Friday, March 21, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 03.21.14

This evening, I worked on the layout for four hours.  I worked on numerous little projects.

  • Installed feeder wires for all the new Belrose Silica industry tracks.  Tested the industry tracks.  It's hard to focus when trains start moving.  Snap out of it!  I have more work to do.
  • Tested the Belrose scale again.  Mounted the faceplate.
  • Tested the flashing grade crossing signals at Mill St (gates are down, but not operational yet)
  • Performed some major base scenery work in Utica.  All the scenery base behind the tracks in Utica has been created with the exception of the far right corner.  I would have continued on with that project, but ran out of wall plaster.  I'll make a Home Depot run tomorrow.
  • Tested the crossing gates at Ottawa Avenue.
  • Tested all blue flag LED lights.
  • Repaired the point on a turnout
  • Touched up the fascia paint.
  • Added more decals identifying industries and milepost locations to the fascia
  • Put all my tools and electronic projects away.
  • Sorted through the paperwork for the op session.  I remember I had to re-block train #217.  I classified that using the locomotives.  
    • I found an issue with Track 8 at Ottawa Silica (Frac Sand loading track).  A point had failed and I had repaired, but didn't properly gap.  Most cars had passed over ok, but found some Intermountain cars that did not).  Repaired the turnout.
  • Tested the scale at Ottawa Silica.
  • Installed clipboards for the yardmaster and both scales.  Distributed paperwork as required.
  • Gathered my paperwork as Station Agent and Dispatcher.
  • Determined the motive power for the op session.  
    • #217 - pair of GP7s
    • #118 - pair of SD40-2s (left here in error - crew will love having those).
    • #113 - pair of SD40-2s
    • #112 - pair of RS2s
    • Yard Power - pair of GP18s
    • All Rock Island Power.
  • Started to clean off the project desk.  Organized the black cabinet hanging on the wall (has projects and various sensitive/fragile stuff in there).
  • Installed Blair Line wood grade crossings at LOF, Ottawa Avenue, PQ and Mill Street.  I still have some more to install.
  • Moved some of the girls stuff (bean bag chairs, etc) out of the room.  
I think that's all I did tonight.  It was a lot of little stuff to work on.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Ride Along with #118 LaSalle Local

My friend Allen and I have been discussing operations back and forth leading up to the first op session on the 29th.  In our discussions, questions have arisen of how the local operates.  I thought I would detail out how one might go about running today's #118 LaSalle Turn local.  Of course, there are many ways this local can be worked, but this might better give one the idea of how it works.

Here's the map for the entire layout.

First off, we would report to duty at 08:00 at Ottawa Yard.  The yard master (YM) informs us we will be using a pair of GP7s today.   We board our locomotives sitting on the loco tracks.  The YM states our train is on track #4 (tracks are numbered from the aisle to the backdrop). We grab a caboose from the caboose track on the west end of the yard, travel east and couple our caboose to the cut of cars sitting on track #4.  We move back west using the runaround track (closest to the aisle) and couple on to the cars on track #4.

Looking at our paperwork, it appears we have 14 cars (10 empties, 4 loads) on our train departing the yard today.  It's only 8:15am now.  My conductor calls over to the manager at Westclox to find out they will not complete loading until 10am (Blue LED lights are lit indicating employees are loading the box cars). 


We call the dispatcher and request permission over to Utica.  We receive verbal permission to work on Main 1 between Utica and LaSalle until 10:30 AM.

We throttle up our locomotives and enter Main 1 from the yard easing under the Keonig Road bridge.  

We ease down Main 1 (closest to the aisle) in front of PQ.  Our conductor decides to work the tank cars first at PQ.  They are located on Track #1 closest to the aisle.  

The four cars we need to pick up are on the far end of the track.  Our conductor decides to pull the entire cut of cars out of the PQ's Track #1, places the two cars that were not to be picked up back, couples back onto our train grabbing the six for delivery and shoves them back onto Track #1 at PQ.

It appears we are picking up all three cars residing on track 2 at PQ.  We pull those three cars out and back onto our train.  

We then shove the 1 empty car (for dry chemical loading) on track 2, sport A.

It's getting close to 10:00 AM now.  We call the dispatcher to obtain permission to work Main 1 and Main 2 between Utica and LaSalle.  We are granted permission.  

We tie down our train on Main 1 and pull down beyond Mill St.  We throw the crossover switches to the reverse position and go east on Main 2.

It appears we have two to set off at doors A and C and three to pick up doors A, C and D at Westclox.

Blue flags are down at Westclox.  We pull west of the factory, shove our two box cars onto the industry spur.  Run back east of the factory.  We pull out all the box cars and return the RI box car at Door B as well as place our two set outs at Doors A and C.

The dispatcher gives us a heads up to get in the clear (of Main 2) as train #113 West to Silvis is ready to depart the yard.  We pull east with our three pickups from Westclox trailing behind.  We cross back over to Main 1 in Utica and shove back on to our train.

