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Thread: PRR Style Catenary Supports

  1. #1
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    Default PRR Style Catenary Supports

    Recently, I've gotten some encouragement to share some of the PRR style catenary supports (gantries) I've built for my own route. If there's sufficient interest, I'll share several different types I've constructed that cover some of the major types of PRR style supports, including the Cross Catenary type, "K" type, Signal gantry type supports and others. My intention is to offer both the .S file AND the original TSM .dst files and textures so that folks can modify to fit their own needs, perhaps by adding different transmission towers or other variations.

    I'm NOT claiming superior frame rates, or drop-in replacement for supports on other routes. What I'm offering is what I consider to be reasonbly faithful models of PRR prototype supports, probably best used for new route construction. I think with relatively easy modification, some of my supports might also be useful for creating Reading or DL&W style supports.

    The first set I intend to upload is what I describe as "H" vertical, cross catenary supports:


    This type is used commonly along the Mainline to Harrisburg west of Paoli, PA, along the ex-PRR portions of the NEC in a variety of locations, Philadelphia area ex-PRR commuter lines, and on a number of the PRR electrified freight lines - although in differing track widths and with a variety of different transmission towers. This is the prototype in this photo on the Mainline at Exton, PA:


    I plan versions for 1-6 tracks (but with the .dst files they can be modified for more) Look for this set in the file library soon.

    Steve

    PS I also wanted to mention that it's my intention to include a sample gantry.dat file for use with this set, it too will be based on true PRR practices for catenary support placement. My catenary support models have been built based on "Overhead" style or "Style ( 00000002 )" type placement (on the centerline of the track). I also plan to include a rather liberal EULA for the use, modification, and re-distribution of those modifications (all I'll ask for is a "Thanks Steve" and non-commercial use)
    Last edited by mestevet; 02-15-2009 at 01:21 PM. Reason: add PS

  2. #2
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    There are hundreds of styles and types along this route. Both Kyle and I have designed and redesigned hundreds of them. I have my set on Hawk's website for download. My H verticals use my rusty bridge texture and my power pole X insulators. Foundations use my Concrete Pier texture.

    You may want to lower the foundation so that it is about a foot above the origin point. Set them up for viewing distance of 500 meters. They can't be seen beyond that distance in the sim. Watch the poly count - you don't need detailed insulators as you can't see details even from the cab. Transparent X cutouts show enough details and only use4 polys per insulator grouping.

    Otherwise, they look excellent


  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpicardi1 View Post
    There are hundreds of styles and types along this route. Both Kyle and I have designed and redesigned hundreds of them. I have my set on Hawk's website for download. My H verticals use my rusty bridge texture and my power pole X insulators. Foundations use my Concrete Pier texture.

    You may want to lower the foundation so that it is about a foot above the origin point. Set them up for viewing distance of 500 meters. They can't be seen beyond that distance in the sim. Watch the poly count - you don't need detailed insulators as you can't see details even from the cab. Transparent X cutouts show enough details and only use4 polys per insulator grouping.

    Otherwise, they look excellent
    I would point out that there are actually tens of thousands of individually designed catenary supports across the ex-PRR Electrified region. Each support was individually designed, often predicated on a basic fundamental style. Catenary supports were also modified over time to add transmission supports, accommodate reconfiguration of trackage, adjacent structures and roadways, and to repair damaged supports (I have a great photo of a bent pole on the High Line near "Arsenal"). I've seen design drawings for catenary supports, and each and every one is drawn out for it's individual location. That process goes on today - there are numerous places on the NEC where bridges over the tracks have been replaced and the catenary support structures required replacement as well - they can often be seen as new galvanized steel structures - they really stand out!

    I've actually been using these supports (and different versions) in my own homespun Philly area route for quite some time - some of the supports I'm talking about have been sitting on my harddrive for years!

    With the package I'm preparing (just going thru today and making sure it's all up to snuff), I'm including two different styles of insulator, the full blown version that I showed in the view above, and a cruciform type transparent equivalent. I've also experimented with using LODs and transparencies for the cross-catenary to minimize the poly count, but I'm not including those in this package for the simple reason that I've never really determined that the frame rate was improved that much (so I didn't pursue it). Perhaps the result would be different if it were on a "full" tile, but my route isn't at that point yet, and I haven't "hacked" any of the default or add-on routes to include one. I'm also providing some alternate transmission supports that I've modeled (for the TSM user to modify).

    I've gleaned my textures from the following sources: actual catenary support photos along the SEPTA R3 Media/Elwyn line, the NEC, the Amtrak Harrisburg Line (ex-PRR Mainline), plus I've color sampled some of those for my textures for the insulators and the green patina of the bronze wire I'm using. I also have both "rusty pole" and "new concrete" versions of the texture for my support foundations.

