Thursday, November 26, 2020

Bill Welch and Thanks

For those who haven't heard, Bill Welch passed away on November 15th of pancreatic cancer. My mom passed away 11 years ago on Thanksgiving morning of the same terrible disease. This year in particular is a tough one, because we have lost a lot of great modelers before their time. 

It's only in the last couple of years that I met Bill in person, but we had quite a few email discussions before and after. Known to many as the Extreme Modeler or the FGEX/Our Companies Guy, he was an excellent modeler, and generous man.

I'm sharing a photo that was the last correspondence I had with him shortly before he passed. Chris and I were prepping several new collections of photos to catalog for the photo library, and as soon as I saw this one I said, "I have to send this to Bill Welch." 

While there are plenty of other modeling buddies that will enjoy the subject matter, it reminded me of Bill because of his love of finding photos of unusual freight cars to model faithfully. Not unusual in terms of a rare car, but with minor differences from the standard of that car. Details such as slightly bulging corner bracing on a single sheathed box car, a damaged fascia board on a reefer, or freshly replaced boards in a wood running board.

This photo is taken from a series of photos after a derailment of New Haven train NO-7 in Newtown CT in 1959. It's the rather unusual repair that immediately jumped out at me.

So here's my little tribute and thanks to Bill Welch, along with all of the other modelers that have inspired me. And I hope we all take as much pleasure in (modeling) the little things like he did. We'll lament the loss of Bill and the many other modelers this year, but be thankful for how they have left our lives, modeling and otherwise, richer and better.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Operations - Employee Timetable

 Employee Time Tables, like most operational paperwork, were published twice a year at the start and end of Daylight Savings. If corrections needed to be made or schedules were changed, then supplements were issued with just those changes. Occasionally, another full time table was issued 'off schedule.'

I have copies of all the Employee Time Tables from 160 (June 2, 1946) to 183 (October 30, 1955). I don't know if I have all of the supplements. Each issue indicates what the prior Time Table was and, in some cases, notes the supplements. However, others don't note the supplement numbers.

Here's a list with the issue dates. I've highlighted the ones relevant to my operating sessions in bold.

  • 160 - June 2, 1946
  • 161 - September 29, 1946
  • 162 - April 27, 1947
  • 163 - June 8, 1947
  • 164 - September 28, 1947
  • 164.1 - December 15, 1947 (Supplement No. 1)
  • 165 - April 25, 1948
  • 166 - September 26, 1948
  • 167 - March 1, 1949
  • 168 - April 24, 1949
  • 169 - June 26, 1949
  • 170 - September 25, 1949
  • 171 - April 30, 1950
  • 172 - September 24, 1950
  • 172.1 - December 10, 1950 (Supplement No. 1)
  • 173 - April 29, 1951
  • 174 - September 30, 1951
  • 175 - April 27, 1952
  • 175.1 - June 9, 1952 (Supplement No. 1)
  • 176 - September 28, 1952
  • 177 - April 26, 1953
  • 177.1 - May 24, 1953 (Supplement No. 1)
  • 178 - September 27, 1953
  • 179 - April 25, 1954
  • 179.1 - April 27, 1954 (Supplement No. 1)
  • 179.2 - June 13, 1954 (Supplement No. 2)
  • 180 - September 26, 1954
  • 181 - October 31, 1954
  • 182 - April 24, 1955
  • 183 - October 30, 1955

My copy of 179 is interesting because it has Supplement No. 1 bound into it (primarily glued over the original pages). I also have separate copies of Supplement No. 1 and 2 of that year.

Model Operations

But what use are these timetables for modelers? On the prototype, they provide the complete passenger schedules, along with additional rules and information that's needed for an employee to perform their duties. But there's a lot of information in them, and I don't expect operators on my layout to be fully qualified for the entire New Haven system.

So I've pulled out the relevant sections and produced a version more appropriate for operating my layout. Like the Rule Book, a lot of these are either things that many operators already know, or they may be interesting things to know, but aren't actually needed on the model version. 

Simplified Schedules

I've reduced the schedules down to the trains that actually come through New Britain. Since I created these time tables entirely from scratch (they aren't scanned), these took the longest to compile and format to match the originals. I hunted down the closest free fonts I could find to do that. 

When operating, the crews need to clear the mainline 5 minutes before a scheduled train leaves the prior station. So the crews will need to check these before occupying either the east- or westbound main, but will only need to look at either Newington or Plainville.

Speed Restrictions

There will be speed limit signs as per the prototype, but this is good information to have regardless. The limit on the Berlin Line is 35 mph, since there are no passenger trains. On the Highland line, east of Elm St the limit is 50 mph for passenger, and 40 for freight. Starting at Elm St, and all the way off the west end of the layout, the speed limit is 20 mph.

