Saturday, 13 October 2012

Track Plan... and more!

     I've been planning this layout for quite some time now (1997 is when the current concept came to me). In that time the plan hasn't changed too much since it was first conceived. The focal point of the layout has always been the crossing of the Peace River and the town site itself but other interesting scenes and operational considerations have made their way in to the final plan. I think I have the whole concept pretty much perfected other than the final details.
     The layout will ultimately end up in its own dedicated space. I will be building a 36' x 48' garage/workshop. The second story of which will contain the layout room and my wife's art studio. The plan is to erect the building next summer.
     In the mean time construction of the layout can continue due to its sectional nature.
The plan consists of 5 Phases:
Phase 1:
     Scroll down.... way down! I had to put the track plan down there so that I don't mess up the sidebar.
 A little bit more....
This is the original, core concept... Judah hill, down across the Heart River, through the town site, across the Peace River and up the west bank at Duet.

N Scale NAR, Phase 1
Peace River town map dated Sept. 1980 showing the railway's and highway's path
      The goal is to have phase 1 ready for display by 2016. Why 2016? Well, the Central Canada Railway (one of the "McArthur" predecessor railways of the NAR) completed laying track to the town site in 1916 and I would like to have this portion of the layout completed by the centennial. If there are any special celebrations planned for that summer I would love to be able to participate and display the layout in Peace River (Wendy at the Peace River Museum... are you listening?).
A little history:
     The Canadian Northern Railway first proposed a line to "Peace River Crossing" in 1911. Not to be beaten to the prize and allow the competition into "his" territory, John Duncan McArthur (owner of the Edmonton, Dunvegan & British Columbia Railway and the Alberta & Great Waterways Railway), in 1913, sought and received a charter to build the "Central Canada Railway" from McLennan on the E.D. & B.C. to Peace River. Construction started right away but didn't proceed very quickly due to the fact that most of the energy and the few assets J.D. had were being concentrated on getting the E.D. & B.C. to British Columbia somehow (his overall plan was to connect Winnipeg to the Pacific on a northern route... a real visionary... but without enough money). The rails finally reached the Heart River Bridge in December of 1915 and, once the bridge was completed, regular service to the depot was initiated in May of 1916.
     McArthur's plan to thwart his competitors worked and when the Canadian Northern saw he was serious about this endeavour they put their own plans to reach the Peace Country on the back burner. Meanwhile, financing for the Peace River Bridge was secured and initial groundwork started in January of 1917. The Canadian Bridge Company began construction of the bridge itself in May of 1918 and it was completed on November 8, 1918.
    Now that he was across the river, construction could continue on the C.C.R. (the railway not the band!) with the goal of eventually reaching Fort St. John, B.C..
J.D. McArthur
Lets tour the sections of Phase 1 (starting at the bottom right of the plan shown above):
      Judah Hill: Here I want to show the steep decline into the Peace River valley and the troubles that the railway had with the grade. The module will consist of only the 3.5 % grade with a "Shoo fly" (a temporary track laid to get around some obstruction or problem) at a depiction of one of the many landslides that occurred along the decent to the river. The "shoo fly" will require a speed limit that will add to the operational interest. If I can, I would like to include a logging scene (gotta use those great GHQ kits somehow!) at the rear of the scene to add some interest.


     Heart River Bridge: Pretty self explanatory! Things other than the bridge that will be featured on this module will be the Judah Hill road (gravel in 1979), the crossing of the tracks just south of the bridge and the first houses and streets of the town to be encountered (including "Johnny's house"... long story... I'll tell you later!). At the top of the module, at the foot of the bridge will be the Twelve Foot Davis Ball Park... a neat little feature that will have an impromptu game underway. If you have the Kieth Hansen book "North from Edmonton", open it up to page 264... In the picture you will see a track worker, watching the train go by, interrupting his work. I believe the worker is my Grandfather, although I cannot be sure, so this little scene will also be depicted on the module.
     East Hill/Highway #2: The highway will feature prominently on this section. Running to the right of the tracks, it will start climbing the hill from the top of the section, cross the "Twelve Foot Davis" road, a.k.a. 100th Ave.(the  gravel road that takes you to the grave site at the top of the hill), on an overpass and eventually disappear behind a hump on the hill near the bottom of the section.  Another "side scene" I'll be including on the section will be the little old cemetery that lies between the ball park and the roads. I was entranced by this little, out of the way place when I first visited it. Most people don't even know exists but it contains many of the first graves in town, dating back to 1913, if I remember the tombstones correctly. More ghoulish research must be done... Halloween is coming soon... isn't it!



