Archive for the ‘Jobs’ Category

BS&T CN Interchange

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Continuing from where I left off weeks ago on the operations theme…

The CN Interchange runs from Wholeinthall (staging) to Tidewater. The purpose of this train is to move traffic east and west to and from off-layout destinations.

The report from my program calls this a “Mainline Train”. It’s just a generic term used to describe trains that run from staging to a yard.

The report shows that during the last operating session the Interchange train carried four cars from Wholeinthall to Tidewater. Two of them would stay in Tidewater and two would be routed to Bayside on the next Transfer.

Then the train returned to Wholeinthall with four cars. Two came from Tidewater yard and two arrived on the Transfer from Bayside.

Traffic to and from Whoeinthall varies quite a bit from session to session. I’m trying to find ways to increase this traffic to make the train more realistic, but I am limited by physical space in Wholeinthall. My next major project will be to extend the yard there to allow longer trains.

The Interchange waits in Chappellton.

The West Bound CN Interchange from Wholeinthall, sporting two CN Green and Gold locomotives for power, waits on the passenger siding in Chappellton for the East Bound Wayfreight crew to finish getting their train together.

The Interchange doesn’t usually have to wait very long on the east bound run. But, if they are early leaving Tidewater on the westward return run they can run into problems with the Wayfreights.


Wayfreights – The Waiting Game

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Wayfreights are the blood supply system of the Bayside and Tidewater Railway. Wayfreight crews move freight cars around the railroad from one town to another town or yard. Without wayfreights nothing would get picked up or delivered.

Wayfreights on the BS&T start their shift in either Bayside or Tidewater yards at the start of the operating session. Wayfreight crews must build their own trains. They begin by hauling tracks of cars, pulling off the ones they require for their departing train. Once they have all the cars for their train, the crew then sorts them by destination. This makes it much simpler when they get to a town since all the cars for that town are in one block.

Having the wayfreight crews build their trains at the start of the session allows local crews time to get cars pulled that are leaving on the first wayfreight to arrive. For Stevenville and Derwin’s Drop this would be the West Bound Wayfreight out of Bayside and for Chappellton and Kenville it would be the East Bound out of Tidewater.

I’ll use the most recent run of the West Bound Wayfreight from Bayside to Tidewater as an example.

Brian started the session building this train in Bayside Yard. He used the Yard Order sheet to determine which cars to put on his train. Once he had the cars pulled (12 leaving Bayside) and sorted he parked the yard switcher on the service track and pulled the pair of GP-35’s out of the engine house to use as power for the train. He was ready to leave about 30 minutes after the session started. He checked with the Stevenville Local crew to make sure he was clear to leave Bayside and head into Stevenville.

We don’t use radios or a dedicated dispatcher on the BS&T. I act as “roaming dispatcher” and if I’m in the area when permission to proceed is required I’ll give it, otherwise wayfreight crews just talk to the crew in the next town to make sure they can proceed. I try to keep up with what’s happening on the layout and be around when permissions are needed, but it’s hard to be in two places at once.

West Bound Wayfreight Stevenville InstructionsAnyway, the West Bound Wayfreight’s first stop is the industrial district of Stevenville. Usually the wayfreight has to wait at the first stop for the the local crew to pull the required cars. This time Greg was ready well in advance of the wayfreight’s arrival. According to Brian’s train instructions he had 5 cars to drop off for the local crew to deliver to industries and he picked up 2 cars. His train was now 9 cars long.

To work efficiently he should add these cars to the appropriate block on his train so that at each town he only has to drop one block of cars. It may take a little more time to do this, but with careful planing it doesn’t take very long and saves a lot of time later. When he’s ready to go he checks for clearance to Derwin’s Drop and heads out of Stevenville

West Bound Wayfreight Derwin's Drop InstructionsBrian didn’t have any cars to set out in Derwin’s Drop, but he had to pick up 7. Fortunately, they were all heading to Chappellton so it was an easy task to insert them into the Chappellton block on his train. His train was now 16 cars long and definitely needed a braking helper to go down The Ridge.

The next problem was that the East Bound wayfreight from Tidewater was on it’s way up The Ridge. The West Bound couldn’t leave until they met. So the West Bound’s crew, Brian, had to wait.

The Ridge is quite a steep grade (~5%) up from Kenville to Derwin’s Drop. Helpers are usually required on the wayfreights both up and down the grade. The East Bound wsa a very long train that session and the helper, an RS2, that was cut into the middle of the train was working hard, as were the RS18 and GP35 at the head end of the train. Brian backed the West Bound into a siding so the two trains could pass each other in Derwin’s Drop.

The East Bound helper and water car were cut off just before the service track in Derwin’s Drop. They ran in there to get out of the way, temporarily. The East Bound crew backed up to connect with the rest of their train and then pulled ahead out of the way so the helper could get out to connect to the rear of the West Bound as a downgrade helper. With the way ahead clear the West Bound left Derwin’s Drop and headed down to Kenville.

