Tag Archives: switching

Site Seeing – The Little Critter that could edition

It’s not often that you get to see internal (in-plant) company railway operations today. Thankfully “Saginaw Terminal Docks” (Facebook and YouTube) posted a video from Reid Machinery in Lansing, Mi showing how they use old freight cars to store valuable machinery on their site prior to sale.


Reid Machinery’s internal railroad

Reid Machinery Inc of Lansing Michigan have specialised in moving machinery, primarily in the forging industry, throughout North America since 1992. And while that may not seem like the most worthy thing to write about on the third Tuesday in July – I urge you to hang around a moment longer. You see they also hold their large (as in big – not lots of) inventory on and in their own railroad assets.

Yes – they have their own switching layout.

Thanks to Saginaw Terminal Docks we have a front row seat, and a cab ride on one of these switching moves. I asked him about connections to the rest of the world. He tells me that the in-plant line connects to the JAIL/Adrian & Blissfield on over a mile of old track through Lansing’s south side.

And this is so modellable…


YouTube video

Some of the things to watch out for in the video are:

  • The three person crew (Engineer, conductor, and digger – and yes it’s a guy with  a shovel)
  • Slow switching speeds
  • At around the 18 minute mark – opening the boxcar door with the forklift forks (we often model the result but the actual operation is rarely filmed)

So sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy the show.


Resources

Site Seeing – Last mile switching on the Florida Central

Danny Harmon spends a day out following a railfan friendly switch crew of the Florida Central as they switch customers around Orlando, Florida.


First Mile / Last Mile

This is where I believe that real railroading happens. It is where the customer meets the railroad. It’s also where modellers with small spaces, budgets and time allocation get the most bang for the buck when designing and building a layout. There’s a lot of great locations and close up detail shots of the crew working and the locations for inspiration.

Sit back, put on your headphones and enjoy the sights and sounds of a couple of vintage locomotives as the train crew prepare their train, run out to, and then switch, the customers spurs. (Clickable video below)



Make sure to like and subscribe to Danny’s channel. Recently he’s been doing a lot of switching videos. I hope he does a lot more to come. Supporting him might just get him to do more too.

Site Seeing – the Switching small customers edition

There was an interesting video posted by Danny Harmon (who goes by the handle of Distant Signal on YouTube).

He focuses on the increasingly rare small switching customer. Once upon a time it was the core of railroading. And while it is harder to find, in some places it can still be found as Danny presents in this video.

Enjoy the video! And if you like Danny’s videos as much as I love his voice then like the video and subscribe to his channel. I have no affiliation with Danny other than as a happy viewer of his content.

Site Seeing – March 18 – The ‘other’ Glendale freight layout edition

It’s been a while since my last post and that is thankfully due to being fully employed for the first time in two and a half years. A full-time job is a very satisfying thing. But I digress.

As I wrote in my March 6th post I’ve worked up another idea for the Glendale Freight layout. Let me say from the outset, that this is not one of my better ideas; especially after seeing Bruce Petty’s original layout. There’s merit in the ideas expressed in the design certainly – it just doesn’t have that vibe going on as Bruce’s layout does in spades. Before I go on to tear my work apart let’s take a look at a 1/12th scale model and why I find them so useful for designing a layout.

So what’s wrong with this layout idea?

  • Firstly the central theme of the design is not the freight station, it is the entrance from staging onto the layout.
  • I wanted to have the train enter through a portal of buildings, cross the street and then go about its business. It’s a pretty skimpy idea right? There’s no meat on the bones though.
  • Why this means to enter onto the layout instead of some other way? Is there some missing story about this means of entrance; did the city grow up around the freight station for example? But isn’t this supposed to be Glendale CA, right? Well, is it?

The layout is overall 8 feet long (2400mm) and each square is 12 x 12 inches (300 x 300 mm). It is 2 feet (600mm) wide. And it’s very linear.

So what would I do different now that I’ve built this mini layout?

  1. Angle the entrance onto the layout,
  2. Angle the buildings and the street to the long axis of the layout,
  3. Cluster the switches near the end of the run around, and finally
  4. I’d make a transition between the industrial area on ‘main street’ at the entrance end and the other end of the layout – making it more suburban

And having had a while to think on how I’d make those changes here’s a rough drawing of the layout that ‘could’ spring from this thought experiment.

This design has gravitas. It is the last bastion of railroading in the inner city, and the edge of the suburbs. Sure there are some strange curves, and I’d rework the industry lead and the industry back wall too. But it is much more interesting and tells much more of a story than the first layout.

This layout could be setup as is with the industries, it could be modified for a single industry layout (say an industrial workplace such as a foundry), or it could be something that I’ve not considered and that you already have swimming around in that pool of ideas in your head. As an aside, I videoed the first layout build process. If interested in seeing that video let me know in the comments and I’ll post it here over the next week or so.

Site seeing – March 06 – Bruce Petty’s Glendale Freight house Module Redux edition

In a post on January 18, 2017 I made mention of Bruce Petty’s excellent module of the end of the Union Pacific’s Glendale Branch and the freight station located there. Bruce’s Module is 5 feet (1500mm) x 18 inches (450mm) but to my eye looks much bigger because of the great use of the space he has made. There is no crowding, no feeling of busyness, only the feeling of a warm summers afternoon in Los Angeles sometime during the 1960s or 1970s. This small scene is evocative and places you immediately in the place and time, even if that is coloured by your chosen time period.

The majority of my layout designs fit into an 8 foot space Bruce’s layout module with the addition of a 3 foot fiddle yard fits right in the space available and would make an excellent display or exhibition layout. More importantly it would fit with any time period from the late 1940s – early 1950s (when I believe that the freight house was built) through to the mid to late 1980s when I believe the freight house fell out of use.

As I said in the previous post I’ve pondered over how to use Bruce’s track plan in other ways. I’ve even worked the design up into a 1/12th scale model to see how it might work. I’ll come back to the alternative in my next post; for now let’s revisit Bruce’s excellent module.

A closer look at Bruce’s module

While this module is a part of Bruce’s larger railroad forming the end of the UP’s Glendale branch it can also stand alone as a layout in its own right. At its heart it is an Inglenook layout. Each of the freight house roads can take two 40 foot boxcars against the dock. For those of you interested in modelling this layout at a later stage it is highly likely that the Freight station never hosted more than 2 x 50 foot boxcars at any one time. If it did so then they would be placed on the right most track with the second car either unloaded directly into trucks as shown in Photo 1 above or set off spot on the left most track and switched out once a suitable space was available at the dock. Lots of switching possibilities here.

Of particular note in the photo above is the connecting piece to the rest of the layout. I like this little yet important touch. The wooden insert which allows the module to join the layout has been disguised as a typical UP/SP bridge. Very smart and ensures that the layout and the module appear to be a single whole and not something that Bruce built later on.

Operation

Operations on this layout would be pretty good too. As we’ve discussed before on the blog Inglenooks are completely prototypical and often used by railroads in tight places. Operating with a locomotive pushing in – pulling out switching focuses on the industry or industries served. The longest track on Bruce’s layout I would use as my switching storage and sorting track. The incoming train pulling outbound cars before spotting them on the long track. Cars would then be switched according to requirement on the remaining two car tracks at the docks. Any cars from those pulled needing to be spotted back at the dock could then be spotted before the locomotive crew pick up the remaining outbound cars and head back across the bridge and back to the yard. And here endeth the session.

Short, clear, easy to achieve, enjoyable and within the 30 minutes to 1 hour per day play time that a small layout should give you. Whether you use a single person (driver/engineer only) or two person (driver/engineer and conductor) crew to do the work the time taken will remain roughly the same. I prefer a two person crew simply because it makes the play time more fun when family or friends get involved.

Hope that this revisit has been of some use. If you like the blog don’t forget to Like and Subscribe. PLease comment if you are looking for more information on layout designs or on the designs I’ve previously posted. And of course take the time to visit the “further reading and resources” links below.

Further Reading and Resources

Site seeing – February 19 – The small passenger layout edition

While searching for ideas recently I came across a now very old set of posts from 2001 onwards about the building of a narrow yet long passenger station layout. Onto today’s site of interest.

Site 1: Simon Martin’s Shelf Layout project

This appears to be an orphaned site, and I cannot find any information or updates beyond the 2005 update on the page. Which is a real shame as this layout is a simple, well designed and yet highly operational layout for the single operator at home or at an exhibition.

The track plan is clean and has no major needs apart from two switches and some flextrack. You could even use this to get into building your own track work. Operationally there is much to work with. Trains may arrive and depart from either platform. Heading to the fueling depot means that you need to either shunt back onto the main, then into the second platform road prior to running back into the fueling/storage road. Planning your moves here would be very worthwhile in the smooth operation of the layout.

The fueling/storage point on the bottom left of the plan gives options for storing stock on the layout without over crowding the scene. Scenically the station building hides the end of the platform roads and gives the layout a greater depth than would otherwise be the case.

I think this would be a great design to work with not only in the short-term, but for the longer term by adding all the bells and whistles (such as automated announcements, details, more scenery and upgraded ready to run models.

