Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Conduit streetcar modeling

2357 views
15 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,109 posts
Conduit streetcar modeling
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 4:18 AM

Modeling streetcar lines has advantages.  Sharp turns are prototype, and buldings of an urban environment can add interest.  But trolley-pole trolley-wire operation does require skill to provide reliability.  Conduit prototypes, New york City and Washington, DC, can provide an alternative, with historic, interesting, and well-known buildings that might even turn some of your visitors into model-railroaders.

Should I retrn to this aspect of the railfan hobby, abandoned when I left MIT many years ago, I'd model the front of Grand Central Terminal, as it was on either VE or VJ Day, with the flags as they were displayed on those days.  In front would be a constant procession of HO models of double-end Broadway Peter-Witt Huffliners 42nd Street curved-side convertables, summer configuration for VJD, winter for VED.

Of course if I were really ambitious, one level below would  be the 42nd Street  IRT shuttle, and below that the IRT Queens line.  

  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 20,583 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 9:40 AM

daveklepper

Modeling streetcar lines has advantages.  Sharp turns are prototype, and buldings of an urban environment can add interest.  But trolley-pole trolley-wire operation does require skill to provide reliability.  Conduit prototypes, New york City and Washington, DC, can provide an alternative, with historic, interesting, and well-known buildings that might even turn some of your visitors into model-railroaders.

Should I retrn to this aspect of the railfan hobby, abandoned when I left MIT many years ago, I'd model the front of Grand Central Terminal, as it was on either VE or VJ Day, with the flags as they were displayed on those days.  In front would be a constant procession of HO models of double-end Broadway Peter-Witt Huffliners 42nd Street curved-side convertables, summer configuration for VJD, winter for VED.

Of course if I were really ambitious, one level below would  be the 42nd Street  IRT shuttle, and below that the IRT Queens line.  

 

A fellow alum?  Class of 1969, Course 8 here.  Of course, physics was easier back then.  There just weren't so dang many elementary particles.

Great minds think alike, I guess.  I model subways and trolleys.  I grew up outside NYC, so those were the start of my fascination with subways.  Later, I came to love the streetcars of Boston's MTA, now rebadged the MBTA for some political reason I never understood.  I wasn't prototypical in any manner, freely mixing the Scollay Square station from Boston with the South Ferry station from New York right down the track.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 19,216 posts
Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 11:22 AM

daveklepper
... I'd model the front of Grand Central Terminal, as it was on either VE or VJ Day, with the flags as they were displayed on those days ... one level below would  be the 42nd Street  IRT shuttle, and below that the IRT Queens line.

Wonder if Joseph Frank has done something like this... or could be inveigled into doing it.

Somewhere I still have the set of elevations, structural framing, and detail blueprints for GCT that I got from 466 Lex back in the day...

  • Member since
    May 2017
  • 367 posts
Posted by xboxtravis7992 on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 11:49 AM

Something kind of similar is used in the Disney park's Red Car Trolley in California Adventure. The cars are battery powered and charge via induction plates underneath the track. The overhead wire is dead wire with no actual charge (probably to prevent any stupid theme park guest from somehow managing to touch a live wire). The system has been closed for a while, but if it returns its a neat modern example of a battery powered/induction charged system not too dismilar to the old conduit systems.

  • Member since
    May 2019
  • 1,011 posts
Posted by BEAUSABRE on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 6:24 PM

There is (or was) a model of GCT in the New York State Museum in Albany that shows the various levels - although they are not operating models. What fascinates me is the old NYC El - any good references?

BTW, in days of yore, Brooklyn vas famous (or infamous) for its trolleys. Its inhabitants were sometimes known as "The Trolley Dodgers" - which was how the Brooklyn National League baseball team got the name "Dodgers". 

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • 1,016 posts
Posted by mvlandsw on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 9:24 PM

How did the conduit systems handle the conduit and pickup shoe through switches where the center conduit had to cross a running rail?

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,109 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, April 7, 2022 12:43 AM

MIT EE SB '53, SM '57.  Was member Tech Model Railroad Club   Professional info can be found at the proaudioencyclopedia website.

There was always an angled slot in the running rail.   See the Classic Trains Forums, including Convertable and Semi=convertable cars, and Capital Transit and Third Avenue threads for some switch photos.

Also, the  actual switch or junction in the condit was always slightly beyond the switch-pont contact in the runnig rail, so the centering springs in the plow carrier (under one truck's bolster) wouuld guid the plow to the correct path.

Some prototype ideas:

Times Square:

 

In front of the White House:

 

 

 

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,109 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Friday, April 8, 2022 3:39 AM

Anybody model San Francisco Cable-Cars?

