Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Online Industries and Through Consists

I have most of the issues of Along the Line from 1945 through 1948. A number of these issues have articles on industries on the New Haven Railroad. This is a great source of information about industries, and can eventually help me flesh out waybills for through freights.

Some examples:
The December 1945 issue is largely focused on discussing industry on the railroad, and attracting more, including an article for the newly formed Department of Industrial Development. A particularly useful article shows several new ads highlighting some of the companies on the New Haven Railroad:

Eastern Massachusetts

American Tread Company
Bethlehem Steel
Good Year
Ivory Soap
Pepperell Fabrics
Reed & Barton

Eastern CT

Armstrong Tires
Arrow Shirts
Bigelow Weavers
International Sterling
Packer's Tar Soap
Silent Glow Oil Burners
Rhode Island
American Wringers
Beaded Tip Shoe Laces
CB Cottrell
Crown Zippers
Esmond Blankets
General Cable
Good Year
Gorham Sterling
Grinnell & Co
J&P Coats Threads
Kennescot Wire & Cable Co
Nicholson USA
Washburn Wire

Western MA

American Optical
American Woolen Co
Arrow Shirts
Columbia Bicycles
Eagle A Papers
HB Smith Cast Iron Boilers
Johnson Wire
Pro-phy-lac-tic Brushes
Simonds Saws
Whitney Carraiges

Western CT

Bigelow Boilers
Bridgeport Brand
Chase Brass & Copper
Malloby Hats
New Departure
Pitney Bowes
Sessions Clocks
Seth Thomas Clocks
Singer Sewing Machines

There are a lot of industries I don't recognize. The ads were for a full-color booklet, Southern New England for Tomorrow's Industry." I'll have to see if I can find a copy, although it looks like there is one at UCONN in the Dave Peter's collection.

In addition to that, there are also occasional articles on a specific online industry. One of particular interest to me is in the July 1947 issue: and we do mean "Universal" - the oldest and the newest which is about the Landers, Frary and Clark industry in New Britain. It's a brief overview of the company and it's products, with one particularly useful bit of information: "To expedite shipments, Herbert Wyatt, Traffic Manager, ships complete carloads from the New Britain plant whenever possible. These cargoes are then broken down into spammer shipments at eight district warehouses throughout the country. Time to see if I can find out where these were located...

The June-July 1946 issue has an article on the Pond's plant in Clinton, CT. This is even better, indicating, "Only the finest and purest ingredients go into the products at Clinton, but they arrive in carload lots - tank cars of white oil from Pennsylvania, carloads of talcum powder, beeswax, stearic acid, glass jars from Washington Pa., bottles from Zanesville, Ohio, chalk from the "white cliffs of Dover." The finished products are shipped out in carload lots to warehouses in various parts of the country..."

There's also a photo with a caption that states, "The New England Transportation Company handles all Pond's l.c.l. business."

This type of information isn't always easy to come by, and while there are only a handful covered here, it's a start.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

More about Crews

For Christmas I got a new blackboard, along with some chalk pens and chalk so I can make a train/crew board for operating sessions. I'm still working out how I'd like to assign crews for ops sessions.

At RPI, there's a sign-up sheet, and it's first come, first served. A rule was later added that you had to select the next available train, since crews were cherry picking what they wanted later in the session, and occasionally there would be trains scheduled to go out, but no crews signed up. Or somebody signed up for a train later in the session, but hadn't finished their prior train by the scheduled start time.

At other sessions, I've often seen the owner assign the job based on various criteria. Another approach I've seen is at sessions that have relatively regular crews, who "own" the job whenever they are there. The idea being that it rewards regular attendance.

I think there are benefits to all of these approaches, and the "best" approach will vary not only on the layout and its operational design, but the operators involved. What I'm currently doing is trying to better understand the New Haven Railroad system, and see if I can adapt it for the layout. I also like the idea of operators qualifying for particular jobs.

I was looking through my small collection of Along the Line, the New Haven Railroad employee magazine and found an article about Crew Dispatchers in the May-June 1948 issue, followed by an article on Engine Dispatchers in the July-August 1948 issue which helps clarify the process in my era.

On the Prototype

On the New Haven, there were 12 crew dispatchers, stationed at Boston, Providence, Worcester, New London, New Haven, Grand Central Terminal, Harlem River, Danbury, Waterbury, Hartford, and Springfield. The ten Engine Dispatchers were located at the same locations, minus Worcester and Springfield, although New London was handled by the Crew Dispatcher.

