Saturday, September 29, 2012

Op Session Report 09.29.12

Today, the ROCK came alive again!  A total of 5 operators (we had only operated with four in the past) for roughly 6 hours, moving 18 freight trains and nearly 300 cars.  Pretty impressive!

A special thanks to Larry, Marcus, Jeff and Steve for coming out to operate today.  It was a great time as usual!

The session started off with Steve taking the #110 Illinois Shorts train which is a road local from Chicago to Silvis.  He made set offs in Joliet, Ottawa, LaSalle and terminated at Kelly Yard in Silvis.

#110 IL Shorts held up at LaSalle for the #6 Quad Cities Rocket (Marcus) to pass and then slipped down past Bureau before #12 Peoria Rocket (myself) bound for Chicago passed by.

Jeff worked the #113 Joliet local.

Larry took on the daunting task of the new #217 Ottawa Local.  I think Larry summed up well by calling it the beast!  Larry worked Peru/LaSalle first.  Good thing I made the Philadelphia Quartz lead long as Larry had to clear up on the lead twice for passing trains.

Marcus engineered the extra loaded grain train from Iowa bound for the Pabst Brewery plant in Peoria. This train took the wye at Bureau to head south to Peoria.  Very neat negotiating the tight curve at Bureau.

Steve took the #112 Rock Island local.

Marcus engineered #1 Chicago to Tucumcari freight encountering Jeff working in Joliet, Larry working in LaSalle and Steve thrashing around in Rock Island.

Trains #90 Peoria to Chicago and #95 Chicago to Peoria were operated by Jeff and myself passing in Bureau.

Jeff took #2 Tucumcari to Chicago freight.  He was delayed by the #112 Rock Island local.  I blame that on the CEO (myself) for giving poor instructions to the crew.  My bad.  This is the ROCK.  We can't expect every train to run on time.

Marcus scored another hot train (third in a row) engineering #57 Chicago to Council Bluffs Auto Parts/TOFC.  Train #57 was scheduled to meet #2 at Blue Island, but the meet was moved to Bureau due to #2s delays.  They would have fit at LaSalle, but it would have been close.  I wasn't sure so the dispatcher played it safe holding #2 at Bureau which is a much longer siding.

Marcus' luck ran out as his next assignment was #221 Blue Island local.  He went from #1 to zero.  The Blue Island local is a tough one.  You can be looking right at the tracks thinking it will lead to a certain industry to find, it doesn't.  I have determined no local is easy on the ROCK.  All of them have their various challenges.

Jeff took over 2nd shift of the Ottawa Local at 3pm.  Larry was ready to give it over by that time.  Both operators were found to be sweating.  It could have been the temperature in the room, but I think it was the stress from the mental challenge presented by the local.  :-)  The Ottawa local is a puzzle.

I engineered #43 Chicago to Council Bluffs freight encountering Marcus at Blue Island, Jeff at Ottawa and Steve at Rock Island.

The locals were able to thrash about for two hours or so before the evening parade began.

Larry started it off with #5 Quad Cities Rocket.  He encountered locomotive issues at Blue Island.  Welcome to the ROCK!  The trainmaster decided to take #11 train (not scheduled until 7:25pm) to rescue #5.  Larry combined the two trains and departed westbound.

A storm was brewing in Bureau.  The dispatcher had given Steve clearance to work in Bureau and clear up on the Peoria branchline before trains #44 Council Bluffs to Chicago freight (myself) and #5 Quad Cities Rocket met in Bureau.  That would have all been fine and dandy, but Larry needed to setoff the Peoria Rocket's cars at the wye.  #44 Council Bluffs to Chicago freight held out at Rock Island until #5 arrived.  #44 received clearance to Bureau and further east allowing for #112 Rock Island local to complete his work.

Larry shortened his stops to five minutes (normally ten) and arrive in East Moline one minute behind schedule.  Excellent job Larry!

Steve ran the last train of the day #23 Chicago to Houston freight.

Pretty good stuff!  We ran 18 trains during the session operating from 4:30am until roughly 9pm on the fast clock.

We did encounter a lot of locomotive issues today.  They mainly revolved around the Proto 2000 and Kato RS2s.  Usually, these are great runners, but today, they all seemed to be possessed.  They will all have to undergo some major cleaning and TLC to get them back in top shape.


So, a few changes are being considering. 

The LaSalle local is born!
I knew the Ottawa local was a beast, but never thought that the work at LaSalle would be enough for a separate local.  I was proven wrong.  The work is steady enough, plus dodging passing trains adds up to a fair amount of time (roughly 6 hours today).  The local will be based out of LaSalle, perform work in Peru and LaSalle, travel to Ottawa to exchange blocks of cars, and switch any industries on the way back as required.  So, the #118 LaSalle Local is born.

Waybill change
It appears that I need to revamp the waybills with the changes to the layout.  It was confusing for some operators where cars needed to go and how to block them.  It can be confusing for even myself at times.  I'm still working out the details with operators from today's session, but I will post my findings later.  Changes will occur though to simplify the waybills so crews can easily identify where to route cars.

Abolishing Train Registers at Stations
I have decided to abolish the train registers at the individual stations.  It's a great idea, but cumbersome on a smaller layout like mine.  If there was more distance between stations, I think it would work fine.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

Let's get ready to ROCK!

No work on the layout today.  I might try to paint a few yellow lines on the roads before the op session in the morning.  I did take some pictures of the room overall.  I will post those tomorrow.

The last op full op session was in February.  The ROCK is well overdue to run again!  I'm looking forward to operating with good friends tomorrow.

