Saturday, August 2, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Temporary Staging Yard

Well, it appears my plan will work for the temporary staging yard.  I need to add some side rails for safety (of the rolling stock) and to prevent warping.  I also need to create a leg that will lock into place.  My wife suggested creating some way so it won't accidentally be kicked out creating a catastrophe in the yard.  Here are pics of it currently.

The 6" x 48" Staging yard in the lowered storage position.

The staging yard lifted into position with a temporary leg for now.

This will add about 6ft of track length when taking into account the mainline realignment behind Peru Power.

So, I'll block the pathway to our bedroom during the op session, but not to the stairs which the family and operators need to access during sessions.

A simple 4" hinge mounted to the end of the layout.

Folds up nice and neat.  I'm happy!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Re-visiting Temporary Staging Yard

I was disappointed to realize and receive feedback that having the temporary staging yard cross over in front of the stairs would be too much of an obstruction for operators and family alike.

But, today is a new day!  I had an epiphany this morning.  I thought back to what my wife asked, "Do you really need a yard that long?"  My answer then was yes, but the more I thought about it, no I could do with something much shorter.  So, what about a 4 foot temporary staging yard.  I could mount it to the end of the layout on a hinge.  When not in use, it would drop down and store on the side of the layout.  When time to operate, I flip it up and drop a leg down.  BAM!  Instant staging yard!

At lunch, I went over to Home Depot and picked up a 6" x 4' board and a hinge.  I also picked up a small storage bin organizer for the Tabs.

This evening, I spot checked the 4 foot board.  It will work perfectly as temporary staging.  It's just short enough to fold completely down at the end of the layout.  When extended, it goes just to the edge of the stairs.  As Colonel Hannibal Smith would say "I love it when a plan comes together!"

New Operational Plan:
Ottawa Switcher (OTSW) “The Sand Job”

Start at the yard office at the south end of Ottawa Silica.  Pickup any non-BN outbound traffic from Ottawa Silica and LOF.  Weigh all loaded sand hoppers.  Any cars over 263,000 lbs are over tonnage.  The cars need to be set off per the Plant Manager’s instructions to be reduced.  Once all pickups have been made and cars have been weighed (and reduced as required), deliver to Ottawa Yard.  Pickup and deliver any cars for Ottawa Silica and LOF.  At the end of the day, check with the Yardmaster to see if your locomotives are due for maintenance.

Note: Ottawa Silica Bagged Sand Loading and LOF Glass Loading tracks may not be worked while blue flags are present. At no time should a crew block the crossing at Ottawa Avenue for more than 15 minutes due to local regulations. Be aware the BN local will also work Ottawa Silica during the day.  All crews are required to work together to complete the job.

Utica Switcher (UTSW) "The Chemical Job"
Start in LaSalle Yard.  Build your train for deliveries to the local industries.  Deliver any cars to industries in LaSalle and Utica as designated by the Tab marking.  Pickup any non-local cars.  Weigh all loaded sand hoppers.  Any cars over 263,000 lbs are over tonnage.  The cars need to be set off per the Plant Manager’s instructions to be reduced.  Once all cars have been picked up and/or delivered, weighed, and reduced if required, return to LaSalle Yard.

Classify the outbound blocks of cars into two pickups:
·         Westbound including Peoria, Silvis and Council Bluffs cars.
·         Eastbound including Ottawa and Blue Island cars.

Note: Westclox tracks may not be worked while blue flags are present.

Bureau Switcher (BUSW) "The Rocket"
Train arrives at LaSalle Yard on the main from the west and backs into the yard.  Set off any LaSalle cars. Pickup any Ottawa and Blue Island cars.  At Ottawa, set off any Ottawa or Blue Island cars.  Return west with any cars for LaSalle, Peoria, Council Bluffs or Silvis.

Joliet Local
Arrives during the night at Ottawa Yard to pick up any Blue Island cars.  Sets off cars for Ottawa and LaSalle.

Ottawa Yardmaster
Each morning, you will receive a request sheet for empty cars from Ottawa Silica.  Assign tabs to the empty Ottawa Agent cars per the request.  Gather up the cars for the Ottawa Switcher.  The local will pull the loads first and deliver to the yard.  The local will then deliver the empty requests gathered by the YM earlier.

The YM will then classify the cars received in from the Joliet Local and Ottawa Local during the previous shift.  Majority of the cars will go outbound on the Bureau Switcher (BUSW) later in the morning.  Reference the car routing diagram below to block cars by destination.  Any cars marked with a white tab  but no letters are empty Ottawa Agent cars to be used upon the next industry request.  

Burlington Northern Local
The Ottawa YM at his leisure, can operate the BN local from North Ottawa.  Check with the Ottawa Yardmaster to see if you need to pick up or setoff any cars at Ottawa Yard.  Head south into the plant working with the Ottawa Local to deliver your cars.  Pick up any BN cars and return to North Ottawa.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Tab-on-Car Car Forwarding System

The other day, I mentioned the Tab-on-Car Forwarding system that I read about on OpSig.  I had mentioned that operating wise, I really enjoyed running the yard at my friend Larry's Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad layout that uses a Tab-on-Car system, but with Avery labels.  I performed a small scale test on the layout which was very pleasing to operate.