But there are two additional rules that might be important during a session. A train handling a scale test car (which may be used) is limited to 20 mph. There is also a rule for handling certain open loads that changes over the period I'm modeling. So depending on the year of the session, this rule is important to know.

General Rules

Most of these rules are just 'scenery' but there is clarification regarding those certain open loads. Rule 1707 indicates that between Elm St. and Curtis/High St. (depending on direction) that whistle signal 14 (l) (grade crossing) is not used. This basically means that trains will only use the grade crossing whistle signal at East Main St.

Track Capacity

This is the only section I have modified. The original lists the length of all passing sidings on the railroad. I've altered it to list the capacity of all yard and industry tracks to help out the conductor when planning moves. It identifies all of the tracks, and the length in 48-foot cars (which is how the New Haven measured siding capacity).

Public Crossings at Grade

This lists when certain crossings are stop and protect. While there is always a lot of information here, it is basically indicating that the crossing shanties are not occupied nights or weekends. In other words, it won't apply to the model crews.

Block Systems, Train Order, and Yard Limits

These are also just informational in nature, but helps complete the appearance of an actual employee time table. 

Otherwise there's a rule designating regular trains as first class, and what additional symbols on the passenger time tables mean.

Special Instructions

This section has rules that pertain to specific locations. Not all of the time tables have rules relevant to New Britain, and for the most part they won't alter anything that the crews actually need to do. There is one rule, though, that I might try to incorporate.

Rule 1912 indicates that the crossing watchman at East Main St can control the gates for Rule 1705a for Smalley St. when needed. The engineer can use whistle signals to let the watchman know when to raise or lower the gates for switching movements. I don't have Smalley St. on my layout, but I could set up a switch for the gates at East Main St. instead. This would allow me to turn off the automatic gates, and have the crew use whistle signals to let the Agent know when to lower or raise the gates. This would work pretty well, because East Main St. is basically next to the Agent's desk. It might be fun to set up the gates to 

Ops Sessions

These are available to all operators prior to the session, and I'll have hard copies here for use during the session. 

During ops sessions, I really only expect that the passenger schedules and track capacities will be used regularly by the crews. One exception in later time tables is Rule 147, which indicates that headlights will be used during the day. This rule first appears in Time Table No. 173, April 29, 1951. Prior to that the crews will not be using headlights.

I've added several of the Employee Time Tables to the same location as the Rule Book here. I will continue to add the other ones I complete. I'm still proofing and correcting them, but if you find a typo feel free to let me know.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Interesting Finds - Freight Operations

 For several reasons, I've been having to go through my files on the computer. In the process, I've (re) found things I haven't looked at in a while.

I have a spreadsheet that was posted in the Steam Era Freight Car list over a decade ago (it's still there). I wasn't able to identify the original poster (yet), but it's a spreadsheet of waybills from Watertown, MN 1954. It's either missing some info, or the town wasn't served daily. Regardless, it's a treasure trove of info.

Of the 539 cars documented, there is a car with a load from Stanley Tools in New Britain. The car itself was LCL, and here are the contents:

  • 1 box machine parts from Chain Belt Co, Milwaukee WI (MILW) for Green Giant
  • 1 box wood casket and 1 steel casket from Nick & Sons, Heafford Jct WI (SOO-MILW) for Blomquist Funeral Home
  • 1 15 gallon drum oil, 1 pour pail from Hyrotex, Chicago IL (SOO-MILW) for Walter Kubash
  • 1 case price lists from Stanley Tools, New Britain CT (NH-ERIE-CBQ-MILW) for the public school
  • 1 case bed sheets, 1 case pillow cases from Ely & Walker, Post TX (P&SF-GC&SF-ATSF-Nemo-MST-MILW) for Edelsteins

Based on the routings, it appears (at least some of) the contents were transferred from another car. It's likely that all of the shipments went to a MILW freight house to be reloaded to this destination, and it's possible that there might have been other goods for other destinations.

No New Haven cars were delivered to the town in that year.

One of the things I found interesting is that all this was loaded into a reefer. ART 51859. There is an ART reefer with LCL traffic on another day as well (29149), and that also has a load from CT (Philip Brenner in Derby/Shelton CT, a load of 7 cartons of rubber mats) which took the same route as the other car.

A third load from CT was part of an LCL load in B&O 276754 from CF Anderson in East Lyme CT, 3 cases of surgical dressings. This took a different route, NH-CV-CN-GT-CBQ-MILW.

Of particular interest to me as I dig through it is ideas for LCL commodities to add to waybills for the freight house. In this case, there are two caskets. Looking through the list there were 15 wood, 4 steel, and one iron casket delivered. All were destined for the same funeral home, but from three different suppliers. One of them was noted as a rush. With the City Directories, it's easy enough to find the local funeral homes. 

