Payback is sometimes sweet….

Indeed it is. Payback that is. Most think of payback as a bad thing, a chance to get even. My payback is a chance to thank those that have helped over the years with the layout, or long-time friends. That’s one of the joys of model railroading, especially a free lanced layout, where every siding or industry can be named after a family member or friend.

Although of course my layout is not free lanced, I still have to take a few liberties or modeler’s license whichever you prefer to call it, to fit industries in that I had or wanted that in the prototype did not belong there. For instance, the ADM elevator in Dickinson. However, that being said, I do have other industries named after actual locations, such as Spring Street yard, Holsum Baking, Allied Chemical, Davis Wholesale, etc.

In deciding on a larger freight house for Dickinson, being placed along the back edge of the yard, it provided me with a host of businesses and industries in the area that probably did not exist there in real life. Again, with that being said, I have added car routings into the freight house for two businesses I know are or were there: 84 Lumber and Tractor Supply. The other car routings for industry or business going into the freight house are for imaginary businesses in the area, and the same for a few car routings going into the team track at Alloy.

So, I’ve been able to add quite a few imaginary businesses and industries for car routings. The new industries are as follows: Carnahan Home Improvement based in Alloy, Lee Shoes in Dickinson, Wilbur’s Truck Parts and Service in Nitro, Kreiger Appliance Sales in Dickinson, Rineer’s Fine Veneers in Dickinson, Luce Tool and Equipment in Dickinson, and Rush Technical Labs in Dickinson.


Waybill change….

I have decided to return to the original format waybill I started out with. Even though the current waybills using the actual PC form added a more prototype feel to operations, they were also hard to read being hand printed, and for us old guys, our eyesight isn’t what it used to be! The original waybills were formatted using Excel with typed information, then printed off on cardstock to of course fit the card holders and bill boxes from Micro-Mark. I am as of today (10/16/18) about half done with redoing all the waybills to the original format. Probably by the end of the week all of these will be converted, including all the new rolling stock and new industries. For those that may not have seen the original format, it’s shown in the photo below:


Industries that interconnect….

In planning my original 4×8 layout based on Model Railroaders plan, I of course researched the area I wanted to model. I knew it would be the Appalachians, particularly West Virginia. Having traveled the state made the choice easier, for I had a good idea of not only the scenery, but the industries as well.

In modeling Penn Central and having NYC and PRR locomotives and cabooses, it narrowed the area down even further. I knew from railfanning the West Virginia Secondary in the Conrail era the history of the line somewhat, especially that it was ex-New York Central. It wasn’t until I really got into more research using among other reference sources the great book ” A Sampling of Penn Central “, that I learned even more about this trackage and of the Hitop branch proper.

In reading the section on the area I intended to model, I learned that the Hitop branch had numerous load outs for coal, but two major ones were covered in the book, and that these mines were owned by Union Carbide to supply coal to their plants in the Kanawha Valley.. in previous sections here and posts I’ve outlined why this branch fit the track plan perfectly.

Even today currently I’m still doing research on industries in the valley, what their company names were, what raw materials they received, what finished products came out, and what railroad served them. This of course is due to the layout expansion, where further industries are located. In the final track plan for the expansion, I came up with eight additional industries.

I had graciously been given two kits by a friend, Walther’s ADM elevator kit with their additional add-on silos kit, so I knew this would be incorporated into the layout. In again doing research I discovered there was at least one, and I believe two big grain elevators in Charleston, one being an Early and Daniel operation. Of course I used a bit of modelers license to add this industry to Dickinson yard.

I also wanted to replace the “old” PC freight house that was now going to be my Dickinson yard office with a much larger freight house. Again, in research, I found Walther’s Water Street freight terminal which looks very close to a PC building in Charleston that housed among other departments the train dispatchers for the Secondary. Perfect for what I had in mind. This also is going on the industrial lead in Dickinson yard. Finally, I needed a small kit/building to fit between the elevator complex and the freight terminal, so I came up with Blair Lines fertilizer plant. More on why I picked this in a moment.

