The Geologically Improbable Railroad, Mountain Division

Mine and Mine Train

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There was a mine in the plan for the GIRR Mountain Division from the beginning. However, it took 15 years for me to actually start on the thing. I knew where the mine opening was going to be and I established a mine siding and installed it early on. However, it never got further than that. At one point, the mine siding got ripped up and routed where a reverse loop was because there just wasn't room for the structures. Then I put the reverse loop back in and reinstalled the mine siding, but the siding was shortened from a four car capability to a one car siding.

What changed was the Bachmann On30 Davenport and tipper cars I realized that a 30 inch gauge loco in O scale would make a credible mine loco in 1/24 or 1/20.3 scale with a gauge of 12 to 15 inches depending on what I called the scale of my large scale railroad. This range of gauge is appropriate for the mine track that were laid in small mines. Usually the mine carts would be hand pushed, but I elected to use a small loco to drag three of them out of the mine.

The Davenport came DCC equipped, but the decoder won't be needed. It analog converts pretty well so the plan is to try it first with a custom analog auto-reversing controller with the decoder installed. If I am not satisfied with that, I'll remove the decoder. The little train will move in and out of the mine automatically and stop at the loading station for a single large scale gondola. I doubt that I'll actually automate the unloading process because I won't have any way to load the cars in the mine without a lot of work.

091120_girr_mtn_mine_mine_entry_hacked_7889.jpgThe first thing I did was to hack a hole in the hardshell where the mine opening is. The Hydrocal hardshell cuts easily enough with a utility knife after a starting hole was punched with a screwdriver.

This area will be covered by a small building to better disguise the opening itself. The building will provide the exit for the train and a small addition for the miner's locker room.

The train leaves the mine on a 6% grade all the way to the loading platform.

091120_girr_mtn_mine_roadbed_installed_7890.jpgThe roadbed is some scrap Homosote that was left over from the construction of the railroad. I ripped the 4" wide roadbed strip in half and fabricated a jog in it to allow it to hug the embankment and enter straight into the mine. The mine track goes 16" back under the scenery, as far as it can go, before reaching a movement stop at the end of the line. The mine train itself is only 13" long so that it will be complete concealed in the entry building and the mine itself.

The risers are punched through more holes in the roadbed to reach the 1x4 joists underneath. There was no joist to support the very end riser so it is glued directly to the hardshell. It's primary purpose is to hold DOWN the end of the track so that the unloading section is level. It will be reinforced further once the hardshell goes on.

At this point, the track was tested by using clip leads to connect the mine train track to my running track to apply DCC to the mine track. It all worked and I had adequate clearances for both the mine train and a large scale gondola at the loading station.

091120_girr_mtn_mine_webbing_installed_7891.jpgMuch of the cardboard webbing to support the new hardshell has been attached with hot glue. At the loading platform, a block retaining wall made of PV sheet has been cut and formed.

When it comes time to apply the hardshell, the mine track will be covered with 2" painter's tape for protection.

091121_girr_mtn_mine_retaining_wall_attached_7894.jpgThe hardshell is in. The retaining wall is painted and currently being attached with Gorilla Glue and Quick Grab adhesives. The track is wired and active, currently with DCC, but eventually it will get it's own dedicated analog controller.

I still have to do some fill in work around the retaining wall along the bottom and at both ends, but that will have to wait until the adhesives and plaster that is already there to fully set up. Then the whole area will get textured and the mine building built. I used the last of my Quick Grab attaching the retaining wall and I don't have any more adhesive that sets up quickly enough except for CA and that doesn't work very well for attaching the PV sheet material.

091213_girr_mtn_mine_retaining_wall_7942.jpgI've finished the fill work around the end of the retaining wall. The rest of the texturing around this area will be done later. I've also painted the mine loco but it is not yet weathered.

091213_girr_mtn_mine_building_7944.jpgTo hide the gaping hole in the hardshell at the other end, I built a small building from doorskin and PV sheets. It forms a combination mine head and miner's equipment room. The structure is easily removable so that I can get my hand into the mine if necessary. The building is painted, but it still needs some paint touch up in places and some weathering too.

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© 2009 George Schreyer
Created 20 Nov 09
Last Updated December 13, 2009