Sunday, December 6, 2020

NYS&W New York Mills Industrial

I should say up front that this is not the model railroad I am going to build.  I'll explain why below.  But it was a strong contender and I came close to building it, so I think it's worth writing about.

When I discovered the New York, Susquehanna, and Western's Utica area industries earlier this year I became pretty interested.  A number of relatively small industries, mostly on a separate industrial track with a fairly interesting track arrangement.  I wrote up some information on the prototype on a separate page on this blog here.

There is a very photogenic crossing tender's tower, street running, and a brewery spur with a switch in the middle of the street on the Utica branch mainline.  But the part that intrigues me more is the New York Mills industrial track (technically it's actually two tracks - the New Hartford industrial track, and the New York Mills industrial track).  The prototype is a deceptively simple switching puzzle.  I decided to focus on the industrial tracks for their operating interest, and ignore the street running section.

Things that make the combination of the New Hartford and New York Mills industrial tracks an interesting switching problem:

  • A relatively short runaround at the very start of the industrial track.
  • A branch to a switchback leading to one of the industries (Oneida Warehouse).
  • An industry literally on the end of the line - no switch, that's it.
See the the prototype page for maps, more details on industries, and prototype vides.

The first attempt

Even though it's a relatively small industrial track, there is still a total of almost 6 miles of track.  So the question is, how to squeeze that into the available space.  Here's my first reasonable attempt.

(Click to enlarge)

The New Hartford switchback and Oneida Warehouse are left off entirely.  The remaining four industries are compressed and slide considerably closer together than on the prototype, but that's inevitable if you're trying to squeeze 3 to 4 miles of prototype track onto a shelf well under a scale mile long.  The industries are all in the right relative positions on the prototypical side of the track.  A staging area could be added on the other side of the bulkhead door at the bottom, or the train could just be sitting on French Rd runaround at the start of the session with the engine in the lead.  The Di Highway section would be a fold down section to allow freer use of the basement for other non-railroad purposes.

Things that bothered me about this plan was having an industry on a fold down section, a bit more industry compression than I was hoping for, and no chance of adding the New Hartford section.

The second attempt

The breakthrough came with the realization that if I mirror imaged the industries I could solve all those problems.

(Click to enlarge)

In this plan, the drop down section is just the lead off the Utica branch mainline.  The industries are a bit less compressed (although mirror imaged), and there's a bit more space between them.  And there is the option of tunneling through the wall to put the New Hartford section in the next room, with the switchback (which adds an element of intrigue when you're at the runaround out of sight of it trying to get the cars on the right end of the engine).  There is an additional drop down section across the bulkhead door to get to Di Highway, but that wouldn't need to be use much and it's only scenery, so no problem there.

So why not build it?

I spent a month or so wanting to build this track plan but feeling unconvinced that it was the right one for me.  Finally I took a step back and thought about what industrial switching I like watching on the prototype most.  Any prototype switching is interesting to watch, but what really ticks both the industrial interest and gut feel of railroading boxes for me is not one or two car industries, it's bigger industries.  Industries where a full spot is half a dozen cars or more.

So that's why I'm not going to build this layout.  It would be a nice layout I would enjoy operating on, but it's not quite exactly what I want for a layout.

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