Cool books on western shortlines

I have been enjoying some great books from an author that was new to me, Jeff Moore.  Jeff, so far, has written on western shortlines primarily in California and Oregon.

eors

The above book caught my eye on Amazon so I thought I’d try it.  It just so happened at the same time, B. Smith, suggested that I might like Jeff’s book on lumber short lines in California.

ca

I highly recommend both books.  Jeff hits just the right amount of history and descriptions of operations to make the reader feel a connection to each of the short lines featured. The photos are very supportive of the text and help the reader visualize each of the operations. The photos and text work well together to help me improve the accuracy of my efforts to capture western railroading in 1981.  I am beginning to incorporate some new thinking on the “college” shortline on my layout.

img_2555

Image used with permission. –©Jeff Moore

Jeff includes maps for the lines discussed and photos to help you visualize the operations. Mind you, there are not mainly photographic books.  The format of the two above paperback books is about 7 by 9 inches.  However, photos are used very skillfully to reinforce the informative text.

img_2554

Image used with permission. –©Jeff Moore

The thing that is a little different about these books is that you learn a little history of each of the lines and a fair amount of the traffic history, which is really great for modelers.

Jeff’s writing style is perfect to make the reading enjoyable and informative.   The photos really help, but with Jeff’s style, these are not dry historical texts.  He offers just the right amount of history, discussion of more contemporary operations, maps and images.

If you like western shortline prototype operations, I recommend both of these books. Though most of the lines have ceased operations, a few of them still operate.

Jeff has written other books on the subject.

And he has just published a larger format book entitled, the McCloud River Railroads.   The book description offers that features “385 photographs, many in color and published for the first time, and 41 maps and drawings. Maps were drawn by John R. Signor. Size 8.5 x 11, 385 photos; 41 maps & drawings.mccloud-cover-small

 

Advertisements

Rockford Files and Railroads?

I guess an alternative title could have been “Railfanning through watching shows from the golden era of television,” which is to me shows from the 1960s-early 1980s.  Wait, before you say that’s kind of pathetic, think about it.  When you watch shows like Rockford Files, Mannix, McCloud, etc., you are seeing a slice of America from that era.  You see what automobiles and trucks looked like, advertisements, architecture and sometimes rail action.  A recent Rockford I watched, Gearjammers, Part II (second season), featured tons of rail action–a lone Seaboard boxcar spotted at a building, lots of Railboxes and SP boxcars, UP and SP bulkhead flatcars loaded with lumber and a scene at a dock where Rockford and Becker are hiding in a UP boxcar.

IMG_2306 Here’s the car from which they doing their stakeout.  I wish someone would do this car in HO!

IMG_2305

The episode also had numerous scenes in industrial locations to give you a feel for what industry looked like in the mid-1970s.  There was even a vintage Taco Bell that looked like this..

IMG_2307

If you model what I think is the golden era of railroads, then these great shows offer you a wealth of information about how to capture these eras, from the autos, to the trucks and trailers, industries, businesses, advertisements, etc.  Rockford Files just happens to be one of my all time favorites, but there many awesome shows from this era.  (For another post explaining my use of “Golden Era” or even my take on “my” transition era, click here.  I heard a lot from steam fans on the post!)

Here’s another site that might be helpful concerning scenes from Rockford Files.  The one the link goes to, checks out the “Elmira” passenger station from that era.  It is reportedly actually the ATSF depot in Pasadena, CA.

So if you model the 1960s-mid-1980s, enjoy some good shows and help yourself capture the “aesthetic” of your selected era.

 

Perhaps the finest locomotive paint scheme ever devised?

The first use of railroads in the United States, may have preceded the United States.  Some contend the first railroad in what would become the United States was in 1762 when British military engineers constructed a gravity railroad at the Niagara Portage in Lewiston, NY.  Beginning in the early 1800s, rail became an important part of the transportation scene in America.  Over the years, many methods have been used to create corporate identities.  Since the mid-1950s, railroads have commonly deployed colorful paint schemes on locomotives and rolling stock to foster a brand.

ATSF 2349 in San Bernardino CA on February 14, 1987.  ©photo by Greg Sommers. http://www.locophotos.com/PhotoDetails.php?PhotoID=132150

ATSF 2349 in San Bernardino CA on February 14, 1987. ©photo by Greg Sommers. http://www.locophotos.com/PhotoDetails.php?PhotoID=132150

There have been many classic, attractive schemes employed, such as Santa Fe’s warbonnets (both red and silver and blue and yellow) and Union Pacific’s.

