Saturday, October 27, 2018

Flat car woes...

After the dry run Ops session I held, I noticed an Intermountain 60' flat car wasn't rolling very good, come to think of it, these cars never have rolled very good. After closer inspection a buddy noticed how high the car was sitting, even the coupler was sitting higher than the adjacent coupler.

Still not being a big fan of the metal wheel fad, I ordered a set of the BLMA 70 ASF trucks. I know these have been used to lower the ride height of cars and of course improve the rolling abilities. So I figured it would be a good test to see if these actually helped.

Here's the offending car

Right away I noticed it did bring the height down, the BLMA truck is on the left.

Original truck:

BLMA truck:

It actually brought it down to match the MTL truck mounted coupler on the tank car.  The only issue was the BLMA truck was rubbing on two areas of the underframe, so I took a #17 chisel blade and removed the raised section.

Once that was removed the trucks swiveled properly. It now rolls much better, more like MTL trucks and wheels sets do and the couplers match in height as well. It admittedly looks better being lowered. 

God help me!  I've been infected with the dreaded "Ride Height Issue"!!

I know, I know! The tank car is sitting up like a 4WD monster truck, but this is on the bottom of my list of things to worry about. At least the flat car rolls better now. I've ordered four more of them to re-work my other IMRC flats. 

These flat cars also needed more weight as well. I think I might try Over-weighting these cars? I've been reading on the MRH forum where guys are taking this seriously and really overweighting their cars.

So I added some very small buckshot like I've used on my other cars, I glued them in using white glue into the areas where they would fit, trying to keep them above or below the sidesill of the cars, once glued in I might paint over them.

But even with low angle shot they are not even noticeable.

This brought the weight up from 0.7oz to 1.3oz. Probably not considered to be OVER weighted, but it's about what a 50' boxcar should weigh in at.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

First run of the new Ops

Well last night Quin and I got together and ran the dry run.  I must say that everything went as planned and we had a blast.  Unfortunately I didn't get any photos or videos this time as we were to focused on getting the train ran.  I apologize for that.

I have plans to hopefully get several small videos of the train while it switches each town in the future, kind of a like a mini series.  Gonna have to give this some thought on how to go about this?

The only train we ran was the Winnfield local which was staged in the main yard.  It was ran as an Out and Back turn starting in Little Rock and running down to the yard in Alexandria, LA.  

Since I just wanted to see how the local would go about it's chores, I planned not to run the W&OV switcher, the ICG interchange or the El Dorado switcher, thus saving time.

After I had the cars staged and tabbed to be picked up, I moved them by hand into position so the local could just pick them up. This included the cars from the W&OV at Malvern, the interchange cars at Ruston from the ICG and the cars that needed to be picked up from the yard in El Dorado.

It was then that I realized some of the cars would not be run from the staging yard.  For example, some of the cars from the ICG actually wind up in Malvern.  Normally these cars were picked up via the local and drug back to the yard in El Dorado where as before the W&OV would run a train from Malvern down to El Dorado and exchange cars and then drag them back to be set out at the industries in Malvern by the W&OV switcher.    So I sat those cars bound for Malvern on the ICG interchange track and had the NB Winnfield local pick them up.  They were then actually hauled all the way back to Haskell where they were set out on the siding there for them to pick up via the Hand of God and moved back into Malvern.  The cars at El Dorado was pre-staged sitting on the A/D tracks as well.

Next I was just randomly placing NB or SB white tabs on the cars to be picked up when I realized that I shouldn't be dragging these NB cars ALL the way south end?  They should actually be going North.

Let me back up a bit.  Since the local was going to be ran as an Out and Back Turn , it was only going to work the Trailing Point turnouts.  This would save me from having to make any Run Around moves to get cars off the Facing Point turnouts.  

This dictated that any cars sitting on a trailing point turnout that had a NB tab was going to have to be picked up and set off at the nearest siding or drug down to the yard at El Dorado, sat out and would then be picked up by the NB local.  This posed some interesting movements, ones that I hadn't thought of before.

Likewise, some of the SB cars that would be picked up by the local from the W&OV in Malvern needed to go to A&A Concrete in Dubach and the rest needed to go to the ICG at Ruston.  The Hoppers bound for A&A Cement wouldn't be an issue because the Pit Track in DuBach was a trailing point turnout that could be worked by the SB local.  But the ICG interchange track was a Facing Point turnout that would needed to be worked by the NB local.

