Downeast Thunder Railroad

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I'll begin this thread with an introduction regarding background information. I'm a professional engineer-turned-farmer located in Downeast, Maine. More specifically; the town of Milbridge, located in Washington County, Maine. US Rte 1 runs right through the town. Milbridge is on the Maine seacoast and is between the cities of Ellsworth & Machias. We're about an hour drive beyond Bar Harbor and about an hour drive from the Canadian border in the other direction.

My wife and I started a small family farm on our 50 acre (mostly wooded) site with the intention of raising farm fresh food without preservatives and other chemicals for our family. Now friends and acquaintances in our area wish to purchase our roaster chickens, turkeys, chicken & duck eggs, fruit and veggies produce, along with some of the Maine maple syrup we make here on the premises, and Balsam Fir Christmas trees. As such, we named the place Downeast Thunder Farm and we are now planning to make our farm a commercial operation. That takes us to Downeast Thunder Railroad.

Before moving to Maine over 8-1/2 years ago, we lived on Cape Cod in Massachusetts where I resided for over 34 years. Nearby Cape Cod (about 35 miles or so) in South Carver, Massachusetts is Edaville Railroad. Edaville has always been one of my favorite places to visit and back in the day, they ran 24" narrow gauge, live steam locomotives that are now back in Maine (where they originally came from). Edaville Railroad was started by a cranberry farmer, Ellis D. Atwood and the track layout was around the cranberry bogs, intended for farm work. Friends and neighbors would show up at Atwoods farm to get rides on the train, and the rest is History - Edaville Railroad was born.

Now we have a farm, but we want o take advantage of "agritourism" and draw people to a farm as a destination year round with seasonal attractions: You pick apples, blueberries, a pumpkin patch, livestock petting zoo, farm store with snack bar, pick your own Christmas tree, visits to the "sugar shack" during maple sap season, hay rides, farm demonstrations and so forth. Add to that a small railroad around and throughout the farm. The train will be used for logging operations and other farm work, but there will be a line used for customer excursions.

As you can see from my description above regarding Edaville Railroad or (even better) if you been there, you will understand my thoughts about adding a railroad system to the farm and where the model comes from.

I've been debating about the size of the railroad. I was thinking a 15" gauge grand scale railway initially, but then started thinking 18" gauge, then began considering 24" narrow gauge as there were so many narrow gauge railroads used for logging in Maine - I figured I would be able to find the heavier rail nearby, but so far that has not been the case. I'm now reconsidering either 15" or 18" gauge grand scale.

You may find me on other rail forums and sites. I've been receiving some great suggestions and advice from many folks with lots of experience. I'll post more about this venture and include some photos from time to time. I'm always to happy to hear comments and suggestions from folks so don't be shy.

Sorry for such a long post, but there is quite a bit going on here and I haven't even scratched the surface yet - to let you have the entire picture.
 
Fabricating rail sections at Downeast Thunder Railroad?

Since I have narrowed my focus down to either a 15" or 18" gauge rail system, I'm thinking about 12# or 16# rail for Downeast Thunder Railroad. Both rails are relatively common and used sections are frequently offered for sale at reasonable prices, but usually in parts of the country where the cost of shipping makes them prohibitively expensive. Perhaps fabricating rail sections from inexpensive hot rolled flat bar might be a frugal option worth investigating.

Maybe a little more than a year ago, I was corresponding with Chuck Hoelzen, a fellow engineer with a 15" gauge railroad out in Wyoming. He calls his layout the Riverview & Twin Lakes Railroad. Chuck started fabricating his own track over a decade ago, and it has withstood the test of time & use without any failures. Chuck also fabricated his own "pre-gauged" concrete ties, spaced about 6' apart with a couple of wooden ties in between the concrete ties. His web site contains details and pictures. He does not do many updates - he's a very busy guy building a Shay locomotive and he's now into ultralight aircraft (among other things).

