Today was a full day of trains, left early for te Operating session at Keith Stillman's. So I headed to Ashland, VA. Just as I arrived anAMTRAK train was stopped at the station and a CSX coal train was waiting for it to depart. I could not get camera out for the AMTRAK train but did catch the coal drag.
I then proceeded to Doswell, VA. just up the road from Ashland. The Buckingham Branch RR interchanges with CSX and this is their base of operations (I think)
There are some very photogenic structures in the area of the wye and there is a couple of bulk loading businesses here.
The CSX (ex RF&P) mainline is on the right, the covered hoppers are in some tail tracks in the wye.
After a delightful lunch prepared by Keith's wife Marlene we started the op session. It went long today but we all had fun. This location is Furnace.
Thorny Point, Yard master and two engineers starting the assembly of their trains.
Hood which is part of the railroad the operator controls with a work train and passenger train waiting clearance to proceed to the next station.. I was the operator for this session.
The sketch, the around the walls bench work is existing, I will ad a central peninsula to hold the Gilman Mill. The Connecticut River crossing is on the top shelf on the sheet. Gilman Station n the bottom shelf. Whitefield NH may end up being modeled along the right side.
Sat down and started re-reading all of my notes, collected articles, info in books and after taking my daily walk I sat down and came up with this sketch.
This photo in the MEC in Color Vol 1 of the Connecticut River crossing has always been a seen I liked.
While I was looking through and sketching, I determined I could add in Whitefield NH as a scene also. I have not totally convinced myself on this idea yet but I think it fits well in this portion of the room.
This is some of the info in my Maine Central note book on Gilman, it was from a Rail Model Journal Article. I think this magazine was a great model railroad resource. I only wish Model Railroader would have articles similar to what were in it. I might consider subscribing again. I have several e-mail exchanges from railroaders that worked on the Mountain Division which explains the various locals and how the little bit of on line industries were worked.
I think a road trip to Vermont is in my future, the wife wants to go since she has never been.
After much soul searching and a full year of considering this in the back of my mind, I have decided on the LDC (Layout Design Concept) and the associated LDE's.
LDE - 1) On one of the long walls, The Paper Mill at Gilman, VT.
LDE - 2) On the other long wall the Connecticut River Bridge.
LDE - 3) On short wall the Gillman Agent Shanty
Gives me a nice bridge scene ( I like building bridges and the scenes)
Gives me a nice switching plan that is very well documented and has many good reference photos. (I have built a 2 x 16 Gillman switching shelf layout before and I really enjoyed the operation and super detailing the scene).
The Gilman Agent Station will make a nice photo shoot area and will have to be scratch built (like that).
It will be built so I can run long trains on a big loop for when none operators come (Family and Friends) who just like to see trains in motion.
Starting to get more of the urge to get back to model railroading and trains in general. Went through Ashland VA on the way to my Dads this week end. I am going to get all the MEC track work diagrams and MEC books out while watching the Pats tonight and see if I can narrow down the next layout design. Remembering simpler is better.
On the way back from a quick trip to Maine to celebrate my Mom's B-day we stayed in Enola, PA. Across the street from Norfolk Southern's Enola yard. Why this AMTRAK retro engine was sitting here I do not know. I can only assume it broke down and they set it here.
This is the beginning of a cut of cars going over the hump. I did not realize this at first since it is not like the classic hump yards I have seen where there is a definitive "hump".
A car has started down into the bowl.
The row of tracks in the back ground are much higher than the bowl track and retarders, which cannot be seen but are just down below the paved road.
A set of yard goats has just completed running autoracks down into the bowl and is returning to start humping another cut of cars. There were two sets of hump engines working in tandem. As one set finished a cut the other set would push the next cut while the first set went back to get another cut.
The NW two bay hopper is accelerating down the bowl lead, the retarders will be activated shortly which results in some load screeching.
I have not gone past the thinking stage yet on the layout, still working on my side track building ship/sub models. Summer activities and getting the finished sub models off the layout will be required.
I have been sketching new track plans. Basically I am on a path of having 4 Layout Design Elements (LDEs) separated by scenery dividers. Staging will bring trains onto the layout and provide an area to change out cars. Each LDE will be of a specific portion of the Maine Central but not from any one area. The idea here is to have several different scenes for operation and the layout as a whole will be operated as a single section but I am going to pick actual MEC prototype trackage for each LDE.
Here is today's thought, Calais (small yard), the wood chip mill at Oakland, The pulpwood loading siding at East Newport, and the Gilman Paper Mill. All four elements can fit in the space I have and I will be able to use the actual track arrangements. I have extensive information on operations at Gilman and Calais. I will do a detailed study and post additional thoughts after that.
At the end of the session I am back were I started with the shifter, Luke.
The car float at Baltimore.
A busy Cumberland yard.
The layout is multi level uses the classic car card system for car forwarding and uses a fast clock. Throttles are radio controlled DCC and all operators wear radios with the exception of the Cumberland yard crew.
Main positions are Dispatcher, MY Tower, Cumberland Yardmaster and two minions, Baltimore Yardmaster and minion, Elkins yardmaster and minion and a bunch of engineers to run the trains. This is the second time I have worked on Dick's railroad, he has a fun operating scheme and we had a great time, just don't push those other buttons on the throttles!
I ran the mine shifter which runs from Elkins Yard to all of the local mines. I started my shift by picking up my train off empties on the siding at Luke. There is the large "Black Diamond" mine and a smaller loader on the opposite end of this area. in this photo I have brought down my second train of empty hoppers from Elkins. I am in the hole on the siding and a peddler freight is on the mine lead. We are waiting for a train to pass on it's way to Elkins.
This is Thomas were another mine and a coal dump is located that the shifter is responsible for keeping supplied with empty hoppers and pulling loads.
Elkins Yard, a crew of two is assigned to this yard also, I have requested entry into the yard with a 14 car train of loaded coal cars.
Saturday I made a trip up Richmond way and operated the WMMD Western Maryland Moseley Division, owned and built by Dick Munnikhuysen.
The railroad is large and busy. The Cumberland yard is shown above and has three assigned positions. This yard is at the middle of an X looking route map. The ends of the X are Baltimore, Elkins - WV, Connellsville - PA and Lurgan.
Baltimore is a main terminal and has two position assignments.
So as I ponder why I cannot finish any layout I have started in this home several issues become apparent.
1) I continue to put too much model railroad into the space I have allotted.
2) I continue to dilute my interest by over filling the room.
3) I enjoy building the models, I enjoy operating a model railroad in a realistic portrayal of the real thing. I do not like fiddling with track and electrical portion of the hobby.
4) I need to focus on the simpler is more satisfying approach.
With that said I will need to select a portion of the MEC that I can simulate with minimal compression in the space I have. The ultimate goal on the next design will be a portion of the MEC that has an interesting operational pattern (Switching) but had mainline trains running through. The design will allow long mainline trains so I can run one continuously for the non model railroad friends and family that just want to see a train running, yet when I want to entertain myself I can have a realistic operating session.
My list of candidate locations are:
The paper mill at Gilman Vermont (built previously as a switching layout that was very satisfying)
So I will concentrate my research on these locations. I have a significant amount of info on the first 2 locations when it comes to actual MEC operations and industries served. The research will be on the lesser known locations.
Sub Work Continues, U-boat conning tower is complete working on hull now. Started the soon to be USS Scamp SSN-588 model to have more to do on modeling days. I servd on the Scamp from 1982 through 1985. I will add some things to this hull to match her configuration when I was station on her.