Friday, March 5, 2021

Modifying the Tichy Flat Car


On Monday I posted a photo of a T&P flat car and noted that it's very similar, but not identical to the Tichy flat car model.

This kit is a very well designed kit that's a good introduction to a more craftsman style kit. The design also makes it easy to modify the kit for other prototypes. Since I have several of the kits on my shelf, I figured I'd make the major modifications to show how I would go about it.

The deck on the model measures out at 39'-10". The deck boards on the model are 6" wide. To simplify we can group the cars by roughly 6" increments:

  • 40'-9" to 40'-10" - NC&StL and DL&W - base kit
  • 41'-9" - SP&S - 12" or two boards longer than the kit
  • 42'-2" - CN and CP - 15" or about 3 boards longer
  • 42'-10" - SSW and T&P - 2' or about 4 boards longer

The kit consists of a deck, separate bolsters and underframe, side and end sills, plus detail parts, including the stake pockets. The fact that the side sills, stake pockets, and underframe components are all separate parts is what makes it possible to alter the kit with relatively little effort.

I have three kits on the shelf, plus parts of another, so based on the roster info I'll build one as is, for a DL&W car, and lengthen two others, for a CN car since they had the largest roster, and T&P since that's what started this (with a photo on the NH).

The first thing I do is cut the deck in half. It's 66 boards long, so the groove between the two center boards makes this easy.

I then cut extra boards from the spare deck that I have. In this case, it was a partially finished model I picked up some place, and it's already painted. That works well for this post.

Using a True Sander, I square everything up.

The spare deck was also cut in half first, because I want the center pieces, not the portion from the bolster to the end. I squared the end prior to cutting the extra boards off, and then use one of the squared decks to hold the smaller piece against the sander. This ensures that only one edge needs to be trued up at a time.

For the example, I cut a two board section in addition to three and four boards. An unmodified deck is in the center, a two board extension on the bottom, and four at the top.

These are the three that I'll be working with: unmodified, extended by three, and four boards.

Using a straight edge, I use liquid styrene cement to glue it all together. The piece of scrap brass just keeps any seepage off of the desk. I apply pressure from both ends and toward the straight edge, plus press down toward the desk to ensure it will be flat and square. Once it cures, I flip it over and apply some cement to the seems along the top and edge as well.

While they were drying, I de-sprued most of the parts, and then started the underframe. I orient the parts the same way the instructions picture. And yes, this is one of those kits where the instructions are essential. In this kit, there are some parts that are very similar, such as the three brake levers. The instructions identify them by number, but the number for these parts is on the sprue itself. So I took a picture so I could identify them after they were off the sprue.

Here's the side of the underframe that receives the brake cylinder bracket.

I find it easier to attach as many of the detail parts as possible, however with this kit there is a catch, so read on before you assemble anything to see if you might want to do it differently...

I glued the rodding (cut long) to the brake levers using CA.

I like to do this for several reasons. First, it's easier to do here then under the assembled car. It also gives me a "handle" when working with the part, and it makes the part much bigger, and harder to lose (I still lost one...).

If the small parts are still too fiddly for you, you can also attach the wire while they are still on the sprue:

I did have to cut the sprue apart in key points to get the third one, since it points toward it. I continued assembling parts per the instructions for all three models. Wetting the slot with cement then installing the lever worked well, since it softened the plastic slightly. I then applied a little more cement to the joint from the back.

I tried a couple of methods of assembling the underframe components. There are two spacers that go near the end, plus the four crossties. Of the three approaches I used, I found installing the two crossties farthest from the center and gluing them first, then the two center crossties, and then spreading the end enough to slide in the spacer to easiest. The two center crossties are a much looser fit. I chose not to install a trainline, since it won't be visible, and I haven't done the brake appliances yet either.

I installed the bolsters prior to the center sill.

Another tip - the center sill is centered between a strip of rivets, and not up against either of the stringers. I found it better to ensure that the crossties and crossbearers were lined up properly side-to-side to center the sill. For the two models that have been lengthened, the center sill will no longer reach the bolsters. So you'll want to make sure that it is centered end-to-end as well.

So you may have wondered why they made the brake levers several separate parts, since they are so tiny. The kit is designed with a weight that fits inside the center sill. The two crossbearers hold the weight in place. And that's the catch...the crossbearers have slots for the brake rodding. I found it possible to insert the rodding into the slots and slide them up to the proper location. I did break off one rod which had to be re-glued. Overall this approach worked for me, but you might find installing the rodding after the crossbearers are installed easier for you.

