Saturday, January 23, 2021

Layout Construction: Bulk Tracks bridge

 Dick came by to help design and build a bridge for the bulk tracks behind the freight house.

Here's a map to explain the layout of tracks:


The large oval highlights the two bulk (team) tracks, along with a track to Stanley Rule and Level that crosses Whiting St. Also note the crane.

The two smaller ovals are two unloading platforms. Since I can't model all of these tracks, I'll probably add one to this section.

You can see how the bulk tracks are behind the freight house, with a parking lot between them. On the layout, the freight house will be along the edge of Whiting St. Yard, and (most of) the parking will be in the aisle. The bulk tracks are on a small shelf built into the wall. To get there, I need a bridge.

Here's a shot with the Whiting St Yard benchwork to the left, and the bulk track shelf on the right. 



My initial thought was to build a swing bridge that would hinge out from the wall. The problem is that it needs to be longer than the length of that wall, by about 4-6 inches. That's OK, because I would like to extend the layout about another 4-6" to provide a little of the parking, and maybe have some trucks at the freight house, which parallels the edge of the benchwork.

However, Dick's initial thought was to attach it to the front of the benchwork. This sounded like a good idea, since it would be as long as needed, but I wanted to do it in a way that it is hidden when not in use, rather than the track being alongside the freight house. To do this, it would need to go down a slight grade to ensure that the top of the bridge was low enough that I can build out a small section of benchwork to cover it when stored. This amounts to about 1/2", and conveniently, that track is just long enough that it's a 2% grade to get to that point.

Although not prototypical, the property wasn't entirely flat either, rising to the right of this track anyway. When scenicked I think it will look good.


The bridge is a simple T-Beam. Dick routed out a slot for the vertical member, and we used a door hinge to attach it to the layout. I cut out the foam where the bulk track is, and used Woodland Scenics 2% grade (on top of a W-S 1/2" spacer). I also cut out the foam from the front house track to the edge of the benchwork so I can attach the extension that will hide the track securely to the existing benchwork. It will be a piece of OSB that simply extends out about 5" to cover the bridge when stowed.

Here's the bridge extended:


Very simple once we determined the angles. We started by cutting the vertical member to length and attaching that to the benchwork. Then we laid the other board across the top and marked the angles to be cut. It took us longer to work out specific details than it did to actually build it. 

Because we couldn't open it a full 90-degrees, we drilled holes in the fascia first, then used machine screws and nuts to attach it. We had to attach a block to the side of the vertical member so the hinge would be along the side, permitting it to hinge flush against the benchwork. I will probably devise a closing mechanism with magnets to hold it in place when in use. The electrical bus will be attached on the hinge side with feeders to the track, and I already have a bus to the shelf.


As it turns out, cork, plus a layer of the craft foam to be added later, is the perfect match to the end of the bridge. I needed some weights for while the glue dried...

The track to Stanley Rule and Level will run against the front of this shelf, and end at the edge. There will be a track over at Stanley for scenic purposes, since I can't actually connect the two.

While I could have just used the track that ended at the front of the layout for the same purpose, I think having a couple of the bulk tracks themselves will be a nice addition. The bridge will most likely be extended once or twice a session, just long enough to service the tracks, so it doesn't need to be more complicated than this. The extension to the benchwork will also help protect the freight house. While it does extend the reach, the majority (if not all) of the access that will be needed is at either end of the yard, not in the middle here. The Landers, Frary and Clark track may be a challenge, though. I guess that's consistent, though, since the Landers track at New Britain Yard is too.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Commodities - Products of Agriculture and Animals

 There are a lot of smaller commodities, along with specialized commodities that won't come to New Britain. Livestock is one I covered earlier. Let's see if there's anything left worth looking at by category:


