Saturday, December 24, 2011

Domino legs

Last operating session was at David Barrow's version 16 Lubbock layout. I operated Slaton Yard just east of Lubbock. Work flow was very well balanced, and I was able to complete my pulls from the south side of the track before the first interloper entered my yard.

After my first connection, I was free to place my spots and organize the yard for the rest of the connections for the evening.

At one point, we had a derailment on the main of a thru freight engineered by Glenn moving at restricted speed. Must have been a drooping air hose, but it was enough to stop yard ops while a crane made its way from Upper Lubbock Yard. Jack sped over interrupted at the Forth Worth and Denver crossing at the Lower Lubbock Yard by a dropped coupler box. Fortunately the maintenance train had spares and workers quickly repaired the problem to allow the train to continue on to Slaton.

The work train with crane in tow finally arrived in Slaton, was deployed and returned the detailed car to the track. The thru freight was them free to continue on to Sweetwater and after a quick run around maneuver and a little help from me with the caboose, the mow train returned to Upper Lubbock Yard and I was free to complete my servicing of the industries in Slaton.

Even with the interruption, overall work was consistent and I finished comfortably and completely by the end of the evening.

During down times, I watched operators across the aisle below the benchwork I think this is Dr Bruce working as Lower Lubbock Yard crew where most of the drops and pickups happen in Lubbock. The Upper Yard is responsible for the local industry switching.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New location

How would you model this?

Welcome to the new location for my thoughts on all things about model railroad design. I will be transferring the old content over to this location soon, and from now on will be posting in this space my ramblings and randoms ideas on how to pursue the design of model railroads.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pole Raising

Spent 15 minutes at Tommy Holt's last weekend raising a 16' signal mast outside the train building. We poured the footing a few months ago, and finally got around to raising the pole. We had about 7 or 8 sets of hand on the steel column as we rotated it up into position. The first try showed us we were going to not make it over the all thread in the footing, so we added another 1/2" of wood to allow us to clear the top of the closest set of bolts. The scariest point was on the second try when we hit the point of rotating over from the side we raised it from to tilt over the opposite side to allow the wood blocking underneath to be removed. no worries as there were several hands on it, but the top was wiggling as we were trying to hold it steady at the base. It fit perfectly over the bolts, washers and lock washers then nuts were applied. Like I said, about 15 minutes, then we patted ourselves on the back for another 15 minutes before dispersing.
"I don't think it's gonna happen." Steve Duncan with Tommy Holt and David Barrow in background
I don't think it's gonna happen says Steve Duncan who is flanked by the Merkel sons with Tommy Holt and David Barrow in background.
Look up, look down, leaving town. Mike Barrett,  Jack Merkel (two helpers) and Tommy Holt
Look up, look down, leaving town. Mike Barrett, Jack Merkel (David Barrow and Steve Duncan's son behind) and Tommy Holt
"It worked - I told you so." Steve Duncan
"It worked - I told you so." Steve Duncan with Merkel sons pretending to listen.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Station Stops

While passing through Temple, Texas on a Sunday recently, I took a little detour to see the Katy and Santa Fe stations.
Katy Temple Station (abandoned)
ATSF Temple Station and current Amtrak Station
ATSF Temple Station
Both are great brick structures. They evoke confidence and display a respect for the business of railroading and the customers they served. Definitely worthy subjects for modeling and visiting.

The ATSF station holds an Amtrak office and the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum. There were a handful of people waiting to get on the Amtrak, but I couldn't immediately understand how they got to the train through the iron fences. I'll have to ask someone. The museum was closed, so I'll have to get up there this summer at some point to see the inside.

I wonder what is going on with the Katy station. It sits unoccupied with a few broken windows, but it is in pretty good shape. It would make a wonderful restaurant, architect's office, or what about another train museum?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Courthouse Part 3

So I finally got to see the McClennan County Courthouse in situ at the Mayborn Museum at Baylor University in Waco. I was on the way back from visiting a client in Northeast Texas, and I was able to take a few minutes to make a half mile detour from the interstate to see my handiwork from several years ago.

The layout is in a high traffic area of the museum and gets lots of attention. I was a little surprised by the size - I had expected it to be a lot larger and stuffed into a room of its own. Instead it is small-ish and free standing so you can walk all around it. Separate loops allow for continuous action on different levels. As it turns out, I could have made the Courthouse a lot larger - to actual scale. That's a little disappointing, because I had created scale drawings from photographs to start with, then was told to make to particular reduced dimensions. A larger model would have fit fine, and it would have been a real show piece. I think it looks good as it is, and it kind of fits the more cute/toylike oeuvre of layout and museum overall. I think it holds up well as a representation, but I would like to attempt a more faithful scratch building project that is more about precise. All in all, a good project, good results, and I think it fits and adds to positively to the layout.