What was the difference? Engine Dispatchers assigned Engineers, Firemen, and Hostlers. Crew Dispatchers assigned Conductors, Flagmen, Brakemen, as well as jobs like Head End (baggage cars), etc.

Most crews were assigned to a regular job/train and just reported to duty. If a regular job becomes open permanently or temporarily, it is put up "for bid," advertised on bulletin boards, and after the bid period, assigned to the applicant with the most seniority.

When a job was open unexpectedly, then the Dispatcher consulted the Spare Board, and works from the top of the list. This seems to have been a fairly consistent method, still in use today.

On the Model

There are several things I can do to try to incorporate this approach on the layout. I don't know if I'll actually implement it, but it's a starting point.

  1. Track Seniority. This is simple matter of recording the number of sessions/hours working the railroad. This could include both operating sessions and work sessions. The easiest method is to just count sessions, rather than number of hours.
  2. Develop Qualifications. A good approach might be for a crew member to work a particular job a certain number of times. Since I prefer two-person crews, this could be working as an engineer three times to be qualified on the job, and then perhaps switching jobs with a Conductor qualified on the job to see how they do in charge.
  3. Bid on Jobs. Regular crew can bid on jobs for which they are qualified. Rather than having somebody "own" a job, those who are qualified can bid for a job in a given session. Of those that bid for a job, the one with the highest seniority will get the job for that session.
  4. Spare Board. The spare board can be populated in the order that operators respond to an ops session announcement. During a session, when a crew completes a job, they are added to the bottom of the Spare Board. Qualified crew gets priority, with unqualified crew taking the remaining jobs. Seniority isn't important for this, just the order they respond/are available during the session.
Rather than have a new (unqualified) crew member have to shadow a Qualified crew, the jobs can be separated into Qualified and Unqualified jobs. On my layout, the Station Agent, and the Switching Conductors for the two switchers and Stanley Works would be Qualified jobs. All engineer positions, along with the through train Conductor positions (if used) would be Unqualified jobs.

The through trains would be filled by unqualified crew first, since they are the easiest jobs. For other jobs, the preference would be to assign qualified crew to Conductor positions (and the Station Agent position), with unqualified crew as engineers. Or to put it a different way, I'll have a Spare board for Conductors (Qualified) and Engineers (Unqualified), with intention of filling the jobs from within those lists.

Of course, this isn't to make the operations "work," but to more closely replicate the prototype, and perhaps to encourage crew to be more involved. It's also to help me, the layout owner, to have a core group that can help ensure that the session will run smoothly because they know the operations of the layout well. But I like the idea of rewarding those that participate more, and those that get more involved in the actual operations.

A simple spreadsheet, to record name, # of sessions, and a Qualification column for Station Agent, Switcher, and Stanley Works covers that main jobs I'll need to track. In a cell for a job, I can track the number of sessions worked that job, or another notation ("Q") when qualified.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

More About Crew Hours

Merry Night Before Christmas everybody!

Here's a little Christmas treat from an actual ex-New Haven employee.

As a follow up to an earlier post on crew switching, I received an interesting email from Bart Hollis, who worked NX-15 from Waterbury to Naugatuck in the '60s, primarily serving Uniroyal.

He confirmed what I suspected was the "norm" for local freight crews of the era:

"It was noted as being what we called an outlaw job. That is 16 hours was normal. As you correctly pointed out, if you worked 16 hours, you had to have 10 hours rest. You also correctly indicated that it put the job back two hours for the next day. Not considered acceptable. The workaround was to claim 15 hours and 59 minutes on duty time. We got paid for 16 hours, but could start work in 8 hours. Those 8 hours included travel time, shower, supper, breakfast and pretty much a short nap. By Friday, we were pretty much exhausted, but well paid.

This policy was used by the crews of any of the locals I worked. We never claimed 16 hours unless it was to "punish" the trainmaster. I doubt you'll find this in any of the official company books, but it was universal on the NH."

This also reminds me of another comment from somebody at the Chicago clinic, that if a crew thought they could finish up the day in less than 8 hours, they would hurry up and do so. Since they were paid by mileage (essentially, for "the job"), they got paid the same if they did it in 6 hours or 8 hours. But if it was going to take longer than 8 hours, then they would take their time and stretch it to 12 (outlawing in their era), or in my era, almost 16 hours. This is because they would be paid overtime for hours worked over 8, and if they were going to have to "work late" then they might as well make it worthwhile. 

In my case, the local (usually HDX-5 from Hartford to New Hartford, but later NX-25 from Hartford or New Haven), comes through the layout twice. Although I'll should push the return back farther. But it does provide additional operational options for Chris on the Valley Local.

