We started off with a tour of the layout referencing where the towns used to reside in the room followed by a 10-15 minute briefing on operations.
Larry volunteered for running Ottawa Yard. He was smart! :-) Larry managed to whip it in shape classifying the cars from the previous days locals with no problems. Larry also ran the CB&Q local in the morning hours.
Marcus and Jeff volunteered for the #217 Ottawa Local. It was a beast today departing Ottawa Yard with 30 cars! They returned with 31 cars! Wow! That's a big honking local! They didn't weigh the first grain of sand until after lunch. At times it seemed there were shoving cuts of cars aimlessly back and forth through the plant, but they had a plan. They rocked the massive local!
Steve H. was on the #118 LaSalle Turn departing the yard at 8am. Steve had complete control of the local and knocked it out with no major issues.
I worked as dispatcher, #112/#113 Joliet to Silvis Transfer Train Engineer and Plant Managers at Ottawa Silica and Belrose Silica.
Operations went well with no mechanical issues on the layout. The scales all worked well. I believe Steve H had some issues with scale not ramping down between a few cars. I will have to investigate that further. It was interesting to see the randomness of the weights.
Larry - weighed four cars on the CB&Q local. One was overloaded. That car was set off to be reduced by plant employees for a fast hour (15 minutes or so). The plant would blow their whistle (old steam whistle sound effect on my phone) when the car was ready to be re-weighed.
Steve H - weighed 9 cars and had two overweight.
Marcus and Jeff - weighed three batches of cars (one batch from each load track). The 1st batch of eight cars were all well under the 263,000 weight limit. The crews at Ottawa Silica must have been drinking on the job when loading the cars on track #3. Out of 7 cars, only two were under the weight limit! The third batch of 5 cars were all under the weight limit.
It was interesting to see how that went. Crews were found to be hovering close to the scale readout so the plant manager couldn't see. LOL!
List of trains and (fast clock) run times:
- #217 Ottawa Local - 7am until 6:50pm - 10 minutes from going on the 12-hour law of service rule.
- #118 LaSalle Turn - 8am until 4:38pm
- #113 Joliet to Silvis Transfer Train - 10:55am until 12:40pm
- #112 Silvis to Joliet Transfer Train - 2:15pm until 3:12pm
The blue lights were used today forcing crews to come up with another plan to switch out those industrial spurs that were marked off limits until crews completed loading.
In case you are wondering, crews moved 3,978.5 tons of sand today. Crews reduced 19 tons of sand that was left between the rails at the two sand mines.
Proof of why this in my absolute favorite crew. This crew provides a great mix of realistic control and operation of their trains, but we still have fun while doing it. Marcus spotted a green 1970s VW bug in the parking lot of LOF and "punch bug" Jeff. I was rolling with laughter! Great times!
The sensors were a little screwy at Mill Street today. I know one of the four sensors is not working. That could be causing the issues. Here is #118 departing LaSalle headed back to Ottawa Yard at the end of the day.
Photos from the Op Session:
Jeff was the engineer on #217. Here he eases their monster local down past Ottawa Avenue.
Steven Holzheimer and Larry chatting before Steve departed on #118 LaSalle Turn
#217 by Ottawa Avenue. At one point during the day, the crossing was blocked for a while. I grabbed some of the vehicles and started lining them up at the gates. The crews got the message and cleared the crossing. LOL!
The crew stored cars everywhere. They found great storage potential behind the main mill building (along the backdrop) and the LOF chemical lead track.
Like the RI crew didn't have enough to worry about with a 30 car local, here comes the CB&Q local into town engineered by Larry.
Steve H pulling a cut of empties out of the PQ plant at Utica.
Marcus punching Jeff after spotting a green VW bug parked at the LOF shop building.
A cut of sand cars being shoved up to the scale track at Ottawa Silica.
Good thing I added the yard lead. My original plan was for the RI to use the lead down to Ottawa Silica. When laying the track, I had an epiphany. The local crew would be using every last bit of the available tracks. No way these two could share the track. Here was proof of this. Larry was busy classifying cars while the RI local was all the way up to the yard board pulling a string of cars to be weighed.
This was just amazing. Shortly before lunch, all empty hoppers were delivered, but the loads hadn't been pulled yet. The plant was LOADED with hoppers. I counted 57 on the four tracks. WOW! This made me very happy to see all that sand! :-)
I really do like the structures at Ottawa Silica. Neat stuff!
Steve H writing down weights as his train is on auto slowly creeping across the scale. Looks like this car is over tonnage.
#112 Transfer run from Silvis is headed to Ottawa Yard on Main 1 while Steve H is switching Belrose Silica on Main 2.
Did I mention I really love seeing all those sand hoppers? Here's more proof as I returned to snap some more photos.
Another cut of sand being pulled to be weighed.
Cars were stored on the LOF chemical track while working in the area.
All smiles as Jeff and Marcus are weighing loaded sand hoppers at Ottawa Silica.
Cars being pulled across the scale track.
Whoa! This car must have been from track #3. 6,100 lbs over tonnage!
Ottawa Silica Plant.
These crazy people didn't move all day. They must have watched those gates go down 20 times today.
While Jeff wasn't looking, I would park a vehicle on the track. He caught it every time. I was hoping to catch him not watching where he was shoving cars. He passed .... for today. LOL!
We operated (real time) 10am until about 2:20pm or so with an hour lunch. Not bad! Per the fast clock, we ran a 13-hour day from 6am until 7pm. 4 1/2 operators. I operated the two transfer trains.
Overall, it was a great day! Everything ran really well. Crews did well with the task at hand. No broken turnout points! Yah! Last night, I did nothing on the layout. I chose to relax on the sofa while watching episodes of Duck Dynasty. Either I was very relaxed about the pending op session or delusional. Evidently, I did my planning well.
Thanks to the guys for coming out today to bring the ROCK back to life!