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HUGE Update Thread! 4/29/13


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#1 laming

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 05:04 PM

As promised (threatened?)... and in response to my adoring fans (all two of them! laugh.gif )... I am going to go ahead and update you all about what the Ultimate (MSTS) Madman has been up to these several months since my last route-fever update. (This update thread will be several posts long.)

Lessee'... where WERE we? Ah yes...

My last route-fever thread was concerning my mega-route Frisco Line. The last post about the Frisco Line was 9/3/12. Now, let me quickly update you on Frisco Line progress: NOTHING!! tongue.gif

From the last Frisco Line post we went to Colorado and had a FANTASTIC time. You can read about that in the "Colorado" threads dated 9/13/12 and 9/16/12.

I then went basically silent here aside from some Christmas greetings and such... and that has pretty much been the case since. Sooo... WHAT has this demented mind been up to during all that time?????

Well... okay... PROMISE TO NOT LAUGH???? blush.gif

Let's start from Colorado last year...

It should come as no surprise that after experiencing the Pitkin to Alpine Tunnel area again, that I really tossed around the idea of making that area in MSTS. Yes, the Alpine Tunnel area has been done before in MSTS... twice... but I considered doing my own version. It would be my own version that would try to emphasize the elements that I think are neat about the area. Of course, my old long time (pre-MSTS) train friend, Herb Kelsey egged me on! (Yeah... it was HIS fault!)

So I did. I used NED Seamless terrain, and begin at Alpine Tunnel. My goal was to lay track in a small section... then scenic it. I envisioned Alpine Tunnel to Pitkin first... then over toward St. Elmo, etc. I actually completed the track from Altantic to near the Palisades. Here's some pics of what I did...

First up, is a pic of the terrain with the markers in place. Note how I had fiddled n' diddled to where the markers were DEAD CENTER in the depression in the terrain for the west portal. This same marker/terrain accuracy was to be evidenced in almost all of route terrain. It would have been the most accurate alignment yet of any MSTS endeavor.

To Be Continued....


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#2 laming

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 05:07 PM

The next pic illustrates the degree of accuracy in regards to the elements at Alpine. (By the way, I was going to do the DSP&P as it was the mid 1880's.)

To Be Continued...

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#3 laming

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 05:09 PM

And then the scale-sized placeholders started going in.

To Be Continued...

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#4 laming

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 05:16 PM

It seemed like a fine plan. The route would scratch several itches I seem to have:

* Colorado.
* Colorado narrow gauge.
* Alpine Tunnel/Pitkin area.
* DSP&P.

BUT... disatisfaction begin to set in and the idea fell apart on me. I think the reasons for its failure were:

* It was going to get bigger and bigger... for there were LOTS of things about the DSP&P I like.

* I was beginning to fully realize the amount of work it was going to be to create an entire NEW "Colorado" forest/vegetation library. Creating trees is a TON of tedious work.

* But that old bugaboo again raised its head: INSUFFICIENT EQUIPMENT.

What good would it do to have the route when there wouldn't be any Brookes Moguls, or Dawson-Bailey Moguls... or especially... NO MASON BOGIES????

That would never do. So the idea died. So much for my DSP&P idea!

The next inspiration would come from an unlikely source and take me into an area I had never looked at before.

To Be Continued....




#5 laming

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 05:35 PM

My last entry into my ID.txt* file within the South Park's folder was 10/18/12. It lasted about a month!

* ID.txt file - I keep a Notepad text file within each project route folder I have. Therein is information concerning DEM data, dates w/work/notes/etc, any issues I have found that need to be addressed, etc, etc. Basically my "ID.txt" files are journals of the progress with notes of things to address/etc for the route in question.

Anyway...

I kicked back and barely tinkered with MSTS. Most of my available time was spent out in the mountains aboard my trail motorcycle. When I had evening down time, instead of MSTS, I would relax with my books when the urge was there to indulge in things "historic trains". It was through these books that I was getting more and more interested in the original Transcontintal Line. All of it was interesting, but the accomplishments of the Central Pacific in the Sierra Mountains really blew me away. Plus, I just LOVED the look of the Central Pacific's funnel-stacked engines.

