Me With engine 40 at the Valley Railroad in Essex

A LITTLE ABOUT MYSELF

From the owner

 

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ABOUT ME

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BIOGRAPHY

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I have been modeling even before my teenage years, first with airplanes, then boats, and then trains, that being a tinplate Lionel "O" gauge track around the Christmas tree.  It was moved to a spare room after Christmas.

My first real layout was on the reverse side of a ping-pong table and powered by a car battery.   Tin strips passed current under the roadbed to a control panel fastened inside the track loop and wires ran under a grass mat to switches and accessories.   Everything went fine until the strips accidentally touched and completely melted the wires, filling the basement with smoke.   Equipment was mostly Athern and Varney for rolling stock and Revel or Faller for structures.  

We moved to Connecticut and my dad helped build my first real layout.   Tracks were mostly flex-track and as a teenage modeler I managed to build my first transistor throttle and a relay-controlled block system with signals.   By the time I went off to college I had started building wooden kits including several of the Ambroid "1 of 5000" series.   There were a number of us in a club under the guidance of a mentor, Bob Boydon, who drove us to Hartford to buy parts and to show us how to do weathering as well as scale operation of trains.   At school I continued to build models in my dorm room.   Soon after I married, moved to an apartment and built a small switching layout.   This was my first attempt at hand laying track, and while it didn't look like much it served as a prototype for future trackwork construction.  

The apartment became too confining so after a year we moved out to the county in Coventry where a two-level dogbone took form over the next couple of years.   I was always reminded that my scenery was more like the surface of the moon than earth, but at least the trains ran.   Trackwork featured a double crossing, a three-way switch into the roundhouse and a CTC board for four-cab control.   There was a section of about thirty-five feet of track in a tunnel that yielded seventeen cars that had disappeared when the railroad was dismantled and moved to its current location less than half a mile away.  

Today the North river occupies one side of the basement and features Hand laid track including a slip-switch, computer control and several prize-winning models.   The tracks are mostly at the same elevation with no tunnels, spirals or obstructions; the scenery goes up and down instead of the tracks.  

There are over seventy locations to spot cars with four trains per day where operations are via a colored tag system.   The track from Lee Interchange to the main yard at Harrietta connects the North River to the outside world.   Harrietta is a large single ended yard that services a stockyard, the repair shops and several tiny local industries.   Peddler freights begin at Harrietta and pass through Charleston, Boxton, Union and Bobston where a double-ended yard provides some interesting operation problems.   A long spur extends from Bobston to the lumber camp where a scale logging camp is under construction.   Charleston and Union both contain run-around tracks and serve about a dozen industries in a wide variety of configurations.

A dedicated computer detects the position of trains, controls the block and signaling as well as the turntable. There is also a sound multiplexer for sound effects and a random car-traffic generator

Here are a few shots of my Current Projects

For those interested in the technical aspects of this site click here Site Notes

Visitors are welcome. For those who insist on sending snail mail, please send to:
Bob Van Cleef, 46 Broadway, Coventry, CT 06238
Otherwise, send email to: ravancleef@msn.com - phone: (860) 742-1889

 

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Model Railroading is fun in Connecticut.
Bob Van Cleef, MMR

Last update
07/20/2012