The workings of Dickinson yard….

On the layout Dickinson yard is of course the major yard. During an operating session it’s a two person job, both helping to break down incoming trains, plus switching the  industries around the yard. Particularly Electro-Met and the team track as they’re off a facing point turnout.

Meaning one crew and locomotive must pull the cars out for these two sidings, then shove them down the lead onto the headend of another locomotive which then shoves the cars through these facing point turnouts into the appropriate siding.

Working the yard without having to switch Electro-Met or the team track that day is a lot easier, but still a lot of work moving cars into the correct tracks if making up trains, or spotting cars at the correct industries on the industrial lead. This can be done with one person and locomotive, but is still time consuming.

Such was a day today working with just one locomotive, old GP7 5628. Cars had to moved from all over the yard to either be spotted down the industrial lead, or making up the turns going out of Dickinson.

One task was to pull two loaded grain hoppers out of ADM, and move these over to track 4 where the Spring Street turn was to be made up. In the meantime, two empty hoppers from the last inbound turn had to be spotted at ADM.

We had a boxcar load that also had to be spotted at Fowler Plumbing Supply, that was over on track three. Finally, two boxcars within the yard needed to be spotted at the freight house. We started by pulling the two loads out of ADM as shown below:


This work done, we had to move two loaded boxcars over to track three where the Morris Fork turn was being made up. These cars were headed for the Morris Fork hardware and farm supply. This finished our work on track three.

Finally, we had to finish putting together the rest of the consist for the Spring Street turn with a few cars for the valley, and cars destined for Nitro, including several scrap gons.

When we finished up, the yard looked like this, starting with the two boxcars spotted at the freight house:


Below are photos of the rest of the yard:

Finishing making up the consist for the Spring Street turn on track 4 above.

The Morris Fork turn is now made up on track 3 above.


In the photo above, tank cars are on track 1, which is held for tank car orders, behind is track 2 with the Hitop mine turn ready to go, behind is the Morris Fork turn ready to go on track 3, and beyond is the Spring Street turn on track 4….

On the Hitop this week

As promised, this post will be from the prospective of working on the Secondary and Hitop branch. This morning I got the call from the local crew caller based up in Charleston to work the Valley turn out of Spring Street yard. Up early enough for my other half to fix me a breakfast sandwich I could eat up the line.

Meeting our engineer Charlie today and the rest of the crew, we signed in at the yard office in Dickinson and I got our orders and clearance card, then headed back to our caboose for the run, an N8 cabin still in PRR livery, this old gal a former pool caboose. Our power for today was old standby GP7 5628. Today we were going up to Spring Street caboose light. Photo below I took headed over to our engine and caboose:

As we were waiting for our head end brakeman who was delayed a bit with a flat tire, I walked around and snapped this photo:


Heading west up to Spring Street was pretty uneventful this morning. Today was the usual hazy, smog filled day from the plants up and down the valley. I guess growing up here you get used to it, but my transferring in from Ohio I’m still not used to it. People are already up and about early this morning, as this is blue collar working mans country.

Today’s work orders call for us to pick up several cars for Kanawha Feed and Seed plus Snow Hill fertilizer and deliver them, pick up an empty at Snow Hill, then pick up several loads at Armitage Furniture and one empty hopper in Spring Street going back to Dickinson. Photos below of our arrival at Spring Street and pulling out our two loads for the valley:

Our loads were one fertilizer hopper and one boxcar with tools and farm implements. Nothing else going up on this turn, so we headed up the valley:

As we of course had to uncouple the caboose when we arrived at Kanawha Feed and Seed, I stepped off and snapped these photos of our crew switching:

Our switching completed, we headed back towards Spring Street to pick up our other cars going back to Dickinson, and proceeded to work them as shown below:

We then departed eastbound headed back to Dickinson yard with two empty hoppers, and two loads of furniture from Armitage. It was again uneventful as we headed back, except for awaiting clearance into the yard, as yard crews were busy making up other turns. While waiting, I snapped a few more photos:

Arriving back, we yarded our train, cut off our power and took it to the service track, and signed off. Another day on the railroad. Join me for the next call on the Hitop…..

