Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mid November Update

Seems like yesterday we were just at Halloween and now Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Before you know it I will be making the comments about Christmas and New Years. Well back to model railroading and what's been happening on the "Clair".

As with most engines there comes a time when they are struck from the roster replaced by newer equipment or due to mechanical failure. As the case with SW9 #463 the locomotive had been purchased from Illinois Central and used primarily for yard and customer switching around the east end of the railroad. When newer road locomotives were acquired the cascading effect took place with 567 powered engines being stored or sold. This particular engine had been in great condition stored drained and inside at Mt. Pleasant. Fast forward to this past week with R.Duncan Rail making an offer to purchase the engine. In short order the shop forces had it prepped for dead-in-tow transit to Texas via CN-Bellevue-NS--EStLouis-BNSF

Third in consist dead in tow (DIT) on M-BAPH-19 departing Bay Yard.

Side view showing its Illinois Central "green diamond" heritage. 

This past week spent some evenings diving into the kitbashing and construction of the Sugar Beet / Cogen Plant at Upper Huron. So far its comprised of seven Walthers kits, foam board, and styrene strucural shapes for strucure support. Now that the facility is in progress I can talk to the rail traffic we will see come in and out in a upcoming post. Until then enjoy some initial photos of week 1 of work.

View west towards Upper Huron eye. From back to front sugar loadout, sugar / beet pulp silos, processing building. Foreground will consist of 3 track yard and molasses loadout rack with tanks.

View over top of molasses tank.

View east from wye with sugar loadout building center with rest of complex behind it.

Earlier in the week I caught Y-BA06-17 returning from Lake State Railway interchange. Behind the Genset were three freshly painted schemes commissioned by MCIS and completed by Fogelsinger Rail (Fred Fogelsinger).

MCIS 3830 in MCIS 30th Anniversary Scheme
Y-BA06-17 passing through Chessie Jct.

     Side Shot

Closeup of 30th Anniversary decals. 

Sitting at Bay Yard DSF. This weekend the M-BAMC will take it to Mt. Pleasant where shop forces will complete finishing items before going into service.

Special scheme honoring my daughter

Special scheme honoring my son

As you can see this past week has been pretty busy on the Clair. Have a great weekend and stay tuned via following the blog or bookmarking to stay up to date on the posts.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Musings

With our families busy weekend I did not get anyrhing done on the layout, and that's ok. But while sitting with my daughter in our office this evening I noticed a few neat photo angles. Enjoy the pictures. I hope to rearrange some of the lower deck lighting to get it more "even".

Yard appears full from this view. The yard will clear out once train on yard 1 (BN green hopper) departs.

Looking through two different types of centerbeams.

Plug door framed between two cars in foreground.

Looking at cars from photos above from different angle.

This older sentinel has seen a lot of action. Started with Boston Maine, went to a few lessors before coming to Michigan Interstate. Originally for salt service (hence the rusted body) this car now sees use in granulated product service.

Cars that were photographed in Virginia a few weeks ago have returned to home rails. These 4600 cubics are heading for Gerhard, Michigan to load out at Huron Malting. Boxcar in background will join the corrugated board / paper service pool.

Boxcars and covered hoppers reign king on the MCIS.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Early November Update

November is here and with it has come the Texas version of fall. Traveling and family events have kept me busy, but did fine some time to acquire a few EBay listings and while traveling made a visit to BLMA Models. 

Layout Roster Additions

There are plenty of times when you can find really good deals on EBay for your layout. This past week I found four cars that would be good for the layout, all for $15 or less per car.

Walthers 16,000 gal. Funnel Flow Tank marked for Occident

Two Atlas Trainman 62' Bulkhead flats. These cars will be lettered for Essar Steel (ESAX).

Atlas ACF Pressuraide marked for ADM.

BLMA Models Visit
Traveling out west in the Inland Empire this past week I had a few hours between training classes, so I decided to check out BLMA Models in Fullerton, CA. 

Craig Martyn (Owner BLMA Models) and yours truly.

BLMA is located in Fullerton, CA. which is just north of Anaheim. Additionally their office is located right across from the BNSF San Bernardino Sub and Fullerton Depot (modeling and railfanning). Arriving I was greeted by Craig who then proceeded to give a tour of the office, introduce his staff, and show a behind the scenes look. It's pretty awesome to meet individuals like Craig who continue to bring innovative products to contemporary modelers and the model railroading industry. The chance to get his perspective on the industry, product lines, and future developments was a great takeaway. Before heading out, I decided to pickup a modern sectional concrete bridge (future layout how to post) and recently released ATSF BX-166 beer car (non-logo scheme). If you are in the Anaheim area taking the time to meet Craig and the BLMA team is a good way to get in touch with the manufacturers that bring our hobby to life. Give them a call or email ahead of time to make sure they are expecting your visit.

Few more photos from around the office:
Product display case - Craig and Jay Leno in the photo on the case.

Articles about Craig and BLMA accomplishments.

Pre-production model of Trinity 5660 PD. I am excited about this release!

HO Scale signal display..... If only I needed CTC on the Clair.

