Friday, November 30, 2018

OPERATING SESSION PLANNING - LINE-UPS

As I prepared for the next operating session, I found myself further developing my planning system.  A couple of years ago, I developed a master line-up of train symbols for my mid-1980s operations.  The twenty-four hour line-ups for east and west traffic provided a framework for planning individual operating sessions.  The master line-up was based on both John Carr's website listing of Southern Pacific train symbol history (http://www.carrtracks.com/Southern-Pacific.htm) and on recollections of my former SP Dispatcher friend and mentor.  While I have tried to follow this master listing closely, I always find reasons to diverge.

RR-West Master Line-Up

Time at EUG
Symbol
BR  Time
Notes
1201 a
01-BRLAT
600 p
Former TOFC Special
OAKRG Turn
On duty 1230 am at Oakridge for return to Eugene
100 a
01-BROAT
100 a
Carr lists Portland call as 1 am
200 a
01-CZLAT
1159 p
Carr notes TOFC plus other traffic
230 a
01-EUMFY
Via RSV and WC some TOFC
300a
EUG City SW
City Switcher goes on duty
330 a
01-EULAY
Former EUHOY
400 a
SPRG-A
First Springfield Turn
530 a
01-EUOAY
645 a
01-EUWCY
730 a
01-EURVY
Carr lists an EURVW at 400 am
930 a
01-EUKFY
Could be anytime plus or minus
AMTK No. 14
1028 am Departure for Portland
1130 a
02-EURVY
Carr has one at 1 pm  --delete????
200 p
OAKRG Turn
Eastbound to Oakridge
300 p
03-EURVY
400 p
01-EUNPY
Ogden to UP
430 p
MARC Turn
Marcola Turn
500 p
02-EULAY
530 p
SPRG-B
Second Springfield Turn
615 p
AMTK No. 11
642 pm departure at Eugene Depot
730 p
02-EUOAY
900 p
01-EUCIY
City of Industry  (EULAY)
1005 p
01-EUESF
Via Roseville and Ogden
1100 p
01-EUWCY
1130 p
01-BRRVY
600 p
Another Roseville train-


RR-East Master Line-Up

Time at CJ
SYMBOL
Notes
1215 a
01-WCEUE
1230 a
OAKRG Turn
On Duty at Oakridge for return to EUG
100 a
04-RVEUY
200 a
01-OAEUY
300 a
01-LABRT
500 a
02-OGEUY
630 a
05-RVEUY
815 a
AMTK No 14
1028 am at Eugene
900 a
02-LAEUY
1100 a
02-OAEUY
1215 p
01-OABRT
100 p
01-RVEUY
230 p
01-KFEUY
410 p
01-WCEUY
600 p
01-LABRF
700 p
02-RVEUY
800 p
930 p
01-RVEUE
1030 p
03-LAEUY
1130 p
01-OGEUY


A key point for me to remember when using my master line-up is that it is just a guide.  Times on duty and trains run on any given day did vary. The latter point -- the trains run often needs to be edited to fit the actual conditions experienced on my miniature railroad and the crew-size  available for any given session.  One key adjustment has been spreading the three Springfield-area locals throughout the twenty-four hour day.  Best practice has only one of these in Springfield at any given time, which frees up a siding for use by the Dispatcher.  

Another adjustment to the master line-up has been planning for the expected crew-size for the next operating session.  For smaller crews, I might run only one local freight.  For large crews, I might run two or even three locals.  Part of this also depends on the amount of local traffic accumulated and classified at Eugene in the classification yard.  I had several low-count crews over the summer, ran only one local, and then found I desperately needed to call the Eugene City Switcher, as it had not run for some time and the yard was becoming choked on cars served by that job.

Over the past year, I have taken to plotting out the crew use as a means of adjusting train call times and ensuring sufficient crews for the trains on the line-up.  We have found most RR-East trains take three fast-hours, while RR-West trains take four fast-hours due to adding helpers at Oakridge and taking them off at Cascade Summit.  Allowing 1.5 fast hours for a light helper to return to Oakridge has proven a useful planning factor as well.  Using these planning factors, I have fallen into a pattern of using five road crews and two helper crews for most operating sessions.  As noted, the expected crew-size impacts the number of locals run.  There also is one point in the master line-up--in the early morning hours--when the RR-West fleet of three priority trains run in fairly quick succession requiring a third helper set.  We have managed so far with me occasionally needing to take up a throttle to run that third helper.  That is a rare event for the layout owner, who usually is called away to trouble shoot some issue.

Planning for the next session prompted me to articulate a new planning factor.  This session will begin at noon on the twenty-four hour line-up. As such, the OABRT (Oakland to Brooklyn--Portland Trailers) "should" run right away.  This ran into conflict with my desire to get a late returning Oakridge Turn out onto the line plus handling other trains that included cars destined for on-line industry on the modeled railroad.  As I worked to resolve this issue, I finally recognized that my planning for an operating session needed to use an inverted priority scheme.

