Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rock Island v.2.0 - A Track Plan

So, I laid out the scale Ottawa Silica drawings the other day.  The plant was huge!  I was wondering with modification, would the ROCK 2.0 actually work in the room size.  So, I drew out a drawing using some measurements for track spacing, curves, turnbacks, turnout lengths, etc. from the current layout.

The room is 16'3" by 13'.  I believe this would work providing ample aisle space for operators to maneuver about without blacking out from "sucking it in" to get by.  I'm thinking in reality, I could trim up the space around Belrose Silica and PQ to provide more room in the aisle way there.

The layout would be single level, no steep grades, 48" or so bench height which would work well with bar stools for operators to sit while operating.

I like everything on the plan so far except maybe making some changes around Peru Power and Westclox. There seems to be a lot of waste space here.  I would really like to have the Maze Lumber Plant as well.

A list of industries and available spots:
Peru Power & Light - 5 Coal Hoppers, 1 Transformer
Westclox - 6 40' Box Cars
Belrose Silica - 12 sand hoppers
Philadelphia Quartz - 10 sand hoppers, 2 salt covered hoppers, 7 tank cars, 4 chemical covered hoppers
Ottawa Silica - 40 sand hoppers, 10 box cars
Libbey-Owens-Ford - 10 sand hoppers, 10 box cars, 5 soda ash/dolomite covered hoppers
A total of 122 spots on the layout.  There would be two jobs: 217 Ottawa Local, 118 LaSalle Local plus possibly a yardmaster at Ottawa.  Add in a crew to run through trains out of the staging yard and I believe you could operate with 4-5 people.
What do you guys think?  Please feel free to comment with any suggestions.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The ROCK Operating Session #11 - Full Report

Today, we operated as May 4th, 1977 for Operating Session #11.  We had five seasoned professionals present: Marcus Neubacher, Larry Keller, Jeff Lindstrom, Steve Holzheimer and myself.

We ran a total of 17 trains.  A lot of sand hoppers were moved.  Some moved numerous times.  We operated for nearly five hours (19.5 hours on the fast clock - 4:30am to a few minutes after midnight).  We typically wrap up before then but incurred some train delays late in the session.

The session started off with Marcus operating Train #111 Chicago to Silvis Shorts.  He had a monster of a train today leaving Chicago with 22 cars!  He dropped 10 cars at Joliet and picked up 3.  Due to the length of his cut, he had to do a run-around maneuver at Joliet to place the cut of cars on the Track 2 storage track.

Jeff, on duty for the #113 Joliet Local decided to get a second cup of coffee and take his time reading the newspaper while Marcus thrashed about in Joliet.  Due to the time involved receiving his work for today (Marcus' drop-off), Jeff marked up for the crew of #6 Quad Cities Rocket to ensure no scheduled trains were delayed.  What a great company man!

Larry worked as the Ottawa Yardmaster / #217 Ottawa Local operator today.  He was busy as he worked a double shift working from 5am until midnight!  It did not take him that long to perform his duties, but got roped into other jobs created by management.

Steve H. managed Kelly Yard today doing an excellent job!  He started off the session with the yard pretty full which is unusual.  The yard was near capacity for much of the day.

#6 Quad Cities Rocket and #11 Peoria Rocket both departed on time.  In a rare occurrence, both Rocket trains were in Bureau at the same time as #11 was running a little early on the branchline.  Both trains tied up in Chicago on time.

#11 Peoria Rocket on the right had some miscellaneous freight tacked on the rear of the train.

As the Rocket trains approached, Marcus worked with Larry in Ottawa Yard to setoff 10 cars and pickup 4 on his #111 Silvis bound IL Shorts train.  He completed his work, but had to wait on the siding in Ottawa for both Rocket trains to pass.

Marcus and Larry swapping cars off train #111 Silvis bound IL Shorts road local.

Around 8:30am, Jeff went on duty (delayed) on the #113 Joliet Local.  The train was originally called for 6:00am, but due to potential delays and trying to keep the scheduled trains on the move, the train call time was delayed by 2 1/2 hours.  I may make this a permanent change.

Meanwhile Marcus picked up five cars in LaSalle bound for Silvis.  Marcus had clear sailing on into Silvis where he tied down his train at 9:13am, 4 3/4 hours after starting, with a total of 14 cars.

Marcus arriving on the A/D track in Silvis with train #111 IL Shorts while Steve H works some of the local industries in East Moline, IL.

I gave Marcus an option for his next train as both were called soon.  He decided to take the harder of the two the #118 LaSalle local while I took the through freight train.  Marcus would be on that train for the next 8 hours.

Marcus went on duty on time at 9:30am for #118.  He started his day in Silvis running with light power and a cab to LaSalle to start his work.

I took #1 Chicago to Tucumcari freight which departed on time (10:00am).  I met Marcus with his light power at Bureau before sliding on down to the Rock River crossing.  I was held out briefly at the bridge until the yardmaster could take me in.  I tied up at 11:05am.

Others were still busy working other jobs, so I took train #2 Tucumcari to Chicago freight.  The train was 1hr and 30m late departing Silvis due to Kelly Yard being quite busy.  I met #118 in the hole at the Belrose Silica plant.  The train was kept at notch 8 making up time over the road.  I arrived in Chicago only 50 minutes late.

