Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween

Everyone have a safe and happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Virginia Sightings

Railcars whether private or railroad constantly criss-cross the North American rail network carrying goods of an endless variety of different customers. While we as modelers can easily model the rest of the "network" through modeled interchanges or staging yards, some modelers exchange or share cars with other like theme/era modelers. Beyond your normal empty - load car cycle cars also transit to a host of shops for work that could range from cleaning, painting, and light repairs to full rebuilds extending their lifespan.

Shannon Crabtree snapped photos of various pieces of Michigan Interstate equipment transiting the Virginia Midland and Virginia Central over the past month. Since Shannon's VMS contract shop does work for MCIS, it is not uncommon to see our equipment in Virginia. Let's take a look at what each piece of rolling stock was 

MCIS 8590 loaded for Specialized Beverage with cases of "Laker Lager" coming from Great Lakes Brewing. While a regional brew folks in the MidAtlantic really got a taste for it.

MCBT 8498 loaded with wood veneer from Michigan's Upper Peninsula for Klotz Distributors.

Three FMC 4700s for beet pulp/pellet and agricultural service at Fredricksburg Flats. Just like the ACF car below they had transited to VMS for interior lining and finishing details. It didn't take very long for vandals to tag their "art" on two of the cars.

One of MCIS' rebuilt ACF 4600s now in malted barley service for Huron Malting. The cars were painted by FRS in Michigan but the interior linings and final detailing / decaling were completed at VMS. The cars are in the "stealth" scheme that has been used in the past year on covered hopper repaints. Additionally these repaints received an American flag in the upper left corner similar to PAR's boxcars.

MCIS ballast hopper at Virginia Central yard heading to VMS for dump door refitting and solar panels for automatic operations. 

**Backstory - these cars all went to Shannon Crabtree for weathering, as you can see from the pictures his work is awesome which is a testament to his modeling skills. Check out his blog for more photos and videos**

Everyone have a great Halloween in case I don't get my Late October post out. Life can be crazy with kiddos so you never know what your schedule will hold.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

Mid October Update

October is well in progress, with Halloween just around the corner. So what modeling have I been up to? Layout time has been limited to working on my Sugar Beet Plant kitbash project.  Wordless Wednesday #35 showcases the main power plant / Cogen boiler structure. I have been planning this industry for sometime and collected eight Walthers kits to use as part sources. I hope to have photos for end of month update showing the progress complete so far. Along with kitbashing, I also visited  a local show and layout so let's get into the pictures shall we.

Texas Western Model Railroad Club Show
     TWMRC banner at entry table.

The second year for this show which I absolutely love attending because it has reasonable admission ($6), free parking, vendors of all sorts, they improved from last year, and it's in Fort Worth!!

I picked up some great bargains for $100 
  - 6 Norscot Heavy Equipment Pieces
  - Built / weathered building for Gerhard malt or cereal plant.
    Building roughed in for Malt or Cereal Plant @ Gerhard. A lot of neat kitbashed character in shape, paint, weathering, and covered track area.

  Lower level was all vendors, I liked this change over last year.

                 O gauge - Tinplate
                        N scale
           NTGRC - G scale setup
Additionally there were layout open houses and clinics that you could attend.

Don Murphey's St. Louis, Atlantic, and Pacific
Last week I had the opportunity to visit I Don's layout to discuss future operating strategies and see the great work he already had in place. This was my first opportunity to see the RailOp car forwarding systerm in use. The layout is 26x40 with a 450' double track mainline run. Provided is a synopsis of the layout (courtesy of the DFW Interchange Website):
East meets west and north meets south on the St. Louis, Atlantic, and Pacific. This railroad recalls Don's experience with St. Louis Union Station and its passenger trains. Over 30 railroads operated passenger and freight trains through this area in the steam to diesel transition era. Focal point of this 26' x 40' foot railroad is a 15 track Union Station. Complicated throat trackage utilizing single and double slip switches to route the trains to their assigned tracks. Don has carefully engineered his track and cars to allow long trains to back into the depot. Visitors will be able to return to the days when exotic train names such as Zephyr, Eagle, Rocket, Firefly, and Chief were common in railroading, In addition to Union Station, a 450 foot double track main line winds around the room. A suburban depot reminiscent of Tower Grove, Missouri is another feature, along with extensive steam and diesel facilities. Freight operations center around several on line towns. Don’s wife helps with scenery work and 60% of the scenery is complete, including several well detailed scenes. Era is elastic, including both steam and modern diesel power. This is an opportunity to see a railroad where passenger trains and terminal operations are king.
  Overall room view from entrance.