I pondered the idea some more and came up with a color operating scheme.  I then worked on crew instructions for the Tab-on-Car Forwarding method.  I created the tabs, which surprisingly enough, didn't take much effort or time.

This weekend, I worked on painting some c-channel styrene strips.  I then cut them into 1 cm lengths and decaled all the local Ottawa (white) and Gray (LaSalle) local industry tabs.  The others will simply be color coded with no text.

I will try the tab-on-car method the next session to see how it works.  I predict crews will like this method better, but time will tell.  I will report my findings.

Some sample pieces I cut up and labeled last week.
White indicates Ottawa Terminal and OS4 indicates Ottawa Silica Track 4.
The tabs are cut 5 scale feet or roughly 1 cm long.

A sample tab on a random freight car.

I used black on clear 1/4" labels (trimmed down) using a Brother Label maker.

I spray painted 3/16" C-Channel Evergreen #266 14" Styrene Strips various colors.
Green - Burlington Northern
Black - Peoria
Orange - Silvis
Blue - Blue Island
Yellow - Council Bluffs
Gray - LaSalle
White - Ottawa

As you can see, nice contrasting colors for my colorblind self.

I used 1/4" Black on Clear Label Tape (Brother Label Maker) set to 3 mm font to print the lettering on the tabs.

Some tabs on sand hoppers at Ottawa Silica.

Looking down on the tracks at Ottawa Silica. 

All of these cars will stay on the respective tracks.

I don't find them distracting at all.

The bagged sand loading tracks.  Six of these cars will be pulled.

A cut of Ottawa Agent cars that are ready for service when the industry requests them.
You also see the void of track where the crossover between tracks 4 and 5 (Arrival / Departure) tracks at Ottawa Yard.  

A N&W Hopper loaded with sand bound for Peoria to interchange with the Norfolk & Western. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Temporary Staging Cassette

So, I have been contemplating a temporary staging cassette for a little while now.  My friend Steve offered for me to test using his.  It seems to work ok, but there are a few concerns.

His staging cassette was constructed in two pieces and then mounted to the wall.  I had a hard time keeping the sections secure with the five tracks aligned in place while floating over open air.

The staging cassette creates a 45" duck under when coming up the stairs.  I didn't find any issue with it personally, but some of our taller operators might not like it.

Here are photos of the test mock up from Saturday.

Steve's staging cassette in two pieces.

Looking east at LaSalle.  Original track configuration.

Proposed new alignment if staging cassette used.

Temporary Staging Yard Cassette in place across the top of the stairs.

A view from LaSalle looking west to the new yard.

From the other end looking back toward the layout room.

An overall view of the temporary staging yard and connection with the layout.

A view from Utica looking west.

 Another possible solution would be angle the staging yard toward the open doorway to lower the duck under height as the operator is still climbing the stairs.

I added on to the layout at LaSalle to make way to couple a temporary staging cassette.

I'm not sure if I will use Steve's staging cassette or not.
I was considering constructing one solid 6 inch by 8 foot temporary staging cassette.

What is everyone's thoughts on the project?  Would you think the duck under would be an issue?
The operational possibilities of adding the yard would be great.  Now, just to figure out the logistics of installing the temporary staging yard and how it would affect operators and other family members during op sessions.

The ROCK 3.0: The Peoria Rocket Returns - Bankruptcy Blue Returns to the Layout

I'm working on adding staging west of LaSalle.  This will give me more operating freedom to bring back a passenger train.  I'm happy to report that the Peoria Rocket will be riding the rails on my layout again.  I considered modeling the Quad Cities Rocket, but that train is scheduled to go through my area before and after I start/end my operating day.

I have always liked the silver side passenger cars and wanted to run them, but the ones manufactured by Walthers are horrible.  They derail going straight!  I decided to go with a Kato Chicago, Burlington & Quincy set and re-letter for the Rock Island.  The cars arrived yesterday and they perform quite well!

The Peoria Rocket will be led by a custom paint Kato E8 unit in the red/yellow Billboard Logo paint scheme.  It will pull two coaches #306 Ottawa, #300 LaSalle plus the #450 Peoria dome car.  It will be exciting to see passengers headed to and from Chicago again.  I'm sure the crews will start complaining about those darn passenger trains again.  :-)

On the original version of my layout, I had a pair of Life-Like GP38-2s.  They were demon possessed and didn't work well. They sat parked more than they ever ran.  I used them to stage some photos in the Day on the Rock photo series a long time ago.  I got rid of them a while back because they were so troublesome.  

I'm happy to report that the locomotives have returned to the layout.  Life-Like version again?  Heck no!  Atlas GP38-2s!  Now, one of my own and one lease unit from a friend.  I will replace the lease unit with a Bankruptcy ("Boom Time") Blue GP40 when Atlas releases them later this year (hoping Atlas stays on schedule).  I really like the paint scheme and am happy for their return.  I got the decoders installed Friday and tested.  Here are some photos.

The "Boom Time" Blue locomotives pulling a cut of loaded hoppers from Ottawa Silica.

The RI #4304 Leased to the Rock: Illinois Division.

The locomotives pulling across Ottawa Ave.
Is that a red bug I see?

My new #4303 GP38-2 crossing Mill Street in Utica.

A favorite car of mine - the GM&O 40' Box Car custom weathered by Allen Heimsoth.