Train meets in Derwin’s Drop are the busiest times on the BS&T. Thankfully I made the aisle in this area bigger than on the rest of the layout since there can be 4 or 5 operators there during a meet. It can also be quite confusing figuring out how to get two long trains past one another on passing sidings that are usually too short.

West Bound Wayfreight Kenville InstructionsThe West Bound pulled past the switch into Kenville so the helper could be cut off. The helper then pulled into the service track. Brian backed his train up the hill, cut off the rear cars after the last car in the Kenville block, and set the brake on the cars on the hill (we use a skewer set into a slot between the rails). Then he backed the Kenville cut (3 cars) into the clear siding and left them there for the local to deliver. He picked up one car heading to Chappellton. Then he reconnected with the cars he left on the grade. His train was now 14 cars long. After he checked with the Chappellton local he headed down the line. There wasn’t much waiting here!

West Bound Wayfreight Chappellton InstructionsDropping off and picking up in Chappellton is usually quite straight forward since there are usually only two blocks of cars left on the train (Chappellton and Tidewater). In this case all the cars that Brian had were to be dropped in Chappellton, so it was extra easy. All 14 cars were dropped, giving Ken a ton of work to do!

Tidewater can be a little busy at this time because the Transfer and CN Interchange trains are usually sorting out who takes which cars. They both take cars from the yard and they swap cars between their trains. As a result the Wayfreight usually has to wait on a siding in Chappellton for a few minutes before it can run into the yard. So, as usual, Brian had to wait again.

Once either the Transfer or CN Interchange are out of Tidewater there is a free siding that the Wayfreight can pull into. The only work Brian had left was to put the cars from his train into storage tracks, put the caboose on the caboose track and run the locos into the service track. About 2 – 2.5 hours have passed since Brian first started bulding his train in Bayside.

Next time – The CN Interchange from Wholinthall.



Local Jobs on the BS&T

Monday, April 7th, 2008

In this post I’ll talk a bit about the work of a local crew on the Bayside and Tidewater. These guys deserve a lot of credit since they get very few breaks during a session. Wayfreight, Transfer, Interchange, and Passenger crews all get opportunities to look around and/or chat while they are waiting for clearance to proceed – usually as a result of a local crew finishing up some work feeding cars to a waiting wayfreight. The local guys don’t have these opportunities.

The local crew’s shift starts when the session starts. They have to pull the outbound cars first so they will be ready for the wayfreights when they arrive. The priority is to pull the cars heading in the direction of the first wayfreight to roar into town. For the Stevenville job this would be the West Bound Wayfreight. So, the Stevenville crew needs to pull all the west bound cars fairly quickly. Westbound from Stevenville is pretty much everything on the layout – Derwin’s Drop, Kenville, Chappellton, and Tidewater Yard. So there are usually a lot of cars to pull.

If they study their orders they will see that some industries have cars heading in both directions during the session. The crew can save some time by pulling all outbound cars at once, but they need to keep them sorted for outbound direction and destination.

All crews are given a switchlist, or a printed list of cars that they are responsible for during the session. Local Crews get a list of Pulls, Deliveries (drop offs), Local Moves, and Do Not Moves. These are printed by a computer program I developed many years ago. Other crews get a variation of these orders depending on the tasks they have to perform.

Pickups and Drop Offs

The lists above show the major work that needed to be done is Stevenville during the last operating session. Each set of orders is numbered so that if there are more than one set printed at a time they can be kept separate from one another. I’ve used the term “Waybill #” but it probably would work better with the term “Session #”.

As you can see on the pickups list, it tells the local crew which cars to pick up, where they are located, and the next destination (town) that they are going to. Cars on the list are sorted by next destination so crews can sort outbound cars easily. It makes it a bit of a challenge when pulling cars because they are not sorted by present location. AS a result, crews have to study the orders carefully to determine the most efficient way to go about their work.

Wayfreights drop off cars in two batches. In Stevenville, the West Bound Wayfreight drops off cars first, about 20 – 30 minutes after the session starts. It only drops off cars from Bayside Yard, so there aren’t many. There were only two dropped off from Bayside Yard during this session.

About 30 – 40 minutes later the East Bound Wayfreight pulls into town with the remainder of the deliveries. The East Bound Wayfreight dropped off 5 cars during the session.

Local Moves and Do Not Moves

Occasionally there are cars that must be moved from one industry to another in the same switching area. The Local Moves list handles that. There are rarely more than 2 or 3 of these moves per session.

The Do not Moves list just shows what should be left at each industry after all the pulls are made and before the deliveries are done. Once in a while operators pull a cut of cars from an industry and get them mixed up with a cut from another industry. The Do Not Move list helps figure out where mis-pulled cars should be.

Because the program generates car movements randomly, each session is slightly different. I believe that during the next session Stevenville will send out about 12 cars and receive almost 15.