Sunday, April 19, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: It's Time to ROCK!!!

Today, the ROCK came alive once again!!  In attendance were good friends Larry Keller and Marcus Neubacher.  It is Saturday, April 18th, 1975 and we have a lot of sand to move.

There are quite a few new rules in place for operating today.  I briefed the crews on the new rules.
  • Any 40' Box Cars destined for Ottawa Silica (OS5 or OS6) need to be coopered first on the clean-out track at Ottawa Yard.  Once clean, they can be set out for OTSW.  (this is relatively new as it was implemented last session).
  • For the Ottawa Yardmaster, expect the arrival of #217 Blue Island to Ottawa empty sand hoppers shortly after lunch for delivery to the plant today.
  • For the OTSW, do not travel under the sand loading tipple or move cars in line to be loaded at Ottawa Silica.
  • New weighing instructions - You must now weigh cars in blocks of the same type and set the scale to the appropriate setting.
    •        Setting A – ACF Covered Hoppers – Max 263,000 lbs
    •        Setting B – Box Cars – Max 176,000 lbs
    •        Setting C – PS2 Hoppers – Max 219,000 lbs
Last operating session, I had difficulty with the Mr FastClock application.  It only runs on a Windows-OS and we're a Mac family here.  I tried running through my terminal server at work, but it dropped connection during the day rendered it useless after lunch last session.  This morning, I researched and found an application called CrossOver by CodeWeavers that allows me to run one Windows-based application at a time without having to load an entire Windows OS environment.  I installed and tested before the session and it worked well.  For my fellow Mac users, check it out.

I gave the guys the option of what jobs to run.  Marcus chose the yard and Larry ran OTSW - Ottawa Switcher.  I took the UTSW - Utica Switcher as well as run the through freights.  Due to a short crew, I annulled the passenger trains.

Typically, the yard job goes on duty at 6am with the OTSW going on duty at 7am.  The UTSW doesn't go on duty normally until 8:30am.  Today, since the ultimate goal was just to move as much freight at possible, we all started at 6am.  I especially, had to stop numerous times during the day to run through trains so it took me a lot longer than normal to run.

There was two track issues.  The Micro Engineering turnout accessing track #1 and #2 at Ottawa Yard was acting flaky.  I was able to fix that on-site.  Also, track #4 in the yard lost power.  I didn't investigate further as Marcus was able to make do with buffer cars.  I would expect it is a loose feeder wire, but I will check that later.  Also, the scale at Ottawa was experiencing some issues where it wouldn't ramp down between cars therefore not weighing the next car by displaying the previous cars weight.  I need to check the sensor on it as it appears it needs an adjustment.

The rest of the op session can be best reported via photos and captions, so here we go.

U30C #4589 pulling the first cut of sand loads south of the Ottawa Silica loadout.

Larry working the OTSW pulling loads out of Track 3 at Ottawa Silica

Me working on the UTSW classifying the cars for my local before heading out of the yard.

Me on the UTSW pulling past Putnam Street as I work on building my train.

A view from Water Street by the yard as I'm shoving a cut of cars back into the yard.

Larry weighing his first batch of loaded sand hoppers at the Ottawa scale.

Larry inbound to drop off a load of sand hoppers and pick up empties as it is imperative to keep the plant fed with empties to avoid a shutdown.

Larry pulling out of the yard with his empties as Marcus is getting ready to classify some cars in Ottawa Yard.

Larry returning to work South Ottawa.  Still all smiles.  It was early in the day though.  :-)

Looking good at Ottawa Silica.  Here Larry is about to run around his sand empties so he can place them on the north side of the plant.  In reality, loads are on the north side of the plant, but due to the arrangement on my layout, I reversed the layout.

Larry spotting empties on Track 2.

A view under the sand loadout.

Look at all those ROCK hoppers!  Love it!

Me on UTSW finally moving.  I'm pulling up to Putnam Street with some fresh loads of coal for Peru Power.

My conductor made the cut and I pull east to spot my cars at Putnam Street.

Check out the old Virginian hopper still in coal service.  The ROCK had some of these weathered similar, but have the RI reporting marks.  I haven't added those yet, but will in the future.

Me on the UTSW picking up some empties from Peru Power.

Looks like we are picking up an old transformer today too.

Looking east behind Peru Power as I spot my loads of coal behind the Peru Power plant.  My empties pickup is sitting on the mainline.

Larry weighing a cut of sand loads at the Ottawa Scale.

Me on the UTSW at Mill Street in full blown local mode now.  My locos and caboose are now buried in the train as shove down the PQ Track 1 to pick up some outbound tank cars.

Our railfan photographer today snapped some shots of freight cars that struck his interest as well.  Here is one of the new Philadelphia Quartz covered hoppers that just arrived on the layout form Peconic Shops (Larry Keller)

Look at all those tanks at PQ!  Half of them are empty though.  I had the plant road blocked for probably too long today until I could sort out some cars and cut them allowing the truck traffic through.

A view from the mainline looking east as I shove down into PQ.  I realized during the session, I added three trees that block one of my favorite views.  After the op session, those trees were taken out.  I like being able to look down the mainline and see as I have a long cut stretched up into the PQ plant.

A Warren Tank that just came out of PQ.

This photo is surprisingly real.  The lighting and effects is awesome.  I only wish I had ballast down.

A 40' Box Car for Westclox.

Back over at Ottawa Silica, it appears the plant has been fed with empty hoppers.

No loads being produced currently though.

Larry left some loaded sand hoppers that had been weighed up at the yard board.  The discussion of where the yard limits are was yet again present today.  I need to get my sign back up to end this argument between the local and yard crews.  :-)

#113 Joliet to Bureau Turn is arriving in the yard as Marcus is classifying a cut of cars in the yard.

