document

The release valve on the cars dumps the vacuum and then they roll free

D. W. Dickens BA, MSEd, JSI, DMA, RNG

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 09:43:30 -0800
From: Don Dickens

Subject: Re: Automatic Vacuum Train Brakes

Sure this would work out in the open but what if you keep the cars in a low roof or tight clearance shed behind somebody else's cars

D. W. Dickens BA, MSEd, JSI, DMA, RNG

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 13:10:07 -0500
From: Stan Zdonick

Subject: Re: Re: New file uploaded to 7-plus-NGM

No Arno,

A quick virtual trip to Sweden reversed the change. lol


Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 13:30:38 -0500
From: "Rich D."

Subject: Re: New file uploaded to 7-plus-NGM

here is a reply to a similar post this week. I had the same problem. Find the "cookie" for yahoo and delete it, make sure capslock is off.

I just went thru this crap when ***THEY LOST MY*** password this week.
I know, you think I'm nuts but, it's a registered name I own, hard to forget.
I am a member of 28 groups, 6 are e/m to me.
All attempts to reach a real person only get a robotic answer typically off topic.
It's obvious I had not lost my account, just can't access them via web.
What I did: Start over. Make up a new account, use the old password or old username (can't use both), answer all their stupid questions, etc.
Access your new account info where you will find they have assigned you a @yahoo e/m account. Now you will also see something called "convert" with a confusing decription. Hit this and enter your home e/m address (the one they are e/m your lists to) and BINGO! you are now back to the original account with new username & password. You should find "mygroups" just as you had left it.
Do check in occasionally to find if there are any "bounce" problems, etc.
Rich D.
BTW, Egroups, UK and AUS, are still accessable with your old username/ password.

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 13:11:29 -0700
From: "Mike Decker"

Subject: Re: Automatic Vacuum Train Brakes

Hi Curtis:

You would release the brakes the same way we do on the big railroad. When you are switching a string of cars, the brakes are "bled off" by hand so that the cars will roll free when you kick them down into the tracks where they are being placed.

All the automatic systems that have a car mounted reservoir (air or vacuum) have a "release valve", either on the control valve or on the reservoir. To move a car that has had the brakes applied by the automatic brake system, you open the release valve and drain the pressure (or allow atmospheric pressure into a vacuum system) in the brake cylinder line. Of course, after you've done this, the only way to hold the car in a new position without pumping up the brake system is with a hand brake or a block under the wheel.... and I guarentee that the Conductor's portable radio won't do it

Mike Decker

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 15:29:53 EST
From: nashnash@aol.com

Subject: Re: Automatic Vacuum Train Brakes

I saw an article in which they used a modified bike tire pump to move the the cars around. Could be used for air or vacuum.I will have to get the Magazine info later.

John Nicholson

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 19:06:54 -0500
From: Arno Martens

Subject: Re: Re: Re: New file uploaded to 7-plus-NGM

Nope, as of 10:02h EST you are still female ;->))

Mind you, when I first switched I too though of leaving silly info and see how the new spam would be targeted.
When I noticed that the information was in the open for all of us to see I decided to correct it.

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 12:42:52 +1200
From: "Grant and Donna Alexander"

Subject: Vacuum brakes etc

Hi Chris and others,

Yes my original comments were in regard to my application at home, my little Tram with just one traction motor hauling a 7' long trolley with 4+ adults on it. The stall current on those motors is 28 amps, but I'm more concerned about the smoke retention ability of the controller and more importantly the 20amp rated reversing relay!

As for why we have gone for vacuum brakes here in NZ, I wasn't aware we actually had a standard, I've seen three methods in my travels, plus of course Loco only braking too. There is quite some confusion on this group as regards to vacuum operation as to which way round it is set up, certainly when was driving Mike Harman's Lil Lima, applying vacuum to the line is what operated the train brakes, and as someone pointed out, you get to the top of the hill with not too much steam, then head off down hill with not too much brakes. You learn this lesson after the first (or second) surprise. It seems from the discussion on line that some are set up with vacuum being applied to release the brakes. This is certainly not the case with Mike's Lil Lima.

Both vacuum and pressure are easy for us to set up, just use an electric (air horn style) pump operated off a switch off the traction battery, BUT we need to have a standard and until there is one I'm not going to spend $'s.

Note, in NZ the standard with regards train braking is that it's not needed if you are pulling no more than 2 passenger cars, AND you have a working loco or engineers trolley brake. Certainly my ton loco will control two passenger trolleys fully loaded, but you really need to have your wits about you if the rails get wet!

Grant and Donna Alexander
Squirrel Valley Railway

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 02:10:24 +0000
From: jsb.pennsy@worldnet.att.net

Subject: Maxitrak


I just joined the list. How's steam? I think I know my way around Gauge 1; but not 7+.

My big question is... Has anyone had any experience with the Li'l Jo? Doe anyone know its scale? I tried the list's search engine first - no results.

I'd like to tackle the Li'l Lima after seeing some pix of one in the last two issues of Live Steam; however, metal shop classes are in order first.

