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Southern broad gauge track ? or HO scale on 17.5mm gauge


burgundy
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Following a number of visits to the Atlanta area, I have been developing an interest in the local railroad network, particularly in its early days. Most railroads in the southern states were originally were built to a gauge of 5', with rail that, by today's standards, is very lightweight. Indeed, bridge rail was often used (U section) and there was a fair amount of  strap rail (metal strip secured to wooden longitudinals) still around at the time of the civil war.
As an experiment, and to try out some techniques,I have built a short section of track to see whether I could replicate the appropriate appearance. Using standard HO proportions, track should come out at 17.5mm gauge. The Confederate Railroads site
http://www.csa-railroads.com/
gives quite a lot of information on track standards and there are a number of photos which give a flavour of the way the prototype looked. 

post-9472-0-04394400-1408207405.jpg
At the recent Wells show, I was able to get a couple of lengths of code 40 rail (thanks to the guys on the 2mm FS stand) and Technohand of this parish kindly provided a roller gauge made to 17.5mm. The ties came from some EMGS ply and rivet material that I had in stock.  The spare track at the left hand end is to EM guage for comparison.

post-9472-0-17897900-1408206936_thumb.jpg

post-9472-0-05932700-1408207152_thumb.jpg
Comparing the end result to the contemporary pictures, the length of the sleepers is far too regular – and I suspect that many of the originals would have been rough hewn. The prototype also lacked neat round rivets, as the rail would have been spiked directly to the sleepers (I must remember to call them ties). Narrowing the ply strip to the correct width and hand drilling all the rivet holes was not habit forming: any more ambitious model would be better to use something like copper clad strip (or something similar), cut to the right width (about 2.6mm) and then cut roughly to the appropriate length. I am prepared to forego the spikes, which I suspect would limit the clearance of flanges on the code 40 rail.

post-9472-0-27400400-1408207138_thumb.jpg

post-9472-0-08908700-1408207119_thumb.jpg
The bogie (or should I say truck) in the pictures is off a Mantua General, but with replacement wheelsets. These seem to run quite happily on the code 40 rail and this answered my first question about the feasibility of this kind of track. The treads still look a little large, but the flanges of these (and some other reasonably fine US wheels) seem to come out at a thickness of about 0.5mm. Given a further 0.5mm rattle space between flange face and rail, this suggests a back to back dimension of around 16mm – in other words a sort of EM standards approach, rather than P4. My research on P87 standard wheels suggests that anything suitable for the General is going to be rather hard to find, so I suspect that, if I take this exploration any further, it will adopt this kind of “EM like” compromise. I will have to give this some thought before embarking on conversion of the rest of the loco.
If anyone else has been here, done it and already owns the T shirt, I should be delighted to hear from them. Also any suggestions (other than in questioning my sanity for wishing to do this in the first place) would be most welcome.  
Best wishes
Eric
PS I presume that someone somewhere will be able to invent a suitable scale/gauge reference for this one?

Edited by burgundy
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You might want to google for Rene" Gourley's excellent work on a P:87 early American (or Canadian) 4-4-0.

 

Regular HO wheels have a 0.030" wide by 0.030" deep, max flange envelope. So yes they will run OK on code 40 FB if you don't uses spikes or other fixings that intrude over the rail base.

 

We do have working scale spikes (0.010" high head) and optional bulk 9ft long plain scale wood ties. It's doubtful they used any tieplates at that time. The over-sized code 40 rail base plus spikes would only leave about 0.020" clearance, which would restrict you to using P:87 wheels, if you did use spikes.  (0.014" by 0.014" max flange envelope) .

 

You should be able to glue down code 40 FB rail, (or solder to PCB ties) and keep both the correct appearance and sufficient clearance for HO wheels. Making good working (and good scale looking) stub turnouts would be the greater challenge I expect.