     Peace River Depot: Lots of stuff happening on this one... The depot scene, the team track that received... well... just about anything and the helper pocket where a couple GP-9 locomotives faithfully stood on standby to assist any southbound traffic that needed it to climb the hill.  At the bottom of the section will be Pat's Creek Trestle and the highway's entrance to town. I hope to have enough room to model at least one of the gas stations at the 5 way intersection just south of the trestle but I will definitely have room to model the KFC that is up by the team track. At the rear of the scene will be the steep down grade the rails took to the switchback to reach the industrial area. Peace River High School will be watching over the town from the side of the hill. Little "signatures" on this one will include the "Welcome" on the hill and the "coolest" walkways ever that cross under the highway and over the off ramp to bring the kids home from school.

    Peace River Industrial: The east bank of the river will have many of its industries modelled. This will be a "high detail" section and will probably keep me busy for many years to come. The track will emerge from the switchback, at the top of the module (not shown in the plan) and pop out from under the east sections of the two river bridges to reach the industries. The bridges will mask the hole in the backdrop for the hidden trackage.

Looking south


    Peace River Bridge: That should be "Bridges" due to having two bridges on it... The rail bridge upfront and the auto bridge for Highway #2 up against the backdrop. I'm undecided as to how to hide the fact that the auto bridge will be right against or very close to the backdrop. I've considered putting it right up against the backdrop to avoid shadows but that may be unnecessary with the proper lighting. I will have a mirror from the auto bridge down to the water... this will give depth to the scene and will be easy to mask by hiding the top of the mirror behind the actual bridge deck. Faithful reproduction of the river and bridges will be key on this one!

      Duet: The west bank of the river will see the track enter from the bridge onto the wye... the north leg of which will disappear under the highway construction and go through the backdrop to some hidden trackage (not shown on the plan) that will represent the industries that were located north of the bridges. If I ever decide to change the time setting of the layout to 1991 or newer the "north leg" could lead to the Daishowa extension... a 10 mile line built along the river to reach the Daishowa pulp mill which was built in the "post NAR" era and could be modelled on the bottom level of a future section.
      This section will  include a gravel pit and I hope to find room somewhere to model a pipeline stockpile with all its activity. The Bluebird Motel will sit just off the south curve and I will be unfaithfully transplanting the Motel's campground from beside the motel into the centre of the turnback curve of the railway where the present day Lion's Campground now resides (not a big stretch from reality).
    West Hill: This element of the layout may not seem very interesting but I really want to include the prototype sight of seeing three levels of track, one above the other, climbing out of the valley. This is a rarity in the real world and deserves to be modelled. The plan is to have the tracks travel up a 2% grade from Duet all the way to the top. Midway in the route the tracks will disappear under the highway construction and through the backdrop to enter a one and a half turn helix (corkscrew arrangement). This will raise the right of way enough to emerge from some trees high against the backdrop and over a newly built concrete bridge that flies over the construction scene to continue its climb to the top of the hill... 2% all the way only gives me a rise of 7" so I may decide to increase the grade to 3% or add another lap of the helix to give me the vertical separation I need to "pull off" the scene.
That's Phase 1... Less than 4 years before I want it ready... so I'd better pick up the pace!!!
 Below is the track plans for the other phases... which I will detail in future posts.
Phase 2:
     A fully operational layout... McLennan to Roma Jct. and both ends connected to a "traverse" staging yard as well as a connection for "roundy round" running. At first the plan was to configure the layout to have an operator's aisle in the centre but with the advent of wireless throttles and using manual turnout control there is no need for the operator to be there... even when displaying the layout. The "traverse" consists of many tracks mounted on a movable plane. The plane moves back and forth to align the different tracks to the adjoining section's track. Target for completion is 2029... the 100th anniversary of the N.A.R.... I'll be 60 by then... middle aged!!!

