The Limpia Canyon Northern RR, part IV (San Angelo)

Across the Great Hall and tunneling into what used to be my daughter’s room (she says she left home because of all the train noise in her room) is the town of San Angelo, which has some similarity to the real town of San Angelo in West Texas.

LCN San Angelo correct

Located in the real town of San Angelo is Hischfeld Steel, served by the Texas Pacifico Railroad who I was employed by.  Steel plate is delivered to the end of a very long building where large steel structures are welded together. Steel beams are unloaded from gons and bulkhead flats further down under the white overhead crane supports seen in the distance.  All rail shipments are inbound, the finished structures are trucked out.

unnamed

unnamed (1)

On the LCN it is Hoof Steel and Fabrication that receives steel plate and beams by rail. Unlike Hirschfeld Steel, Hoof Steel also ships out its products by rail, steel structural shapes in 60 ft gons and large tanks on 90 ft flat cars.

unnamed (2)

unnamed (3)

Steel coils also come in by rail.  This is the steel coil unloading overhead crane.

unnamed (4)

Here we see where the steel plate and beams are unloaded.

unnamed (5)

unnamed (6)

Steel pipe is unloaded here by a tracked crane with a vacuum attachment.

unnamed (7)

Hoof Steel and Fabrication is a busy industry.  Rail cars are often moved around with their tractor.

unnamed (8)

Occasionally high side gons are loaded with scrap steel here at the end of track where these 90 ft flats sit after their loads of steel plate were unloaded and they were shoved here by the tractor so a gon could be loaded at the fabrication building.

unnamed (9)

Hoof Steel has their own “triple ace” covered gon for material that needs to be protected from the weather.

unnamed (10)

Also located in San Angelo is San Angelo Appliance and Furniture.  It distributes appliances and furniture in the West Texas area.  Good deals can be had if you purchase directly from the warehouse here.
unnamed (11)
The third industry served by the LCN in San Angelo is American Recycling that receives baled cardboard in 60 ft box cars, seen below on the very left.  The baled cardboard is shredded and used as packing filler.  In the real life San Angelo, Butt’s Recycling shipped baled cardboard to Mexico in 60 ft flat cars.  By having an industry that receives shipments from all over the country the LCN sees a variety of road names on the box cars.  The Butt’s cars were all SP and SSW box cars coming through the SP interchange in Alpine, TX.
unnamed (13)
Here is an overview of the LCN’s San Angelo.
unnamed (12)
Next time we visit the big city of Magdalena.
LCN logo 7 with n tighter
Advertisements

The Limpia Canyon Northern RR, part III (Sanderson)

On our way to Magdalena from Pecos, we will pass through a couple of towns.  Next up, is Sanderson.  Now to kind of understand a model for what B. Smith is doing in Sanderson, you may want to read the recent Pecos Vally Southern series.  Click here to read part I.

Here is my favorite quote from the series–

“Out in the middle of nowhere, a single car to pick up, light rail, little ballast, just laid back easy going railroading.”–B. Smith

 

My beautiful picture

A load of river rock headed to Pecos, TX, 1978.  Laid back railroading.–©B.Smith photo

Sanderson is all about what I think is the golden era of railroading–late 1960s to the end of the 1970s.  Sanderson gives B. Smith a chance to connect with a type of railroading that he initially fell in love with–Alco, F units, 40-foot boxcars, cabooses and lots of road names.  He occasionally will even break out some steam when the owner of the line is nostalgic.

unnamed (1 crop)

Here is a close up of the track plan for Sanderson–

LCN Trackplan with color and shippers total Sandy

Here is an overview–

unnamed_edited-1

Here’s another overview–

unnamed (6)

Let’s check out some of the individual businesses.

unnamed

Above is Lazy W Ranch (where the MP hopper is spotted) and RJ Fuels.  Lazy W Ranch also leases the old LCN station to receive shipments usually by boxcar and has a small molasses operation to the right of the station.  The Lazy W Ranch is a big ranch and generates some rail traffic, but it also supplements its profits by selling feed, molasses and receiving goods for other ranches in the area.