900 Products of Agriculture

  • 001 Wheat - 133 (NY 50, PA 50, Canada 33)
  • 003 Corn - 983 (IL 275, IN 50, IA 25, KY 25, MI 25, MN 25, NY 75, OH 425, PA 25, Canada 33)
  • 007 Oats - 708 (ME 25, NY, 50Canada 633)
  • 009 Barley and Rye - 75 (MN 25, NY 25, OH 25)
  • 015 Flour, Wheat - 3,150 (IN 50, IA 150, KS, 275, MI 25, MN 625, MO 450, NE 100, NY 1350, WI 25)
  • 017 Meal, Corn - 25 (NY)
  • 019 Flour, Edible, NOS - 275 (IL 25, IN 25, MN 25, NY 150, TN 25, WI 25)
  • 021 Cereal, Food Prep - 383 (MA 100, MI 50, NY 25, OH 25, PA 25, Canada 33)
  • 023 Mill Products, NOS - 708 (IL 75, IA 50, LA 25, MA 100, MI 50, NY 25, OH 25, PA 25, Canada 333)
  • 025 Hay - 483 (MI 100, NY 250, Canada 133)
  • 027 Straw - 50 (NY)
  • 031 Tobacco Waste - 75 (PA)
  • 033 Cotton in Bales - 450 (AZ 25, AK 100, CA 25, GA 50, LA 50, MS 75, SC 25, TX 100)
  • 035 Cotton Linters - 275 (MA 50, NJ 50, NY 25, NC 100SC 25, VA 25)
  • 039 Cottonseed Cake Meal - 350 (AK 25, GA 50, IL 125, MS 25, SC 50, TN 75)
  • 045 Soybean Oil Cake - 250 (IL 75, IN 75, OH 75, PA 25)
  • 047 Vegetable Oil Cake - 100 (GA 25, IL 25, NJ 50)
  • 199 Products of Agriculture NOS - 900 (CA 25, FL 125, IL 75, IN 50, LA 400, MA 25, NY 125, OR 25, VT 50)

There are feed dealers in New Britain. C.W. Lines on Chestnut St. Here are two views. It's on the right in the first picture, this side of the railroad tracks, and on the left in the second, on the opposite side.


This also gives us a nice view of both sides of the crossing shanty here. Unfortunately, Chestnut St didn't make the layout, the Berlin Line crosses through the helix at this point.

Reynolds Hugh Grain and Feed Co is on Commercial St, right next to New Britain Yard.


They may have received bulk grain and feed, or in bags. There's a loading door facing the tracks.

Miner, Reed and Tullock is listed as a wholesale flour dealer/broker. The building still stands, and I'm in the process of determining whether I'll build it to scale, or compress it.

There have clearly been additions, but the bulk of the building is the original one. Because these products are produced by so many producers, I'll just need to find some in each region for waybills. I probably won't need to research the remaining products of Agriculture for my layout.

910 Animals and Products of Animals

  • 215 Meats, Fresh NOS - 7,392
  • 219 Packinghouse Products, Edible - 200
  • 221 Margarine, NOS - 50
  • 225 Poultry, Dressed - 75
  • 235 Wool in Grease - 325
  • 239 Hides, Skins, Pelts - 75
  • 241 Leather, NOS - 25
  • 299 Animals and Products, NOS - 125

Of course, the most common shipments here are from the meatpacking plants. In New Britain there's the Armour and Swift plants. Of course, others may be seen too, such as this Morrell reefer:


For through freights, there are Armour, Cudahy, and Swift distribution plants in Hartford. Armour, Cudahy, and Swift are also in Holyoke. I know Wilson was in New Haven and New London, possibly others. Hormel, Rath, and Tobin all had a presence in CT, although I haven't identified towns. But they might be seen on the Maybrook freights to Hartford.

Of course, as the picture above shows, other brands may be seen regardless of whether a distribution center is present. 'Generic' meat reefers, such as Mather,  or NX, would also be appropriate.

For example, in New Britain there is also AYO Packing Co, M Krawczyk and Sons, Martin Rosol's, and Vitamin Sausage Products, all companies that make sausages and other processed meats, and would likely receive them via rail. In Hartford is Grote & Weigel, Kaufman Bros, Morris Packing, Mucke, Rex Provision, Sparvery Bros, and Stanley Provision. These would also receive reefers, even if it's at a bulk track.