Phases 1 and 2
 Phase 3, The Smoky subdivision:
     A "duck under" or swing bridge connects the Kimiwan Wye, just west of McLennan to this phase. It will depict the Smoky subdivision through Donnelly, Falher, Girouxville and Culp, across the Smoky River and into the valley village of Watino where it also will connect to the "traverse" so that traffic from Rycroft and points beyond (Grande Prairie and Dawson Creek) can be simulated.
Phase 4, The remainder of the Peace River subdivision:
    Another "duck under" or swing bridge will connect Roma Jct. on Phase 2 to Grimshaw and the rest of the sub. all the way to the "End of Steel" at Hines Creek. Being a "dead end", it will not need to be connected to staging to be realistically operated.
Phases 1 through 4 in the 36' x 48' "Play house"

Phase 5. CN's Great Slave Lake Railway ?????? Maybe. If I live long enough !!!!!

     It's possible... If I also make the "traverse" into a ""train elevator" I could model the GSLR by connecting above the Watino section, a-la "mushroom" design (lower level facing one way, upper level facing the other), and depict Manning, the Meikle River Bridge, Hawk Hills, Keg River, High Level and all the way to the Lead-Zinc mine at Pine Point, N.W.T.. This phase would sit above the Grimshaw to Hines Creek sections. Time will tell if I go that far!

A few more details:

     The vast majority of the sections are 30" wide and 90" long. All the other oddball straight sections are either 30"x 30" or 30"x 60". The corners are diamonds that end up with a 60"x60" "footprint" with mating faces being 30" wide. All the dimensions stated are absolute maximums with all the components of the layout, including the backdrops and their frames, within those limits. This was designed to allow for the layout to fit through a 32" door... or even 30" if I hold my breath!
     The sections of all the phases will be "portable"; designed to be separated and moved, but only phases 1 and 2 will actually travel on a regular basis and as such will be constructed in a manner that dedicated pairs of sections will fit together to form a box for easy transport. This is a subject that will also need its own post... if not several, so stay tuned for that.

     Aisles are also in increments of 30" wide. Anywhere there will be action on both sides I try to have the aisle 60" wide. That should leave plenty of room for operators to meet and to give the room a relaxed, uncluttered feel.

     The whole thing will be skirted from the section edges down to the floor with fabric... Grey on top, dark blue on the bottom and a nice yellow stripe separating the two (where have I seen that before... hmmm?). Somewhere highly visible will be a large NAR diamond and the words "Northern Alberta" along the yellow stripe... In the proper font, of course.

     Lighting... well, there's a lot of research to do on that subject yet! For phases 1 and 2 I would like something that I could take with me... Lighting at some venues is pretty poor and having my own with me would help greatly.

     Control: Wireless DCC (Digital Command Control). For those of you who may not have heard of it... It is a system that puts full voltage to the tracks at all times, unlike regular DC control where you control the trains by adjusting the voltage to the tracks. The concept is to transmit signals through the track to a receiver inside the locomotive and the receiver, in turn, adjusts the voltage to the motor. The control system allows for independant control of each locomotive regardless of what the others are doing as well as the ability to control other things such as lighting and animation functions.
     Sound: With DCC you can have sound: All locos or permanent "lash ups" will have sound decoders and speakers. This addition really blows the doors off no sound... I was a sceptic of sound at first but after hearing my first sound equipped locomotives I was hooked.
      Another layer of sound that I want to include is radio... yep... but not just any radio, though. I hope to find some archival recordings from the late 70's of  Peace River's radio station, CKYL (or "Squeaky"YL as we used to not-so-affectionately call it )... 610 on your am dial! Dan Mody in the morning, "Tradio" over the noon hour and, of course, there would also be period rock and roll with vintage ads... ALL DAY LONG, BABY!! That should make some fitting background noise to set the "scene"!!!.
     "Tradio" was really neat... a pre-internet version of ebay; people would call in with their stuff for sale or trade. The area had alot of French and Ukranian people so some of the accents you heard over the air were pretty strong... "Hi got some bale for sale hand a comprrressor wit a hair tank. Call hate tree seven tree hate hate tree" LOL.

