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J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad

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Rick Rowlands:
The home rails for the Jones & Laughlin No. 58 will be the J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad, part of the Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum.  We only have about 1.2 acres of land, but that will be enough for the construction of a sizable steel mill demonstration railroad.  Our intent is to recreate the type of rail operations that would have existed in the cramped confines of a steel plant.  Narrow gauge was very common in steel plants of the early 20th century for moving ingots as well as charging the open hearth furnaces. 

The attached track plan shows the proposed layout of the J&LNG.  The track shown in orange includes what is already built plus what we hope to have completed by the end of the year.  At the extreme right at the end of the orange track is the single stall enginehouse for the J&L 58.  The existing track extends around the 40' radius curve and ends just shy of the grade crossing over the rear access road.  From that point we will excavate the top soil and put down a roadbed to lay track northward (left side of pic is north) to a No.4 turnout to the yard lead which will run along the fence line back toward the Tod Engine Building. 

The blue denotes tracks to be built in the future, including a switchback.  The property is on a hill so the land at the rear is higher than the main yard level.  The switchback will be on a rather steep grade, designed to give the 58 a chance to work hard going up the hill.  At the upper right we have three shipping containers for storage.  This area will be reconfigured, with the three containers rearranged to sit next to each other with a fourth container added to the lineup.  At least three of the containers will be set up with rails inside.  A 15' turntable is planned to be built in front of them. 

The rolling stock we intend to use will be heavy industrial cars.  We have two of the Carpenter Steel 4 wheeled flatcars so far, and plan to add a few more as funding allows.  We would like to acquire a couple of Koppel dump cars since the Koppel plant was not far from us, and also plan to build a two foot version of the Mon Conn cabooses that were homebuilt by the railroad.   An internal combustion locomotive is also being sought so that we do not have to fire up the 58 whenever we want to run trains. 

We have collected many pieces of steel industry equipment that would make interesting flatcar loads, including a 100 ton crane hook block, two very large steam engine connecting rods, three open hearth charging boxes, 36" scrap magnet etc.  Typical items that would be carried by a steel mill railroad operation. 

Track will be built of minimum 85lb. and up rail.  The first section is laid with 100RB, and we have 90AS and 100PS rail for this year's track construction.  We may build a section using 132RE just to show how ridiculous that will look!  That section would also include Pandrol clips because if you are going ridiculous you might as well go all the way!   

Rick Rowlands:

Here are the only two pieces of rolling stock on the property thus far.  58's frame on the 722 flatcar.  That is about 35,000 lbs. of steel sitting there.  Total engine weight 93,000 lbs., thus explaining the need for heavy track.

Standing on the top of the hill looking northeast at our property.  The change in elevation between the top of the hill and the main yard level is apparent.  

Our standard gauge exhibit and the 58's frame at the current end of track.  The locomotive is a rare GE 70 ton centercab, made even more rare because its electrical system is 250 VDC instead of the usual 600 VDC.  The car is a Kling type hot metal car, built in Youngstown to handle loads of molten iron.   You may notice the steel ties.  We have about 50 steel ties that will be used on curves.  The ties are salvaged from a steel mill in Pittsburgh, cut in half and inserted where needed to better hold gauge.  This curve needs a few more inserted between the existing ties.

Steve Smith:
Thanks for the tour, Rick. The massive construction of 58 sure is impressive!

Stewart "Start" Rhine:

Thanks for the photos, map and narrative on what the J&L will look like.  The museum will be a good example of steel industry technology and I look forward to seeing updates as the trackwork and other construction progresses.

Good stuff! 

Rick Rowlands:
Thanks.  I will keep this thread updated as we do anything of potential interest. 


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