Bart also commented on the rates of pay:

"Also, by my time there, there were four pay rates, at least for train crews. In order of rate, highest first: Yard which was solely within a single yard limit, Local which was listed in the assignment book as such, Through local which was a through freight that made three or more stops for pickup or setout, and Through which was a symbol train that made two or fewer stops during it's trip."

This is interesting, because it provides a rate of pay for a train like NY-4/YN-3 Cedar Hill to Holyoke and return, but also did some switching on the way, rather than a local freight.

Thanks for the info, Bart!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Tweaking the Process - Ballast

So this started because I wanted to try the Chooch cut stone retaining wall for along where Track #5 has to be elevated as the helix is declining so we can leave cars there.

When picking up supplies at Roger's, I noticed the Woodland Scenics Shaper Sheet, which ended up being different than I expected. It's a stiff foil sheet with some sort of felt/fabric material on top. It's intended to be used with plaster cloth, and binds to the plaster. But I wondered if I could use it in this location and put it under the track too, which covers the slots in the Woodland Scenics risers I used to keep the track level. 

So I glued down a scrap of track and ballasted it using the ballast I sifted at Tilcon in Plainville, from the same area that the New Haven got ballast from Cook's Quarry, and some dirt from New Britain.

It worked OK, although there were a lot of fibers that stick up through the ballast, and I decided to skip using it under the track. Except in one location where there wasn't any foam support, so I wouldn't need to use so much ballasting material to bring it up to level.

At this point, it was worth seeing how the ballast would look.

Which led me to realize that I hadn't painted the track first like I usually do so I used a Paint Pen for the initial layer of color, before the usual Pan Pastel weathering, and used the same technique on the wall.

Of course, now I wanted to see how the lower track and ballasting would look...

I need to add a cap to the stone wall.

The process is coming together nicely, and finally seems to be fairly repeatable.

For the rest of the area I went back to spraying all of the track with the Rustoleum Camouflage paint (only to find that it melts the Woodland Scenics Risers, but not enough that I had to take anything up).

I then add a thin layer of ballast, just enough to cover the area, and wet that with Future. I then sprinkle additional ballast on top of that, enough so the Future doesn't soak through. Once dry, I remove the loose ballast, then wet the area with Future and repeat with the same approach. This builds up the ballast in layers, but the top layer isn't saturated in the Future (or other glue) so it isn't darkened or have a film over it.

I use a very small pipette to apply the Future, and primarily rely on capillary action to draw it between the ties. Where I need to, it's narrow enough that I can drip future between the ties without getting it on top of the ties. If I do it's not a big deal. The goal is to avoid having a glue film on top of the ties or the ballast.

For the ballast on top of the ties, I use the paint pen to color the tie (which also works to cover any locations the Future did get on top of the ties), then sprinkle a few pieces of ballast here and there. Once that is dry, I use a Raw Umber Shade or Extra Dark Pan Pastels for the ties, then a Neutral Gray in places to lighten them up. In my era, it looks like the majority of tracks are well maintained and the ties are not a faded silver-gray like they are today.

For the rails, I used the Paint Pen (Woodland Scenics Railroad Tie Brown, if I recall, but the color is really irrelevant because the Pan Pastels provides all of the color) to wet the rails, then after letting dry slightly, I used Raw Umber Pan Pastels to first stipple (so it won't wipe off too much paint), and then "paint" the rails by sliding the brush down the rails to smooth out the look.

I then use the Raw Umber Extra Dark and Black to darken the entire area between the rails. All of this should be somewhat random yet consistent.

I'm very happy with the way this came out, compared to my earlier efforts (which means half the layout is going to look much better to my eye). 

The stonework used the same technique in wetting with the Paint Pen, then a variety of Pan Pastel browns, blacks, and grays. 

I've considered not using the Rustoleum, since the color really isn't going to show through after the later coloring. But I find that it gives a little more tooth to add the additional layers of paint and weathering.

Here's the wider area in progress. This is after another layer of ballast, before brushing and/or vacuuming the excess.

If you start with a clean vacuum you can reclaim your ballast if cost is an issue. For me it's a question of time, not money. The sifting screens cost less than $70, and my ballast costs me less than $20.00/ton. So I highly recommend sifting your own if you can. 

While it seems like this takes a long time, I tend to work in small sections. I can do a layer of stuff over a foot or two in about 10-15 minutes, then move on to other things while it dries. I have additional work to do before I'm ready to do this whole area (primarily figuring out what to do with the backdrop), but I'd like to do this scene because it leads into the layout and is just scenic.