     By the way... To create the track plans above, I used the Atlas "Right Track 10.0" free software... It has some limitations but works fine for my purposes. You can find it at:

Thanks for listening!


Monday, 8 October 2012

What Time is it in My World?

I decided to set the N-Scale NAR in the Fall of 1979...

The choice of 1979 was made for several reasons:

1. I was 10 years old then and remember that time quite fondly... Like many other modellers out there, I wish to recreate this time of my life when everything seemed "perfect"...

2.The NAR was celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1979. There were special trains run during the summer and the NAR had just applied the "names" on the sides of all their locomotives... something I would like to recreate as it really pinpoints the time modelled.

3. The NAR ceased to exist in 1981 as a separate entity: CN bought out CP's share late in 1980 and the railway was fully converted to CN subdivisions in 1981.

4. The NAR had just received their signature, double door boxcars... at the time they were brand new and represented a "Golden Age" on the railway which showed hope and growth for the future.

5. CN's Great Slave Lake Division was in full swing in 1979 and generated much traffic for the NAR with grain and lead-zinc ore going south... agricultural and oilfield products going north.

6. Most of the grain elevators in the Peace country were still standing, in a myriad of colours and schemes; Alberta Wheat Pool, UGG, Cargill and Pioneer... and there was a ton of them.

c. Bruce Selyem

I chose the Fall/Harvest season, specifically, because:

1. The extra traffic generated by the Fall grain rush dictated that the NAR lease locomotives from its mother companies... CN and CP... and ran them together with their own power. This made for some wonderful sights of all three paint schemes seen at the front of the same train (and, as any model railroader will attest... the more excuses you have to buy locomotives... the better!!!).

2. The Fall colours in the Peace country are absolutely astounding... breathtaking, even. This is also something I wanted to recreate.

3. The grain rush also means that there were all sorts of harvest activities going on in the surrounding country side... Details that would add interest for those viewing the layout when displayed. There was swathing, combining, tilling, baling and, most of all, truck after truck delivering the products of all this activity to the grain elevators that dotted the country like Easter Island statues.

Now... for the "problems"... I mean anomalies.

The UGG elevator in Peace River may not have been standing in 1979... in fact I can't be sure if any of the tracks that served the other "riverside" industries weren't torn up by that time either. My research has not pin-pointed these dates yet but I will be including those features in the plan because it adds so much to the visual and operational interest of the layout... A grain elevator, fuel distributor, propane distributor, 2 warehouses and a lumberyard! All of which I want to model!

The Biggest Anomaly...
My plans for modelling the "West Hill" at Peace River (Duet) are dependant on having something to block the view to the north so that the trains can disappear and return to the scene via the two "horse shoe curves" they used without having to model the entire "right of way"... The perfect solution to this is Highway #2. At two places on the west bank of the river the railway crosses under the highway and then, once it reaches the top, goes over the highway on a concrete bridge... Perfect solution... The highway creates a view block by dropping directly from the top of the hill onto the auto bridge... I don't have to model anything north of the highway!!!
Only one problem... That path of the highway didn't exist in 1979. Construction of the new path for Highway #2 only began in 1981... after the CN takeover of the NAR. Before that time the highway descended the west hill by crossing the tracks at a grade crossing near the top of the hill (seen in the centre of the photo above) and then followed on the south side of the tracks until it reached the bottom, crossed the tracks at the wye located just west of the rail bridge and, with a very abrupt right hand turn, climbed onto the auto bridge to continue its journey east/southward.
How do I resolve this???
Well... thankfully there is a little tool known as "Modeller's Licence" which will allow me to move the highway's construction back in time 2 years!!! (very little is known about this technique other than it involves flux-capacitors, the use of string theory and careful manipulation so as not to upset the space/time continuum and create a black hole that would doom us all!!!)
Therefore I will be modelling the highway as it appeared in the summer/fall of 1981... so... joy of joys... a full blown highway construction scene complete with excavators, scrapers, bulldozers, pile drivers, concrete work and even paving crews... It should be a lot of fun!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Heart River Bridge Part 2... Building The Deck