When I begin accumulating track, I'll compare cost against the materials required to fabricating my own rail. Building a jig will reduce time and help assure uniform quality. In the meantime, we're still surveying and planning the railroad layout. I've already cleared a parking area roughly 400' wide by 500' long, have removed most of the tree stumps, and have filled and leveled about a third of it with gravel, and have had a 600' gravel road put in leading from the town road to the parking area. Further stump removal is on hols now as the ground is frozen and my backhoe can't penetrate the surface. We can still cut trees though, and they won't be wasted. Good quality trees will be turned into lumber and ties with my bandsaw sawmill, and the lasser quality stuff will become firewood for our outdoor wood boiler.
 
Fabricated Rail:



I just completed a couple of cross section drawings of fabricated 12# rail and 16# rail respectively. I used American Society of Civil Enginers (A.S.C.E.) standards for the same size T-rail. My drawings are labeled 12# and 16# but they are actually a little more robust than the standards call for and just a wee bit heavier. Fabricating rail is an option if you can't find any used rail for a reasonable price. The drawings have been converted into pdf files and I will soon convert them to jpegs, but in the meantime, just PM me if you would like me to send you the pdf files.


You'll note in earlier posts that I cited Chuck Hoelzen and his Riverview & Twin Lakes Railroad in Wyoming as my source for the fabricated rail idea. Chuck sent me his rail specs and when I drew them up and checked the standards, I found them to be just a little less than the same specs as 8# rail.


As always, comments and suggestions are welcome. Thanks.
 
The final decision has been made to go with an 18" gauge track system for Downeast Thunder Railroad. I have found there is quite a bit of activity and interest in DTRR in a couple of Yahoo groups I belong to. The Grand Scale Railway Forum and The 18" Gauge Railroads Forum are where you'll find me. I am corresponding with folks from both groups each & every day. Most of them are quite knowledgeable and have been kind enough to lend their suggestions and support. I've noticed a few people have been reading my posts on this forum but I haven't received much in the way of comments. I'll still check back here and add a few updates now and then, but all of the photos and drawings from Downeast Thunder Railroad will be posted on the two Yahoo groups above if anyone is interested in viewing them. There are presently 2 drawings and 18 photos posted on the 18" gauge railroad forum.
 

otiscnj

Well-Known Member
Good luck, & keep us posted! I was never to the Edaville RR, however I do think I still have some brochures about it from 70's trips to Massachusetts. As a kid in the late 1960's I did get a ride on the Becker Farm RR, here in NJ, before it was sold off for I280 and and office complex. Whenever I go on the local park trails I've always looked at the property in terms of adding a rideable railroad.
 
Otiscnj,

There hasn't seemed to be much interest in DTRR on this forum and your post is the only one on the subject besides mine. As such, All up to date information can be found on the Yahoo 18" gauge RR forum and the New England Rail Fans Forum. The 18" gauge forum is where I am maintaining up to date photos and drawings. There are presently 4 drawings for DIY rail fabricated using hot rolled flat bar in 8#, 12#, 16#, and 20# sizes. Pictures show what is presently on hand for equipment used for building the rail bed, and several pictures of land cleared thus far such as the 400' x 500' parking lot - about a third of it filled and leveled with gravel, the 600' gravel road leading from he town road to the parking lot, cleared right of way sections and a cleared area where the train depot will be located. There is quite a bit of activity on this subject in the 18" gauge forum at the moment - several members are trying to establish standards and codes for 18" railroad layouts & the forum owner has created a new database just for that purpose. Something happens every day at Downeast Thunder Farm & Railroad in spite of the winter weather. You won't see all the updates here for reasons I cited above - I just don't have the time to post duplicate info where there has been virtually no sign of activity beyond my own. Mind you I'm not complaining. I sort of expected it when I noticed specific scales/gauges listed under Scale Specific Discussions with anything larger than listed is all lumped together under Large Scale and Live Steam, with no mention of grand scale (gauges 12" to 23") or Narrow gauge (18", 24", 30", and 36", etc.). I made the initial posts anyway just to feel the waters so to speak because there are many people into smaller scale models that also get into the bigger trains. So, if you have continued interest in DTRR, you can find me and regular updates, drawings, and photos in the forums I provided hyperlinks for mentioned in the above text. Thanks for your interest and post.
 

