Engine Terminal

Engine Terminal
Empties tracks at the Laurel Ridge Prep Plant- Summit Springs, WV

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Bartizek Brake

When I originally drew up the track plan for the railroad, I had absolutely no operating experience. I had read a great deal about track planning for operation, though, including John Armstrong's legendary book. Fortunately, most of what I had laid out originally works pretty well and what didn't I was able to change without much trouble. Except maybe the original west end staging...

One of the design issues that became apparent once I began operating was the grade in the yard at Nelsonville. The entire yard is on a grade of about 1.25% westbound. While this didn't seem like a lot during the planning phase, it's just enough to make it difficult for certain locomotives to push long cuts of cars up the tracks. And with advent of extremely free rolling wheelsets, holding cars on the grade has become a challenge. The solution to the lack of power was to replace the aging SW1200's with a GP7. The solution to holding cars on the grade is the Bartizek Brake.

My good friend Bob Bartizek is the owner and superintendent of the Pennsylvania & Western, a beautiful 3-rail, O-scale layout depicting the Pennsylvania Railroad in the early 1950's. Bob recently replaced a large number of his hopper cars with more accurate, and more free-rolling, models. And during a recent operating session, it became apparent that these cars weren't inclined to stay spotted at any location that had even the slightest grade. So Bob began to think of a way to make "brakes" to hold them in place. He discarded all of the usual ideas for various reasons. Then he hit upon the perfect solution- a small dab of ACC on top of the rail. A small blob is just enough to hold the car but not enough to impair movement over the track. And it's clear, so it's almost impossible to see. But most importantly, it's virtually maintenance free!

So armed with Bob's great idea, I finally had a solution to the brake problem at Nelsonville. The photo below shows the small dab of ACC on the rail near the west end of the yard.

Note the ties plates- the small blob is right above them. The tie plates will help the crews identify their locations (it's almost impossible to see them!). And there are "brakes" on one rail on each of the yard tracks and the siding at this location.

The next photo shows the brakes at mid-yard. A small piece of tie identifies the location of these brakes.

And the last brake is on the track near the east end of the yard. Once again, tie plates show the location.

These brakes are just a really great idea. No mess, no fuss, nothing to operate, easily replaced, almost invisible and work as advertised. Thanks, Bob! 

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