New Metal PRR catenary structures

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by ac_catenary, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Because soldering straight to side of the rails doesn't work. the pieces to easily snap off. Anchoring it in some how will give the catenary extra strength. That is why i've decided to use Brass H-columns for my catenary structures. not only does this look more accurate, i can hide the anchoring close to the webbing, and things like grab irons and angle braces can hide the anchors. My dremel drill press is more than capable of doing the job precisely and quickly.

    I don't know. Copper wire is WAY to soft. Your wire has slight little kinks in it, and that doesn't give it that uniform smooth look that the prototype does. I think that in the future, my auxiliary wire will be steel, and the actually contact wire could be copper (the opposite from the prototype, ironically). the steel will hold the copper straight.
  2. ac_catenary

    ac_catenary ac_catenary

  3. ac_catenary

    ac_catenary ac_catenary

    more picts

    arsenal interlocking and fly over
    over view
    Still have to senic area

    Broad st Station- E60 drawing power from the newly installed catenary
  4. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    At the same time, however, rail is notoriously difficult to solder well, and its getting a bit thin for me to work with well. I did have a larger solder gun that managed to make good strong connections to my steel wire, but it seems to be out of order, so i only have my 40 watt iron for now.

    Indeed i have seen Andy Rubbo's models. I'm pretty much sticking to new Jersey, where there are mostly K-brace and wire spans. The only time i see the lattice seems to be on the signal bridges. I recognize there are different poles (I even have brazing rod for the round catenary areas, but it was more something i got for free than something i planned).

    as it turns out, piano wire is steel wire, so i'm on the right track so far.

    That's understandable. I'm mixing my methods. I've seen Andy Rubbo's articles, and a small PDF made my Bill Kachel. I'm going to have to wait until i get those H-columns, but when i do, i'll post how it works out.
  5. ac_catenary

    ac_catenary ac_catenary

    PRR catenary brackets

    Sears has a craftsmen 400/150 watt gun ITs the best for $50

    Another way to expedite catenary construction is to make catenary brackets which are very common through out the PRR system These hollow brass brackets and inclined catenary are over looked by Model memories and really give catenary that PRR feel. The main PRR catenary brackets are either "Y" style (which is the kind I mainly use ), "Q" style brackets. I mass produce these Y brackets but I haven't made any of the "Q" All these brackets are hung from either K braced stantions or wire spans

    "Y" Brackets


    "Q" brackets

  6. ac_catenary

    ac_catenary ac_catenary

    Latest catenary construction Photo

    This is the latest construction photo of catenary using a new method outside of HO scale Broad street Station. Check out the Double Crossover catenary. The whole station area & wye is finally under catenary!

  7. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Keep up the good work discussing your techniques and the prototype! I'm enjoying it/learning. Maybe I'll have an interurban station with operating catenary someday...
  8. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    You wouldn't happen to have anything on how turnouts and crossovers are wired? i have a few spots that need that. thanks a bunch!

    :rolleyes: i wish i read that sooner, i just bought a 140 watt Weller model from Home depot. that said, it seems to be working (and also replaces my dad's which stopped working...)

    i assume the "Q" brackets are the loopy ones. are the regular brackets called V brackets? it would be good to have a name. I'm starting to think i should have used the "Y" bracket on this catenary pole. I think the cross span is built right, but the hangers seem off. That said, these are only mock ups so i can get a better idea of how to build these things. I can't seem to find the Brass H-columns and things i'd like to use.


  9. ac_catenary

    ac_catenary ac_catenary

    Turn outs are usually wired with pull off wires, so where the switch begins a section of catenary would be anchored to the nearest pole going in the direction of the turn out. Krachel has it drawn in his pdf Turnouts and crossovers catenary is x and boxed out and can get kinda complicated. These connections are neccessary so the pantagraph will glide from one wire to the other and not get snaged. This crossing complication is why I choose not to use the auxilary wire and make 2 wire catenary. A double slip cross over or a double cross over would be a bigger nightmare with an auxillary wire to deal with. Actually in some places near stations where the speeds are slower the auxillary wire is elimnated at turnouts and crossings or it appears segmented.

    The Weller solder Gun ? is a good model but after a while the u shaped tip will start to go. so buy replacements

    The bracket you made is great. What are you going to use for insulators?
    I dont really know if these brackets have official names- guys on the PRR electric Yahoo site refer to them as "Q" and "Y"s Guys on the railroad do the same. U see allot of "V" type in NJ between Trenton and New Brunswick With the "y" you dont have to make the 2nd row of cross catenary. I guess these saved the railroad money

    Man those silverliners are nice I allways wanted some of GEMs

    K&S engineering has H poles
  10. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Madness! the auxiliary wire really helps keep things steady and make smooth connections too. I'll have to figure a way to either simulate it (despite the complications), or McGuyver it (after all, if most of the people i've asked don't know how its done, i just need to make it blend in to work). I'll figure it out i guess.

    I just need to make a pair of boxes between the straight and diverging routes, and put an X in these boxes. Doesn't sound to tough. I think i can get away with it.

    thanks for the advice

    These are actually mockups, i plan to use finer pieces for the finished stuff. That said, Tichy train group sells PRR Catenary Insulator details cored for .025 wire, and i have a shipment of them coming in any day now.

    Well, New Jersey is where i'm modeling, so i'm on track. I still think i might change that single pole to the "Y" brackets, since i have yet to find a catenary pole like the one i've built. I must have imagined it!

    Yeah, i got the pair for $40. a got at my club had them, originally i thought they were Metroliners (they were in Metroliner boxes but i couldn't get a good look at them). when i finally went to buy them, the guy pulled the boxes and revealed they were Silverliner IIs. originally it was $40 each, but he gave me a deal, so i was epic happy.

    I later saw them on the internet for $230. that said, my silverliners need some work. they are a bit old.

    However, i might be able to help you a little. I do have a resin Plastics molding set. I've been trying to cast both an E44 and these Silverliner II body shells.

    so far, the biggest problem is the inside of the shells. The E44 has weird impassible undercuts on the inside (on top of the ugly cab roofs and pantograph shrouds making casting tough).

    The Silverliners have those end platforms to contend with (thats an ugly undercut), and both have lighting fixtures in that i'm reluctant to remove. Making the outside mold would not be hard, but you need to have the inside mold as well to make it a hollow shell.

    I also need to get special molding silicone that isn't as stiff but can handle me pulling the shells from the mold when its done.

    in any event, i'm not making any promises, but if i make any progress here, i'll let you know. I don't know how you'd power the Silverliner IIs, but modified E33 frames can take an E44 shell.

    except the 5/32 H column i need is not sold readily, and neither is the Tee shapes i need apparently.
  11. ac_catenary

    ac_catenary ac_catenary

    catenary Details & Such

    Heres a good shot of catenary above a double slip turnout that actually now has been removed part of amtrak's double slip removal program :cry: I took this photo while out on the railroad for a job related survey "do not tresspass on railroad property" Do you see that "x" and box bracing .. very complicated with a soldering iron (pencil tip). best way to do it is in mid air.. with a steady hand and some tweasers. I would make the "X Box" first then place them up in the catenary


    I have 4 packs of ticky insulators They are nice but my wire is a bit to big for them plus to make them look right you need to cut a "mushroom head" off for lack of a better word. PRR catenary insulators have 3 heads not 4 plus theres the money factor I would need like 100 packs. beads are cheap.

    wow your really going for the Prototypical with the t beams and 5/32 h columns dont tell me your going to put the rivets, column stiffners and grab irons too like Rubbo? You are the man If you do!!!

    your molding project sounds very ambitious why wait for maunfacturers to make stuff when u can do it yourself !!

    oh yeah that pole you made is out there some where I cant remember but ill post a picture when I do
  12. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    yikes, that does seem tough, but its not impossible, I'll figure it out.

    How do pull off wires work when they are in between tracks? I wish i could see a schematic or a diagram. I've found plenty of sites explaining it, yet no pictures :roll:.

    yeah, I've noticed this. I've decided to be VERY careful when cutting them off, so that maybe i can use them for other areas like transmission lines and such. When i did was trying to figure out how many insulators i'd need, i counted them by petticoats (that's what I've heard them called anyway). I initially was going to use beads on these mockups i've built, but i cannot find those beads i meant to use. I also have never really found a satisfying bead shape.

    In the long run, since my stuff is only now getting built, i might as well buy the tichy stuff and install it as i go. my layout is small anyway, i think i need around 12-13 different poles/bridges to cover the whole mainline, interchange, and maybe part of the yard.

