The new layout (Part V), an “enhanced” operation session with some details…

In my last post, I shared the first ever real operating session of the Rails West layout. There were a few inquiries requesting a more detailed description of the session to share what exactly is going on with more narrative on the industries, etc..  Be careful what you ask for, but here goes…(Maybe be more detail than some like.)

This iteration of the layout is still completely a work in progress, but I will share my current thinking (which could WILL evolve substantially).  Even the names of the town could change.

I hear a diesel horn in the distance.  Here we go…

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Here comes the local.  The ICG covered hoppers have now been unloaded by the dairy operation and are empties.

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Looks like a bit longer train today.  I think I see a shiny, new flour car behind the locomotive.

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Yes it is.  That means the local will be working in Mineral Wells at little bit today before venturing to the end of the line in Carrizo Springs.

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The first order of the day in Mineral Wells is to spot the new loads of corn for the dairy operation–couple of loads off the UP it looks alike today, probably coming out of Nebraska.

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No need to haul the empties to Carrizo Springs, so the local spots the ICG cut so it will be easy to pick up on the way out of town.  With the Nebraska inbound loads spotted, it is time to spot the flour car at the Rainbo bakery in town.

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Now the local will venture down the west spur past Jimenez Beer Distributor down to the bakery.  The smell of bread baking fills the air.

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With the flour spotted, it is time to get out of town and head to Carrizo Springs.  The local has a lot of work there.

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Time to get in the car and beat the train into Carrizo Springs.  It’s only a short drive.  No worries.

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Pretty good train into Carrizo Springs even if we don’t have any coal for the college.  There is a small college in Asherton that interchanges with the railroad in Carrizo Springs.  The railroad withdrew service to Asherton a few years back, so the college decided to lease the track for $1 a year.  The college gets in coal, beef in refrigerator cars and occasional feed or fertilizer.  About once a week, the local will have 3 to 4 cars of coal for the college.  It is an interesting operation.

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The local pulls into Carrizo Springs.  The conductor and engineer need to map out a switching strategy.  The busy team track plus the need to pull the empty piggyback flat is creating some wrinkles.

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First things first.  Let’s neat up the team track and piggyback ramp.

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The GP-20 will ease in to join the team traffic with the piggyback flat.

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The lumber dealer did a good job unloading the flat.  It is clean.  Just a little further down the track…

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Good, now they have the spur there neated up.

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Then he pulls the loads from Western Minerals and spots them behind the neated up consist on the spur.  Then he does a run around to get on the other side of the caboose.

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You can see now that he put all the outbounds together.  Now he just has to spot the inbounds.  He starts by putting the two boxcars for the team track temporarily on the branch to Asherton (interchange with the college).  The interchange was empty today.

It is around noon.  The conductor and engineer are next to Garcia’s Mexican restaurant and no streets are blocked.  It is a great time to break for …

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Maybe even one of these…hmmm…

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Well finish this run in the next post, I’m hungry and will have to join them!

 

Rail Memories, Part III

Last couple of posts, I shared some vignettes or scenes that evoke special memories that I may seek to at least partially evoke through modelling in the future (somehow).  This post will share a few more.

Lots of carload traffic and small scale shipping!

Warehouses along Griggs Road on SP August of 1978 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

BN #198570 and L&N #91891 Warehouses along Griggs Road in Houston, TX on SP August of 1978 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

I really miss seeing a car or two spotted next to warehouses and factories across the landscape.  You can still find some of this across the country, but Class I railroads have really tried to minimize this form of traffic.  Many short lines and regional railroads still embrace smaller shippers and offer an opportunity to see this type of traffic.

ICG flat with tires February 1980 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

ICG flat with tires February 1980 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

ICG #920251 holds a load of tires and other items.  A single car that will be spotted somewhere cruising through a freight yard in Houston.

Picture taken from Dallas Holiday Inn, August 1980.  Note double boxcar being unloaded to left.  DFW from hotel note double boxcar being unloaded to left–©photo by C. E. Hunt

Picture taken from Dallas Holiday Inn, August 1980. Note double boxcar being unloaded to left. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

At one time, tracks were almost everywhere in urban settings.  It was great seeing tracks weave around urban settings with numerous businesses receiving a box car or two.  If you study the 1980 scene of Dallas above, you can see tracks in the distance and a single Southern boxcar spotted for unloading.

Close-up --Note southern boxcar.

Close-up –Note Southern boxcar.

