Saturday, September 17, 2011

The ROCK is alive once again!

Once again, the ROCK came alive.  This is my fourth op session since starting last November.  Thanks to Larry and Marcus for coming over to operate today.  Although short on crew, we were able to move some trains and have a great time doing it!

Crews commented on the red glow from the new dispatcher clock.  With the addition of a LCD TV in the office, the dispatcher's clock is now much larger and can be seen easily across the layout.

XtrFE - Larry - Went on duty at Davenport at 5:15a with a GP40 and two "Boomtime" blue GP7s.  Larry typically gets this train.  In the past he has been held for long periods of time as the passenger trains whiz by.  With changes in Davenport, Larry was able to make good time out of the terminal keeping him a step or two ahead of the passenger trains.  Previously Larry would have to board his train in West Davenport and then switch cars in East Davenport yard.  Now, the yard crew takes care of this work eliminating time for the crews out on the road.  Larry simply grabs his power and caboose, backs on to his train, performs an air test and departs.  The trip was pretty uneventful passing the outlawed XtrFW at Rock Island.  Although Larry feared being held to be overtaken by a passenger train, he was granted permission all the way into Chicago.  A first for Larry.  Larry did have to stop at Stockdale to set off a bad order CNW covered hopper.  The car will be picked up later for repair at Carrie Ave Shops.  Larry marked off at 6:55am (1hr 30m)

Larry engineering XtrFE by the outlawed XtrFW at Rock Island

#12 Peoria Rocket - Marcus - Went on duty at 6:00am at Peoria for the inaugural run of the Peoria Rocket actually departing from Peoria.  The train was lead by Rock Island FP7 #409.  The wheel slip light came on as Marcus traveled up the grade north of Peoria.  They had to back down the hill and give it a second try.  Although still slipping, they were able to make it into Bureau.  Marcus had no issues traveling into Chicago after wying his train at Bureau.  Marcus marked off at 7:41am on time in Chicago.  (1hr 41m)

#6 Quad Cities Rocket - Steven - Went on duty at 6:15am at West Davenport.  Motive power was a sole EMD E7.  They passed still outlawed XtrFW train at Rock Island.  Otherwise, it was a pretty uneventful trip following #12 Peoria Rocket into Chicago.  Steven marked off at 8:19am on time in Chicago. (2hrs)

#6 Quad Cities Rocket making its station stop at Rock Island.  The outlawed XtrFW is still rusting to the rails in the passing siding.  Many of the towns people have began rocking the train breaking out the locomotive and caboose windows.

XtrFW - Larry - Larry was called at 7:40am to bring the outlawed XtrFW train into Davenport.  He marked off at 8:15am 35 minutes later earning a day's pay for a quick job. (30m)

Stockdale Local - Marcus - The Stockdale local had been partially completed before the crew simply quit and left the train on the AT&SF interchange at Joliet.  Marcus was called to duty at 7:50am to complete the switching in Joliet and return to Chicago.  Motive power included two freshly painted "Prosperity" Red RS2s.  Marcus called into the clerk's office to report a misspot.  Evidently, when management ran the train last, they misspotted a car of Recycled Paper at American Can Co. which was actually destined for Midwest Paper Stock Company.  The crews gave management a good ribbing over that snafu.  Marcus corrected the car missport and marked off duty at 11:35am in Chicago (3hrs 30m)

After completion of his run on #6 Quad Cities Rocket, Steven went on duty in the yard classifying the cars received in from XtrFW and assembled/blocked the Grain and Rock Island locals.

Extra Grain Local - Larry - Went on duty at 9:15am at West Davenport Yard.  Motive power was a "Boomtime" Blue GP38-2 and U25B.  When given his orders, it was stated that it would be "rare" for spotting a 40' box car behind Sunrise Feed Mill.  Not only did he have to pick up one of these "rare" cars, but had to spot a replacement.  Larry questioned just how "rare" this occurrence would be.  :-)  No other major issues out on the road.  For once, the Extra Grain Local wasn't thrashing around in Stockdale at the same time as the Stockdale Local which made for some pleasant running.  His only delay was being held short of the Mississippi River bridge on the return trip for a few minutes before yarding his train.  Larry marked off at 5:00pm.  (7hrs 45m)

Rock Island Local - Steven - Went on duty at 11:00am at West Davenport Yard.  The train was powered by a sole GP40 today.  He had a pretty uneventful trip to Rock Island and back.  No major issues were reported.  Steven marked off at 2:20pm (3hrs 20m)

We broke for about an hour lunch to recharge our batteries for the remainder of the session.