I installed the kit coupler boxes on two of the models, and then thought that perhaps Kadee ones would be better. The coupler cover for the kit one also forms the portion of the center sill between the bolster and the coupler box (draft gear), but it's glued on.

I usually use the Kadee boxes that have a cover that snaps on, so still no screw but that's better for a flat car.

To ensure it fits properly, I cut off the flange around the top and bottom:

Here's what they look like with trucks so far.

Without the side sills, the place you can see the difference in the length the most is the relationship between the crossties and the trucks. (You can also spot a mistake if you look carefully).

Although there isn't any risk of me completing the cars right away since I don't have any decals, I will cover what to do about the side sills, since that's where the most changes will be made.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Operations - Yards

A recent question on Facebook asked where they should put the control for the crossover leading to their yard, on their tower control panel, or their yard control panel. There were many answers, with many suggesting it should go on the yard board since it's related to the yard. It also seemed like this opinion was popular because it is "up to the yard master to allow a train into the yard."

I disagree, and it's not prototypical, although asking permission to enter the yard is common on a lot of model railroads.

Any switch that affects the main line is controlled by the Dispatcher, and if there is an interlocking, it's part of the interlocking. The number one priority is to keep the main line clear and lined for main line traffic. Traffic flow within the yard is under the purview of the yard master, but the train must clear the main line first. So the yard master is not in control of when trains enter the yard.

To illustrate how this works on the prototype, here's a quote from the article I posted last week:

"We came to Cedar Hill Yard. Both the conductor and the flagman went to the front platform of the caboose. At precisely the right moment they uncoupled the car from the rest of the train. The train proceeded to the westbound classification yard, while Conductor Fielding dropped off of his rolling office and took his sheaf of waybills to the yard master's office. Flagman Patchelder braked his buggy to stop on the caboose track and hung out the yellow lantern which indicated he would sleep on the car that night."

Presumably somebody else threw the iron for the caboose track...

Note that the train doesn't stop, and doesn't ask permission. They have cut off their caboose before the conductor even visits the yard master's office.

Over the years there has been a lot of (very good) guidance in designing a yard. But what I find is a bit lacking is a discussion on how to operate a yard or, more specifically. the workflow. Which means the yard gets backed up, and then you have to start asking for permission because there is no place for your train to go.

It Starts with the Arrival Track

I think this is the most important track in the yard. Many designs combine the arrival and departure track, which you can do, but you need to manage your yard very well to make it work.

Why is it the most important?

Because it gets inbound trains off of the main line. 

If that's the case, what's the most important job of the yard master/crew?

Keep the arrival track clear for the next train.

Keeping that clear requires a lot of coordination. As we see in the article, the crew is on the move as they enter the yard. At the same time, the yard crews are already getting prepared for their jobs.

The hostler (who may be the same engineer as the road crew on the model), will move the road power off the train and to engine servicing.

While that is happening, a switching crew is already breaking down the train. If you can't do a flying switch to drop off your caboose, they will need to move that to the caboose track. The next move is to start pulling cars off to start classifying them.

On the model this usually means one or two at a time. This is a problem, because it's too slow. The train should be broken down in chunks.

It Really Starts with Blocking

So we have to go back a step. It actually starts earlier than the arrival track.

As we can see in the Arranged Freight Service Symbol Books (the employee freight time tables), that road freights are to be blocked.  When YN-1 picks up cars in New Britain in 1951, it as the following blocks:
  • Speed Witch (NE-1)
  • Philadelphia Transfer (NE-1)
  • Enola (NE-1)
  • New London & CV (NM-4)
  • Cedar Hill (which is bound for ANH-3, BO-1, BG-3, M-7, NM-4, NH-1)
By spending a few extra minutes placing the cars in these blocks, there will be less work for the yard crews at Maybrook. Note that three of the blocks will go to NE-1, but they are already in separate blocks to be added to the correct blocks within NE-1. The Cedar Hill block is one large block, to be further classified at Cedar Hill.

What about local freights?

According to New Haven rules, a Home Route Card must accompany the waybill for any indirect route car. Based on earlier rule books, it appears these were originally cards that would be stapled to the outside of the car itself. Cars destined for direct connections don't require the Home Route Card. In addition, each waybill has the route that will be used for that car. So the conductor will know the general routing of the car, and probably the connections it will use to get there.