These scenes were so common, that I failed to note their significance and deliberately record them.

Frisco in Ashdown, AR August 1978 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Frisco in Ashdown, AR August 1978 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Here is a perfect example.  When I recorded this scene in Ashdown, AR in 1978, I failed to take a picture of a Detroit, Toledo and Ironton boxcar (of all things) spotted at the business to the right.

You can still find a little of this type of traffic on Class I railroads such as the post I wrote last year on one of my favorite spurs in Texas.  Not all my rail memories are from the late 1970s!

Centerbean flat I ran into in Weimer, TX in 2008 on the Union Pacific. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Molasses operation at Fowlkes Cattle Company in Marfa, TX November 10, 2007  –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Flat in Weimar Oct2005

Centerbeam flat I ran into in Weimer, TX in December 2008 on the Union Pacific waiting to be unloaded. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

 Loads of lumber delivered to Dodson Lumber in Roswell, NM on July 24 2008–©photo by C. E. Hunt


Loads of lumber delivered to Dodson Lumber in Roswell, NM on July 24 2008 on the Southwestern Railway–©photo by C. E. Hunt

40-foot boxcars

L&N 40 foot boxcar and Northern Pacific boxcar on Missouri Pacific freight leaving Mykawa Yard in January 1979 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

L&N 40-foot boxcar on Missouri Pacific freight leaving Mykawa Yard in January 1979.  (Shadow of my 15 year-old self in foreground) –©photo by C. E. Hunt

I now look back and realize how special these scenes of 40-foot boxcars are.  This was the closing days of forty footers across the nation.  Within five years, catching a 40-foot boxcar would be very rare.  Wish I’d known that when I was out there taking pictures.  I did manage to catch a few of them.

ATSF 40-foot boxcar and possible Maine Central 40 footer as well on Missouri Pacific freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

ATSF 40-foot boxcar and possible Maine Central 40 footer as well on Missouri Pacific freight leaving Mykawa Yard Nov 1978–©photo by C. E. Hunt

ATSF 40 footer on MP freight  near Texarkana, TX in August 1978. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

ATSF 40 footer on MP freight near Texarkana, TX in August 1978. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

40 foot Rock Island boxcar on Burlington Northern freight Houston May 1980. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

40-foot Rock Island boxcar on Burlington Northern freight Houston May 1980. –©photo by C. E. Hunt

Southern 40 foot boxcar on ATSF freight on Claremont St in Houston Tx in May 1980.–©photo by C. E. Hunt

Southern 40-foot boxcar on Claremont St in Houston Tx in May 1980.–©photo by C. E. Hunt

The initial picture in the post above (BN and L&N forty footers) also illustrates the beloved 40 footer.

Next post will focus on team tracks and diversity of road names.

Selecting an era to model…

It is funny how fundamental this decision is, yet not a great deal is written about it.  For some of us, it tortures us to select just the right locale, era or railroad to model.  For others, it seems to come easy (I kind of envy or perhaps even almost hate those people, just kidding).  Why should it be so easy for them and so hard for others (including me)?

CB&Q 902 in Denver, CO, October 1970.  Photo by Hol Wagner.

CB&Q 902 in Denver, CO, October 1970. Photo by Hol Wagner.

I have had many scenarios during my modelling career.  Here is a highly simplified summary of my torturous history–

Mid-1970s — CB&Q in the 1970s (Midwest)

Late-1970s to early 1980s — BN in the 1980s (Pacific Northwest)

BN 2087 Mar 20 1977 Stockton CA.  Photo by Jim Gavin.

BN 2087 Mar 20 1977 Stockton CA. Photo by Jim Gavin.

Took a break — College, women and career

Mid-1990 to early 2000s — SAL, L&N and ACL in the early 1960s (Southeast)

Early-2000s to mid-2000s — MILW, Rock and CNW in Midwest in the 1980s

Mid-2000s to late 2000s — BN, SP and WP in 1978

Late-2000s to early 2010s — CSX in Florida (modern, Lance Mindheim almost hooked me, click here to see how.)

CSX 1143 Defuniak Springs FL front Dec 27 2011

CSX 1143 Defuniak Springs FL front Dec 27 2011. Photo by Glenn Laux.

