Saturday, March 16, 2019

Papermill: Conveyor Transition Housing Supports

After measuring the conveyor supports yesterday, it's time to build the supports for the conveyor transition housing. I started with four H-beams from my styrene stash.

I slightly angled the H-beams outside to match the angle of the conveyor supports. I'm hoping to get the same clearance for trains passing underneath on the continuous running track, without building an awkwardly complicated structure behind the recycled paper warehouse. I was a bit concerned when I started. The beams looked rather odd.

However, the structure started to look reasonable (especially for a background structure) as I added more cross beams and straightened out the arrangement. I might have angled the vertical beams a little bit too much, but that's ok, they are barely visible behind the warehouse anyways, so I'm not going to worry about it.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Papermill: Conveyor Supports

Tonight I test fit the supports for the conveyor to the digester. While I rebuilt the conveyor transition housing in styrene, it still sits on it's paper support. I need to plan for clearances and figure out how to arrange the conveyor supports. The photo below shows the general look and feel I'm after.

Test fit the support towers with an auto rack car ...

...  and a double stack container car. This should work


Daylight Savings Time - check.
Blue skies - check.
California Poppies - check.
Trees in bloom - check.
Walking the dog in T-shirt - check.

Looks like we started our one week of spring. In no time it will be summer and hot.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Yesterday's Hail today

When I got to the bus stop today, there was this white stuff on the ground, and quite a bit off it. However, it was very concentrated in an area maybe 100 meters across. Remnants from yesterday's hail storm.

On the few occasions when we had hail so far, the crystals melted fairly quickly. Not this time. The ice crystal structure from the 6pm storm hail shower yesterday is still visible this morning, even though some hail melted and froze again over night.

Sunday, March 10, 2019


Almost time to head home... 

We left SAN 2 hours after I took above picture, due to a flight attendant falling ill and Southwest struggling to get a replacement flight attendant for us. Better two hours late than a canceled flight, but that still meant we got home only by midnight. Phew.

TT&TO at La Mesa: Extra 215

Extra 215 was the last train I was called for this weekend. Looks easy enough: I'll pick up my train with a set of ATSF F units in Boron staging, and run downhill to Bakersfield. Since I knew I'd be navigating around some scheduled trains I figured this would get me into Bakersfield by about 5:30 - 6:00pm, which should leave plenty of time to for my return flight home at the end of the weekend.

La Mesa doesn't use a fast clock. All times on paperwork and schedule are actual current time, we just need to keep track on whether it's AM or PM. The crew for this train was nominally called for 3:30 in the morning, but I got to my train at Boron staging a bit early, picked up the switch list from the East End staging operator, and pulled out of staging into Mojave Yard.

While the station agent called dispatch to get my paperwork, I checked the timetable to prepare for the trip. Since I'm going west, I'm looking in the eastward schedule for opposing trains. I need to pay attention for two things: Trains that supposedly should have arrived within the last 12 hours, as well as trains that I will likely meet somewhere on the way to Bakersfield.
It's 3:20am, first class trains arriving in Mojave recently are 56 at 11:08pm, 4 at 7:18pm, and 52 at 3:58pm. Also third class trains 808 (9:25pm) and 806 (3:43pm) should be here.

I need to look out for first class trains 60, due in Mojave at 4:19am, and 58, due at 5:58am. Also, I will meet third class train 802 along the way, hopefully on the double-track segment between Mojave and Tehachapi. If I can get out of Mojave soon and everything goes smoothly, I can get as far as Marcel for the meet with train 60. Otherwise, I will need to hold in Tehachapi

For westward trains, I need to make sure that any higher priority trains that are due to leave by now have actually left. Also, I need to keep track of any higher priority trains traveling in the same direction as me, so that I get out of their way in time. Based on the schedule, I need to make sure that first class trains 59 (11:20pm), 57 (9:24pm), and 7 (6:10pm) have left, as well as second class train 447 (1:32am). Train 55 will be about half an hour behind me.

I'm still waiting for my clearance so I check the train register book at the west end of Mojave station to confirm my expectations and copy the information to my check sheet.
56, 4, and 52 have indeed arrived. Train 806 arrived with NO signals at 10:48pm, hence that train is complete. The first section of train 808 arrived with green signals at 3:06am. Uh oh ... 808 is not complete yet and the first section got here 6 hours late.

For westbound traffic things look more rosy. First class trains 7, 57, and 59 left Mojave about on time. 447 ran as a single section roughly on time as well.

I have to look out for remaining sections of 808, as well as all sections of 802. Plus, watch out for trains 58 and 60.

It's 3:40am, I get my clearance and orders from the Mojave station agent, who was apparently a bit tired.