Below is an image of the Lazy W Ranch molasses receiving facility.

unnamed (8)

Below we see some feed being unloaded for the Lazy W Ranch.

j and t

The team track down from Lazy W also sees some action.  Below we see another area ranch receiving feed.

unnamed (9) crop

Below we see the highway department receiving some asphalt for an upcoming project.

asph 2

Here is Western Wool and Mohair at the end of a long spur on the edge of Sanderson.  It is a regular customer for receiving bagged feed.  Occasional shipments of wool still depart by rail as well.  This is one of my favorite shippers on the layout.

unnamed (10)

On the same spur as Western Wool and Mohair is a Safeway warehouse.  This business was inspired by this story.

unnamed (3)

Lava Rock is a fairly frequent shipper.  Here we see a scene when the LCN has fired up the old steam engine to run the line.

unnamed

I love this little town set in the late 1960s/early1970s.

unnamed

It alone is a lot of fun to operate.

 

Sanderson, 1968

By B. Smith

(Note: B. Smith is embarking on an exciting new chapter for his LCN RR layout.  Rather than just operating in 1990, he will be embracing multiple eras while maintaining reasonable efforts to present prototypical rolling stock, vehicles, etc.  He and I have been having numerous philosophical chats on this as we explore ways of thinking on the subject.  I too am experimenting in this area, but with a smaller range of years [1979 and 1981, pre-Rock Island shutdown, post-SLSF-BN merger].  Likely much more to come on this, but meanwhile, enjoy a recent session on his LCN.  Don’t be surprised if you see a glitch or two as we work the kinks out. )

We arrive in Sanderson just as the LCN local arrives.  The year is 1968.  The LCN still operates a steam locomotive.  Today’s consist are two box cars for Big Bend Wool and Mohair and two empty open top hoppers for scoria loading.  (I have the wrong side of the fourth car facing the camera.  The consolidated lube plate shows.  I’m not used yet to considering which side of the car faces out.)  (Note:  We are experimenting with dual era cars being detailed for different eras on different side.)

unnamed (4)

The crew cuts off the caboose and two empty hoppers.  The LCN is having problems getting open hoppers from the class ones and operates an eclectic assortment of second-hand hoppers to serve the scoria shipper.  The empty hopper when the train departed earlier in the day has been loaded.

unnamed

The two loads for Big Bend Wool and Mohair are run to the east end and cut off on the main.

unnamed (1)

The locomotive then backs to the water plug to fill its tender.

unnamed (2)unnamed (3)

After filling the tender the locomotive backs down the siding to the loaded hopper after the brakeman flags it across a crossing.

unnamed (5)

In Part II, we’ll complete the run and tie down for the evening.

LCN logo 6 Primary

 

 

A safety reminder since the oilfield is hopping on the LCN RR

By B. Smith

unnamed-6-c

Sand, mud and chemical traffic is booming on the LCN RR. West Texas Oil Field Fluids is to the right where the tank cars are spotted.

The 1990 oil boom is creating a lot of traffic on the LCN RR.  Rumors are the FRA may visit any day now, and with a regional chemical supply dealer taking over the local dealer in Pecos, the LCN’s Operations Manager felt it was a good time to refresh the LCN train crew’s awareness of handling placarded hazardous material shipments in a train.  West Texas Oil Field Fluids has indicated that it will be receiving numerous sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid tank car loads in the coming months spurred on by the increased drilling activity in the Pecos area.

So let’s assume a car load of hydrochloric acid has just been delivered to the LCN interchange track and West Texas Oil Field Fluids wants that car ASAP.  The LCN railroad wants to keep on good terms with their new customer so it dispatches an engine and a crew to deliver that car.
We see the train departing for Pecos.

unnamedThe crew was on the ball and picked up five empty LCN hoppers to serve as buffer cars (sometimes called spacer or cover cars) to place between the engine and the hazmat car.  But this run often includes an occupied caboose.unnamed-1Putting the caboose on the end would violate FRA rules as the caboose needs it own buffer cars.  If they were no additional buffer cars available, the tank car would have needed to be placed in the middle of the train to protect both the engine and the caboose.  A business car on the end of the train is treated as a caboose.unnamed-2Now if the crew of our train picked up a flat cat loaded with steel beams and placed it next to the placarded tank car, the FRA would get ready to issue the LCN a fine.  Putting the flat car ahead of one of the empty hoppers would work, as long as the flat car is not next to the engine where its shifting load could endanger the crew in the event of an accident.unnamed-3Now placing a reefer with an operating temperature control unit or internal combustion engine will bring out the FRA’s fine book too.  The train crew needs to separate the tank car and the reefer with one of the empty hoppers.unnamed-4An open top car (including bulkhead flats) when any of the contents protrude beyond the car ends are not to be placed next to a placarded car, or engine, or occupied caboose/business car.

