Saturday, September 23, 2006

New Season of Train Operations

Hello all. As always, our Friday Night Group commences its new season of train operations with a visit to my Boston and Maine Railroad. It's always good to get back and see all the "boys" and share our summer stories and modelling projects.

Here I am in the red T-shirt I am wearing to support our Canadian troops overseas. That's my friend, Don, beside me and we're standing at the duckunder entrance to the train room.

Initially the staging tracks at the duckunder were just that...staging. Then a lightbulb came on in my head...why not make them an active yard where one more crew can make up trains?

And, that's what I did. So, Don's task was to make up the consist for train MP3 in the yard located at the main entrance to the train room.

For the job, he used a local B&M switcher assigned to this area known as Lowell Jct. Once the train was assembled, as hostler, he set out the mainline power for the train, an AB pairing of FT's.

While Don was busy at Lowell Jct. two other crews were occupied in the train room, one crew assigned to the North Dover switcher and another assigned to the "Mill Run" from Conley Lumber & Coal into North Dover.

Yes, I can easily keep three train crews occupied simultaneously on my 11x13 layout! Typically two crews of two are busy at any given time though.

That's Stan (supporting the troops as well) and Jim. They are on their way from Conley with an empty hopper car to be exchanged in North Dover for one fully loaded.

I see that they have returned to Conley with a new and loaded hopper car. An idler car is required to work Conley Lumber & Coal as sparks from the diesel locomotive could easily set the wooden industry ablaze in no time at all.

The Conley crew must seek clearance from the dispatcher before they head out onto the mainline in order to conduct their switcher here at the mill.

It's later in the evening and I see that Don has taken another job this time as one of the crewmen aboard S2 #1170 which works the town of North Dover.

With him is regular operator John Mitchell and judging by the smiles on their faces, they are having a fabulous time. Who wouldn't when you're running trains!

Before they spot any traffic to North Dover's industries, their first order of instructions is to lift a milk car from Marshall Creamery. The milk track is an extension of the team track and we spot the crew crossing Station Road.

The North Dover crew is always vigilant when heading down the team and milk track as the rails traverse the paved station parking lot before they enter the road crossing.

We spot the corner of an 18-wheeler in the photograph as it turns into the station lot.

Don and John flow forward at a snail's pace to make the coupling at Marshall Creamery. There is a slow order restriction on the trestle which bridges the loading area of the creamery to the team track.

That's a Hoods car with an interesting picture of a cow on the side. Milk cars had to get to market quickly and many of the milk producers took pride in the appearance of their rolling stock.

For those interested in milk cars, Intermountain, Walthers and Roundhouse have come out with wonderful offerings for the modeller. The car in this picture is a Roundhouse product.

While Don and John are in the process of setting out the milk car, Chris is at Lowell Jct. where he is making up the consist for train #11 "The East Wind" which will have some milk traffic on the headend this day.

Again, this photograph is taken at the duckunder entrance to the layout room. If you look carefully, you will see the valence that protects the viewer from the lighting when they are standing inside the room. I utilize a combination of flourescent and incandescent lighting to get optimum results in the train room.

Chris's smile tells me that his train is made up and ready to go. He'll come into North Dover and the the boys in town aboard the 1170 will give him an assist with the milk traffic. Chris, of course, will conduct a station stop for the passengers before the milk cars are handled.

Here we see "The East Wind" slowing down as it makes its station stop. The buildings of North Dover loom in the background and the reflection off the Salmon River add a touch of interest to the scene. I wonder how the fishing is this day as all I see are a few seagulls at the water's edge!

I could show many more images from our first train operating session, but I would be here all night. Instead, I'll leave you with a photograph of my summer modelling project...the Alder Model station kit made out of resin. Chris had asked me to build and paint it for him, and it was a pleasure to do so for a dear friend. The station will reside on his model railroad, but I couldn't resist creating a diorama for it first. I didn't have to worry about the track because the diorama will settle just as it is on his layout in front of his existing track.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures and stories from my first operating session of the new season in the Friday Night Group!

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Cheers, Mike