Friday, August 22, 2014

A new grade crossing in Ballard

I need to add another grade crossing in my layout town of Ballard, to serve an additional bulk oil depot. This is not particularly complicated in and of itself, but I thought the technique(s) used might be of interest. As background, I wrote a post a few months ago about the paving at grade crossings; you can read it at: .
     A connected topic, described in a previous post, is a summary of several topics related to grade crossings, particularly crossbucks and warning signs, which is at this link: . I won’t be talking about those protection issues in this post, but the background may be relevant to anyone planning a crossing.
     The existing track arrangement has a switch just beyond (to the right of) the road, Bromela Road, as you see below. In the previous use of this layout segment, the spur then extended some distance beyond the road. Now, however, the layout is smaller and there is not space for a second industry spot served by that switch. Accordingly, I decided to move the switch to the other side of Bromela Road, thus creating the need for an additional grade crossing for the second track which would now cross the road. Here is the existing arrangement.

The switch in question is at lower right. Above it at right are the Union Oil depot, nearest the track, and the Wine-Growers Cooperative above it. The bit of plywood visible in the upper right corner is the future course of Oso Flaco Creek.
     Although I could simply remove the switch that isn’t needed, I had the thought to leave the frog and one point rail in place (which I can solder closed), and cut the diverging rails short, exactly as one can see in disabled prototype switches, thus showing a track arrangement change.
     My first step was to remove a length of track to the left of Bromela Road, to fit a No. 6 turnout. This track, all Code 70, had been ballasted, so it was essential to carefully and thoroughly scrape away all old ballast and dirt, to permit the new turnout to sit flat on the subsurface, which is Homasote.

A piece of the removed track is at lower right.
     Next, I installed the turnout in the usual way, and soldered the joints except at the frog, where gaps will be located. Then, with the switch in place, I used some dummy track segments to see how the new spur would be aligned, and I used a pencil to mark where the pavement of Bromela Road would need to be cut away for the new track. You can also see that the switch at right has had one point rail removed, and the other soldered closed.

     Once this marking was done, I used a utility knife to cut away the old roadway, which is plaster, and then used a putty knife to smooth the area down to the underlying Homasote.

Finally, the new Code 70 track was installed.

     The spur which is to be installed to the right is short, only two car lengths, but will serve a bulk oil dealer affiliated with Standard Oil of California (now Chevron). A Standard dealership has, among other operational benefits, the virtue of being an appropriate place to send all those UTLX tank cars most of us have. Union Tank Line, though divested from the Standard Oil family in the 1911 breakup, nevertheless remained quite friendly with all the “baby Standards” and supplied their tank car needs for years. My modeling year of 1953 is within that era.
     The next step in this project is to begin replacing paving. That is really the “grade crossing” part of this post, and I will illustrate my methods in a following post.
Tony Thompson

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