Caboose Service Area

Caboose Service Area
A view of the caboose service area at Hollister Yard in North Pierce, WV.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Michigan Interstate Railroad

For those of you who are fans of proto-freelanced model railroads or just fans of really well done layouts, you owe yourself a visit to the Michigan Interstate St. Clair Sub blog. It can be found here: http://michiganinterstatemodelrr.blogspot.com/. You can also find it listed in the Great Railroad Modeling Sites sidebar on the right hand side of this blog.

The Michigan Interstate is the creation of Greg McComas and he has done a remarkable job of just about everything associated with the planning and execution of his concept. You can read the complete history of the railroad on his website, but in summary, it's an amalgamation of a number of ex-NYC/PRR/PC branches in Michigan that were spun off at the formation of Conrail. A map of the railroad can be found here: http://michiganinterstatemodelrr.blogspot.com/search/label/Network%20Map

In addition to being a prolific modeler, Greg also posts frequently on his blog on a wide range of topics relating to the railroad. The expansive listing on the right-hand side of the blog shows the breadth of the posts. 

The MCIS is set in the present, but Greg suggested that we come up with a way to have the CWE represented on his railroad and vice versa. You can find how the present day CWE provides coke to Michigan Sugar in Upper Huron on the MCIS here: http://michiganinterstatemodelrr.blogspot.com/search/label/CWE. And there will be some covered hoppers on the CWE in MCIS reporting marks in the near future. As the railroad was formed in 1976, the cars will be a combination of recent repaints along with some NYC/PRR/PC patch jobs.

The opportunity to do a few MCIS cars will add some interesting variety to the fleet. And it's another neat way to enjoy this great hobby of ours.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mystery Solved

The mysterious case of the missing boxcar has been solved. It was found on the mainline inside the tunnel just east of Nelsonville under the most curious of circumstances.

Actually, I was testing the westbound signal at the east end of Nelsonville when it was found. The westbound signal for the main and the westbound signal for the Dry Fork Branch were installed a while back and hooked up to SBS but without a spreadsheet to control them. This past Tuesday, I wrote the spreadsheet and set about testing the signal. I ran the two SW1200's that serve as the yard engines at Nelsonville east down the main toward the station. Once past the station and the westbound signal on the main, the switchers entered the tunnel to east staging. I ran them in far enough to get the westbound signal to clear to green and then reversed direction. When they emerged from the tunnel, I was shocked to see what's in the photo below.






























As best I can figure, some goofball pulled the Dry Creek Turn out of staging (in the tunnel under the bridge) and then shoved the train into the tunnel on the right which heads toward the east staging yard. When the goofball pulled the train back out, the K&LE boxcar, which would have been the first car on the train, stayed in the tunnel. Let's just say that we all know the name of the goofball.

Actually, I had some problems with the GP7 that was on the train and pulled it off while the train was still in staging. At some point I pulled the rest of train out of staging, but I have no recollection of shoving it up the main into the tunnel. Or pulling it back out. Truly one of the more bizarre occurrences in all of my model railroading experiences. I really couldn't believe the boxcar was attached to the switchers when they came out of the tunnel.

And so, Mr. Miller, it appears I owe you an apology. It's clear that my insinuation that you may have been associated with some type of prank with this car was completely unfounded. This time. Really. I mean it. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Case of the Missing Boxcar

In the process of staging the railroad for an upcoming op session, I discovered a missing freight car. It appears that K&LE 50829 has left the building. I have a car card and waybill, but no freight car. It was supposed to leave Nelsonville on the Dry Creek Roustabout at the end of the last session. I've checked staging, the floor under the layout, all of the yards, the tunnels, all to no avail. Below is a picture of the poor missing car.



























There was a motley group of operators here for the last session, and the missing car may be the result of some devious action on the part of one or more of them. Not to point any fingers, but John Miller did stop by briefly during the session. And if I recall correctly, he was wearing a large, overstuffed coat that easily could have concealed something. Just sayin'...

If anyone spots the missing car, please call the authorities immediately.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Couple of Woodchip Hoppers

In between rebuilding panels with pushbuttons and adding signals, I've been working on some new rolling stock. Last summer, Bowser came out with the classic woodchip hopper car based on a rebuilt 70 ton 3-bay offset hopper car. I had planned to kitbash a handful of these, but Bowser saved me the trouble. They even offer both a smooth side extension and a panel extension.

These cars were originally built for coal service in the late 1950's. In 1962 and 1963, the CWE shops added extension to a number of these cars and they were converted to woodchip service. The first car is shown in the original paint scheme while the second car has been repainted in the modern scheme introduced in 1968.




















































The "Wood Chip Service" lettering comes from Microscale set 87-1339 Seaboard Coast Line Misc. Wood Chip and General Service Gondolas. Each sheet contains four white and two yellow "Wood Chip Service" strips- enough for three cars! Finding these decals was pure luck. The font just happen to be in an almost identical font to the lettering I had used for previous woodchip hoppers, only larger. And the color of the yellow is just close enough to the UP Armor Yellow on the ends to work. In fact, it was the yellow woodchip lettering that provided the inspiration for the earlier paint scheme. It's nice to get really lucky every once in a while.

Look for a post on the entire woodchip fleet sometime in the near future.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

December Update

Well, 2016 is rapidly coming to an end. I haven't posted nearly as often this past year as I had originally intended. Perhaps that will change next year. In any event, here's an update on what's currently under way on the railroad.