These are some things to be aware of if your railroad handles placarded cars.  Make sure your crews are aware of the regulations.
(Editor’s note: Knowing the rules can make a small to medium layout more entertaining.  It is not always as simple as just stringing a train together and moving out.)

Modelling the Magdalena team track on the LCN RR

I asked my friend B. Smith to share some teamtrack operations on his LCN RR set in the West in in 1990–

The team track photos below are taken in the town of Magdalena, population of about 45,000.  Industries served by rail located in Magdalena include the Coop Elevator, feed mill, beer distributor, wholesale food warehouse, newspaper printing company,  bakery, specialty cotton finishing plant, scrap aluminum bailing operation, and a team track.

unnamed (9)

The team track is regularly used by the local building supply for inbound shipments of lumber, brick, and bagged cement.  Other occasional shipments include asphalt for the highway department and parking lot paving, pipe for the expansion of the city water and sewer systems, farm combines and heavy construction equipment, rebar, and poles and wire for the electric power company.

Pipe is a frequent inbound.

unnamed (6) unnamed (7) unnamed (8)

All shipments are pretty much inbound loads, I can’t remember an outbound load from the team track.  When a box car is spotted, if you aren’t there to see it unloaded you usually can’t tell what it carried.

unnamed (12)

unnamed sky (5)

unnamed

Some loads are more obvious.

unnamed (10) unnamed (11)  unnamed (13)  unnamed sky (2)

The highway department frequently receives material.
unnamed (14)
Gons loaded with asphalt.  They are not on the team track yet where they will be unloaded.  Three gons loaded with asphalt were spotted near the ATSF station in Alpine, TX in the late 70’s/early 80’s.  That was about the only time I ever saw rail cars spotted for unloading by the ATSF station in Alpine.
unnamed (4)
As you can see, that short 2-3 feet of track has offered the LCN RR a lot of interesting and diverse operations.

A Primer on Setting Out Cars (and advocacy of “Slow Operations”) — Part III

All right, let’s wrap up the East Job.  

In this concluding post (also see Part I and Part II), we will get the train together to conclude the East Job.

During the narrative offered by Jim, Director of Operations for the LCN RR, think about how pulling pins, connecting air hoses, setting brake wheels, pumping up air brakes, brake tests, unlocking derails, tugging on couples out of kilter, all can (with a little imagination) enrich your scale operations on your layout.

A Primer on Setting Out Cars (and advocacy of “Slow Operations”) — Part II

Last bit of work is picking up two empties at the Sanderson Wholesale Food Distributor. This spur has a derail that must be unlocked and swung into the dirt before we can couple into the cars.

Coupled in, stretched to insure a good joint, laced up, hand brakes knocked off, brakes pumped up, a look around to insure no unloading ramps have been left in place, we see the conductor making sure the brake piston extends when the engineer sets the brakes before pulling the cars out of the spur.

Coupled in, stretched to insure a good joint, laced up, hand brakes knocked off, brakes pumped up, a look around to insure no unloading ramps have been left in place, we see the conductor making sure the brake piston extends when the engineer sets the brakes before pulling the cars out of the spur.

Everything out on the main, switch lined, derail back on, we are ready to back down the main to the rest of our train.  Better hurry, the skies are threatening a bit.  We are beginning to smell a little rain in the area.

Everything out on the main, switch lined, derail back on, we are ready to back down the main to the rest of our train. Better hurry, the skies are threatening a bit. We are beginning to smell a little rain in the area.

"That'll do", CRASH, "stretch'em", That'll do", "set and center" (tell the engineer to set the engine brakes and center the reverser handle because you are going between the cars), connect the air hoses, open the angle cock SLOWLY.  Let the brakes pump off.  "when you're ready take'em ahead".

“That’ll do”, CRASH, “stretch’em”, That’ll do”, “set and center” (tell the engineer to set the engine brakes and center the reverser handle because you are going between the cars), connect the air hoses, open the angle cock SLOWLY. Let the brakes pump off. “when you’re ready take’em ahead”.