Now to tie it all in industry-wise. I already had quite a few grain hoppers collected over several years, and no industry for them. Now I do, the grain elevator. But what to do with these hopper cars after they’re filled? Well, there was a baking company in Charleston named Holsum. So now to find a kit for a commercial bakery for the other side of the layout. Again, I turned to Walther’s and their Magic Pan baking kit. So now hoppers would come onto the layout, be loaded at the elevator, with some being directed to Holsum Baking across the layout.

I already have a fertilizer unloading industry on the original layout, albeit just an industrial silo, and I had some fertilizer hoppers. So what would fill the bill for this industry? A fertilizer plant! I knew Blair Line made a fertilizer plant, so I checked the dimensions, and found this would fit on the expansion. So now I’ll have a spot for hoppers to be loaded with fertilizer, then taken over to the unload facility.

I had also collected quite a few gondolas filled with scrap loads, but nowhere for these to go. Now I also have two interconnected industries. On the left hand side of the expansion I had room for a scrapyard. The gondolas would be filled with scrap here, then directed over across the layout to a kit to be used for Union Carbide’s Electro-Met plant, which among other raw materials, took in scrap metal.

One other car I have quite a few of are refrigerator cars, but had nowhere for them. Now I have the larger freight terminal for some, and a wholesale grocery distributor (Davis Wholesale) for these to be switched.

So, you can see, with good planning and good research, you can find the industries that not only fit the area and region you’re modeling, but ones that also can be interconnected to add more switching and operational opportunities as well….

The Hitop, train orders, and more….

One upon a time, there was a 4×8 layout that could accommodate two operators during several different sessions. A great track plan and fun to operate, using waybills and switch lists. Six years old now, it’s still fun to operate, even with one operator, a session lasting several hours.

I had dreams from day one to expand the Hitop off both front corners, as MR designed the layout to be expanded this way. With a gracious gift from our club president, and timely help from a club member, my dream is coming true. Never wanting to expand into a double deck 3,000 sq. ft. basement layout, I did want to fill up our garage with an expanded layout, and now this is happening. Still quite away to go, but layout expansion progress is coming along nicely.

Now with this expansion including a booster unit, one extra throttle so far, and what will be a total of five bus panels to plug throttles into, I’m looking when all is completed to have operating sessions hosting five or six operators. This plan includes one operator stationed at Allied Chemical, two in Dickinson yard, one working the mines on the back side of the layout, and one working the old Dickinson yard, or now the new Spring Street yard. With this, a locomotive would be stationed at Allied Chemical.

With different trains, one different yard, one new yard, I’m toying with the idea of placing a train order signal I already have on hand next to the new yard office in the new Dickinson yard, having outbound trains momentarily wait there for their clearance form and train orders, which I also already have on hand, these from Micro-Mark.

There have been numerous articles in almost all the railroad modeling magazines, and several books written on operations using train orders, too numerous to go into here. I’ve read most of these, but will definitely have to brush up on my research. As the prototype used train orders during NYC and PC days, this should add more realistic operations. I’m anxious to try these out! Below is a photo of both forms to be used, the train order a filled out copy from a previous session.

Operational changes…

I have updated the Operations page to include a new post titled “Operational changes coming”. With the new expansion, I envision a few more trains and perhaps accommodating five operators on the layout. I do have to acquire a few more throttles however, and add a few things to the garage area beforehand. But, in the end, this should be very exciting, so stay tuned!

Re-line that switch!

When operating on my layout, and running a road job or turn, I always stop my caboose at a switch and reline it for the proper direction, especially on the mainline. I guess this comes as habit from working on the prototype.

Although not quite as disastrous and deadly as the consequences of not doing so on the prototype as we’ve seen recently, it can be embarrassing and problematic to do so on your layout if a switch is misaligned. I’ve seen this happen even on a museum layout where inattentive operators ran through an open switch into the rear of another train, derailing one or the other. I’ve seen it as well on a home layout once.

You can imagine on the prototype this kind of inattentiveness can lead to deadly results. Again, not deadly on the layout, just embarrassing. This ties into a previous blog post about taking time which I believe is on my “operations “ page. Take that time as a real rear end brakeman would do, to reline that switch back to its normal position. This also leads to helping in the next operating session knowing that switch is lined properly. Of course, this leads to another must do, especially on the prototype, and that is, when you’re moving down that track, be aware of how that switch IS lined! But, that’s another story for another time…..