    The foundations of my poles, by the way, are deep so that they will not "float" at the side of the track, on flat terrain, they peek just above ground level.

    Anyway, I'm offering these as-is, buyer beware. There have just been a couple of gents I've shared my route with who suggested I shouldn't hoard some of the things I've created. So if I "stir the pot" a little and give some fodder for making additional improvements, so much the better for the community, I figure.

    I actually have a rather large catalog of supports, including specific models of supports on the Philly High Line, supports from the Fairmount Park (Schuylkill) bridge, and the Suburban Schuylkill Bridge (pyramidal type, AND the masonry towers), Mainline supports (from the original 1915 electrification), location specific supports on the West Chester branch (SEPTA R3), the new style R1 Airport line supports (including the ones grafted onto the side of the tall high transmission towers), and a number of different round pole types seen on the NEC south between Philly and Wilmington, and my all time favorite, the 4 track cantilevered type in Downingtown where the Reading ran adjacent the PRR Mainline. Plus I have a variety of truss type signal gantry/catenary supports. I've been using the gantry placement function to allow me to apply different types of supports on both tangent and curved track to better simulate the different types of hangers and supports used.

    Aside from on the ground research and photography on the ex-PRR electrified lines, I'm using the following sources for information on design specifics for my supports:
    "Overhead Catenary of the PRR," Mike Nesladek, PRRT&HS The Keystone, Vol. 29, No. 4 (Winter 1996)
    "Electrification Photo Gallery," PRRT&HS The Keystone, Vol. 29, No. 4 (Winter 1996)
    "Of Poles, Bridges, and Substations," George L. Pitts, PRRT&HS The Keystone, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Spring 1997)
    and I'm not putting my hands on it at the moment for the reference, but I also have used the PRR's publication on operations in the electrified territory, which has some useful pieces of information.

    After I upload this set, I will prepare the "K" style supports for upload. The prototype for that type of support can be seen in this view I discussed earlier in the thread on curved bridges:


    Steve

    Oh, yeah, and just looking back, I realize I forgot to mention - 500m was what I had been using as the visibility range. I recall doing some tests with this at one point with some of my "Mainline" supports (the round pole type) and determining that 500m seemed to be a good comprimise. I mentioned the LOD tests I'd run and I know I'd set it down so low that the only "full fidelity" supports visible were the 3 closest to the viewer (so I had it set at about 150m or so? have to go back and look), and beyond that I only set the poles to be visible - I tinkered with a third LOD as well, but the 500m visiblity limit seemed to work fairly well and the other things really didn't seem to affect frame rates that I could detect.

    I might also mention that I've been using PRR-practice catenary support spacing of 270' on tangent track (spacing would be less on curves) except along the original Mainline installation of 1915 where the spacing was 300'. Those were typical values, and certainly there were many areas where that would not hold true (aside from curves), but for MSTS purposes, it works well and looks "Pennsy".
    Last edited by mestevet; 02-15-2009 at 08:40 PM.

  4. #4
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    For anyone interested, the cross-catenary style supports I described above are now available in the file library under the name "CatSup01.zip" (couldn't resist the pun ) or this link:

    http://www.train-sim.com/kdl.php?fid=22446

    I have included a "catalog" of the shapes plus some prototype example photos of mine, plus the TSM files and texture originals for modification (please read the EULA).

    I anticipate the "K" style supports will be next. I'm also thinking about a sample of my cantilever type supports.

    Steve

  5. #5

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    I know I came in late but is there anyway in which you can show do a exe on how to replace the standard NEC catenarys with your. I would appriate it.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by metrarailboy1 View Post
    I know I came in late but is there anyway in which you can show do a exe on how to replace the standard NEC catenarys with your. I would appriate it.
    Nope, I know nothing about such things. If someone else would like to try that with these supports, they're welcome to use my shapes (see the EULA), but they'd also have to get approval from the Route authors if required (Vince in the case of NECv4). I'm not even sure if these are a 1:1 replacement for anything in any route (well, other than my own! ). If the originals were setup to use the "overhead" style of gantry placement, that would be the first consideration, then the origins should be at the center of the supports, and that is how mine are set up. However, if they're the "pylon" type, then the results would not be good, and just dropping in these shapes would almost certainly not work (not without a lot of effort!)

