Friday, November 1, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 11.01.13

This evening, I set my focus on the gantlet track.  I painted the gantlet track with a Floquil rail brown spray bomb and trimmed the ties.

Now, for the Boulder Creek Engineering WeighStation installation.  I cut out the hole in the 1x4 benchwork for the panel.  I marked where the sensor would be installed.  I drilled a 3/8" hole in the benchwork for the infrared sensor.   The instructions suggested creating a plate cover for the sensor using a thin sheet of styrene.  I drilled two 1/8" holes 7/32" apart.  I reamed them out (pretty easy to do on the styrene) to allow for the sensor and infrared light to fit through perfectly.  I drilled two 1/8" holes for the wires on the speaker.  Connected the wires to the circuit board which was very well marked.

- 2 wires for the speaker
- 3 wires for the infrared detector
- 2 wires for the 12v DC power supply

Plugged it up and tested.  We have power!  It detected the car as it passed over rolling up from 0lbs to 80,000lbs.  Broke out the manual and set the low/high range for sand hoppers.  The hoppers have a max weight of 263,000lbs.  I set the low weight to 240,000lbs and high weight to 270,000lbs.  This will report that roughly 23% of the cars as overweight.

So, I tested again.  The first car over 268,800lbs!  Overweight!  HA HA HA HA HA!  The crews are going to just "love" this!  That car would need to be setoff to have the load reduced by the mine workers.  I continued testing with a string of cars.  The scale rolled up to the weight, beeped, then rolled back down to zero between the cars.  Perfect!

I will complete installation tomorrow.  Tonight's goal was to get it operational.  Tomorrow, I will glue everything down completing installation and will photograph.

I'm pretty excited about the success of this project.  I can't wait to operate!

In other news, I heard back from my informant Harold that lived along the tracks in Utica.  I need to digest the information provided and come up with a plan for weighing the cars at Belrose Silica.

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report Halloween 2013

This morning, I had some unexpected extra time to work on the layout.  I got out my Dremel-knock off tool and the bits.  I gapped all the PC boards on the gantlet track and tested.  All good!  I then took a wire brush looking attachment and cleaned up all the solder joints.  It looks really good now!  I then cut a bunch of wood ties in preparation for gluing later this evening.

This evening before Trick-or-Treating, I glued the wood ties to the gantlet track.  Later I went back and trimmed the ties.

I got out the Boulder Creek Engineering WeighStation.  This will need to be installed before I install the gantlet track.  By the end of the weekend, I predict an operating scale!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 10.30.13

I worked on the layout this evening, placing the gantlet track in position.  I cut and shaped the other trackage around it which includes the through track as well as a short run-around track.  I installed the ground throws for all the turnouts as well as the gantlet track.  I believe it will work out well.

I also shaped the two tracks that will serve as the loading area for bagged sand.

When placing those, I wondered what it would look like with the overhead conveyor.  So, I made a mock-up to check it out.  It looks great!  I'm getting excited!

I also dug around in my storage drawers to find the wire utility flags I purchased for cheap at Lowe's.  I cut off the flag and bent the metal pole into position.  This will serve as the overhead piping from the sand pit up to the drying building.  This runs over the roadway and some of the tracks to access the plant.

I can't wait to start constructing the buildings and scenery!  This is going to be awesome!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 10.29.13

This morning, I installed the lead track from Ottawa Yard south to Ottawa Silica as well as the three turnouts for the yard lead/mainline connection.  This completes 20 of 25 received so far.

This evening, I laid one piece of flex from the CB&Q crossing west on the Rock Island main.  I then commenced is laying the remaining cork roadbed for both tracks of the entire RI main.  It's looking good!!

I then worked for a few hours on the (second try) gauntlet track.  This one turned out much nicer than the first one.  Although, I still dislike building it.  It's not an easy project.  It is currently just the rail/pc board skeleton, but it seems to function well.  I need to add wood ties to it and paint.  I'll post photos when done.

Operations Question
Which leads to me to another situation.  I can use the help of the blog readers out there on this one.  I know Ottawa Silica definitely had their own scale track weighing the sand hoppers.  Belrose Silica (the other mine I'm modeling) is located 7 miles west of Ottawa in Utica, IL.  I can not see any indication of a scale track at this mine.  This mine was a much smaller operation than Ottawa Silica.  There is very little information online regarding this plant or the neighboring Philadelphia Quartz facility.  Originally, I had planned on building two gauntlet tracks and having scales at each.  A couple of issues with this.  One, I don't want to build another gauntlet track.  I'm done with that.  Uggh.  Two, the gauntlet track is pretty long.  I could shorten it, but even so it's the length of two turnouts plus a car or two in the middle.  Three, see #1.

