Lightrail questions

Southern Oregonian Feb 27, 2014

  1. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    Here in a few months I'm going to attempt to build a 2 Portland lightrail cars but I have a few questions so far and I'll probably add a few more as things progress. My first question is how do they switch without a traditional mechanical switcher? The MAX and the Street car in Portland have multiple rail lines, but when they meet its just a open split and the 2 rail sections just merge, no points, just frogs. My other question so far is how do you burry code 100 HO track for a road level track?

    Next month I'm getting a item that will help me decide what my power setup will be and what my bogies are going to be as well.

    Thanks,
    JP
     
  2. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    I forgot, the road surface has a weird metal groove for the flanges. Would it be possible to flip a rail on its side and still have it be functional?
     
  3. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

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    Traction Guidebook by Kalmbach Books

    See if you can find a copy of the TRACTION GUIDEBOOK FOR MODEL RAILROADS, edited by Mike SCHAFER. Published by KALMBACH BOOKS. It doesn't appear that this book is published anymore but you might get lucky and find a copy if you hunt around. This book will answer many of your questions about traction.
    While I am not familiar with Portland's lightrail cars or system, I may be able to shed some light on two of your questions.
    1) Turnouts (switches) Are you sure that there are no points in the turnouts? Most regular railroad turnouts have two points (one on each rail), while many, but not all traction lines used what is called a single point turnout. This type of turnout (mostly used in street trackage) only had a single point and it guided the wheel from one rail to another by using pressure on the flanges and backs of wheels.

    2) The "weird metal groove" rail was/is most likely a form of "girder rail" This is a type of traction rail made for street running, that has a flangeway cast into the side of the rail to guide and protect the flanges on the wheels. Sort of looks like a small letter "r" This rail could be found in the street or anyplace that needed protection for wheel flanges.
     
  4. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

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    Most street running switches have somewhere a buried switch stand, possibly under an adjacent manhole cover. Likely, the switch is remotely operated, or possibly on a smart detector. Don't know that for sure, but that would be why you don't see it.

    The other possibility is a modified lap switch, gantry switch or bottleneck switch, in which there isn't actually a switchpoint, but two tracks can funnel into one. Original cases used four rails though, one overlaid just left of the farthest righthand rail and flangeway. Typically these were used to funnel doubletrack lines across a single track bridge, tunnel, or similar without requiring slowdowns or maintence for switches. I doubt that is the case HERE though, because there's also no way to UNdo it without the points.

    Gonna go pull up Strreet view and have a looksee.

    As to how to lay it in Code 100, Walthers' street system is the asiest way. I don't know if its code 83 or 100 but its a good system. I personally do not like the plastic colors but a good painting job can fix that. Plaster or concrete (patch) roads only require a stiff shim to occupy the flangeway until tacky, but they an be more finnicky to put down. I knew a guy who laid a perfect trailer lot with a track laid in it partway, flawless; like it was always meant to be there. Used concrete patch for it. But he passed away a few years ago so I cannot pick his brain. I'll try to remember to dig up a photo of the siding, maybe you can adapt it?

    EDIT: Track grooves: You're probably better off using a piece of styrene or brass c channel than trying to flip the rail, and I think the HO steet systems still use the ties to preserve rail integrity. In your case, I'd focus more on using the Cchannel for looks than function.
     
  5. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    Modern light rail operations have all their switches controlled by central command, either by a live human or automated via computer. There are mechanisms buried under the street that switch the track. For at-grade in exclusive right of way, it's just like a mainline train.
     
  6. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

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    Stealed fromWikipedia:
     
  7. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    Cool thanks all so far. I think TriMet and the street car both use single point switching. At every switching point both slowdown to a crawl and if your unit is going to switch it normally 'jerks' in that direction. At some point during a full trip every MAX will be running at street level as they all meet up at the Rose Quarter, cross the Steel Bridge, and meet again at Pioneer Square. It seems to take forever to make the trip from the Rose Quarter to Pioneer Square since the speed on the dedicated rail section is much faster then the travel speed on the road. Plus you have to wait for lights at the intersections. Thinking about it the street rail is in the shape of a serif lowercase "r."

    I'm not planning on having a huge section of my layout dedicated to light rail but rather a short switch line running on the inside. I need to have a complete MAX car before I can do anything since it will dictate the height of the platforms. Walther's Street Inserts for code 83 should be fine. When my London Underground consist gets here I'll have to get a section of 83 to see how it likes it, then order the power sets and bogies if I'm satisfied. I might get the lights and DCC setup to, but I don't know how ambitious I'll get. I still need to head over to Beaverton and see how they built their MAX someday.