How, or why it happened is sort of lost to memory... but I had this brainy idea to model the Central Pacific in the Sierra's. After kicking the idea around with Herb... it was decided to start modeling it from Colfax into the Sierra's, taking it in small bites. (Yeow... right. Let's see how THAT works out for me!) EVENTUALLY (IF it survived long enough)... it would reach Truckee and maybe Reno.

Herb really got into this idea and did some repaints of the Jon Davis "Inyo" (which was the closest thing we had to a CP engin).

Indeed, work started at Colfax, again including scale-sized placeholders to help aid track location. Below you'll find a pic of the way Colfax was shaping up...

To Be Continued...









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#6 laming

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 05:37 PM

And here's Colfax in the sim with a stand-in train. (IF you really know your Central Pacific and Colfax history... you'll recognize that scene from an old historic picture!)

To Be Continued...

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#7 laming

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 05:39 PM

As the rails of the Central Pacific left Colfax and headed into the Sierra's, I must say the terrain was simply breathtaking! Here's s couple views at Cape Horn...

To Be Continued...

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#8 laming

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 05:46 PM

HOWEVER...

The old saying is that "all good things must come to an end". Within a month (sound familar?), the CP had fallen on hard times. Basically, it was the same culprits that have reared their pesky heads concerning several of my endeavors:

* It was going to get bigger and bigger... for there were LOTS of things about the Central Pacific I like.

* I was beginning to fully realize the amount of work it was going to be to create an entire NEW "Sierra Mountains and desert" forest/vegetation library. Creating trees is a TON of tedious work.

* But that old bugaboo again raised its head: INSUFFICIENT EQUIPMENT.

Plus, BOTH of the two experimental themes suffered from a very, very common malady when it comes to trains in mountains: LOTS of miles with VERY FEW places to switch. The operational opportunities were much too simplistic to hold long term operational interest ESPECIALLY in view of all the work that the routes would entail.

Sooo... the CP died... and I did other things with my time. (For several months, actually.)

It was a surprise to me to find the next round of route theme inspiration would be rediscovered in my own region. It was also quite surprising to see how much was accomplished in such little time.

I'll be revisiting this thread in a bit. Feel free to hop in and make comments, harrass me, or berate me for not finishing something... I kin take it! biggrin.gif

To Be Continued...

#9 lelandfletcher

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 09:16 AM

Dear Andre,

I really admire your drive to take a project to completion once you start. I hope it doesn't get in the way of creativity.

"for there were LOTS of things about the ----- I like."

Maybe just making models with a time period or route in mind is best. Each small project completed can be a satisfaction in itself.

"I was beginning to fully realize the amount of work it was going to be "

A question to ask yourself, is it a job or is it a hobby? A hobby takes away the pressure to perform and is re-creational.

With your real railroad work taking so much of your life, recreation is important. If it isn't recreational, it probably isn't right.

I just say this as food for thought.

Yours truly,
Leland



#10 laming

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 05:15 PM

Hi Leland!

Right you are: It's supposed to be a HOBBY. I don't always succeed in keeping my hobbies "hobbies"... I often overwork an interest until I burn out... then move on to the next idea.

In the past I have been even more "driven" to try to complete a route... and I still do (sort of)...

HOWEVER... I've come to realize that a great deal of my fun in MSTS is DISCOVERY. That is, discovering an interesting railroad or segment of same, or a new region I'm not familar with, that sort of thing... then learning more about it... and create some of it (or all of it if small enough?) in MSTS to have a look-see at it in virtual. This is part of the way I enjoy my "hobby" of MSTS. Of course, eventually I "see" it... and then I move on to the "next thing".