Well, It's been a very long time since I posted anything to the blog and some of you are wondering if I'm still alive... Yes I am and so is the N Scale NAR!

Progress has been very slow over the spring and summer due to being VERY busy with work and doing all the other activities that come with summer. Work has continued on the Heart River Bridge though and I have completed the bridge deck which was (as I mentioned in my original post) very challenging.

Here is a couple photos of the prototype deck...

1. Closeup looking south

2. Overview looking south

3. As seen form the North East

The first order of business was to modify the the Central Valley ties strips which come as a separate kit with walkways and stanchions (Kit # 1811).

Ties had to be added as the tie strip leaves out 6 of the ties to fit the Central Valley bridge cross members. The ties were carefully cut from a sacrificial tie strip, sanded and glued into place. Attention was paid to ensuring that the tie plates all lined up for the future rails to be installed.

At every fourth section I also butted another tie to the end of the tie I added to simulate the extensions on the real bridge that carried the power lines across the valley, as seen in photo 1.
I cut the length of the ties that sit below the rails so that the joint would be hidden underneath the wood beam that parallels the rails and left the "extension" at full length. For strength I added a "fish plate" of plastic vertically across the joint.

As I progressed down the tie strip adding the ties I was also busy adding the walkway to the east side of the deck.

The walkways in the kit are almost perfect for this bridge... 2x10 planking. I decided to use these even though the "steel" stanchions included in the kit were not correct (the real stanchions and handrails were all made of dimensional lumber). The first step to building the walkways was to plug the gaps in the kit's walkway sections that are left to accommodate the upright parts of the bridge kit with a small piece cut from an unused part of the kit.


The stanchions come as mated pairs to make walkways on both sides of the original kit's deck. These I cut apart and used both parts created for the east side of the deck.

The stanchions fit between the ties (8 ties apart) and the small vertical tab molded into them ensures that they end up the proper distance from the deck to allow for the planking piece to fit properly
The next challenge with the walkway was to build the two platforms that extend from the walkway. The original purpose of these were to store barrels of water to be used in case of fires on the bridge as well as to give workers (or others) a safer, less scary, place to stand if they found themselves occupying the bridge deck at the same time as a train was passing. The barrels were removed once steam engines were replaced with diesels... the steam engines had a tendency to spew sparks from their smoke stacks which created the fire hazard.
I built these platforms by using 2 more stanchions from the kit and a cut out section of the planking parts. It was a little tricky to make these structurally sound but with some experimentation and the use of overlaps and "fish plates" (flat pieces that overlap 2 others) I was able to succeed.
Here's what I ended up with...
With the walkways, stanchions and power line beams in place all that was left to add was the handrails. For these I used scale lumber... actual wood... scale 2x4 for the top rail and edge and 2x6 for the centre rail.
I had a really hard time finding an adhesive that would glue the wood parts to the plastic parts. I tried CA (superglue) which the wood just absorbed. I tried 2 part epoxy but this just made globs. White glue did not make a strong enough bond and took forever to set. "Gorilla Glue" expanded after it was applied an made quite a mess of the job.
My wife overheard my swearing and came to the rescue... Being an artist, she has many cool products in her arsenal, one of which being polymer medium. She uses this product to add texture to her paints but she suggested I try it as an adhesive. It worked wonderfully... It was tacky enough to hold the parts in place when wet and it gave me about 4 or 5 minutes of setting time so that I could fine tune the placement of the railings. Once set, it created a very strong bond (so strong that I could lift the whole deck just by grabbing the handrails) and so little of it had to be used that it was virtually unnoticeable to the naked eye.
I highly recommend this product for these purposes. It is available in art supply shops and comes in a wide variety of consistencies, opacity and finishes (glossy to matte). I will also be experimenting with it for my water effects when the time comes to add my rivers, streams and ponds.

