Research · Structures

Oh, Well…

My visit to the Peterborough Train Show today yielded a treasure trove of information on the B&M Peterborough branch at Larry Kemp’s extensive display. If you’ve been following the blog, I just finished my rendition of  That Corrugated Shed seen in many photos of Peterborough.

Luckily I had placed it at the back of the scene with its rear facing the aisle because the front of the building was nothing like I had assumed. See the full sized shed in Larry’s HO display below. The prototype looks a little like the Atlas lumber yard kit but with corrugated siding. The front is actually a series of sliding doors for lumber storage bays. The angled loft encloses a veranda to the second story bays. Mine has just a single freight door. Oh well… We all know the real meaning of ASSUME, don’t we?

Larry Kemp’s Peterborough Depot Square circa 1950
Larry Kemp’s Peterborough Depot Square circa 1950. Front side of that corrugated shed.

I have no intention of changing my model. It is what it is. And you can’t see the front from where it is set in the scene. But isn’t that just how it goes!



The Peterborough Train Show

Monica and I took a short drive out to Peterborough today for the Peterborough Train Show. The first person I met at the door was Randy Brown who wrote the article on modeling Peterborough in Model Rail Planning 2000! Much of my research on Peterborough as inspiration for St. George comes from Randy’s excellent article.

See St. George, Vermont 1953

What a pleasure to actually meet the author.

Wayne (l) with Randy Brown (r) at Peterborough Train Show 10Nov18
GE 44 tonner · Locomotive · Nostalgia · Research

Where has April gone!

I just noticed I haven’t posted anything this month! Work has been all consuming, I guess.


Trucks are converted to P48 but more work is needed.



The 44-tonner, No. 48, is still in pieces on the workbench. After test running the converted power trucks it was obvious the pickups were less than adequate. I’m fashioning new ones from phosphor-bronze wire. While I’m at it I’ll disassemble the trucks one more time and give them a thorough going over. It wouldn’t hurt to recheck the gauge on the converted wheelsets. I noticed one wheel was wobbling a bit. It will get a new insulated bushing. The trucks frames are painted with a coat of nasty black gloss I’d like to strip. It doesn’t make sense to leave any problems as performance depends on these trucks being first class.


CS boxcar
SONC 2018 convention car


A week or so ago my SONC 2018 convention car arrived. It’s an Atlas X-29 lettered for the Canandaigua Southern, the late John Armstrong’s famous O scale railroad. It’s a beauty. All I’ll do is convert the trucks to P48, replace the couplers and give it some light weathering. It’ll join the Delta Lines box car as my only novelty stock. No Olde Frothingslosh reefers on this railroad!

After dithering for some weeks I finally placed an order for a Smoky Mountain AAR 70 ton flat car kit. The critics are raving! Protocraft has the trucks and decals for these cars. I’d like to letter mine for an upper Midwest line, likely Pere Marquette or maybe NKP – they both had them. It will bring in a load of farm tractors now and then and maybe haul out rough lumber that’s heading westward. Biggest issue I see is getting it weighted up enough to operate with my relatively heavy fleet.

Also, just received a copy of the B&M Bulletin, Fall 1974 with a comprehensive article on Elmwood Jct. that was located not too far from Bennington, NH. It’s where the lines from Manchester to Keene and Peterborough to Contoocook crossed before the floods of 1937. After the floods, these branches were severed with no through routes. On my journeys along the Hillsboro branch I tried to pin down just where Elwood was and I did identify the location along Rte. 202. Alas, there’s nothing left. Oh, well.

So, I’m bearing down on the 44-tonner until it’s done. Then maybe on to the French river bridges and some more trackwork.



Research · Trackwork

The Bumper Stops Here

The freight house siding in St. George needed some sort of bumper stop to prevent errant cars from straying onto Railroad Ave. I choose the Hayes Cushion Wheel Stop for this siding and the public delivery track. The Hayes type SF cushion wheel stops (a.k.a scotch blocks) have been around forever (there are patents stretching back to at least the thirties) and are still made by Western-Cullen-Hayes. Lucky for me, Scale City Designs also makes them in a size more suitable to the D&NE. I picked up a few packages from their table at the Strasburg O Scale Swap Meet a few weeks ago.

See Western Safety Products WCH Type SF Wheel Stop

and Scale City Designs Hayes Wheel Stop – O scale 2 rail

Here are some photos I took a few weeks back of Hayes wheel stops at the end of a decrepit spur on the ex-B&M Hillsboro branch in Milford, NH.