Burlington Bob

Well-Known Member
I was looking at the print for your fabricated rail and had a few questions. Will you be welding the rails yourself or contracting it out? The reason I ask is because of the problem of distortion if not properly done. Something I wanted you to be aware of. Is this going to be low carbon steel or some type of alloy to resist the wear of the wheels? Are you going to have the radius milled on the top section of rail or will it be ground to profile by hand? Just curious. I also want to wish you luck with this undertaking. Sounds like quite an adventure!:eek: And more than a little work. Again, best wishes.
 

otiscnj

Well-Known Member
In the last year, I really liked the Model Railroader Article about the guy in Michigan or Wisconsin, that had a 'scale railroad' on his 5 or so acre property. It looked like a lot of fun to operate-don't know about maintaining it, however.
 

JazzDad

Gandy Dancer
Re: "There hasn't seemed to be much interest in DTRR on this forum..."

There are probably a good number of folks interested. We just don't move too fast around here.:D
 

Rico

BN Modeller
This is actually the first time I've seen the thread, sometimes they get bumped down the list when lots of people post on the same day.
I've got the right of way cleared for an 18" line, all I need is money! (and the taxman off my back)
Looking forward to seeing some pics for inspiration!
 
To all on this forum having expressed interest in Downeast Thunder Railroad:

Our new web site for Downeast Thunder Railroad is now online. You can download FREE PLANS & DRAWINGS anytime for your own personal use. Simply hover the cursor over the "about" button near the top of the home page then click on the scroll down menu that says something like "RR Plans & Drawings" and it will take you to a page listing all available drawings. Then click on the drawing you want and you will go to an information page about the drawing - then click on the hyperlink for the drawing and it will download to your computer in pdf format.

For general updates about what is going on at DTRR, check out the BLOG also located and accessed from the home page of the DTRR web site.

Plans and drawings are free for your personal use but are not part of the public domain and are all under copyright.

DTRR is an 18" narrow gauge railroad located in Milbridge, Maine

Notice: All concept drawings are just that - concepts. As such, they do not contain much in the way of detail. When a concept is adopted and construction drawings are developed, the complete set of drawings with full dimensions, specifications, and details will be posted on the DTRR web site - once again - for free download.
 
Railroad Volunteers Needed:


Progress continues each and every day in the planning and development of Downeast Thunder Farm & Downeast Thunder Railroad. Much has already been accomplished, but there is so much more to do. Having a few extra hands will move things along at a much faster pace.
Winter is not the best time to gather volunteers for a planned work weekend in this part of Maine, but it doesn’t hurt to get people thinking about getting involved in the next few months ahead, probably beginning in May. They’ll be two groups of volunteers: One will be those interested in getting back to agriculture, learning and experiencing first hand how to take care of livestock, plant crops, and so forth. In season, there will be classes held on raising and processing meat chickens and turkeys for those interested (hands on). The second volunteer group will be the railroad crew. Work will involve clearing and building road beds, laying track, building switches and turnouts, building and installing signals, and working on support buildings such as a train storage shed, fabricating & maintenance shop, train depot, etc. Other jobs will involve building train trestles, help with land surveying, working on a couple of Warren truss bridges, and so forth.
I’m planning to build a few tent camping sites on the property, with picnic tables, fire pit, and a fresh (potable) water line run to the camp area underground. Outhouses will be constructed, but porta-potties may be leased initially. These sites will be developed for use by volunteers over weekend work dates if they have to travel a great distance, and don’t live nearby. Of course the use of these camp sites will be free of charge for all volunteers using them.
It’s a little early yet to project a schedule or provide anymore information beyond what has been presented here. Subsequent posts will reveal more details as we get closer to warmer weather.
Anyone interested in learning more or taking part in a work session(s), please contact me so I can add you to a notification list. You’ll receive specific notices and schedules if you sign up for either or both work crews. Of course, you are under no obligation at any time, even if you do “sign up.”
There won’t be any pay, but there will be free use of campsites, our sincere appreciation, free admission for you and your family for life when the railroad is up and running, a chance to meet new friends and develop camaraderie and relationships among like-minded folks, great experiences, and a wonderful getaway to the rugged bold coast of Downeast Maine. There is much to do and see here, and we’ll make sure you have plenty of information on everything to do and see in our area. This is truly vacation land, and I believe you’ll find your visit(s) quite rewarding.
Contact me today, and you’ll begin receiving newsletters with information you may not see posted here. There will be other rewards & incentives for volunteer work crews I think you’ll all enjoy, but I’m keeping them a surprise for now.