I’ve tried finding anything else by the blogger but have been unsuccessful. I’d love to see more of this layout and what it became. No luck however. So we’ll just have to enjoy the layout as it would have been. If you know anything about the layout, the author or have contact details for Simon, let me know in the comments.

Site seeing January 16 – The Bart Van Doorn edition

Back in very late December 2015 I showcased Bart’s then pretty new O (1/48th) scale layout – 33rd Street. It’s been just over 12 months and he’s been making improvements the entire time. And they’re very, very good improvements.

That was then:

DSCN4104

This is now:

33 Street yard at night fall

Image 1: Bart’s eye candy

See what I mean?

Site 1: Bart’s flickr stream

Click over to Bart’s flickr site and get acquainted with his work. Some really good stuff here for the model builder, especially those of us bitten by the O scale bug to see what can be achieved in a relatively small space.

In addition since I last visited his site he’s extended the track plan somewhat giving himself more room to play in. Enjoy and keep a watch on his stream. He updates his images fairly regularly.

Site 2: Bart’s YouTube page has updates too

This is just one of his posted videos. There are more available after the jump -just click the YouTube logo to go to Bart’s YT page.

Take a look around and enjoy. It’s a great idea for a layout in any scale. Looking forward to giving his street light a go.

Site seeing: August 31 – Winter is going (at least down here)

Winter is over, although where we live in Ballarat at 420m (1370 feet) above sea level, you’d be hard pressed to tell that change of season has arrived. Our mornings are still cold, the winds are still lazy (they go through and not around you), and the weather is not shiny or happy. However, my seasonal allergies have kicked in, and the Wattle has been in full bloom for about 3 weeks now. I’m sniffling, my eyes are streaming and I look like I’ve gone five rounds with the late, great Muhammad Ali. My allergies and the weather are not the reason for today’s end of Winter post…

Site 1: Croft on the ScaleFour society’s website

Built as a shunting puzzle (Inglenook) and based loosely upon the real Croft goods (Darlington, NER, not Leicestershire LNWR), Croft is a magnificent example of simple effective display and operation. The image below courtesy of RMWeb and Steve Taylor.

I could go on at length about this layout, or I can let you soak up the atmosphere of this image and then follow the ScaleFour link above.

Site 2: RMWeb’s Croft Gallery

Go, look, mind blown.

Hope that this gets your creative juices flowing. Looking forward to the Southern Spring.

The Happy 18th (Big Girl) Birthday Post

18 years ago today, we were lucky to be gifted with a wonderful little girl.

Southern Pacific NW-2E No. 1303
Southern Pacific NW-2E No. 1303 – Copyright Andrew Martin 2005

She’s not as little and has accomplished so much in her life this far. I am proud of her for the strength shown and the growth she has achieved. I am humbled by her achievements and resilience. Great way for a dad to feel.

So despite teenage angst, and troubles with tribbles, she’s still as much of a gift today as she was 18 years ago. Happy Birthday Bella!

(Note the obligatory railway content)

Site seeing – March 29 (Trackmobile layout edition)

The BLI HO Scale Trackmobile
The BLI HO Scale Trackmobile (image courtesy of BLI)

One of the better small locos to have come out in the last 10 years is the HO scale Trackmobile available from Broadway Limited Imports. I’m working on my unit to weather it into a loved if hard worked unit. There’ll be an article in April about how I weathered it and how you can do so too. The only drawback with this model is the dummy coupler on the front end. Somewhere on the internet I read about a change to the Trackmobile front where you add a shortened Kadee #58 coupler directly under the dummy coupler. Essentially the change was drilling and tapping a 2-56 hole in the bottom centre of the dummy coupler, shortening a #58 coupler and then drilling a hole in that for the 2-56 screw before screwing the two of them together. While not perfect it falls within the Kadee coupler height gauge requirements and allows the Trackmobile to be double ended. Saving the Hand from the sky (the 0-5-0 hand of god) traverser. Now, onto today’s site.

Site 1: RÜGENSHAVEN (Carendt.com)

Thomas Van Hare's Rugenshaven Layout
Thomas Van Hare’s Rugenshaven Layout

Thomas Van Hare of Ashburn, Virginia, USA put this layout in the Carendt.com First layout design contest in May 2008. While the layout location is imaginary this HO Scale German fishing harbor corner layout Thomas says “involves a Timesaver (with eleven destinations), plus dual opposing Inglenooks, competitively running two DCC ‘Little Cow’ Trackmobiles”.

The layout features small fishing warehouses, boat maintenance facilities, fueling and supply shops, a fishing net manufacturer and marine diesel repair shop. At center is the harbor’s main canning smokehouse business, with two loading platforms.

You can find out more about the layout design challenge and the entries from the 2008 challenge on the Carendt.com site.