So consider HDX-5, the New Hartford local. They will know which cars they picked up are bound for Springfield and which are bound for Cedar Hill. It's easy to block for this as you pick up cars. But I don't think they would have any more specific blocking other than a Springfield block and a Cedar Hill block. Even though there aren't any blocking instructions for the local freights, I suspect that they may have done this anyway.

Also bear in mind that these examples concern Cedar Hill which is a hump yard, so the classification process is much faster than in a flat yard. It wouldn't be unreasonable to have a couple more blocks for trains destined to a flat classification yard. They are still broad categories that will need further classification.

With the trains blocked when entering the yard, then the yard crew can pull off cuts of cars instead of ones and twos, which makes things much faster. But where to put them?

Designated Tracks

I have a Boston Freight Terminal Car Marker's Book for 1946.

It's an alphabetical listing of consignees and it tells you where they are, and what track to put cars destined for that consignee. Cars for Berger Manufacturing, Bethlehem Steel, Boston Elevated Railway, Boston Molasses Co, Boston Ordnance Depot, Boston Transit Commission, Brown-Wales Co, Joseph Burnett, and many others all go on Track No. 7. Every. Single. Day.

In this case, the Car Markers will identify each car, probably using chalk marks, for each track. Those marks will be used by the crews to classify the cars as they work.

Trains are the same way. A given track in a yard will be used to build the same train(s) every day. In general there are road freights and way (local) freights to be built. Ideally, there is a track for each, and later trains are later versions of the same train. For example, there were two Maybrook to Hartford freights daily, so the track is always for cars destined for Hartford.

You may have to share tracks. Regardless, you want to still use the same tracks for the same purpose each session. Try to design your operations like the prototype. If there are two freights bound to the same destination, say Maybrook to Hartford, you won't start building the second one until the first one is completed. In which case they can share the same track, and which train depends on what time it is during the session.

When you pull a block from the arrival track, you can ideally shove it onto the track where it belongs, as a block. If your yard lead is long enough, you can pull several blocks at a time.

This is how you get your inbound trains off of the arrival track as quickly as possible, so the next inbound train doesn't have to wait or ask permission. They simply come into the yard, at yard speed, and then hand over their paperwork to the yard master/foreman.

Blocking Outbound Trains

A track with an outbound train won't necessarily be properly blocked, since you were just shoving blocks of cars into it as you worked. Where possible, you can do some additional blocking as you break down the trains.

In addition to a switching crew breaking down inbound trains, ideally you have another crew working the other end of the yard building outbound trains. This can be efficiently done with a Departure Track and a runaround track. If you have more open track space to work with, even better. The runaround isn't really needed for running around the cars, just to have an extra track to shove things while you sort them into the proper blocks.

If the inbound switching crew doesn't have a train to break down, then they can also help block the outbound trains. 

Blocking doesn't mean that you are putting the train in the exact order of all of the industries, although that can be done. In some cases, the road crew will do their own blocking to prepare for their moves. But generally, a block corresponds to a station (town). 

The work in the yard is very well choreographed. While the real crews do the same job every day, we need to help our operators understand the work flow as much as they need to understand the schedule. 

Manage the Flow

Of course, another major reason yards get backed up is not because there is too much work, but because there is too much work at one time. The railroad puts a lot of effort into designing a schedule to keep things moving smoothly, and this includes the traffic flow in/out of a yard.

As a general rule of thumb, I like to maintain traffic to below 50% capacity. That is, if your yard can hold 100 cars, I prefer no more than 50 cars at a time.  If you start with excess capacity, then if things get behind, you'll still be able to keep the Arrival Track clear for inbound trains. It's not great if outbound trains are behind schedule, but that's a better situation than the mainline being blocked by trains that can't enter the yard. Starting the session with even less, perhaps 1/3, will also help ensure that as things get busy it won't overload the yard too much.

In addition, if you only have one Arrival Track, and one Departure Track, then you need to account for that in your scheduling. 

If you must have a shared Arrival/Departure Track, then try to block as much of the outbound train prior to moving it to the Departure Track, and move it shortly before its scheduled departure time. Then you'll only need to add a caboose and power and get clearance to leave, tying up the Arrival Track for as short a period as possible.

The Dispatcher, if you have one, needs to manage the flow as well. In eras where passenger trains were First Class, freights could find themselves parked on a siding for a long time. On the model this approach is often necessary to manage inbound yard traffic.

Your train crews have an important job in this regard as well. They need to stay on schedule as best they can. That includes not running too fast in addition to not running late. Having them block their trains as they pick up cars can help slow them down a bit. It's not uncommon for freight operators to try to get ahead of various other trains and rush to get their job done. 

It's not uncommon on a larger layout for things to start to get bunched up, and once they do it's hard to resolve since each late train starts to impact other trains scheduled later. This can occur just as easily because too many trains are arriving early as late.

It's also important to give the crews, especially the yard crews, space to work. I have workspaces in several places around the layout so crews won't need to be putting paperwork on top of the layout. While I understand the appeal of leaning waybills on their cars, it generally means adjacent tracks are unusable until the cards are moved.

Splitting crews between inbound and outbound switching can help as well, since they are focused on narrower portions of the job. The inbound crew should be focused on classifying the cars into the correct tracks, and the outbound crew can focus on properly blocking one outbound train at a time. Even if it's the same crew doing both jobs, breaking the work flow down in this manner can help operators keep things organized.

Simply adding blocked inbound trains and a rule that the Arrival Track must be cleared as soon as possible would greatly improve the efficiency of most model railroad yards. And it would largely eliminate the non-prototypical approach of asking the yard master for permission to enter the yard.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Kerite Wire load on T&P Flat Car

More photos of open-top cars from the collection Dick provided. Prior posts are herehere, here, and here.

This photo of T&P 5251 says on the back. "Loaded Seymour, Connecticut" with a date of September 15, 1948. The photo says NYNH&H on the front, but no actual location is noted. The back is also stamped Kerite Co, 30 Church St, New York, NY.

A quick search online informs me that the Kerite company manufactured high voltage wire in Seymour, which is located on the Naugatuck Line of the New Haven.

Here's a 1911 Ad:

Loading this car to just about anywhere other than towards New England or the east coast would be within the car routing rules. The question is what load did it carry to get to CT?

The Prototype

T&P 5251 was from the 5000-5299 series of 42'6" flat cars. There were still 285 of them in 1950. The cars were built in 1928, and according to Richard Hendrickson in the June, 1993 Railmodel Journal, were delivered with black underframes and freight car red bodies. They were later painted in all freight car red, and most ran into the '60s. The car itself is based on a USRA design that was never built by the USRA. However, there were a number of other cars with the same basic design and dimensions built prior to the USRA design.

Even though the T&P car looks nearly identical to the NC&StL car that the kit is based on, it is a longer car. 

The deck of the NC&StL car is 40'-4" long and the T&P car is 40'-9", or 1'-5" longer. The total car length is 40'-9" vs 42'-10" or a full 2'-1" longer. But that only equates to a little more than 2/8" in HO scale. 

There is a photo of the T&P car in the 1931 Car Builders' Cyclopedia (the same one used in the article), but no plan. The 1928 Car Builder's Cyclopedia has plans for the NC&StL car, and for a similar CP flat car that is 42'-2" (also mentioned in the article).

1950 Rosters

These are the cars mentioned in Richard's article. For specific details, check photos, etc. But I've indicated the quantity in revenue service in 1950. These cars were built over a long period, and to similar designs, but they weren't identical. I've noted the differences in length below.

  • CN 651460-653768 (1,910) 42'-2"
  • CP 306500-307099 (466) 42'-2"
  • CP 307100-307499 (190) 43'-0"
  • DL&W 16350-16399 (43) 40'-10"
  • NC&StL 70100-70299 (105) 40'-9"
  • SP&S 32005-32054 (9*) 41'-9"
  • SSW 81000-81547 (161) 42'-10"
  • T&P 5000-5299 (285) 42'-10"

* The remaining cars are noted in the ORER as 32008-10, 12-13, 18, 24, 34, 36.

Two additional CP groups have similar dimensions, but I don't know if they are the same basic design. They are not noted in the article:

  • CP 307500-308699 (714) 42'6"
  • CP 308700-308999 (130) 43'-0"


The Tichy 41-foot (40-foot?) flat car referenced in the article is the best starting place for this car. The kits are easy to build, and also easy to modify. I am working on several different approaches for modeling a 36' New Haven flat car with the kit. 

The base kit has 12 stake pockets like the T&P car, but there's also a low-side gondola version that can be built without the sides as a flat car with 10 stake pockets. The sides and ends are easy to replace and, being a flat car, don't have many rivets either.

Prototype Railroad Modeling Volume Four (Speedwitch Media) also has a detailed article by Ted Culotta on building and upgrading the Tichy kit, although it is for NC&StL car, which is the prototype for the kit.

