Saturday, June 25, 2016

NMRA Lone Star Region Convention - MCIS Ops Session

With the Lone Star Region convention in Arlington, I had the opportunity today to host four guest operators for a MCIS St. Clair Sub operating session.

We operated 12 trains totaling around 140 car movements. Overall the session ran great regarding keeping the gremlins at bay allow my guest to enjoy the layout. Thanks to Robert, Melvin, Siva, and Raj for choosing to operate on the layout, I am very honored to have shared my operation. Special thanks to regular crew member Mike T. for assisting with setup, helping answer questions, and dispatching today.

Now on to tons photos - Enjoy!

         Crew of Ops Session "OPS07"

 Yardmaster Robert going through yard turnover before going on shift.

Raj operating the first train on layout during the session CN Overhead Z-BKPH-24

Z-BKPH-24 coming around curve at Grays where scenery ends and foam begins.... For how long...?

     Z coming past station at Gerhard. This area will be next to receive scenery.

Melvin handling the L-BAPB-25 "Sugar Turn" at Upper Huron to spot / pull Michigan Sugar / Saginaw Valley Co-Gen.

With the M-BAMC-25 and M-BAPH-25 departed, Bay Yard thins out considerably while the inbound M-PHBA-24 with 20 cars is sorted.

Y-BA01 "Bay Yard Job" on east yard lead

Siva checking paperwork on his M-BAPH-25 that would be making a local block setout at Grays Lake.

That darn "layout mole - superintendent" monitoring trains into east staging.

Bay Yard beginning to fill back up with local pulls and through connections.

Q-GRPH-24 coming around curve off Saginaw River bridge into Bay Yard to perform a block swap.

After the Q departed the Y-BA04-25 comes out on the main to spot local Bay City customers.

A few times we had a crowd with work on upper and lower levels occurring at once.

Bay Yard keeping current with work events.

R-GEGL-25 out on the main at Grays Lake working local block.

Mike T. issuing DTC authorities and train / consist cards.
Y-BA04-25 "Bay Industry Local" finishing up spotting customers on Bay Industry Spur.

Thanks again to the operators for a great event today!


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mid June Update

With the amount of items happening around the layout this month, the hardest part is finding time to sit down and write the posts. That said let's get take a look at what's been going on around the St. Clair Sub since eart June.

Q-GRPH passing M-BAPH at Grays Siding

In little less than a week the NMRA Lone Star Convention will be in Arlington, TX. During the event I will be hosting a guest operations session with individuals that signed up to operate on the layout. Getting the layout in a "show ready" state takes around five to six evenings to complete. Task such as track cleaning, train staging, paper organization all have their place in my ops session task list. This session will host 12 trains with an additional 18 railcars added to the main roster since January's session. 

New asphalt / bitumen service 23,500 gallon tank cars added this past week.

    Railcar blocking cards being sorted

 Railcars on main 1 and 2 at Bay Yard. Cars on M1 will be placed at Michigan Sugar, they had been removed during Valiance modification. M2 cars are the new adds which will be added to trains coming out of staging or online.

Beyond the standard tasks of layout prep for an ops session, I attempt to get a small section of layout further along in scenery for the operators to enjoy. Between January and now the main focus has been the corn / soybean fields scene at Grays between Grays Lake and Gerhard.

    Field access road between fields

      Highway overpass at Grays

           Into the curve at Grays

     Local setout / pickup track at Grays

The scene turned out very well, it should be a great place to catch photos during the ops session. Post session scenery work will continue east towards Gerhard.

While working on the field scenery, I realized that trees were a little sparse, especially for the highway embankment to field transition. Luckily a box of SuperTrees in the garage made quick work of needing trees. Following Tony Koester's 60 second tree article, I have had great luck with "quick" trees that hold up well.  

Laying out the material to size up trees properly and cut out the small leaves found on the stalk. After this its a shot of gray primer paint via spraycan and then a  spray of Rave Spray prior to adding leaves.

        Noch leaf flakes in three colors 

New Scenic Express products. The SuperLeaf adhere well and look great, the SuperTurf worked ok but would be much better for ground cover.

   Finished trees - dry, ready to plant!

White Rose Hobbies has released their injection molded AEI Readers. These are a necessary detail for the modern modeller, and having a AEI site close to the house I can agree they got this product right.