 

Andy

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You might want to google for Rene" Gourley's excellent work on a P:87 early American (or Canadian) 4-4-0.

 

Regular HO wheels have a 0.030" wide by 0.030" deep, max flange envelope. So yes they will run OK on code 40 FB if you don't uses spikes or other fixings that intrude over the rail base.

 

We do have working scale spikes (0.010" high head) and optional bulk 9ft long plain scale wood ties. It's doubtful they used any tieplates at that time. The over-sized code 40 rail base plus spikes would only leave about 0.020" clearance, which would restrict you to using P:87 wheels, if you did use spikes.  (0.014" by 0.014" max flange envelope) .

 

You should be able to glue down code 40 FB rail, (or solder to PCB ties) and keep both the correct appearance and sufficient clearance for HO wheels. Making good working (and good scale looking) stub turnouts would be the greater challenge I expect.

 

Andy

Andy

Thank you

I found the photo essay by Rene Gourley absolutely fascinating - although I infer that, if you want P87 steam loco wheels, either you make them yourself or you get a "best fit" P4 wheel. Having established that somewhat coarser wheels will cope with code 40 rail, I think that is the way that I shall go, simply because of the availablity of all the other wheel sets that might be required. I can live with the absence of spikes to pin the rail to the ties. 

The Confederate Railroads website suggests that ties would be double the gauge - so in this case, 10', which is what I have modelled. Any opinions on whether it looks about right would be welcome. If there is evidence that 9' ties are appropriate, I can see that saving me a whole lot of effort!  

Best wishes

Eric  

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Eric:

I believe the correct designation for this gauge is HOw5, although HOw60 might be acceptable.

Over here it would be H0b5, or H0b60, track gauges above standard are "broad gauge", 'wide gauge' implies a fault in the track or the deliberate widening on curves but with the same nominal gauge, hence 'wide gauge' may apply to broad, standard or narrow nominal gauges.

Keith

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Interestingly the southern broad gauge is the reason that Russia still uses 5' gauge railways. It was a southern American engineer who built their railways.

 

I've contemplated modelling Russian gauge in N scale (1:160) but using 2FS track as it's almost right and standard gauge versions of a lot of diesels were used in East Germany.

 

As far as your problems are concerned, I would use EM standards for everything except the gauge. Being consistent with the standards will result in something that is much more reliable than trying to mix and match things.

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Over here it would be H0b5, or H0b60, track gauges above standard are "broad gauge", 'wide gauge' implies a fault in the track or the deliberate widening on curves but with the same nominal gauge, hence 'wide gauge' may apply to broad, standard or narrow nominal gauges.

Keith

 

Broad had an entirely different connotation, here in the US. :drag:

 

Andy

Edited by Andy Reichert
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Thanks to all for the various links that have been suggested.

Thanks also for the suggestions about the appropriate name for this scale/gauge. I accept Simon D's question about why you need to worry about a suitable name, but the response has actually brought out an interesting point, following a bit of googling. I looked at the sites that cover the old Erie Railroad (which was built to 6' gauge) and these all seem to refer to it as "broad". Then I found this site (I don't know how authoritative it is) which seems to make a clear distinction between "wide" and "broad".  It uses "wide" to describe those lines laid to gauges between 4' 8.5" and 4' 10", which were designed to accommodate standard gauge wheels, but providing a degree of easement to avoid stressing track laid with strap rail. 4' 10" seems to have been about the limit to which you could widen the gauge and still have a reasonable probablilty of "standard" gauge wheels remaining on the track. On this basis, I guess that 5' gauge can properly be described as "broad" since locos and rolling stock were explicitly built to this gauge and it was never intended as an eased version of standard gauge. Logically, therefore, I think I am working to HOb5 or HOb60!

