A trip to Morris Fork and back

This week we were able to get out and about for some railfan action. We started early as usual grabbing some breakfast at Sam and Mickey’s across from Dickinson yard. We then headed over to see PC GP9 7466 making up its train of empty hoppers for the Morris Fork mine and truck dump. We followed the train all the way to the end of the branch at Morris Fork, then followed the train back to Dickinson yard bringing loads in. Below are the photos we took.

In the photos above, 7466 is about to depart Dickinson yard for Morris Fork.

Next, we caught 7466 poking its nose out of one of the tunnels on the Branch, then snaking around one of the twelve degree curves below Morris Fork.

At the end of the branch at Morris Fork, 7466 runs around his train, then seen pulling loads from the truck dumps.

As 1 empty wouldn’t fit in the siding for the mine, it was left on the passing track for the next turn to work. We then followed the train as it heads back downgrade towards Dickinson yard.

Finally, we last caught 7466 weighing the loads back at Dickinson, then spotting the loads in the yard before tying up. Another good day of railfan action on the Hitop….

Update on weathered models…

Just a short post here concerning the models listed on The Weathering Depot page. I do have several cars listed now on the page for sale, with one more coming soon, a TILX tank car from Scale Trains, once I have finished it. I also have a pending possible offer on the hopper cars listed. If this offer falls through, I will also have these possibly available for sale, the hopper cars currently shown on the page.

Please remember several items with the cars I weather and sell. These are: I always change out couplers to better Kadee couplers unless the car already has these, unless the car has excellent metal wheel sets, I also change out the wheel sets to semi-scale wheels. I also apply brass ACI panels from BLMA if it matches the era, along with safety visibility stripes and other current day decals from Smokebox Graphics if applicable. Modern day cars I also apply graffiti when applicable. All these supplies cost me, so as in any other venture, I have to pass this cost along to make a profit. That being said, I do NOT sell my cars for an enormous amount as others do. I feel the price I ask is fair and reasonable that covers the price of the car, materials, labor, and a small profit.

Happy Birthday Penn Central…

A day late, but 50 years ago yesterday, the Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads ceased to exist, being merged into the Penn Central system. A merger that was started in the early sixties, finally culminated after many years of planning, squabbles, negotiations, and court battles. Formed from two companies that were already struggling somewhat, this merger had high hopes, but was probably doomed from the start.

Many factors led to the bankruptcy scarcely two years later, among them squabbles and animosity between the “red” and “green” teams. Even the two at the top couldn’t stand each other. Another factor which doomed the railroad was the regulatory climate at the time. Had deregulation happened sooner, PC might still be a viable rail system today. Deregulation came about later which allowed Conrail to flourish where PC couldn’t and didn’t have a chance. Even severe weather played a part in the downfall of Penn Central.

As Penn Central fans, look for many articles this year in major magazines including the PCRRHS magazine the “POST” about the 50th anniversary of Penn Central. Finally, a shout out has to go to the previous head of Norfolk Southern, Wick Moorman, for bringing about all the heritage locomotives, including those representing PRR, NYC, and of course, the PC unit….

This week on the Hitop

This week we pulled into Dickinson yard early in time to catch some rail action. We caught GP7 5628, an old veteran, and a regular on the branch, putting together the Morris Fork turn with hoppers and a GTW 40 ft boxcar filled with hardware for the hardware and farm supply.

We followed the turn all the way up to Morris Fork, then followed him back to Dickinson yard. Below are the photos from our chase.

That old adage….

That old adage that a model railroad is never finished seems to be true, and has come true for this modeler. Even for a small layout such as mine, there are always things on the layout to be fixed, changed, or improved, or all of the above. There always seems to be new products coming out that enhance and improve those layouts as well.

In checking out the layout and running trains this past week, I noticed some ballast in places that needed to be redone. Done! Then, I noticed a few areas on my puffball trees were shedding the ground foam. So, out came the tools and supplies to fix this. Standing back and looking at the layout, I began to look at some other areas, such as the switch stands, and ground foam varieties I used for weeds and thick ground cover.

With the switch stands, it came to mind I’d like to replace the oversized stands one day with tortoise machines and Rapido stands. This of course to make the layout look even more realistic. With the ground foam, I’d like to someday as well rework some or most of it with static grass, again to improve realism.

There are other areas on the layout that need attention as well. With the latest addition from Woodland Scenics of their entire lighting system, I’ve thought about street lights and building lights, if only lights on the outside of the buildings themselves, such as my Hitop mine. I even looked at a small detail such as my road signs, thinking of a recent modeling article about adding aluminum foil to the backs of the signs, again, to increase realism. Another area I looked at were some of my plastic trees. Not very realistic. I saw an area up on the branch that would be perfect for some scale wood trees by Scenic Express that would be perfect.

Of course then as I stepped back to look at the layout, I thought about the plans once again to enlarge the layout, which is still a dream of mine, and hopefully a workable plan someday. Starting with the left hand corner as stated before,  I  recently saw two track plans that may look promising. Of course all this has to be budgeted and approved by the CFO. In this expansion plan, I’d like to enlarge the chemical plant, put in a grocery distributor, bakery, and scrap yard. As I told the CFO, otherwise known as my wife, I think most modelers perhaps grow a bit bored with an original layout after some years, and need that challenge and work to keep that spark alive and well, resulting in more train space and more fun. My layout it’s hard to believe has been up and running for almost five years! Of course any expansion would take advantage of newer materials and products that I either did not use on the original layout, or were not available at the time. I already have several of these newer products on hand.

As I also looked at my layout during the operating sessions, I came to realize that a lot of my cars or rolling stock are not weathered completely, especially the trucks and wheels. A situation that I am already starting to remedy, starting with my coal hopper fleet. As newer, more detailed cars become available, and funds become available, I’m trying to replace older and less detailed cars with these, a plan that’s already up and running. Of course, by starting to really get involved in weathering was a way not only to improve my fleet, but hopefully also to bring in extra income to fund some of these plans.

So, in conclusion, you can see my dreams, schemes, and plans. How much will ever be completed or started? Hard to tell. But again, that old adage it’s never finished has hit home.

Recently on the Hitop…

This week we once again got an early start, and started our day at Sam and Mickey’s grill for a hot breakfast. Then we headed over to the yard office where Bill the yardmaster was kind enough again to give us a line-up of what was in store for Dickinson yard this day.

As we were between trains, a turn already having left up the valley to switch the chemical plants, we decided to stick around and just watch the yard action. So, on this trip, we caught two geeps switching the yard and making up outbound trains. Here are the photos we took: