Saturday, September 14, 2013

Texas Transportation Company

The first idea for an achievable layout is the Texas Transportation company. This 1.3-mile electric traction freight line served the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, TX until 2001. This line remained an electric traction operation throughout its history on account of the city wanting to remove its tracks down the middle of Jones Avenue. If the line had converted to diesels, the city could have forced the railroad to remove the track.

Here's a few photos and video to get you going:

Don Ross's site
Video 1
Video 2

From what I can tell, it looks like they had inbound loads of corn syrup, hops and probably some packaging materials. Beer is the most obvious outbound load, but apparently the local glass company shipped a load of plate glass from time-to-time. The signature structures along this line would have to be the Pearl Brewery building (with rotating sign), the Pearl stable building (the oval building in the photos), and the Pearl bottle houses (the two buildings that form the alleyway in this photo). From the brewery, the railroad ran down the middle of Jones Avenue alongside the old Lone Star Brewery, which has housed the San Antonio Museum of Art since the 1970s. The last signature structure would be the truss bridge that spans the SP-TXTC interchange tracks.

If I were to model this railroad, I'd set it in the 1990s and do it along three walls. From left-to-right going around the room: The first wall would be the SP interchange with the bridge and a few warehouses/industries along the backdrop. At one time (1960s and earlier?), these industries were served by the traction railroad. If I wanted to add a little more operation, I might add a few car spots to the interchange track nearest the buildings. The second wall would be street running down Jones Avenue. The Hwy 281 overpass would form the left boundary of this scene. I'd want the old Lone Star Brewery structure to form the backdrop, so I'd use a little modeler's license there to orient that structure along the backdrop. The third wall would be the Pearl Brewery scene. The I-35 overpass would form the left boundary of this scene. The tracks would immediately duck into the bottling plant area and come out into the brewery scene. One of the best things about this line is that a 24" radius in HO scale would be prototypically sharp!

A model appropriate for TXTC #1 has been made in almost every scale (including S!). TXTC #2 would have to be scratchbuilt. The rest of the freight car roster could be fleshed out using commercially available kits. Since the SP was the connecting railroad, plenty of options are available in all scales.

The railroad switched the brewery at least twice per day. I could definitely see inviting a few guys over and enjoying some switching operations while partaking a bit of the ladings! I wonder if I can find Pearl Beer in Alabama?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Achievable Layouts, Southern Style

So it's been a while since I've posted here. We've moved three times, renovated two houses and had two more children in that span. I hope you'll give me a flyer on missing a few blog postings. Trevor Marshall's new blog on Achievable Layouts has inspired me to blog about a few layout themes that I have contemplated over the last few years. Trevor's blog has several Canadian themes, which sort of makes sense given that Trevor's Canadian. I thought it might be time to add a few layout themes from my neck of the woods. I plan on mixing this in with a few layout construction posts. I'd originally intended on the blog being something that would keep my modeling efforts let's see if I can get this thing re-railed! Stay tuned for the first of my own "achievable layouts"...