UPY 719 in Rochelle IL July 11 2006. ©photo by Collin Reinhart. Courtesy of RR picture Archives --http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=441139

UPY 719 in Rochelle IL July 11 2006. ©photo by Collin Reinhart. Courtesy of RR picture Archives –http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=441139

The competition is tight, but perhaps my favorite all-time locomotive paint scheme was the one used by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad beginning about 1969.  The DRGW must have liked it too–it was the principal scheme from 1969 to the date it merged into the Union Pacific in 1996, by way of its merger with the Southern Pacific in 1988.  As a result, it was the principal paint scheme for almost 30 years.

Rio Grande 3096 Backman's Crossing,Provo,UT Early Spring 1994. --photo by Quinn Clegg.

Rio Grande 3096 at Backman’s Crossing near Provo,UT in Early Spring 1994. –photo by Quinn Clegg.

Back in the early to mid 1990’s well into the SP era, it was still possible to catch pure sets of Rio Grande power on Southern Pacific trains.  The DRGW continued to use this scheme pretty much throughout the SP era.

DRGW 3095 at Desert, UT on Apr 1 1988. ©photo by Mike Woodruff courtesy of RR Picture Archives.

DRGW 3095 at Desert, UT on Apr 1 1988. ©photo by Mike Woodruff courtesy of RR Picture Archives.

What a great scheme.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that the DRGW operated in some of the most beautiful parts of the United States.

Here the scheme was applied to a GP-30.  Rio Grande train north of Provo,UT in 1994.  --photo by Quinn Clegg

Here the scheme was applied to a GP-30. Rio Grande train north of Provo, UT in 1994. –photo by Quinn Clegg

I really like the above picture.  In a sense, Quinn Clegg has captured the essence of the DRGW–attractive trains passing through often lonely but beautiful scenery.

The DRGW also had great schemes applied to their rolling stock, but that may be the subject of a future post.

Golden Age of Beer

You may have noticed that I write about beer from time to time.  I am not an alcoholic and certainly don’t condone excessive consumption, but I do enjoy a cold brew or two.  I am particularly interested in the interface between the rail industry and beer production as some of my earlier posts explored–see here for just one of them.

Coors Brewery in Golden Colorado.

Coors Brewery in Golden Colorado.

There has been a close relationship between the two industries.  At one time, a large percentage of beer was shipped by rail.  While rail is used less for delivery throughout the nation, the raw materials are often brought in by rail to the larger breweries and some medium sized breweries as well.

Miller Brewery in Irwindale, California.

Miller Brewery in Irwindale, California.

Covered hoppers bringing in ingrediants at the Shiner brewery in Shiner, TX in 2011.  --photo by C Hunt

Covered hoppers bringing in ingredients at the Shiner brewery in Shiner, TX in 2011. –photo by C Hunt

I am making this rail link only to give me an excuse to write about what I really want to share, advertisements from the golden age of brewing in the United States.  The brewing companies really knew how to make great ads that were often fun, sometimes used subtle sex-appeal or resonated with the desire of men to be outdoors (or at least see themselves that way).

Below is a collection of some of my favorites.  (If your thinking this isn’t very rail oriented, remember my tag line, “AND A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF OTHER STUFF.”)

What a manly ambiance PBR evoked!

What a manly ambiance PBR evoked with this one!

Old school, but nice!

Old school, but nice!

That's an attractive bunch of folks.  Drinking Ballantine apparently enhances your looks.

That’s an attractive bunch of folks. Drinking Ballantine apparently enhances your looks.

More manliness.  Makes me want to grab a Hamm's and warm up at the fire too.

More manliness. Makes me want to grab a Hamm’s and warm up at the fire too.  I can almost smell the fish on the fire!

The National Beer of Baltimore!  Ninety percent of Natty Bo's sales are in the Balitimore area even today.

The National Beer of Baltimore! Ninety percent of Natty Bo’s sales are in the Baltimore area even today.

Notice the high heels.  Subtle, but very effective.

Notice the heels. Subtle, but effective.

Here's a Texas beauty wanting to hand you an ice cold Shiner.  As they say, "Nothing is finer than an ice cold Shiner!"

Here’s a Texas beauty wanting to hand you an ice cold Shiner. As they say, “Nothing is finer than an ice cold Shiner!”

If only you drank Genny's beer, you'd have a sweetheart waiting to give you a beer.

