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Thread: Southern Railway Memphis Div in 1975

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    Default Southern Railway Memphis Div in 1975

    I am modeling the Southern Railway Memphis division circa 1976. I am not being 100% accurate as I will have some passenger ops that in reality were discontinued in 1969. But they will soldier on here as its my railroad. My railroad centers around the Tuscumbia, Sheffield, and Muscle Shoals area of north Alabama. Why here? This is where my dad’s parents lived and where I had two semi-retired adults wanting to make me happy for a week every summer and other visits. Their house was within horn range of crossings in Tuscumbia and we would hear a train, pause to figure out where and which way and then tear out of the drive to chase. My grandfather truly loved me as I have visited in my later years and found the roads we sprinted down are pretty speed limited by signs that are older than I am. But it is where I got my love for trains and those big black tuxedoed beasts. So I will model the area. There will be a couple signature scenes that will replicate the places I remember from childhood sitting with my grandfather watching the trains go by when we finally caught them. The crossing, railroad west of Tuscumbia at Old Memphis Hwy. Sheffield station, defunct in my time but will have service because it’s my railroad, The double crossings at the edge of downtown Sheffield, and the crossing at 6th street on the east side of town where I first reacted positively to a train as a toddler, thereby giving my grandparents something they knew they could do with me as it was a busy main line that they could hear from the house. I would say “I hear it” and get all excited and they would bundle me into the car and we would all go chase.

    Railroad history in the area runs deep. Tuscumbia had the first railroad west of the Appalacians in 1830 to run cotton up from the river for over the road transportation around the shoals in the Tennessee river. Railroad quickly extended to Decatur where cotton was loaded back on river boats. Eventually became the Memphis and Charleston RR, a predecessor to the Southern. Shops and yard were initially in Tuscumbia, were moved to SHeffield, were expanded in SHeffield, and then finally moved to the brand new(in 1975 era) Sheffield yard which continues in operation today. In my era there are still some residuals of these old facilities that will be eventually be modeled in the form of track being torn up and buildings being torn down. I will not be modeling the new Sheffield yard. Yard ops just don’t float my boat. My grandfather got me a visit to Sheffield with a neighbor/good friend who worked there once. Got to watch them hump some cars from the tower. It was an awesome experience but not enough that I feel the need to model it and you really can’t do a hump yard justice and have space for much else unless you have an entire large basement to play with. I don’t, so I am ok with having the yard off layout. NorAla junction is where Eastbound trains can either go to Sheffield yard or continue on to Birmingham. From what I can tell more went to Sheffield yard, probably 60-65%. But then there were Sheffield to Birmingham trains and vise versa. This will be the top deck of the railroad. In both plans the lower deck is the run south from NorAla junction to Hayleville, AL where the Illinois Central had an interchange and trackage rights south to Birmingham. THis deck is aimed primarily at just adding some run time to the line. A couple simple trackside industries that are far enough from each other to give the sense of going somewhere. And when the inclination hits or a couple of friends come over there is enough to do to have everybody well and engaged. I never railfaned these places as a kid and have only driven it once as an adult. So fidelity will be less important, just some operational interest. SOme will ask “Then why do you need it?”or say “Stick to the simpler single deck” and I have contemplated that exact set of questions for a few years now. And my answer is I like to run trains. The upper deck covers a smaller geographic area that is mostly suburbanish area(remember it is Alabama). The lower deck will be way more rural and give a better idea of going somewhere. Plus the interchange with the IC is a really neat feature. The map below gives an idea of the setup of the railroad. Memphis was the western terminus of the middle section of the Southern with New Orleans to the south and St. Louis to the north. There was interchange in Memphis with Missouri Pacific, Illinois Central, The Rock, Cotton Belt, and the Frisco. MP ran a train to Sheffield yard regularly, so full consists of MP locos were frequent visitors. I remember seeing Cotton Belt, Rio Grande tunnel motors, and the occasional UP or SP unit.

    Plans and pics to follow.
    Ryan B.


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    @Specter3

    Sounds like a great layout in the works!

    Looking forward to photos and plans.

    You mentioned a map that gives an idea of the setup of the railroad, but Moose no see map...
    = > ÷

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    Awwwwww yeahhhhhh!
    sr-logo.jpg
    PW&NJ Railroad

    The Resourceful Route!



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    Quote Originally Posted by PW&NJ View Post
    Awwwwww yeahhhhhh!
    @PW&NJ beat me to it, but, yeah!

    I have some train orders addressing Frisco and RI engines from around that time. Sounds like fun, and it's my railroad too, but mine's in NC in 1974, when they were still running the Asheville Special three days a week.

    I happen to have a 1974 Southern Ry. system map, and here's a excerpt of the area you're talking about. This was before Sheffield Yard, but not by much. I agree, make Sheffield Yard you east staging yard and don't try to model it.

    Sheffield 1974.jpg

    I don't know much about that part of the Southern, but there was a lot of the traffic that came through there that wound up on my part of the railroad on its way from Memphis to Spencer and back to make connections to the north and east. Lots of through traffic going through there.

    If you haven't yet, I'd join the Southern Ry. Historical Association (srha.net).

    Looking forward to updates.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    Always great to have another fan of the Southern here!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim R View Post
    If you haven't yet, I'd join the Southern Ry. Historical Association (srha.net).
    I echo that!

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    Got to figure out how to resize photos. The IPhone takes way to large of pics. Way back used to do separate hosting but then photobucket. So ...
    Ryan B.