It's time to ROCK!  Full report following the session.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Op Session Countdown 09.27.12

No work on the layout today.  Simply test running some locomotives.  I drafted help from my two daughters for this job.  Sarah exercises great throttle control.  Elizabeth on the other hand....whiplash city.  It's either all or nothing!  Maybe she has been observing her father drive too much.

Elizabeth took the throttle for the Peoria Rocket.  I explained to her she needed to stop at all the stations.  I railfanned along the line salivating at the site of the train as it rolled through the scenery.  She stopped at the first station.  She said "ok people!  Time to get off!  You have two minutes to get off now!"  LOL!  I then asked what does the conductor say when it's time to leave?  I'm given a shoulder shrug from my daughter.  He says "Alllllll aboard!"  She smiled "ON BOARD!!!!"  No, All Aboard. "ONNNN BOARD!"   ok, that's great!  Notch 8 and here we go.  She comes screaming into the next station nearly skidding to a stop.  "OFF BOARD!!!"  It's great to run prototypical with friends, but nothing is more fun then running trains with your kids yelling "ON BOARD" and driving it like you stole it.  LOL!  Good times!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Op Session Countdown 09.26.12

This morning, I vacuumed up the excess grass at Bureau and touched up a few roads and driveways.  It looks really nice.  

Test ran the remaining locomotives on the Peoria branch.  All is well.

Snapped some photos of various scenes across the layout.  Enjoy!

Trailer park community off the Peoria Branch - Originally the road was flat, but I raised up the earth in the background to make it travel up and will eventually cross the mainline.

Trailer park community off the Peoria Branch

Trailer park community off the Peoria Branch

Bureau Junction

Bureau Junction

Bureau Junction

Ottawa Yard

Ottawa Station

Peru Power & Water Plant

Franklin Farms

Franklin Farms

Franklin Farms




JD Tower at Joliet

JD Interlocking at Joliet

Federal Paper Board plant at Joliet

East Moline Station

Carrie Ave Shops

Carrie Ave Shops

Illinois Fruit Supply at Blue Island

Consumers Coal and Ice Company - East Moline

Illinois Fruit Supply at Blue Island

Proctor & Gamble Co at Blue Island

Illinois Fruit Supply at Blue Island

Continental Grain Company at Moline

Philadelphia Quartz at Utica

Westclox Plant at LaSalle

LaSalle Station

Ottawa Yard

Ottawa Yard

Caldwell Rd Bridge at Ottawa

Caldwell Rd Bridge at Ottawa

Aunt Carol's house at Peoria

Bureau Junction

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Op Session Countdown 09.25.12

Crews completed cleaning the track this morning as well as testing some locomotive sets.

Assembled and installed the cooling units for Peru Power & Water Plant.

Repainted over the earthquake stricken Bureau, planted new grass including the revised (trailer park) neighborhood further down the Peoria branchline.

Classified inbound train #20 from Houston.  It arrives during the night before the op session starts.  I have an Extra Empty Hopper train bound for Peoria sitting on the siding in East Moline with the Quad Cities Special ready to depart soon.  Hopefully, I can find a crew to get that extra train out of my yard before an inbound freight arrives.

Completed testing locomotives except for two sets on the Peoria branch that is awaiting a clearance card due to the MOW work by the trailer park.

Good thing I conduct such tests.  This evening, I found one locomotive acting flaky.  After cleaning the wheels and performing other maintenance, it still wasn't working correctly.  It was sent over to Carrie Ave Shops and replacement power put in place.  Also, found a second set that is questionable whether it will run or not.  I'm awaiting for final approval from the locomotive desk.  It is one of the Proto 2000 GP38-2s.  Looks awesome, but problematic like you wouldn't believe.  I hate that too as I really like the paint scheme on that locomotive.

Also, when parking locomotives in their final resting spots prior to the operating session, I found the locomotive service track at Ottawa was wired backward.  I'm surprised it never shorted, but I'm guessing the turnout had isolated it until I ran a locomotive over the switch this evening.  Corrected that problem.

Although, I'm far from immune from gremlins come operating day, the pre-session routine seems to catch a few of them beforehand.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Progress Report 09.24.12

Nothing too exciting today.  I repaired a grain hopper that took the plunge to the floor the other day.  I'm happy to report it is back in service.

Continued cleaning track this morning through Ottawa.  I'm nearly finished with the top level.

This evening, I continued cleaning track and made it down across the Rock River into East Moline.   I now only have to clean the track at Silvis Yard and staging.

With the track clean, I wanted to take test run some trains.  All I have to say is WOW!  The trains rolling through the newly created scenes is awesome!!  I really enjoyed watching the grain train go around the wye at Bureau.  Awesome stuff!  I'm so excited to operate Saturday!

I'll send the company photographer out with a test train later in the week to snap some photos.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Progress Report 09.23.12

Worked on cleaning track on the railroad.  I really despise the task, but it is necessary for a good session.  I cleaned from Chicago to just west of Ottawa.

Found two locomotive sets with power facing the wrong way (running against itself).  I must have been half a sleep when I moved power up to the trains the other day.  All is well now.

Touched up the paint on the fascia from previous projects.

Bad ordered two cars that were having issues when moving trains to clean the track.

I made a mistake picking up the wrong tub of wall plaster the other day.  This stuff is pink and turns white when it dries.  What it doesn't advertise on the front is that is cracks easily.  Patched up the cracking landscape in Bureau.  It looked like there was an earthquake.  I think I can work with the plaster, but not near as well as the typical stuff I use.

I'm excited.  The layout is looking awesome!  I can't wait to operate Saturday.  I'm hoping to get all the track cleaned and locomotives test run so I can work on a few small projects before Saturday.