Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Davenport Yard Wheel Report / Route ROCK Photo Contest Announced

Although feeling under the weather, I was able to get the layout re-staged.  While re-staging, I had a chance to ponder what I could have done better in regards to operations in Davenport Yard.  This first time kicked my butt keeping up with six inbound freight trains to be classified. 

Instead of solely using the five class tracks in East Davenport, I'm going to better utilize the west yard by moving trains that are completed or near completion to it.  The trains coming from the west (physically sitting in West Davenport staging) would have cars that would need to be pulled off to be classified in Davenport while the remaining freight traffic moves east.  I found myself preoccupied with other tasks and would forget to pull the cars from the trains as they "arrived" in West Davenport before the crew was called to take the train east.  I know of at least one instance last session where Davenport cars traveled to Chicago.  So, I devised a wheel report to assist the yardmaster.

In the wheel report, the yardmaster will find useful information:
- Schedule (2 hours in advance) of inbound trains from the west
- Schedule of estimated arrival times of inbound trains from the east.
- Schedule of call times for locals providing a 1hr cut off window to prepare the train for departure
- Schedule of passenger trains arriving/departing in the terminal
- A summary of the blocks of cars to be pulled for other trains.
- A guide for the suggested utilization of West Davenport staging

I believe this will greatly assist the yardmaster in keeping on top of things during the session.  

I picked up a coal mine building for dirt cheap on eBay.  I decided to add it to the Clinton, IA line.  I thought it would be plausible mining some coal out of the bluffs along the Mississippi River.  The building is run down, but still produces a few cars of coal on occasion.  This was the site of the former Oakley Grain Co.  Business was weak here, so it was no lost to the ROCK to swap the industries out.  Just down the line is one of my favorite industries Daniel Grain Co. named after my dad.

It has been a while since I have ran a solo op session.  You might remember that I have run these on occasion in the past for research, but mostly fun.  With so many changes that have been implemented lately, I was overdue for another solo session.  I like to run through all the train jobs to know what my crews are experiencing.  

Tonight, I quickly learned with the recent changes on the Joliet local that they are now utilizing the east interchange switch on a frequent basis.  This is great to hear until you realize that you have to walk around the peninsula ten times to set the switch for various moves.  I've decided to add a tortoise switch machine in this location with the control on the Joliet side.  This way crews can perform their moves without the assistance of other crew members.  I think it will make the Joliet and IL Shorts runs much more efficient.

1977 Route ROCK Photo Contest
Since I'm running a solo op session, management decided to have a photo contest for the railfans who adore the ROCK so much.  Railfans have canvased the line taking photos from every conceivable angle.  I just processed the photos from 2 1/4 trains that I have run this evening.  There was 100 keeper photo entries.  Once I complete the session, I will post a massive blog post with all the photos detailing the events of the session.  While the layout is not scenicked yet, I find the photos useful for stimulating ideas of how to create the scene.  I was quite impressed with the photography tonight.  

In summary, I absolutely love my layout.  It's not museum quality by any means, but it is a lot of fun to operate and brings me an incredible amount of joy.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Route Rock Op Session 11.12.11

The ROCK came alive again.  Larry, Marcus and Jeff joined me in operating the railroad today.  We all had a great time as always.

This session was accompanied by many changes.  The four XtrFE and XtrFW trains were replaced by trains with prototypical destinations plus the two additional freight trains.  All schedules were changed to reflect close to the prototype.  Also, many of the locals had changed.  The grain train was abolished replaced with locals that worked all industries in newly designed districts to further imitate the prototype.

Pre-session work included classifying #20 Houston to Davenport freight that arrived late during the night.

Jeff volunteered for the #110 Illinois Shorts local.  This train works as a sweeper train picking up cars left by various locals in storage tracks and yards between Chicago and Davenport.  It also delivers cars to storage tracks for the days local to spot.  Today, the train only had to travel to Joliet to drop off a cut of cars returning to Burr Oak Yard light.  Other than waiting for emergency crews to clear a train knocked down by the early morning tornado (ceiling fan) that blew through town, the trip was uneventful.

#110 eases down to the west switch of Joliet, IL
Some of the newly weathered cars in Joliet, IL
Tornado sirens blared in Joliet as a swift moving storm rolled through town early morning.  Crews had to wait for town officials to remove debris from the right of way.
#110 has run around his train and preparing to make the reverse move into the storage track at Joliet.

Larry enthusiastically volunteered for the new #113 Joliet to Bureau Turn.  Little did he know the monumental task that was before him.  Larry had some locomotive difficulties which was replaced with a GP40 set which also had difficulties.  Larry worked this train for 8hrs 20m.  If this train had work to complete in Bureau, it is feasible this train could have gone on the law.  Reminiscent of the former Stockdale local, this train continues to be a beast!

Larry begins for formulate his plan of attack for the #113 Joliet to Bureau Turn

Marcus operated the Peoria Rocket with FP7 #409.  No delays were reported.

The Peoria Rocket departs the station in Peoria.

The Peoria Rocket makes its station stop in Stockdale, IL

Jeff operated the Quad Cities Rocket with E7 #635.  Jeff experienced a slight delay in Davenport due to the previous operator (myself) leaving turnouts lined against the train as it traversed from West Davenport to the station in Davenport.  Jeff was able to make up the time in short order arriving in Chicago on time.

