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Operations on the B-and-M Eastern Route

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  • #46
    The B&M Eastern Route managed to accommodate nine operators this afternoon. Since almost everyone was on time, I started out with four 2-man crews and things went pretty well. We ran all 7 freight assignments to completion, plus 9 of 12 passenger trains in about 3 1/4 real-time hours.



    Here Tom and Jeff pass Rowley with #81, the eastbound State of Maine.



    Jim and Erich (hidden) discuss how to deal with the cars the Camel (B-21) just left at West Lynn.



    Schuyler brings the eastbound Portsmouth Local (Y-7) out of Bexley yard at Robinson Rd. interlocking. Dave is visible in the other half of the attic, switching Bexley industries.

    Most of the day's adrenaline was mine; the crew was quite experienced, but less than half had run here before. I had a fair number of 'where does this car go' questions, plus glitches, wheel/track cleaning and showing which turnout to throw to clear one short or another. And a blown fuse to diagnose & fix. I stopped the clock while I did that.

    Lessons learned:

    1. The fuse I put on the Prodigy Advance's output is probably more trouble than it's worth. Mixing DC and DCC power in adjacent blocks (the reason I installed it) has never blown it, but something a crew did at East Bexley did at about 8 AM today. To its credit, it was faster than the PSX-1 between it and the track.

    2. The last DCC circuit breaker (at Bexley) is a prerequisite for the next session.

    3. So are several signals to act as switch position indicators.

    4. I'm half way through adding the requested labels to the West Lynn switch levers.

    5. I need to get a track cleaning car in service.

    6. I need a better way of cleaning DCC locomotive wheels; too many of my decoders won't run on DC.

    7. 4:1 (the clock's slowest ratio) is OK for both passenger and freight under Employee's Timetable #5.

    8. The next time I start off with 2-man crews, I need to designate which to split up and when, so the rush-hour-only throttles get manned in time.
    James

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    • #47
      James,

      This sounds like a productive (and enjoyable) afternoon. A Grand Day Out, as it were.

      On locomotive wheels: Have you tried a paper towel with a dollop of cleaning fluid (your choice) on the rails with the locomotive run on to the wet part and held to spin the wheels clean? We have a number of hosts out here in Flyover Country that use that technique with satisfaction.

      Good luck on the rest of the "Honey-Do" list!

      Looking forward to the Next Report.

      Pete

      in Michigan

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      • #48
        I've used paper towels and pieces of cloth, but the isopropanol the Hub uses can leave a stain on track & scenery. With DC, I can pick the loco up, go to my cleaning station (an old power pack with a Kadee brush) and be putting it back in the track in less than 2 minutes. With DCC, a separate cleaning station costs more time (moving the throttle, or setting up the loco on the station's dedicated throttle) and/or money (the dedicated throttle & circuit breaker, so shorts don't disturb the rest of the layout).

        A visitor suggested a wheel cleaning gadget that is dropped onto the track and picks up power from the rails. I imagined I could bring this to where the crew is working and use their throttle to power it. Searching, he might have meant the Trix brass brush tool, or maybe this: http://www.fskidmoreproducts.com/id21.htm I'd need more than one of the Trix gadgets to clean an E-7, and it wouldn't do anything for cars. Skidmore's appears to rely on the loco picking up power from its first couple of axles, which won't do it for my larger DCC steam. Micro-Mark's #81360 is a quite reasonably priced prefab cleaning station, but it would need a place and it's own throttle as above.

        But since this thread is for operations instead of Yet More Talk About Wheel Cleaning, some more notes: 87 cars on the layout is about the right number. We moved all but 9 in this AM session. At noon only a different set of 9 cars were in yards or sidings awaiting further movement. This session's B-22 (Boston-bound hauler) was way over its normal 16 car limit. I must remember to count for-and-via Boston cars when I'm flipping weighbills and apply "hold" markers as necessary. Creating car cards & weighbills for the express and milk moves was a good idea, as they apparently resolved all questions about how passenger trains should do this.
        James

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        • #49
          James, congrats on the completion of another successful op session! Of course, it seems everyone session also generates a long 'to-do' list!

