Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ops session #10

After having two dry runs of the Tab On Car system behind us, we decided to have a full blown session with the tabs.  I've been itching to do this soon.

Several weeks ago I got an email from Coy Coles who lives in Olatha, KS.  He contacted me about my layout, the main yard specifically.  He's in the planning stages of his layout that will be following the White River route of the MoPac from KC to Little Rock.

His plans are pretty much complete but he's been pondering his main yard and how to tie it together. While searching the web for ideas he stumbled across my blog and found pics of my yard.  It seemed to fit the bill so he contacted me and asked if there was a chance to see it in person.

Long story short, he planned to go the Great Train Expo in Council Bluffs and I told him to stop by afterwards and we'd kill a few birds with one stone.

After chatting a bit and inspecting the yard, we decided it was time to start the session, Coy sounded enthusiastic.  He wanted something easy to start with so I gave him the throttle for Riceland  and told him to gather up the outbound cars and get them ready for the Haskell turn.  Having completed this, I gave him the W&OV job at Malvern,  After a quick explanation of what he needed to do here, I left him alone to go about the task.  Every now and then I stopped by to see how he was doing.

Just about finished.

Meanwhile, Jon can be seen waiting for a Northbound Rock Island freight to return to Little Rock. The caboose is just passing through Fordyce.

A bit later, Jon took control of the NB Amtrak Rebel, seen here leaving Alexandria.


Somebody's Happy!
Hammering the diamonds at Ruston at speed.

After completing the entire Malvern job, Coy was eager for the next job.
This time he's working the Haskell turn at Haskell, AR. having picked up the loaded hoppers from Riceland, he's about to back the empties into the place.

That jobs done!  Now to tie the train back together and head back south to Fordyce to work the Flappers plant. 

Awhile back Steven told me about one of the layouts that he has a chance to play on, they have sort of a tradition where if you screw up you get to wear a 3' Sombrero, known as the Sombrero of Shame.  You wear this until the next person earns the right to wear it.  I always thought this would be fun to do, so after some pondering, Quin and I came up with our own.  The Asshat!

It was introduced tonight and Quin was the first to wear it!

Then Jon got his turn.

I'm not sure, but I think he rather enjoyed it?

All in all it was fine, fun afternoon!

I also tried something else out this time.  Ever since I installed the foam floor mats a few years ago, I was getting a lot of static electrical discharges during the winter months. Nebraska can get real dry in the winter time and very humid in the summer time.  I think this was the main reason that I've been having so much trouble with the decoders resetting to slower speeds randomly?  Everytime I touch the rails I'd get a good shock.

Friday night I picked up a small humidifier and also grabbed a can of Static Guard to spray on the foam mats.  The first thing Quin noticed was it didn't seem to be as dry as it has been in the past.  I told the guys to keep an eye out to see if they got any shocks tonights and none of them experienced any!   Maybe I finally got the gremlins under control?

While restaging the layout Wednesday night, I found about 20 locomotives that I needed to go back and  reprogram as they were all running at the reduced speed again, grrrrrrr! After two nights and about 6 hours of work, I got them running pretty much back to the normal settings again.  The only problem I found this afternoon was one U30C dropped out of consist.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this takes care of the problems?

I still think in time I'm going to replace the two PM42's I have with PSX units. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A long journey

On the way home tonight I made my usual side trip through Biddle yard, this time I found #4446 shoving a few cars around, so I stopped and watch for a few minutes. After pulling back from grabbing some cars I was treated with to a view of an old dog that had obviously seen a rough life. What a sharp contrast between the car and the fairly clean GP!

A few minutes later after the crew had finished up, I caught up with one of them and jokingly asked if it was headed for the scrapper?
He gave me a half smile and said   "Nope, it's bound for the W&OV in the morning.  I think the tag says Effin Recyclers in Camden?"

Well that kind of got my curiosity built up and I asked if I could see the lading. Sure enough, Camden, AR. "But what's this" I asked as I pointed at the routing? I handed him the papers and said "It looks like it was routed from Germany? That can't be".
He chuckled and said  "Yeah, it's the damndest thing, ain't no one can figure that one out.  Nearest thing we could tell was some joker was bored and had nothing better to do".

We chatted for a few more minutes and then he decided he'd better get back to the shops before he missed his break altogether, I told him thanks and and we exchanged a nod.

Hmmm, Germany?  I'm gonna have to pull out some maps when I get home and see if I can find a town named Germany or something close to it.


I wish to extend a word of thanks to my friend Mike Holly from the Elizabeth Oak Branch blog.
I've been in contact with Mike recently and have exchanged quite a few emails with him over the last several months or so.  Some of which were on weathering tips.

Mikes been doing a fine job on some of his Cleveland & Eastern RR locos, not too mention his layout, stop by and check them out.