So here is the bridge up to this point... I tried to take the photo so you could compare it with the prototype photo #3 as seen above.
I promise to be more diligent in keeping you up to date with my progress... More challenges lie ahead and the next update on the Heart River Bridge will be painting, adding the rails and guardrails and actually placing it on the layout.
Be sure to check out the various links I have added to the sidebar... There is some very good modelling to be found there as well as other resources if you have an interest in the Northern Alberta Railways!

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Pat's Creek Trestle

There is very little historical information on the trestle built to span Pat's Creek, but just about everyone who has been to Peace River has travelled right through it. It is, of course, the trestle that you drive under when leaving Highway #2 and coming into the towns main entrance, near the Travellers Motor Inn and the NAR Station... And, yes! There is a creek there but it has been piped and routed underground and now forms part of Peace River's hidden infrastructure.

Google Earth is great!
Pat's Creek is named for a metis man, Patrick Wesley, who owned the land adjacent to the creek in the present day town site. In 1910, after contracting smallpox and being cared for by the Anglican minister's wife, Mr. Wesley passed away, willing 5 acres of his land to the Anglican parish on the condition that he be buried in the shadow of the new church to be built there, the present day site of St. James Cathedral and Athabasca Hall.

Patrick Wesley
I assume that the original trestle was built in early 1916 when the rails reached the location where the station was built. Originally built without the "underpass" feature that allows vehicles to cross, the trestle was modified at a later date to accommodate the highway that followed the creek down from the prairie above. The highway was moved in the late 60's to its present location due to land slides and the old right-of-way now serves as an interpretive walking trail. The creek used to cross under the bridge beside the roadway you see in the photos below until it was diverted underground.

What would I do without "Street view"?

During the period I'm modelling (1979) this was the only entrance from Highway #2 into the southern portion of town. The newer exit off the highway further to the west was, at the time, not a roadway but used by the NAR to cross under the highway to the short switchback that allowed access to the riverside industries along the east bank of the river (on the, unheard of, 6% grade... better have some sand boys).

Did I mention that I really like this Google Earth thing?
I will be modelling the trestle with the Hunterline 81' Pile Trestle kit, two Hunterline Pile Pier craftsman kits and one Micro Engineering 40' deck girder bridge.

Beautiful kits... and Canadian made too!

I haven't started work on this one as yet but I plan to as soon as the Peace and Heart River bridges are ready for track. So, wish me luck (this is my first wood craftsman type construction) and check back on this post for updates.


Heart River Bridge

Completed in May of 1916, the Heart River bridge was the final link needed to bring rail service to Peace River, then called "Peace River Crossing". Once the trains descend the hill from Judah into the Peace River valley on a grade that fluctuates between 2.4 and 2.9% (at one time, and maybe still, the steepest mainline grade in Canada) the tracks cross the Heart River on the eastern edge of town on a beautiful bridge made up of 11 plate girder spans and a deck truss span for the river itself, all supported by 6 spindly towers that don't look like they should be able to support the weight. In total the bridge is 590 feet long and towers 140 feet above the water.

Preparing to place the last span
Twelve Foot Davis Ball Park at the foot of the bridge

Looking East across the Peace River (see the grade in the bridge?)

1978 - 3 of the 4 NAR SD38-2s headed south
The natural starting point to model this bridge was Micro Engineering's "Tall Steel Viaduct". I used 2 full kits with the 40' connecting spans and another single tower extension. For the deck truss portion, again I turned to the Central Valley Pratt Truss bridge kit as I did with the Peace River bridge, but this time I built it with 5 panels just like the prototype.