Is it ever finished….?

That’s the question today, is a layout ever really finished? I made the error at a recent gathering of modelers where several asked how my Hitop branch was coming along, and I answered that it was almost finished. You can guess the response I received. If you guessed ” a layout is never finished”, you’re correct!

I myself have made many changes to the layout since I started building it in 2012, revamping some areas, replacing trees, adding different ground cover, etc., etc. not to mention adding onto the layout off both front corners. I’ve added more detail parts as well along the way.

There’s still more to come as far as additions. For example, in Paxton Salvage shown below I’d like to add several more scrap piles, if Walther’s ever gets several back in stock, plus “dirty” up the ground a bit, and perhaps add some weeds along the barbed wire chain link fence:

The next area I’m still adding to is this section, as far as adding a line of Scenic Express trees all along the back wall, which I’ve recently started:

As well as adding all the trees, I’d like to add a backdrop of Masonite eventually painted with just blue sky and clouds if I could corral someone into doing the job. I’d simply attach the Masonite to the layout with clamps. Both extensions I’d like to add this painted backdrop to:

I guess the more I’ve looked at the layout, the more little details I see that I could add. Another example is down the left side extension. I have Walther’s electric power poles in place halfway down this side, but ran out of poles, so this is another addition I’d like to finish.

Of course, some final details would be the addition of more vehicles and people, especially one more semi truck and trailer, and one or two more food related box trucks for Davis Wholesale.

So, in closing, I’ve learned to never, ever again say the layout is finished….:)

Here are photos of the current state of the layout as of today:

A new perspective….

There will be a new perspective in the future starting with the next blog post, for both myself and all of you loyal followers. Since I used to work for a real railroad many moons ago, I’m going to write these blog posts and post photos from the perspective of working for the railroad. Hopefully I’ll make it as interesting as I hope they are now. From that perspective, please enjoy this trip over the ex-Virginian from Alloy and old DB Tower. Used with permission….

Ex-Virginian/ NYC Deepwater Connection

Railfanning the Hitop recently…..

We recently made it down to Dickinson yard early one morning and caught the Spring Street turn. We caught the road power first, then watched as the yard crew put the train together, then snapped a photo of the turn stopped at the yard office to pick up its orders and other paperwork:

We then headed a short distance west of the yard and caught the turn after leaving Dickinson yard:

Moving further west, we caught the turn one more time headed up the valley towards Spring Street yard in Charleston:

Out of time for the day, we headed back home determined to catch the turn again another day up in Charleston…..

A mess or?

Maybe not. What I’m talking about in this post is a recent individual session on the layout. I started in Dickinson yard with making up the Spring Street turn, with cars for the Spring Street switcher plus cars for Nitro.

This operation took awhile for the Dickinson switch job to put together, as cars were everywhere in the yard, with the yard being quite full. Once the turn was put together and the road power tied on, off it went westbound towards Spring Street. Of course the turn took a bit of time to get up to and into Spring Street, as the switch job there was already at work.

The turn from Dickinson had quite a few cars this day, so after the road power cut off and cleared up in the service track, the switch job went to work, breaking the turn into two sections to sort it into the yard per destination. This of course took some time as well, as cars were already here for the turn to take back to Dickinson, plus several cars for locations in the valley.

Most occasions the turn would meet the Nitro turn at Spring Street, or the Nitro turn would arrive shortly after the turn arrived from Dickinson. Today was different however, and thankfully so, as the Nitro job was delayed picking up more outbound loads and dealing with a bad order car. Normally the turn from Dickinson waits for the Nitro job to take its outbound loads back to Dickinson, however, because of the delay, the turn departed eastbound for Dickinson with just a handful of cars, which actually helped the Spring Street switch immensely.

Even though Spring Street yard was now full, what looked like a mess actually was not, with cars now sorted for the valley turn, plus for the Nitro job. Soon Spring Street would be almost empty again, with that freight moving to all points of the huge Penn Central system.

Spring Street yard after sorting and before the Nitro turn arrived: