Thursday, April 30, 2015

Late April Update

April has come and gone and now we are on the cusp of May and for that matter summer. This is the 101st post and I want to thank first and foremost my wife and also family and friends who have helped bring the layout from planning in 2009 to where it is today. Appreciate all of the followers and individuals who have added my blog as a link on their site or just stop through to see the on-goings of the layout.

Original room 2009 before layout

Current April 2015

OPS 04-Q2-15
 This past month I hosted the 4th operating session on the "Clair" and wanted to share some of the photos. During the session I hosted Dan Munson, Chris Palmieri, and Rich Duncan as operators. We added 3 new trains to the lineup this session: 1. Unit coal train that delivered to the Saginaw Valley Cogen at Upper Huron, 2. unit grain train from MAC terminal to Port Huron, and 3. operated the L-GLBU now that customer sidings were installed. Enjoy the pictures provided by Dan Munson. 

M-PHBA-10 pulling through the west end of Bay Yard to double over inbound tracks. A good portion of this train including power will symbol as the M-BAMC-10 and continue to Mackinaw City (West Staging).
Rich at the controls of M-PHBA-10 doubling over at Bay Yard.

Chris switching out boxcars of paper rolls at the Fort Mackinaw Corrugated Plant with Y-BA04-10. 

Rich reviewing his manifest and special handling cars at Bay Yard before departing the M-BAMC-10.

Rich admiring some of the scenery on the east end of Bay Yard heading up the helix between runs. I kept the guys busy the entire session, but we had a great time. 

Overview of layout room during operations session. As you can see Wi-Throttle is used and provides a great way to control trains and minimize cords. 

Speed Matching
Began the adventure last night of speed matching my Soundtraxx Sound equipped motors. Having a fantastic resource guide from Mike Confalone's Allagsh Story and Mr.DCC University made getting into this pretty straight forward. Additionally having Wi-Throttle and Decoder Pro really make the process painless to adjust cv - test and so on in ops programming mode.

After about 30 minutes the first two motors were complete and are from different manufacturers which is fantastic. The slow speed control is great and when consisted maintained good spacing.

MCIS 4059 and MCIS 2101 on the Quanicassee Creek bridge.
Speed Matched: 2 complete
MCIS 4059 SD40-2M (Athearn R-T-R)
MCIS 2101 3GS21B (Atlas Trainman)

View from the riverbed.

So with 101 posts where are we going? Well going to build upon what we already know works: Early, Mid, Late month updates and Wordless Wednesdays. Stay tuned as I am embarking on the test of video content via a youtube channel. This would bring another dimension to the blog. Also looking to add step-by-step posts on projects.... Just gotta remember to take photos as I work on them.

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mid-April Update

So I was hoping to have photos from the op session on April 10th for this post, but due to life and work travels will have to wait till the end of month post. What I did decide to showcase was all of the job aides /operational resources used to make a ops session successful, and there is a ton so lets get started.

Locomotive Cards
Small laminated card that provides info for the operator such as model data, road #, dcc address, and functions. 

If the engine has sound the "locomotive card has a gray background as shown above.

Switch List / 
Train Manifest
Used to report the consist of a train. The manifest includes a blocking cheat sheet for the YM to use when switching the train. The switch list advises the local crew of work to be performed at their customer "First/Final Mile" services. These sheets and their roles will be changing between and the Q3 ops session with the implementation of a modified car card/waybill system.

Station Diagrams
The station diagrams help operators become familiar with the station or area they are working.

          Diagram for Bay Yard Industry
Not only does it show customers, tracks, and spotting instructions but also where you are in relation to the rest of the modeled railroad.

             Diagram for Bay Yard

Train Card
This laminated card was taken from template used by Steve Rodie up in Omaha, and tailored for the MCIS. Information on the train symbol, type, size, and work that it completes is clearly made available and helps the operator during the session.

                 Front of train card

          Back of card with train details

Session Line-Up Sheet
As the host I manage this sheet which helps us navigate our train lineup as we operate in sequence. Info on the sheet allows me to ensure we have a staging track, power, and someone to "mark up" and operate the train.

