Friday, January 6, 2017

2016 Recap / 2017 Plan

In my last post we discussed briefly reviewing the goals I had set for 2016. Well I took the time to go back to that first post of January and collect the goals I had set and we are now going to examine each to see where I landed. After discussing 2016 recap, we will walk through my 2016 state of the railroad and turn attention to setting goals for 2017.

EMD SD40-2 #4056 glides past corn fields just west of Gerhard, Michigan.  


2016 GOALS vs. ACTUAL
Goal: Create scenery 
Actual: Completed scenery in “Farm Fields Curve” scene and refreshed “East Bay Yard” scene 

Goal: Build structures: 
Actual: Did not meet goal of building structures, however did acquire more built buildings for scenes

Goal: Quarterly Ops Sessions
Actual: January 2016, June 2016, October 2016 A, October 2016 B

Goal: Host layout in FWLOD
Actual: Hosted two sessions during DFW Interchange Ops weekend, next FWLOD should be 2017

Goal: 4 to 5 Locomotive sound installs 
Actual: 11 sound installs complete (8 contract / 3 MCIS)

** Bonus **
Actual: Partnered with Azatrax LLC. to plan, install, showcase, and operate a ABS system with 8 blocks and sixteen signal heads between East Bay City and East Staging in less than five months. 


ABS signals guarding the transition between EBAY and EDSE blocks east of Bay City.

Overall I met 4 of 5 goals for 2016 and I am very proud of the accomplishments made and assistance from family and friends along the way. 


MCIS 3816 idles in Bay Yard awaiting its next assignment


STATE OF THE RAILROAD 2016
Ops Sessions
This year we hosted four operating sessions with 18 total operators attending. Of these sessions one was part of the NMRA Lone Star Region Convention and the last two were part of the DFW Interchange weekend. Over these four sessions, 52 trains were operated with 624 total car movements. 

Railcar Fleet
Active railcar fleet stands at 190 cars (30 cars added, 6 removed for net gain of 24 cars in 2016). I do not see any big changes with the fleet in the next year as the current car mix accurately captures the overhead and local traffic that is common on the St. Clair Sub. 

Locomotive Fleet
Total fleet stands at 67 motors (63 on active roster and 4 stored). Of 67, 29 are actually modelled of which 20 are active. 
Two rebuilt SD40M-2s (former SD45-2) and one GP38-2 were returned to service this December with Soundtraxx Tsunami2 and Tsunami sound decoders. Upon activation and assignment, our mechanical team will review the proposed retirement of the nine oldest GP38-2s which lower their total number for 25 to 16. Of the oldest nine GP38-2s three are modelled with two on the dead line. 

MAC Shop Contract Work
This year Michigan Interstate’s Mt. Pleasant, Michigan MAC “Motivepower & Car” began outside contract decoder install work. This year saw work completed for three different customers culminating in eight sound decoder installs. Overall the MAC shop completed installation of eleven sound decoder systems in 2016. 

Customer Franchise
Looking at the customer base, we had three traffic additions on the St. Clair Sub this year. Starting with Michigan Sugar at Upper Huron we converted a portion of the 4000 cubic open top hoppers from coal to hauling sugar beets during the campaign August thru November converting this short haul move away from trucks. In between beet seasons the cars will find use in aggregate service with a large demand planned for 2017. Additionally two customer facilities were added this year with first being Graystone Cement at Bay City. This facility is a water to rail distribution terminal for cement products moving to the Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic, and eastern Canadian regions. Secondly Crop Production Services opened a fertilizer facility at Grays Lake to support Michigan’s fertile Thumb region. 
Our bread and butter summed up in this photo at Bay Yard

Engineering / Infrastructure
Trackwork complete in 2016 on the St. Clair Sub consisted of adding run around tracks at Grays Lake and Bay City to better support local service to customers. The largest task handled by our engineering team was the addition of an operational Automatic Block Signal System between Bay City and Port Huron. The modelled portion consists of eight detection blocks driving 16 signal heads installed between June and October in partnership with Azatrax LLC of Longmont, CO. The new system was first used operationally and operated flawlessly during the DFW Interchange session on October 29thwhich consisted of two sessions lasting 6.5 hours handling 25 trains. Be sure to check the blog to walk through the different phases of install. Operating the ABS system alongside Direct Traffic Control dispatching provides an extra layer of safety while being cost effective for Class II regional system.

Social Media
Keeping current the Michigan Interstate St. Clair Subdivision is on the worldwide web with its own blog showcasing monthly updates, layout how-to installs, and other musings in the prototype and model railroading industry. In addition we also have a YouTube Channel showcasing some of the previous operating events, signal system operation, and links to other great channels. This year we reached over 55,600 views with our highest month to date viewership in July at 4,022 views. While we do not have our own page on Facebook we do share in multiple groups the happenings around the St. Clair Sub (Model Rail Radio, Freelance Model Railroads, and Model Railroad Operations). The goal of the blog is to reach, inspire, and showcase the great opportunities within the hobby. 

Scene Development
Closing out the year, two scenes are largely completed with exception for small details. On the lower level the East Bay Scene (Bay Yard East Lead Switch to Helix entrance) was refreshed and completed during the ABS system install. The upper level scene completion consisted of “Corn / Bean Fields” (M-29 Overpass to Gerhard). 
Making the most of planning, the layout has been divided into twelve scenic sections. By dividing the layout into these scenes I can better plan and allocate resources and materials to make progress. Too often we as modelers get pulled to work on many scenes at once that either do not get completed in a timely manner or rack up a lot of costs. My hope is focusing on one area before moving to the next will net finished scene results. Originally I had planned to complete one upper and one lower level, but best to finish work above before moving to lower deck. 
Conductor riding point of shove from Bay Yard out of Lakes Forest Products


GOALS SET FOR 2017
Ops Sessions
One session per quarter to include hosting during 2017 Fort Worth Layout Operations Day

Railcar Fleet
Continue with fleet weathering – planned 20 cars. Acquire cars from Scale Trains and Springs Mills Depot. 

Locomotive Fleet
No locomotive acquisitions planned / Activate (2) SD60Ms, (1) GP40-2 and upgrade (2) GP40-2s

MAC Shop Work
Support MCIS planned installs and any contract work sourced

Customer Franchise
Michigan Agricultural Commodities will be begin operating unit train service from their Bay City Terminal for export at Hunter’s Bay, VA. Additionally large MDOT projects have already placed a large demand for aggregates in 2017 which will require unit train service of aggregates off the Port Belle Branch. 

Engineering / Infrastructure
Dump ballast at Grays Lake and continue installing Caboose Industries ground throws 

Social Media
Early and Late Month Update Blog Posts, Posting update links to Facebook groups. 

Scene Development
Complete scenery, trackwork, and structures in “Grays Lake” scene


Shoving platform 31 returning to Bay City on rear of L-PBBA-02 "Sugar Turn"

So here's to 2017 and what we hope it will bring the Michigan Interstate. I hope the best for everyone, your families, and your model railroading hobby!

GM

**(Photos shown were my best of the year similar to what you would see in a stockholder packet)**


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