Railway Preservation News

Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads
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Author:  Dougvv [ Wed Apr 08, 2015 4:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads


Have just published the third volume of this series. I have reason to believe that even though this was targeted for our Live Steam cousins, Volume 1 was used on a 36" gauge tourist operation and a standard gauge short line here in Georgia.

I have tried to take all the complex math used for engineering and reduce it to understandable items for the non-math person. Volume 1 was reviewed here at one time.

I am repeating this posting here FYI.

Doug vV


I have sent a copy of CEv3 for review by Live Steam Magazine.

After some considerations, I have settled on:

"Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads Volume 1" - $28.00
"Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads Volume 2 Bridges" - $28.00
"Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads Volume 3" - $18.00

"Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads Volume 1" 2005:
Table of Contents
Curvature and Super Elevation
Easements and Spirals
Simple Curves
CE78(j) The Pennsylvania Railroad Specifications for Construction and Maintenance of Track
Resistances to movement
Track grade compensation
Track design - plan and profile
Surveying basics - level lines and elevations.
Surveying basics - plan view
Design considerations
Vertical curves
Considerations at junctions and switches
Reverse curves
Designing a track
Designing basics - plan view
Designing basics - profile view
Designing basics - roadbed cross-sections
Roadbed - initial construction
Retaining walls
Roadbed - maintenance
Ditching and culverts
Other considerations
Experimental track

"Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads Volume 2 Bridges" 2009:
Table of Contents
Summary of Topics
Quick Lesson - Rule of Thumb
Failure Modes
Structural Types
Loading Diagrams
Member Properties
Free Bodies
Statically Determinant Structures
Continuous Beam Example Using Programs
Coordinate Systems and a Plane Truss Example
Space Truss Example
Plane Frame Example
Grid Example
Space Frame Example
Strength of Materials
My Overhead Crane.
An example of a Live Steam bridge analysis
Wood Design Example
Combined Compression and Moment in a Single Member
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

"Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads Volume 3" 2015:
Table of Contents
Tunnel design
A Practical Live Steam Trestle
Tie Spacing and Significant Digits
Thoughts on Truck Equalization and Springs
In Summary
NOTE: CEv3 assume certain topics in CEv2 Bridges such as Free Bodies is understood.

Contact me at edgarcorny at GEE mail commercial if you are interested. Both CEv1 and CEv2 have been reduced in price.


Doug vV

Author:  cjvrr [ Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads


Can I ask if you have a civil engineering background? Are you licensed?

What materials or sources did you reference for your equations?

I understand your books are for the hobbiest but I would raise concern if they are being used by a railroad open and used by the public for rides, etc. in which a licensed engineer in that local area should be designing and signing / sealing designs for any type of structures.

Chris Vitz, P.E., civil

Author:  Dougvv [ Wed Apr 08, 2015 7:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads


I graduated Ga Tech in 1980 with both a BS in civil and electrical engineering. I worked for about seven years (1973-1979) while at GT in a Civil Engineering company and was interested in computers (because of games and game theory) and in how to use transistors instead of relays in logic circuits (then just popping up in model - small scale railroading). I have helped design MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, the Georgia Railroad relocation caused by MARTA, and several industrial parks.

By the time I graduated, I realized that I wanted to be in electronics and though I enjoyed designing sub divisions, highways, office parks and the sort, I would like computers and robotics even better.

I earned my EIT but did not try for my PE since electronics (computers) did not require it. I worked in Civil Engineering in the 1990s for a year and a half or so and enjoyed it again. I do regret not getting my PE but that's water under the bridge.

I have been through the process of getting design jobs through the government morass of regulations around Atlanta, GA.

I think I am qualified for surveying (not for government since I am not a registered land surveyor.

I used many my college text books and my limited experience of some 8-odd years in civil engineering.

Many are used for designing private live steam tracks. They were used for existing operations (36" gauge and 56.5" gauge) as a layman's way to better understand what exists. I do not offer these books as a replacement for PE civil engineers.

I do say in my books that if you want to pass government regulations, you need to hire a PE civil engineer. The problem with live steam hobby is that they are great machinists but have no real understanding of how to make a good roadbed, think of curve drag, or even if the roadbed is protect from erosion by proper drainage.

Sorry if you think I was trying to do anything else but help educate the people who want a place to run a steamer they built and did not understand why their track would not last.

Doug vV

Author:  cjvrr [ Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads


I too was not trying to offend. Just knowing the liability issues I have dealt with as the director of a local government agency and want to be sure others avoid any issue that may pop up after an individual or group designed something 'by the book' that hasn't been signed and sealed by a licensed professional. So I am glad you have a reference or mention getting a locally licensed engineer.

And I am sure your book is a valuable resource for the demographic in mind.

Not to stray too far off topic but it has recently been brought to the attention of licensed traffic engineers that the formula that has been widely used to determine yellow time at traffic signals was copied wrong back in the 1950s. And there is a need to change it to the correct formula. This means nearly every traffic signal in service today has the wrong yellow time......


Author:  Dave [ Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads

I've seen Doug's first two books and would not hesitate to use them to design and construct a private rail line in any gauge should I ever have occasion to do so. It allows somebody who is not an engineer to come up with a workable plan without having to have an engineer if no extreme or unworkable conditions are present. Robert Stephenson was not a PE either, and he did a pretty good job of beginning the British railway empire which was only lost to Dr Beeching through political chicanery.


Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads

Dave wrote:
beginning the British railway empire which was only lost to Dr Beeching through political chicanery.

Akin to saying the only reason we have half or less of the rail mileage in the Northeast we had in 1900 was because of Conrail, or the only reason we have so few passenger trains was because Amtrak came along. But I digress.

Author:  Dougvv [ Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads


My print-on-demand publisher apparently has change policy and as an author, I have to buy 10 books minimum. Dumb but it is confusing. Therefore, I will sell Civil Engineering Volume 1 with the condition that I will have to take reservations for books until I get 7 paid for. Then I'll order the books and ship them.

I'll take reservations on the books until enough has been claimed and then ask for payment - no cash out of your pocket.

Sorry about that.

Doug vV

Author:  Rick Rowlands [ Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads

I sent you an email this morning interested in purchasing one copy of volume 1. I hope you got it.

Author:  filmteknik [ Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads

Some of the entities selling through Amazon, both new and used, have some strange prices, ranging from $120.09 (used) to $375.46 (new). (I will assume the $1,999.12 entries are a mistake.) Maybe you should set up your own Amazon store because at $28 you'd sell a lot more.

Author:  Dougvv [ Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads


You are ABSOLUTELY logically right. Now then, when I tried that in 2008/9/10, I listed volume 1 for 32.95 in direct competition with these others you pointed out.

For the 18-odd moths I advertised on Amazon, I got NO sales. through Amazon. I got sales through other sites.

Summeries from Authorhouse showed that these shills selling my book for obscene prices never sold one.

My conclusion is that I need to advertise better. I have been unemployed for a long time and have not been able to advertise. Being an engineer, I am not a good salesman.

So, this is one place where logic does not seem to work.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH for trying to help out.

Doug vV



Since I am having troubles with Authothouse for volume 1, I will offer Volume 1 as a comb bound book (just like volumes 2 and 3) for the same prices.

If anyone wants to save postage and materials, I'll download the PDF version to you. It will save you $7.00 on volumes 1 and 2 ($21.00 each). For volume 3, I'll charge $12.00.

In case you are interested.


Doug vV

Author:  Ron Travis [ Sat Apr 11, 2015 12:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads

There is a lot of hype about how the Internet and printing-on-demand have suddenly opened this “golden opportunity” for self-publishing. The implication is that having your book listed on your own website attracts customers and sells the book. I have found that there is almost zero truth in that promise.

Many people agree that the website alone will not sell books, but they say it will if you do “search engine optimization” which will make your book come up at the top of Google searches when people search the most likely search terms. There is truth in that, but S.E.O. is not an exact science, and you can spend a lot of money on experts who offer to do S.E.O.

I have concluded that the only way to sell a self-published book is by paid advertising. The trouble is that, with all the “golden opportunity” the Internet offers to self-publishing, cheap advertising is not part of it.

I have written a book that has been offered on my website for over a year. It has great S.E.O. performance. In a few more days, I will have it on Amazon. They do marketing and advertising, but I have no idea how effective it will be. But what I do know is that there is not much left over for the author once you pay for shipping to Amazon and they take their cut of the sale. With a retail price of $25, I am hoping for a royalty of $2-4 per book.

The one part of the “golden opportunity” myth that is true is the opportunity offered by “printing on demand.” That way, if your book does not sell easily, you won’t end up with 5,000 unsold copies in your closet.

Author:  Bobharbison [ Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads

filmteknik wrote:
Some of the entities selling through Amazon, both new and used, have some strange prices, ranging from $120.09 (used) to $375.46 (new). (I will assume the $1,999.12 entries are a mistake.)

I have a friend who used to sell gardening books online. I asked her about some of the totally stupid prices and she offered this explanation.

In order to get your store listed in some directories, as well as places like ABE Books, you needed, at that time, to have X number of books in inventory. Often the sellers didn't have that many on hand, so they'd find some obscure books that they figured nobody would order (nothing personal Doug, but you have to admit it's a rather small niche market) price it so that even if somebody was interested in the subject, they wouldn't order it from that seller (or if they did, the seller could simply buy a copy on Amazon for $100, ship it and make $1800) and then they would be able to say "Yep, I've got 2,000, or whatever the magic number was, books in stock, here's my list and pricing, with say 1,000 of them being overpriced "ghosts" that they don't actually have.

It is by far the most logical explanation I've heard, since it's actually pretty dang common to see a book that's not a collectible or rare book priced for totally stupid money on Amazon. Far too many to think that the guy really believes your book is worth $2K per copy.

The opposite of this approach is the guy who sells thrift store used books for $0.01, then charges $20 shipping and handling and hopes you don't notice that part.

Author:  cjvrr [ Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads

Why not cut out publishing altogether and offer it as a PDF Or word document directly? Most technical manuals I obtain for work are all 'e' books. Totally searchable and if you need to have a paper copy you can print the whole thing or just the pages you need.

Author:  Dougvv [ Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads


Good point. I've sold about 10-25 of volume 1 and about 10-15 of volume 2 that way. Not much demand and mostly comes from non-North American countries (cut postage)

If anyone wants that version feel free to contact me.

Doug vV

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