There were several options.  Those cars could have been left in DuBach and worked by the NB turn, but they would have had to run back down the line from DuBach to Ruston.  The other option was to drag all those ICG cars to the yard at Alexandria, then placed in with the cars sitting there waiting to make the run North.  This was chosen as it gave us a little more work to do in the yard other than just swapping the power and caboose onto the NB cars.  Then as we worked our way North, we worked the interchange with the ICG by grabbing the NB cars for Malvern that were sitting there and moved the ICG bound cars back on to the interchange track and headed on North with the Malvern cars in tow.

NB cars that we had left at DuBach and El Dorado was picked up and hauled north by the NB local.  All in all it made for some very interesting moves to be made and really made us stop and think about how we were going to get the jobs done.

Bottom line......I plan to move forward with the new operations.  It took Quin and almost three hours to run just the two trains.  Of course this was due in part that we were dealing with some new situations that made us stop and think them through.  I think once we run a it a few times, the time required will be reduced.

It was also a lot more laid back, much more like the prototype that I had always envisioned.   

Another thing I plan to move forward on is rebuilding the staging yard.  I plan to rip up 90% of the tracks and make a much more smaller, simpler yard, something with maybe 5-6 tracks and small engine facility.

If and when the yard gets rebuilt, there should be enough room that I may include an industrial scene using some of the larger Walthers Cornerstone buildings that I've collected over the years.  This area could then be worked as a separate Minim layout if I wished or could be included in the operating session if there are enough people on board, or it could just be left alone.  Time will tell. 


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Preparing for the new session

I've got the layout all staged for the new reduced Ops, but I gotta find a better word for this, starting to sound redundant.

While doing so I knew I wasn't going to be running the W&OV, the ICG or the yard in El Dorado, but I wanted to setup cars to pick up in Haskell that came from Malvern, and seeing how I just got a new phone I wanted to play with the camera, so I shot a couple of videos.

The first one is just following the Winnfield local as I was testing the train and consist.

The second one is of the W&OV Switcher going about gathering up the cars in Malvern.

This picture shows the overall view of the area, Malvern is on the left and Haskell is on the right.

This is the track plan of Malvern.

I can see that I will need to replace the three little fluorescent lights above Malvern with LED's now.  It's really yellow compared to the rest of the layout!  Ugh...

Monday, October 1, 2018

Reduced Ops dry run.

Time has come to test the new reduced operation.  I have the layout staged and ready to go.

The plan is simple, one train will work the entire layout.  The W&OV, the ICG interchange and the yard at El Dorado will remain, but will not play an active part of this test session. 

Two strings of cars have been blocked and tabbed on track #1 and #2 in the staging yard. Track #1 (right) has the cars for the southbound train #773, track #2 has the cars for the northbound train #774.

The locos will be pulled out of the engine house (the ladder track for now) with the caboose.  

The local's crew will attach the crummy to the cars on track #1 and then run back and tie on to the head end of the train.  It'll leave the yard (Which represents Biddle Yard in Little Rock) counterclockwise and head south upon entering the layout at Haskell.   
As it traverses south as train #773, it will work all the trailing point turnouts.  Once the run is finished, it will re-enter the yard to the same track from which it left.  This time the yard will represent the yard used in Alexandria, LA.  
The crew will then place the crummy on the rear of the cars sitting on track two and tie onto the head end of that train and head back north as train #774 entering the layout at Winnfield.  Again it will only work the trailing point turnouts as it runs north.  When the it's done it will re-enter the yard (this time Biddle yard) and run clockwise back to track #2.  The crew will then cut off the train, grab the crummy and tie down at the engine facility.

The drawing below is only for illustration purposes only,  I have no plan to reduce the physical size of the layout at this time.  

As I was sitting up the cars to be picked up it hit me that some of those cars will not need to go back to the yard, as they are captive service cars that run between two locations on the layout.  These can just be dropped off as they go past their destination.  Likewise, some of the cars that will be picked up off the trailing point turnouts will need to be taken back in the opposite direction.  These can be spotted on a siding or hauled to El Dorado yard and spotted so they can be picked up by the opposite train.

Some of these car movements only become obvious once I started placing tabs on the cars.  It looks like this could result in some interesting actions.   The overall goal for this is to reduce the amount of trains and crews needed and allow me to focus more on the switching.

If all this pans out, the next goal will be to rip up the entire staging yard and replace it with some better track and a much smaller yard and engine facility.