    I'd like to. the way i figure it, i'm relatively skilled enough to do it, and I can get the parts I need (if i'm lucky). as far as the rivets go, I think they actually sell rivets on a decal sheet. I'm not talking black dots, i mean actual bumps (I think they are made from resin). I've seen people use them on Steam engine models, so I might be able to get a good strip of rivet decal bumps and make that part a little easier.

    anyways, I figure I might as well make it the best I can. why not just do it right the first time? If I make it as good as I can, and if I use at least more realistic materials (H-column insted of Code 100 rail), I'll atleast have a better start, and i might be able to make it work and look right.

    the mockups are functional, but they really can only barely be made to look like the actual thing, and even then only in shape and configuration. code 100 rail does not make the best poles or crossbeams.

    Exactly. I'll be surprised if anyone ever comes out with any of those modles. IHP seems to have covered the Arrow EMUs ( ihave a couple Arrow IIIs), but has only made the Silverliner III and up, not the silverliner IIs.

    I'm still shocked that no one has made an E44 in plastic. there were far more E44s than E33s, and they operated through much more visible areas during their lifetime. you have at least as many road names as the E33 (PRR, PC, CR, Amtrak, and some other RR that actually used an "E50", but it looks the same). I guess the E33 came in fancier paint schemes.

    I hope so! still, the thing stands and can hold a wire, so it works either way. I wonder if i can make one sturdy enough to latch onto some bachmann EZ track, and then just super glue the wires to the bridges and together between the auxiliary and contact wires. It might work for something temporary.
  13. ac_catenary

    ac_catenary ac_catenary

    Well, the pull off wires will make thier way through other track catenary to the outside poles and those poles will have guy wires This is shown in the picture.(to the right) Have you joined the YAhoo group PRR electrics I posted a PDF with allot of PRR standard Cat information. But it doesnt have any thing on crossovers

    didn't know that !

    True, are you planning signal bridges. if so brass of plastic? I bought plastic AHM PRR Signal bridges and made brass/plastic hybrid structures

    I have one silverlinerIII and im still waiting on IHP for those Silverliner IVs. I actually tried to make one from a comet car shell and I might make another. How do you plan of motorizing your arrowIIIs

    Maybe MTH will make one in HO

    I saw that you have a GG-1. When you start stringing wire keep in mind that the GG-1 has a different pantagraph tracking then most locos, because the loco is articulated ,on sharp curves (<36 degrees) or turnouts that pantagrapgh will move to the outside drastically. SO, u have to balance the position of the wire on the pantagraph between the GG-1 and Aem7s
    I was in fear of running Gs at higher speeds because the pantagraphs might snag. Even though everything was working perfectly I installed a pantagraph extender piece for sanity sake

    Pantagraphs is a whole other world of problems Thats if you want them to conduct electricity or slide along the wire with out snaging any thing. for example: Spectrum acela pantographs suck! They dont do either. Atlas pantagraphs dont conduct electricity well. You have to run with both. 0ld bachman metal Faively pants are ok but the first snag will destroy them.Walthers E60 pants are ok ( i started out of those) Marklin and somerfedt pants work great but the reach is not that high. marklin makes a faively type pant. which is the best. GG-1 pants are very good except for the tracking thing.
  14. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Yeah, i never have been able to get Yahoo Groups working right. anyway, i'll have to look into it.

    Yeah, they are more commonly used in tank and aircraft modeling (atleast. thats the groupgs its been marketed to). the other modeling hobbies often have stuff useful to us. for example, Alclad II chrome is a perfect match for the SIlverliners, Arrows, and amfleet cars, because they actually have the shiny stainless steel finish, unlike regular silver paint.

    i have an IHC signal bridge that i've thought of making into a part catenary structure, but i might also just stick to masts at trackside instead.

    plan? i already have! i have a "black beetle" powered truck. I bought the truck at a train show near king of prussia, i think. I think it was "Pennsylvania heritage models" that were selling them. they are australian, and since the current NWSL stuff is not in production yet, its the only good power truck i've found. I plan to add one to each unit. I might add a second to the married pairs, but for cost's sake i'll just stick to one truck powered.

    The silverliner II's wheelbase seems longer than the Arrow's, but NWSL is coming out with a power truck to match it very soon, so i'll pick up a pair of those when i get the funds for it. I'd really like to get those silverliners running.

    I doubt it, but knowing my luck, the second i start making copies and hunting for parts for it, they will come out with one that includes sound and i'll kick myself.

    I think i'll be able to get away with it. in truth, that GG1 always derails on my layout, even on my broader curves, so while i'll try to keep the wires lined up, it won't kill me if they don't. I think the best way to prevent snagging is to glue a clear plastic straw to the top of the show. if you do it right, its not noticeable, and the curvyness on the edgs can help prevent catching the wire if it is reasonably smooth.