    I get the impression that some (or all) of the "gantries" in the default, MSTS NEC are the pylon type, but I haven't looked in-depth (the gantry.dat file has only one entry for a pylon style placement). I believe that the one shape is placed on either side and overlaps in the middle, giving the rough appearance of a support spanning the tracks. However, in many places it looks odd, in my opinion. I never liked the look of these models, or this type of placement, as they don't appear anything like the majority of supports on the NEC that I've seen. That is specifically why I chose the "overhead" configuration, so I could better control the model. I'm aware that this leads to more time and hassle placing catenary supports in the route, but I felt the appearance is worth it.

    I'll reiterate, that my goal was reasonable accuracy, with consideration to maximizing frame rates, but I will NOT say that my supports are "poly-lightweights", so be conscious of framerates anyone who uses them. So far my results have been good, your mileage may vary.

    Having said that, if some enterprising person would like to use my models to re-populate the default NEC, nothing in my EULA prevents that as long as the EULA's and copyrights of others are respected.

    Steve
    Last edited by mestevet; 02-17-2009 at 02:22 PM.

  7. #7
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    Are you doing all of the Pennsylvania Railroad's catenary support structures like the ones in northern New Jersey? Because, I am impressed. Also, if you have any more done, where can I look at the finished ones in photo form?

  8. #8
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    Just a note of etiquette, the original thread was about a year old, and the mods prefer you don't drag up old threads.

    I have a large catalog of catenary supports that I've created. However, given that there was little interest in these supports when I released them, A YEAR AGO, I haven't worried about releasing any more. Instead, I've been supporting some private projects that have gone on behind the scenes, and have done some "request and specialty" catenary supports for friends. Not everything that gets created out there becomes public. I have futher refined the model "standard" with LODs and more streamlined textures and primitive states for better frame rate performance.

    There seem to be very few people that care about accurate catenary supports, so I don't waste my time, instead focusing my attention on the few folks I know who do.

    The supports that were included in this public release would fit in many areas on the NEC, including New Jersey. This was by far one of the most common support types used in the PRR's 1930's electrification, but certainly there were many variations on the theme. With a little modification of the shapes (using the TSM original files provided), other more exact types could be created easily.

    Steve

  9. #9
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    My versions, available at the Hawk website, use my rusty bridge texture and my power pole X insulators. Foundations use my Concrete Pier texture. They are set for a view distance of 500 meters. All, but one, are center placement design. They are in extensive use on the NEC section of the PRR and in the large yards where the truss styles range from four to 16 tracks in one track increments.

    There are some perfectionist that are still designing and replacing gantries on their copy of this route.

    When designing gantries, you don't need to go overboard on detailing the insulators. They are so small that such details cannot be seen at cab view. The four poly alpha billboard X for insulators that I used on mine shows up just fine with plenty of convincing detail.


  10. #10
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    Actually, properly sized insulators, using PRR drawings (not to mention a tape measure held up to a fallen insulator I found in the weeds along an abandoned right of way) can easily be seen from the cab at least at a distance of approximately the correct spacing for a support on tangent track of 270' or ~82m. Certainly every modeler makes their own personal choices about how they represent the real world items they model. I choose to model the insulators 'solid' (with a stack of pyramids) at close range, and in the latest versions of my supports, the insulators are a cruciform transparency at medium distance, and omitted from the furthest distance LOD. I've spent a lot of time refining the models since I released the public set to wring the maximum performance out of them, and they're different as a result.

    The standard insulator style used widely in the construction of PRR Catenary is a stack of three as pictured in the PRR photo of wire work I'm showing below. I believe the vertically oriented stack is style "DS" and the horizontal ones partially visible to the left are "DSA" (the stacks had different designation, but the ceramic itself was the same for the type used in catenary construction - other types were used for signal and transmission lines). Note that the insulator diameter is roughly the same size as the man's head. My point being that if you could see a man's head at 300' then you should be able to see a standard 3-stack of PRR insulators.



    I'm just attempting to accurately model what I see on the ex-PRR lines that are within ~50 miles of my house: The NEC from Newark, DE to Trenton, NJ, the ex-PRR "Mainline" from Philly to Lancaster (current Keystone line), the West Chester branch (current SEPTA Media/Elwyn R3), the various abandoned low grade lines, and other ex-PRR Philly commuter lines. In the past, when I lived near D.C. I spent a lot of time railfanning from Union Station to Baltimore, and I don't recall the supports being terribly different than those between Wilmington and Newark (or west of Paoli for that matter) - maybe the transmission supports varied a bit from location to location. Also, I've railfanned out to Harrisburg, and take regular trips up the NEC to New York. Again, I just try to model what I see, photograph, and research.

    Steve
    Last edited by mestevet; 02-24-2010 at 08:50 PM.

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