Blue Island Local - Marcus - Went on duty at 12:01pm at Burr Oak Yard in South Chicago.  Marcus reported his "Boomtime" Blue GP7 wasn't loading properly.  That unit will be tagged for repair at Carrie Ave Shops.  Marcus marked off at 2:32pm. (2hrs 30m)

Peoria to Davenport Transfer - Marcus - Went on duty at 3:00pm at Peoria.  Marcus departed Peoria with two freshly painted "Prosperity" Red RS2s.  The trip was a quick one over to Davenport.  Marcus marked off at 4:10pm.  (1hr 10m)

Railfans were pretty happy at all the activity in Bureau Wye.  Three trains within an hour: Peoria to Davenport Transfer, Grain Local and XtrFE #2.

XtrFE #2 - Steven - Went on duty at 3:00pm at West Davenport.  Motive power was an interesting lash-up consisting of a FP7, U25B and GP40.  The trip was uneventful arriving in Chicago at 4:15pm (1hr 15m).

XtrFE #2 pulling up grade by the station at Rock Island, IL
Another view of the same train rolling through Rock Island, IL

#5 Quad Cities Rocket - Marcus - Went on duty at Burr Oak Yard in South Chicago at 5:15pm.  Today's #5 Quad Cities Rocket was a combined train with the #11 Peoria Rocket.  The train was a monster consisting of 3 baggage cars and 7 passenger cars pulled by a single E7.  Marcus informed the dispatcher that he would be required to make two stops at each station due to the length of the train.  It was originally planned for the entire train to travel to Davenport with Peoria bound passengers disembarking the train at Bureau to be bussed the final distance due to a crew shortage.  Marcus brought up the fact that Peoria Rocket's train would still need to be moved over to Peoria for it's next run.  It was decided that Marcus would drop off one baggage car and two passenger cars at Bureau.  The Peoria Local currently working in the area would travel up to Bureau to pick up the train to bring back to Peoria for tomorrow's Rocket.  Larry was quick to take on this assignment ensuring a claim for passenger train pay for handling the cars in addition to his local day's pay.  Marcus only incurred at 10m delay dropping the cars at Bureau.  He arrived in West Davenport a minute late making up time over the road.  He marked off at 7:20pm (2hrs 5m).  A special thanks to Larry and Marcus for making a very prototypical situation out of the combined train.  Excellent work guys!

Peoria Local - Larry - Went on duty at 5:15pm.  The train was powered by a single ALCO RS2.  It was rumored that the hemp fiber car bound for Peoria Cordage was 15-20lbs shy of its load weight upon arrival.  The crew had no comment.  Larry traveled up to Bureau to bring back the Peoria Rocket's train.  He marked off duty at 7:30pm.  (2hrs 15m)

The Peoria Local bringing in the Peoria Rocket's train to be parked for tomorrow's run.

Davenport to Peoria Transfer - Marcus - Went on duty at 7:25pm.  It was powered by two ALCO RS2s.  Again, a quick run over to Peoria.  Marcus marked off at 8:15pm.  (50m)

XtrFW #2 - Steven - Went on duty at Burr Oak Yard in South Chicago at 7:30pm.  The train was powered by two GP40s and a U25B.  Steven met an XtrFE #3 at Rock Island.  Steven marked off duty at 8:45pm. (1hr 15m)

XtrFE #3 - Larry - Went on duty at West Davenport Yard at 7:40pm.  This is the first time a third section of a train was required.  Eastbound traffic was stacking up in Davenport requiring the additional train.  The train was powered by newly acquired Kato SD40-2s in primer gray bound for Peconic Shops in Warwick, NY.  Larry met Steven at Rock Island.  A call was placed from Bureau wye reporting coupler issues (the Kato's come from the factory with dummy couplers).  The power was cut off at Bureau Wye as replacement power was called down from Chicago.  XtrFE #2's power was brought down to rescue XtrFE #3. Larry marked off duty at 9:15pm (1hr 25m).

Marcus commented "Oooooh...look at those!" when the primer gray SD40-2s made their first appearance out of Carrie Ave Shops earlier in the day.  The railfan hotline lit up this afternoon as fans lined the mainline to catch a glimpse at the newest power on the road.  Here the consist is pulling XtrFE #3 out of West Davenport through the crossover.

XtrFE #3 meeting XtrFW #2 at Rock Island, IL

I must say the op session ran well with three people today.  There was more breaks between trains.  We ran the optional Stockdale local today which tightened up the schedule some, but it was still a more relaxed pace.