Ordinarily, railroad management prioritizes train movement based on the value of the freight rates earned for different types of traffic, regulation and law (Amtrak legally must be given precedence), and a general desire to keep the long-distance traffic moving expeditiously.  This results in Amtrak getting top priority (1), trailer traffic getting the top freight priority (2), ordinary long-distance freight traffic getting a modest priority (3), and local freights and some long-distance freights getting low priority (4).  

Model railroad operations are different, though.  Many model railroad operators enjoy very much local switching.  The "fun" factor of such work overrides the "management" set of priorities.  Further, some local switching needs unobstructed blocks of time on the mainline to complete the work.  A prime example of this on my railroad is the returning Oakridge Turn, which switches the sawmill complex at Westfir on its way back to Eugene.  

Recognizing the importance of the local freights and their needs (mainline track and time and a steady supply of cars to be switched) I recognized I needed to begin session planning with an inverted priority set--the reverse of that used by management for governing Dispatcher decisions.  

As I planned the next operating session, I began with the returning move of the Oakridge Turn. This led to loading RR-West moves with a pair of trains "in-process" at Oakridge and Cruzatte and just a single RR-East train, perhaps delayed, originating at Crescent Lake at session start.  I started creating a mainline occupancy block for the Oakridge Turn by calling the next RR-East train out at 2pm. Originally, this was going to be the OABRT.

My initial placement of the OABRT with a call at 2pm at Crescent Lake created problems, however, as I had two RR-East trains at Crescent Lake left over from the previous operating session.  Both contained traffic that needed to get to Eugene to begin classification toward forming locals for the next day.  I planned one to start at session start-up, but the other one would be delayed by both the "operating hole" for the Oakridge Turn at Westfir and then by the OABRT.  The solution became that of slipping the OABRT to a later slot in the afternoon. The needs of the local traffic took precedence over "ordinary" management priorities--indeed, just the inverse priorities.

Using these planning factors and the crew use train graph, I was able to put together the line-ups for my next operating session.




Crew Use Graph for December 1, 2018 operating session.

Time at EUG
Symbol
Track
Lead Loco
Notes
1201 p
01-EUOGY
CRZT-SDG
SP 8283
1201 p
01-EURVY
OKRG-2
SP 7474
1201 p
SPRG-B
CY-1
SP 6673
130 p
02-EURVY
AD-9
SP 8251
330 p
02-EULAY
AD-7
SSW 9057
515 p
01-EUNPY
AD-10
615 p
AMTK No. 11
AD-1
AMTK 375
642 pm dep. Eugene Depot
700 p
OKRG TURN-W
830 p
02-EUOAY
AD-11
900 p
MARC TURN
945 p
01-EUCIY
(AD-7)
City of Industry  (EULAY)
1100 p
03-EURVY
(AD-9)


RR-West Line-Up for December 1, 2018 operating session.

Time at CJ
SYMBOL
Track
Lead Loco
Notes
1201 p
LT HELPER 
Beattie Spur
SP 5314
1201 p
OKRG TRN-E
OKRG-4
SP 5348
1210 p
02-LAEUY
CJ 11
SSW 9264
200 p
02-OAEUY
CJ 10
SP 9363
300 p
01-OABRT
CJ 9
SP 9325
430 p
01-RVEUY
CJ 8
SP 8572
600 p
01-LABRF
CJ 7
SP 9180
730 p
01-KFEUY
CJ 3
SP 7480
1000 p
01-WCEUY
CJ 6
SP 9236
1130 p
01-RVEUY
CJ 5
SP 9232


RR-East Line-Up for December 1, 2018 operating session.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

SPH&TS CONVENTION IN MONTEREY--2018

An important part of my efforts to preserve the heritage of the Southern Pacific Railroad is participation in the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society (SPH&TS).  I regularly attend the SPH&TS Annual Conventions.  This year that event was held in Monterey, CA. South of the San Francisco Bay Area, I have family and personal connections to Monterey, making this year's event a priority.  

Convention organizers put together a great slate of presentations on the railroad history and operation on to the Monterey peninsula.  Those operations also included the development of a resort hotel, the Del Monte, which became a destination for the rich and famous.  The rise and fall of rail service to the peninsula was described in detail.  Important to this service was the Del Monte passenger train, the longest-serving named train on the SP.  It provided comfortable travel to the resort long before the automobile and served right up to the beginning of Amtrak.  


SPH&TS Convention attendees await the next presentation.

A special extra fare event was organized for Sunday, following the convention with a brunch and guided tour of the Del Monte Hotel.  The Del Monte Hotel was taken over by the US Navy in 1943 for wartime pilot training.  After the war, the Navy held on to it, eventually purchasing it outright in 1947 to serve as the site for the US Navy PostGraduate School (USNPG). The "PG School" has a good reputation inside and outside the military, conferring both Masters and Doctoral degrees.  I had professional dealings with the school during my NASA career.

Our guide for the tour was John Sanders, retired Public Affairs Officer for the USNPG School.  He gathered and organized the history of the Del Monte property during his paid career and continues to expound upon it in retirement.  The Navy has done a great job preserving the history of the property and continues to use the central hotel buildings as guest quarters for visiting military.