Thanks in advance,

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 08:40:18 EST
From: plumdalejunction@aol.com

Subject: Re: Maxitrak

Regarding Joe Pennsy's question regarding L'il Jo, Maxitrak can be contacted by e-mail. I have visited their premises twice and met the two owners.
They are very helpful and I am sure that they can answer your questions.
Their website address is: "www.maxitrak.co.uk".

In the meantime I have a question regarding Maxitrak. Has anyone in the group own, driven or have any experience with the Maxitrak "Hudson" petrol ( gasoline )/hydraulic locomotive ? I would be interested to hear any comments good or bad.

Brian Critchley

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 07:35:41 -0800
From: "Howard Springer"

Subject: Re: Automatic Vacuum Train Brakes

Curtis : With my "Spring on - Air off" system, you can move cars at any time by releasing the tension on the spring with the brakewheel, which runs a small winch that tightens the spring (and sets the brakes.)
This same system might be applied to vacuum brakes by substituting a large diaphragm for the air cylinder and changing things around a bit. Don Dickens' system can also be released by venting the on board vacuum reservoir.

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 18:36:20 -0000
From: boomer37321@yahoo.com

Subject: Arch Bar Trucks

Do you think it is possible to cast your own Arch Bar's and yet have the same quality as one can buy on the open market? I would be interested in hearing from someone who had a successful attempt at casting these Trucks. I would hope that the cost would be greatly reduced from the boughten ones.

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 11:08:19 -0800
From: "Howard Springer"

Subject: Re: Arch Bar Trucks

Like just about all things in life - you can probably (surely) cast arch bar trucks if you want to do it badly enough. Depending upon the number involved, I'm not sure the effort is worth it. I built mine (2-1/2" scale) using 3/16x3/4 strip, with rec. tube journal boxes, 1/2x3/4 posts, and a 3x3/4 FB bolster. Including brakes, I think there were around 150 pieces, including fasteners. Actually, it sounds worse than doing it I think it only took me about a month.

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 07:42:01 +1200
From: "Grant and Donna Alexander"

Subject: Re: Arch Bar Trucks

We have not tried casting "Arch-bar" style trucks, but have had much success casting "Bettendorf" style bogie sides in alloy. We had a batch of 60 done and intend selling off the surplus ones to make a little money for our group. These are priced at NZ$250 per completed unbraked 7" bogie (currently NZ$250 is worth about US$105).

I believe the lightness of the metal elements in an archbar style truck would leave it too weak if cast, especially in alloy, much better to build them up prototypically as Howard has done.

Further note, we are a New Zealand based group so the freight to the States might push the price of these units up a little too far.

Grant and Donna Alexander
Squirrel Valley Railway

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 16:49:34 -0500
From: "Bruce Mowbray"

Subject: Re: Arch Bar Trucks

Cost really depends on you outlook on the whole thing and your ability to do various tasks. It would be less costly to cast your own if you have a foundry all set up to do this in your backyard. But then it might take more time and more than one pour to get all the gating right for a somewhat intricate pattern. You may have to increase the thickness of the cast bars to make the final truck strong enough. Especially if you cast them in aluminum. The cost of strap steel is very inexpensive and it is very easy to work with. It's easy to bend in simple jigs and its fairly easy to drill in a drill press. Arch bar trucks are probably the easiest truck the hobbiest can make from scratch in his/her shop. If you really need to cast somthing, you could cast the journal boxes. At the same time, these could easy be made from a simple block of aluminum. Once again, if you have the ability to do the machine work. The bolts can either be made or bought in a hardware store. As somone else has mentioned, if you want cast truck you would be wiser to make trucks that were cast in the prototype world.
Have fun!!

Bruce Mowbray (president)
TMB Manufacturing And Locomotive Works
1 1/2" Scale & 2 1/2" Scale (Narrow Gauge) Live Steamer

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 18:37:48 -0800
From: Dennis Dalla-Vicenza

Subject: Re: Arch Bar Trucks

A friend here in the Victoria club has made a press pattern for mass producing his arch bar trucks. He has a thirty ton hydraulic jack in a home made frame and he can bend enough metal for four parts each compression stroke. His patterns are cut from 4" wide steel billets that he happened onto in the trash at some work site.

Basically you place one former on the cross piece the metal to be formed on top of that and finally the top of the former. Another cross piece sits on to of the whole works and the hydraulic jack is put into place below the upper cross member of his frame and the top cross piece. You then pump the jack handle until the pump won't let you any more and then trip the release. Four identical parts produced. I'm thinking of asking him to let me do pictures of it in operation for a newsletter article.

Dennis Dalla-Vicenza

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 19:25:33 -0800
From: George Potter

Subject: Re: Arch Bar Trucks

While there have been some model "Arch Bar Trucks" made with the side frames cast, this is not how prototype ones were made (and copying prototype, in this case, makes Arch Bar Trucks cheep and easy to build).

The only "casting" that may be required are the journal boxes, and in my case, have hogged the journal boxes from aluminum blocks. (I mill the overall shape on the outside, then just bore an elongated axel hole, and just run the axel directly on the aluminum)

The arch bars themselves are bent from flat bar stock, I've used aluminum bars for the bolsters in my tender trucks, and have wood ones made for my "Carter Swing Motion" trucks currently under construction.

