Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mid September Update

I blinked and the summer was gone... June, July, and August all flew by at astonishing pace and now here we are in September. Over the past few weeks quite a few projects have been happening on the "Clair".

Project #1 - Rolling Stock Reliability Program 2014. 
Inspired my Mike Confalone's Allagash Story and Mike McNamara's car maintenance post I took a hard look at my fleet reliability and realized it was outright pathetic.... While I had made large progress at converting 100% of the operating fleet to Intermountain 33/36 metal wheelsets; what was operating hadn't been cleaned, plastic knuckles failed, and some truck bolsters just needed outright adjustment.

Gridlock...? Nope just cars and power that have completed RSRP awaiting movement to the storage cabinets.
Solution - R.S.R.P.  "The Program". Over the past two weeks I have been averaging 8 cars a day to go through a rigorous preventative maintenance program.
  #1 Clean wheelsets - use a cotton swap to apply alcohol to the tread of the wheel softening up the "gunk"
                -Once on I then use a dremel tool with brass wheel brush on the lowest setting.
                -Keeping friction on the axle as to not melt the truck or wheel I lightly clean the wheel which                           removes the buildup.
  #2 Ream out trucks for better rolling.
  #3 Replace plastic couplers with Kadee #5 - only exception is the shelf style coupler on Athearn tankcars.
                - Check coupler height with Kadee gauge and adjust with Kadee shims accordingly.
  #4 Truck Bolster Adjustment - allow only one truck use the "B" end or brake end to move on 3 point axis
                - A end truck is only allowed to swivel back and forth horizontally.
  #5 Fix any parts on car that either had come off or were loose.
  #6 Enter car into excel database for future preventative

So far 72 cars have been completed with another 40-50 to go.

Locomotives are also going through a similar program at the rate of 1 or 2 a day which includes wheel cleaning using the TRIX HO brass wheel cleaner and repair of any detail parts that came off while operating. One item that will be added to the locomotive process will be Decoder programming to be speed match and operate locomotives of all brands together. The Allagash Story provides some great insight to consisting and locomotive CV parameters for realistic operation.

So far 6 of 27 locomotives have been completed.

The Clean line.... 1 MP15DC, 3 GP38-2s, 1 SD70ACe, and 1 3GS21B
Project #2 - Lift Out Section Improvements
After my last two operating sessions I realized and got operator feedback that I needed a way to better secure my lower level lift out piece, because there wasn't really one other than sheer luck....

Solutions.... Lock It Up. Using sliding bolt looks from the local home improvement store the lift out section now has three securement devices. There is a little play but not enough to send a passing train to the deep abyss below known as the floor.

Top Slide Lock - Will be hidden by BLMA shed once scenery is complete. This lock provides a tighter securement keep the tracks on the layout and lift out section aligned.

Bottom slide lock - one on each end, keeps it from falling to the floor.

Project #3 - Backdrop Install
Les at Sceniking has been great help working toward getting backdrops installed on the Clair. I started out with three kits which one I had already installed for the Saginaw River Crossing Scene. The other two I hadn't used yet were a hardwood forest and soybean fields. Sunday provided the opportunity to install both of them with relative ease and a lot of enjoyment. Making sure that your backdrop is already painted, glue stick and a good pair of craft scissors always make the process move by even quicker. There is alot of debate out there on backdrops - sky, no sky, photographic, painted, etc.... I decided to go with Sceniking printed backdrops over-layed on a latex painted backdrop. This means that I cut the sky out of the scene and I am greatly impressed with the results. Looking forward to purchasing more and getting the ones I have up fully blended into the scene.

Hardwood scene at Bay Yard - for all you familiar with HESR's Wenona Yard I think its a good comparison
Soybean field scene at east of Grays Lake - angle up view.

Same view closer in with MCIS 4571 (SD45-2) rolling by on the siding.

Angle down view - will scenic from backdrop up to tracks with Soybean crops.

Everyone have a great month - look for my next post toward the back end of the month.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Warbonnet and A View

Things were quieter than normal on the "Clair" today due to Labor Day. On the flip side capital gangs were out in force taking advantage of uninterrupted track time (Early Sept post).

Two Q trains did operate through the terminal with the eastbound Q-GRPH-01 only setting out MCIS 3829 (GP38-2) and four cars. From the pictures I will let you guess the previous owner... 

The power desk took advantage of the quiet weekend to repo this unit over to Bay City after one of the SD40-2s assigned to road service here wound up heading to Mt. Pleasant's dead line.

A View
From the yard tower looking east.

From the DSF sand tower looking west.

Happy Labor Day everyone!