2011-2012 — CSX, NS in Midwest (modern)

2013-2014 — ATSF in New Mexico in early 1990s, UP modern

ATSF GP30 near Roswell 1993.  Photo by C. Hunt

ATSF GP30 near Roswell 1993. Photo by C. Hunt

2014-present — DRGW-SP in Southwest (right after UP merger, late 1990s), UP modern

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DRGW-SP era in southwestern Colorado, 1999. Photo by Roland Levin. See his great website –http://hem.bredband.net/drgw/antonito_pictures.htm

That is really kind of a “train wreck” because I collected equipment for all of these periods.  There is really a financial impact and almost emotional impact for jumping around so much, particularly in this era of hyper-limited runs.  Thank goodness for ebay!   Through ebay, I estimate that I have been able to cut my losses by about 70%.

Here’s a point of sharing my lack of focus, you are better off settling into a period and primary set of railroads as soon as you can.  It is a lot easier on the wallet and saves you some of the anguish of collecting then selling so much!  We often assume that once something is run, It will never be run again.  That is often not true.

As late as September 2014, I was focused on the ATSF in New Mexico around 1990.  I designed and built a track plan around the concept.  It quickly became apparent that the layout was going to be limited and difficult to operate.  I started to redesign it, but then I anguished over letting go of Roswell as I did.  As I began to gently let go of Roswell, Athearn Genesis came out with DRGW GP-40-2s.

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Here is the troublemaker. Athearn’s release of this locomotive, partially caused me to re-evaluate my ATSF in Roswell concept.

As soon as I saw them, I had an epiphany–I always wanted to model the DRGW, why wasn’t I doing it?!  As I started considering it, I also started to think how neat it would be to model the DRGW-SP era.  I grew up with the SP kind of in my backyard in Texas and felt an emotional attachment to the SP.  I thought if I model right after the UP merger, I could feature UP, MP, DRGW, SP, SSW, WP and CNW (all railroads of interest to me) all as “home road” reporting marks.  This concept really caught hold with me, and I am committed to it (for now).  I have re-designed the layout in a much more free-lance manner that offers less complicated, but richer operating scenarios including a shortline inspired by the Union Railroad of Oregon.  (Click here for a nice link on the Union Railroad of Oregon.)

Union Railroad of Oregon in Oregon.  Note tiny locomotive on train.  This was the inspiration for there being a shortline on the new layout design.  Photo by Dan Schwanz

Union Railroad of Oregon in Oregon. Note tiny locomotive on train. This was the inspiration for there being a shortline on the new layout design. Photo by Dan Schwanz

I hope it sticks.  Here’s why–

1 — It is rich with having both DRGW and SP motive power and an occasional caboose.

2 — Home road cars of UP, MP, WP, SP, SSW, CNW and CNW.  All favorites–just need some ATSF thrown in.

3 — The track plan holds great promise and having a shortline could offer a variety of operations as well as mini-operating sessions when desired.

4 — I am very tired of re-configuring my rosters!!!

5 — It operates in the part of the country that I love and is beautiful.

Time will tell.

I also seriously considered backdating to the WP (early-1980s) but decided against going that far back.  I love the WP, but it is a bit limited compared to the versatility of the above scenario, plus I can run some WP rolling stock as a home road reporting mark.

I hope my sharing my difficulties in settling on an era, may help you navigate this tricky issue that we often may not fully appreciate.  We may let ourselves just drift along being knocked off course whenever a bright and shiny new product is offered.  (Take me for instance.)  Try not to go there if you can avoid it!  It is ultimately exhausting and can derail your dreams of having an operational layout.

Chow for cows!

New Mexico has approximately 150 dairies, with the largest average herd size (2088) in the nation. New Mexico is currently ranked 9th in the nation for milk production and 5th in the nation for cheese production.

The dairy industry was really beginning to take off in Roswell in the early 1990s (and before).  Many covered hoppers of feed were being delivered just south of Roswell at a siding which is featured on my layout.

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The siding along the top represents the area where  about 6 covered hoppers were typically spotted.  It will be an important source of traffic on the layout.

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The siding was (and still is) along Hwy 285, just south of Roswell. The siding is still periodically used to bring in feed. Note the auger (white) which is used to transfer the grain to truck to be transported to area dairies.

I remember cuts of about a half dozen covered hoppers frequently spotted here.  This feed and mostly locally grown alfalfa would feed the emerging dairy herds in the area.  It was an important source of ATSF traffic around Roswell in the 1990s.  It is far larger now.  There are now a number of large feed operations between Roswell and Carlsbad.

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I took this photo in 1994. Six cars were spotted at this time.

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Common road names included C&NW (pictured here), ATSF, BN, MP and MKT as well as private companies.