A reader of the Papa Ted's place archive writes:
Hi, I would like to get the model railroad track plan for the layout in the photos for 2005.
The page he was looking at is here:http://cardboardchristmas.com/papateds/Putz06.html
The track plan he was referring to is below:
The text that went with the picture is below. Here's the irony - "Papa" Ted Althof was something of an O gauge collector and had the pieces necessary to build this sort of railroad, but he could never get it to work quite the way he imagined it would.
If you give it a try, let us know what you find out.
Having seen only about 3/4's of the track layout, as an old train guy I was still able to extrapolate one of the most ingenious, self-running track plans I have ever seen from these old snapshots. I never seen anything like it in any of the old Lionel catalogs and publications of "suggested track plans" anywhere.
The old "High-Rail" 0-31 track and type 0-22 switches, with their "non-derailing" feature,which when connected by wires to other switches - actually form logic cells comparable to those in modern computers. The train would have taken three different routes over the layout before repeating - with no human intervention. And it will work in either direction. Amazing!
If you like maze-puzzles - get your pencil and trace this out....
Postulate two paired sets of switches. Each pair operates together to set and reset each other always to the same position at the same time. "A" with "B" and "C" with "D". The two pairs are independent of each other.
The train coming through 45 deg. crossing "X1" toward "Switch A" triggers "Switch A" to the curved position "1." "Switch A" is wired to "Switch B" so that "Switch B" simultaneously switches to the "1" position (curved.) When the train comes out of the tunnel and reaches "SWITCH B," it turns down the central track toward "Switch C." When it reaches "Switch C," the switch is thrown to the "3" position (straight). "Switch C" is wired to "Switch D." which simultaneously throws to the "3" position ( straight.) Meantime, the train is passing over "Switch C," over "X1" and down around the left lower front toward "Switch A" and the tunnel again. Reaching "A," the switch throws to the "2" position (straight" and throws switch "B" to position 2 (straight also.) So the train goes through the tunnel and comes to "Switch B" again, but this time goes straight and into "Switch D," which was previously set to the "3"(straight)position by "Switch C,"and continues straight at "Switch D." It rounds the outer curve and passes back into the interior over 90 deg crossing "X2." It reaches "Switch C" again, and it throws it to "4" (curved) position and simultaneously throws "Switch D" to the "#4" position (curved.)The train comes down over "X1" again, and down around the front track to "Switch A" again. Already set to "2" (straight), "Switch A" sends the train into the tunnel and no change is made at "Switch B." It goes straight through at "B," and into "Switch D" again, which was previously to the "4" position by "Switch C." Now it turns at "D" and goes down through "X2"into the lower curve, and left into our ORIGINAL STARTING POINT! - crossing "X1" heading toward "Switch A" and the tunnel. ... and the whole thing starts over! 3 different routes over 1 track plan with no human intervention! (Except train wrecks which you will always have when you use switches.)
Picture the train - running counter-clockwise into switch A. If switch A is set straight, the train will continue down and around front and up thru through X1 and into switch C. If C is straight it will proceed into switch B. Switch B will act as master and set switch A to turn. The train now turns at switch A and goes thru the other leg of X1 and up into X2 and into switch D. Switch D acts as master and sets switch C to turn. The train goes on through switch B which sets switch A to straight. The train goes through switch A straight, comes down around again and through X1 into switch C - but this time switch C has been set to turn out so that the train now passes through the other leg of X2 and out around the coal elevator and into switch D again. Switch D now sets switch C to straight again. The train goes on thru switch B straight. Switch A is already straight and does not get reset. We are back at the beginning cycle again, and all track has been run.
Without a doubt, this is the most amazing logical monkey-puzzle track plan I've ever seen. Two cooperative wired switch pairs make for three diferent routes.... either direction. Theoretically, if another pair of switches could be worked in - you could multiply that number before repeating, but so far I can't even visualize a third pair. It's like the Fifth Dimension. I'm on my way to the ibuprofen bottle as it is ....
I had not received this last picture at the time I formulated the above drawing. It came later, showing the "northeast" corner of the layout, so I was "educated-guessing" about the "Switch D" - "X2" configuration. There exists no snapshot view of the "southeast" corner. But from the what I could see, what I have filled in would be logical. I was right about Switch "D", but I used a 90 deg. crossover where they had a switch below the coal elevator. Actually, this makes my automatic theory of the layout work. I'm not totally sure, now, that the "Miller Boys" actually had theirs working this way. Without that missing view, we'll never know for sure, but they certainly did manage to reach down over 60 years and spark another mind!
Those Miller boys of Scranton really knew their stuff! Donna says they did displays and even store windows all over Scranton before the war. The name of one of the boys was Clarence Miller who later married "Ruth." Donna never saw these pictures until she inherited them after the Scranton Flood,but says she does remember they had a big living room.(And obviously tolerant parents!)
I will be having more pictures of another layout that they did in website this soon. And thank you, Clarence and Ruth Miller and Donna!