A quick check online tells me that the population of the town was 867 in 1950, and 1,046 in 1960. New Britain was 73,726 in 1950, and 82,201 in 1960. 21 caskets for a town of 1,000 is a 2% annual delivery rate. If that's constant that would be nearly 1,500 caskets delivered to New Britain annually. Of course, it's not likely a constant, but it certainly indicates that this would be a relatively common delivery unless there is a source close enough to New Britain that it would have come by truck. However, if there is, then it would also likely be a source of outbound traffic via the freight house.

Looking in the 1951 New Britain City Directory and there are eight funeral homes listed:

  • A W Carlson Co
  • J M Curtin Co
  • Erickson Funeral Home
  • James F Farrell Memorial Funeral Home
  • Laraia Sagarino & Co
  • B C Porter and Sons
  • Rose Hill Memorial Park
  • Sorbo Funeral Home

All of these are potential customers on waybills to the freight house or bulk tracks. Additional research indicates there were around 700 casket manufacturers in 1950, although I haven't found a listing yet. 

A bit morbid, perhaps. But interesting and part of the work of the railroad in that era.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Operations - Rule Book

A continuing operations question I see online a lot is how much paperwork and other aspects of prototype operations should you include in your model railroad operations?

It's no secret that I lean quite heavily on the. 'as much as possible,' side of the answer, but the only right answer is, 'as much as you want.'


Now that the basement is coming together and the Agent's desk is good to go, I've spent some time continuing to work on the rule books for operations. 

Rule bookS? Yep. Plural. Why? Well, that's what the prototype had, and that's my starting point. 

Employees had to be familiar with the Book of Rules, the Safety Rules, and any changes via the Employee Timetable, bulletins and circulars. Freight conductors and engineers also needed to be familiar with the booklet on handling explosives and other hazardous materials. In real life, it's a lot to keep track of, and to qualify for a job you had to pass a test on much of the material as well.

I initially considered a condensed set of rules in a single document. But as I was working with it, I found that it seemed more confusing that way. I think that's because the bulk of the rules (those in the Rule Book itself) are fairly well known and won't need to be referenced frequently. So the Rule Book is largely what I consider a 'scenic' element for the operators. It's also something that can easily be shared prior to the session.


The rule book was updated and republished periodically. The one in effect for the entire era of my layout is the 1943 issue. The next update was in 1956. Here's a brief description of each section that I included in the book:

GENERAL NOTICE AND GENERAL RULES. Just part of the scenery, although they do apply. Rules G, H and K are the ones most relevant to modeling. Rule G as it applies to alcohol (in moderation) will be annulled with a circular when appropriate.

DEFINITIONS. Not something that will need to be referenced during the session, but it does clarify terminology used in the rules, and that I'll use. A couple are probably less commonly known, such as, 'in rear/advance of signal,' and the different terms for speed.

OPERATING RULES and TIME-TABLES. Most of this is also well known and won't need to be referenced, but Rule No. 86 is the important one, requiring trains to clear the main for regular trains 5 minutes before they leave the prior station.

SIGNALS. Most won't need to reference these, but it will be easy to flip to them if needed. It is nice to have a reference for use of the lights, and bell.

DESIGNATION AND USE OF TRACKS. Modelers have lots of different ways to identify tracks. This makes sure we're all on the same page.

SUPERIORITY AND MOVEMENT OF TRAINS. All rules that are well known and probably won't need to be referenced, but good to brush up on ahead of a session.

AUTOMATIC BLOCK SIGNALS. The signal aspects are a nice reference to have for those not used to running trains following signal aspects. The info on the speed boards is important too, because I expect crews to follow them. 

ADDITIONAL GENERAL RULES. Rule No. 737 is important - don't block a crossing for more than 5 minutes. I've heard 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and this clarifies it for my layout. But what I particularly like in this rule is that cars on yard tracks should be pushed as far from the crossing as possible is something many may not know.

The rule that the whistle should not be used when passing a passenger train is another one that most will not have seen before. 

The only other rule in this section that's of particular interest is under FREIGHT SERVICE. It includes where to place specific types of cars in the train (and we'll see later on that this is modified in many of the employee timetables).

So there are 9 pages of rules, but 99% of them are best read prior to the session, and probably won't be referenced during the session. While a few are included for completeness, it's been narrowed down to the most important rules that help define the 

Here's a link to the book. This will probably work for any New Haven layout, although many will need the Time Table & Train Order portions, and possibly the Manual Block Signal sections depending on what you're modeling.

New Britain Station Book of Rules

Set your printer to print landscape on both sides, flip on the short edge. That will allow you to stack them and fold them in half into a booklet. If your printer doesn't have a duplex feature, you'll have to manually flip the pages. Since each printer is different in the orientation, you'll have to experiment to print it properly.