Saturday, March 14, 2020

It's all in the details

So this is an interesting little detail that I can easily add to the layout and I didn't know existed.

In the September 1945 issue of Along the Line, the New Haven Railroad employee magazine, there's a one page quiz ("What Do You Know?") with about a half-dozen pictures of railroad items to see what you know. All were pretty easy for somebody with some knowledge of a railroad.

But this one was interesting and useful:

I already knew what New Haven mile markers looked like (although it is possible that there are other options, since the NH was made up of so many predecessor roads and there are differences on each line). The same applies to speed limit signs. But I wasn't entirely sure about the other two options.

I guessed correctly, and now I have another prototype detail that I can add that will also assist my operators - it's indicating how many cars the siding will hold to that point. It's such a simple detail to add but will be extremely helpful to the crews when working Track #5 which is where I'll use these signs.

While I don't have any more details as to how these were used, I'll use it on Track #5 between streets. For example, the number of cars from the start of Track #5 to East Main St, and then the number from East Main Elm St. It will be particularly helpful at the start of Track #5, because I can also use it to mark the start of where a car can be safely left without risking it rolling down the grade into the helix.

Unfortunately, this appears to be the only issue that had this sort of quiz.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

New Haven Ballast

This is the ballast chart for the NH Railroad, the NHRHTA forum requires me to pay for a VIP account to post the high resolution version...

The ballast is different over different parts of the system. On the Highland it appears a fairly dark gray as I documented in this post.

In this post, I covered my latest approach in ballasting the layout, using real stone ballast from the same ridge in Plainville that the New Haven used. I think it's a very good match. There is a little brown. It's magnetic, so there's some iron in in, and I think that's what gives it the brownish tinge over time. I might experiment with a brownish wash for that effect.

In photos of the Shoreline, there is more brown in the color of the ballast. So when we do Chris' layout I'd like to go sift ballast from the Saybrook Tilcon quarry instead.

Here's the New Haven Railroad Ballast Chart from 1917, updated through 1921:

And this one is updated through 1959:

They are too large for my scanner, so I just had to take photos, so sorry for the quality of the photos.

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.