New: A button to subscribe to Downeast Thunder Railroad via RSS feed has been installed on the DTRR web site and should be linked/operational later on today.
 

JazzDad

Gandy Dancer
I'd be there now, but the commute from south-central Texas is rough. (And it's a tad warmer here today.)

Thanks for the updates!
 
Here at Downeast Thunder Farm in Maine, the temperature has skyrocketed from minus 10 degrees overnight to about 3 degrees this morning, It's presently snowing to beat the band with the latest weather forecast promising a continuation of snow throughout the day & evening, subsiding sometime by tomorrow afternoon. My father-in-law from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania likes to tell everyone that UPS & FedEx has to make their deliveries to us via dog sled team for at least 6 months of the year.

We have decided not to lay any track today.
 
DTRR Train Storage Shed Plans Package Now Complete (Free Download)


The complete plans package for the DTRR Train Storage Shed is now available for free download in pdf format. The package contains 16 pages (8-1/2" x 11") of documents and drawings. If anyone would like a copy of the plans for personal use/perusal, simply hover your cursor over the "about" button on the Downeast Thunder Railroad home page, and click on the "plans & drawings" button that drops down. Then select the DTRR Train Shed Plans hyperlink and go from there. Since the plans are now complete, the concept drawings for the train shed have been removed. I'm presently working on plans & drawing packages for the other concept drawings, and working up concept drawings for other items needed for the farm and railroad. All will be made available free to anyone wanting to download them. This shed can be used for other things such as a small barn, workshop, general storage shed, finished off into a small house or cottage, or many other uses with a few modifications. The dimensions can be easily modified to make the structure wider, narrower, longer, or shorter. You can also reduce the height from 12' walls to 10' or 8' walls if you wish. Bear in mind I am not a licensed architect, so you should check your local building codes and perhaps hire a licensed architect to review the drawings and make changes as necessary if you decide to build this structure. The drawings you see here represent the building that will be erected on our farm/railroad site as progress continues.
 
DTRR Train Depot Plans Package Now Complete (Free Download)


The complete plans package for the DTRR Train Depot is now available for free download in pdf format. The package contains 21 pages (8-1/2" x 11") of documents and drawings. If anyone would like a copy of the plans for personal use/perusal, simply hover your cursor over the "about" button on the Downeast Thunder Railroad home page, and click on the "plans & drawings" button that drops down. Then select the DTRR Train Depot Plans hyperlink. That will take you to the Train Depot info page where you will have to click on just one more hyperlink to start the pdf download. Since the plans are now complete, the concept drawings for the train depot have been removed. I'm presently working on plans & drawing packages for other concept drawings, and working up concept drawings for other items needed for the farm and railroad. All will be made available free to anyone wanting to download them. This train depot can be used for other things such as a small house or cottage, or many other uses with a few modifications. Bear in mind I am not a licensed architect, so you should check your local building codes and perhaps hire a licensed architect to review the drawings and make changes as necessary if you decide to build this structure. The drawings you see here represent the building that will be erected on our farm/railroad site as progress continues.
 
