Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good Bye 2014 /\ Hello 2015

As we traverse the last day of 2014 I stop to reflect back on all of what this year has brought in terms of challenges, successes, and opportunities. Personally my family and I have had alot of all three and it has been a fun journey, but that is what life is all about.... Enjoy the journey and continue forward.

From a model railroad perspective alot of progress has been made on the layout, modeler friendships created, kept the blog pretty well updated, and began sharing my layout with others through informal operating sessions.

Looking to 2015 - top goals are to continue with good blog posts (2-3 a month), finish all trackwork as right now I just need to add in the industry tracks, operate the layout quarterly, and have fun.... The last goal seems so simple but we lose sight of this as it is a hobby. Going to kick it off on track with our first four person session this Saturday.

Here's to the new year!


Winter Photo Fun
Photo below used with permission by Chris Palmieri.

An empty BNSF coal train lead by EMD SD70MAC pushes through falling snow onthe Sioux City Sub at Abel, NE.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

MCIS 4050 "Old Glory"

We have all seen those engines out there on the rails that look like have been though hell and back but somehow the guys who designed, built, and maintained them to keep them on the main in service.

The Michigan Interstate has one engine in particular that has had this journey. MCIS 4050 (EMD SD40-2 snoot Kato early) came from the former Santa Fe in the nineties when the railroad was shopping for mainline power. 

Since coming on roster the engine had suffered a bent frame which required rebuild on a mid-production Kato frame with truck hardwiring. Most recently the unit received two new trucks from EGS Rail Services out of Kansas that were installed in house at the Mt. Pleasant shop. Finding trucks without parting out another engine is tough. While in the shops the engine also received a new microprocessor (Tsunami KT-1000 EMD645 sound decoder) which I have been very impressed with. This week shop forces will had the air conditioners and snow plow back.

Crews have dubbed this unit "Old Glory" as it looks tired, been through rough times, but continues to be reliable and prevail in mainline service.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mid December Update

Merry Christmas Eve!

It's been a few weeks since my last post and well my excuse is the holiday shipping season. Not me shopping or going to parties but the demand put on my career supporting UPS and the big push known as "Peak Season" this time of year. Neat fact about UPS and railroads; they are one of the largest users of rail transportation in North America from coast to coast. 

But back to the St. Clair Sub.....

First off over 10,500 pageviews - Thank You to everyone for following, commenting, or just taking a quick peak on progress. Today's technology allows us to better share, connect, and further our knowledge of the hobby. I firmly feel this blog helps reinforce that concept and will continue to do so.

With the next ops session scheduled for January 3rd I have been plugging away to compete tasks that were given as constructive feedback from operators and items needed to continue phasing more operations into each session.

Project 1- Lower Deck Liftout Section
While I can't say that I would not have another one of these in future layouts, I feel they are viable as long as the construction is solid. 

  ITEM A - Securement
Previous versions were held in place by slide locks. Unfortunately these are to loose for consistent alignment. Ken Patterson in a recent MRH discussed using door hinges with removable pins. Current engineering did not allow this so I needed to find an alternative which I found using surface bolts.

1. Checked where I would install surface bolt between both the ridged layout and removable piece, leveled as necessary.

2. Cut the bolts mounting track (not the slide bolt) using mutter box / saw.

3. Installed bolt guide with adhesive caulk on rigid and removable sections. Use slide bolt in track to ensure alignment while drying. The bolt should slide in / freely but have no lateral or vertical wiggle room.

4. Finished securement mechanism on other end.

  ITEM B - Finished Look
While undergoing the work on this removable piece I wanted to give it the finished look since its the first thing seen when you walk in.

The sides are Eucaboard attached to the 2" blue foam using 2x2 blocks mounted on the bottom of the foam. To house the wiring safe and securely a thin sheet of Lauan plywood was secured in place. Screws for holding metal lathe in place have worked best for me.

  ITEM C - Power Connection
Using home stereo plugs I have a quick connect/disconnect setup for the section.

