Saturday, April 20, 2013

Three down and... a bunch more to go.

Progress continues on the west end staging yard. I decided to hand-lay the turnouts in the yard primarily because I enjoy this activity and I have found them to be extremely reliable. In the photo below you can see that the ties are in place for the twelve turnouts and three  are complete. 

Once the two remaining turnouts on the ladder on the right hand side of the picture are finished, I'll lay the track to the end of the staging yard. This will give me three tracks total for now. I only have three tracks in the east staging yard that are usable, so this should suffice until some turnouts are replaced  there. It's also become apparent that I'm going to need more motive power and freight cars in order to effectively utilize both ends of staging. Right now, the power off two westbound movements that terminate at Hollister Yard is used for eastbound movements that originate there later in the session. If this power moves off the layout into staging, new power will be needed to replace it.

There seems to be a natural flow about this that occurred completely by accident. As new units and freight cars are added to the layout, new trains can be added. Once the existing staging tracks begin to get filled, new ones can be added, and so forth and so on. Now if I can just get John Miller to part with a few more of his freight cars...

Monday, April 15, 2013

From Mine to Market

Moving coal is a big part of operations on the Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie Railroad. In fact, it's the primary reason for the railroad's existence. The coal comes out of the ground at locations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and is then gathered at numerous marshaling yards where it is weighted in preparation for shipment to its ultimate end user. From the marshaling yards, it is forwarded to several large coal classification yards. Once classified, long trains of loaded coal cars are sent to either Tidewater ports or ports on the Great Lakes. As the time frame of the layout is is 1976, the railroad is straining to meet the demands of the "coal boom" taking place at this particular time in history.

Previously, we looked at how freight was moved on the CWE using card cards and waybills. Coal moves similarly, but with a few distinct differences. The cards used for loaded coal cars are based upon the waybills that Ted Pamperin described in the February 2012 issue of Model Railroader. If you register with the MR website, you can download his waybill forms, which are Excel spreadsheets, here: I made a few changes to Ted's form, including the addition of a small box in the upper right side for the TIBS symbol.

The waybills above are for loads that originate on the Sand Fork Branch and will be picked up by the Sand Fork Shifter. Note the TIBS symbol in the white box with the red lettering. The loads from McHenry Coal Company are headed west (TIBS symbol Q1) while the loads from Consol Coal and South Branch Loader are headed east (TIBS symbol B1). The crew of the Sand Fork Shifter isn't concerned with where the loads are headed as they only need to pick up the loads and return them to North Pierce. This information is shown on the Train Card for the movement.

Note on the Train Card that the crews are only instructed to pull loads at each location without any reference to TIBS symbols. Once the loads are returned to Hollister Yard at North Pierce, which serves as the coal marshaling point for mines in this area, the Yardmaster will block the loads according to the TIBS symbols. The crews only need to make sure that they have a waybill that corresponds to each loaded car at the mine. 

In order to get empty hoppers to the mines, the railroad uses Empty Mine Car Route Orders, which are also described in Ted Pamperin's article and included in the Excel spreadsheet available from MR. I made a few changes to the form, including the addition of the TIBS symbol for each mine as indicated on the order below.

These cards are located at North Pierce and Nelsonville at the start of each session. The yardmasters know that they will have to supply empties for the mines based upon the information on these cards. The train crews receive these cards in their train packets, along with any other car cards and train information, prior to departure. In the example above, the Sand Fork Shifter will need to supply 6 empties to McHenry Coal Company (TIBS symbol I13) and 3 empties to South Branch Loader (TIBS  symbol I11) at Irma. Once the loads have been pulled and the empties spotted, the crew will leave the Empty Mine Car Route Order in the bill box, in this case the one for either South Branch Loader or McHenry Coal Company.

The waybills are printed on regular paper and inserted into plastic sleeves in order to make them more durable and easier to handle. The plastic sleeves were purchased from Everyday Plastics ( The addition of these waybills and Empty Mine Car Route Orders has provided some more realistic looking documents and has helped improve the overall operation of moving coal on the layout. Many thanks to Ted Pamperin for preparing the article and sharing the Excel spreadsheets.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Video Tour of the Layout

Peter Thayer and his father William came by several weeks ago to visit the layout. William is the brother and Peter the nephew of Stuart Thayer, a good friend and one of the regular operators on the Chesapeake, Wheeling and Erie. Peter did a video tour of the layout while he was here and yesterday he posted it on YouTube. For those who are interested, here's a link to the video:

Hope you enjoy the tour!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A couple of gons

At the NMRA Division 7 show last Fall, I picked up a couple of gondolas. I started working on these not long after the show, but as usual, a number of other projects caught my interest. These two languished in the paint shop until a week ago when I finally finished them.

The first is a Tangent Scale Models Bethlehem 70-ton gondola decorated for the Lehigh Valley. This is a beautiful model, and the detail is simply amazing. I wanted to depict the car as it would have looked in 1976, so I searched the Internet and found a photo of one taken in August of 1976. Here's a link to the photo on the RRPicturesArchive.NET  website:
The model paint scheme matches the picture exactly, so no modifications were required.

The exterior of the car was weathered using artist's acrylics and water soluble oils. The interior was weathered similarly but with the addition of some MIG pigments. I was hesitant to deform the sides of the gondola with heat, so I took a different approach to represent damage along the sides. I took a piece of Plastruct angle, touched the sides to a small dab of artist's acrylic burnt umber, and then pressed the angle over the location on the inside of the care where each outside rib is located. The burnt umber went on somewhat randomly and the final weathering blended it in even further. This captured the look of the areas where the sides have been pressed out around the ribs on the outside of the car. The final weathering included some Woodland Scenics Earth, some fine pencil shaving soaked with a wash of burnt umber and Windex, and some scrap pieces of wood.

Next up is CWE 34795. This is a Walthers Proto 2000 kit, and it's a very nice model, too. The floor is a separate piece which makes it much easier to weather than the floor of the Tangent model. Again, artist's acrylics and water soluble oils were used along with some powders for weathering.

I added some Highball N-scale cinders and limestone ballast to represent the remnants of some former load. Some pencil shavings were added as well.

Next up, I need to make some removable loads for these cars. I hope they don't take as long to finish as the cars themselves.