Best wishes

Eric      

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Andy

Thank you

I found the photo essay by Rene Gourley absolutely fascinating - although I infer that, if you want P87 steam loco wheels, either you make them yourself or you get a "best fit" P4 wheel. Having established that somewhat coarser wheels will cope with code 40 rail, I think that is the way that I shall go, simply because of the availablity of all the other wheel sets that might be required. I can live with the absence of spikes to pin the rail to the ties. 

The Confederate Railroads website suggests that ties would be double the gauge - so in this case, 10', which is what I have modelled. Any opinions on whether it looks about right would be welcome. If there is evidence that 9' ties are appropriate, I can see that saving me a whole lot of effort!  

Best wishes

Eric  

There do appear to be other sources e.g.

 

http://www.apogee-vapeur.ch/index.php?include=articles&lng=1&categ=17&id=4

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Then I found this site (I don't know how authoritative it is) which seems to make a clear distinction between "wide" and "broad".  It uses "wide" to describe those lines laid to gauges between 4' 8.5" and 4' 10", which were designed to accommodate standard gauge wheels, but providing a degree of easement to avoid stressing track laid with strap rail. 4' 10" seems to have been about the limit to which you could widen the gauge and still have a reasonable probablilty of "standard" gauge wheels remaining on the track.       

The Pacific Rail Act of March 3, 1863 was, in part:

AN ACT to establish the gauge of the Pacific railroad and its branches. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the gauge of the Pacific railroad and its branches throughout their whole extent, from the Pacific coast to the Missouri river, shall be, and hereby is, established at four feet eight and one-half inches.  

Since two foot and three foot railroads are described as "narrow gauge" it makes sense that any gauge exceeding 4'-81/2" after March of 1863 would be wider than the standard gauge and would therefore be known simply as "wide" gauge.

One of the reason this was chosen as the national standard in 1863 had more to do with who was, and wasn't, present in Congress at the time than anything else!

 

 

 

 
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Since two foot and three foot railroads are described as "narrow gauge" it makes sense that any gauge exceeding 4'-81/2" after March of 1863 would be wider than the standard gauge and would therefore be known simply as "wide" gauge.

 

CVSNE

Thanks for your comment and, in particular, the extract from the piece of legislation which established the standard gauge in the US. 

I am not sure if this is a difference between English and American, but, to my (British) mind, "broad" and "wide" are equally good opposites to "narrow". In English, the Great Western, in its 7' gauge days, is always referred to as broad gauge. Equally, as far as I have been able to find with Google, the Erie, in its 6' gauge days, seems to have been referred to as broad gauge.

I admit that my reading on US railroads is fairly limited, so if "wide gauge" is a recognised term, I should be interested to see how it is applied. 

Best wishes

Eric      

Edited by burgundy
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I can't think of any instance were I, or someone else, would use "broad" as a synonym for "wide." We'd say the "river is wide," but not "the river is broad." Perhaps because "broad" is usually reserved to describe a woman?

But what do I know? I grew up learning to sail on the ThAmes River, (prounouced exactly how it's spelled, without a silent "h"!) which is pretty wide in spots - much wider than the "Tems" River in London.

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Following a number of visits to the Atlanta area, I have been developing an interest in the local railroad network, particularly in its early days. Most railroads in the southern states were originally were built to a gauge of 5', with rail that, by today's standards, is very lightweight. Indeed, bridge rail was often used (U section) and there was a fair amount of  strap rail (metal strip secured to wooden longitudinals) still around at the time of the civil war.