  • Member since
    May 2019
  • 1,011 posts
Posted by BEAUSABRE on Friday, April 8, 2022 11:51 PM

Yes, Bachman has an HO model that is DC powered - might have room for a decoder in the enclosed section. Note that is an adhesion model and probably wouldn't operate on prototypically steep slopes (well, maybe it would - downhill) Never heard of anybody bashing a Bachman car to run on a real live, gen-you-wine cable under the bechwork, although at first glance rigging up such a beast appears doable. Big thing would be keeping the track in gauge. Of course pre-Frank Sprague, there were cable driven street railways on level terrain, you could always either bash the Bachman car while leaving the drive alone to represent your line or just repaint it and say your system went in with the Municipal Railway on a joint order. There have been models of logging inclines. The CNJ operated the Ashley Planes until after World War Twice on it's mainline in Pennsylvania using Barney Cars between the running rails to push loads up the hill - passenger trains and empties went around the Planes on the "Back Track"

Bachman Car Bachmann Trains 60536 Cable Car and Grip Man Model Train, Green & Gray - Walmart.com

Bachmann USA 60542BAC San Francisco Cable Car (hattons.co.uk)

Ashley Planes

https://twitter.com/funimag/status/751468977654759424?lang=bg

https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/delaware/ash.htm

http://www.northeast.railfan.net/local_scene.html

https://www.timesleader.com/news/local/375799/historic-ashley-planes-property-about-to-go-on-auction-block

https://www.facebook.com/AnthraciteHeritageAlliance/posts/ashley-planes-1946ebay/1306230639582556/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,109 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 3:02 AM

WOW!!!   Thanks.   In HO, I wold not attempt to power cable-car models realistically or current for conduit streetcar HO models.   Maybe O-gauge.   Dummy but realistic slots would be sufficient for any HO layout in my future.

Beautifklly preserved conduit girder-rail track can be found on P Street in Georgetown, Washingtoln, DC.   In hostoric Belgian-block paving.

The actoal architecture of the conduit slots and the way switches and crossings were handled were based on cable-car technology, and some conduit lines were converted from cable.   So, a visit to San Francisco may be useful.  

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,109 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 3:11 AM

Jack May photo:

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 8,038 posts
Posted by maxman on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 4:04 AM

How dId they keep snow, debris, and other gunk out of that slot?

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • From: Potomac Yard
  • 2,566 posts
Posted by NittanyLion on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 7:08 AM

The streetcars did a good job of keeping it clean themselves. 

Other than that, a guy with a stick. 

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,109 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Friday, April 15, 2022 9:59 AM

A single-truck No. 18 was Third Avenue's Slot-Cleaner, and I suppose Capitasl Transit also had one.  Still, manyal labor was also required at times/

 

 

  • Member since
    December 2021
  • 77 posts
Posted by Joseph Frank on Sunday, June 12, 2022 5:40 PM

 

Hello Dave

Sorry for late reply -- haven't been over here much lately.  Yes, I DID model "dummy" conduit slot rail back in the mid-late1960's-thru 80's on my originally built modular HO trolley system running under my HO Scale NYC EL Layout --- and also one a section of 2 track street located outside of the EL.  But it was dummy conduit for effect as the trolleys ran 2 rail DC.

 

The PHOTO LINKED BELOW - The Middle one of your three just above - Here is its exact location - https://imgur.com/uPz7fME   -- it is another close to my old Yorkville (Manhattan) nostalgia.  This view is looking northwest across 3rd Avenue from the east side of the avenue, under the 3rd Ave EL,  just above the NE corner of E.86th Street & 3rd Ave.  Loew's Movie Theater had its main larger entrance onm E. 86th Street and a smaller side entrance along the EL on 3rd Ave.  My uncle was one of the Theater managers back then and up thru the mid 1960's when he retired. The Beck Shoe Store survived into the 1980's-thru late 90's.  The original Loew's side (3rd Ave) entry was closed likely in 1948-50 and a new simpler Marquee was created and the space converted inside the former entry lobby (a LONG LOBBY as I recall) to a retail store, which had its name on the new marquee.

When the old Loew's main building on E. 86th Street was closed on Nov. 1989 and demolished, the inner main (theater, seats and screen) part of the theater located in mid block between E.86 & E.87th Streets,  was retained and a new entry RE-INSTALLED along 3rd Avenue as part of the new building built on the old Loew's "L" shaped footprint. It opened in 1991.  Here is a current view - link https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7790461,-73.9538399,3a,75y,333.28h,98.02t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s70nVdxMZqORBr1JY2WjPnw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

 

Regards - Joe F

  • Member since
    December 2021
  • 77 posts
Posted by Joseph Frank on Sunday, June 12, 2022 6:02 PM

Hello again Dave

Here are a few LINKS to my photos of my HO Scale Trolley Layout under and around my HO Scale NYC EL Layout of the 1960's-1980's.  The modules are in separated storage and visible stored around my train room, where the larger O Scale NYC EL modular layout resides in middle of floor footprint.

regards - Joe F  (Image links below)

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/44268069@N00/29060686523/sizes/l/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/44268069@N00/29598071241/sizes/l/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/44268069@N00/25996051821/sizes/l/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/44268069@N00/20100248213/sizes/l/

 

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

There are no community member online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!