Sunday, July 22, 2018

July Update

Just like that we are a little over a week from July being over. In my opinion the month of an ops session always seems to go really quick, especially when there is work to do in preparation for the session. Lets take a look at work done on the layout this month along with a quick recap from my Friday operating session. 

In my last post I briefly discussed the work planned to install the backdrop for the Upper Huron Scene which would allow me to begin full foreground scenic work. As tempting as it was, its important to always work from back to front in a scene... trust me I learned the hard way on others. 

Working with Dave at Backdrop Junction I selected his GEN-033H scene which was required for around 16' of wall. In short order it arrived promptly and I wasted no time unrolling and planning work to be done. 

The backdrops are offered in three different materials, I chose the adhesive vinyl which is pretty awesome sticks really well to my Eucaboard backdrop that is painted with latex paint. 

Pre-Install Prep
First thing once out of the box was roll out and take a look at the amazing print. The price in my opinion is well reasonable for the good quality pictures, material, and support from Dave to help deliver what I was looking for. The scene came in two rolls which had overlapping scenes on the end to allow for seamless blending. I prefer no sky, so with sharp scissors I cut it out.

Once the sky was cutout, I then used a sharp hobby knife and hold punch to cut out the leftover sky that is close to the trees and buildings. When I used my knife it is important to have a piece of glass behind to keep a hard surface when making the cuts. I did not do any of this on my couch as the photo shows above... Instead I would unroll about 2' of scene at a time and keep the rest rolled up. 

The backdrop board is actually made up for 3 section of which the middle is removable to access my "East Staging" if necessary. In doing so I was able to install the first 8' of backdrop starting from the sugar beet plant working west at my workbench. Following the online video - align, peel the backing, and apply. I had to make a few slight adjustments but it applied really easy and as I worked right to left removed the air bubbles.... This is a great backdrop product!!  

Off-Layout Transition
From this photo you can see the backdrop is installed all the way past where the legs of the wye go "off-layout". Part of why I chose this backdrop was having the trees where the track left the scene. This allows me to use scenic trees and materials to help blend with a "tree canopy" type transition. 

Town Transition
Since I had leftover material I actually ended up removing some of the Sceniking crop scene I had to the right of the road and replaced with more of the field/tree backdrop from Backdrop Junction. Using Sceniking buildings I had cutout, foam board, and a foam hill I will have a nice blend from woods to the town of Upper Huron. 

The end product turned out great, I am looking forward to my next backdrop project which is a secret, but will no doubt help convey a better sense of location. Stay tuned to Fall posts to see whats in store. 
** Note the opinion of this product is my own as I purchased it and did not receive discount or compensation for this blog entry **


Intermountain - GE ET44
While north of Denver for work I had a few extra hours, so working with my contacts facilitated a meet and greet at Intermountain Railway in Longmont, CO. Needless to say after meeting the great people there, seeing great work, and getting a tour I could not resist buying one of their new GE ET44s decorated for CN. What a great product, and it looks and runs great my Intermountain CN ES44. There are probably plenty of online reviews, but the detail is really well done on this motor along with the lighting. Currently it does not have sound but will be getting a 21 pin Tsunami2 later this fall. 

Folks as why not LokSound.... here is my response: with over 95% of my fleet Sountraxx equipped I am happy with their product offering. The product is plenty for me and I know the nuances of programming with JMRI to get the performance, reliability, sound, and consisting I expect. Competition creates innovation so I welcome and look forward to what Soundtraxx, ESU, and others continue to develop. 

Broadway Limited - DCC Trackmobile
For fathers days - the wife and kids picked me up a DCC equipped trackmobile by Broadway Limited. This is a cool little machine and as a friend of mine who has one noted "Folks either love it or hate it." Yep I concur with that statement. This unit has a home at Michigan Sugar's Upper Huron plant and will become more apart of operating sessions in the future. 

Great modern products offered in the marketplace that are superb. Well done to both manufacturers.

**Note opinion on Intermountain product during visit is my own. No compensation was provided for either product** 

Wow I finally had my first ops session for 2018.... Only seven months in. None the less it was a great session with five operators and fourteen scheduled trains. This session was the first time folks got to see the work done on my Cass River and Upper Huron scenes. As a layout owner I enjoy having new things for my operators to experience so its not just the same ole M-BAPH train. One cool comfort item I added was the fold-down cup holders from Blue Point. Added five on the layout in key locations, and it was nice to see them used to make a session a little more relaxed. 

The whole crew - minus me troubleshooting a minor JMRI Ops issue.. Yes we had 6 guys in a room that is 13x12 essentially. 

Planning.... Planning.....BSing........

R-GEGL-21 switching up cars left by the M-BAPH-20 from day earlier. We didnt have a chance to run this one during the session, so I marked up and worked the customers at Grays Lake and Gerhard today. 

Michigan Sugar Plant at Upper Huron is now in full operation. Took me three years but finally got a good trackplan that gives the essence of big time operations in a selective space. Plant is serviced daily by L-BAUH out of Bay Yard which then spots / pulls in the storage yard. Trackmobile then switches cars into their respective locations for molasses loading, sugar loading, pellet loading, coke unload. We will look at this facility in more depth on another post, but due to space requirements sugar beet loads just stay on the storage track and are unloaded "off-layout" between sessions. 

Needing a refresh - updated my consist cards after seeing different folks and their formats. Consists are divided by YARD, LOCAL, or ROAD power pools. Single motors use full four digit address while two or more use a two digit advanced consist.

Since implementing JMRI Ops earlier this year, this was the first live session where it was used for train movement and switching. I had to say we were about 80% accurate on moves, reporting, and losing cars. Based on folks who use it, they told me - print out the entire online guide, read it once, read it again, and then read it a third time. No doubt complex, but achievable and customizable for your operation no matter how big or small. Between now and my next session will be making tweaks, but I wanted to show some of the paperwork involved.

Yard inventory - I printed this after the session was over and all trains terminated to reconcile cars. As you can see there were a few messed up or missing. 

Linehaul Train Manifest - an example of how I print my linehaul train manifests. Still some customizing and verbiage to change, but it gets the job done on a live paper manifest. 

Local Train Manifest - not wanting to deviate on the formating based on others best practices I have seen, the manifest notes what work is to be done for the R-GEGL.

So busy month, hope you enjoyed the update. Alot of great stuff in the works and will continue to share monthly on the happenings around the MCIS St. Clair Sub. Thanks to my operators and friends in other geographic locations who continually help make my model railroading experience one worth sharing with you. 

Stay cool - its 100+ here in Texas 


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