And here are mine on the end of the freight house spur. Notice the big face up against the tie. It directs the force of a run away car into the roadbed.

Proto48 · Research · Trackwork

Nailing down the trackwork

It’s high time for me to nail down my approach to trackwork for the D&NE. Having about 12′ of track and 2 turnouts down, it’s not too late to tweak things before moving on to completing the trackwork in the St. George area.

Switch ladder off of track 2 in St. George.
Point area. This one is getting a Blue Point control.
Here are the vintage guard rails.

As you might recall, the D&NE is set in northern Vermont circa 1953 and follows track standards typical of New England shortlines of that period. I’m working primarily from photos of Peterborough, NH taken about this time and field trips along the ex-B&M Hillsboro branch as it sits today. This means primarily 75# rail (code 100), 52# rail (code 83) on some spurs, no tie plates and those shapely guard rails. Also, I’ve noticed that the outside splice bars sit quite proud of the railhead.

The first bit of trackwork in St. George was okay but something was bothering me — it just didn’t look right. The guard rails weren’t the right shape and the tie plates under the frog had to go. Also, I just had to take a stab at fattening up those splice bars. Better now then later with more track down.

Original attempt. Tie plates under the frog area. Guard rails not shaped correctly. Outside splice bars flush with the rail.

As it turns out, my field trips to the Hillsboro branch have yielded lots of old 75# track with no tie plates but all of the turnouts I saw were updated over the last 60 or so years or were new. The first turnouts in St. George were influenced by these but they shouldn’t have been. I went back to the excellent photos in Randy Brown’s Peterborough article in MR Planning 2000 and a few others found on the B&M Railroad Historical Society online archives for a closer look at vintage turnouts.

Dateline: Peterborough, NH, circa 1950. Light 75# rail. No tie plates to be found. None. There is a small flat plate under the point of the frogs. No gauge plates. There are rail braces along the stock rails near the points and at the guard rails. And the guard rails have that pronounced bend (I didn’t get that right at all).

In all of this track work, the outside splice bars sit proud of the rail. The old 75# track on the Hillsboro branch is that way today and I’ve seen it elsewhere. There’s a block of wood around the size of a 2×3 stuffed inside a piece of channel iron behind the outside splice bar. It might have been a poor man’s lock washer. Drawing the splice bars tight against this softer material put some pressure on the nuts and helped keep everything in place. [Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Anyone know better?] I’m going to try to replicate this effect. It’s very noticeable when looking down the line.

One of those proud splice bars on the Hillsboro branch at Milford, NH.

So, I bit the bullet and removed all of the tie plates, gauge plates, outside splice bars and guard rails from the first stretch of trackwork. I left the points alone – they were fine as is. A simple plate of 0.010 styrene was slipped under the point of the frogs. New guard rails were fashioned that better match those seen in the photos. Replacing the outside splice bars was tedious but it’s done. I backed up the plastic splice bar castings with 0.040″ by 0.040″ styrene to fatten them up.

Now we’re talkin’. The rail and various gubbins are painted with Model Masters Leather followed by oil washes of  burnt sienna, raw sienna and black. Then, Pan Pastels of similar shades were worked in. The freight house switch is operated by a Bull Frog mechanism from Fast Tracks. I’m trying a Blue Point on the lead switch. Both operate well but I hate installing these things under the layout.

Let’s declare victory and move along to the crossover and station tracks.



Layout Construction · Proto48 · Research · Trackwork

How’d That Turnout?

Overview of the frieght house siding at St. George. Turnouts are nearly complete. Siding is code 83 and drops a little below the main tracks to the right. Sad looking freight house mockup helps set the scene. Detail work on the outside braced CN boxcar is languishing as effort is focused on trackwork.

Rail is going down slowly but surely in St. George starting with the freight house siding and the two turnouts that feed it. I’ve been researching trackwork both in photographs of the period (circa 1953) and in situ on the ex B&M mogul branches here in New Hampshire. My turnouts are a close approximation of those I’ve seen in photos of Peterborough, NH. Although much primitive trackwork exists, turnouts on the Hillsboro branch have been modernized over the last 60-70 years and haven’t been as helpful as I had hoped. I’m still looking for one out Bennington way that is more primitive. A hike is planned out of S. Bennington to the Elmwood Jct. site and beyond to end of track with the hope of bagging an older turnout. My Springer Spaniel Rosie will help suss that out, I’m sure. She has the nose for it.

