Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Operating session on the GC&SF

On a bleak, wet, wintery day, what could be better than to have some friends over to play trains...?  Yes - yesterday was  Operating Day on the GC&SF.

Due to unexpected illnesses we were a couple of operators short today, which made it challenging to keep up with the timetable during its busier periods. Nevertheless, we managed to get through most of the trains called for on the schedule:

Brendan ran one yard and I operated the other. Between fielding general questions and running the yard I had a very hectic time, and I'm very glad that I changed the system so that the Lindsay, Ringling and Frisco locals are operated by guys from the 'engineers pool' instead of the yard operators (as they used to be.)  Brendan, on the other hand, was so far ahead of the game that he had time to run a through freight!

Here are some photos that I took during the session:
Rod with the Ardmore local, doing some switching at the Ardmore Air Base just north of Gene Autry.

Peter has brought the Frisco (SLSF) local into Ardmore, and is now doing a run-around move
to get to the other end of the train.

Chris preparing to exchange empty cars for loaded gons at the Southern Rock Asphalt plant at Dougherty.

Bill with the Pauls Valley local at Pauls Valley. The monitor in the background
shows the North-end Staging yard tracks.

Dennis is taking Train 38 (a northbound fast freight) through Dougherty, where
Chris is still at work swapping empties for loads.

Chris and the gravel train have now moved to Big Canyon where they'll do some more switching.

Graham and the southbound tank-car train are passing through Davis.

Bill and Brendan watch as Rod sets out stock cars at the Pauls Valley stock yards.

Hmmm .... (I have no idea what Peter is thinking.)

The locos on the northbound Chicagoan have just separated because somebody (I wonder who, Graham)
forgot to line the turnout for the mainline after using it.

Bill, Peter and Rod taking an unauthorised break!

Brendan and a very tidy yard at Pauls Valley.

The front gons on the gravel train derailed on the turnouts at Dougherty. I'll have to do some testing,
but we suspect that the derailment happened because the empty cars at the front of the train are
very light compared to the loaded cars at the rear of the train (just out of the picture).

Graham is waiting for the northbound tank-car train to pass through Davis so he can finish
building the Pauls Valley local freight.

Pauls Valley has two GP7s assigned to it, and Brendan has MU'd them together.  Here he is using the pair
to add cars to a northbound fast freight.

Graham doing some switching with the Pauls Valley local, at Davis.

Chris, with the tank-car train arriving at Wynnewood.

Chris cutting off the way-car and buffer car, before spotting six empty LPG tank-cars at the refinery
for loading. He has already moved six loaded cars to an auxiliary track to make room for the empties.

Chris also took a bunch of photos, and emailed them to me so I can include them here:
Bill preparing the morning Pauls Valley local freight (which actually starts from Davis.)

Brendan switching the head end of Train 40 (a northbound fast freight) while I add cars to the rear end.

Graham with the afternoon Pauls Valley local freight, at Wynnewood.

Extra 172 North (the tank-car train) holding in the siding at Davis so that Train 40 can overtake it.
I love my MTL FTs!

Three Santa Fe box cars sitting on the siding at Ardmore Construction. During the '50s there were several
building supply businesses in Ardmore, and Ardmore Construction is just a generic representation
of those industries. The buildings are temporary stand-ins (albeit very old stand-ins.)

The starting line-up at South Staging. L-R: Train 5 (The Ranger), Train 40 (a morning fast freight),
Train 16 (The Texas Chief), X2856N (the livestock extra) and Train 40 (an afternoon fast freight.)

Stillwater Milling at Davis. The H16-44s will soon be called to work on the Pauls Valley local freight.

Another shot of the FTs at the head of the tank-car train, at Davis.

The Pauls Valley local freight at Wynnewood, where it is about to do some switching.

Although we had a few minor glitches, I'm very happy with the way the layout operated, and especially with the way the guys ran things. Thanks for coming over guys - as Graham would say, "I love your work." Also, a special thanks to Brendan for taking time out from running the Pauls Valley yard to assist the newer operators, and to Chris for allowing me to share his photos.

