Sunday, March 14, 2010

A year later

I have been working on this project off and on (mostly off) for the year since I last posted. Normal life keeps getting in the way. Plus you get burned out easily as much of it can be tedious.

Last spring I did the trackage for the South Shore branch as far as Quincy. Since my era is now 1970's that is as far as I plan to go at this time. I also added the Milton branch and some industries. Adding the South Shore branch required Columbia Junction which was a lot of work. I have added the Old Colony commuter line in its current form (single track to Victory Rd. then double track) even though technically it is incorrect for the 1970's.

After a hiatus over the summer I did some more work last fall to redo the whole Cambridge tunnel, Harvard Square and the yard facility. Basically I had made the tunnel much too deep which made the outdoor Bennett/Eliot yard in a canyon where it should be only 6 - 12' from the surface. In the process I also replaced the stock RR style tunnel sections with my own custom tunnels which are closer to a subway line profile.

I also started scenicking the Bennett / Eliot yard area including retaining walls and the Stadium station. This plus the section from Andrew to the portal after Fields Corner are the only sceniced areas in the sim so far. There is so much to do, not sure when I will get back to it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Been a while ..

... since I posted last. Since then I have more or less wrapped up the Mattapan Ashmont line and am now back to the Ashmont - Harvard portion. The first step was redoing the tunnel from Ashmont to the Fields Corner portal using some new sections that I made in Sketchup. Aligning them especially on the sloping sections was a pain but it is now done.

First up is to finish Ashmont and scenic the area around the station. Last night I cut holes in the terrain to deal with the tunnel. I had originally planned not to do this and just hide the tunnel in the area with scenery but that was not working out. I also worked on the Shawmut station and started designing Fields Corner.

Once I get past FC and get some scenery down in the area, I plan to do Columbia Jct. and the south shore extension as far as the Neponset river, so that I can then do stations and scenery between FC and the tunnel entrance near Andrew. At that time I will also connect the Milton branch in to the Old Colony and scenic that as well - looks like I need a building for the Keystone Camera factory.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Finally at Mattapan

This morning I finished scenery around Capen St. so have moved to last last station on the trolley line which is Mattapn. I started designing the station building and in the process discovered I had got the track spacing wrong in the yard so had to go back and relay part of it. I also took the opportuntiy to add a crossover that was not on my track chart but showed up in several pictures.

I also have downloaded more scenery vegetation which helps a lot.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Heading to Mattapan

Continuing to work on the Mattapan Ashmont trolley line. I have installed scenery as far as Central Ave, including some placeholder buildings for Baker Chocolate so I could put in the NH Milton branch spur. I decided I would extend this spur east to connect to the Old Colony so that a freight activity could be run. I intend to make a field trip and get photos of the actual buildings sometime, when the weather is better.

I had made some line poles which I placed using the auto gantry placement and that went well, they look good. It has the cross spans but I still need to add the contact wire itself. Also Mattapan yard needs some custom poles.

I am having some problems building the Milton station, the stairway isn't coming out very well so I still have to go back and finish that. Also only a few roads are in place using dumb roads.

Once that is done the area from Central to Mattapan is mostly trees and a few houses so it shouldn't take long to get to Mattapan, maybe by the end of the week.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mattapan Ashmont progress

Had some free time over the long Presidents Day weekend so I was able to make a lot of progress on the Mattapan Ashmont trolley. I finally got the ramps south of Ashmont station done which were a bear because I didn't quite get the radiuses right on the ramps to fit the 30d Tram Curve I was planning to use and had to fall back to some dynamic track to get it all to fit.

Once I got past that I was off and running to Cedar Grove, etc. The track went smoothly, although I found I had not put down enough markers so had to go back to Google earth and lay down some more. Got all the track laid including Mattapan Yard. I had to make one compromise in the yard layout. In order to prevent an issue with creating activities I left a section out of the return loop, otherwise the line would loop forever. You can come out of the yard and go into service, run to Ashmont, loop and run back to Mattapan but then you have to terminate there as the inbound side does not connect to the yard. I think that still allows for some reasonable activities.

I also decided to start doing some scenery as I go rather than waiting until all track is done then doing it all at once, so I started adding sceenery around Cedar Grove, the cemetery and underpass for the NHRR branch, lots of trees, a few houses. I need to find or build some New England style houses e.g. triple deckers.

Onme setbak was that I had downloaded a package for building the overhead but it doesn't fit, seems to be designed for a single track line and the poles are too close together. Plus they are wood poles and the Mattapan line uses metal poles.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stay the Course

For now I decided to not start over but to continue to work with the existing route. One reason is that there is too much work invested already to throw away. I also did some work to resolve some issues at Ashmont with the grades and I think I can solve the tunnel issue with strategically placed transition sections between the tunnel sections and stations.

One interesting thought would be to update the date to the mid 1970's adding the South Shore extension as far as Quincy Center. This would add the interesting "malfunction junction" and add more possibilities for activities. I don't know exactly when Cabot Yard was added, at that time Eliot yard and shops were still in use so I would not need to change that end of the line.

The line would mostly run with the 01400's but I could add the type 1 south shore cars (01500's and 01600's) and since a few type 4's stayed around in work service I would be justified in running an occasional "fantrip". The line still had signals back then at least on the original C-D line so that avoids the need to bury signals and all that to simulate the ATO system.

I did get as far as downloading DEM data and building a new set of tiles, whcih I set aside in case I change my mind.

I also built a new marker file from Google Earth with additional markers for doing the junction and started down the south shore extension as far as North Quincy.

So I am back on the original route so I started on the Ashmont area, after redoing the last bit of tunnel to fix the grades, I placed the Ashmont Station that I have built so far, not complete but enough doen so that I can locate the trolley loop.

Next step is to build the elevated trolley section and bus turnaround south of the terminal, then continue to work south toward Cedar Grove, adding the connection to Codman Yard.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Do over?

I have been debating whether I should redo my track for the C-D route. Actually I would probably start with new tiles, get DEMEX and do the terrain properly.

There are several areas that bother me about the existing route. These are the main ones:

1. The tunnel sections (from Xtracks standard tunnels) are main line RR sized and it is difficult to match them to the stations due to their height and shape.

2. I did not get the grades correct in some areas, for example there should be a grade for the line to go under the fort point channel between South Station and Broadway; the grade coming out of Park to Charles is wrong so that it takes too long to get elevated; Ashmont and Codman yard isn't right; the Harvard station/Eliot yard complex is too deep I think which is one reason why I had so much trouble fitting it in.

3. I have also been reconsidering my decision to make it solely the Ashmont - Harvard line as in the early 1960's and was thinking of adding the Braintree extension at least (brings it up to the 1970's) that means running the type 1-4 cars would be anachronistic but on the other hand it would allow adding the type 1 south shore cars (01500's) plus add more possibilities for activities.

4. I did not use 3rd rail sections as I was not aware of any that were available. Since then I have come across routes with 3rd rail and track sets with 3rd rail sections such as UKFS.

If I went that route I would still be able to use most of the stations and other scenery objects I built. I would still keep them as the early unrefurbished versions. I haven't done Columbia yet which is the only station that is changed for the extension.

I would keep the end at Harvard for now rather than going to Alewife as I like the old Eliot yard and shop complex. Of course I woudl have to add Cabot Yard. There is also the whole issue of how much if any to do of the MBTA Old Colony - there should at least be the capability of AI trains on it.

Something to think about - I go back and forth on it.

Another development is that Steve an experienced MSTS developer has taken on the task of puting together some type 5 (01400) cars which is great news.