A photo on page 64 of Model Railroad Planning 2000 is the best photo I have for a turnout of the period. It shows few tie plates, few rail braces, less of everything compared to a modern turnout. I also like the funky guard rails the B&M had at that time — at least out there. I’ve seen them in other photos. The D&NE turnouts are derived from this style.

St. George freight house switch nearly complete. Need rail braces outside the guard rails. They’re on order.

All the turnouts on the D&NE are being built in code 100 (75#) rail. This turnout, the frieght house switch, is nominally #6 but is actually an equilateral of sorts. Both legs are in easements facing opposite directions. The frog needed to be built on the workbench. It has Tichy NBW details.

Tie plates are from Right-O-Way and Grandt Line along with homemade ones in 0.020″ styrene. Rail braces, gauge plates and code 100 insulated joint bars are from Right-O-Way. Code 83 joint bars came from Foothill Model Works.

Beautiful guard rail castings are available too but I like to make my own in the style of the old B&M ones I mentioned. They are made from code 83 rail so that track cleaning won’t scuff off the weathering.

The points are tied together with circuit board ties and pins. I drill a pair of #68 holes in the circuit board ties exactly 0.562″ apart (or as close as I can get!) and then drop the pin through the saddle that is cast on the point. These are soldered to the circuit board cladding from the backside. As my points are wired hot, the copper cladding is cleaned off of the center of the ties, both sides.

The beautiful gauge plate is a brass casting from Right-O-Way. It’s insulated with a styrene spacer. Strictly speaking, in non-signaled territory like this with no track circuits, there is really no need for an insulated gauge plate but why not! As you can see, the slide plates are styrene with Right-O-Way rail braces.

The freight house siding is spiked with tiny stainless steel spikes from Proto:87 Stores. I’m using them primarily on foreground code 83 rail. You need a high power Optivisor for this work! For the code 100 rail, I’m using the small spikes from Fast Tracks. The goal is four spikes per tie but I fudge on background track and track that is behind a structure or buried in grass. The public delivery track was laid in code 100 rail with spikes every fourth tie as it is in the background and will be buried in dirt.

And no tie plates. The prototype didn’t have them, except at turnouts. This saves a lot of fuss.

[One thing I’ve noticed about proto-48 is that it seems a little easier to get the trackwork just right! Why is that? The flanges are so small yet the trucks track beautifully. What does the prototype know that we don’t?]


The point end of the freight house turnout.
A #6 turnout under construction.
The points for the #6 turnout on track 2 under construction. The stock rails are soldered to #6 brass flat head screws to firm them up as they are adjacent to the French River bridge.
Overview of the turnout ladder. Yeah… I’m a messy worker!

I can’t wait to paint and weather this trackwork! Some of the rail was sprayed with ruddy brown primer years ago. I’ll be sure to spray all of the rail ahead of time from now on. The plan is to touch up the rails and details with acrylic paint in rust and umber colors then apply Pan Pastels in various rusty, cruddy shades — all with a brush. Oily black highlights around the point workings along with oil drippings down the center of the track will help complete the picture. The ballast is a little plain and needs cinders and other variations mixed in. All good fun!

Layout Construction · Model Building · Research

Ideas for the French River Bridges

As track laying progresses, I’ve run into the French River. The railway crosses the French River over a pair of low bridge spans smack in the middle of St.George yard. Oddly, this was also the case in Peterborough on the B&M where the yard tracks crossed the Nubanusit River. Unfortunately, I have no low angle photo of the actual spans. If you have a copy of Model Railroad Planning 2000, pages 58-59 show these spans from above in a beautiful Phillip R. Hastings photo. Note that one of the bridges carries a turnout and so will mine – the switch to the public delivery track.

The railway crosses the French River on a pair of low, 3 span bridges.

Here’s are some shots of those old granite piers today.

Center piers at Peterborough, NH
Note the sharpened block pointing upstream.

I was out in Lyndeboro, NH on the B&M’s Hillsboro branch recently and found the bridge spanning the entrance to Pike quarry. The bridge is one lane wide, a span of maybe 12′-15′ and consists of six timbers, maybe 12″ by 12″. This would make the perfect bridge design for St.George as the spans are in the same range (14′). The granite abutments are also good inspiration for how this type of structure was constructed. Piers and abutments made from individual granite blocks cast in Durhams Water Putty will do the job.

Bridge at entrance to Pike Quarry, Lyndeborough, NH.
Simple, rugged construction.

Looks good to me! Let’s get started!