If only you drank Genny’s beer, you’d have a sweetheart waiting to give you one.

Great ads…I may just have to go find a cold one myself.

Christmas run in Pecos!

Well, not exactly Christmas but close.

B. Smith was there to capture a run of the Pecos Valley Southern on December 22, 1978.  This is a bit of a follow up to my July 26, 2014 post, “From the depths of the Pecos archives!

Follow along as B. Smith narrates via the captions.

December 22, 1978 00 The quarry run was two Missouri Pacific hoppers and a Frisco boxcar destined for the fertilizer dealer south of the quarry. ©

December 22, 1978 — The quarry run was two Missouri Pacific hoppers and a Frisco boxcar destined for the fertilizer dealer south of the quarry. ©B.Smith photo

The Frisco car is set out at the fertilizer dealer.

First, the Frisco car is set out at the fertilizer dealer. ©B.Smith photo

After setting out the Frisco box, this was the train to the quarry.  There were a number of loads already waiting at the quarry.

After setting out the Frisco box, this was the train to the quarry. There were a number of loads already waiting at the quarry.  Note the caboose! ©B.Smith photo

And we waited while the two empties we brought that day were loaded.  We then returned to Pecos with all the loads.

And we waited while the two empties we brought that day were loaded. We then returned to Pecos with all the loads. ©B.Smith photo

Hope you enjoyed the (almost) Christmas run of the Pecos Valley Southern.  It was simple, but really kind of perfect, being that the engineer and brakeman may have wanted to get back home early to begin their Christmas holiday.  Maybe one of them was going to make a huge pot of Posole for the holidays.

Posole!  My mouth waters just looking at this picture!

Posole! My mouth waters just looking at this picture!

Here are a couple of recipes.  What a fantastic holiday dish!

Recipe #1

Recipe #2

If a reader has a favorite recipe, I’d be happy to post.  I can’t wait for Christmas!  Maybe I’ll just make some now.

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.

Destination — Pecos, Texas, 1970 and 80s…(or to the set of “The Last Picture Show?”) (Part III)

Let’s venture south to finish our visit to Pecos.

PVS #7 south of Pecos, TX ©B. Smith photo

PVS #7 south of Pecos, TX ©B. Smith photo

There was during the 1970 and 80s a lot of commerce on the south end of the line.  These photos were taken between 1977 and 1980 south of the quarry towards Saragosa and a few at the end of the line in Balmorhea.

Bagged manure was loaded here.

Bagged manure was loaded here.  ©B. Smith photo

Fertilizer dealer south of Pecos.

Fertilizer dealer south of Pecos. ©B. Smith photo

Tank cars from the cotton oil plant. ©B. Smith photo

Tank cars from the cotton oil plant just a bit north of the quarry. ©B. Smith photo

Tank cars at cotton oil mill in Pecos.

Tank cars at cotton oil mill in Pecos. ©B. Smith photo

Loaded Missouri Pacific gondola by PVS station at Saragosa, TX ©B. Smith photo

Loaded Missouri Pacific gondola by PVS station at Saragosa, TX ©B. Smith photo

View from loaded MP gon by PVS station at Saragosa, TX

View from loaded MP gondola departing PVS station at Saragosa, TX.  Davis Mountains are in the distance. ©B. Smith photo

Feed distributor served by PVS, also end of the line ©B. Smith photo

Feed distributor served by PVS, also end of the line ©B. Smith photo

Now to the end of the line at Balmorhea, a small town created when an irrigation project allowed area dry lands to be irrigated.  The irrigation got too expensive when natural gas prices increased.  Now it is home to a nice State Park which features a huge, historic swimming pool.

PVS station in Balmorhea.  Photos taken in 1977.  No rail service then, but much of the track was still in place.

PVS station in Balmorhea. Photos taken in 1977. No rail service then, but much of the track was still in place. ©B. Smith photo

Wye switch behind State Park swimming pool, looking towards feed mill at end of track.  Davis Mts in distance. ©B. Smith photo

Wye switch behind State Park swimming pool, looking towards feed mill at end of track. Davis Mts in distance. ©B. Smith photo

The Pecos Valley Southern is still a going concern in 2014.  Much of the line to the south has been abandoned or sits dormant, but these photos remind us of what was once there. Oil, aggregates and cattle feed keep the PVS hopping today.  Check it out if you find yourself near Pecos, Texas.  Don’t forget Balmorhea as well.  It has an “ice” cold swimming pool and some pretty good Mexican food at the Cueva de Oso.