Project 2 - Turtle Curve Trackwork
In conjunction with the work on the lift out section I also replaced track leading from the WYS (West Yard Switch) to the Saginaw River swing bridge.

This trackwork also paved the way for the Bay Industrial Park Spur which leads off up the middle in the photo above. Having both Fort Mackinaw Corrugated and Huron Mills in place to work on January 3rd is a must.

Project 3 - Turnout Securement
While recent switches on the mainline have been Peco 83 (North America) which have positive point control, I have a number of Walthers and Atlas switches that needed to have point control for manual throws (Floaters) in yards and on industry tracks. 

Last night the last turnout in Bay Yard was completed which the yard master will enjoy at the next session.

Thanks for checking out the blog update and I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! With work now quieting down to normal operations along with my work hours post should be going back to Early, Mid, and Late month posts.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

MCIS Locomotive Roster

In between my early, mid, and late month posts I wanted to give everyone a little variety and talk about the MCIS locomotive roster.

As of October 2014 the entire roster (modeled and non-modeled) totals 75 units.

The fleet is categorized into three pools: Road Service, General Service, Yard Service

Lets now look deeper into each of the three pools:

Road Service: 3000+ HP
EMD GP40-2 (3000 HP - EMD 645)
#4001-4008 - Modeled 4005, 4008
Note: Lineage of units from many North American roads

EMD GP40X (3500 HP - EMD 645F)
#4031-4035 - Modeled 4035
Lineage of units from many North American roads

EMD GP60 (3800 HP - EMD 16-710)
#6051-6054 - Modeled 6051
Note: Former Santa Fe, EMD Demo

EMD SD40-2 / 40-2M (3000 HP - EMD 16-645)
#4050-4062 - Modeled 4050, 4052, 4056, 4059
Note: Lineage of units from many North American roads

EMD SD45-2 (3600 HP - EMD 645)
#4570-4571 - Modeled 4570, 4571
Note: Former Santa Fe units

EMD SD70ACe (4300 HP - EMD 16-710)
#7050-7053 - Modeled 7050, 7051
Note: Original owners from EMD

General Service: 2000-2500 HP
EMD GP30 (2250 HP - EMD 567)
#3081, 3081, 3083, 3085 - Modeled 3080, 3085
Note: Units stored at MCIS Mount Pleasant Shop for conversion to slug.

EMD GP38-2 (2000 HP - EMD 645 non-turbo)
#3810-3812, 3814-3835 - Modeled 3810, 3816, 3823, 3828, 3829, 3833
Note: 3813 - Wrecked 10/08, lineage of units from many North American roads

EMD SD22ECO (2150 HP - EMD 12-710)
#2290-2291 - Modeled 2290, 2291
Note: Converted by Virginia Midland Shops from EMD SD35 

Yard Service: 1500 HP and 2100 HP Gensets
EMD MP15DC (1500 HP - EMD 12-645)  
#151-153 - Modeled 153
Note: Original owners from EMD

NRE 3GS21B (2100 HP - Cummins Diesel)
#2101-2104 - Modeled 2101
Note: These units replaced aging EMD GP15-1s which were sold off. 

NRE 3GS21C (2100 HP - Cummins Diesel)
#2110 - Modeled 2110
Note: NRE kit being built at MCIS Mount Pleasant shop on frame / trucks of EMD SD35

As my model railroad stays in the modern era the locomotive fleet is constantly being upgraded and changing to the demands of the system. The next few years will see some changes to the roster:

  • EMD GP30s rebuilding into slugs to be mated with EMD GP38-3s
  • EMD SD45-2s rebuilding into EMD SD32ECOs
  • Possible further acquisition of high horsepower locomotives SD70M-2 or ACe???

All information is fictional and is not endorsed by actual locomotive manufacturer.

Thank you to Fred Fogelsinger and Shannon Crabtree for the great job painting, detailing, decaling, and weathering my Michigan Interstate diesel fleet.