    Line-up with notes from last session

DTC Block Cards / DTC Block Signs

There is no dispatcher at this point on the layout as we currently operate on a first come first serve DTC block authority process.

     DTC sign and block card for "UPPE"
The layout is divided into DTC blocks which are noted by signs on the layout and by Velcro DTC block cards on the fascia. To operate in the block the operator pulls the card which now implies  he has authority to operate and no one else can. We practice pulling block cards for 2 to 3 blocks at a time to allow fluid train movements and ability to make a meet/pass at one of 2 locations on layout. As the train clears the block the card is put back in the fascia for another operator to use. I used this system after reading about Chip Cole's CSX Plymouth Sub and seeing it in practice on the ARR and SP.

    View of the "Begin UPPE Block" sign.
Each DTC block is a 4 letter abbreviation for the station it's in. For sidings it's the 4 letter abbreviation plus SDG denoting siding. Mainline switches are not in the blocks as they start or end on each end of the switch.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some the resources needed for a successful operating session. Please let me know if you have any questions.

- GM

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Early April Update

So it's April 12th, a little late for a early month update but there is ton to discuss and showcase this month so lets get started. With ops session #4 quickly approaching on Friday, April 10th there was much to be done on the layout. This post we are going to showcase the work completed on the layout.

Layout Work Completed
One of the biggest pieces that I had been wanting to complete was industry trackage so we could test during the ops session. We will walk through each area of work and talk about the setup.

Bay City, Michigan (Industrial Spur)
Reworked this area from the last session and now has alot better configuration. The Fort Mackinaw Corrugated Plant was moved forward and will allow the operator to see inside the plant for spotting the two track (6 car spot). In the far corner will be a switch for Saint Gobain Glass which will receive soda ash, sand, and recycled cullet. In the foreground is GEM Bakeries which has three tracks for spotting cars of corn syrup, flour, sugar, and vegetable oil. This facility is trailing point but for the corn syrup unload its a switch back requiring some planning before making switch moves. Using concrete ties gives the facility a more modern appeal.

Upper Huron, Michigan
I finally finished installing the west leg of the wye at Upper Huron meaning the trains coming to or from Bay City to Port Belle (staging through backdrop) will no longer have to go east and run around their train at Grays Lake before heading back west up the branch. Polarity reversing is accomplished with Digitrax AR-1 module.

Grays Lake, Michigan
View west 
View East
Alot of work was accomplished at Grays Lake adding in the spur which supports three different customers and the need for a road switcher to be based here. In the photo (View East) two customers; Cooperative Elevator and AmCan Polymers are located here. For readers who have been following the blog over time, you will realize this is where I originally had planned to have a salt mine. After many configurations the mine while plausible did not fit. I had built up a small fleet of 4600 Accurail ACF cubic covered hoppers for salt service but these have now been dispersed to the food grade fleet hauling sugar and malt.

On the west end of Grays Lake in the (View West) photo we can see the industrial lead off the mainline and Suburban Propane spur along the backdrop. The road switcher ties up on this end as well.

Gerhard, Michigan
The last area of work completed was at Gerhard. Bring there was no industry here, I looked through my customer base to see if I should model an industry that is well established or instead take some modelers license and add a new industry to this region. Recently I had read about Michigan micro-breweries looking for local malt suppliers which could help them expand their operations and I figured that creating "Huron Malting" would help fill that need to provide regional breweries and beverage producers with a malted barley supplier. This industry receives inbound barley and ships malted barley by rail. The facility also produces malt syrup as a byproduct which ships by tankcar. While the building layout is still being worked out, there are two tracks with the possibility of adding a third.

Thanks for stopping by - stay tuned this week for the Mid-April Update which will recap Fridays ops session with plenty of photos.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

I wanted to wish everyone a happy Easter. Hope you have the opportunity today to spend time with family and friends. On a side note spring is flying by so stay tuned for more updates, special subject posts, and Wordless Wednesdays.

While out railfanning on the "Clair" yesterday I caught MCIS 4059 with M-PHBA-04 tied down at Upper Huron awaiting the completion of an eight hour surfacing gang absolute MOW window.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015