As an experiment, and to try out some techniques,I have built a short section of track to see whether I could replicate the appropriate appearance. Using standard HO proportions, track should come out at 17.5mm gauge. The Confederate Railroads site

http://www.csa-railroads.com/

gives quite a lot of information on track standards and there are a number of photos which give a flavour of the way the prototype looked. 

attachicon.gif04a n_a.jpg

At the recent Wells show, I was able to get a couple of lengths of code 40 rail (thanks to the guys on the 2mm FS stand) and Technohand of this parish kindly provided a roller gauge made to 17.5mm. The ties came from some EMGS ply and rivet material that I had in stock.  The spare track at the left hand end is to EM guage for comparison.

attachicon.gifP1010022.JPG

attachicon.gifP1010037.JPG

Comparing the end result to the contemporary pictures, the length of the sleepers is far too regular – and I suspect that many of the originals would have been rough hewn. The prototype also lacked neat round rivets, as the rail would have been spiked directly to the sleepers (I must remember to call them ties). Narrowing the ply strip to the correct width and hand drilling all the rivet holes was not habit forming: any more ambitious model would be better to use something like copper clad strip (or something similar), cut to the right width (about 2.6mm) and then cut roughly to the appropriate length. I am prepared to forego the spikes, which I suspect would limit the clearance of flanges on the code 40 rail.

attachicon.gifP1010034.JPG

attachicon.gifP1010024.JPG

The bogie (or should I say truck) in the pictures is off a Mantua General, but with replacement wheelsets. These seem to run quite happily on the code 40 rail and this answered my first question about the feasibility of this kind of track. The treads still look a little large, but the flanges of these (and some other reasonably fine US wheels) seem to come out at a thickness of about 0.5mm. Given a further 0.5mm rattle space between flange face and rail, this suggests a back to back dimension of around 16mm – in other words a sort of EM standards approach, rather than P4. My research on P87 standard wheels suggests that anything suitable for the General is going to be rather hard to find, so I suspect that, if I take this exploration any further, it will adopt this kind of “EM like” compromise. I will have to give this some thought before embarking on conversion of the rest of the loco.

If anyone else has been here, done it and already owns the T shirt, I should be delighted to hear from them. Also any suggestions (other than in questioning my sanity for wishing to do this in the first place) would be most welcome.  

Best wishes

Eric

 

Eric,

Stepping away from the linguistic issues for a moment and looking at your photos of you trackwork experiment I'm not sure what exactly the rail is sitting on but it doesn't really capture the appearance of the prototype (sorry). The rails should be sitting directly on the wood ties - no tie plates or any other type of fitting.

I've laid a bunch of five-foot gauge circa 1863 rail on Bernie Kempinski's Aquia Harbor - it's O scale so we can use spikes without an issue of the flanges bumping the ties.

Marty

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Marty, it looks like it's the ply and rivet method of trackwork. A small brass rivet is secured in a hole drilled in a thin plywood tie, then the rail can be soldered to the rivet. In British trackwork the rivet would be hidden by a cosmetic chair, cast in whitemetal in days gone by, now available in plastic. The rivet, besides providing a means of soldering the rail, elevates it since rail sat in a cast chair on the prototype, not directly on the tie. A good way to build British track, if a bit outdated now, but not very good for US practice.

 

I'd go with Andy Reichert's advice in post 3 in the thread, just before we starting getting into trouble with broads.

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Eric,

Stepping away from the linguistic issues for a moment and looking at your photos of you trackwork experiment I'm not sure what exactly the rail is sitting on but it doesn't really capture the appearance of the prototype (sorry). The rails should be sitting directly on the wood ties - no tie plates or any other type of fitting.

I've laid a bunch of five-foot gauge circa 1863 rail on Bernie Kempinski's Aquia Harbor - it's O scale so we can use spikes without an issue of the flanges bumping the ties.

Marty

Marty

Highpeak is spot on; it is ply and rivet sleepering. Having sourced the code 40 rail, I simply looked around for a way to assemble it into track - and the ply sleepering and rivets were conveniently there. For the purposes of testing code 40 rail against flange depths, it has served its purpose and I quite like the effect of the timber length and spacing. It also convinced me that I would need a rather less labour intensive solution.

For a more convincing effect, I would be tempted to try copper clad strip (if I could get it cut to more or less the correct width) and then use it for every fifth sleeper with wooden ones in between. I noted Andy R's suggestion of simply glueing it all down, but, given the flimsyness of code 40 rail, solder seems to be more robust. I may of course be wrong.  