I was a little disappointed with the quality of the Micro Engineering kits as compared to the Central Valley kits. The plastic used by M.E. tends to tear and break rather than cut, even when using a new #11 x-acto blade and there are many needless sprue parts that must be cut from the castings. The level of detail was also not as good as I expected. Don't get me wrong, it still produces a very nice model but when building it you must be very careful and take your time. The model does come very close to looking like the real Heart River bridge and captures the over-all "look" of the structure very well with only slight differences that will be difficult for the non-expert to spot.

This picture was taken "upside-down" during construction and flipped. The towers are not yet attached to the girders in the photo.

I modified the kit in several ways: The prototype, as seen in the photos, seems to be built on a gradient (about 1.5 or 2% from what I can tell). So is the model bridge. To incorporate the model's 4% grade I had to build the towers with one side a scale foot and a half taller than the other so that the towers would sit vertically and not look like they were leaning once the bridge was constructed and in place on the layout. This helps mask the relativly steep incline of the bridge.
I also cut the towers to mimic the real bridge's towers, removed the top portion of the towers that support the deck truss span and added supports (I got lucky and found that the height of the top tier of the towers was almost exactly that of the Central Valley kit).
Stiffeners made of wood strip were added to the centre of the two deck girder portions to keep the bridge from sagging.

Bridge on a temporary "land form"
The model bridge measures 42" long and the rails will be 10" above the model river once the foam base is cut down 1". This scales out to 560' long and 133' high (or about 94% of the real bridge)

The bridge turned out even better than I expected and I am very pleased that I was able to capture the over-all look of the real bridge. A few details are yet to be added such as the walkway that ran along the east side of the bridge and the jutting timbers on the west side that carried telephone/telegraph lines across the chasm. The footings for the towers have yet to be installed and the deck still needs actual rails...

I was going to use Micro Engineering's "bridge track" which has guard rails and longer ties that are spaced closer together than normal track but I found that, to install the walkways, the ties were too short and the tie strips included in the Central Valley kits were much better suited to the project. This means, though, that I will have to hand lay the code 55 rail and code 40 guard rails. Thankfully the Central Valley tie strips are built for just such a foolish endeavour.

Like the Peace River bridge posting, I will be adding to this one as work on the bridge progresses, so check back when you can. Thanks.


Peace River Rail Bridge

The Peace River Rail bridge, along with the iconic auto bridge, will be the centre piece of the whole layout. A faithful reproduction of the two unique bridges will enable the viewer of the layout to immediately recognise that this is Peace River, Alberta.
View from the air, looking north

Construction of the prototype railway bridge was started in January of 1917 and completed on November 8th, 1918 at the, then, scandalous price of just under $1 million plus a further grant of $175 thousand from the Alberta government to plank the bridge and install railings so that it could be shared with road vehicle traffic. This arrangement lasted until 1968 when the auto bridge was opened.

Post Card from the 1920's, looking east.

The bridge consists of 11 spans: The centre "Through Truss", 3 Deck Truss spans on either side of that and 2 girder bridge approach spans on either bank for a total length of 1736 feet.

Modelling this landmark will present a challenge. I began with Central Valley Pratt Truss Bridge kits. Heavily modified, I can use these to model the main superstructures' 7 spans.

Central Valley Pratt Truss Bridge (Great detail!)

Although the Deck Truss spans of the real bridge consist of 7 "panels" each, the dimensions of the Central Valley kit dictated that I construct the spans with only 6 panels. A compromise that I believe will only be noticeable to the most knowledgeable of viewers.

Other deviations from the prototype are the absence of much of the cross bracing. I decided to leave this out for fear that the model would become too cluttered looking and lose the "airiness" of the prototype. Once the bridge is complete I may decide to add this detail.

So far I have only built 2 of the deck truss spans and these still need to have their walkways added but keep looking back at this post because I will be adding to it as the bridge progresses. Once completed the model will be 103" long and span a complete module and parts of the two adjoining modules, a scale 1373', or 80% of the actual length.

The challenges ahead are how to model the 2 types of unique concrete piers (seen below) that support the bridge and the building of the approach spans on either side of the main structure.

Stay tuned!!!