Detail parts.... You bet

Craig and I talking shop and admiring the N and HO scale stock.

Upon returning from my trip the beer car came online.
Would love to see this in BNSF schemes, but ATSF is still great. This car is well done with great detail and runs well. Considering this car is 40+ years old on my layout, it will substantial weathering.

Enjoy the pictures and have a great week.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chasing Z-BKPH-30

It's always a good idea to step back once in a while from working on the layout to truely railfan or chase a train across the railroad that you have planned and built.

This past Sunday afternoon I did just that and decided to railfan the west end of St. Clair Sub and see what train came our way. 

Sitting at the local McDonalds off I-75 It wasnt long before my scanner crackled to life with CN2224 east requesting DTC block authority for EMID, SQUA, and RIVE from the St. Clair Sub Dispatcher. Knowing the train was roughly 15 miles west of our location we took the opportunity to head to the east side of the Saginaw River Swing Bridge and setup for the train.

CN2224 and CN6256 leading the Z-BKPH-30 over the Saginaw River. This train is an overhead haulage freight from Battle Creek to Port Huron using MCIS tracks. The St. Clair Sub sees two of these trains daily, one east and one west. Power can be anything from western road power to Ferromex engines, but normally it is two CN engines.

After catching the train crossing the river at an illustrious 10mph, we knew the train would be stopping at Bay Yard to change crews before continuing onto Port Huron, so a photo at the yard would be win as well.

Quick snapshot of outbound crew boarding CN2224. Soon after boarding and running through their necessary paperwork, they called up the St. Clair Desk and requested DTC authority to Port Huron. Beings it was Saturday, traffic was a lighter, meaning the dispatcher gave them the road all the way to Kincaid roughly 50 miles west. We were going to be hot pursuit with nothing opposing the train at 40mph track speed.

After the Z crept away from depot we were pleasantly suprised to catch MCIS SD40-2M #4059 and SD40-2 #4052 on point of the M-BAMC-31 awaiting its crew. Can't railfan the MCIS without capturing at least one home road motor.

On the way east to begin chase, we stopped briefly on the M-33 overpass to photograph the train coming out of Bay Yard.

Traversing Chessie Jct on "Bay 1"

"Bay 1, Bay 2, and east yard lead coming together"

Looking west as the FDL16 and 645 began spooling up to tackle the gradual grade out of the Saginaw River valley.

Tail end of train snaking through Chessie Jct. past Lakes Forest Products. You can always catch a good mix of the Canadian Wheat Board hoppers on these trains.

The train was now well underway through fertile farmland dotted with sugar beets, corn, and soybean fields ready for harvest. While it would run through Gerhard and Edsel we opted to intercept down the line at Upper Huron.

The scanner came to life as the crew released "GERH" and "EDSE" blocks. We knew it wouldn't be long before the rumble would become a headlight coming into view at Upper Huron. 

Beings that Upper Huron is the highest point on the Sub and crest of the grade, we could hear the engineer notching off the throttle as he passed by. From here to Grays Lake he could maintain track speed with small input and the trains i tonnage. Upper Huron in itself is a nice place to railfan for the day with the wye to the Port Belle branch hosting a daily turn, weekly coal train to Michigan Sugar, and intermittent aggregate and grain trains.

Not the best shot but caught the leader before crossing Quincassee Creek.

Continuing the chase into Grays Lake I decided to capture the train with the sleepy town as the setting with the train traveling through it.
This Saturday afternoon Grays Lake was pretty quiet with exception of the lonely garbage truck as the train lumbered by in the background.

Passing through the east side of Grays Lake we pass a billboard for Tim Horton's. CN and Tim Hortons... Couldn't think of two things that are more synonymous with Canada than these two .

Out of Grays Lake the county highway parallels the main into Gerhard allowing us to capture the head end with the passing siding and local setout track in the foreground. Most of the time we would make a meet here but with a quiet Saturday the train races along at track speed.

With our last spot picked out in advance of the arriving train we catch Z-BKPH-30 passing Gerhards restored station on its way to Port Huron. As the train rolls out of "GRAY" and into "GERH" block we hear the dispatcher issue the "KINC SDG" block at Kincaid to westbound U-MYPB-30 (Empty limestone Marysville to Port Belle), signifying the Z-BKPH will hold the main and continue on east.

The entire trip I have focused on the motors but as the train slips past I notice some intersting graffiti on the Chlorine tank car, and figure what a neat inspiration to model.

Lastly what looks to be a freshly painted Minnesota Commercial boxcar brings up the rear.
Peeking into the photos foreground is MCIS GP40-2 #4008. Traffic levels from numerous customers at Gerhard and Grays Lake warrant a local switcher, which is based out of Gerhard during weekdays. Normally any four axle general pool EMD can be found on this assignment, but lately 4008 has been holding the job. Here in a week or two we will see it back at Bay City for its 90 day, probably swapping with GP38-2 #3816.

We could continue the chase onto Port Huron or wait here for the U-MYPB-30 which never has a dissapointing consist, but today we are going to call it and head for home.

I hope everyone has enjoyed this narrated chase of Z-BKPH-30 on the St. Clair Sub.