This trait is not neccessarily a good thing... but I'm trying to make peace with this trait of mine... and just enjoy the fun where I find it... know what I mean? After all... it is a hobby (i.e. something done for a pastime and is fun), right?

I guess some diligent V scalers approach their routes as a model railroad layout and stick with one theme and tirelessy work on it toward completion (think: Rick Berg and his fabulous Monon route)... whereas I'm a'feared I'm a virtual "rubber gauger"*... one of those guys that find too many interests to distract toward one primary goal/project.

* Rubber-gauger: Slang term used in model railroading to describe the guy that's always changing themes, railroads, scale/gauge, etc, etc. That's me! blush.gif

Thanks for your input! Glad you're still out and kickin' about in the V scale world!




#11 laming

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 05:34 PM

Time for "The Next One"! biggrin.gif

So... after the Central Pacific konked out... it was off to other things for a spell. Then I had another one of my world famous FANTABULOUS ideas! laugh.gif It goes like this....

Years ago I looked at doing a prototype diesel route (the Rock Island's branch to Hot Springs, AR, circa early 1960's). The "no suitable equipment" culprit brought the idea to a quick halt after some very basic test track has been thrown in.

However, the original railroad of the Rock Ilsand's Hot Springs branch was even more interesting and fascinating than the diesel version.

The original line from Malvern, AR to Hot Springs, AR, came to life in 1875 as a 3' narrow gauge. The line was named the "Hot Springs Railroad". The Hot Springs RR quickly became known by the nickname of its founder, Joe Reynolds, which was "The Diamond Jo Line", or the "Diamond Jo" for short. The Hot Springs RR was about 22 miles long.

Joe Reynolds had made his original fortune in river steam boats... named (of course) "The Diamond Jo Line". He built the Diamond Jo (Hot Springs RR) to Hot Springs because of the arrogant attitude of the stage coach lines between Malvern and Hot Springs. Upon the Diamond Jo's arrivalt at Hot Springs, it did his heart good to see the last stage line close its doors.

By pressure of the Gould-controlled Iron Mountain & Southern, the Diamond Jo was standard gauged in 1889. Immediately therearfter there was through sleeper service between the Iron Mountain at Malvern, over the Diamond Jo to Hot Springs. Business boomed even further than it had during its narrow gauge days. In the early 1900's, the Rock Island purchased the Diamond Jo. The rails are still in place and operated as the Arkansas Midland to this day.

I intended to model the line right after being standard gauged in 1889. (By the way, after massive prepartion that took several months, on the target day, with thousands of rail workers lining their assigned sections, the entire Diamond Jo was standard-gauged in THREE HOURS.)

The Diamond Jo ran through an area that also had lead and zinc mining taking place, as well as lots of timber industries. Having been through that area many times, I figured those pine clad hills between Malvern and Hot Springs ought to look pretty good in MSTS.

IF you own the Ozark Northern route... you've seen a prototype picture of the Hot Springs RR a few years after it was standard gauged. Does the picture below look familar?

To Be Continued...

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#12 laming

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 05:43 PM

Yup, the above picture used in the load.ace in the Ozark Northern is Hot Springs RR #3 sitting at the Hot Springs depot in 1893.

Anyway...

I was going to accept some anachronisms in order to insure I had adequate "play value" in the Diamond Jo should it ever be completed. That is, I was going to include known rail service to lead/zinc mining in the region, without much regard as to whether it was correct for 1889. Oh well!

I did base towns on what data I had to work with, and embellished a few as needed, but tried to stay within reason. I'll now share some Activity Editor maps of some of the track at places.

First up a couple of overview maps of the route w/annotations...

To Be Continued...






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#13 laming

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 05:45 PM

And now a look at the eastern terminal of Malvern, AR and its connection with the Iron Mountain & Southern. Almost all the track in Malvern was based on Sanborn maps as well as track maps many decades old...

Note: The area for a large industry was going to become a smelter for the lead/zinc traffic.

To Be Continued...

