N scale Amtrak Acela HHP-8 Catenary Question

Discussion in 'Traction Thoroughfare' started by Herc Driver, Oct 31, 2007.

  1. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I've made the first jump into the world of electrification with the purchase of a Bachmann HHP-8 Amtrak Acela engine. I purchased the Kato Nscale Catenary Poles and placed them to match several pictures of real-world Amtrak lines (as best as I could at least). My question is, what to you guys use for power wires that connect to the catenary poles? I'd like to use the HHP-8's pantograph (for show - not to carry power) in the elevated position making contact with "wires". I've thought about the E-Z Line, or waxed thread, even fishing line...then I thought I'd better ask for some expert advice. Do you also try to replicate the multiple wire assemblies that catenary poles carry too? It would seem very hard to recreate the multiple lines the pantograph travels under and touches. I've tried using black thread for telephone/electric power poles but don't like the amount of dust that collects in the thread fiber that is noticed in close up photography. I could still use the black thread for the catenary poles but I thought maybe there's a better way.

  2. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I do mostly HO, but i also do model all the Heavy Electrics, including the HHP8 ( technically, its not traction, its a full size electric. You wouldn't call the GG1 a traction locomotive would you? lol)

    Your best bet for catenary in which the pantograph actually makes contact with the pantograph is to use steel wire. just about anything else will be forced up by the pressure of the pantograph. You can get the steel wire in close enough size for N-scale, and really at that point, it becomes a matter of either soldering or super gluing the wire to your catenary tower/bridges.

    I think the Kato stuff is plastic, and thats ok, but usually, a metal bridge is preferable. (speaking of which, is the new kato catenary just more japanese catenary, or did they go for the PRR type?).

    You could easily fabricate a catenary bridge out of loose rail. For example, in HO, i use three pieces of code 100 rail for H-beams (they look surprisingly good). You could use the N-scale equivalent (i'm going to guess Code 55). then you could just make the different diagnols and things like you see in the pictures from similarly sized materials.

    If by those multiple wires, you mean transmission towers, the answer is yes. Especially on the Northeast Corridor, those towering power lines over the tracks SCREAM Pennsy/ Amtrak. This can be done by making your catenary poles taller, and using maybe in your case, code 30 rails for arms.

    You can use more small wires with beads for insulators to make the hanging part, and then string thread across.

    Definitely read this- http://kc.pennsyrr.com/model/downloads/catenary.pdf

    technically, its also in HO, but it gives you the scale plans that you can reduce down to N-scale, to know how to make things, and also to give you ideas.

    Hope i've helped
  3. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Thanks you've helped a lot! I'm still learning about the whole world of electrics, thanks for some good info and instruction.

    I too thought thin wire would be the best way to go so that the pantograph would ride the wire. But I wasn't sure that there weren't other methods and products out there I didn't find yet.

    I'm not sure if Kato copied the Japanese style or a hybred...most of the pictures I've seen online are close to the Kato, while others are clearly the metal bridge style going completely across the tracks. Since I'm just getting started with this effort, I'm only putting towers on about one half the layout - mostly on the front of the layout for best viewing and ease of working on them.

    I'll check out that link to the pennsyrr too!

    Thanks again.
  4. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    yeah, the Pennsy catenary is what you are looking for, since thats what is used on the NEC ( with slight variations) and is where your HHP-8 would normally run.

    the single track kato poles pretty much match anywhere in the world's single track catenary, and there are areas in the nortnernmost section of the NEC that use only double track and these single poles.

    the kato "double track poles", or thier bridges, appear to be a japanese prototype. I heard they were making a new catenary set, but i saw no pictures, so i'm wondering what it looks like.
  5. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Check out this week's Weekly Photo Phun for a picture of the catenary poles...I didn't take a specific shot of just the pole, but you can see them in the background (and I realized I glued one on the layout crooked - gotta fix that).
  6. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    they are definitely japanses prototype, but that sort of I-beam catenary is found all over. only very minor changes would be needed to make it set in the states. Do you plan on having any larger electric lines, or just the single track? in the latter case, what you have is probably fine. You just need some steel wire.
  7. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I'm just going to have that one track, but I'd like to run with the pantograph up, so I'll look into getting the right gauge wire that is rigid enough to allow the pantograph to "ride" it.

    Thanks for the help!
  8. bill937ca

    bill937ca Member

    Kato's Japanese web site lists these as item 23-061 which were released 2007-11-1, In Japan at least.


    [KATO] V Double-Track Set Series

    [KATO] ‰Ëü’Œ

    In time you should be able to obtain them from Japanese dealers like Hobby Search or Plaza Japan.

    Hobby Search Railroad Models Online Store

    eBay Store - Kato: Tomix, Microace, Modemo
  9. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Oh thats good! then perhaps the only thing you should do is paint the poles a Penn Central or pailer green. They would then match some of the poles used around Philadelphia in the earlier part of the century, before PRR decided to electrify what is now the Northeast Corridor. some of these poles still stand, while some have been replaced by H-beams.

    Yeah, the preferred method of catenary is to solder it, since glue can easily be broken on metal. epoxy can work to. The important part is to make the trolley wire (the wire the pantograph shoe connects with) ABSOLUTELY SMOOTH. Many pans, like the Acela Express's will got caught on the most stupid of bumps, and yank the pantogrpah back, and this can sometimes destroy the pan ( i know with expierience).

    since i don't think you are going to energize it, you can probably use sand paper or some similar method to make it smooth.

    Did your poles come with directions? I'm guessing you have to twist the wire ends so that the flat "bottom" side stays smooth, while you hook the wire onto the lower arm of the catenary pole. I'm not sure how it would work in your case. Since i'm building more Heavy duty catenary with an auxillary wire parallel to the trolley wire, i can solder between the wires to hold them together, and keep alot of the solder away from the contact surface. Going down to N-scale i think might be tricky, but i know its been done (i went to NMRA convention in philly and saw a beautiful NEC module in N scale. unfortuneately, the guy was running the California Zephyr under it.)

    It all depends on how far you want to go.
  10. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I will probably try to lay a section of wire out on a flat surface then build the other support wires (sorry, I'm not up on my correct catenary verbage yet, still learning) then transfer one complete wired section spanning three poles to the layout. That way I might be able to solder the wires with better control rather than attempting to do it over the layout on the poles. Thanks for the advice about the smoothness of the wire. (Man this is going to be a lot of work just to make it look right.)
  11. bill937ca

    bill937ca Member

  12. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I know! Catenary is tough. However, i suggest that you do the "details" last. Rather, get your trolley wire (the wire the pans make contact with and connect to the poles with) soldered together in a manageable lenght. 3 feet at a time sounds good to me. attach that, Then make the "curvy" part of the catenary that goes up and down, by just gluing the wires to the pole's arm, then adding the little adjoining wires ( made from small copper wire or thread) between the "curvy" and contact wires. that will allow everything to realistically fall into place. if you use all metal, you'll also have a surprisingly durable system. people claim to be able to play music by thrumbing a good catenary setup.
  13. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

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