Track and infrastructure

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Modeler's Moment - It's not always the mainline that is higher

Mainline and siding tracks at different elevationsSo we're always told as model railroaders that the mainline is always at a higher elevation than the sidings.  We should also be told that once someone says that something never happens on the prototype, someone else will come up with a photo to prove him wrong.  The latter principle was proved again today as I found this mainline and siding pair in Madison, Wisconsin, today.  The mainline, on the right in this photo, is at a slightly lower elevation than the siding, at the left.  The wear pattern in the switch frog at the bottom of the image confirms which alignment is the mainline here; the shiny rails are clearly the rails on the rightmost track.  The question then falls to why it is this way at this location.  Well, the area to the right where the Kohl Center is now located, used to be part of the Milwaukee Road's main switch yard in Madison, so it stands to reason that the mainline bypass around the yard used to be the track on the left.

Podcast: Episode 7 - The "Father of Railways", two junctions and selective compression

Listen to Episode 7

Selective compression applied to a model building.A model of the Compressed Manufacturing Company in HO scale.

Never more than a day late, here's the next episode of the Rip Track Podast.  In this episode, we take a look at the life of George Stephenson, "The Father of Railways."  Then we hear the final installment of Randy Garnhardt's discussion of interesting juctions with a look at Clinton, Iowa, and Nelson, Illinois.  Finally, the Modeler's Moment describes the princile of selective compression as it is applied to model railroads.

Podcast: Episode 4 - locomotives and elevateds and junctions, oh my!

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John Bull in 1893John Bull, train and crew in 1893. Photograph by Will P. Cook from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

In this episode, we take a look through history for the bulk of the content. We start with a "biography" of one named steam locomotive that operated in the United States during the early days of railroading, and that you can still go see today. We follow that with a 1904 Edison recording called "Interrupted Courtship on the Elevated Railway", and then another excerpt from Randy Garnhardt's clinic "Interesting Junctions." In the Modeler's Moment, we review a few techniques to keep your model railroad locomotives operating well.

Podcast: Episode 2

Listen to Episode 2

We continue the show with episode 2. In this episode, we take a look at some interesting railroad junctions, some small rail-served industries and their modeling potential, and we hear a story about a newly hired switchman on his first trip to a distant yard for an assignment.

Modeler's Moment - They put their mark on everything

BN SF marked tie

By now we've all seen brakeman's lanterns with railroad names stamped into the metal or etched onto the globes. Why did they do this? Technically the lanterns were the railroads' property, so if one went missing and was found by someone else, they would know where it was supposed to go for return. North American railroads put their names on everything that could be easily carried for this reason. But did you know that some railroads are even going as far as stamping their initials onto the ties they use in their track? This BNSF tie found in Glen Haven, Wisconsin, this past weekend is evidence of this. Have you found a railroad name where you weren't expecting it yet?

Modeler's Moment - Ties to be replaced

old ties

When ties have reached the end of their usefulness, they are often marked with brightly colored paint. Using a bright orange or yellow marking, the maintenance of way crew can easily spot which ties to replace. This section of track, with three ties to be replaced, is along the Mississippi River in Wisconsin.

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