In Richard's article, he notes the modifications he made to the Tichy kit, most of which concern the end sill which was pressed steel instead of the steel channel that is on the model.

Ted's article includes upgrading the model to AB brakes. Note that the location of the components are different on the T&P car than the NC&StL car in his article.

Since it's quite difficult to tell that a given model is 2/8" longer than another when coupled together, it's up to you whether it's worth the effort. But for a T&P or CP modeler, or somebody who wants to work on their kitbashing skills, it's a great model to work with.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Layout progress - Fascia and workspaces

 I've been working on the fascia for the staging level.

There's a basic fascia starting at the Agent's desk, that goes behind the spray booth:

What has been a process is deciding how I wanted to do the fascia along the main part of staging. The skirting is banquet table skirting which is very inexpensive at Amazon. But it only comes in one height, which was a bit too short. My original thought was to leave the top shelf visible, but I decided to make a hinged fascia instead. It's a simple process of using a continuous hinge (aka piano hinge) and a piece of 1"x lumber to screw it to. I have a couple left to build (was waiting for the hinges). Behind the skirting is Ikea Ivar shelving. 

At the far end of the room is the crew desk. The desk has a full hinged fascia.

Behind the fascia is the cars I need to repair, and the ESU LokProgrammer programming track. 

Recently there was a Facebook post asking, "What does your work space look like? Since I have a small basement, I've had to make the most of the space I have. This is a secondary desk, and I'll probably use it for installing and programming decoders, at least until those are all done. I'll design the storage and stock the tools here for that purpose.

It's primary function is a desk for the switching crews. They can use it for paperwork and refreshments. It's located beneath the end of the layout that is also the yard lead, and where I expect they will work with their paperwork.

I've been using the shelf to the left of the desk as the RIP track, where problem equipment is placed during a session. I haven't decided if I like the large storage drawers there, but it's a possibility.

To the right is the turntable in staging, and a scanner for photos, negatives and slides. That will be hidden behind a hinged fascia. You can see the helix and a rolling cart with electrical supplies.

Continuing to the right is another set of shelves. The top shelf (currently with cork and Woodland Scenics styrofoam grades) is spaced to allow crews to use as another workspace or place to put refreshments while operating.

Turning back the other way gives an overview of the main (Agent's) desk, storage, and spray booth:

Heading between the helixes (with the Agent's desk on your right), there's shelving under Stanley Works:

This houses the New Haven Railroad specific library, and a working shelf for the Stanley Works crew.

Under the Berlin Line to the left is a duckunder to a closet that is under the stairs, you can see the empty boxes that are stored there. The rest is the library, prototype books (Car Builders' Cyclopedias, Routing Guides, Shippers' Guides, etc.) on the left, with history and modeling books on the right. I still need to finish clearing off the bottom shelves on the right.

Turning the corner is the space under Whiting St Yard, which is where the fridge and bar is. Refreshments will be served under this as well, and the chop saw will remain. There is also some rolling storage that goes in the space beyond the chop saw for storing freight cars.

The top of the rolling cart will serve as the workspace for the crew, and they can keep their drinks on the shelf here.

I'm still finishing up some trackwork and cleaning up the rest of the basement to do a proper layout tour soon!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

More Freight Ops from an old Trains Magazine article

I recently got a copy of an article called Passengers and trailer trucks ride the New Haven from the February, 1950 issue of Trains

It's a 7 page article including pictures and includes quite a bit of interesting information. More than half of the article is regarding passenger traffic, and how the New Haven was (is, at the time) the only Class I railroad to show a profit from their passenger operations, depending on the calculation used. Even using the I.C.C. calculation which includes all expenses, including rents and taxes, they operate at a modest loss, but much less than any other road. 

But about a page of the article talked about how the New Haven moves trailers on flat cars, which was still a new approach at the time. The New Haven wasn't the first, but it was close to it, starting their service in 1937. But what really caught my interest started with,

"I rode the caboose of a trailer train from Boston to New York one night..."

While the recollection of the trip itself is interesting, (37 trailers, on 25 flats on BH-1 which totaled 36 cars that night, hauled by DER-1-c/DL-109s 0740 and 0752, he was late for the trip because he had trouble locating the train in the yard, but the train was running at least 15 minutes late anyway, etc.), it's the operational information that can be pulled from the article that is of most interest to me.