Ops at Pete's

This week was an operating session at Pete's Conundrum and Pacific Railroad. A pure switching puzzle, the C&P is without staging, timetable or mainline trains.

Looking from East Port to Westport. Jack is working in Pearson Yard, and Dick is his assistant working a local out of the yard.
Looking from East Port to Westport. Jack is working in Pearson Yard, and Dick is his assistant working a local out of the yard.

I usually hang out in Pickard Yard at Cascade Locks, but this week since we had 7 operators (2 in each of three yards, then one leftover), I chose to run the local sweeper. (The other job is to stay in East Port and West Port all night.) Basically I had the run of the railroad running transfers between yards and performing switching along the way. Fun job because of the roaming nature. I think I was supposed to move from Pearson one way, then back, then out the other way and back to the yard. I ended up just going where the wind blew and doing what ever could help the three yardmasters the most when I came through their yard.

Roy, Tom, Dick, Pete, Jack, David, ?/?
End of the session watching the last moves by Dick. Left to right: Roy, Tom, Dick, Pete, Jack, David, George.
Something funny that happens all the time is at the end of the session, everyone ends up gathering around the last person operating. Tonight it was Dick who was who was working out of Pearson Yard at West Port. It can be a little unnerving when you are tired and trying to make tricky moves in front of an audience. It also keeps you from talking out loud to figure out how you are going to make your moves and what order you are going to do your work.
I'm looking a little tired after 3 hours of operating
I'm looking a little tired after 3 hours of operating.

We are getting pretty good at moving things around, so Pete has started to add cars and lengthen spots so we have more to do. We've figured out most of track and can efficiently move a lot of cars in and out of the yards, which is what sets the pace of any railroad. We've also figured out what industries are trailing points from what yard for the most part. So, things move pretty smoothly, especially since Pete has gotten really good at setting up moves. Very deliberate traffic movements help keep sessions interesting as well as being able to adjust difficulty according to operator experience level.

So now that we are comfortable after about a 6 months (?) of operating, the last challenges are in trying to break rules without Pete's finding out. Don't tell him I said that (although I think he might find that funny).
Conundrum is empty at the end of the session
Conundrum is empty at the end of the session.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Charles' First Op Session

Charles Etheredge had his first op session on his SP Austin to Llano line layout a couple of weeks back to good success. We ran a sequenced timetable using steam engines for the most part. I ran an extra up to the quarry in Marble Falls and a local out of Austin meeting Gordon with a local out of Hempstead.
A full kitchen
A full kitchen (Tom, Gordon, Duane, Charles)

Charles' at Bertram

A few usual first-time bugs were found (that's the point of the first few sessions!), but none were catastrophic. One problem was a steamer that had no pulling power. I saw Charles last week and he had applied Bull Frog Snot to one set of drivers (the geared set) and the guy now pulls like a champ.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tulsa LDSIG/OpSIG Weekend March 2011

The 2nd annual Tulsa LDSIG/OpSIG weekend was another great event with fun layouts and stimulating conversations.

Friday night we operated on Tom Fausser's excellent freelanced NY Harbor layout. I pulled the docks job (see photo above) which worked the cement plant, docks and food warehouses. Good fun with coordination necessary with the two other switchers that worked the car floats and the Greenville area. The other job was the yard where all the traffic flowed in and out for the harbor jobs. The fact that it was a model of Hudson River train operations made me feel really at home...

Saturday was a day of talks by Keith Robinson, Tony Koester, Doug Gurin and myself. Keith talked about planning principles, Tony about double decks and an update on his Nickel Plate laoyut, and Doug about finescale operations. See my YouTube site for a condensed version of my presentation on Dynamos (Dynamic Abstracted Modules).
Tom Pearson works the Bottoms as part of the Frisco trick at Jim Senese's Kansas City Terminal 
Saturday night we had the opportunity to visit Jim Senese's Kansas City Terminal Railroad with new changes that eliminated the Santa Fe jobs in favor of expanded Katy and Frisco jobs. This was the second time I've been able to operate there, and it is still one of my favorites.

Sunday morning we had the pleasure of being the second crew to operate Steve Davis' large KCS layout. I ran the Sallisaw Turn and a through freight with block drops and pick ups. At only 18 months old, it is mostly complete with electronics and track work, and a bunch of scenery done as well. Most interesting surprise was the use of an iPad to operate switches in the main yard. Railroad and Company software made that possible. Lots of fun, and I'm looking forward to returning.
Steve Davis' KCS - lots of fun operating possibilities.

I'm already looking forward to next year...