Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Train Day for the Ages!

Happy Thanksgiving All,

Every now and then the stars line up and all is right in our model train worlds. I'm happy to report that this happened to me last weekend. This entry is a bit longer than normal and I wanted to make into two parts but to fully enjoy the scope of the Train Day for the Ages and do it justice this is the best way for me to present it.

Last weekend I attended the Greenberg Train Show at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta with my friend Engineer Ed. This year's show was a rousing success for us both and we both left with our arms laden with bags of trains and train related items that we absolutely positively could not live without. As with all train shows there were some good deals and there were some items with price tags so high that I must gave missed out on something.

After the show and a bite to eat Engineer Ed and I enjoyed a nice operating session on the N.Y.C.T.L. We ran several trains, made up some outbound freights and spotted and pulled cars from numerous industries. Derailments were few and there were no injuries to railroad personnel or civilians.

Here are some pictures of the latest must haves that I now have  

The train show haul

The best purchase for me was this Penn Central set of DVDs. Four DVDs, all six volumes and a bonus hour of PRR action. The timetable to the left was given to me for free by a vendor. Note it is the Penn Central New Haven Region dated February 2, 1969.  

A Bachmann Penn Central 89' Tri Level Auto Rack in very good condition
 but missing one of the fifteen cars.

An Athearn BB NYC bay window caboose with no numbers. I have several of these in my fleet so a I would be looking to renumber it anyway. I don't think the NYC actually had this style of bay window caboose but it good enough for the N.Y.C.T.L. 

An Athearn 50' Express reefer with knuckle couplers and metal wheels. The reporting marks are CMSTP&P, Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul and Pacific, the proper name for the Milwaukee Road known under reporting marks MILW. I don't know if this is a ready to run car or custom built and painted. The coupler box lids were the traditional BB metal but theses were also held on with screws. A red Kadee fiber washer to eliminate coupler sag and some Testors dullcote were all that was needed to get this car in service 

Two Roundhouse 40' New Haven boxcars with different numbers.

Three Bachmann 50' boxcars for future projects.

Kadee #37s, underset medium shank. These work great on a lot of the BB cars. Instead of adding a bunch of washers to the bolsters to raise the car height so the couplers meet the Kadee height gauge I use these. The #27 works just as well but costs a little more. 

Ol Reliable Kadee#5

Post op session photos

Prior to the session I downloaded and printed some switch lists. Using clipboards and pencils I filled these out prior to the session hoping to make the session go smoother and feel more realistic. This would be the first time using this type of forms.  

A close up shows the form was for the Lehigh Valley Railroad. I fit two such forms on a single piece of paper and just folded the paper over. I wrote in the cars at industries we would be switching in order of the anticipated switch moves. Pick ups were listed at the top, drop offs were listed on the bottom. A car type legend is also on the bottom of the form.

To make up some outbound trains in Terminal Yard / Staging I put together train cards for each train. Cars were blocked for their respective destinations. In doing this I just took numbers from cars already in the yard and decided where they needed to go. Blocking assignments were figured out and writing it all down definitely helped me put these trains together    

The North Side at the conclusion of the session. An inbound freight has arrived and the road power, the ALCO FAs have been cut off and placed on track 1 for fueling. The yard power and local engines were the GP30s

Engineer Ed did a fine job keeping the yard fluid all afternoon. Freight cars are blocked for local industries and points beyond the layout. This is how we basically started the session. E.E. broke up the inbound into two trains, one for the local industries paying close attention to the freight car blocking and one to to go outbound. Once he pulled and spotted cars at the local industries the pulled cars were placed into the outbound train.    

On the East side of town Gervais Pipe and Fitting got four flat cars of pipe and Cargill received two covered hoppers.

United Technology received four 40' boxcars.

Over on the West Side Superior Furniture received two 40' boxcars. 
(I really need to get an interior in this building!)

Reliable Machine works received one 40' boxcar

Over on the shelf side we switched out Wonder Bread. 
The B&O boxcar was a hold so it had to be pulled and replaced.

Four 50' boxcars to University Lumber and Millwork to the left 
and two 50' boxcars to Berk Enterprises on the right.

Heileman Brewery received the NH car on the left at door#1 and the NYC car at door #2. The NYC cars at doors 3 and 4 were holds that needed to be pulled and re spotted. All these cars were from Train #1 that I made up with the blocked cars in Terminal Yard. The outbound cars were taken on a scenic ride back to Terminal Yard / Staging.
There's that cat in the car again! I move it around on the layout and it always seem to pop up when I report getting prototypical and serious. 