Because they were late, they were switched to run on Track 2, the eastbound main (running westbound) so they "could run around the Extra which was somewhere down the line on Track 1. This gave me the chance to watch block signals working in reverse: as we passed them, the cleared from red to green, with a brief flash of yellow in between." 

So I'll have to dig a little bit to see what sort of logic I'll need to put in place for the signals for running against the traffic.

"Conductor F.J. Fielding was busy at his desk in the front of the car, checking waybills and making a work sheet which showed at a glance just what would eventually happen to each of the cars on the train: drop a load at Readville, pick up 35 loads and 5 empties at Providence; take on 3 loads at New London and drop one off at Cedar Hill. That was the end of his run."

While the desk facing forward makes sense, I don't think they were turned on a regular basis. But the conductor writing out their own switch list from the waybills is quite interesting. The more I'm finding, the more I think that the conductor on a road job or local freight would write up their own impromptu switch list, which may or may not have used an official form. While within a switching district or yard limits, I think it was more likely handled by the agent, yardmaster, yard foreman, etc.

In any event, for model operations, I still like the idea of some sort of desk (rolling or permanent) for the crew to use to organize their work. Regardless of who is preparing the list, it's also pretty clear that it is done before they get to town. For example, in this article we read that they learned of additional work in Plainville before leaving New Britain. Which means the conductor could plan their work on the way, instead of not knowing what additional work they might have when they arrived. In this article, rather than receiving orders that were hooped up, they stopped and called ahead. I can also say that in my own experience on the CNZR, the crew has stopped and called the office for clarification or instructions on what to do. They also plan their moves ahead of time.

The main point here, is that if you are running a freight that will have work on the way, unless you are working a switching crew within yard limits, you'll have a plan on exactly what moves you'll need to make to finish your work in a town before you get there.

The article then talks about some of the complications of running late. They switched back to Track 1 at Readville, but were then slowed by Train No. 537, an except-Sunday local from Boston to Providence. They were able to pass the passenger train at Attleboro when it cut off its engine to pick up a couple of cars of express. It also started raining, which put them farther behind schedule.

I'm not sure why the rain itself slowed them down, but this is one of the most interesting tidbits:

"It had to wait up at Providence for three cars from UP-1, the New Bedford-Providence freight."

I've always been of the impression that such cars would simply make the next train. It doesn't indicate that they were hot cars, but it does become clear later in the article that this train doesn't meet the midnight deadline to get cars off of the road to avoid another day of per diem charges. So that may have something to do with it.

"The night fleet of passenger trains had crept up the rear and passed us. No. 181 had a 15-minute layover in New London, so BH-1 was stabbed while that mail and express train occupied the westbound main.

""The other side of the job" as Conductor Fielding called HB-2" was apparently also running late, passing at New London.

"We came to Cedar Hill Yard. Both the conductor and the flagman went to the front platform of the caboose. At precisely the right moment they uncoupled the car from the rest of the train. The train proceeded to the westbound classification yard, while Conductor Fielding dropped off of his rolling office and took his sheaf of waybills to the yardmaster's office. Flagman Patchelder braked his buggy to stop on the caboose track and hung out the yellow lantern which indicated he would sleep on the car that night."

They left Cedar Hill at 4:30 AM with 71 loads, no empties, with 3 motors (electric locomotives, type and road numbers are not noted). Just south of Bridgeport they had a hotbox 23 cars back and, "An hour went by while the train crawled slowly to the next siding and dropped the offending car. It was a bad spot for a set-off: an upgrade and with the last half of the train hidden around a curve. Engineer Horan, running blind as he backed to pick up the tail end, had to keep his speed down to a crawl."

They arrived at Harlem River three hours behind schedule.

I find a lot of interesting operational opportunities here. There have been a number of ways that modelers have tried to incorporate problems like a hotbox into their operations. I'm not sure how frequently something like that should happen. I think that they would be of most interest on a layout with long main line running. Having to slow to a crawl for however long it takes to get to the next siding would have the biggest impact on that type of layout. Even with a 4:1 fast clock, an hour is 15 minutes of real time, and that can have a real impact on the operation of a railroad.

What is much more common on a model railroad, though, are curves. Paying attention to what the engineer could see from the cab should affect how they operate the locomotive.

I also found the passage about kicking the caboose down the caboose track very interesting. And in a model railroad yard, having a caboose or two with a yellow lantern out also brings in prototypical operations.

I don't have the whole issue, but interestingly I noticed in the table of contents there is also an article on welded rail.