Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Touring the St. Clair Sub

It has been some time since I have done a tour of the St. Clair Sub, or at least the modelled west end portion. During the tour we are going to look at each of the stations along the route. As a reader myself, I can never seem to get enough content when seeing a layout overview whether it's descriptions or photos. So I made this post longer than normal, in hopes you the reader would get a greater sense of the entire model railroad through just that more photos and narrative.

Starting from the west, the St. Clair Sub comes on-layout at Squaconning. Beyond the layout are typical destinations of Mackinac City (MC), Grand Rapids (GR), and Mount Pleasant (MP) served directly from Bay Yard via 4 track staging yard.

The swing bridge allows the line to cross the river west to east. 

BAY CITY (Industrial Spur)
Once across the bridge the Sub turns towards Bay Yard located on the southeast side of town. At this curve is the beginning of the Bay Industrial Spur serving Fort Mackinac Corrugated, GEM Bakeries, and Interstate Asphalt.

Loacated on the main just past the industrial spur is the west lead switch for Bay Yard. The primary portion of the lead is on a removable section of the layout for accessing the layout. Beyond the liftout section the yard splits into 6 tracks with a 2 track diesel servicing facility. The yard can hold around 80 cars at maximum capacity. The DSF handles monthly-quarterly inspections, running repairs, fuel, and sand. 

BAY CITY (Elevator Spur)
Adjacent to the yard is the elevator spur servicing Michigan Agricultural Commodities Bay City Terminal. 

BAY 1 & 2
The main line curves around the east side  of Bay Yard. Just beyond the Division office is the west siding switch where Mai diverges into Bay 1 and 2 mains down to Chessie Jct. 

On the east end of Bay Yard, one of the mains has a switch allowing access to the Essexville Branch and Lake State Railway connection. The name Chessie Jct. comes from back with CSXT and predecessor C&O operated the line prior to Lake State. Located next to C.J. is the last customer in Bay City known as Lakes Forest Products.

Just beyond Chessie Jct. the east yard lead merges back into the main before the helix climb. The stations of Edsel and Weiss are unmodeled towns represented in the helix.

Upon exiting the top of helix the subdivision enters the town of Upper Huron. Here the Port Belle Sub diverges to the north via west and east leg wyes. The Port Belle Sub continues around the back of the helix for staging the local., it also doubles as a continuous run. Located in Upper Huron is Michigan Sugar / Saginaw Valley Cogeneration. This happens to be largest customer on layout that has its own local and weekly unit coal trains.

Leaving Upper Huron the St. Clair crosses the through truss bridge over Quincassee Creek. This bridge is due for refresh since being built in December 2007.

Beyond the Q bridge the line enters Grays Lake. Within town the railroad serves Cooperative Elevator and 3M on the farm branch. Additionally the local road switcher is based out of here. East of downtown is the west siding switch where the mainline operated adjacent to a full length passing siding for staging meets.

Between Grays Lake and the next station Gerhard is Grays Siding running adjacent to the mainline. This is one of three passing siding for making meets between Bay City and Port Huron. Next to the passing siding is the local siding used for pickups and setouts handled by the Grays Lake road switcher.

As the line comes into town the local siding, passing siding, and main come back together at the East Siding Switch. In town the only industry is Huron Malting, but the overall size and traffic keeps the Grays Lake road switcher busy. Between the main and Huron Malting is the long lead track used for switching or continuous running which connects to the Port Belle Sub staging track. East staging consists of three tracks representing Port Huron (PH), Port Huron CN (PC), and eastern U.S.

I hope you have enjoyed this lengthy but brief tour of the MCIS St. Clair Sub. In a future post we will look more in depth at each station and industries served.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Train and Its Freight (M-BAPC-15)

While in the layout room working on content for my Mid April post (coming soon), I decide to change things for you the reader. In this post we are going to take a look at a train and explore in detail about each locomotive and carload of freight. Railroads exist to haul goods, so let's explore that more shall we.

Manifest Bay City (Bay Yard to Port Huron CN Canada that originated on April 15th, 2016.)
- This is a unique manifest that runs twice weekly with traffic destined purely for CN interchange to Canada and New England. This is due to the interchange connection timing on the CN. The rest of the week all CN traffic rides the M-BAPH or Q-GRPH.