While waiting for the next round of assignments, Larry declares, I'm done!  What?  He had completed his duties at Ottawa.  That was a record!  Although Larry completed switching the industries, he still had to wait for #118 to arrive at the yard.  Little did he know he was about to be assigned numerous other tasks related to Ottawa.

Although, I tried to give away the Blue Island Local to Jeff, upon quick review of the job, he opted to take through freight #43 Chicago to Council Bluffs.  He had an evil grin as I grabbed my throttle for the train.  I haven't worked the #221 Blue Island local since the changes were made nearly 1 1/2 years ago to Blue Island.  Word on the street is it's a beast!!  I better pop a Xanax for this run.

I worked on blocking the Blue Island local in the old Burr Oak yard.  Before I managed to pull out of the yard, #43 Chicago to Council Bluffs freight engineered by Jeff departed Chicago.  After that, I had uninterrupted time to work in Blue Island.  Although very complex, I managed to get the job done without too much trouble.  It can be difficult, but at least I know the layout in my head and know some of the more complex track arrangements that typically trip people up.  I delivered about 9 cars and picked up about the same.  I tied up 3 1/2 hours later before the afternoon passenger train parade began.

Jeff on train #43 met Marcus on #118 the LaSalle local swapping blocks of cars at Ottawa.

Train #112 Rock Island local was called next, but wait there is a problem.  The power for this train is to arrive light at Silvis after completing work on the #118 LaSalle local.  The train will have to be delayed.

Before 5pm, Larry, still hanging around in Ottawa, received a call from the Chief Dispatcher.  There is a cut of 13 empty sand hoppers sitting in West Kelly yard.  They need to get to Ottawa, but there isn't power available to do so nor a crew.  Larry, being the dedicated employee that he is, fired up his GP7s and called the dispatcher for permission to Silvis.  At 5pm, Larry departed Ottawa on Extra 1208 West light power to Silvis.

Larry made it to Silvis out ahead of the evening parade of passenger trains.  Train #44 Council Bluffs to Chicago was scheduled for a meet with #5 at Bureau, but that was cancelled due to #44 was delayed departing Silvis.

Speaking of Silvis, it was a little chaotic at the yard there.  #118 had arrived back with light power to be serviced, the yard crew was building train #112 Rock Island Local, and X1208 West arrived with light power to pickup the empty sand hoppers.  No wonder #44 Council Bluffs to Chicago was delayed.

There was some discussion regarding X1208 East returning to Ottawa.  There was eight other cars that also needed to go to Ottawa, but it was feared that the train wouldn't make it up the grade with a 16 car load and only two GP7s for power (especially since all the cars had weight added recently).  The Chief Dispatcher made the comment that the train could possibly make the grade with three extra cars, but....  Evidently the radio cut out after that.  The yardmaster and crew both heard three extra cars were permitted.

X1208 East was authorized to travel back to Ottawa following the timetable schedule.  #112 had his power serviced and departed shortly after at 6:45pm (4 hours late).  #5 Quad Cities Rocket met X1208 at Bureau and #112 Rock Island local at Rock Island, IL.   #5 arrived at Silvis with no delays.

I departed Silvis two hours late on #44 Council Bluffs to Chicago freight.  Trains out on the road were notified of the delay orders.  #11 Peoria Rocket engineered by Marcus was scheduled to meet #44 at Council Bluffs.   #11 arrived in Peoria on time.

Around 9:30pm, three hours late, #110 IL Shorts road local departed Silvis engineered by Marcus.  He met #112 Rock Island Local working at Bureau.  #110 dropped 11 cars at Ottawa and picked up 4.  Ottawa was very full.  Larry reported to the chief that there was 29 empty sand hoppers sitting in the yard.  The mines must be gearing up for a big push of sand next week.  It was discovered that the 1st Shift Chief authorized the use of the RIP track for storage of hoppers early in the morning.  The second shift manager of the repair facility wasn't too pleased with his track being used as storage.  A call was made to the Chief.  The Chief radio'd up Larry (still working late).  A decision was made for Larry to take a cut of 15 empty sand hoppers down to Bureau to store there.  At 10:55pm, Larry departed once again on X1208 West.  Larry set off the 15 hoppers which filled up the storage track at Bureau and returned to Ottawa arriving back at 11:45pm.  It was overheard on the radio among crews discussing these cars had been moved from Silvis past Bureau to Ottawa and then later moved back to Bureau.  "It is a wonder this railroad ever makes money moving around empty cars so many times?"  Upper management has no comment on the financial condition of the railroad.

The cut of 15 empty sand hoppers parked on the storage track at Bureau.  I'm sure management will receive a call before long from the two old Wyza sisters complaining that their view of the Illinois River has been blocked by these hoppers parked here.

#110 continued his run to Chicago dropping 4 cars at Joliet and picking up 1.

It was a great session with many wrinkles in the plan.  I'm always amazed at how operating sessions work out.  No matter how much planning goes into a session, you just never know what will occur.  Crews almost never work the jobs as you think they will.  Delays occur, meets are moved, trains annulled due to lack of traffic (or created due to an excess of traffic).  I love to watch how crews work out the problems prototypically.  Great job guys!

A special thanks to Larry, Marcus, Jeff and Steve for bringing the ROCK alive once again!