If you can find a prototype one to look at, the simple construction really stands out ..... making these extremely easy to turn out with a minimum of equipment.

The hardest part of these trucks (my opinion) is getting enough "flexibility" between the two side frames to keep all wheels on the track under all conditions.

If you can supply a bit more infomation on the specific arch bar trucks you wish to model, I can probably help with better information.

George Potter
Placerville, California

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 22:55:06 -0800
From: Dennis Dalla-Vicenza

Subject: VIME Expansion

Hello all, Just a quick update about what's happening on Vancouver Island. The railroad has just been given the OK to start work on the expansion. Those of you who have been here know of the beautiful forested section on our site that is north and east of our big bridge. Well the Victoria and Sidney railway will now be over a mile in length when the project is finished. There will be a proposed track plan in the next newsletter and there will be some real grades to overcome with the locomotives. Alison the Shay will really have to bark to get through this area and I am glad we were really, really having fun.
I will post a notice for those who wish to download the newsletter when it goes online towards the end of April.

Dennis Dalla-Vicenza

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 12:25:50 -0000
From: Mikado8@aol.com

Subject: Tonawanda Creek Model Engineers Open house and run dates

All members are invited to attend our annual open house and run meet.
The dates to remember are July 27, 28 and 29 2001. Our railroad is situated on a 4.5 acre plot with lots of running through the woods in Amherst New York. We have an elevated 3/4 inch scale loop with 1 inch and 7.25 inch dual gage on the ground. The dual gage has well over a mile of track with a covered bridge, 400 foot trestle, 2 reverse loops and much more.Just bring your equipment and have a good time.
Contact Bill Cochrane for further details.

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 22:18:30 -0500
From: Tansj@sloan.wnyric.org

Subject: Re: Tonawanda Creek Model Engineers Open house and run dates

I am assuming that this will be a joint meet with the two clubs NFLS and TCME Right Bill!!!

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 21:50:31 +0200
From: Hannes Paling

Subject: Re: A question of practical track standards

Greetings to all

I had my own garden railway for many years, also much involved in our local club track.
I suggest a minimum radius of 10 metres gauge widened by up to 3mm. Gauge widening alows vehicles especialy 4 wheeled to run much easier round curves with much reduced flange wear. If you draw it to scale, the larger the better, on a vehicle with a 1 meter or larger fixed wheel base the wheels and axles take up a position far from ideal with certain wheel flanges actually rubbing against the rail with slip on the wheel threads. This not only pruduces wear but the friction also reduces hauling capacity.

Gradients steeper than 2.5% also greatly reduce the pay? load that can be hauled, makes engines work harder and ultimately wear out quicker.

In this country our standard gauge is 3'6" due to the difficult terain the railway linnes had to traverse. To ease the effect of the extra friction caused by the flanges on relatively sharp curves the curves were compensated by reducing the gradient the line was climbing on straight sections by 50% on curves to compensate for the mentioned aditional flange friction. These were actually called compensated curves. Works fine on 7 1/4" railways too.

I use air brakes on my equipment for the following reasons

A reservoir can be pumped to a much higher pressure than the pressure required to operate the braking system. Working through a pressure regulator I can have up to 60 brake aplications before the air pressure drops to a dangerous level, but when the train is in motion it is pumped up al the time.

I use a spring apply/ air release system which is fail safe if all air should be lost

Cylinders are much smaller than vacuum cylinders and operate a lot quiker

The compressor is mounted on one of the truck bogies and can without any complications be used on any other engine, steam, diesel, elctric or horse drawn.

Commercial auotomotive parts can be used.

I should add that the vacuum system is reliable and it has certain advantages, but also some disadvantages, to get good braking the cylinders have to be larger which results in slower operation, with limited reserve

If someone would like to see my setup, I will provide some pictures off line

Happy steaming

Hannes Paling
Sunny South Africa

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 17:17:41 EST
From: Smallhand@aol.com

Subject: Air brake system

I would like to see your brake system, as I am in the process of building my first (diesel) train.

Raymond Hill Orange County Model Engineers (California) Smallhand@aol.com

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 21:58:38 -0500
From: Arno Martens

Subject: Re: Re: A question of practical track standards


I liked your contribution. Why not post the pictures to the files section.


Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2001 21:25:56 +0200
From: Hannes Paling

Subject: Re: Re: A question of practical track standards


Will do so in the next day or two

Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2001 16:49:36 +1000
From: "Paxon G&C"

Subject: Re: Arch Bar Trucks

We make our own archbars down this way with six castings to a truck, the four journal boxes and two castings at the spring and archbar interface. We cast all this in aluminium, bore the journal boxes for the bolts and for 35mm OD roller bearings. Centre castings are machined square after casting then drilled for the long bolts that tie the truck together. Bolster is made from RHS with some detail welded on. Cost is low and the trucks have been in use ten years without a problem. They look very close to real the ral arch bars.

George Paxon