DTRR Workshop Fixtures (Free Download)This plans package for DTRR Workshop Fixtures is now available for free download in pdf format. The package contains 28 pages (8-1/2" x 11") of documents and drawings with 7 Workshop Fixtures featured. These workshop fixtures are quite handy to have in any shop. The designs are simple, fast, and easy to build. They are also relatively inexpensive. With a few minor modifications, you can easily change the dimensions to better suit your needs.
These fixtures are handy for use (almost) anywhere, not just working on your railroad. Just about everyone can use another pair or two of sawhorses, or storage racks, tool benches, work benches, and so forth.

My boat plans business customers have been building and using these items from my drawings for years. They were redrawn and updated in 2012 after ten years without revisions or updates. The new drawings are less cluttered, easier to read, and follow.

Just like all of the other plans I've offered for free download, simply go to the Downeast Thunder Railroad web site, hover your cursor over the "about" button and click on the drop-down menu; "RR Plans & Drawings."

If you build anything from any of the plans I've made available for free on my website, I hope you'll send me a picture or two. That's all I ask in return.

Paul Bennett - Downeast Thunder Railroad & Downeast Thunder Farm
 
DTRR 2T 0-4-0 Switcher Locomotive REVISION-A Concept Drawing

The original concept drawing for the DTRR 0-4-0 switcher has been revised. The revisions reflect the need for a larger machinery space such that there will be sufficient room to house a larger engine, air compressor, and generator. This is still a concept drawing. Construction drawings are still pending further research. You can view this concept drawing by downloading the pdf file posted on the Downeast Thunder Railroad web site as per instructions in previous posts above for accessing and downloading DTRR drawing files.
 
Turntable Design


I have gathered quite a bit of information about various types of turntables from books and the internet, but have also received several notes with valuable tips and advice from some very experienced folks and professionals in the industry (mostly on the Yahoo 18" gauge Railway Forum).

Turntables are certainly not complicated machines or structures. Most are quite simple, but there are several variations and designs using different materials with the structural design reflecting the use of those respective materials.

Being an engineer (and me being me), I tend to research everything to exhaustion before starting out with any new design. I've discovered I can learn quite a bit beyond the books and internet searches; simply by chatting with others on forums such as this. Maybe not everyone has all the answers, but it's amazing how many little "gold nuggets" I've been able to garner from various individuals. My goal is to eliminate features that are problematic, and add features that enhance the operation of the turntable.

The design parameters for the Downeast Thunder Railroad turntable are thus: (1) Simple & easy to build. (2) Economical to build. (3) Does not require any heavy equipment beyond what I already have on hand. (4) Uncomplicated (manual operation - no auxiliary power). (5) Use of readily available parts and components that are common, off-the-shelf items available almost anywhere. (6) No need for any specialized equipment, machinery, or tools such that most people I share the completed plans with, will have the capability of duplicating the turntable on their own railway if they so desire. (7) Designed such that the turntable can be easily be modified to be larger or smaller as desired by the person building the turntable to meet their own requirements. (8) Keep the plans and drawings clear, uncluttered, easy to read and comprehend by others contemplating the construction of the turntable. (9) Keep all drawings restricted to standard 8-1/2" x 11" sized paper such that the plans can be released for free download in pdf format and interested parties can easily print out the plans on their own printers.

My turntable design will be for the Downeast Thunder Railroad 18" gauge system, but by making the design fairly easy to scale up or down (within reason) to suit other railway systems, the design will be versatile.

I'm asking for any ideas, comments, suggestions, or advice anyone has on this subject. I appreciate everyone's participation regardless of how much you may have to offer. Any detail pictures of turntables is a huge plus if anyone has any they care to share.

Thanks everyone!
 
Turntable photos on Pinterest:

To anyone interested, I've started a board on Pinterest.
It's entitled: Narrow Gauge Trains & Railroads. I've pinned several photos of turntables and other RR photos I happened to like while on my turntable search. The nice thing about Pinterest is that you have the URL to the site where the photos were found, rather than looking at photos and not knowing where they came from. It's a handy tool for research when wanting to go back to a site for more info. If you set up a (free) Pinterest account, you can repin any photos you like onto your own board.
 
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