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#14 laming

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 05:48 PM

Next is Butterfield. Again, the track was based on maps/etc...

To Be Continued...

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#15 laming

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 05:50 PM

And here's a closer look at the lead/zinc mines at the end of the branch line out of Butterfield...

To Be Continued...

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#16 laming

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 05:51 PM

And here's the last map I'll share. It's depicts an interesting protytpe mine at Lawrence...

To Be Continued...

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#17 laming

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 06:02 PM

In all, I got the rails to within about 4 miles of Hot Springs. I was working on the mining area at Spring Lake when the disappointments begin to nag too much.

My biggest disappoint was in the terrain. Having been to the prototype region many times over the years... I knew how nice the pine-covered mini-mountains looked. Unfortunately, MSTS has a very pronounced tendency to detune the contours and elevations in terrain. Thus, what may look really neat in real life, may (and usually will) suffer once in MSTS. The more rugged/pronounced the mountains in real life, the better chance you have of the terrain looking impressive in MSTS.

Unfortunately, the region of the Diamond Jo just wasn't very "dramatic" in real life. Neat looking, and pretty... absolutely... but not dramatic. I like some drama in my routes. Thus as the miles toward Hot Springs rolled under my V scale steam locomotive... the more disappointed I became in the appearance of the route. I figured this would be a terminal flaw... and I was right.

That was the Diamond Jo!

The next one? Well... the next one is the current one. And wow... what a change for me. I'm off to a region I have NEVER significantly explored in MSTS. However... that's another story left for another time!!!

#18 laming

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:07 AM

And now... onto what I'm dabbling with CURRENTLY.

First, let me recapsulate what has gotten me to the place I'm currently at, and a place I've been at several times.

CONCEPT:

For some time (years really), I have struggled to find an early steam prototype line that has the following 3 main criteria:

* Dramatic scenery, yet not overly laden with expansive vistas that must be filled with CPU resource-consuming trees and detail.

* Excellent online traffic potential.

* A prototype that offers good opportunities for interchange.

Over the years, in an effort to cater to the above, I have experimented with several locales and themes:

* Colorado. (Both standard and narrow gauge attempts.)

* The Ozark Mountains. (Many route attempts, prototype and freelanced/proto-lanced.)

* The Ouachita Mountains. (Several route attempts, prototype, freelanced and proto-lanced.)

* The Central Pacific circa 1875 from Colfax east to ??.

* Even explored some lines in the Northwest portion of the USA.

* Frankly, way too many other route idea false starts to list here.

Almost all of the above had SOME of the desired features, but none of them fulfilled ALL of the features.

Then the thought occurred to me: "Why not super-impose a proto-lanced theme onto a prototype line that is set in a locale that fills the 3 main criteria I first mentioned above?"

Several years ago, I tried to do this with the Ozark Northern route. For me personally, the Ozark Northern wasn't as satisfying to me once completed because of the large amount of freelancing I had to do in order to get rails through the Ozarks.

I had a hope that I could stumble onto a good location that could cater to my three main criteria above that, instead of only a very small segment of the proto-lanced line being overlayed onto a prototype (which was the case with the Ozark Northern, only about 3 miles was on a prototype roadbed), I could assimulate a prototype line (or lines).

Perhaps it could even be appropriated to the point that I could emulate the town/yard tracks and industries... but create my own rairoad company instead of the protoype, or prototypes, line(s)?

This approach would yield factually based prototype line locations, prototype towns, prototype freight sources, etc, but offer me the ability to free flow more in regards to actual industry tracks, yard layout, structures, equipment, etc.

It was at this point, I remembered an area I had explored and dablled with several years ago. I decided to take another look at it.

Originally I had looked at said target area area for use as a small segment of a diesel-powered route, based on the prototype of the region. Investigating that idea at the time, I once again ran into the old familiar issues I've stonewalled against before when attempting a prototype route:

* Having access to accurate equipment.

* Finding suitable photo textures.

