Tie Length

I picked up a package of bridge ties from Central Hobbies a little while back, thinking that they would be right for the turntable. When I got them home, I started wondering if they might be too short to allow for the crew to jump down and get to the ends of the turntable to turn the engine. So, I went back (or rather, my darling and supportive wife went back) and picked up some 8×8 lumber, that I could cut to a mode appropriate length.

But what length? Looking at some of the larger 1/2 through turntables, it seems like 14′ was typical for those, but would that work for my bijou table? Then looking at some of the old-time photos in my collection, I really had my doubts. As usual, they don’t seem to have made much allowance for the crew to move about safely. For example, check out this lovely shot of Ottawa and Gatineau #3 (for many years, identified as a Canada Atlantic engine!), and imagine trying to get past the cylinders or the tender journals on a dark and icy night.

 photo 3OttawaampGatineauMarch1899_zps93c78c6d.jpg on PhotoBucket by SteveK225

So, why not mock up a test? Below are 10′, 12′ and 14′ ties.

Test ties

Test ties

Test ties

The 14 footers look ridiculous, and even the 12 footers are too long.  I hate to say it, but I think the standard bridge ties are the way to go.  Of course, I actually made the slot too high for standard bridge ties, so I’ll be making my own 8″x8″x10′ ties out of the scale lumber, but there you go.

Incidentally, there are a couple of other notes to make about that shot of O&G #3.  First, note how close the frogs are to the turntable pit.  Then there’s the very cool post in the middle of the span; I suspect the crews used this to line up the balance point of the engine.  It would be a cool detail on the model, but would be asking to be knocked off if made from wood.  However, everything, including the ties and this post, looks like it is painted, so perhaps I could make a balance post out of something more robust, like brass.


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