2 locomotives (6,000hp)
 11 Railcars ( 10 Loads / 1 Empty)

    MCIS 4052 (EMD SD40-2 3,000hp)

  MCIS 4059 (EMD SD40M-2 3,000hp)

RBOX43689 - loaded corrugated board
Origin: Mackinac City, Michigan
Destination: Brunswick, Maine

BNSF727059 - loaded aluminum ingots
Origin: Spokane, Washington
Destination: Oshawa, Ontario

GACX47801 - loaded sugar
Origin: Upper Huron, Michigan
Destination: Aurburn, Maine

WCOX7440 - loaded corn
Origin: Bay City, Michigan
Destination: Buffalo, New York

CN406569 - loaded paper rolls
Origin: Charlevoix, Michigan
Destination: Drummondville, Quebec

CGEX1147 - loaded soybeans
Origin: Grays Lake, Michigan
Destination: Burlington, Vermont

MCIS9320 - loaded malt barley
Origin: Gerhard, Michigan
Destination: Hailfax, Nova Scotia

MCIS7940 - loaded paper rolls
Origin: Charlevoix, Michigan
Destination: Toronto, Ontario

MCIS7943 - loaded paper rolls
Origin: Charlevoix, Michigan
Destination: Toronto, Ontario

MCIS5344 - loaded corrugated board
Origin: Mackinac City, Michigan
Destination: Woodsville, Maine

NS469806 - empty reverse route
Origin: Mackinac City, Michigan
Destination: Ayer, Masachusetts 

As you can see by each car the primary commodities on this train happen to be paper products and agricultural. Locals out of Bay City along with trains from Mackinac City help feed this eastbound flow. Depending on the connection and day of week, the train may be more tankcars and covered hoppers then the very present boxcar we see. This is prototypical practice as days of week, season, and industry demand all drive what you see on railroads. As modelers we can all represent this on our own layouts whether big or small. The key is establishing the purpose of your railroad and building the story around it. Hope you have enjoyed this type of post. Feel free to let me know your thoughts, and I can look to plan to them throughout the year. 

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Mid April Update

It is fitting to start this post with - "April Showers bring flood stage" here in Texas. A lot of different things happening in the past few weeks on and off the railroad, so let's jump right in to the details. 

Day Out With Thomas
The Grapevine Vintage Railroad hosted Day Out With Thomas and of course we were there on the early morning departure.

                Ready for boarding 
My son loves Thomas and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree as I myself grew up on the actual modelled version versus the CGI now on TV.

       Stored equipment in Grapevine

            O Scale (three rail) setup 

   Checking out the layout from all angles
               Station in Grapevine
Eventually this 10mph trackage through Grapevine will become part of TexRail which will use the Cotton Belt Corridor from Fort Worth to DFW Airport. It will be interesting to see how the grapevine train, tourist events, and commuter rail will work together. The train was setup with Thomas at the rear and a GP7 on the head doing the pull/push. Modeling opportunity?

Ops Session @ Don Murpheys
Last week we got together a crew of five to operate Don Murpheys St. Louis, Atlantic, and Pacific. This freelance version of the St Louis Union Terminal and rail lines between Chicago and Kansas City is a joy to operate on.

This session I had the opportunity to start out with a loaded coal train from Illinois mine to power plant at Jefferson City, MO.

               Today's paperwork

  Mine switcher getting train put together.

Power today is GMO 548 which had been tied up on the mine branch. After running light up to the mine, we shoved back with caboose to get on the mainline. Here we are finishing the shove.

After transiting the layout and through St. Louis and Kirkwood we terminated at Jeff. City. Instructions advised to spot cars at the plant then take power to house.

The session ran around 2.5 hours with 14 trains being operated.

MAC Locomotive Services
The locomotive shop team in Mt. Pleasant has begun marketing their services for contract repair work as MAC Locomotive Services "MAC Built". With necessary facilities and equipment the shop turned out two motors for a customer here in April.
RDUX #5115 B23-7 buried in consist heading back to Texas via Chicago last week on the Q-BAGR-08.

RDUX #300 GP38 in consist Sunday night for routing to Texas via Port Huron CN interchange. Motor will be heading out on today's M-BAPH-19.

Corn Field Scene
Receiving another box of Bluford Shops corn fields for my birthday, this weekend I was able to paint, install, and complete the farm field scene between Grays Lake and Gerhard.

So with another 2/3 box used this scene has a total of 82 corn field strips for a total of 1,640 corn stalks!! This is great product from Bluford Shops, recommend to anyone doing a field scene. 

Grays Lake Trackwork
Sunday afternoon we caught maintenance of way out on the St. Clair Sub dumping ballast on the main and passing track at Grays Lake.

MOW operator monitoring ballast dump.

      Mainline ballast work complete. 

Slow order now in place until surfacing gang can come through with scenic cement to permanently secure. The rest of the week they will be working to complete the passing track and local setout/pickup siding.

Once ballast in place for this section of layout, we will see a lot of foliage sprouting up with the wet on wet method to complete ballast and basic ground cover at the same time.

Until the next post have a great week!