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Hi guys,

Yesterday, I was outside doing some work in the yard. My neighbor who is always interested in the trains I've got came over and we started to chit chat.

His primary interest is the period when canals and railroads coexisted. He had family that worked canal boats and worked for the railroad and feels special connections to those industries. He had an idea to build an HO scale canal and railroad. Then he saw my new Bachamnn 4-4-0 and was starting to ask me questions like "Would it be possible to model 6 or 7 miles of railroad in large scale?". Obviously, the answer is yes.

Then he started talking about canals and canal boats. It would be possible to use radio controlled battery or live steam powered boats. Building locks would be challenging but not impossible. Plus, operating a canal could be a lot of fun. I drew up a concept for a canal, but maybe someone out there has already done this:



At the top and bottom are ponds representing river towns. The canals are for upstream and downstream traffic, and the gray in the middle represents the rocks and shallow water preventing the boats from using the main channel. Since the era is really like 1850, the railroad portion of this is represented by the loop and bridge. The main focus will really be the canal and the operation of the locks anyway. I figured that the easiest way to make working locks would be to have a pump in the bottom pond feed the upper pond. Water flowing down the stream can be diverted in to the upper canal sections. Then, using real valves, the locks could be lowered or raised. The boats could be battery powered for operations, although 'polling' the boats could be done by the operators, too.

Anyone out there ever done a canal with working locks?

Mark

PS Anyone else a bad influence on their neighbors?
 

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Mark,

I have not done the locks thing but the bad influence part I've got down pat.... :)

I now have two co-workers running largescale trains because I sold them the Bachmann christmas sets two years ago. One has gone so far as to scratchbuild his own caboose ENTIRELY by hand.... and I mean ENTIRELY. The only parts on the thing that were bought as is are the two knuckle couplers and the led lights inside. Otherwise he has made everything else on his own. The wheel sets were even hand turned on a lathe.... Pretty impressive piece I must say, far more work than I could ever do...
 

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Mark,
DAmn you! Bad influemnce! Got my mind working now. Period locks or modern locks? Period were hand thrown wood as I recall from grade school? A local VFW just recently discovered the remains of a lock on their property and have gone to lengths to preserve the stone work that is left. i think this is somehting the North Eastern Guys will know lots about and the western guys might not know so much? OR am I wrong? I think the time of canals was past by the settlements of the west? At any rate the locks used back then were simple compared to the modern locks built & run today.

Interesting engineering/modelling challenge!

Chas
 

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Chas,

Ha!!

Period, for sure. But, it could be a really simple gravity feed system, hence the one pump providing the water for the river. Two valves for each lock. Have to have a spill over for the upper level water height. He's in to that period when canals were still in use, but on the decline and railroads were starting to take hold. Ideally, I think he'd really like to do 1840, but there's so little availble trains-wise, that I think he'd probably opt for 1850 or so. Even though the Bachmann 4-4-0 and 2-6-0 are really mid-70s, they could be backdated by taking off the air compressor.

I'd see the operation of the lock like this going up:
1. Boat enters lock, close the lower doors, close the lower valve.
2. slowly open the upper valve. I'm thinking that garden hose might be usable. Carry enough volume so its not all day to get through one lock, yet not too much volume that a current is induced in the lock.
3. When water level reaches upper spillway, the doors can be open. Also, there should be no pressure on the doors since the water levels are equal.

Going down hill, the boat enters the lock.
doors shut behind. Upper valve is closed.
Lower valve is opened.
when water levels equalize, lower doors can be opened.

Really, it wouldn't be that complicated a system. Just make sure that the valves are open and clear when buttoning up for winter!

Door design is really the key. I'd imagine it would be preferred to have the doors opening toward the upstream side. That way, the door frame is bearing the water load (instead of the hinges).

I was looking at the bad sketch I made, and realized that around here, railroads ran right along canals. So, it would be more probable that a model of a canal and railroad would be next to each other.

Also - this is the fault of the Mason Dixon club and their cool operating car float at the ECLSTS.

Mark
 

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At 1:20.3 scale to model 6 miles requires 1,560 feet of length. At 1:32 scale he only needs a length of 990 feet. Piece of cake! ;)
 

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Hi Mark,
I wouldn't call that a bad influence; you are just going even further back in time!

The canals were really responsible for railroads! They increased prosperity, allowing freight to move for less cost, and that produced a need for even faster (than canal) transport, reducing the transportation cost even further, and that materialized as railroads.

You have the lock system basically correct, but the valves can be in the gates and the gates are generally made of oak for longevity.
The American canal Soc. website is at - "http://www.americancanals.org/amcanals1.htm and there are a good supply of photos in it.


We have a restored narrow (about 7 feet wide) canal just down the road from us that goes through the pennine hills and takes 37 locks each side up the the summit tunnel.


It goes right through the center of the local town, and is quite a tourist attraction. It has been finished now for about 7 years.
The web site of the restoration is at "http://www.penninewaterways.co.uk/huddersfield


I'd get your neighbor in and show him even more on the canals!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, he probably wouldn't scale the entire thing, but do some selective compression to get it to fit in his backyard. I imagine he'd have something like a 300' mainline in 1:20.3 since the availble trains in other scales are too modern for his era.

Still, 1500' is doable...

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Peter,

How did you know he wanted to model a canal with a tunnel? The Union Canal tunnel is in nearby Lebanon, PA and has been restored to operation. I never even thought to look for that!

Oh, I guess we get each other in trouble, don't we?

Mark
 

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Posted By markoles on 03/31/2008 12:38 PM
Peter,
How did you know he wanted to model a canal with a tunnel? The Union Canal tunnel is in nearby Lebanon, PA and has been restored to operation. I never even thought to look for that!
Oh, I guess we get each other in trouble, don't we?
Mark

Ahh, but do they still leg it through - that is what the used to do at Standege tunnel! Imagine two men each on a board flat on the deck at the front of the boat, and they literally walk the boat through the tunnel by pressing their feet on the sides of the tunnel, thus pushing the boat along.
Hard work wasn't in it - the tunnel is about 3 miles long!
 

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Peter,

I don't know how they propel themselves through now, but they are having 'canal days' the third week in May, so I might go check it out. I'd imagine it is done with some sort of motor. But you never know, it could be done with mules, too.

Mark
 

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Posted By markoles on 03/31/2008 1:10 PM
Peter,
But you never know, it could be done with mules, too.
Mark




"I got a mule her name is Sal; 15 miles on the Erie canal." etc.

Mark
 

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I'm a bad influence at every oppertunity :D
 

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Hmmmm.... A railroad and a barge canal at the same time? Here in NW Ohio and the full length of Indiana, the Erie Canal was replaced by the railroad. Yes, the Erie Canal ran along the Maumee River from Toledo to Fort Wayne where it went over/through the Glorious Gate, a nine mile Canoe Portage to the Wabash River and the Mississippi River watershed.



A large amount of what was to be the Nickel Plate Railroad was built on the mule paths of the Erie Canal. I'm pretty sure the NY Central was also originally built on the the banks of the Erie Canal in NY.



A nice level roadbed, perfect for the original railroads. I don't think the two transportation systems were friends.



Anyone better informed please fill in my blanks and any inaccuracies.



However.... I love the idea!!!!

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Craig
 

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How about 2 canals connected by a portage railroad? lol....



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegheny_Portage_Railroad

No canal owners generally didn't like the railroads, as they stole all their business, then bought the towpaths after the bankrupcy to make more railroad right of ways
 
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