Main entry to the historic Del Monte Hotel.  Currently named Hermann Hall.  The main entry was built in 1926 in Spanish Revival style after a fire destroyed its predecessor.  Hotel wings on the sides (the east wing is visible on the right) remained from its 1887 predecessor, saved by explosive demolition of connecting arcades while the main building burnt.  

As noted with the entry photo, the Del Monte Hotel suffered a couple of major fires, reemerging each time.  After the second major fire, the remaining Swiss-Gothic hotel wings were covered in stucco to better match the new central structure built in Spanish Revival style which was quite popular in the 1920s.  

The Del Monte served as a major destination for the rich and famous. Heads of State, including US Presidents up through Teddy Roosevelt stayed there.  What began as "Crocker's Folly," rapidly became THE destination on the California Coast.  The hotel had been a project for CP-SP co-founder Charlie Crocker.  It was owned by the Pacific Improvement Company, a creation of "The Big Four."  Even in its post-1926 form, preserved by the US Navy, the hotel provides a window into the Gilded Age.


Main Lobby of the Del Monte Hotel.


The Arizona Garden--established and renewed after the 1887 fire by Charlie Crocker. Garden materials were gathered from the Sonoran Desert and brought to the Del Monte to form this exotic garden on the California Coast.  


Sunday Brunch for our tour group in the La Novia room, just of the main ballroom at the Del Monte.


La Novia room back-bar.  The cabinetry is set into a load-bearing wall.  This is just one example of the many pieces of fine art decorating the hotel.

The Del Monte tour was a fitting capstone to a great convention. It provided a window into the past, when train travel often ended at exotic destinations.  

Sunday, October 28, 2018

INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT - 2 --BORDEN CHEMICAL

After a year of bridge, trestle, tunnel, and terrain work, I find myself shifting gears to other projects.  Specifically, I have resumed fleshing out the industry served by the railroad.  My recent work on the banks of the Willamette River between Eugene and Springfield inspired me to launch into a major industry along the Willamette at Springfield--Borden Chemical.  Yes, this is the same Borden known to generations of children and adults as makers of white glue.  Borden has been involved in many types of glues and adhesives, including plywood glue. That brings us to the Borden plant in Springfield.

Borden established their Springfield facility in 1960.  Though spun off to Momentive today, in the fashion of railroaders everywhere, the historic name sticks.  I took a number of photos of the facility in 2013--all from public sidewalks.  Still, my photos served as a useful modeling guide.


Momentive chemical plant in Springfield.  The Cascade Line mainline is on the right, with the Willamette River bridge showing in the distance.  Note the cooling tower with two fan housings near the photo center.  Also note the tan steel structure next to the cooling towers. Many of the plant structures follow this scheme.


Chemical plant detail--lots of refining towers, pipes, and even a rail tank car.

Paging through the Walthers catalog for suitable industrial structures, I came upon the corn ethanol plant series issued by Walthers in their Cornerstone series.  Both plants process plant materials to extract useful chemicals. Though the scale of some of the tanks is off and the implied chemistry modeled is certainly lacking in detail, these kits provided a good base for representing the Momentive facility, at least as it can be seen today.  Absent more specific knowledge of both the plant and its historic appearance, I chose to use today's appearance as my guide.

Walthers kits used for this project included:
933-2976, Processing Center
933-2977, Fermentation Tanks
933-2978, Energy Center
933-2979, Cooling Tower Facility
933-4037, Four Modern Loading Racks

Although the Walthers ethanol series was produced only once and is now absent from the catalog, one can find many of these kits on the secondary market yet. I missed obtaining a detail kit for some of the tanks, but will find other ways to add those details later. For now, what I have is sufficient to convey a sense of a large wood chemical plant.  To these Walthers kits, I added two of the Vollmer oil refinery kits (770-5525).  These added the refining towers and more modest-sized tanks to my facility.

The cooling towers were a relatively late addition to my facility. Looking at photos, such as the one at the top of this article, I realized I should try to add this function. Fortunately, I was able to acquire one of the Walthers cooling tower kits which matches fairly well to the prototype facility.  I needed to cut the kit down from four fan housings to two, per the prototype.  I did this by cutting both ends off the long walls and cutting an appropriate length roof with fan housings to match. This was necessary because of a center bracing structure for the bottom inlets on the kit walls.  This needed to be in the center of my structure. Similarly, I needed to slice the ends off the kit base to retain the center section.


Prototype cooling tower with two fan housings.  Although this structure has aluminum-colored walls, I chose to retain the "company look" with tan walls for my model.


Cutting the cooling tower base to fit the shortened (two fan) structure.


Model cooling tower.  This part of the model facility is furthest from the river and closest to the rest of the Springfield scene, somewhat like the prototype placement.


Borden Chemical in place at Springfield on my HO-scale SP Cascade Line.

I still need to add more piping connecting the many pieces of this facility.  Still, the vast bulk of the Borden Chemical (Momentive) facility has been built and occupies an important space and function on my railroad.