          As for the wheel and track cleaning, around here we have all gotten into the habit of cleaning with alcohol and then treating all track and wheels with CRC. A very light coat seals the track and wheels, and because it is conductive, provides for a clean smooth running railroad! Harsco has been experimenting with this on his layout. He did a thorough cleaning and treatment nearly 3 years ago and has not experienced any problems since! I am also applying this to my layout and so far am impressed with the results.
          Mark

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          • #50
            Operational activity since Sunday has been first, moving some mis-classified cars to where they belonged, second correcting some errors and inconsistencies in the timetable and third, starting to address the wheel cleaning problem thus:



            This took only a few minutes to cut from scrap 1/2" plywood, so I took time to plane and sand the corners, then paint it after nailing/gluing it together.



            I've always wanted one of these. I bought a foam cradle, but I wouldn't set it on the layout: Its base is wide and prone to picking up cruft, and it's tight enough that it really takes two hands to put a locomotive in. Too tricky when hurrying with a steam engine & tender. The finished dimensions of this are 3" wide by 13" long, with a 1.5" deep trough.

            Cleaning my Overland P-2c 3684 here, I found that the spring wire on the drawbar had gotten loose somehow, making power so inconsistent that the Lenz supercapacitor wasn't coping. A wave of the 100W gun and things are considerably better. Next, clean the rest of my brass steam, ensuring each has places to quickly and reliably attach clip leads.
            James

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            • #51
              Looks like you are jump starting that loco, James!

              Good idea on the cradle, though. Easy enough to build.

              Chuck

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              • #52
                Credit for this design goes to a Model Railroader author forty or more years ago, but the idea may be much older.
                James

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                • #53
                  Another great idea, James! I'm having the same sorts of issues with the foam cradle, and may have to "borrow" this idea. Probably ought to do it soon, too, so I don't freeze when I try to use the saw. Thanks!

                  To get this back to Operations, you mentioned mis-classified cars (I assume operator error) and "errors and inconsistencies in the timetable." Could you expand on the E&I part for us?

                  Thanks, and keep the progress going! You're inspiring us!

                  Pete

                  in Michigan

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                  • #54
                    That's a nice looking cradle. Ah yes, op sessions will keep you busy with maintenance and 'improvement projects' you hadn't anticipated. But it's all worth it.
                    Mark

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                    • #55
                      Looking at the weighbills, the mis-classified cars were partly my fault. Too much historic accuracy, too little clarity. I will eventually have to go back and re-do a number of bills whose first off-layout move is to South Boston or Providence via the never-built-in-the-real-world Harbor Tunnel. Their 'Via:' lines should all start the same way.

                      More generally, there isn't room on a MicroMark weighbill to list even half the Alphabet Route, let alone get a car to Denton TX via Potomac Yard. So vagueness will dominate for destinations that are more than one interchange beyond the D&H, MEC, NYNH&H, RUT, NYC, CV or CPR.

                      The timetable issues were just editing/proofreading: First, when I was making up the operating sequence sheet for the Draw staging yard, I'd mis-copied some items from the timetable itself. Second, I'd fiddled with the Freight Train Symbol Book but not reflected those changes in the sequence sheet. Nobody noticed but me, but I wasn't sure I'd get away with it a second time.

                      The timetable worked to the extent we used it; 3 passenger trains didn't get run this time. Only one got really stuck by a freight crew: The Lynn Goat started to tie a half-dozen cars on the rear end of the Camel as it returned to Boston, just as a westbound commuter train arrived in Bexley. 15 minutes down.
                      James

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                      • #56
                        James, for what it's worth, when it comes to the waybills, I subscribe to the KISS (keep it simple stupid) theory. While it is interesting to put a lot of information on your waybills, the bottom line is most operators don't really pay attention to the 'extra details'. They only want to know one thing... where does the car go!

