Friday, January 30, 2015

Walt Disney World & Railroading Part 1 - Wilderness Lodge

Well the wait is over and we are off on great three part journey that will take you more in depth and look railroading and model railroading at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

The series is in three parts:
1. Disney s Wilderness Lodge - Today
2. Magic Kindgom - Monday
3. Epcot - Thursday

While I could spend time talking about railroads of fantasy and fun such as the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Casey Jr's. Circus Train, this series is going to focus on real railroading and model railroading at the resort.

Part 1: Disney's Wilderness Lodge 
Of the three places that I am going to discuss over the series this is probably the cheapest to visit, because being its a resort it is open to visitors who happen to be on property and does not require park admission. So what is this hidden secret; its called the Carolwood Pacific Room and it pays respect to Walt Disney's love of trains and his own backyard railroad (hence the name). While Walt died before the first shovel full of earth had been moved on what was called the "Florida Project" one wonders why would this room be at the resort. My thought on this is really quite simple - the resort is themed like some of the great forest service lodges from out west and one would tie lodges, American West, and railroads as just being absolutely the core of American progress and ingenuity. Enough of my interpretation of why the room is there lets look at the room and the great details within.

Carolwood Pacific Railroad
This is the name of Walt's backyard railroad that he had at his house in the Holmby Hills. Everything there was created by Walt and his team from scratch and it looked to be pioneering spirit of ride aboard garden railroads of the 1950s. We will talk more about the railroad and some of the significance but while visiting the room I did take pictures of the captions as I want to ensure that I reference and provide the correct information on Walt and his trains. I apologize in advance for the photos, the room is low light so getting a picture without the lighting was very difficult.

Interesting note was the name of the locomotive the "Lilly Belle" which was to honor his wife Lilian Disney for letting him turn part of the backyard into a garden railroad. Even Walt understood the great importance of recognizing the partnership we all take part of with our spouses to enjoy our hobby. 

 On display in the room is two of the actual 1/8 scale cars that were on the Carolwood Pacific.

While the railroad no longer exists today the barn that he used as his shop now resides at Griffith Park in Los Angeles and more of the rolling stock and Lilly Belle itself can be found at the The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. There is ton of great resources available online that will allow to further reading about the Carolwood Pacific so if you would like more please follow the links below:
Carolwood Pacific Historical Society
Carolwood Pacific Wikipedia Page
Disney Parks Blog on Carolwood Pacific

G scale model of Lilly Belle on display in the room.

Disneyland & Carolwood Pacific Significance
There was not alot about Disneyland's railroad in the room as it primarily focused on the Carolwood Pacific. My takeaway from the picture is really quite straight forward; "Thank You Mr. Disney for deciding to take the correct and historical way of showcasing the great railroads that built the United States." In the end he could of chose a different type or less prototypical train but The Disney Company did not cut those corners and to this day still display and allow guests to experience our proud railroading history at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World..... So the significance to me is Walt's love and passion for railroading on his own pike directly influenced and inspired him and his Imagineers when building the two parks with unique operations at both.

Our Railroads
There is significance here we can all relate to in our hobby because we all have been inspired by maybe an area we grew up in or one that we visited often. So we then take this influence and use it to design, build, and operate so others can enjoy and share with us in our passion. If you ask me this is something that is pretty specific to model railroading and I don't know if other hobbies allow for the same result. As an example I have provided my passion and influence below on why I created the Michigan Interstate Railroad.

My passion is creating a successful modern day regional in Michigan which operates through areas that I grew up traveling through and visiting when heading "Up North" to my grandparents lake cabin.
Key Ingredients that we can find from this post and withing the blog: Influence, design, build, operate, sharing

Fort Wilderness
Small fact - at one time the Fort Wildness Campground at Walt Disney World had a railroad. It came and went years before my existence so no photos or stories to tell, but the link below can provide you a great article to read on what use to be.

Fort Wildnerness Railroad Wikipedia Page
Mouseplanet Article by Jim Korkis

Until our next post - thanks for stopping by.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Late January Update

Hello everyone, thanks for stopping by. I had promised a three part series about Walt Disney World & Railroading. 

Those posts are in the works and will not disappoint but I have been under the weather over the weekend and even today.

In the meantime enjoy this link to Chris Palmieri's Meridian Speedway website and more importantly his synopsis of the operating with a fantastic slideshow of photos that really bring the railroad to life. Here is a sample of the numerous photos.

Stay tuned as I work to get the three part series out this week. As a preview here are the topics:
1. Disney's Wildnerness Lodge
2. Magic Kingdom
3. Epcot

Have a great start to the week.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mid January Update

Not much to talk about regarding layout progress mid month since I have been on vacation. I instead wanted to bring a neat perspective to that moment that a layout goes from being a model train to model railroad system. 

The layout is paused from the end of the last Ops Session on January 3rd. The neatest part of this pause is taking a snapshot of Bay Yard which we will talk about more in just a minute. Relating to real world operations it reminds me of the many times I have driven down I-35W over the Fort Worth & Western Hodge Yard in North Fort Worth. How does this remind you might ask? Well when I pass over the yard I get just a brief opportunity to glance and see what power is in town and what freight cars or for that matter how full or not full the yard is since its less than a dozen tracks, and no matter if I pass over it once a day, week, or month there is change... Cars arrive and depart with purpose and destination as this is what real railroads are built to do.