Mike informed me that a package was heading my way shortly and to keep and eye out for it.  The other day it arrived and in it was this car!   Mike asked me if I could find a home for it on the Little Rock Line.  Mike, It'll fit right in, thank you very much!

Hmmm, Germany.  I guess the papers were right?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Let's try this again, shall we?

Today the two Tomytec distillation towers arrived.  I'm hoping I'll have better luck with these than those  #$@^%*   Walthers towers!

I actually think these will look better at a chemical plant. Once I get these done I can finalize the footprint for the Olin-Chlor plant.

Edit: Click here to jump to  "Olin-Chlor expansion, part 7"

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A bit of a set back at Olin-Chlor

So far the Olin-Chlor build has been kind of taxing for me.
I have never really studied any kind of chemical plant before so I'm flying by the seat of my pants here.
First it sits in a corner and there is not as much room as I have envision, but when is there ever enough room?

I've made lots of changes throughout the planning stages of the Olin-Chlor plant. I've added things here and decided against this or that. I've done away with the idea of using the Walther's big storage tanks as they are just too big and not really what you'd see at a chemical plant. Instead, I've always loved piping so I decided to try my hand at building the North Island refinery kit. 

So I dug out the kit, read all of the instructions, studied it carefully and began the build.  Well the first thing I noticed about this kit was the lack of instructions, or the lack of any written instructions!  I started with the burn house or burn unit and got it together with a one small problem but got past it. Next came the piping cage.  Well this was turned out harder than it looked but again I persisted and got it together reasonably close to the picture on the box.

I managed to get the both portions built, painted and ready to set in place.  Then I started on the towers.

The towers themselves were OK, I also got the railings assembled to the platforms just fine and then got them painted.  I thought to myself, "Hmmm, even with the lack of instructions this was going to be OK.  Slow, but OK".

Well then came the moment of truth.  I started to attach the platforms to the towers.  Trying to decipher the actual locations for each of them turned out to be like ready a foreign language!  The instructions (or the lack of) just showed one view with lines pointing to where they should go in an exploded view.  To compound the problem,  there were a lot of platforms each with their own lines. Some of the lines themselves were dotted or dashed and in some places the lines overlaid each other!

So I started at the bottom and tried to work my way up, so far so good.  I got the obvious ones done first and added some of the small caps and valves as I went so I didn't have to reach in around the platforms later.

One of the first things I noticed was there wasn't enough of the caps and or valves for all the holes on the towers.  WTF?  I figured oh well, you'll probably won't see most of them anyway and proceeded.

I had about five of the platforms attached using a new tool I picked up recently that has a small needle for applying liquid glue that worked fantastic, you can apply just a drop at at a time.  I also had picked up some of the MEK which also works great.  When the time came to attach a platform that would be glued to three of the towers is where things went south.

Nothing really lined up as I had hoped or like the instructions shown.  Several of them I had to actually enlarge the inner diameter so as to fit the towers.  Once I got them to fit reasonably well, I located them and applied the MEK.  In the process of  holding and gluing the platforms in place, things slipped out of my hand! When I went to catch it before it made the plunge to floor, I crushed it against the bench and pieces went flying everywhere!

Sitting there trying to contemplate what just happened and uttering some profane syllables to myself, I looked at the instructions and what was left of the towers and platforms and decided at that time, Walther's kits are not very good kits like I had always thought they were.

In the next split second, what was left of the towers and platforms met Mr. Trash can!  Then, I calmly picked up the misc pieces and placed them in the trash as well.  I cleaned up the workbench, shut the lights off and made my way upstairs.  I jumped on the computer, called up my old friend Google,  and started looking for something else I could use in place of the now crushed pieces that made up the towers.

What I came across were the Distillation towers that are made by Tomytec.  I have seen these before and thought about getting a few for Olin-Chlor but since I had the North Island refinery kit I'd just use these.  I also had thoughts about picking up the entire Tomytec plant, but just couldn't see paying around $175.00 for the kit?  The two towers are on the way from Japan as I type this.

Now I have always thought that Walthers made some pretty good kits.  I had good results with the Vulcan Mfg kit, along with several others that I've build over the years but this refinery kit just blew dogs!  The instructions were very poor, the pieces didn't fit together very well at all and the fact that there wasn't enough pieces to use just pissed me off.

I've seen lots of modelers that have built this kit, so my hats off to them for getting through it.  I'm no slouch when it comes to models,  I've built tons of model cars and military vehicles through out my life, but this one juuuuust sucked!

I have a pile of these Walther's kits stacked up for the layout that I've picked up over the years and I sure hope they go better than this one did.
Maybe this one of the reasons that a lot of guys scratch build what they need?   

OK, my blood pressure is back down to normal and my rant is over.  I'm waiting for the Tomytec towers to arrive.  The two little cooling towers are from the same chemical plant and those went together very easy, so I'm hoping that these distillation towers will be much the same.

Edit: Click here to jump to "Let's try this again, shall we?"