When the rear car gets close have the engineer stop the train and set the brakes.  The brakes should set up on the rear car, insuring the trainline is connected all the way to the last car and no angle cocks are closed, except the very last one at the end of the train, unless an end of train (ETD) is used.  Sophisticated ETDs can radio the rear end brake pressure to the engineer and save the conductor the walk to the head end, but the LCN has not sprung for those expensive devices figuring the conductor can walk as the trains are pretty short.  Release the brakes, make sure the brakes on the rear car release, walk to the head end, checking all the cars as you go to insure the brakes have released, all the wheels are on the rails, everything looks good.  And watch out for junk, trash, cactus, anything that may trip you, and snakes that may bite you.

When the rear car gets close have the engineer stop the train and set the brakes. The brakes should set up on the rear car, insuring the trainline is connected all the way to the last car and no angle cocks are closed, except the very last one at the end of the train, unless an end of train (ETD) is used. Sophisticated ETDs can radio the rear end brake pressure to the engineer and save the conductor the walk to the head end, but the LCN has not sprung for those expensive devices figuring the conductor can walk as the trains are pretty short. Release the brakes, make sure the brakes on the rear car release, walk to the head end, checking all the cars as you go to insure the brakes have released, all the wheels are on the rails, everything looks good. And watch out for junk, trash, cactus, anything that may trip you, and snakes that may bite you.

All right, it’s a train.  Enough time spent in Sanderson for a day.  Hope you enjoyed this run on the LCN loaded with a lot of operational tidbits thanks to B. Smith and his layout, the LCN RR.

(For another site that discusses “slow operations” principles see Lance Mindheim’s excellent site — Voodoo and Palmettos.) 

I say we head to town.  The rain is getting closer and there are a couple of low spots between here and Marathon!  

A Primer on Setting Out Cars (and advocacy of “Slow Operations”) — Part II

Let’s continue on the East Job.
 
But before we set out, a little more explanation on how air brakes work is in order than I gave in the last post. An alert reader pointed out that I left out some details. A more detailed explanation is offered at the end of this post.
 
Picking up where we left off from the July 13, 2014 post
 
The conductor lines the engine over to the main line to pick up the two empty box cars. Besides coupling into the box cars, connecting the air hose between the engine and the first box car, turning both the angle cock on the engine and the box car (it was closed when the cars were brought into Sanderson as it was the last car then), the conductor has to go back to the end of the second box car and close its angle cock and lift the pin lifter to uncouple it from the covered hopper. Never reach over the coupler to close or open an angle cock, cross over the end of the car to get to the side the angle cock is on and prevent body parts from getting caught in the coupler should the car move.

The conductor lines the engine over to the main line to pick up the two empty box cars. Besides coupling into the box cars, connecting the air hose between the engine and the first box car, turning both the angle cock on the engine and the box car (it was closed when the cars were brought into Sanderson as it was the last car then), the conductor has to go back to the end of the second box car and close its angle cock and lift the pin lifter to uncouple it from the covered hopper. Never reach over the coupler to close or open an angle cock, cross over the end of the car to get to the side the angle cock is on and prevent body parts from getting caught in the coupler should the car move.

 
The engine pulls the two empty box cars clear of the switch to the passing track.  The rest of the train from Pecos waits on the main line.  We've been switching for some time now so it's good we didn't block any road crossings with those cars.

The engine pulls the two empty box cars clear of the switch to the passing track. The rest of the train from Pecos waits on the main line. We’ve been switching for some time now so it’s good we didn’t block any road crossings with those cars.

Shoving the empty box cars into the Lazy W Ranch spur.  Yeah, the angle cock on this end of the box car should be closed, but don't those scale width wheels under the box car look good.  Plastic ones that came with a car kit from a long gone manufacturer back in the 1980's.  The LCN wishes it could  have obtained more--  never had derailment problems with them.  However, Exactrail and Athearn do make pretty good scale wheels today.

Shoving the empty box cars into the Lazy W Ranch spur. Yeah, the angle cock on this end of the box car should be closed, but don’t those scale width wheels under the box car look good. Plastic ones that came with a car kit from a long gone manufacturer back in the 1980’s. The LCN wishes it could have obtained more– never had derailment problems with them. (However, Exactrail and Athearn do make pretty good scale .088″ wheels today.)