Research · Trackwork

Prototype Track continued…

I thought a field trip to the end of the Hillsboro branch might yield track work in a more primitive state. Well, not really. But it was worth the trip. These photos were taken in Greenfield. Between the Milford & Bennington and the Wilton Scenic railroads, remedial track repairs have interspersed newer ties, many with tie plates, between the older ones. The switches seem to be the same as in Wilton and may be much as they were in 1953.

I did verify that the rail is 5″ tall which makes it 75#. If the mill mark is any indication, it was drawn in 1898. Guard rails and some other switch details are different than Right-O-Way’s parts. I may build a few masters and cast some of these details in resin. All the switches I saw were #10. The ties are largely faded gray and rotten but they wouldn’t be back in 1953. Mine will be well worn but have a little more color.


Who needs tie plates?


#10 frog


Notice the gauge plates. The rail braces are adjustable. The turnouts have tie plates but not everywhere.


The guard rail does not have clamps but is heavily braced on long tie plates.


Love the switch stand.



30 miles to Keene – most of it on foot!.










Research · Trackwork

Prototype Track

One of my goals on the D&NE is to bring the trackwork up to a higher standard. I am going to include switch details and joint bars. Color and texture are important too for both ties and rail.

The D&NE is a circa 1953 shortline not unlike the W&OD, StJ&LC, M&WR or, for that matter, the B&M mogul branches. As such, it is laid in 75# rail on softwood ties with no tie plates. I took a trip to nearby Wilton, NH to survey the trackwork on the B&M Hillsboro branch (now Pan Am). Some of the track has been upgraded, particularly at new industrial sidings and road crossings. There you’ll see heavier rail and tie plates.  Admittedly, the Hillsboro branch has been sporadically upgraded throughout the last 60 or so years but a short walk will usually land you back in the land of light rail and rotten ties. One thing that stands out to me is that switches have tie plates under the points and frog.

I think I’ll take another expedition farther out past Lyndeborough to see if I can find trackwork in a more primitive condition.


Here’s a transition to heavier rail at a siding location.



Looks like there’s a tie plate on this rotten tie.


Color and texture.


More color and texture.


West passing siding switch in Wilton. Lots of tie plates. Were they there in 1953?



Overview of that switch. Recent tie replacement and ballast likely the work of the Milford & Bennington when it was hauling gravel from a Lyndeborough quarry to a batch plant in Milford.




Frog area of that turnout.


The points. Notice the joint bar used as a  strap.




Achievable layout · Protofreelance Concept · Research

Peterborough, New Hampshire

My roadbed from Cascade Rail Supply should be shipping today but what to do in the mean time?

Peterborough is hardly an hour from home so my wife and I took a trip today to see what was left of the railway. I didn’t remember that there was much but I hadn’t had the focus I have now. I’m particularly interested in finding photos of the station and other near by structures. I’m not modeling Peterborough as such but these will be good guides for freelance structures for St. George.

Armed with my MR Planning 2000 (with that nice article by Randy Brown) and a hearty breakfast from the Red Arrow diner in Milford, first stop in Peterborough was the Toadstool book store. It happens to be located right on the old station site. I wanted to suss out a copy of Peterborough Then and Now or whatever for railroad photos. Nothing to be had there so up the street to the Historical Society. There they had a nice pile of photos, most of which I hadn’t seen. I copied many of them and include a few below.

The south end of the station showing the express office.
B&M B-15 mogul 1461 parked in front of the station. (I hate to brag but it’s a product of  Manchester Locomotive Works just a few miles and many decades from where I sit.)
Peterborough station from the rear looking northeast. I think this was taken during a fan trip in 1958 after passenger service was abandoned. Notice the Budd car.
Cavender station, a milk stop north of Peterborough. This is a must have scene somewhere up the line!
The perfect turntable for St. George.

Before lunch, we had a look at the old bridge piers south of the station where the tracks spanned the Nubanusit River right at its mouth on the Contoocook River. The site is very overgrown but I rolled up my jeans and waded out a bit to get a few pics. I have a similar scene planned for St. George. Two tracks crossed here. The track at the rear had a turnout on the bridge. And so will the one in St. George.

Looking end on at one of the center piers made of granite blocks.
Here are both center piers. One has a large concrete patch.

Afterwards, we looked around a few of the shops in what was once the lumber building that backs up to the Nubanusit River just beyond the bridge site. The freight house is there too, now a healthy lunch spot. But we opted for the old Peterborough Diner at 10 Depot St. I’ll have the chili.

Peterboro Diner