The random car request generator I created in Excel seemed to work well.  Twice on locals run by Marcus, he noted how few cars were being picked up.  In the past, nearly half of all spotted cars would be picked up which wasn't very prototypical.  Now, there are variances in traffic flow as exampled by the third eastbound extra.  I'm pleased with changes made in this department.

The restructuring of the Carrie Ave Shops facility was a dramatic welcomed change.  Crews adapted well.  It was definitely a more prototypical feel with crews obtaining their power, pulling a caboose and backing onto their train for departure.  I love this change!

Other than the late addition of the primer gray SD40-2s that were called into service, this was the first session to operate all Rock Island power.  A very nice feeling!  I'm quite pleased with the development of this layout.  It's hard to believe that none of this was here 16 months ago.

Overall, it was a great day running trains with friends.  Thanks to Larry and Marcus for sharing in the experience with me.

Next week, CRI&P management will be traveling to the Lehigh & Hudson River Railway to assist in operations in New York. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Progress Report 09.16.11

Found a deal on some Kato SD40-2s on eBay.  Installed the TCS decoders tonight.  I must say that was easiest install ever!  I wish they were all so easy!  Tested and they run so smooth!  Love it!  The locomotives have been moved to Carrie Ave Shops.  Late in the session tomorrow, they will depart for Chicago.  They will travel on to the Penn Central and over to the Lehigh & Hudson Railroad where they will be painted by Peconic Shops in Warwick.  A special thanks to Larry Keller for all his hard work custom painting numerous locomotives for the ROCK!  I have such a great gratitude for an awesome friend and mentor to me in the hobby.  Thanks Larry!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Post #200 ~ Ready to ROCK!

Quick update.  I've downloaded JMRI's free DecoderPro.  After the op session, I will be working on programming all the locomotives using the graphic interface provided by DecoderPro.  Hopefully it will be much easier than trying to remember which CV settings to change. 
In other news, I'm ready to operate! The trains are lined up and ready.  First crew call is 9am Saturday morning.  Looking forward to running the ROCK! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Progress Report 09.14.11

Worked on an Atlas U25B I picked up for cheap on eBay.  The decoder installation required milling out the frame.  This was not something I have much experience in, but feeling good lately, I decided to take a shot at it.  I borrowed the Dremel tool from my boss (I really need to get my own).  I was able to grind out the frame so the decoder will fit.  I had more problems putting the locomotive back together making sure to properly align the gears and drive shaft.  Finally got everything back together and tested.  All is working well!  Man it feels good to accomplish something like that!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Progress Report 09.13.11 ~ Ready to ROCK!

Stayed up late last night working at Carrie Ave Shops on GP40 #367.  It had been performing erratically.  I found the decoder was not making good contact with the frame.  Added some solder between the board contacts and the frame.  Tested and all is well now.  The locomotive is scheduled for its 180 day maintenance and will return to service Saturday.

Intermountain FP7 #409 went online ready for service on the Peoria Rocket.

Finished final preparations for the op session on Saturday.  All the Rock Island locomotives look great lined up outside Carrie Ave Shops.  As the boys say "It's time to ROCK!"

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Winds of Change on the ROCK - Projected operational changes

CRI&P Management has been reviewing operations of the Rock Island Railroad in the 1970s.  Below is an outline of projected changes on my layout to match more closely the prototype.

Mainline/Branchline Changes

  • CNW branchline is now owned and operated by the Rock Island Railroad
  • AT&SF connection in Joliet is now owned and operated by the Rock Island Railroad
    • The AT&SF tracks will be used for staging the Joliet based turn to Bureau
  • N&W Meredosia Branch is now the Ottawa, IL branch.

