Tuesday, 31 January 2017

January operating session, and other stuff

January operating session

Back on the 18th of January I hosted another ops session on the GC&SF.  As we were an operator or two short, I ran the yard at Ardmore. Between that busy job, and responding to requests for help, I forgot to take photos of the session. Fortunately, Rod took several to help us remember the event.

John C (centre) did a great job running the yard at Pauls Valley, and during my post session tidy-up I didn't find a single thing wrong with the cars and trains that he had worked! Graham (right) is running the Pauls Valley local freight, and here he is doing some switching at Wynnewood.

Peter is running the Ardmore local freight, which also serves the quarries at Big Canyon (shown here) and Dougherty.

Bill is running a southbound passenger train, behind my sound-equipped BLI ALCo PAs.

This bloke with terrible posture and fat stomach is, sad to say, me. I'm using a tethered throttle because my wireless throttle was giving me too much grief.

Unfortunately, nobody took any photos of Rod. So here's one from a previous session:

Wireless woes

As I mentioned, my wireless throttle was giving me some grief during the afternoon. I thought that it might be because my rechargeable batteries (which are now quite old) don't hold charge very well.  However, all my batteries still registered over 8.5vdc on my multimeter the day after the session, and since then I've done a lot of train running to restage the layout, and the batteries have been fine.

This isn't the first time that I've had problems with wireless operation during a session. The fact that I don't seem to have those problems when I operate on my own makes me wonder whether there is merit in Brendan's idea that the "wet blobs" (operators) in the room are interfering with the radio signal. The UR92 panel is located under the layout, immediately behind me in that last photo, so anybody who is switching Ardmore, Gene Autry, Dougherty or Pauls Valley is likely to be standing directly between their throttle and the UR92. And with seven or more operators in the room, there's a good chance that there'll be at least one other person also blocking the signal. When I'm feeling industrious, I will relocate the UR92 (possibly into the ceiling directly above where I'm standing in that last photo), to see whether that improves things.

New freight cars for the GC&SF

Between 1935 and 1950 the Santa Fe rebuilt more than ten thousand of its older USRA refrigerator cars using their massive steel underframes. For a long time now I've been wanting to get some of the Intermountain models of these unique cars, and I finally bit the bullet at the end of 2016. Most of these rebuilt cars were modernised during the '50s, and it's probably unlikely that in my era (1960) many still survived in the form modelled by Intermountain. However, in 1960 only about 3% of the Santa Fe's reefers were mechanical cars, and rebuilt ice reefers continued to serve well into the'60s.

Rightly or wrongly, the GC now runs six of these cars, which I picked up on eBay:
These cars are quite low, with an internal height of less than 8 feet (7'3" according to my reference book, but 7'9" is printed on the car side.)  The plug doors were a mere 68" (5'8") tall. For comparison, here's one of the Intermountain reefers alongside an Atlas PS1 box car:

Continuing along the path of buying cars that ain't quite right for my period, I also bought some ATSF Ft-V flat cars released by BLMA.

These cars are so nice looking that they put all my other flat cars to shame, and I quickly removed most of them (the others) from the layout. My only 'complaint' is that the wheel flanges are so small that just the slightest bump can (and probably will) derail the car.

Unfortunately, the Ft-V class flat cars were converted into pulpwood flat cars during the mid 1950s. 
Memo to self: do research before buying new cars.

Thanks for looking.



  1. It was a great day as usual Ron. Moving the UR92 might make a difference and worth a try anyway.