Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Shedding a Light on Operations

I've been fascinated for a while now at how layout owners and operators handle large ops sessions requiring many people to work together to simulate a days worth real-world operations.  I'll admit it's a part of the hobby that remains largely beyond my understanding. (Though I'd love to take part in a large ops session one day) That said, watching nearly two hours worth of operations unfold on Mike Confalone's Allagash Railway does a lot to shed light on how a well designed operation session unfolds.  Here is a link to a free preview of the video.

If this captures your interest, I highly recommend you subscribe to Trainmasters.tv. It's full of fun videos like this and the production is outstanding.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Layout Progress Video #5

It's a brand new year and a chance for a renewed focus on model railroading! 2015 will be the year of the railroad.  I plan on getting a lot of work done on the railroad this year and I plan to update this blog quite often with all of my latest efforts.  I also plan on updating my Youtube channel regularly with video content as well.

To start the year out, let's take a look at what I've accomplished during 2014 (SPOILER: Not a lot.) as well as a look at what needs to be done in 2015.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Snow Shed

I'm back and I have something new to share finally! I've decided to scenic the hole in the right side of the layout with a snow shed instead of building the mountain side up more and placing a tunnel there. I've chosen this route for two major reasons.

First, I am attempting to faithfully (though admittedly compressed) version of the real box canyon bridge location and although there are a number of tunnels located on the real-world line, none of them are close enough to the Box Canyon scene to warrant inclusion. However, looking at the geography of the area, I could imagine how a snowshed might be useful.

Secondly, when was the last time you've seen a snow shed on a model railroad? They are out there and they are always very well modeled, but seeing one is a rare treat.

So, I've started things off by mocking up a cardboard version of the snow shed so I can get an idea for the size and shape it should be.

There are a HUGE variety of snow sheds out there.  Each one seems to have been custom engineered for that specific location. This makes choosing which way to go with my own snowshed has been very difficult. Having mocked this one up, I may decide to go with a squared off roof line instead. More like something found in some of these images.

Have any thoughts or suggestions?  Let me know!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Trees! Finally!

I haven't done much over the past few months, however I did get around to placing a few trees on my layout. These beauties come from Canyon Creek Scenics and are probably the best looking model pines I've ever seen! I purchased 13 of them ranging in size from 6" to 9" for my layout and I like them so much I think I'm going to purchase another 15 or so.  (It's amazing how just how many trees are needed to fill out a small layout.)

Having placed these trees temporarily on my layout, I find myself inspired to finally get around to finishing out my scenery.  Or, at least laying down some proper ground cover.

If you are looking for great looking model pines, I highly recommend checking out Canyon Creek Scenics.

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Horsepower on the MFTR

As production began to ramp up at Lehigh Cement, the MFTR found themselves in need of additional pulling power to handle the increase in rail traffic. That power has arrived on the railroad as a lovely blue and white GP38-2 leased from EMD leasing.

I splurged last week and bought an Athearn Genesis GP38-2 installed with Tsunami Sound for my little layout.  I don't normally spend this kind of money, but I've been dying for an engine in this paint scheme for several years now... so there she is.

As far as I can tell, real EMDX #782 is hard at work in Dallas right now, however in my imaginary world EMDX simply leased it to the MFTR instead.

My two engines look so great lashed together I decided to create a short video to show them off and also to give you an idea of how I operate my model railroad.

UPDATE: Andrew from the Model Railroad Hobbyist forums shared this photo of #782's sister unit #778 being utilized on the Kettle Falls branch which just happens to be located right next door in the valley just beyond those mountain peaks I painted on my backdrop. Good to know I got at least one detail right on my railroad!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The little engine that DID IT!

My little Athearn GP15-1 did something tonight that it has never done to date...

...It made it through an entire operating session without stalling once!  I don't know how it did it, and it's never done it before, but (knock on wood) let's hope that this becomes the norm and not the exception because dang it, this little Geep has been a nothing but a huge frustration for me so far!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lengthening the Lead

The rather short length of my lead track had been really bugging me lately.  I use this lead to move cars from the mainline to the yard, as well as to and from the cement factory. This track was only long enough to accommodate approximately 4 cars plus a locomotive which meant that a lot of running back and forth was needed to complete even the simplest maneuvers. (see track plan for clarification) All of this back and forth artificially lengthened the operating sessions but not in a good way.

For example. I was unable to replace a string of 5 or 6 loaded cement hoppers at the factory with empties in an efficient manner.  This move would require that I run the locomotive out of the yard to pull the loaded hoppers out of the factory first, spot them on the main, then run back to the yard, grab the empties, pull them out of the yard, then back them into the factory, then return to the main, collect the loaded cars, and back them into the yard again. (if there were 6 loaded cars, I would have to grab them out of the factory or off of the main in two strings because an engine and 6 cars was too long for the lead)

As you can see, it became rather tedious rather quickly.

So, I cut a hole in my backdrop and extended the lead track about 7 feet into the adjacent closet.  This now allows me work the yard and cement factory in a much more relaxed and prototypical manner. I can maneuver a string of 12 hoppers with ease and no longer am I constantly checking clearances and hoping that I can squeeze just one more car onto the lead so I don't have to waste more time running back and forth.  As an added benefit, I can now run full length trains completely through my scenes and really enjoy watching as trains pass me by.

As far as scenery goes around the hole, I've thought about adding a tunnel and re-working the land forms a bit.  This admittedly looks a bit awkward considering the sheer drop off to the left of the track and the tunnel's close proximity to the bridge, but I've got a few ideas that might make this work.  Stay tuned!