    If I can figure it out (but probably not) it'd be nice to put a blinding blue LED on top of the pantograph.

    Thanks
    Josh
     
  8. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

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    uploadfromtaptalk1393559573591.jpg

    Sent from my LG-LS970 using Tapatalk
     
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not sure if we're talking the same thing here, but in the past, there were what was known as "spring" switches.
     
  10. Steve S

    Steve S TrainBoard Member

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  11. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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  12. MisterBeasley

    MisterBeasley TrainBoard Supporter

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    I did a short section with Proto 87 girder rail. They sell different radii of rail, along with straight sections and stuff for turnouts. For streets, they have various sheets of brick, concrete and cobblestones. Here, I've got some cobblestones cut to shape (the original tan color) and painted and weathered (the mottled gray ones.)

    [​IMG]

    The curved rail sections are about 4 inches long.

    [​IMG]

    This is essentially hand-laying, but without ties.

    [​IMG]

    I used a piece of plastic-coated masonite, sold in big-box stores as "shower liner," as the base for mine. I'm not sure if this was a good or bad material, but it seemed to work OK. Laying the track involves a lot of careful measurement and alignment. I found the Ribbon Rail gauge very useful for getting the rail sections aligned along a good, smooth curve, but that guage is designed for standard track and can't be used for spacing the rails. For that, I used my NMRA gauge.

    The biggest problem I had using this stuff was trying to connect the sections electrically. There is a small slot on the underside of each piece, and a thin wire that fits in the slot and should be soldered in place to connect the sections. When I tried that, though, I couldn't keep the flanges free of solder. What I ended up doing in another section of track was soldering a feeder to the underside of each section, in the middle, so I didn't have to solder the joints and mess them up.
     
  13. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    That looks really good so far. You finish it yet? I ordered enough rail for a return loop, 2 switches for a crossover, a lot of straight track, and some girder to traditional track transition couplers. I'm only going for a "U" shape (with crossover) for road level to keep it simple. A section of the LR track will be shared with the London Underground's track which means that portion will be 4 track powered along with the overhead line for the pantograph. Hey, NYC Subway and the London Underground both use diesel locomotives on their lines for MOW so why not use both? Both LRV lines will be on a dedicated track that won't connect to my RR track.

    Should I lay the track down in a deliberate haphazard manor to replicate the sway and bounce of the MAX (TriMet) and TRAX (UTA)? I'd only be doing it in the "high speed*" sections.

    Thanks again,
    Josh

    * High Speed is about 45 MPH and a very wobbly/bouncy ride. Street level isn't that bad since it only goes between 5-20 MPH depending on the section. The Steel Bridge section feels like you could jog faster then the MAX is going, but that has to do with the bridge being a double lift bridge with switches on both ends. By far my favorite bridge of all time. The lower level carries UP's double track and the foot bridge add on.
     
  14. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    Got the first of my orders from Proto 87. Some assembly required but the rail and brick road surface look great.
     
  15. oregon trunk

    oregon trunk TrainBoard Member

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    I remember the ride from 122nd to Rose Quarter being realy smooth. The track and switches are controled at Tri Met at 17th st. I worked on the light rail in the mid 1980's and early 90s in Portland on the electrical side, and if I remember the switches being regular switches with electric drives.
     
  16. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    Thats awesome. I got to talk to a UTA worker when I lived in Salt Lake City too. Does (or did) TriMet do full speed tests on new equipment? He was telling me that those LRVs can go a LOT faster then they do in service.

    The Steel Bridge junctions are starting to get old I think. We rode the Max over the summer and two times the switches failed at the bridge. The bumpy swaying ride I was talking about is when you get past the street level and are traveling on the dedicated ground track like past Loyd's Center or the tunnel. Once it gets going at speed it sort of feels like its jogging and it'll knock you down if your not careful.

    Now that the Green Line is completed, Gateway/NE 99th Town Center is something else. The Red, Blue, and now Green Lines all meet/split from there. Its like a little LRV switching yard.

    Also, Jim, with my scale MAX cars being the SD660s, what line do you want them to represent? I don't care, but you worked for TriMet so you decide.

    At any rate I now have to figure out how to do a semi transparent side ad because my wife said so. I don't have a clue how I'm going to pull that off.
     
