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Dolly Varden Mines Railway
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 Posted: Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 08:43 am
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danpickard
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Hi all,

Don has bugged me a few times for this, so I've finally got some proper shots to tell the story.  Going back some 2 years ago now, myself and a fellow Aussie modeller, and great mate, John Hunter, decided on the challenge of building the Dolly Varden Mines Railway as an On30 exhibition layout, taking a much more prototypical approach then the mines have previously been represented in a model format.  We are both scenery and structure blokes, so the fact that DVMR was a 3' narrow gauge railway, and we were doing it in 0n30, was one of the minor prototype changes we made (6" difference from side on isn't particularly noticable anyway!!!).

Photos and more of the story will follow over the course of the next few days, so stay tuned...



Dan Pickard

 

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 Posted: Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 09:03 am
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Dave D
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I was hoping you would do this Dan!

Thanks to you for starting the thread and to Don for pestering you. :thumb:  :bg:

Keep an eye on this thread guys...your in for a real treat.



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 Posted: Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 10:01 am
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Herb Kephart
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I look forward to more pictures and information on this. The Dolly Varden has been of interest to me ever since the book came out. It's one of the few books that I reread on a semi regular basis. That, plus Hotshot's recommendation, means to me that this is going to be one great thread!


Herb:old dude:



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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 03:00 am
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danpickard
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Right then...crash course in history!:old dude:

Dolly Varden Mines Railway, located at the town of Alice Arm, British Columbia.  Back in around 1900, some mining prospects were staked near the town after discovery of silver.  Those stakes were only about 4 miles from the town because the terrain of the area was a bit "difficult".  A raging icy Kitsault River, verticle cliffs, thick forests, freezing winters, permanent ice fields...it wasn't no resort town!  In 1910 however, a group of prospectors ventured up the valley in search of riches.  18 miles up the mountain they discovered a rich strain of silver ore, and so claimed the site of the Dolly Varden Mines.

It was later decided that a 3' narrow gauge railway would be the best way to service the mines.  Hasty construction started on the basis of very rough estimates with very little survey work on the right of way.  Consequently, the budget for the railways construction was a farce, with massive blow outs before even reaching the half way mark.  Money was scarce, the winter was cold, the working conditions were shocking.  The line was steep, with tight curves and minimal clearances with the many rock cuttings.  "Build it quick and build it cheap" was the underlying motto, and this was reflected when the inspectors came to review the line.  The track was too light, mostly unballasted, often out of gauge, the locos were too small, most of them condemned etc etc

Amongst the cheap construction, blackmail was happening over sales of the railway with court cases eventuating to decide who will take ownership of the finacial mess.  Operating costs were high, and the price of silver had crashed.  Eventually the railway did earn its operating certificate in mid 1921, but was shut down due to huge finacial losses, officially an operating railway for around 6-8 weeks.  Some minor operations continued on the line there after, but the actual Dolly Varden operation was a bankrupt mess.  Some logging operations occurred for a few years to try and salvage some dollars, but that work only lasted a few years as well.  Eventually the metal scrappers moved in around 1937, and evidence of what was potentially the richest deposits of silver in the world were erased forever.

If you need to know the full story, do yourself a huge favour and track down the book "Steel Rails & Silver Dreams" by Darryl Muralt (Benchmark Publishing, now reprinted just recently).  It was our bible in building this layout.  The photos are stunning, and all references to this layout, with many of the scenes recreated in our version.  Cool story, cool pictures...they flogged the book when it was first released as "a railway crying out to be modelled"...damn right, thats why we did it!!!

Dan Pickard

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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 03:15 am
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danpickard
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The goal...

We set ourselves 2 years to build this monster.  28' of exhibition layout, 5 sections plus a water extension at the wharf.  Small problem being John and I live about 200 miles apart...thank god for the internet and digital photography!!!

The frames (aluminium, polystyrene bases) were all built at my house, then track layed and wired, so we knew it would work before the layout was split to its respective owners for scenic work.  It runs as 3 indepenent circuits, all operated automatically with IRdot infared sensors (auto reversing circuits), so 3 locos are in operation at all times, making plenty of animation for exhibition patrons.  It might look like one line, but is actually split to create the animation side of things.  The whole thing runs on auto for the duration of the exhibition, leaving us to build other stuff and chat about the project.  Thats really how the prototype operated anyway, locos moving up and down the grade with loaded ore cars, no need for complicated operation here.