Train Changes

  • Road Freights
    • XtrFE > #1 - South Chicago, IL to Tucumcari, NM (Southern Pacific connection)
      • Projected call time at Chicago 10:00a
    • XtrFW > #2 - Tucumcari, NM to South Chicago, IL (Southern Pacific connection)
      • Projected call time at West Davenport 11:59p
    • XtrFE #2 > #20 - Houston, TX to Davenport, IA (mix TOFC)
      • This train will simply move from staging to Davenport Yard for classification
      • Projected call time West Davenport 2:00a
    • XtrFW #2 > #23 - South Chicago, IL to Houston, TX (mix TOFC)
      • Projected call time at Chicago 8:30p
    • Extra Pig East > #58 Denver to Davenport (majority TOFC)
      • Projected call time at West Davenport 9:00a
    • Extra Pig West > #59 Chicago to Denver (majority TOFC)
      • Projected call time at Chicago 11:00p
    • N&W Peoria Local > #92 Peoria to Davenport Freight
      • Projected call time at Davenport 10:05a
    • N&W Peoria Local > #93 Davenport to Peoria Freight
      • Projected call time at Davenport 1:00a
  • Locals
    • Blue Island Local > #221 South Chicago to Blue Island Turn
      • At this time, not scheduled
    • Davenport Yard Job > No longer switches industries in yard. Now handled by #112
    • Grain Local > Annulled
    • Peoria Local > #130 Peoria to Bureau Turn
      • Projected call time at Peoria 7:00a
    • Rock Island Local > #112 Davenport to Bureau Turn (will work all industries including grain)
      • Projected call time at Davenport 7:00a
    • Stockdale Local > #113 Joliet to Bureau Turn (will work all industries including grain)
      • Will no longer work the former N&W Meredosia Branch
      • Projected call time at Joliet 5:00a
    • New train > #110 Davenport to Blue Island Shorts (picking up/dropping cars at Bureau, Joliet, Blue Island) for locals to work
      • Projected call time at Davenport 6:00a
    • New train > #217 Blue Island to Ottawa Sand Turn as required
  • Passenger Trains
    • Peoria Rocket > No change
    • Peoria Rocket 2nd Section > No Change
    • Quad Cities Rocket > No change
  • Other Trains
    • AT&SF Local > Annulled
    • CNW Local > #145 Davenport to Clinton Turn (now Rock Island operated)
    • Extra Coal Train > Annulled
This would be a tall order to make the conversion to the new trains.  As mentioned before, these changes are still being considered, but not finalized.

Progress Report 09.12.11

This morning, I switched out the cars brought in by the CNW local.  XtrFW barely fits between the switches at Rock Island.  That train will cause some issues as trains try to meet in other locations with that siding occupied.  A crew is called to bring it in the yard but not until 8:45am. 

I also worked on power matching locomotives into consists.  This will be the first op session to run nothing but Rock Island painted locomotives.  How exciting!! 

Although it seems like I haven't accomplished since the last op session in May, I was quite surprised to see that was not the case at all looking back on the blog. 
  • Completely rebuilt the locomotive fueling facility and Carrie Ave Shops at Davenport.
  • Extended the third class track at Davenport Yard to join with the west lead of Carrie Ave Shops to connect with the west yard
  • Re-aligned the yard ladder at West Davenport, added a new mainline south of the yard, added Keller Mills Inc.  The relocation of Iowa Ready Mix and Contintenal Grain Co.
  • Operations change: all locals will be pre-blocked now.
  • Operations change: trains called to depart West Davenport will now acquire their power and caboose at Carrie Ave Shops, back onto their train and depart from the west yard.  No switching will be performed at Davenport Yard by eastbounds.
  • Reconfiguration of Consumers Ice & Fuel in the Davenport Industrial Park
  • Converted to a new waybill system using Excel and Word mail merge vs. Shenandoah Software.
  • Created new yard track labels and car blocking cards.
  • The addition of Vandelay Industries and track relocation for D&D News in Blue Island.
  • Removal of the vegetable oil track at ADM Milling in Stockdale, IL
  • The first weathering of freight cars
  • Otis Elevator has an identity now as their new globe logo sign was constructed
  • New system created in Excel to distribute cars better across the layout and add randomness to operations
  • Field research in Peoria, IL
  • Joined the Rock Island Technical Society to acquire more information about the prototype
  • The expansion into Peoria, IL on the layout
  • Installation of 15 slide switches on turnouts installed over the summer
  • Installation of new UTP panel and moving of the NCE booster
It was a productive summer after all.  Looking forward to operating with friends on Saturday.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Progress Report 09.11.11

Before updating readers with a report, the ROCK pauses for a moment of silence to remember the people lost in the tragedy of 9/11....

.... We will never forget!

Progress has been good this past week.  I managed to get most of the slide switches installed.  There are a few that remain to be installed.  I'm short a few slide switches.  I cleaned up the layout room.  Cleaned the track. 

Due to crew shortages for the upcoming session, some trains will be run before the session, some will be annulled, and some will be combined.  This evening, I ran XtrFW down to Rock Island where it went on the law.  That train will be brought into the yard near the beginning of the op session.  The CNW local out of Clinton has run.  Trains are staged in other locations ready to run.