The conductor sets the hand brakes on the empty box cars before cutting away.  Those high brakes wheels tell you how old you are getting.  Can't believe all box cars and hoppers had them back in the good old days.  Close the angle cock on the engine, lift the pin lifter, and lets go pick up a couple of loads of volcanic rock down at the other end of Sanderson.

The conductor sets the hand brakes on the empty box cars before cutting away. Those high brakes wheels tell you how old you are getting. Can’t believe all box cars and hoppers had them back in the good old days. Close the angle cock on the engine, lift the pin lifter, and lets go pick up a couple of loads of volcanic rock down at the other end of Sanderson.

The volcanic rock loads were shoved in from this end so the angle cock needs to be closed, might as well do that as we go by on our way to the other end.

The volcanic rock loads were shoved in from this end so the angle cock needs to be closed, might as well do that as we go by on our way to the other end.

We back into the loads from the other end.  If there is any doubt about the coupler pins dropping we'll tell the engineer to stretch them to verify a good joint.

We back into the loads from the other end. If there is any doubt about the coupler pins dropping we’ll tell the engineer to stretch them to verify a good joint.

Once the cars are laced up (air hoses connected, angle cocks checked for being open) and the hand brakes knocked off, we pump the brakes up on the cars, then do a brake set to verify the brakes on the cars are working before pulling them out to the main track.

Once the cars are laced up (air hoses connected, angle cocks checked for being open) and the hand brakes knocked off, we pump the brakes up on the cars, then do a brake set to verify the brakes on the cars are working before pulling them out to the main track.

In Part III, we will finish the run.  However, before I finish this post, below is a chance to learn a bit more on air brake operations.  Spotting a car and making up trains is hard work in the real world! (I haven’t even mentioned about lugging on couplers when they aren’t lined up.  Talk about hard work!  Those things are heavy.)
__________________________________
 
How do air brakes work?  (A more technical primer)
 
The brakes on a railcar apply when there is a reduction in the train line air pressure, a break in the train line occurs, or the car is being uncoupled from because air in the air reservoir on the car is directed into the brake cylinder by the triple valve and pushes out the brake piston.
 
If you bleed all the air out of the air reservoir on the car, the brakes release and cannot be reset until the air reservoir is charged up again.  So if you want to kick cars (the engine shoves them up to a speed judged fast enough and someone running along side the car lifts the pin lifter, the engine slows, the cars will continue to roll into what ever track the switches are lined for, stopping either when they hit cars already standing on that track, or someone on the rolling car sets the hand brake, a very common technique in a flat rail yard) you have to bleed the cars off so they will roll.  A good switch crew can have three or four groups of cars rolling simultaneously into different yard tracks when kicking cars.  Before radios the hand signals for signaling how many cars in the cut and into which track they were to go was pretty elaborate. 
 
A car spotted on a siding can bleed itself off gradually as air seeps around the brake system seals.  If the seals are in poor condition or there is a lot of dirt around the seals the brakes can release in a matter of days, or hours, or even minutes.  The hand brake is an independent mechanical system from the air system.  Setting the car’s hand brake will keep the brake shoes on one axle from releasing even if the air brake system bleeds off.
 
Pumping up the air when a car or cars have been coupled into is filling the air reservoirs on all the cars and the triple valve releasing any air pressure in the brake cylinder.
 
The triple valve is described as being so named as it performs three functions: Charging air into an air tank ready to be used, applying the brakes, and releasing them.
 
  • If the pressure in the train line is lower than that of the reservoir, the brake cylinder exhaust portal is closed and air from the car’s reservoir is fed into the brake cylinder to apply the brakes. This action continues until equilibrium between the brake pipe pressure and reservoir pressure is achieved. At that point, the airflow from the reservoir to the brake cylinder is lapped off and the cylinder is maintained at a constant pressure.
  • If the pressure in the train line is higher than that of the reservoir, the triple valve connects the train line to the reservoir feed, causing the air pressure in the reservoir to increase. The triple valve also causes the brake cylinder to be exhausted to the atmosphere, releasing the brakes.
  • As the pressure in the train line and that of the reservoir equalize, the triple valve closes, causing the air pressure in the reservoir and brake cylinder to be maintained at the current level.