Workshop – Building the BC Northern Pike

The benchwork is actually getting somewhere, but as I was building it, I discovered several flaws in my most recent track plan (below, as of Mid-November), which is now in revision once again.

The first flaws are operational flaws, that could lead to difficulties switching the various tracks on the layout. these will be addressed first. but there is another caveat.

The original plan was based on Meziadin Junction on the BCN Mainline from Kitimat to Stewart, where the Northern Division branches off towards Dease Lake. Clearly a plan that was centered around a junction with staging yards in both directions. Meziadin Junction is situated near Meziadin Lake. So a small Jetti would seem likely. However, there is no way, that lake could be serviced by rail barge at all. Thus a revision is very important.

BC Northern Marine barges serve three locations on the Network: Stewart, Laxgalts’ap and Alice Arm, which are all terminal destinations. What a pity. It’s either „scrap the barge idea“, „plan for another location“ on the network (wich would most likely be Stewart) or make some sense of the south staging yard (which could be a storage yard and include engine services a bit south, outside of Laxgalts’ap). The last option seems very promising. Maybe I should revise the network map to include this location.

BC Northern Trackplan with „flaws“

Observations and Notes

The yard behind the barge is not useable or rather not accessible. I could operate it with electromagnetic uncouplers or permanent magnet uncouplers, but I have decided to uncouple using a pick or uncoupling wand. So I will have to move the classification yard to where the engine terminal (above) is located, which will be removed completely. Locos are probably „serviced“ elsewhere. Sad but unavoidable.

This requires me to make runaround moves to switch the barge, but that’s also unavoidable at the moment. I’ll add at least one long track to allow for two barge tracks to be switched with one runaround move. As the tug will have to move the barge anyway after servicing two of its tracks, that’s pretty okay in my book. The long track doubles as an intermodal track. It can service well cars and COFC-loads by utilizing a scratchbuilt gantry crane or maybe even a double-jib harbour-crane with container-spreader. There will be lift trucks and reach stackers too.

Intermediate Plan

So let’s take a look at the revised version of the trackplan (as of End-November). This is only a „better“ plan for the concept above, but not the final plan, I’m afraid.

The plan above was made with XTrkCAD 5.2.2 and would even allow a background image for better illustration of the landscape, but that’s for another time and day.

As we can see, I moved the classification Tracks to the right center of the layout. It is partially situated on a hinged swing section of about 135cm in length (4ft 5in). The track level is at 145cm (4ft 9in). I haven’t decided yet, whether it will be swinging up or down. With 2.7m ceiling the hinge would be roughly at half room height, so both is possible.

There are four classification tracks, five with the former yard lead being used as an arrival/departure track or optional fifth (and double ended) classification track, there is way more capacity than with the older variant of the track plan.

Right in the center of the layout directly adjacent to the classification yard, I squeezed in two engine service tracks. But no turntable this time.

To the left the barge terminal is the most prominent feature. The barge will have 5 Tracks on a 105 x 28 cm footprint, which will be serviced by a double track barge slip like on the prototype. So the barge will have to bee moved by tug boat when ever another track needs to be accessed. This is very convenient, as the container yard track has only capacity for two barge tracks. Operating the barge switcher will include moving container cars or flat cars arriving by train into the barge yard track for loading or unloading of containers and heavy machinery, as well as clearing these out prior to any rail car movement onto or off the barge. The switcher can move onto the slip and the barge slowly, as the barges controls will adjust for the change in mass by pumping ballast water around. Switching the barges rail cars is usually the first move after mooring and the last move before leaving port. The two outer tracks may be partially occupied by rail cars while the barge’s container load is handled. The barge usually stays in port for two or three days and will usually not be switched in a timely manner.

The yard lead behind the barge yard got a new switcher pocket, big enough for two GP9 or even SD20 or one large modern road engine (C44-9W, SD70i or similar). This also extends the yard lead somewhat, to allow pulling the longest track. It is located next to the Skeena Division mainline (which leads into the lower south staging area).

The passenger depot was also moved onto the outermost track on the far left side of the layout, it is now long enough for a 3 car passenger train with an F40PH at the front. A typical train for this area for most of the year, as this article portrays. Maybe my fictional passenger service could become the Nass River Explorer or something like that.

Also behind the barge and located a bit inconveniently for manual uncoupling, is a small industry. A plastics company that accepts pellet hoppers and box cars. There will be a permanent magnetic uncoupler for ease of operation.

The top left is occupied by a small lumber industry. It accepts log cars, woodchip cars, bulkhead flatcars and centerbeam flatcars for the forest products produced here and the byproducts. Both tracks are actually two spots each.

The back wall at the center of the layout hosts a warehouse. There is a supply company that is specialized to outfit various camps and constructions sites in the area. Everything from food and clothing, to tools and appliances, to construction equipment and machinery is handled here using two tracks.

The longer runs through a two zone break bulk and climate controlled warehouse, which has four spots. reefers go in first, while Box Cars and flat cars Go in last, since the right half of the warehouse is cold storage and the left half is break bulk. My Model will represent this in a differend painting of the two halves. There is no prototype building that I know of, but something needs to be original on this layout 😉

The shorter track is more or less a team track. There is a loading ramp and a crane for loading flat cars of all types, as well as mill gondolas or spine Cars (either log or TOFC). A good location to add remote controlled features to the crane model, perhaps.

As long a no passenger train or other train sits on the siding, the left part of it is used as the industrial switching lead for the supply company. Adjacent to the team track is the switching lead for the lumber industry.

The switching crews can work all infustries without fouling the mainline with one exception.

At the right side, located partially on the swing section, there is a grain coop’s elevator (which might become a cement plant on my layout) with one long track holding up to six cars. A set of turnouts allows for quick moves across the mainline into the classification yard or onto the siding.

A branch line enters the layout from the far right side. It sees very little traffic and will perhaps be extended onto a new layout section in the future.

Next up: The newer „new plan“ for 2023

Okay, I updated the Network map to reflect the layout situation (freelancing is great). The south staging will be the old yard at Laxgalts’ap, the original barge yard. The classification yard is located to the northwest of the town and now called the new yard (the old yard couldn’t be extended due to environmental and political reasons.

So much for now. I will update this Text occasionally to highlight further aspects.

Photos of the Benchwork will be added later, as the room is a mess at this time 😉.

There is more to come. CU. Cheers.