First up is GP9 1824. This is a Proto 2000 shell on an Athearn Genesis chassis with a factory installed Tsunami. This Genesis loco was one of the early GP9 runs that had the wrong window height and errors in the height of the doors on the long hood. Good friend Anthony Hardy alerted me to a sale in which these locos were going for $135 which isn't a whole lot more than the cost of the decoder. The detail on the underframe, fuel tanks and trucks is outstanding. All I had to do was cut out the coupler pockets on the frame and mount them on the body.





















































The chassis was just finished on another GP9 while the body is in the paint shop. The CWE locomotive roster included a large number of GP9s which were part of the original dieselization of the railroad. Until the completion of 1824, there was only one on the railroad. In addition to this next one, there is another currently in the works.



























Two more panels have been converted to pushbutton control since the last post.























































Next up is the panel at Nelsonville. This project will take a little longer to complete as the panel will have two signal repeaters- one for the signal off the Dry Creek Branch and the other for the westbound main signal. Neither of these can be seen from the aisle.

The ballast in the east end of Nelsonville has been finished. Some additional weathering around the switches and the installation of switch stands will wrap up the scenery here. I won't finish the track closest to the fascia until the structures are built for this area. The old coach serving as a yard office will be replaced with a structure similar to the yard office at Elk Run on the C&O. There will be several track worker shanties and a RIP shed here as well.



























The paint shop is full of cars awaiting some weathering. Included in this group is a special car from the Suffolk Northern. More to come on that project.



























And last up is a PRR X58 boxcar that was just added to the roster. This is one of the new Tangent cars and, in the spirit of the season, it's "a beaut."






























Here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a great 2017!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Another One Bites the Dust

Actually, another two bite the dust. Two panels, that is. Progress continues on replacing all of the older panels with toggles controlling turnouts with new panels that feature route selection pushbuttons. The most recent converts are the panels at SJ Cabin and Logan. The photos below show the new panels.




















































In addition to the new panels, changes were made to the panel at Big Chimney. The picture below shows the first iteration of the panel.




























While staging the railroad for an upcoming session, I realized that the route selection here wasn't working as originally intended. For example, pressing the pushbutton for the mainline at Switch 373 also aligned Switch 371 for the main. If you had a cut of cars stretching out onto the main from the Helper track and you had just come off the siding at the east end, lining the route up for the main would throw the switch under the cut. Also, pressing the pushbutton for the siding at Switch 373 normalized both Switch 369 and Switch 367. Again, if there was a cut of cars coming of the branch onto the siding and you lined Switch 373 for the siding, Switch 367 would be thrown under the cut of cars.

To fix the problem, I added two new pushbuttons- one to normalize Switch 371 and one to normalize Switch 367. The photo below shows the new configuration.




























Part of the beauty of the Signals By Spreadsheet product is the ease with which changes like this can be made. Simply add a couple of pushbuttons, print up a new panel label, hook up the pushbuttons to the RCS card and reconfigure the card.

Next up, I'm going to head back east to the panels at Summit Springs and BA cabin. The panels for the yard at North Pierce are going to be quite a bit of work and I'm planning to save those for last. Getting all of the panels completed on the line east of the yard will also allow me to start on CTC. And that's been the objective of all of this from the start.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Some More Details- Part 3

Slowly but surely, I'm making progress on the scenery around the east end of Nelsonville. It's another one of those locations that requires construction of lots of little pieces in order to get close to "finishing" the scene. And there were several fits and starts along the way.

For whatever reason, I never seem to be able to complete a scene from start to finish in a relatively short period of time. I get to a certain point and then have to leave it for a while. And sometimes, a long while. All of this is in part because I've never completely planned a scene ahead of time. I have a general idea of how I want it to look and I can get it started. But sometimes it takes a long period of time before all of the pieces come together. I'll find inspiration in a photo for something in a certain scene and that will get the creative juices flowing again. I'm then off to the next point where additional inspiration is needed and progress comes to a grinding halt. It's all probably the result of a medical condition of some type.

After the station was in and the basic scenery was complete at Nelsonville, I needed to finish the eastbound signal bridge before I could go any further. And of course, I would need relay cabinet and power switch machine too. And something to protect all of this from the coal truck traffic bouncing along the gravel road on the way up to Summit Springs. So as the signal bridge was being finished, I thought about what kind of protection for the railroad equipment would be most appropriate. I settled on a "fence" of old rail that would be painted MOW yellow. I cut up code 55 rail, planted posts and added the top rail in a similar fashion to what is seen to the left of  HN Cabin in the photo below.































Once the fences were built, they didn't look right. Perhaps they will look better once painted in MOW yellow, I thought. But they didn't. It was too much "stuff" in too little space. Everything looked crowded. And it occurred to me that a fence made out of rail such as this would do little to stop a loaded coal truck. I had also made a bollard out of tube styrene and had painted it MOW yellow. It occurred to me that a couple of these might look much better than the fence. So the fences came out and the bollards went in. Here's a couple of shots of the results.




















































There also needed to be a "fence" of some type between the tracks and the parking lot for the station. I really hadn't given this much thought. One day, I walked past the scene on my way out of the railroad room and it hit me. There's a picture in "Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in Color- Volume 1" by Jeremy F. Plant and William G. McClure III of the station at Gladstone, VA that was taken in July of 1973. It shows a guardrail made out of railroad ties and what appear to be creosoted 2 x 12's. When I first saw this photo, I thought that a similar guardrail would be a neat touch to add near a station. So I had found the inspiration. The photo below shows the results.




























The dwarf signal controlling the eastbound entrance to the main from the yard is now installed and working and can be seen in the photo below.





























And here's one last shot of the overall scene.




























There is still more to do, such as adding the steps to the loading dock at the station, weathering the ballast on the main line, adding a switch stand to the turnout to the siding, etc. And of course, all of the yard track in the foreground in the picture above needs a second layer of ballast along with weathering. But hey, at least there's some progress!