So, as far as operations the Ottawa Local will have to weigh all sand and set out any that are over tonnage.  How do you suggest the LaSalle local handle the sand?  Much of the sand is going right across the tracks to the Philadelphia Quartz (PQ) plant.  Crazy, I know.  You would have thought a conveyor across the tracks would have been more economical.  As far as I can tell, CSX still does the same thing today.  So, what would you suggest for handling the sand hoppers from mine to plant (50 yards away)?  I can think of two options.  One, possibly the ROCK had an agreement to simply bill per car load with no regard to weight.  This would still leave it open for damaged cars that would have to be setout to the RIP track and such, but not the variability of weights.  Or two, the local takes the cars up to Ottawa to be weighed at Ottawa Silica's plant and return the next day to Philadelphia Quartz.  That seems like a lot of work to move a car 50 yards, but this was the ROCK.  Anything that made financial sense was off the table.

The CB&Q had Wedron Silica just to the north of Ottawa.  It was a larger plant as well, but I can't tell if it has a scale track or not.  I just looked at Belrose Silica again.  There is a small shack to the left of the loading area.  That may have been a scale track at one time.  It could also be located under the loading area (possibly weighing as they fill up the car).

So, any input out there?

Photos of the progress.

Looking north from Ottawa Silica.  Straight is the CB&Q crossing.
The diverging route to the left is the lead to Rock's Ottawa Yard.

Looking east from Ottawa Yard.  CB&Q crossing is at located where the drill sits.
The diverging route to the right is the lead to Ottawa Silica and LOF.

Another view of the same showing the Ottawa Silica and LOF plants.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 10.28.13

I worked on various things today, but nothing photo worthy yet.  I worked on the plaster subroadbed for the crossover from the main and connection to Ottawa Silica/LOF at the CB&Q junction.

This evening, I started to drill the hole for the ground throw, but wasn't having much luck.  I then decided to change out the bit as it was just sliding across the throw bar.  The new bit worked like a charm and sped up the process.  I drilled holes and prepared the turnouts for installation tomorrow.

I laid out, but did not shape the flex track for the remaining mainline down to Peru.

I cut and prepared the PC boards and rail for the gauntlet track 2.0.  I wasn't pleased with the first gauntlet track, so I'm taking another stab at it.  I need to get busy as the borrowed tools I have need to be returned November 9th.  My goal is to build two (one for Ottawa Silica and one for Belrose Silica).  I hope to start soldering tomorrow night.  I need to review the Fast Tracks video on soldering tips.  The first attempt was loaded down with solder.  I know I can do better.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 10.27.13

This morning, I worked on the layout for about an hour.  I installed three turnouts, the sand unloading track and run around track for Libbey-Owens-Ford.

This afternoon and evening, I installed the remaining tracks for Libbey-Owens-Ford completing this section.  Well, I take that back.  I haven't glued down the two box car loading tracks for LOF as I need to install the blue LEDs first.

I then installed the turnout that leads into the sorting building which is used to load foundry sand.  This completes installation of all the turnouts except for two for Ottawa Silica and LOF.  I'm in need of a right hand turnout to complete the trackwork behind the Ottawa Silica plant.

I have now completed installation of 17 of the 25 turnouts originally ordered.  I'm hoping my eBay guy ships the second batch this week which contains some much needed right-hand turnouts.

Previously, I had cut cardboard strips from some thick cardboard file dividers and glued in a stair-step fashion to create a gradual slope up from the table top track level (for industry and the yard) to the mainline height (on cork roadbed).  This evening, I plastered that area and will sand this week.

Here are photos of the progress.

Looking north from Ottawa Avenue at the Ottawa Silica Plant.
The four tracks on the left is the sand loading yard.  The turnout to nowhere to the right of that will be a run around track.  The next track to the right is a through/scale track.  The diverging route to the far right will go behind the plant to access the bagged sand loading tracks.  

Sand unloading track on the left.

 Chemical track on the right.
Windshield box car loading on the far two right tracks.

A reminder to myself that I need to purchase more plaster.  In case you wanted to know, this is what I use.  I like it pretty good.  Don't get the pink stuff though.  That stuff doesn't dry well and cracks easily.

The cardboard file divider that I cut into strips to transition from the yard/industry tracks to the mainline.

The gradual slope into the yard after plaster.  

The curve into the Ottawa Silica Plant.