                        Here is an example of the waybills I use. These are a modified version of the 4 sided waybills, similar to what you are using from Micro Mark. Note that I do not have a 'via' line. In this case, the car is headed to Baltimore, MD via the 'Enola Block'. In the special instructions, there is a note to the yard operator to route this car via train BF-4. It says where it's going, although no one cares that it's going to Baltimore, but more importantly, it is telling the operator how to route the car there.



                        All cars headed off the railroad to 'points beyond the walls' are routed this way.

                        Hope this helps.
                        Mark

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                        • #57
                          James, so great to see images from the ops session. Your layout is a thing of beauty and it must be rewarding for you to share your passion with friends. Keep those ops pics coming in! [:-apple] [:-apple]
                          Mike Hamer

                          Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

                          http://www.bostonandmaine.blogspot.ca

                          http://www.craftsmanstructures.blogspot.ca

                          http://modelrailroadsivisit.blogspot.ca

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                          • #58
                            This morning a nearby B&M modeler came over to see my layout and talk about operation. Tom is an expert structure & scenery builder with several AP certificates, but he only started operating a few years ago, mostly on another Seacoast Div. member's layout. We spent a couple of hours talking about my operating scheme vs. Bruce's, how I figured out how many cars I needed on the layout and how they would move in a session, etc. I'll see Tom at Bruce's layout tomorrow, where a group of us are trying out Erich's steam era timetable, and I'll likely visit Tom's layout in the next few weeks.

                            This bump is mostly to remind me that if I can write something coherent about how these factors shaped the evolution of my layout plan and operating scheme, it's probably worth posting here and might make an interesting article:

                            Room shape

                            My modeling interests

                            Characteristics of available locomotives

                            Prototype B&M freight operations plan

                            Historic might-have beens
                            James

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                            • #59
                              Last week I caught some more editing errors in Draw staging's sequence sheet - easy to fix. Today I started re-staging with the passenger trains today, which led to taking apart MEC 622, my Genesis USRA Light 2-8-2 to fix a loose connection on the motor. Alas, I now have four loose plastic clips that used to hold something together. Gravity and the loco's designed-in difficulty of dis-assembly seem an adequate substitute, but it gave me that "extra parts are unnerving" feeling.

                              Then I needed to clear a place for the typewriter to fix the abovementioned weighbills. This led to filing a bunch of papers, sorting my duplicate magazines, lugging them downstairs, posting them and actually disposing of a few. Actual typing may come tomorrow.
                              James

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                              • #60
                                My attic layout has been too cold this winter to safely invite a crew for an Eastern Route op session. But I've been doing some running elsewhere, so I thought I'd liven up this rather quiet forum:

                                Friday I was called off the spare board to run at Bruce R's 'New England freelance' layout.



                                His crew is experienced and the operating pattern is pretty stable, though Friday was a test of the 'self healing' capabilities of his card-order system, because a lot of equipment remained out of place after a 'guest' operating scheme was tried out. I had a fairly relaxed evening running both freight & passenger.



                                The layout's been pretty much finished for several years now, though Bruce continues to make improvements and has recently set his sights on the AP Scenery certificate.

                                This afternoon was different: Jon D. is deeply into the ATSF circa 1950, and his much larger layout goes all-out to represent LAUPT to Barstow and San Diego. Operations are still evolving, but they'd gotten far enough for a first try running freight alongside the passenger service that's Jon's primary focus.



                                Here a crew of North of Boston Boomers collects to hear the operating plan.



                                This duck-under is the main entrance. The 1st and 2nd districts bracket the Mission Tower wye, with the descent from Summit toward Victorville at the top.



                                John L. getting some exercise following his train. It is very much a multi-level layout throughout.



                                I was stationmaster at LAUPT; here it is with most of the day's arrivals wyed or switched out. Another visitor was Mission towerman. It felt like a visit to the big leagues, as Jon and his helpers have probably 60-70% of the prototype's tracks and switches running quite well.
                                James

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