As we wait for #113, my conductor reviews the paperwork to see we have two empty coal hoppers and three loads to set off at Peru Power.  

The cars were on the head of the train as we pulled into Utica.  My brakeman walks down to the end of the train and gives us flag protection across the Mill Street crossing to back down to Peru Power.

We pull out the two pickups and drop our three loaded coal hoppers in the plant.  We then pull back east of Mill Street and check with the dispatcher on clearance to work both Main 1 and Main 2.  It looks like it is all clear for a while.  We uncouple our locomotives from the train and take the crossover at Utica to Main 2.

There are 9 loads of sand at Belrose Silica to pick up and weigh.  It appears 7 of them are going to PQ across the main and two back to the yard to be classified for other locations.

The loads are on track 2 on the west end.  We pull off our 9 loads leaving three that are still to be loaded.  We then contact the scale operator.  We back our cars slowly across the scale noting our weights as each one passes.  

It looks like we have one that is over tonnage today.  We contact the plant manager who directs us to set the car off to the right of the scale.  He informs us his crew is on lunch and it will probably be about 75 to 90 minutes before they will get around to reducing the load.

We decide to go ahead and pull what we have over to PQ.  We travel west on Main 2, take the crossover at LaSalle back to Main 1 and shove back up to PQ.

We have 7 empty hoppers plus one loaded chemical hopper to pick up on Track #3 (closest to the main) at PQ.  We ease back into the plant at PQ, pickup the cars needed and return and cars as required.  We fill out the track with the seven loads from Belrose Silica, one fly ash load for the Chemical spot at the far end of the track and place the remaining cars from Belrose Silica in our train to return to the yard.

We pull our empties from PQ and head back over to Belrose Silica pulling west of the LaSalle crossover and shoving back to Main 2 and east into the plant at Utica.

We have to wait about 15 minutes while the crew wraps up reducing the load on the one over tonnage hopper.  We pull that car and spot our empties on the tail track at the far east end of the Belrose Silica loadout.

We head back west with our one load of sand crossing back to Main 1 at LaSalle and shove the car into PQ's Track #3.  

Our work is complete.  We place our caboose on the rear of the train and run our power around the train on Main 2 crossing back to Main 1 in Utica to couple to our train.  We contact the dispatcher to find #112 East is hot on our tail.  The dispatcher decides to let him go around us on Main 2 crossing at Utica to Main 1 and into the yard.

Once #112 East is in the clear, we call the dispatcher for permission back to the yard.  We ease around the curve from Utica to the Koenig Road overpass.  We contact the yardmaster for position into the yard.  We are granted permission and enter on track #3.  We cut off our power on the east end of the yard, double back to pull off our cab on the west end, place it in the caboose track for servicing and shut down our power on the loco track.  

We returned at the end of the day with a total of 15 cars (12 loads, 3 empties).  

I think it will take the crew (one person) a while to run this local if it is run prototypically and not being rushed.  I can't wait until the 29th to see how my design plays out.  I'm looking forward to it immensely.  

Feel free to comment or ask questions about the operation.  I hope this helps you understand better what I'm trying to do with this one local.  Later if I have time, I will do the same for the #217 Ottawa Local.  

Other than that, I'm feeling pretty tired this evening so no progress on the layout.  Time is passing me by quickly.  Any projects I want to get done need to be wrapped up quick as I will need to start final preparations for the op session soon.

Who is ready to ROCK?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report Last Few Days

As mentioned the other day, I have been pondering where to locate the scale at Belrose Silica.  Originally, I was going to weigh the sand at Ottawa Yard, but it was going to be too much of a disturbance to the yardmaster at Ottawa plus too many round trips between Utica and the yard.

When looking at options of where to place the scale in the current track configuration at Utica, I wasn't pleased with the arrangement.  This got me thinking of how to change it and how it would be switched.  That provoked me to pull up the industry tracks at Belrose Silica, and change the track configuration.

Here is the revised plan.

The new plan has two tracks accessed by trailing switches when coming from Ottawa Yard. Empties are spotted on the tail track, cars are loaded under the loader on the far track (from the mainline).  They are then weighed on the scale track closest to the mainline.  Any cars over tonnage are set off to the right of the scale to be reduced if need be.

I then worked on pulling up the old tracks, cut and shaped the new tracks.  I repaired and glued the mainline trackage where I removed one of the turnouts accessing the plant.

The next day, I glued the new track arrangement at Belrose Silica.  I also repaired five more turnout points that had popped loose.  I believe that is 30 now.

This evening, I installed the Boulder Creek Engineering scale for Belrose Silica.  Wow!  I had a time with it tonight.  It took me two hours to get that thing right.  The first one at Ottawa Silica installed super easy.  Either I was extremely lucky the first time or I'm just having a bad day today.  Either way, I got 'er done!

I was hoping to get more done tonight, but I guess I will finish wiring up the new industry tracks tomorrow.

Only 10 days until my first op session of the Rebirth of the ROCK!