The Schnabel Test


Gene Neville reports that when we lay in the remaining helix track and he makes a few more patches, the mainline will be complete. That is exciting news. It means we can start running test trains once we stitch the electrical together. Of course, when “test” trains start running, actual “work” slows down considerably.  We all know that “tests” need to be conducted with all kinds of motive power and various train lengths including passenger trains.  In order for these “tests” to be conducted, not only do we need qualified engineers but also many observers for “roll by’s” and detailed track inspections. Moreover, we need to insure that the “tests” can be done over and  over with consistent results. I feel sorry for the poor little ½ mouse power DCC Zephyr power supply and the two number 20 feeders for all 450’ plus mainline. 

Larry Vogt painted the roof of the lower helix level today with black paint and has a great idea for the backdrop along this section of track. It’s supposed to be a rock tunnel that spectators can see into thru openings in the front or outside wall. He’s going to apply Sculptamold to the back wall of the lower loop and press wadded up tinfoil into the wet  goop. When he removes the foil, rock impressions will be left in the wall. Dark grey colorant mixed into the plaster and dry brushed with light grey highlights will create realistic rock coloring. This tunnel will be about 18 feet long, but completely accessible from the outside wall. 

The Sistine Chapel this is not, but we do have our ceiling painted. 

Jerry H’s Schnabel car runs thru the lower level  helix track. Note black ceiling, openings in the tunnel,  and back wall awaiting “rocks”.

Jerry H. came by with a Schnabel car today — about the largest piece of rolling stock we’ll ever see on the layout. This thing has 64  wheels or more. He brought it by for some repair ideas and we confiscated it, put the thing on the track  – that took a bit of doing – and sailed it thru the lower level tunnel of the helix. Clearances were fine and we didn’t knock any parts off the car. Thank you Jerry – also, good to see you up and around. 

George worked with me on finalizing grades on the helix including the upper vertical transition. These grades are very close to those calculated in the beginning – 1.4% for the bottom loops and 1.7% for the top loop. The top loop has a steeper grade because of the smaller radius and subsequent shorter circumference. Please understand that radii of 48” and 45” are very generous in HO scale and grades below 2% are very train friendly. For comparison the old layout helix had a 2.2% ruling grade and 36” radius.  

George successfully stuck this piece of old layout  into the new layout 

Overall view of helix. Note openings in lower  level “tunnel”. This will have a much more finished look as  we progress. There is well over a scale mile of track in this  structure so we want as much of it visible and accessible as  possible 

We built a vertical transition – easing the grade into level track — about 12” before we get to the bridge. It’s very difficult to build a vertical transition into a bridge structure so we avoided that. Incidentally, this bridge is going to be a little over 4 feet long and about 12” high. In HO scale that’s about 400 feet long and almost 100 feet high. 

Doug is really getting serious about scenery around Eagle Cove, Point, Mountain, Creek, and Canyon. He brought his red scenery wagon over from the old club house along with his personal hobby shop of dirt, rocks, trees, glue as well as other assorted accoutrements with which he works his scenery magic. He also told me of a plan to have fish swimming in his water.  They will be suspended in Eagle Creek and visible from the aisle. Lengthy and detailed discussions will undoubtedly be held at lunchtime regarding the species  and whether they are protected or fair game. 

The lunch bunch. Here the free flow of creative  and innovative ideas interspersed with copious amounts of French fries is awe-inspiring.

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