Birmingham Alabama and Environs

Discussion in 'General' started by kenmc, Apr 28, 2015.

  1. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    Have always lusted after your canted steam-chested 631.
  2. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    Ken -
    Wonderful. Very nice work!

  3. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Really great to see new stuff from your layout, Ken.
  4. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter

    Now for the turntable. I scratchbuilt a faithful replica of the table at Joplin MO from photos. It's 70 feet long, great for all of the "little engines" used for transfer, switching and local service around Birmingham. The last two shots show 4-6-0 #631 being turned for its daily run down the branch to Bessemer.

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  5. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    I really need to visit you again next time I come up that way.
  6. Ozarktraveler

    Ozarktraveler Member

    I would love to see a write up of how you built the turntable. I need to build a 70' TT for Seligman.
  7. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter


    It defies description. A basic block of wood, some card stock, strip wood, Evergreen tubing and L girder, round and square brass tubing, brass wire, ties and code 70 rail, wheels from old freight car trucks, and electrical wire for power. Split a length of flex track in two for the pit rail, add a motor underneath with a reversing momentary toggle to run the thing, and that's it.

    Ken McElreath
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  8. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter

    The steam engine servicing facilities at Ninth Avenue are very simple, and the only diesel service is the elevated fuel tank. The most distinctive item at any Frisco engine terminal, even showing up at the little two stall wooden engine house at Pittsburg KS, was the Robertson Cinder Conveyor and pit. Check out the prototype photos of Frisco engine facilities and you will see that it fairly cries out, "FRISCO!" I have had this Scale Structures Ltd kit for 40 years and finally built it for the layout. Complemented by the rack of ash pan cleaning tools, the conveyor is really attractive.

    Because of the ancient heritage of the facility and the cramped downtown space, I asked my friend Dick Schultz to come up with an appropriate coaling facility. Don't you just love it? He also detailed and finished the sand house.


    Ken McElreath

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  9. Ozarktraveler

    Ozarktraveler Member

    Thanks Ken. That saves a lot of scratchin' and thinkin' whilst I try to figure it out.
  10. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    And yet, using a prototype Frisco example as a starting point, it looks pretty swell. Keep them coming as time allows, Ken.

    Best Regards,
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  11. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter

    In addition to the engine service facilities and yard trackage, Ninth Avenue had/has some interesting other details as well. Here is a little yard tour to inspect them.

    First is the end loading track, used for boxcar and flatcar end loading, including early TOFC service.

    Next comes the reefer icing service. The original Ninth Avenue Yard had an icing platform, but when East Thomas was built, a large ice service facility was built there, and the one at Ninth Avenue taken down. However, there is an occasional need for a reefer to be iced downtown at Ninth Avenue, so instead of transferring the car to East Thomas and back, the Frisco has an ice truck with an elevator platform to load ice onto the reefer roof. It comes over from East Thomas when needed.

    Third, we have a storage track for the district B&B work train. Here is bridge crane BC209 and its boom tender, X209. Note that the boom tender is lettered for AT&N -- it really was!

    Now a little "going away" present for Ken Wulfurt, just so he won't forget his roots. I used to see the big Ralston Purina checkerboard square in St. Louis as a kid, and I thought it magnificent. This car brings feed and fertilizer to Birmingham.

    Then a closeup of side door caboose #28, used on the local freight to Bessemer.

    And finally, a shot of the culvert for a stream flowing under Ninth Avenue yard, with the yard service road wood bridge. I got this idea from the Rock Island's Biddle Yard in Little Rock years ago.

    Enjoy this little tour.

    Ken McElreath

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  12. Sirfoldalot

    Sirfoldalot Supporter Supporter

    Ken, Everything that I have seen here rises to the level of incredible modeling.
    The detail is just amazing.
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  13. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    Thanks Ken! I, too, have the Ralston Purina reefer - Atlas MRS 5585. Wonderful looking car.

    Don't worry, I'll never forget my St Louis roots. Love this town and will be back here often.

    You are a terrific modeler! Your scenic detail work is extraordinary, as are your models.


    ps - I never worked for Ralston, but they were a large and very good account for me back in 1970-71, when I was a sales rep here in St Louis.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
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  14. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Ken, I overlooked the coal crane w/bucket on the first go-around. I've always read of some "coaling stations" along the Frisco where there was no tower but coal was provided from cars. Wonder if something like this would have been the typical method, or if it was simply a matter of a couple of guys with scoop shovels and some boards lying across a hopper, with the shovelers tossing from the hopper to the tender?

    In any event, it's a nice looking facility and looks just right for the available real estate. Looking forward to more photos as time allows.

    Best Regards,
  15. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Supporter

    Dja notice how good the track looks on Ken Mc's layout!?

    Tom G.
  16. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter

    I forgot to include a photo of the caboose track and supply building, across from the yard office. Here 'tis. The bobber caboose belongs to the Birmingham Belt RR, owned and operated by the Frisco. More on that later.

    Ken McElreath P6120080.JPG
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  17. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter

    Before we leave Ninth Avenue Yard, here are a few overall aerial shots to show the lay of the yard and engine facilities, plus several of the FY tower and junction at the west end. Operationally, the yard is split into two parts, what I call the "front yard" and the "back yard," separated by the gravel service road. This separation allows movement of engines and trains entering and leaving the front yard without disturbing the switching going on in the back yard. When a cut of cars is ready to be made into a departing train, the switcher moves it over via the crossover track to the departure track in the front yard and adds an engine and caboose. And any arriving trains can just sit in the front yard arrival tracks until the switcher is ready to pull them back to the switching lead and begin classifying them. It's quite efficient and relaxing to operate.

    The very farthest (top) track in the second photo is an interchange track where the Seaboard and Southern Railways set out and pick up cars from the Frisco. The Ninth Avenue switcher simply switches that track as needed.

    Ken McElreath

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  18. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    Ken -

    All I can say is "Wow"! Veddy veddy nice!

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  19. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter

    After reading my description of the yard above, I thought it would be better to simply show a photo of the yard panel. It labels all of the tracks, peripheral destinations and controls.


    Ken McElreath
  20. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter

    The Ninth Avenue Yard serves as a downtown Birmingham hub for the Frisco's switching and local transfer operations. Most of the city industries were on the old Birmingham Belt RR that formed a rectangle around the city. You can see that on the attached map for reference,with FY Junction at the upper left and Ninth Avenue Yard along the top of the rectangle.


    This was one of the original BB RR engines before the Frisco bought the line and took over operations.

    BB 5 Birmiongham AL7-1-25r.jpg
    Here are the Ninth Avenue engine assignments for a typical day. In actuality, there was both a "North Birmingham Belt job" and a "South Birmingham Belt job, so I have followed that pattern as well, except on my layout the "South" job has become the "East" job due to the forced arrangement of the prototype elements I have included.
    Yard switcher -- 2-8-0 #1273 or Baldwin DS-4-4-1000 #240
    South Birmingham Belt job -- EMD NW2 #256 (this job is close to downtown, so we run it with a diesel)
    North Birmingham Belt job -- 4-6-0 #633
    East Thomas transfer -- 2-8-0 #1342
    Bessemer turn -- 4-6-0 #631
    In addition, I have two mainline turns that in the prototype were dispatched from East Thomas, but you know "It's my railroad." These are
    Quinton turn -- EMD GP7 #568 (see photos of leaving westbound)
    Palos Cement Plant turn -- Alco RS1 #103

    And finally, the Atlantic Coast Line has a cross-town transfer from their Elyton Yard through FY Junction, led by a GP7.

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