The Quad Cities Rocket makes its station stop in Rock Island

Both passenger trains slid by Larry as in Joliet as he worked the local industries.

Steven operated #112 Rock Island to Bureau Turn.  His train was lead by a single GP7 #1232 freshly painted by Peconic Shops.  The local took 2 1/2 hours to complete.  Management received numerous complaints from industries in Bureau stating that the local never picked up their cars today.  The employee admitted that he forgot the new limits of the local turning his train in Rock Island vs. traveling to Bureau to switch the cars there.

Marcus operated Advance #2 (second section of #2 Tucumcari to Chicago freight).  Marcus slipped by Larry at Joliet and met Jeff in Blue Island.  He tied up his train 2hrs 30m later.

Jeff operated #1 Chicago to Tucumcari, NM with a set of three GP7s freshly painted by Peconic Shops.   Jeff slipped by Larry at Joliet completing his run in 1hr 20m.

Marcus operated #92 Peoria to Davenport freight with a lash-up of two "Boom Time" blue GP38-2s and U25B.  He encountered no opposing traffic arriving in Davenport 1hr 35m later.

Jeff operated #130 Peoria to Bureau with a single ALCO RS2.  Jeff was able to expertly complete the new deliveries and return to the shop in 1hr 45m.

Marcus operated #43 Chicago to Council Bluffs, IA with two SD40-2s (one Rock Island, one Union Pacific).  As Marcus rolled into Davenport Yard Jeff eased up on the main to the Mississippi River crossing with #2 Tucumcari, NM to Chicago freight lead by three GP7s.  Marcus completed his run in 1hr 45m taking his power to the house.  Jeff encountered no other opposition arriving in Chicago 1hr 30m later.

Larry operated new #217 Ottawa Branchline Local out of Chicago with a single GP40.  The train consisted mostly of dirt and empties for the Central Stone Company.  Larry returned to Chicago with fresh loads of limestone 2hrs 25m later.

Larry prepares to take the diverging route down the Ottawa Branch as #1 Tucumcari to Chicago passes by on the siding with a Southern Pacific caboose.
Larry watches for defects as Jeff on #1 Tucumcari to Chicago train passes by on the siding.

Marcus followed Larry out of Chicago operating #221 Blue Island Turn with a single ALCO RS2. As Marcus was completing the last of his deliveries, Steven slid by on a combined Quad Cities / Peoria Rocket making the station stop in Blue Island.  Marcus return to Chicago 2hrs 20m later.

Steven kept the combined Rockets on schedule.  At Bureau, Steven dropped the cars for the Peoria Rocket on the Peoria branchline.  Passengers were greeted with a bus waiting at Bureau to transport them to Peoria.  This has become a common occurrence when the ROCK has a crew shortage.  Steven arrived in Davenport on time completing the Quad Cities Rocket run for the evening.

The combined Quad Cities / Peoria Rocket makes its station stop in Joliet.  The train consists of seven passenger and two baggage cars.

Another view of the Quad Cities / Peoria Rocket in Joliet, IL

As Steven, arrived in town with the passenger train, Larry had moved his monster #44 Council Bluffs to Chicago train out onto the siding at Davenport ready for departure.  Larry was over tonnage with 16 cars plus a cab with three locomotives in the lead.  As Larry began the ascent out of the Mississippi River valley, the wheel slip light came on bringing the train to a halt west of Franklin Farms.  Larry backed his train back into Davenport as the yardmaster scrambled to find more power for the train.  Larry departed Davenport for a second time this time led by 5 locomotives (4x "Boom Time" Blue GP7s / GP38-2s plus one Maroon/Yellow U25B).

Quad Cities Rocket makes its last station stop in Davenport as Larry prepares to engineer his monster #44 Council Bluffs to Iowa train up out of the Mississippi River valley.  

Larry met Marcus operating #23 Chicago to Houston freight led by a typical 1970s consist of FP7, U25B and GP7.  Marcus was also a rather long train barely squeezing into the siding at Rock Island so Larry could get by with his monster train.  Larry arrived safely in Chicago 3 hours later.  Although his train was so long, the crossings in Blue Island will be blocked for a while until Burr Oak can classify the train.  Marcus yarded his train in Davenport 2hrs 10m later.

Marcus rolls on through Joliet led by a FP7, U25B and GP40.
Nearly a rolling meet in Rock Island, Larry slides by on the main with his #44 Council Bluffs to Chicago train as Marcus eases down to the west switch with his #23 Chicago to Houston train.

#23 was watching the rear of his train to make sure he was in the clear, but eased up a little much stopping just short of a grain hopper on #44's train.  I believe the number boards were ripped off of the loco as Larry pulled his train past. 

Steven operated #145 Clinton Turn departing Davenport with two ALCO RS2s.  The train runs up to Clinton, IA, but doesn't return during the session.

Marcus operated #93 Davenport to Peoria freight.  Marcus had the duty of picking up the Peoria Rocket train left earlier at Bureau wye.  Off Duty engineers Keller and Johnson were drinking at the Bureau diner critiquing the #93's crew as they made their pickup at the wye. Evidently Keller and Johnson claimed they had better ideas on how to properly pick up the setoff.  All three crews enjoyed the good ribbing dished out by the diner patrons.

Overall, I think the session went well.  There were a few motive power issues, but I will work on that.  The more protoypical operating scheme seemed to work well.  I was pleased how everything worked out.  We ran 18 trains moving approximately 250 cars.  It was a good day.