Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Decal Project Progress

I received in some of the cars to decal yesterday.  So far, things have been moving along well.  I used Micro Sol to remove the factory decals, but leave the paint.  Typically, just brushing it on and letting it sit for a few minutes.  I then use a pencil eraser to scrape away the decal.  Atlas cars, by far, are the easiest to remove with minimal effort required on my part.

Here are photos of my progress.

The original Athearn GSC Bulkhead Flat Car - Union Pacific Paint

CRDX - Atlas Pressureaide Covered Hopper

Reporting marks removed.

Rock Island Pressureaide - Still needs reporting marks added. 

Rock Island Bulkhead Flat Car - Still needs reporting marks added.

I noticed the L is a little crooked.  I need to see if I can adjust that. 

Trainworx gondola on the left, Micro Trains re-decaled on the right.

I don't think they look too bad.  I would like some more of the bulkhead flat cars for sure.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Future Projects

Well, while milling over the prospect of expanding the layout, I really should get back to work on something.  The other day, I thought, I should dig out my Rock Island freight car book (Rock Island Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment) and see if I can make some new freight cars for the layout.  Surely, I can find something in there that I like that is already made, but just not in the RI paint scheme.  I had successfully redecaled a bunch of sand hoppers already.  Who is to say I can't create some more RI rolling stock that is either prototype or close enough for my taste.  I, by no means, am a rivet counter.

So, looking through the book, I came across these three cars.

Project 1 - ACF Pressureaide Covered Hopper
The first is the ACF 4-Bay 5,250 CuFt Pressureaide Covered Hopper.  These, of course, are manufactured by Atlas and are readily available on eBay.  I always liked these back in my day as a HO (Scale).  These would be easy to reproduce with the Microscale #60-19 Rock Island Freight Car - Assorted Block Lettering decals.  It's just like decalling a sand hopper, but bigger!

The ROCK had a total of 12 of these cars (RI 13988 through RI 13999).  I believe I will construct three of these cars for the layout.

Either one of these would be a good starting point.

Even this one with the patch would be an interesting twist.

Microscale 60-19 Freight Cars - Assorted Black Lettering Decals

Project 2 - Rock Island 53' Bulkhead Flat Car
The second project is a 53' Bulkhead Flat Car.  The ROCK assembled their own flat cars through 1958 from components supplied by others.  The series I will model will be the 91800-91811 numbers.  I will use the Athearn GSC Bulkhead Flat car as a starting point.  Again, I could use the same decal sheet #60-19 for the lettering on these cars as well.  I think I will construct three of these cars.

Project 3 - Rock Island Steel 52'6" Gondola
The third project I would like to try is a basic 52' Rock Island Gondola.  I already have some Trainworx Rock Island Gondolas that are similar, but have the speed lettering.  I would take a brown Trainworx gondola, remove the existing lettering and replace with the Rock Island block lettering.  By the way, I have always been a fan of the block lettering.  I have no idea why as it is so basic, but I  like it.

I figure I would just use a TrainWorx gon and remove the existing lettering and replace with the Rock Island block lettering (using the same Microscale 60-19 decals from above).  I think I will construct one or two of these cars.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Traffic Management Department Update

So, as a follow-up to my last post, I created a new tab on the spreadsheet to log all the cars to be picked up by tab color at each terminal point.  It will automatically calculate the total number of cars that would need to fit in the storage tracks at Bureau Junction, LaSalle and Chillicothe.  If I find that the storage track totals are too high, I will adjust the number of cars picked up until we are within the limits.

Bureau Junction has two storage tracks: Peoria lead (15 cars max) and Silvis lead (7 cars max).  Although LaSalle Yard will have two tracks, I need to keep one open for the UTSW.  So, I set the max storage at LaSalle to ten cars.  Chillicothe will have a max of 18 total.  The spreadsheet will be updated after the track is laid and actual measurements can be made.

I then re-ran my scenario to visually see (with limits in place) how traffic will flow across the layout.  I think it will work well.  I already want to run either one of the Turn Locals.  Both seem like they would be a lot of fun to operate.

Storage Track Calculator

Here is the layout at the beginning of the session.

Follow along with train #113 Joliet to Bureau Junction as it travels from East Staging Yard to Ottawa, LaSalle, Bureau Junction and returns.

Second in the line-up would be train #130 Peoria to Bureau Turn.  Here's how it would play out.

Enough scenarios already!  We need to get building!  Well, I have a plan now.  Next up, seeking approval from the CEO.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Traffic Management Department

So, even though no progress reports are being posted, I can't get this Peoria Branch Extension out of my head, but am afraid to pull the trigger.  To ensure I can do what I want to in my head, I started creating traffic flow scenarios.  I originally started doing this with just a spreadsheet to keep up with cars being dropped off and picked up at each town.

Today, I got super nerdy and took it to a new visual level.  The drawings are crudely created in Excel, but it allows me to visually see how traffic is moving between stations, take notes about pickups and setoffs, etc.  I used the cars' locations leftover from the previous session to stage the traffic at Ottawa Yard, LaSalle and Peoria (assumed from traffic bound for Peoria) and added in the traffic for the next session to predict the traffic flow.  A reminder, I'm extending the #113 Joliet to Bureau Turn to work LaSalle and travel to Bureau Junction.  I also added train #130 Peoria to Bureau Turn.

For this first scenario, I allowed trains to go over tonnage.  I discovered a few things today working this out on the spreadsheet.

1) Both locals ended up being monsters increasing in size well over 20 cars at points.  I need to set limits on the number of cars staged.  I will have to assume that another local during the night picked up some of the cars from Ottawa and Bureau which was the greatest source of traffic congestion on the layout.  I don't mind the locals growing in size between towns, but anything over 20 cars is just going to be too much for my small layout.