The order gives me authority to occupy the main line ("run extra"), and on the single track section between Tehachapi and Bena my train has right over the second section of train 802.

With the train register check done, I know I can now leave. I record my departure in the train register and enter the double track main line railroad-west of Mojave. On the way to Tehachapi, I meet the second section of train 808 with no signals, hence train 808 is complete, and I don't need to worry about it any more. But where is First 802?

On arrival in Tehachapi shortly after 4am, I pull past the station into the siding. On the second siding a set of ATSF helpers is waiting for clearance to run downhill as well. The timetable indicates that train 60 is due to arrive at 4:05am in Tehachapi, which means I'm stuck here at least until that train arrives.

The track to Tehachapi is not accessible to visitors of the museum and the area is quite utilitarian. Mojave is the yard visible on the lower level, Tehachapi is on the upper level, while the connecting double-track line runs along the wall on the left and doubles back on itself. Staging is on the lower level off to the right from where I stand.

The Tehachapi station agent indicates he has more orders for me, and eventually I get this clearance and orders.

The first order tells me that the first section of train 802 is running 90 minutes late.

The second order tells me that First 802 is an additional 60 minutes late. So, instead of 3:18am at Tehachapi as indicated on the timetable, I should expect First 802 no earlier than 5:48am.

That's fine. Let's wait for train 60, which was supposed to be here at 4:05am and is already overdue. However, even if they showed up now, I have another problem: Train 55 is due in Tehachapi at 4:24am, it's now 4:25. Since 55 is a westward train it has priority over train 60, so that train is now likely in a siding somewhere waiting for 55, too.

While I'm still contemplating all of this, a Southern Pacific freight train pulls up at the end of the double track section and stops at the Tehachapi station. That train blocks the westward main line, so now 55 can't get by either when it will get to Tehachapi. We're dead-locked.
to be continued ...

Good Morning, San Diego

Saturday, March 09, 2019

La Mesa: Some Photos

ATSF 226C leads an extra downhill shortly before Caliente
SP 4401 on the bridge near Rowan
Beet train in the hole at Caliente
No orders in Woodford 
Approaching the loop at Walong
Quiet at Walong 
87 car reefer train the loop

Having Fun at La Mesa Tehachapi layout

It's Timetable and Train Order (TT&TO) Operations Weekend at the La Mesa Tehachapi club layout in San Diego. Two 12 hour days of operating trains on this amazing layout located in the Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park. Yes, I'm having fun.

Friday, March 08, 2019


The inbound flight got to SJC 30 minutes late and we left 30 minutes late. No big deal. I'm not in a hurry. Nice skies on departure.

Last rays of sunshine before sunset.

Something is missing ...

... again.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Untergroeningen: Testing track layout

Untergroeningen will be the first larger segment I'm building. This will eventually be the terminus of the Obere Kochertalbahn branch line. The turnouts are Peco SL91 and SL92.

It combines several features and industries found on the branch into one station, since I don't have the space to model much of the branch.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Monday, February 25, 2019

Butterfly Season?

The Monarch Butterfly population today is much smaller than 20 years ago. So it makes me happy when I see one, even though this guy looks a bit tired.
The sun was hiding behind clouds, and it was quite cool this morning. I hope he found a comfortable place to rest before embarking on his migration north.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Papermill: Conveyor Transition Housing

Back in October last year, I built a temporary base from paper for transitioning the large digester conveyor belt into the backdrop. The idea is to let the conveyor end in some kind of housing made from corrugated metal, similar to the conveyor cover. Since the paper mockup worked well, I transferred the wall shapes and sizes to Evergreen Styrene sheet and built the housing. I used Evergreen 4526 "Metal Siding" in 0.040 thickness, which is thicker than I'd like, but given that this is a background building, I'm not loosing any sleep over it.

In the rear of the housing is a stub conveyor piece that "extends into" the backdrop. This is barely visible from the aisle, so I was mostly after suggesting there's something there.

Test-fitting the conveyor with the new housing.

Primed. Ready for paint and weathering.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Roller Stand Case

I have a roller stand from KPF Zeller that I really like. It's simple, functional, and reasonably cheap. However, it doesn't come with a case. So I built one tonight from 5mm MDF.

It was important to me that the case fully surrounds the roller stand, is sturdy yet easy to open, and provides easy access to the wheels of a locomotive under test. My solution is to have a hinged lid that includes one of the side walls.

I primed the MDF and then drilled holes for 4mm banana plug sockets on one end and

I have the long version of the roller stand, and a couple extra rollers. This is long enough so that I can test an EMU or DMU without having to separate the units, and I have enough rollers to support Maerklin's BR53. To limit vibrations I glued pieces of foam rubber into the case and then glued the roller stand to the rubber.

I still need to get appropriate hinges and some kind of clasp for the lid.