Saturday, February 29, 2020

More Maxwell House

Buildings 1 and 5 mocked up. Building no. 1 is the tall roasting building with building no. 5 stretching across the tracks housing the American Can Company. Building at right is #2 which is the storage building on the river. Barges would unload there. There are eight total buildings in the complex, but I'll only be able to model 5-6 of them at about 3/4 ish size.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Maxwell House Coffee plant mock up

I mocked up more buildings today and I laid out the grounds for Maxwell House Coffee. There are several building in the complex, and I have to cut a couple of the them due to space.

I'm also having a bit of a think on whether to extend the layout to get in the coffee barges on the river. They are essential to the scene and understanding of how the plant functioned, but I don't want to pinch down my aisle too much. I just need to find the proper balance.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Happy 2020!

I'm alive, the railroad is alive, and there may be more posts this year?! :)

A few operating sessions per year since the last post, but not much on the layout itself is new. 14th Street switching tracks have been reshuffled to allow for a track to get to the engine house (see below) and US Testing.
New non-operable track to the engine house. Perhaps a curved crossing could be scratch built to make it a working piece of track. The 14th street trackage is actually supposed to be behind the engine house, but that is out of reach. Compromise is the uncomfortable, but necessary at times.

Reconfigured 14th street track. from top right to left, the engine house, Kelly Springfield Tire/Xzit/National Cleanser, then finally Continental Baking (Hostess Twinkies) All buildings are very close to actual prototype size gotten from historical maps and Google maps measurements.

US Testing is almost in the correct orientation. It should be perpendicular to the yard, but there isn't enough room to curve the track properly. More compromise *sigh*, but, it's very, very close...

Recent activity is turning towards sketch buildings to ensure the track alignments are good. These will also provide good templates for final models.

Engine house with brakemen waiting for assignments. The shack is the scale house.

Engine house (left) and (right) Xzit/Kelly Springfield Tire/National Cleanser

Kelly Springfield Tire/National Cleanser (left) and Continental Baking (Hostess Twinkies) (right)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Op session No.8 + stuff

A foam core and Photoshop mock up of the small freight house.

Lots going on at the PoNY, and not enough extra time to talk about it as of late. We've hosted another op session and progress is being made on lighting, scenery, structures, photography, and operations fronts. 

The highlights include Op Session No.8 that is in the books. Our regular crew from David Barrow's slipped in a session on the PoNY during the regular op night. I managed to take no pictures, which could mean things were so bad I was scrambling putting out fires, or that it was so enjoyable it didn't occur to me to snap any pics. I'm happy to report it was the latter. A crack yard crew proved that a full work shift is possible, and job balancing seems to be consistent across the board which makes tweaking possible now. 
track tools employed at 14th St
Before the session, I realigned the 14th St track towards the front of the layout to make reaching it easier while making it possible to get in the track to the engine house and US Testing. The great thing about gluing down track is that it is easy to move.

I also started testing LED strips for layout lighting on the 27th Sta. module. This one that I had on hand from another project is not bright enough. The challenge here is that there is a 19 story building that is going to be on top of it. That mean some hidden lighting to operate in the buildings as well as the general lighting. Interesting problems.
Behind the scenes

While I've been at all this, I'm also getting familiar with my camera and lights for shooting photos for articles. LEDs are a game changer here as well, as they are getting cheaper, produce daylight color temperatures, and don't get so hot like the old photo floods did. 
Assembling the mock up small freight house

Workers don't seem to mind that it is only a mock up. They are already hard at the business of the railroad - moving stuff.
The small freight house mock up only took a couple of hours to put together. I found some corrugated metal textures at, arranged them in Photoshop,printed and pasted for a satisfying stand in/test fit. I'm not going to tell anyone that I accidentally made it too big. That's what happens when working while under the influence of allergies late at night. I can fix it easily enough, though.
Don't these guys ever take a break?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Op session no.7

We had a great visiting crew last weekend for the largest operating session, yet. Nine operators put the railroad through their expert paces. Some minor hiccups, but nothing catastrophic, so I will count that as a success.

Most (all?!) played the Brakeman! game with the newly created action figures:

The Brakeman! game is about modeling the actions of the train crew. If there is an action like throwing a switch, uncoupling or coupling a car, unlocking a gate, etc., there must be one of the crew on the ground within an uncoupling tool's length in order to perform that action. In conjunction with momentum and braking in effect on the locomotive, this slows operations down a lot.

Following are some candid shots from the session:

Keith Jordan and Lance Mindheim debate the merits of something. I think we decided the world would survive.
Tom Pearson repairs several cars in place while Denny Taylor and Larry Sternberg switch the Docks Job. Jim Diaz and Kirk Baer work the Float job. 
Chuck Hitchcock and Tom Lawler figure out the HBS yard - the hardest job on the layout...?
Maneuvering the slip switch ladder in the middle of the HBS Yard. 

Kirk eyes the next move while Jim drops float cars in the float yard.
At Maxwell House Coffee Plant: "I'm pretty sure that car goes here." "Are you really sure?" "My brakeman doesn't want to walk all the way over there unless you are sure."
Denny guides Larry to the American Export docks.
"Maxwell House has too many outbound cars for this little 44-tonner." 
Paul Dolkos weighs in on the serious discussion. 

Later that same day... the yard crew at Tommy Holt's was Kirk, Keith and Paul. The GGM, AP, EXP trick in the schedule went really smoothly. No switching on Diner Siding (Tommy was looking), but eastbound trains did depart through there to keep the B Lead clear. It was a really smooth session and everyone left with all of their fingers and toes.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Op session No.6

A quick recap of op session no.6:
Mike Barrett at 27th Street clears the car float, then fills it up again.

The Harlem Station after Barrett's completion of work before he moved over to 27th St. 
Steve Jackobs heads out of the yard to switch the HBS industries.
David Petersen (left) and Steve Jackobs (right) dropping their pickups in the HBS Yard.

Barrett, Jackobs, Petersen were on shake down duty operating the new 27th Street Lehigh station, Erie Harlem and the HBS industry jobs, but no yard this time. This was a last minute gig that conflicted with a large train show an hour away, so I didn't expect to get a lot of takers, but I needed to have trains run to find some more problems before the next session. The original idea was to have a stress test since I can now handle 11 people, which is what I was gearing up for the following weekend.

No big surprises, and mostly it confirmed work load balancing and how much time it takes to complete jobs. After this is was back to work on converting another locomotive to battery power, adding a car float and a bunch of battery charging for the next session...