So taking back this observation to the MCIS St. Clair Subdivision I can look at the cars and engines in Bay Yard and know that they are not just models sitting on Atlas Code 83 and cork sheets but actually cars enroute to be unloaded or loaded in the North American rail system. Many of times before this snapshot cars had been on the layout were staged to allow train running but the way the cars are now was the result of physical gathering, distribution, and linehaul operation. So this snapshot was that one drive by you could say and the next drive by will be after the next operating day (ops session). Best part is the yard will look completely different...... if it doesnt look any different... well I will let you figure that out.

East End Snapshot
Yard power at DSF, Yard 5 - Bay City local cars (closest in foreground), Yard 4 - Mackinaw City cars,
Yard 3 - Grand Rapids cars, Yard 2 - Port Huron cars
West End Snapshot
Yard 2 - Port Huron cars (3rd track from left), Yard 3 - Grand Rapids cars, Yard 4 - Mackinaw City cars,
Yard 5 - Bay Local cars, DSF with yard power
Digging further into moving cars with a purpose and destination, lets talk about each of the tracks. Its all in the observation:

Yard 2 Port Huron:
VMID double door box returning to Virginia for lumber reload which will route MCIS-CN-NS-VMID
WCOX hoppers moving outbound ag products from MAC elevator in the background to southeast customers

Yard 3 Grand Rapids: 
CHTT (UP) box heading to California with paper rolls from Fort Mackinaw Paper.
MCIS newest and higher capacity 5161 cubic hoppers heading to gulf export with their loads of corn. 

Yard 4 Mackinaw City: (Cars visible in eastend snapshot)
MCIS, MCBT, and AGR 70 ton boxcars full of recycled paper bales and empty heading to the Fort Mackinaw Paper. 
MCBT all door boxcar heading to the upper peninsula for OSB loading. Rare but still around on MCIS in 2014.

Yard 5 Bay City Local: 
MCIS 4600 cubic salt car returning empty to Grays Lake for reloading.
WCOX returning empty to MAC elevator for loading.
PCIX pressureaide hopper loaded with flour for delivery Huron Bakeries.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the snapshot and just a glimpse of the commodity flows on the St. Clair Sub. These were just a small sample of the 132 car moves during this operating day. 

Thanks for stopping through and be sure to check back this weekend for Part 1 of my Walt Disney World & Railroading Series. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

Layout Panoramic Views

As promised on my post yesterday I wanted to showcase the entire layout room. Just recently I realized my iPhone 5 could take panoramic pictures..... neat lets give it a shot. The photos are a good bookmark on current progress and it will be neat to compare them with future progress panoramic views.

Lower Level (L to R = West to East)

L to R - West Staging entrance, Saginaw River swing bridge, Bay City, liftout section (Bay Yard west yard ladder)

L to R - Bay Yard (6 yard tracks, 2 DSF tracks), West Staging (located underneath), East yard ladder

L to R - East yard lead, Lake State connector (behind lumber wholesaler), M-13 overpass, helix entrance 

 Upper Level (L to R = West to East)

L to R - Exit from helix, Upper Huron, Port Belle Sub wye, Sugar plant spur, East Staging (behind backdrop panel)

Quanicassee Creek, Grays Lake, Grays Lake Industry Spur

Grays Lake Siding, Gerhard, East Staging entrance

Everyone have a safe week.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Early January Update

Happy New Year everyone! This past week has been a fury of activity on and around the MCIS St. Clair Subdivision. One of my resolutions for the new year was to establish realistic schedules for operating sessions once a quarter. January 3rd marked (OPS03-15-01) operating session #3 / 2015 / 1st quarter. Overall the session went great and Uncle Murphy took it easy on us.

Op session stats:
Operators: 3 operators + me assisting as jack of all trades and extra board crew 
Duration: 4 hours : 30 minutes
Car moves: 132
Engines Utilized: 14
Trains Operated: 11 trains
Dispatching Method: Direct Traffic Control (DTC) with block signs, block cards, and verbal authority.

Balance on the layout was good and there is definitely room to add a 2-3 extra trains that can change each session such as unit train, dimensional, foreign detour, or officer specials.

Below are a few pictures taken of the session by one of the operators Jock Luckett.
Mike operating the M-BAMC-03 with a set of EMD SD22ECOs (Manifest - Bay City to Mackinaw City). To the right you can see the newly added trackage that serves the Bay Industrial Spur. That's me in the background acting as structures inspector looking for any bridge track issues. 

East end of Bay Yard looks quiet..... quite deceiving.
CSX 4842/4845 lead Q-GRPH-02 (Extended Manifest - Grand Rapids to Port Huron) up the helix. As part of a haulage agreement with the CSX this and the mirror returning Qs regularly see foreign high horsepower run through motors.
Tail end of the Q-GRPH-02 leaving Bay Yard and beginning the trek to Port Huron.

This is the upper deck 3 track east staging yard with Backdrop panel raised. For this session I kept it up for operator familiarization. In the foreground are two temporary tracks with car spotted at the Michigan Sugar Plant at Upper Huron.

Newly added this past week is the customer spur for Michigan Agricultural Commodities at Bay City. With two tracks and its own lead the facility can host entire unit trains of 12-14 cars. Normally smaller blocks are handled daily by the Y-BA04-XX (Bay City Industry Switcher)

View over looking the Bay City Division offices and main body of Bay Yard.

A nice perspective of the helix that connects the two levels of the layout. A neat part of the helix is the ability to stand up inside of it to view trains transiting and handle preventative maintenance. 
Thanks for checking out the update - check back this week for another update with layout panoramic views.