  17. oregon trunk

    oregon trunk TrainBoard Member

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    Wow, The transparent side ad would be something Ive never seen on a model.If I remember they were transparent only looking out. I didnt work for Tri-met. I worked for Power City electric who contracted ( with IBEW 125) the cantinary and electricial feeders from 122nd to Rose Quarter. We trained Tri-met how to repair and maintain the line. I remember they did test the line with the cars at speed plus at night. We had cameras on top to check contact at the cantinary. and then made adjustments to get rid of any arcing. Its been so long I dont even know what thay call that line......I dont know if they had colors for the lines then. The control center was realy cool to see, and to see all the stuff they can do. When I moved from Portland they had completed the line to Beaverton. We were relocating all of the poles and lines crossing Lombard for that section of line.( I use to work for PGE during that time) Im looking forward to see how your cars come out.
     
  18. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    I might have found a guy who can make the shells for me which would save me a lot of time, math, bandaids, and frustration. If they come out good I'll put up his link since I know I'm not the only person that has been wanting them.

    My cars are going to have interior lights so the ads will need to be semitransparent. The real ones are just plastic laminate with a bunch of tiny holes. You can't tell the ad is made up of holes because of their size and you basically have to have a window seat to even tell. I don't eve know what I'm going to advertise.

    The first line was the blue line that now goes from Hillsboro to Gresham. Next came the red line the goes to the Airport and shares the blue line from Gateway TC to Beaverton TC. Around 2003 or '04 (can't remember) they opened the Yellow line that now goes from SW Jackson to the expo center. When it opened it turned around at the downtown transfer station and was jokingly known as the line to no where with talk that it was only made so that it could one day "cross the river" into Vancouver. The newest operational addition is the Green line that runs from SW Jackson to The Clackamas Town Center and that opened a few years ago.

    The problem with modeling this 27 year old system is that they are still operating the same original equipment along with the equipment they bought when they opened the red line, then the extensions, and then the 2 new lines. the 2 middle aged sets of equipment (The ones I'm interested in) are basically the same with little exception, but the old high floor Bombardiers and the new generation Siemens cars are so different that you can tell. The new ones have LED line color indicators and LED designation boards and are more streamlined. Some of the old ones still have rolling destination boards. Thats why I'm going with the SD660s. Less detail to mess about with.
     
  19. Geep_fan

    Geep_fan TrainBoard Member

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    Not sure about the SD660's on the MAX, but on the older U2's in San Diego, I know they could achieve much higher speeds than intended under certain circumstances. A while back I got to ride in a "out of service" blue line set of U2's going to Old Town from 12th and Imperial, I belonged to a club that one of the members was an employee of MTS and I got to ride on this deadhead. Not entirely sure what he did or if he did anything to allow the U2's to do this, but on the long stretch north of Little Italy without any stops and dedicated right of way, he had the needle on the speedometer pegged out at 55, as high as it could go, and I know we were going faster than that. Was a fun ride, wouldn't want to see that with a full load though!
     
  20. MisterBeasley

    MisterBeasley TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes, that area is pretty much done. The girder rail is actually no more than a quarter circle, plus a bit of straight track I used for an industrial siding.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The cobbles are only loosely fitted in place in the second picture, so some gaps are evident that have been closed up now.

    Absolutely not. You should try to make this absolutely bulletproof and perfect. I would say that about all trackwork, but in this case, there is little margin for error. Admittedly, my situation is probably far worse than anything you'll be doing, because I'm backing 8 or 9 car trains on to the car float and pulling them off again, but the flanges are not deep, and the slightest imperfections can cause derailments.

    Keep us posted on this one. If you've chosen a curve radius that Ribbonrail makes a tool for, by all means get one to match. It really helps. Also, get the NMRA gauge. It has a "flangeways" section that will help a lot in aligning the rails as you glue them down.

    Experiment a bit with your brick or cobble sheets. I used the same Ribbonrail gauge as a template for cutting curves, but then I did a lot of sanding and trimming to match them up precisely to the curved rails. Once I had them cut and sanded to shape, I sprayed each piece with gray primer. Next, I brushed on a wash of gray acrylic craft paint, darker than the primer. Finally, I lightly sanded the tops of the cobbles to remove some of the darker paint, leaving a mottled look with different tones on the bricks.

    Proto87 makes "transition sections" to go between your regular track and the girder rail. When installing these, I found it best to notch the ends of the regular track for about a quarter of an inch with a Dremel, and then solder the ends of the transition section into the notches, rather than trying to match up a butt-end joint.
     

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