And if I talk about this experiment in America, I shall choose my description of the gauge with care!

Best wishes

Eric      

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An interesting concept - I live just north of Atlanta but until recently was not in the slightest interested in US railroads. The Bachmann On30 models caught my interest (a compromise in itself) so I am now building a small 1920s layout - however, I digress. Presumably The General and the other locos were all 5' gauge - I did not realize this and assumed all railroads of that era were standard gauge.

 

If you have cause to use the Atlanta Airport take a walk between terminals (rather than use the train) as there is a significant exhibition of Atlanta history with emphasis on the Civil War era and Atlanta rail depots.

 

What rolling stock are you envisaging using, RTR HO re-gauged and re-wheeled? Are you considering HO due to availability of rolling stock and scenic items?

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There was an interesting article last year in an American Railway magazine on the railroads of the American Civil War. It appears that the Union side (North) had a considerable advantage in that a majority of lines in their territory were standard gauge and furthermore many were connected to each other. The Southern Confederate states however had a multiplicity of gauges, although several had chosen 5 feet, and few lines were able to connect as many lines were isolated from each other. The Union set about converting all major lines to standard gauge and making connections where it was considered necessary. The North also had considerably more track mileage than the South.

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The North had considerably more manufacturing and engineering resources. Although the North won the military victory after rampaging through Georgia, the South would inevitably have lost due to limited industrial strength.

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Marty

Highpeak is spot on; it is ply and rivet sleepering. Having sourced the code 40 rail, I simply looked around for a way to assemble it into track - and the ply sleepering and rivets were conveniently there. For the purposes of testing code 40 rail against flange depths, it has served its purpose and I quite like the effect of the timber length and spacing. It also convinced me that I would need a rather less labour intensive solution.

For a more convincing effect, I would be tempted to try copper clad strip (if I could get it cut to more or less the correct width) and then use it for every fifth sleeper with wooden ones in between. I noted Andy R's suggestion of simply glueing it all down, but, given the flimsyness of code 40 rail, solder seems to be more robust. I may of course be wrong.  

And if I talk about this experiment in America, I shall choose my description of the gauge with care!

Best wishes

Eric      

 

I have feeling that the code 40 shown is UK Style bullhead rail and not US style, self standing code 4o Flat Bottom rail. Using FB rail solves all the problems of either gluing to wood ties, or soldering to PCB ties. And it is available in the UK or shipped from the US.

 

Andy

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If you have cause to use the Atlanta Airport take a walk between terminals (rather than use the train) as there is a significant exhibition of Atlanta history with emphasis on the Civil War era and Atlanta rail depots.

 

What rolling stock are you envisaging using, RTR HO re-gauged and re-wheeled? Are you considering HO due to availability of rolling stock and scenic items?

Jeff

If the scheme goes further, it will be to HO scale, as that is the size with which I am comfortable.  This seems to mean scouring e bay for  2nd hand Mantua "Generals" and going to a couple of specialist suppliers that do rolling stock in kit form. I have one General, which  has been reduced to its component parts and, the more I think about it, the more severe the modifications will be. However, there are a few steps to go from a trial 7" length of track to a complete loco rebuild.

You mention an exhibition between the Terminals at Atlanta airport. Do you mean between the National and International Terminals? The last time we travelled, I think we took a magical mystery tour in a minibus between the two to reach the MARTA station.

Andy

You are quite correct: the rail is bullhead and I am not sure that FB will be available over here. I imagine that lengths of rail would show up nicely when they scan the suitcases...........

Best wishes

Eric     

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Eric,

There are some Bachmann 1860s products, The General and Jupiter I believe but don't know how accurate they are.

 

I was actually referring to the underground walkway and rubber tyred railway between terminals T, A, B, C, D and E. I know what you mean about the bus ride though.....

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