I picked up four to start out with - AEI readers are in pairs to read each side of the car, in case of defective tag on one side or other.

The grey color they come molded in is a good base, and with a few sharpie markers to color the components and a quick dusting of pencil graphite you are ready to place them on layout.

          Above - Facing tracks
          Below - facing away from track

AEI reader pair sitting at the "BAY" reader site. 

As you can see they sit across from each other using around 8' from track center. Once planted ballast will cover around and up to the top of the base. Additonally a signal bungalow with BLMA N scale radio tower will be added to complete the AEI site.

I post photos of operations to Facebook model railroad sites weekly, in case you are not apart of those groups I wanted to bring those photos here for you to enjoy.

      Crew climbing off 4035 at Grays.

 Y-BA04 going on duty with 3830 at Bay Industrial Spur.

As you can see quite a bit happening on the layout these past few weeks, and there will be plenty to come in the next two weeks. I hope everyone had a great Fathers Day and will have a great week ahead. The late month update will recap the LSR Operating Session and future adds to the railroad.

Thank you for stopping by!


Friday, June 3, 2016

Early June Update

June is here and with it comes some fantastic scenery completion along Grays Siding between Gerhard and Grays Lake. This post we will take a look at scenery progress, CWE shoutout, and look at future posts planned.

Over the weekend I jumped right into thick of the scenery process. For some time this scene has bee developing, but until I had the ballast down I did not want to start the "green" scenic process. In my last post we discussed the gluing in ballast and the base layer of dirt. Now it was time to add static grass mats, tufts, and flock-turf materials.

The north side of the tracks really sprouted to life!

Like all good projects I needed the right materials. In this case whitr glue, floxk-turf, various coarse turfs, pipette, isopropyl alcohol, and reference photos.

     Material staging at Gerhard

  Google street view reference photos of the area of Michigan I am representing.

While flock-turf from Scenic Express was used, other materials were used to help bring out the texture. Heki 1573 WildGrass was used as the primary static type grass. For more info on using this material I recommend viewing Thomas Klimoski's video on his Youtube Channel. He walks through step by step using this material to cover a hillside on his HO scale Georgia Northeastern. Search "Thomas Klimoski" it should come right up.

So over three nights the ballast, groundcover, and grasses were added. The area between the corn field and high overpass embankment will need to be filled in with SuperTrees which I plan to make this weekend. Enjoy a few more pictures, my goal is to have this scene mostly 95% complete by the NMRA Lone Star Region Convention. 

Rough fitting the highway overpass in. I picked up Plastruct components at Angelos Hobbies yesterday so this scene will be next to complete.

Ballast work complete in the curve. The local siding (closest) is less groomed than the concrete tie main and passing siding. The embankment between corn field and right of way will receive WildGRASS and flock-turf tonight.

Overall view looking east - the results were exactly what I was hoping to achieve.

Closeup of highway embankment showing the scenic texture added.

Wanted to congratulate Tom Patterson on being published in this months RMC. Not only was he published in, but he railroad is featured on the cover.

    Cover preview - article is fantastic

While I have not met Tom personally we do support each other's Blogs with links that you will find on our pages. Helping establish our railroad franchises both in the 70s (CWE) and 2016 (MCIS) one of my customers (Michigan Sugar) at Upper Huron recieves coke from Follansbee, WV which is served by the modern day CWE and WLE. Could there be a MCIS predecessor railroad car on the CWE someday....? Could be... Be sure to check out each or blogs often for updates. 

CWE cars fresh from shop work on Virginia Midland before going back into revenue service.

CWE 125360 and 125379 on M-PHBA-28 heading through Upper Huron towards Bay Yard. Once switched to the L-BAPB they will be back to Upper Huron for spotting at Michigan Sugar.

One exciting part of writing this blog beyond just providing monthly updates is creating content from reader suggestions. Between feedback from the blog and Facebook Freelance Model Railroad comments here are a few topics for future writing.

- HIWIDE Handling on the MCIS
- Consist Power Planning
- Layout Map / Diagram
- Engineers View of the St. Clair Sub
- Behind the Scenes (Benchwork, Lighting, Wiring, Control Systems)
- MCIS Predecessor Roads

These topics will keep me busy through the summer but if there is something you want to see or understand more about let me know via comments. The input by you the reader is important and greatly appreciated. Well this wraps up the Early June Update, ha great weekend!