“because it’s May?” I don’t know. As blog titles go it sounded viable when I wrote it out. Too late now.
I wouldn’t even know about the Manheim Industrial Railroad if it hadn’t been for Jack Hill’s blog post about it (read that post here). A couple times since the railroad has shown up in other places and I believe it is still operating today. Last year I published a quick post on the railway to link some images I had found. Seasons have changed but the little railway is still just under two miles long, still only has one turnout, still only moves propane for Ferrellgas in Manheim, Pennsylvania. I friggin love this railroad. I think about modelling it probably more than any other. There, I said it.
When I first saw the Seth Eberly photo I opened with I was already charged with Jack Hill’s summary of the railroad’s operations. Building on what made it into the kind of railroad we both know I find attractive (“one car at a time”) was that it also offered something that’s unique to modern railroading and the Eberly photo summarizes the scene beautifully. Where industrial land might have been overgrown those kinds of properties in more recent times are often reasonably well manicured. Just look at that scene–it’s like a flat sheet of styrofoam, dusted with ground foam almost all the way up to the edge of that cork roadbed. I’m not a fan of “Supertrees” but if ever there was going to be a place where they really look good it’s the backdrop for this scene. A model could be just that simple. Also, because of that same simplicity, editing it into the frame of a model railroad is made easier because that open view invites you to move closer to the track and get closer to the trains.
The railway’s connection to Norfolk Southern is to the left of where those two photos are taken and you can explore around the site by clicking on this link to Google: https://goo.gl/maps/gJTFV5QoUr73Xm9v6
- It looks like Ferrellgas can unload three cars at a time if I understand how the pipework is designed and based on what I see in the aerial photo
- There’s about two more car lengths inside their fence so maybe five cars total “inside the fence”?
- When the railroad opened they used a Trackmobile, Eberly’s photo shows a 44 tonner, today it’s probably still that East Penn B30-7 #7874
Because the aerial photos are so crisp and because building model track is so much fun you have some interesting data to study:
- Looks like a sunny day in the photos so the same aerial imagery could be used to determine grass and ballast colours
- I think you could even estimate time placement from the aerial photos
Those aerials are so crisp you can import them into CAD software and draw scale model track right overtop the drawing. I’ve done this a number of times and, this afternoon, I did it again using Templot.
- Stretching a turnout template over the aerial photo shows that a #9 frog works very closely and there’s a very slight curve in the turnout
- In N scale there’s about 1.75″ between the siding and mainline and in HO there’s about 2.75″
- That track sure looks straight but in carefully studying it today it really is a series of gentle tangents which would be rewarding to include.
I didn’t adjust the tie spacing from Templot but did export N and HO scale versions of the plan, focussed on Ferrellgas directly as PDF files and you can look at them here:
I’m in no rush to move on from the Victoria project I’m currently working on. As a study it offers a kind of insight and educational opportunity I wasn’t able to tap into before and I want to keep learning from it. Everything I do after this will benefit from this experience. We’re anticipating some possible change in our lives in the near future so I’m not sure what Victoria’s long range plan is and I’m reluctant to start over–frankly I don’t have the emotional strength to right now. That said, I’ve been drawing and redrawing layouts based on Manheim for too long and “what’s next” will likely operationalize one of these plans. I don’t know what that will look like or any of its details but I do want to explore the layout further, so when this new opportunity catalyzes I’m ready.
This layout “needs” one engine and maybe a dozen tank cars. Why not collect a couple models in different scales to see what I enjoy working on? I’ve never really owned many “modern” train cars so this will be fun. It’s been a long time since a model of these types of cars has been available in O, HO, or N so this is a good time to be patient.
I should build a study model of the turnout and use this as a platform to evaluate options for the turnout mechanism and details.
Despite the amount of time I spend rereading Jack Hill’s blog post or looking over the few photos I’ve found of this railway I haven’t written about it much. I find rereading my own words helpful, so as an aid for future Chris, I’ve opened a new cateogry on the blog and I’ll gather all these posts under into this: Manheim Industrial Railroad.
As connected as I feel with this railroad my model wouldn’t need as literal a representation and would be equally good moved into Canada and existing in a parallel universe. My memories of railroading on Prince Edward Island are another connection to Manheim because the railroad I am familiar with in Charlottetown was really just about exactly the same thing. Where at Manheim, Norfolk Southern drops ten or a dozen propane cars I remember how CN would bring propane into Charlottetown in equal blocks. It might be just as fun to imagine a Canadian Manheim Industrial Railroad that uses a secondhand RSC14, or moved into the 2000’s a rented CN GP40 like Krista and my favourite 9590. How the model relates the prototype is at once important so the work is respectful but that the model exists would provide enough connection that it need not be exacting.
Speaking of Canadian options, Eric Gagnon has written about similar facilities here in Canada–check out this post on his blog: http://tracksidetreasure.blogspot.com/2014/04/propane-facility-at-millhaven.html