       St. Louis yard and loco servicing
            St. Louis Union Terminal 

              Kansas City Industries

                Jefferson City, MO

                   Kirkwood, MO 
This layout was a lot of fun to railfan and operate on. Beings I do not model steam, early diesel, or passenger ops this gave me a great opportunity to experience and understand more of this side of the hobby. Definitely a great side effect of making friends in the hobby is getting to experience a model railroad that is not your own. Personally I feel it that it adds a greater depth of knowledge which can be translated and used to further my own model railroad.

Have a great month.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Houston Visit

It always seems that my work travel comes in two week waves.. None the less this past week I was in Houston, but between customers and conferences I found sometime to catch a local model train store. There is a ton of petrochemical industry and every type of Tankcar you can imagine is found in the greater Houston area.

UP train heading east through Manchester Jct. south of the ship channel. This train is heading towards the PTRA Manchester Yard and ship channel industries.

Back to the model train shop I had mentioned. 

Papa Bens Trains located west of downtown turned out to be a great store well stocked with helpful staff. The shop also hosts a large N scale layout that runs in another room and in the shop itself. If you are in the Houston make it a point to stop by.

     Layout display on the shop side.

  Rest of layout on other side of wall. It is awesome to see what Modellers do with N scale.

While perusing the shelves I came across a consignment area which turned up an older Walthers Trinity PD hopper. Not only was it assembled but the car had metal wheels, kadees, weathering, and FRA reflective striping.

         What a great find for $20.

     ADMX 51065 @ Bay City (Bay Yard)

Later this week in the Mid October post we will look back on this past weekends Texas Western Model Railroad Club Train Show. This is the second year for this show, and we found some great items for the layout which will be showcased.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Early October Update

The first weekend of October is behind us and with it was a busy weekend chocked full of model railroad operations. 

FWLOD 2015
Fort Worth Layout Operations Day

Night before FWLOD - ready to go. Even pulled off the french doors to make getting around easier.

The genesis of Dean Ferris, this past Saturday turned out be a great time for Modelers from around the DFW area to operate on Fort Worth area layouts. There were 8 participating layouts ranging in a host of sizes and eras all in N or HO scales. There were morning and afternoon sessions, which the MCIS St. Clair Sub hosted operators for both which made for a very busy day. In the past we have operated with three individuals plus myself but this time we added a dispatcher giving us four operators. The morning session hosted Joe Bohannon, Don Murphy, Jim Aust, and Eric Davis. As for assignments Joe took on the new dispatcher role, Jim and Don took the road assignments, and Eric handled yardmaster / RCO operator duties.

The session went great - we not only operated though all of the trains on the lineup, but also put the new car card / blocking system through its first live use. Here are a pictures from the morning:

Don moving his power from the yard to DSF tracks.
Taking a break from dispatching Joe switches Bay Industrial Lead customers with the Y-BA04-03.
Eric managing and classifying traffic at Bay Yard.

Between sessions was a 2 hour break for operators to get lunch and travel. For us hosts with a AM and PM session this was  our time to mad dash and reset for the afternoon. I say reset but we continue off where we last ended but trains that went east now head west and so on with new blocking car cards.
All of blocking cards lined up - many different options for operations.

The afternoon session consisted of three operators due to a cancellation and consisted of Chris Atkins, Tom Pearson, and Wayne Snyder. Since we were short one operator we went back to self issuance of the DTC block cards (love the flexibility) as had done prior to this day. Towards the end of the session Dean Ferris and Chris King stopped in and were assigned to the Y-BA04-04 handling the local Bay City customers.
L-GEGL-04 making switch moves at Grays Lake.

     All quiet in Bay Yard at "shift change".

After tieing up all of the trains the session was called complete. I was very impressed with how the layout performed for the operators beings it was continuously ran for nine hours (0830-1730). We had very few derailments I believe just one or two which had been caused by the lift out section being out of alignment... I can live with that. Afterwards around 20 individuals from the event attended the dinner at Spring Creek BBQ. 

Thank you to the following, the day would have not been successful without your unwavering support.
My wife: for taking the kids on outings all day to help with the chaos in the layout room, support of my hobby, and finances.
My father: for helping with construction support whether it was lighting, fascia, or engineering puzzles.
My mother: going with my wife to help with the kiddos and financing.
Chris Palmieri: for helping on Friday to get all of the block cards setup, trains staged, cars repaired, and being a good video producer. Below is a link (copy and paste) to Chris' Meridian Spedway blog showcasing Friday behind the scenes:

A lot of other fellow modelers have been instrumental in helping get the layout to its present operational status and I thank you.

Enjoy a few more photos from the day.

MCIS 4052 (SD40-2) and MCIS 4059 (SD40-2M) idling on east yard lead.

Thumb Electric Cooperative (Co-Gen Plant) and Michigan Sugar both had temporary tracks installed allowing for cars to be delivered and pulled. The foreground tracks are for the weekly coal train at TEC, while background tracks support Michigan Sugar.

Everyone have a great month - be on the lookout for this weeks Wordless Wednesday.