Terminal Yard / Staging has inbound trains on the right, various freight cars in the middle and two passenger trains on the left. This was at the end of the session. Yard power is the ALCO RS1 in the middle.

GP20s on the point of an arriving train.

An A-B-A- NYC F7 lash up brought in the train from North Side yard. The turnouts on the right connecting tracks 1 and 2 are for locomotive escape. This train was so long that the yard power will have to pull the caboose and a car from the rear so the road power can escape without fouling the yard lead. The tracks beyond the turnout on track 2 is where I keep the cabooses. Building out bounds on track 2 lets me couple up the train with a caboose ready at the rear. Not prototypical but it works well on the N.Y.C.T.L.

Yard Power sits on track six. The cleaning car and caboose were used as handles and for the ground crew. Cleaning the track while switching the cars worked well.   

After Action Report
#1. The time spent on preparing the switch lists and train cards turned out to be time well spent. I really liked the way they worked out and would definitely use them again. Car cards and waybills may be in the future as well.

#2 The operating sequence seemed to work well. For additional switching action at North Side Yard I might incorporate a "blocking sequence" into that outbound train as described in op session photo#5. This would add some more time and action for the N.S.Y. switch crew but that may be an enjoyable thing. We'll give it a try next time.

#3 A DC Controller gave us some problems during the course of the day. That will be replaced before op session #3.

#4 Andy Sperandeo was right when he said that yards work best at about half of their capacity. North Side Yard and Terminal Yard performed well following this advice.

#5 Making up trains in Terminal Yard / Staging was a lot of fun. The blocking of cars destined for the local industries and for points beyond gave the train a nice prototype feel. The "points beyond" worked well. When the outbound cars were added this made for a substantial 20 plus car train.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post through to the end. I know it was a lot of material to sift through but it was that kind of day. Special thanks to Engineer Ed for his fine work and companionship.

Happy Thanksgiving All    


  1. You're lucky to have friends who enjoy switching. I tried this some years ago, but nobody I knew had the patience and concentration to stick with it very long at all. So I do it solo - oddly, in a big metro area, it's been hard to find kindred spirits for any of my model or prototype interests.

    1. Hi John, If it wasn't for Engineer Ed I'd be a true lone wolf except for the people I communicate with like yourself through this blog and the internet. I've met some modelers from the area but nobody I really wanted to run trains with or invite into my home. E.E. is at the top and bottom of the N.Y.C.T.L. seniority list.

  2. Just guys who tell me I'm doing it all wrong!

    1. Plenty of those guys to be found here as well!

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  4. Nice update of the NYCTL. I see many cars were switched and revenue was generated to line the pockets of the people who sit atop the NYCTL empire. Sir 1/87th Neal would like to meet with management from the University Lumber & Millwork to see how Neal's Lumber & Hardware can benefit from the supplies they have. I expect NYCTL to arrange this in a timely and professional manner and report back to all parties.

    1. Thank you Neal, At your request and not thinking of this myself until just now when you pointed out the possibilities I'm pleased to announce that Neal's Lumber and Hardware's fine line of moldings, railings and other decorative wood products are produced by University Lumber and Millwork. They are wholesale only so they are not an N.L.H. competitor. A double door 40' boxcar like the newly painted Accurail Orange AP car, will be used for this new rail movement. Good job on this Sir Neal!

  5. Terrific haul from the train show! I always enjoy hearing about operations on people's layouts. Your prep work with the switch lists made it easy and fun. The N.Y.C.T.L certainly provides a lot of opportunities for running trains and serving industries! The cat in the car made me smile. It is good to not get too serious about operations and prototype practices lest we suck the fun out of it!

    1. Thanks Ralph! The N.Y.C.T.L. Purchasing Department certainly earned their title on Saturday! They purchased and purchased well. Truth be told the preparations with the switch lists and train cards was fun by itself. I plan to explore this further. Glad the cat in the car brought out a smile. It's job is to keep everything on the N.Y.C.T.L. in the proper perspective which it does with it's photo bombing.

  6. Hey John Bruce, Why not try to entice some guys to do switching without the paperwork? I operate on 2 other layouts on a regular basis as well as my layout. My layout and one other do not use any type of paperwork. You get an introduction from the host, pick a train to run or assigned one, and then go and switch out the industry. The third layout has sheets of paper at each location and you switch out what's on the list. His trains are set up so depending on the train you're assigned, you know what the job entails. Good luck! Neal