* The need to produce the scores of prototype-specific structures that must be convincingly textured. Not an easy task.

In regards to this failed diesel route idea, the thought occured to me "why not backdate this route location idea?"

Thus, I reopened the idea of a route based in the target region, but set in the late 1880's - early 1890's instead of the diesel era. By using a proto-lanced theme, it could use portions of the many prototype rails in that region. Instant "plausibility" because the protolanced theme would be set upon prototype rails and serving prototype towns, even interchanging with prototype lines if desired. Hey... THIS might be something that could be fun for a while!!

And so I have indugled.

To Be Continued...



#19 laming

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:09 AM

MEET...

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#20 laming

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:26 AM

The ALLEGHENY CENTRAL...

Once this idea began to be kicked around, by spending some time in USAPhotoMaps and exploring, as well as taking new look at my Allegheny railroading books, I found a fascinating routing that could definitely hold a LOT of promise.

In effect, the concept would be a relatively large system in which I would ony model a PORTION thereof. This would afford me the opportunity to use almost all of the link n' pin models I have access to. (Lots of engines on the roster to reflect and model.) It would also mean that traffic levels could be quite intense if desired.

Here's an overview of the routing I have come up with:

GAULELY BRIDGE, WV: The AC's northern terminal. Connects with the NYC and C&O. The AC allows C&O running rights over the AC from Gauley to Hawks Nest in exchange of retention of northward extension rights toward Romont to access coal mining activity rumblings in that area.

HAWKS NEST: The C&O splits onto their own rails and continues eastward.

SOUTH THURMOND (the prototype South Side Jct): The AC leaves the New River Gorge and heads for the dense coal mining taking place southeast in the heavy mountains.

The AC may/may not connect with several smaller lines up in the Glen Jean, Mt. Hope, and Pax areas. OR, the rails in the area may be part of the AC. To be decided.

MULLENS: This is the southern sub divsion of the AC. I decided it will serve operational and theme density better to simply make Mullens a division and the unmodeled portion of the AC theoretically continues south/west from Mullens. This would give the ability for a larger roster, more diverse freight, etc. Plus, SHOULD I ever reach Mullens... there is a FANTASTIC branch out of there that heads for the Winding Gulf coal fields that includes a simply superb and rugged mountain scene that would be a very fun challenge to tackle. (Check out the attached picture of this area below!)

Okay, the above is the far-flung visualization of a larger route... but what about the short term hope/goal?

Well, by using that old C&O/B&O diesel route route as a starting point, my thinking is that the prototype location South Side Jct (across the New River from Thurmond, WV) becomes a division point, or important line location, for the "Allegheny Central". The river division of the AC would utilize the "South Line" of the C&O's "New River Sub". The C&O proper would run on the opposite bank, on its correct New River Sub location. The yard on the C&O side of the river at Thurmond would become an interchange yard. The facilities of the AC would be on the south side of New River where South Side Jct was located as well as the old "South Line" C&O rails layed, and the prototype bridge at Thurmond would now be used as the connection between the AC and the C&O.

The AC would then head up Dunloup Creek to Glen Jean and onto Pax using the roadbed of the prototype C&O rails. From Pax, the line could interchange with another proto-lanced line and/or the AC's "main" line could then be extended to the next sub-divison point or not... depending on desire and engery. However, target for the first modeled portion would be Thurmond to Pax.

The Rend Sub from Thurmond to Minden could also be modeled (eventually) if desired.

The equipment used would be the faithful equipment from the Ozark Northern as well as the Colorado Midland Equip Pack, appropriately repainted and relettered, of course.

Almost all of the Ozark Northern structure library could be used in some capacity or another and much of the Ozark Northern terrtex library. New structures would be built as desired/needed.

The idea has much promise... and if nothing else... it will be fun for a while!

Anyway... there you have it... and intro to the Allegheny Central. Later I'll be back with route progress to date. See? I told you I am the Ultimate MSTS Madman!!! devil.gif



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