    Nah, not looking to conduct. actually, i used those bachmann metal pans in a highschool class a couple years back. I had to make a maglev racer, and one of the things we had to do was design a way to get power from the two guard rails that held the maglev on track over the magnets. Everyone got mad, but the teacher allowed it, and i had a good laugh. It actually got to the very last race (beat everyone else, lol), but there was a slight issued with the RC car trigger button that held me up. I borrowed a pair from two Metroliner dummies that were in bad shape (one had a crumbling body, the other was bad to begin with, but i cleaned it up and made it into a cab car, so its better off that way).
  15. kmorris

    kmorris Member

    Awesome stuff.. I wish I had the patience to wire catenary wires.
  16. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    That area in your picture is not the safest place in Philly.
  17. ac_catenary

    ac_catenary ac_catenary

    Going Green catenary

    Heres some picts of Finished catenary at broad street station and Arsenal substation [​IMG]
  18. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    well, i finally did find a prototype for that single pole-double tracked catenary pole i built, but i have since changed the catenary spacing on my layout, so its no longer needed anyway.

    turnouts and interlockings i think i have a basic idea now.

    so far, i've been experimenting with thinner wire, and it looks like it will hold up. I can't put as much tension on as the 1/32, but that said, i can make it tight enough that it will all pull together.

    I have yet to find good H-column, but i think i can still special order it.

    here is a picture or two


  19. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Well, i've begun work on my more realistic, super-detailed catenary. THIS is what i wanted to do for that contest, but could not.

    I basically only have one pole mostly done, as it is TEDIOUS adding some of the details, mainly the grab iron ladders. The transmission arms are on, as are the insulators. All this pole will need is possibly a signal line, and it will need various braces, but these parts can wait until the overall Catenary structure is built to be installed. On Friday, i hope to begin a few more poles, so that i can roughly complete about three or four catenary bridges.

    I basically started with a three foot piece of 5/32 brass H-column stock, and a pair of scale 13 foot long brass "A1" angles (smallest angles you can get from special shapes, i think). I went ahead and marked their location on the pole, which is a little lower in the case of the catenary along Perth Amboy, NJ, which is where i draw my inspiration from. As such, i am only adding one set of arms per pole, rather than two like on the Northeast Corridor. After carefully lining them up, i soldered the two angles back -to- back on the pole, and then pulled the tips together and soldered them as well.


    I then used a dremel drill press and a small high-speed cutter to make little dimples in the side of the pole for the support wires that hold each arm up. I soldered a length of wire into the dimple, and used flush cutters to cut the wire just as it reaches the tip of the transmission arms. I then soldered this loose end of the wires to the tips. I then put the pole into a grabber-stand (not sure what they are really called, roll with it! :roll: ), and put a VERY small right angle bend at the end of the wire. I then soldered this more or less in between the angle pieces. These wires are the transmission line hangers, and they will hold the insulators later. I cut each of these hangers a little longer than needed, so that when i installed the insulators later, i could be sure to have enough to make a hook on the bottom for the transmission lines themselves. I then cut off the excess.


    Next, i began the most tedious part of pole construction i have encountered so far. Each pole, as i mention above, has a grab iron ladder. These ladders start just above the horizontal cross-brace (which is about 30 feet above the rails), and continue up to just below the highest transmission arm, if such a thing is present. These grab irons need to be cut and shaped to fit. I have no special jig to do this, so i literally sat here all day bending, cutting, and installing them. The one i built is also taller than normal to reach over the Highway bridges on my layout, so it took ALL DAY to cut, form, and CA the grabs in. It isn't hard, but it does take time.

    When i finished this, I installed 11-disk insulators onto the transmission hangars. these are cut from the Tichy PRR Catenary Insulator parts. You will need to cut one petticoat (disk) from one of the castings (they are made of 4 petticoats each). Save this single petticoat, since it can be used for the signal power lines and other details later. Once i slid these on (they are pre-cored), i just bent a little right angle in the bottom, partly to keep the insulators from sliding off, and also so eventually a transmission line could be hung.


    Finally, i made final measurements for the pole length. I started from the top, and made sure my pole was high enough for the transmission lines to reach the height requirement, while also reaching an inch under my bench work where they will be anchored in.


    This project is going to take me a while. I'll update the thread when things get finished, or if I'm constructing something new, but there will likely be a long time of a lot of the same work being done before wires can be hung.

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