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    Ok so trying resized photos.
    Here is the track plan. Room is 15 and change by 19.5. Swing access to door and workbench in back nook. One window that will be obscured by form fitting foam. Two decks with staging. Top is Tuscumbia, Sheffield area that is fairly uncompressed with a currently planned 30 car Pride transload on top of the helix. Lower level represents a much larger area as the line runs from NorALa junction down to Haleyville.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Ryan B.

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    Pics of construction.

    4771 is the test fit of my idea to support the top deck without running supports on the outside of the layout. It worked. All that was taken down after the mock up.

    4778 is the staging level covered. Now again all of this is built in sections. It will have to be separated and moved around as the floor(Vinyl plank) is put down. But it will look like this for a while as remote turnout activation is decided and Atlas gets more code 80 into the country.

    4783 is the upper deck from Tuscumbia in the near ground to the old station at Muscle Shoals on the far wall. This will be the bulk of my modeling for the near future as the staging level gets put together. Note the frames stored on the staging level at the moment.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Ryan B.


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    I have to choose a bus wire size and get that ordered. I have always used speaker wire when I did Ntrak and oNetrak modules. But have to pick something and order a bunch so it is uniform. I will use connectors at the ends of walls to make entire sections be able to be removed electrically for trouble shooting. I will eventually have working signals using Tam Valley gear for detection and driving the LEDs. Signals themselves have to be chosen. Aux 5 volt bus for all of the detection gear. Lots of things to decide on.
    Ryan B.

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    Default door adventures

    Well the door to the room now opens out. I will have to redo the frame and moulding if I have to move but we plan on being here for a long time. No problem in any case. Now on to getting a swing gate that will work. The two decks will swing on hinges as a pair. The left side as you look from in the room will be the hinge side. the right side is angled so it will mesh easily. The ends are birch plywood which sits high enough to meet the track at its exact height. This is so the track can be glued directly to the plywood end and keep the rails aligned. FreemoN does its modules this way and has no issues so I am using this method here. This will also be a break in the bus and the bridge will be a separate detection block. Power for it will come from the hinge side. If the bridge is out eventually the signal logic will be cued in and would stop a train from jumping the gap. Most of the layout frames have been completed. Upper valence construction will be next.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Ryan B.


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    I suggest careful choice of hinges, and about the best in my experience are regular door hinges, preferably several of them. Piano hinges seem okay, but they get loose and sloppy with time as they wear. Gate hinges are loose and sloppy to begin with. Cabinet door hinges aren't strong enough.

    I hope you'll make room to keep the wye at Norala. That's the sort of thing that can contribute greatly to simulating operations.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    I had a plan where the wye was on a sceniced level, but it had a bunch of other compromises and one heck of a hard to build helix. It will not be on this layout. The wye split will actually be in the helix with trains having traversed the top deck(Tuscumbia, Sheffield, Muscle Shoals) will enter the helix. At the lower deck the train will either continue down to staging, effectivly entering Sheffield Yard, or turnout to the lower deck heading south to Birmingham.
    Ryan B.

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    @Tim R's comment on door hinges is spot on. One more suggestion: Expect the gaps to widen and narrow with the seasons. Leave a piece of straight track unsoldered to its neighbors on each side of the two gaps for adjustment.

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    Default test fitting

    So with some recycled foam down on the top level temporarily I rolled out the 1:1 paper plans and started to have a look at how the elements I drew would actually sit on the layout and how they would mesh with each other. For what I have up there are three scenes that I want to have in there and replicate them pretty faithfully. Top on the list is the crossing at Old Memphis Pike west of Tuscumbia. This is where I spent a ton of time either in or sitting on the hood of my grandfathers car watching trains. Next is the station in Sheffield. Never active when I was there(last passenger train was 67 or 69) it was a great place to watch trains go by and listen to my grandfather tell me about the shops that used to exist just the other side of the tracks. Dating back to the days of steam it had a full roundhouse, car shops, and loco servicing. By 71 there were only two buildings left, the car shop building and one of the backshop buildings. In the next aerial I have in 78 its all gone. I am going to model the car shops serving their last days with that backshop building being torn down in progress. Pulled up track, rotten wooden boxcars, maybe a HW wood car on the ground. The new Sheffield hump yard is open, rolling stock is made by subcontractors now and the facilities department spends most of its days removing the past and cleaning up the mess.

    The last is a couple of sheet metal cotton warehouses in Tuscumbia that had rail run into them. I never saw a boxcar over there but my grandfather said they used to load boxcars there regularly. It will get regular service on my layout. There will be spots for 2 40ft cars.

    So I moved things around on the plan a bit until the looked ok on the foam. Got out some old buildings for sizing. Lastly used a bunch of ME flex to actually lay down track for a look see. Got carried away,(surprise) and layed out every piece of code 55 I have. Since I was already going over the top I broke out some rolling stock for a look. Train length is aimed at 3 locos, 20-22 cars and a caboose. With one train at 4 and 20 and the other at 3 and 21 this looks like it works out well.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Ryan B.


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    Mmmmmmmm! :drool: Southern!
    Looking forward to this.
    The Little Rock Line blog


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    Right on! And looky there, you have the Southern Geep 38s and SD40s long-hood forward!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    Right on! And looky there, you have the Southern Geep 38s and SD40s long-hood forward!
    To follow the prototype, you need to randomly orient the locomotives. I've often seen GP30s running long hood forward and SD45s running short hood forward, both backwards.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    Backwards, forwards... all I care about is HIGH NOSES! That's the way to do it.

    Granted, in 2020, they can make it a bit tough to wear a mask, but them's the dynamic breaks I guess.

    Hello. My name is Michael, and I am an ALCo - haul - ic.

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    Southern! Must... model... Southern.
    Mark

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    Hey Mark glad to see you are still around. When this covid thing gets over you will have to swing by.

    Ryan
    Ryan B.

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