#113 passing through Utica after working at Ottawa Yard.

UTSW by the Westclox and Peru Power plants.

NYMX Mechanical Reefer by Mill Street in Utica.

The Soo Line #574 local headed east to Ottawa Yard by Water Street in west Peru.

Marcus using the yard lead classifying cars at Ottawa Yard.

Soo Line #574 Local by Mill Street in Utica.

Soo GP35 #722 by Utica.

Marcus was busy at the yard all day.  It was a constant flow of inbound and outbound traffic.  

Soo Line #575 headed back west after working Ottawa Yard.

After lunch, hoppers had been loaded with sand.  Larry is returning to South Ottawa with another batch of cars from Ottawa Yard.

Larry on OTSW weighing more sand.  He weighed sand in four batches during the day.  He had a total of 5 cars out of about 50+ that were over tonnage requiring reduction and re-weigh.

Larry on OTSW running his U30C south.

40' Norfolk & Western box car from the hill overlooking the PQ plant.

I was held up for a while due to running the through trains.  Here I am on the UTSW shoving some loads to the east end of the Belrose Silica plant.

A few box cars bound for Westclox.  I had the hardest time delivering these today due to new restrictions at Westclox.  One car at dock door two could not be moved.  I didn't have the room to work on the west side of the plant until I delivered some other cars first.  The box cars were finally delivered late in the afternoon to Westclox.

A covered hopper of chemicals picked up from PQ.

Here is #113 Joliet to Bureau Turn returning from Bureau headed east.

#113 by the signal in front of Westclox.

#113 west by Utica between the PQ and Belrose Silica plant.  #113 is passing by me on UTSW tucked away at the Belrose Silica plant.

Peconic Shops gave the ROCK a L&HR zinc hopper.  If we go with the expansion, zinc will be king in Depue.  What?  Oh, I said nothing.

#113's power sitting at the yard board while Marcus removes and adds cars to my train bound for Blue Island.

Ottawa Silica was a hungry beast today loading tons of hoppers on two shifts.  Before lunch, about 25 cars were loaded.  After lunch, about that same amount was loaded again.

Around mid-afternoon, the blue flags went down at Libbey-Owens-Ford so Larry could work the loads of float glass produced from the plant.

A 40' Rock Island Box Car in "Boom-time" Blue.

An aged 40' Erie 40' Box Car.

A 40' Double Sliding Door Great Northern Box Car

Larry working L-O-F.

Whoa!  An Alaska 50' Box Car headed back west.

Train #95 Blue Island to Peoria Freight picking up some cars in Ottawa Yard.

Larry loaded up with cars on both ends of his locomotive.

Illinois Terminal 50' Box Car spotted at door four of the L-O-F Float Glass Plant.

There was an issue with box cars loading up at the doors.  One box car had longer coupler boxes which required an offspot of one car.

L-O-F was consuming a lot of sand using over ten loads of sand during the day for their float glass production.

Larry shoving a cut of loaded sand hoppers up the pass track to be weighed.

Peru Power along Water Street in Utica.

After lunch, #217 Blue Island to Ottawa sand empties arrived with two GP18s.

Two cars being repaired at the RIP track at Ottawa Yard.  The blue hopper appears to have some missing hatches.

Trucks loading at the L-O-F Plant.

Sand being unloaded at the L-O-F Plant.

A 40' Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Box Car.

A 40' Combo Door Rock Island Box Car.

There was no shortage of cars at Ottawa Yard.  Marcus did a superb job keeping up with the constant flow of traffic.

A Western Fruit Express 50' Mechanical Reefer.

#95 Blue Island to Peoria Freight going from Track 1 to Track 2 in Utica.

#95 by Westclox in LaSalle.

A Milwaukee 50' Mechanical Reefer bound for the Pabst Brewery in Peoria.

a 40' Chicago & Illinois Midland 40' Box Car taken from the Highway Bridge.

The CEO must have not been feeling well when re-staging as I had one too many cars for Westclox.  The beauty of the Tab-on-Car system is the car can be off-spotted and delivered to the correct spot at the next session.

The UTSW moved super slow today due to the various interruptions.  Here I am pulling a cut of loaded sand hoppers from Belrose Silica.

UTSW by Mill Street in Utica.

Today's GTW unit train is running with full RI power, but with a GT caboose.  The yardmaster was authorized to fill this train out to twenty hoppers.  The train looked great leaving Ottawa Yard.

The Unit GTW train leaving Ottawa Yard.

Ottawa Silica never had a shortage of sand hoppers during the day.

Another re-staging goof up.  Three empty cars in a spot with a max of two cars.  The third car was off-spotted on the storage track behind the Ottawa Silica plant.

The east staging tracks at the end of the session.

Another re-staging goof.  I tell ya, I must have been crazy.  One car was off-spotted due to a door alignment issue.  The other was due to no space at the plant.

A 50' Railbox Combo Door Box Car.

So, that's a wrap for the session.  We ran for 12 fast hours or 3 regular hours and moved a tremendous amount of freight.  The layout ran well and couldn't have been more enjoyable to operate with such great friends.  Until next time, ROCK ON!


  1. Wow looks like you guys moved a ton of stuff. Loving all those very nicely weathers cars.

    1. It's unreal how many cars we moved yesterday, but had a lot of fun doing it! Yes, I'm loving the weathered cars.

  2. Thanks for the story Stephen. Very well told, although I wonder how many safety violations there were if you were taking all those photos while driving a train. I agree with Rod that your weathered cars look great.


    1. LOL! What management doesn't know, won't hurt them.

  3. Just be sure your mic doesn't get stuck open!
    They are always listening....

    Great write up Steven, it was so long that I had to take a lunch break before I could finish it! ;)

    1. Good point! Yeah, it was a long post. 100+ photos if I recall correctly.