Lewistown, like dozens of other locales across the Pennsylvania Railroad system, had a track scale for weighing of cars loaded with bulk commodities. In the case of Lewistown, the predominant cargo was limestone from the multiple quarries on the Milroy Secondary.

This article follows my build of the Lewistown scale house and its gauntlet track. As an aside, this project will be presented towards my NMRA AP certificate in Civil Engineering which requires three scratch built track items. This project will address two: gauntlet switch and gauntlet track.



Early view of the Lewistown scale house. (2/21/20)

1956 view of the Lewistown scale house, Note the addition of the large doors and the replacement of the roof. (2/21/20)

Lewistown scale house circa 1981-82. (2/21/20)

Lewistown scale house circa 1981-82. (2/21/20)


PRR standard drawing 57186 "Scale, Track, Masonry for 46'" provides dimensional data for the scale pit. (prr.railfan.net) (2/21/20)

58460 BPRR standard drawing 58460-B "Scale, House & Beam Cupboard" provides dimensional data for the location of the rails. (prr.railfan.net) (2/21/20)
PRR Publication CT1000E (1923) "List of Stations and Sidings and Instructions for Making Reports to the Superintendent Car Service" contains a list of track scales. It shows Lewistown as having a 46' scale with a capacity of 200,000 pounds. Nearby Mt. Union's scale is also listed as 46' with a 200,000 pound capacity. For reference, at right, is a photo of the Mt. Union scale track, courtesy of Lee Rainey. (2/21/20) Picture1
IMG 4117When I originally constructed the benchwork and subroadbed, I cut out the area of the scale track. This was to enable me to construct the scale track on a workbench, rather than in place.

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To provide a more conducive subroadbed for spiking of hand laid track, the shape is transferred to two layers iof homabed and two layers of masonite. The resulting "sandwich" matches the thickness of the original plywood. The piece is test fit into the benchwork and the locations of the desired rails are marked on the ends. A straight edge is then used to mark the dead (non scale) rail locations across the homabed.

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The centerline of the scale "pit" is then determined by the center of the operator's windows in the scale house. The model was constructed by the late Joe Henry Kline.

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The length of the scale pit is known to be 51' (the 46' scale plus a 2'6" perimeter concrete wall). The outer extent of the pit wall is marked on the base. The first width of cork roadbed is then glued down using latex caulk. I use N scale cork roadbed on my secondary lines.

IMG 0116I fashioned the perimeter concrete wall out of balsa, using the PRR drawings as a guide. 5/3/20 IMG 0154Without cork roadbed underneath, I had to shim under the rails. In addition, the two scale rails are slightly lower than the "through" rails. I started shimming with note pad cardboard. (5/14/20)
IMG 0155More shimming, now with dimensional balsa. (5/14/20) IMG 0158At each end of the track segment I used a Gapmaster from American Tie & Timber. These are printed circuit board material with a soldering surface and are typically used by modular clubs to keep track ends in alignment. (5/15/20)
IMG 0159I inherited some glass cubes which are perfect for weighing down ties and track while glue dries. (5/15/20) IMG 0160I used portions of Gapmasters within the scale pit, since rails will be at different elevations. (5/15/20)
IMG 0163All of the Gapmaster pieces have been installed in the scale pit. (5/15/20) IMG 0164Holes drilled for the switch machines. (5/20/20)
IMG 0165Ties leading into the gauntlet switches are from Fast Tracks (formerly Mt. Albert Scale Lumber). The longer lengths are dimensional balsa to hold the switch stand. (5/20/20) IMG 0186 Intermediate ties have been placed, irregularly, since this is a yard track. These are "bridge ties", which are a little longer, and are also from Fast Tracks. The Gapmasters next to the scale needed extensions to get to the wider tie width. Rail is next! (5/27/20)
IMG 0187Next step was to select a full length rail for the main through track. I marked the area where the points will meet (at both ends) and used a bench grinder to take away the base and side so the point will recess when thrown. (5/28/20) This closeup shows the indent on the inner side of the rail. (5/28/20)
IMG 0189After locating the rail on the Gapmasters, they are spot-soldered into place. (5/28/20) IMG 0190 Above the scale pit, I soldered two jumper wires to the underside of the main rail to pass track power to the scale rail. (5/28/20)
IMG 0191Using a scrap of dimensional balsa as a spacer, I located and soldered into place the first scale rail. (5/28/20) IMG 0192Progress so far, with the power wire soldered into place as well. (5/28/20)