Thanks for looking in.


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Operating session 16th June 2017

I called the guys over for another session last night.  Almost everybody that I invited was able to attend, so we had the biggest crew we've had in a long time and, consequently, some of the guys didn't get to spend a lot of time running trains. Still, it was a good night, and the very few problems that we had were very minor

I took many photos during the session, but I used a new (to me) phone camera, and was disappointed to find that many of the photos were too blurry to be used. Here are the best of them:
Dennis and John C working a through freight at Pauls Valley.

A couple of rowdy rail-fans heckling the passing train driver.

Bill gathering cars at Davis for the local freight.

Greg and Rod.

Through freight (Graham) passing through Davis while the local (Bill) is at work

Graham's through freight passes through Big Canyon where a local freight is at work.

Bill's local freight has arrived at Wynnewood.

Bill switching at Wynnewood.

Bill's local freight is arriving at Pauls Valley.

Greg (yardmaster at Ardmore) is switching cars.

The southbound gravel train passes through Gene Autry
while the local is switching cars on a siding.

Another shot of the switching at Gene Autry.

Barry taking a northbound through freight through Wynnewood while Bill's local is switching there.

Dennis has moved his locos to the rear of the tank-car train as he prepares to switch the refinery.

Greg working the Ardmore yard.

John F watching as Dennis switches tank cars at the Wynnewood refinery.

Peter and Brendan were also present but I somehow managed to get no photos with them. Sorry guys.

Thank-you to the crew-members, who all did an excellent job in operating the layout and keeping to the schedule. Thanks also to my lovely wife and Harvey House manager, Beth, for doing a great job with the catering.

Thanks for looking in.


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Cann River update

Last night the gang visited Darren's Cann River layout to inspect the work he's been doing to extend the layout. It's been a year since I last visited the Cann River, and I was already impressed by the way that Darren has captured the rolling hills of east Gippsland.

From the moment I walked through the door I was gobsmacked by the vista the layout now presents:
Darren (right) discussing the layout with Peter.
(Click for larger image.)

I found this track plan that shows the layout when the planned extensions have been completed.
Click for larger image

My job for the night was to run an engine from Wingan (bottom centre on the plan) to Sleep Creek (bottom right) where I collected six wagons loaded with coal, and then delivered them to a paper mill at Chandler (top left hand corner of the plan.)  I have to say that the size of Darren's train room, and the long runs between towns, gave me a real sense of having travelled a long way with my train. Here's a pictorial rendition of that journey.

My engine and guard's van at Wingan. First step was to run around the guard's van.

Crossing the tall trestle bridge between Wingan and Sleep Creek. Darren scratch built this bridge working from photographs of a real bridge on the Victorian Railways.

After collecting the loaded wagons at Sleep creek I headed off to Noorinbee where I had to turn the train before continuing on to Chandler.

While I was running into the siding at Noorinbee the gremlins got into Darren's DCC system, and we all lost control of our trains. Here's a shot of Darren and Greg pondering the problem, while Brendan (you can just see his shoes) is trying to sort out the problem.
Darren is wondering whether he'd have these problems if he switched to HO.  Yes, Darren.
You would. But they be 1.84 times bigger

Losing control of my train at Noorinbee meant that my train continued right through the town, where I was able to get some photos in locations that I would not otherwise have visited:

Once the problem was sorted out I returned to Noorinbee where I turned my train and then continued on my way. Here's my train approaching a level crossing just before reaching Weeragua.

Here's my train at Weeragua.

Between Weeragua and Chandler there is another level crossing and three more trestle bridges:

Here's Chandler, where I will be shunting my coal wagons.

After swapping my loaded wagons for five empties, I started my return trip to Sleep Creek and Wingan.

My train approaching Noorinbee, where I will turn it before heading on to Sleep Creek:

Here are some more photos of the layout room:

Some of the guys are examining Darren's plans for the next stage of the extension,
which will see more track added at the right-hand side of this photo.

Apart from the glitch with the DCC system, the layout ran like a dream. I'm already looking forward to my next chance to operate on the Cann River.

Thanks for looking in.