Thursday, July 13, 2017

Plan, Build, Diversions

I love to plan!  But unfortunately I am slow to do :-(

Those of you who read this blog regularly also know my actions of building the SP Santa Barbara Subdivision are very slow.  This will be another post of making excuses...

In June of 2016, the SPSBSUB was a bonus layout for SoCal Ops, a model railroad operations event in Southern California.  I hosted six operators and we attempted to run some trains.  There were lots of problems.  The first train out left Santa Barbara for Carpinteria and before making it
to Summerland, ran into a 2 foot section of rail that had completely left the ties making the track impassable.  We managed to get past that and he did his switching in Carpinteria and returned.  The SB YM did some other track repairs and switched several arriving freights.  The train to Lompoc and White Hills ran semi-successfully.  The White Hills plant switcher/Vandenberg AFB switcher job did well.  One intermodal ran.  One passenger ran.

After about two hours we stopped.  A couple operators headed for home and the rest of us went down to Santa Claus Lane and ate about 20 feet from the tracks.  We had just finished lunch when the Coast Starlight went by with a PV -Patron Tequila T- on the rear.  At least some trains ran that day!

There were lots of problems on the layout but everyone seemed to have a good time anyway.  They want to come back in two years and see it really run.

Several of the operators later sent me encouraging emails filled with advice on what to do.  I read them over several times and have sat discouraged for a major part of the past year.
I basically have to take up the track and start over.  Once that decision was made, I started planning - always a bad thing for me to do [see above].  I have also acquired some material including flex track and Homabed.  I still like the Central Valley tie strips and will be putting some of that back down.  I will have the capability of putting spikes in to hold the rail in place more securely than the contact adhesive originally used.

As long as I will be tearing up the track, I will be adding a few additional tracks as I replace.  One is the house track at Goleta and the other is the track and industries at La Patera.  More on both of these in another post.

I did not sit around all year crying over the poor operating condition of my track but continued to operate on other layouts and find other projects.

In December, I took a trip north and operated on Seth Neumann and Tony Thompson's layouts.  Both were very enjoyable.  Seth is the principal in Model Railroad Control Systems  Seth and Chuck Catania have been doing lots of work with arduinos and cpNodes.  Seth also does telephone systems.
Chuck brought over a module which emulates a CTC lockout circuit.  It worked well.  I have also seen a module that runs the train order boards at Don Morenzi's Alaska copper railroad layout.
Richard Brennan, Al Daumann and Tony Thompsonon Seth Neumann's Union Pacific Niles Canyon

Seth Neumann and Tony Thompson at Shumalia on Tony's SP Santa Rosalia Branch

Chuck Catania, Tony Thompson and Al Daumann at Ballard

In January this year I operated on Dave Loveless's SP Monterey layout.  I dispatched for half the session and then ran a train off the branch and up to San Jose.
Dispatcher's Train Sheet with copies of active Track Warrants above

                                                    Schematic of layout with magnetic train ID's on the                                               Dispatcher's Board.  Note the helix just behind on the left.

View of train in the helix from the Dispatcher's desk

Trains passing at Fort Ord

Dave has a double ended aging yard which has automated routes.  I really liked it and need to do that to my staging yards - especially the east staging as La Patera will be right above the yard throat so the turnouts will no longer be easily accessible.  Turns out Chuck Catania of Model Railroad Control Systems did the electronics for the staging yard on Dave's layout so I have been discussing with Chuck putting together a similar system for my staging yards.

In April, I attended Hog Rails in Arkansas operating on five layouts.

Flour Mill on Jim Senese's Kansas City Terminal

Produce Dock on Jim Senese's Kansas City Terminal

Steam pulling a short train on the branch on Doug Farner's Blue Ridge Southern

Yardmaster Doc Shaffer on Norm Bruce's layout

Steve Seidensticker running the "Varnish" on Norm Bruce's layout

Yard and packing house on Art Danz' Milwaukee Road/Chicago Great Western

Cattle grazing near the summit of Tennessee Pass on John Ferrell's DRGW

After one week rest, I participated in the PCR Daylight Express 2017 convention in Bakersfield.  One of the clinicians, Dennis Drury, presented a clinic on a simple ABS signaling system.  Southern Pacific had ABS along the Coast Line where I model and I have always wanted to do signals.  The plan is to dispatch using DTC but the ABS signals provide a level of protection.  They were there before 1985 so if I ever want to go back and dispatch using Timetable and Train Order, they will still be appropriate.  As long as I am taking up track and laying it down again, I might as well put in the infrastructure for the signals.  Dennis' board is available from Model Railroad Control Systems.

The end of April I was operating in Utah on three layouts - Ted York's ATSF Cajon Pass, Bob Gerald's Milwaukee Road, and Gary Petersen's Salt Lake Southern.
Don Ball at Sullivan's Curve on Ted York's Cajon Pass layout

Bob Gerald at the throttle on his own Milwaukee Road

Don Morenzi working Pocono on Bob Gerald's Milwaukee Road
Steve Seidensticker working the lower level on Bob Gerald's Milwaukee Road

Yardmaster Norm Bruce on Gary Peterson's Salt Lake Southern

Dispatchers on Gary Peterson's Salt Lake Southern

May found me at the La Mesa Model Railroad Club's Tehachapi Pass layout in San Diego and then at the first Western Oregon Operations [WOOPS] where I operated at Bill Decker's SP Cascade Pass and the Willamette Model Railroad Club's Columbia Cascade and Western.

                                                 Train 11 Coast Starlight appears to be floating above the clouds                                                         as it approaches Cascade Summit on Bill Decker's SP Cascade Line

Dave Houston engineers a train on the Columbia, Cascade and Northern
Columbia, Cascade and Northern loco crosses one of many trestles on the line

Seth N was at Bill Decker's and we discussed some of the projects.  I have ordered and received the   MP5 turnout motors for the staging yard.   I am in discussion with Chuck about the staging yard automation.  I am about to start building some Fast Track turnouts for Goleta and La Patera.  And also starting the lift-out section for La Patera that will sit over the East Staging yard throat.

I have spent the last months operating as a great diversion.  I have gathered some great ideas and have planned my next steps.  Now it is time to get to work and build!

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