2) LaSalle Yard needs to have more capacity than two tracks or reduce the number of cars for pickup.  In my scenario, the yard tracks were full from outbound cars brought back from yesterday's Utica Switcher.  I had to start today's UTSW from the mainline due to lack of space.  I may be able to squeeze another track in at LaSalle as I had considered that once before, but it would take some work.

3) Bureau is going to be one happening place.  A lot of traffic flows through here.  Traffic is left over night by the Silvis to Bureau Turn, traffic is present from the previous day's Peoria to Bureau Turn, plus a Soo Line freight is staged on Main 2 in the northwest corner of the junction.  Looking at dimensions, I feel I can store 22 cars total at Bureau Junction (15x on the Peoria Storage Track and 7x on the Silvis Storage Track).

Overall, I feel the operations will be very interesting.  I just need to reduce some of the volume.

Here are my computer drawings to help visualize the movement of freight on my layout.

#113 Joliet to Bureau Turn departs East Staging and works Ottawa Yard.  This is where the trouble begins.  There was a lot of traffic bound for the ATSF (yellow) and Silvis (orange) that made my train way over tonnage.  I had considered running another train later, but the end result at Bureau will be the same (more cars than storage available).

By the time #113 Joliet to Bureau Turn arrives at LaSalle, the train has grown to be a mega monster.  The train arrives at Bureau with no room at the Inn for all these cars!

The return trip is more civilized, but still ends up being an issue at Ottawa as only so many cars can fit in the small east staging yard.  DOH!

For the second part of my scenario, I show here how #130 Peoria to Bureau Turn handles the cars.  This train runs around the same time, but arrives later in Bureau than #113.

Again, no room at the Inn in Bureau.  There are cars everywhere!

Although a short run, I believe this would be an interesting job for operators.  I like the thought of interchange on the layout.  

So, as you can see, I went WAY nerdy on this, but I enjoy it.  I like problem solving when it comes to the logistics of trains.  Maybe I should have went to college for that.  Oh well.

Thoughts anyone?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Back to the Future

I wandered over to the ROCK yesterday to find a visitor on the layout.  What did my eyes see, but this futuristic locomotive painted in the Virginian Railway paint scheme.  How bizarre!  I must be dreaming!

I had an impulse buy.  A good friend was liquidating his collection.  He offered up the Kato Virginian Heritage unit.  Oh my!  Out of all the Norfolk Southern Heritage units, this is by far my favorite.  I had an old Virginian locomotive from a Tyco set back in the day.  So, I jumped on the opportunity.  I have no use for it on my layout except for just fun run between operating sessions.  Maybe I can run it on other layouts I visit.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Happy National Train Day

Happy National Train Day!  The family and I drove 30 minutes north to East Spencer, NC to the North Carolina Transportation Museum for the National Train Day festivities at the Ex-Southern shops.  I was able to see 611 fired up again and my new favorite loco the repainted Southern Railway SD40-2 #3170.  This loco was the secondary power on one of the N&W 611 steam excursions from Charlotte up to Asheville that my friends and I rode back in the day!  Here our some photos taken today.

Southern Railway E8 #6900 at Barber Junction on the Museum Grounds

Southern Railway FP7 #6133

The former shops as viewed from the signal display at the NC Transportation Museum

An old Railway Express truck

The New Haven "Pine Tree State" Combo Sleeper/Parlor Car.  This car was once owned by the Piedmont Carolinas Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.  I used to work on this car with friends back in the day when I was a member.

Norfolk Southern SD60E #6920 Honoring U.S. Veterans

Southern Railway Post Office Car on the Turntable

Ah....the star of the show.  Steam crew members working on 611 this morning.

Here they are loading bags of play sand into the locomotive.

Inside the Bob Julian 37-stall roundhouse, we checked out some of the exhibits.  
Atlantic Coastline E3 #501

Chesapeake & Ohio E3A #8016

Southern Railway Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-8-0 Consolidated #542

Atlantic Coastline Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 Ten Wheeler #1031

Norfolk Southern Baldwin Locomotive Works AS-416 #1616

Clerk Office Exhibit

Wright Brothers Exhibit

Piedmont Airlines used to have a major terminal in Charlotte

I also remember Eastern Airlines growing up.

Ricky Rudd's Piedmont Airlines paint scheme for Nascar

A very large N scale display of what Southern Railway's Spencer Shops looked like back in the day.

Norfolk & Western Extended Vision Caboose

Interior of Caboose

Interior of Caboose

Looking down the length of the caboose at the NS #6920 Veteran Locomotive

A 70's NC State Trooper Car with that ever so large blue light beacon on top.

N Scale modular layout on display in the back shop

Norfolk Southern SD60E #6920 Veteran Locomotive

Southern Railway SD40-2 #3170 recently painted back to it's Southern "Tuxedo" Paint Scheme by Norfolk Southern for road service.

Atlantic Coastline Caboose

Seaboard Coastline Caboose

Norfolk & Western Caboose

Norfolk & Western Caboose

Southern Railway Caboose

Southern Railway GP30

Norfolk & Western 611 - the sun finally came out burning off the fog this morning.

What a beauty!

The automotive exhibit at the NC Transportation Museum

Southern Railway E8 passing by the old back shop building

Southern Railway SD40-2 passing by the old back shop building

A view from the overhead walkway on the north end of the facility

Southern FP7 pushing back on a passenger train special on the museum grounds.

Myself, my wife and cousin standing on the overhead bridge.

Southern Railway SD40-2 shoving back on a caboose train special on the museum grounds

It was a nice day to get out to see some trains.  The museum had a great turnout from what we saw this morning and nice equipment to check out.

Here's my favorite Amtrak commercial that was shown a few years back (maybe longer now that I think about it).