The modules are light weight, movable by one person (modules range from 1.7-2m long), fit snuggly in 2 trailers, and can be set up and running in around 1-2 hours.  Pack down is about 15 minutes!!!  A few of the touring American narrow gaugers at the recent Australian NGC seemed a bit amazed to see such a big layout disappear into the trailer so quick at the end of the show.  Come pack up time, we want to get home quick!!

Picture time then...

Dan Pickard

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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 03:30 am
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danpickard
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Presenting the Dolly Varden Mines Railway at the 2009 Australian Narrow Gauge Convention in Sydney.



Thats myself (Dan Pickard) on the left of shot, John Hunter on the right, giving a clinic of the building of the DVMR layout, from prototype to model.



The start of the line at the wharf on Alice Arm, with Dolly Varden House and Ore Bunker.





The grade along the top of the crib retaining wall is the highline spur that feeds the ore bunker at the water front.  Company housing was located right alongside the grade.







With a bit of modelling license, these water falls were located at the 4 mile mark, the bridge was at the 16 mile mark, but they made a nice scene together.  This centre module was the transition point between Johns scenery and mine.

Dan Pickard

 

 

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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 04:40 am
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danpickard
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Moving on past the 16A trestle bridge, a steep rock cut is a change over point where the 5% grade starts, and the heavier Climax loco wound move the loaded ore cars down from the mine face.





The strange looking totem pole in the above shot was carved and posted to me be a Canadian modeler caled Ken Clark.  He dug up some native Indian history about the original inhabitants of the region, and carved it from some reference images of the "fin of killer whale" pole.  Ken offered a vast range of "interesting" facts on the region and period.





Moving towards the top of the line, past Camp 8.  A crude array of mining accomodation amid spectacular scenery.  Past the camp is the end of the line, with the powerhouse, sacking shed and tipple.  The actual mine face was about 2000' up the mountain from the tipple, with an overhaed bucket tramway feeding the high grade ore to the railway below.





One of the attractions of the line for us as builders, was the amount of junk featured around the area.  It was expensive enough to bring the stuff in, so there was no way they were paying to move it all out.  Lucky for them, the line came with a convieniently located hillside to shove the junk over...







After this point, it all went downhill (again)...

Cheers,

Dan Pickard

Happy now Don?? ;)

 

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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 05:40 am
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madmike3434
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spectacular bridge shot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everything is ??????......................... spectacular  !!!

yup, i am happy to see this excellent piece of modelling and hopefully should 1000's more viewers.

madmike3434

 

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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 06:34 am
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lenelg
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Spectacular model of a wonderful prototype (I've owned and reread the book since it was first published)!

What would be interesting is a track plan with some more detail about your operating scheme..

Lennart Elg, Sweden

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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 07:40 am
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danpickard
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Thanks Mike, that was generally the reaction we got all weekend at the NGC.  It was its first showing, and also the first time it had been together in one piece.  We had no where big enough to set the whole thing up at home.

Lennart, the track plan is dead simple, just like the real one.  Essentially a single track from wharf to mine.  We have the highline spur to feed the ore bunker at the wharf, a passing loop at the large rock cutting (about mile 15) and a passing loop at the tipple site.  There is an added turnout that deviates down into the tunnel that heads under the mine, which enters a 2 track staging yard for basic train change overs.  There is also a hidden track that sends a loco and ore car out onto the ore bunker.  One train does the short ore bunker entry, the next train runs the full length from wharf to hidden staging under the mine, and the third train runs from the mine down to the high rock cut to "change over" to the next loco which would have completed the run down hill.  Infrared triggers run the auto shuttle circuits...runs all day with no operater needed.  There are dead sections of track to break the sections, with three separate throttles for the respective runs.  The most complicated "switching" we do is change the point to the staging yard so an alternate train does the long run to the wharf.  Sorry, there never really was a track plan as such, it just happened so to speak.

Dan Pickard

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