The other products of animals are in such small annual quantities that I won't need to concern myself with them. For example, the 25 annual carloads of leather may be to a single industry somewhere in CT.

--

Combined with what I've covered in prior posts, those are all of the commodities for those categories that show up in the 1% waybill study.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Research - The State of the Railroad

Poking around through more copies of Along the Line, and I came across this article from August, 1949. Like so many "known" facts, I find that with a little research that things aren't quite what has been passed along through the years. This is the second "relaunch" of the magazine, this time in a smaller format, after missing five months.


Five Thousand New Jobs

More than five thousand new jobs were created during the years 1947 and 1948 through the location of new industries along the line of The New Haven Railroad, it was revealed recently by figures compiled by our Industrial Development Department.

During those two years twenty-nine new industries came into our territory from previous locations elsewhere, and a total of 134 new industries started in business here, including new branches of existing industries. Only eight industries moved to other locations during the same period, and only fourteen went out of business.

The consequent benefits to the railroad and the communities were manifold. For our part, we had a net gain in freight tonnage from these industries of 251,220 tons annually. The communities had a net gain of 141 industries, employing 5,045 persons.

Translating this added number of employees into terms of purchasing power, it is readily seen how great were the benefits to the communities. Figuring a conservative average of $40. a week earnings for these new employees, this meant a total additional payroll of $10,493,600 annually. It meant more trade for the butcher, the grocer, the clothier, the electric light and gas companies, the telephone company, and everybody else in business in the territory. It meant more tax collections for the support of government.

Their food bill alone would be over $3,000,000. Housing and fuel expenditures would be more than a million and a half dollars. They would spend well over a million dollars for clothing, better than $600,000 for household furnishings, and another $400,000 for household operations. Automobiles, entertainment, medical care and other items would run over two millions.

Interesting, too, is the diversity of products turned out by these new industries. The greater the diversity of manufacture in a given territory, the less is the likelihood of disastrous results from untoward conditions affecting a particular type of industry. Diversity is good "insurance."

Here are some of the products represented by the new industries: advertising displays, furniture, groceries, air filters, plastic wire connectors, electrical appliances, printed forms, lithography, Fritos, rulers, toiletries, phonograph record blanks, wallboard, steel products, flooring, paper cartons, lumber, paper, trailer frames, yarn, cranberry sauce, castings, cotton yarn, glassware, construction equipment, plywood boat forms, plastic products, phonograph cabinets, pallets, builders' supplies, concrete blocks, paint brushes, photo equipment, metal tube and hose, dog food, aluminum foil, wire cord, rubber gloves, textiles, jams and jellies, clothes cabinets, wrenches, plasticized fabrics, synthetic felt, paper tubes, Propane gas, bananas, brass and aluminum castings, beverages, cinder blocks, frozen foods, aluminum door frames, steel chain, facial tissue, aluminum skis, woolen yarn, rayon fabrics, nails, fencing, beer, castings and shoes.

Industrial development work began on the New Haven away back in 1911, when, in cooperation with the Boston & Maine, the first railroad industrial development activities were organized. This pioneering produced such excellent results that soon power companies followed the railroads' example, and this was fallowed in turn by greater activity by local chambers of commerce and similar organizations.

--

This is also the issue announcing the launch of the Cranberry, plus faster service for a lot of trains, many from 5-10 minutes, but the Colonial's running time has been shaved by 45 minutes. The Merchants also gains coaches during the summer months for the first time.

It seems that things aren't quite in the decline that most attribute to the post-war era. To be sure, we do see a decline in the next few years, with a brief boost from the Korean war, but in this period where the railroad has just come out of bankruptcy looks like things are going well. 

--

Lastly, there's a letter from News Syndicate, Inc. referring to damage to newsprint paper rolls, and the reminder that there is a growing option of having the newsprint shipped via water routes. The author says he was a railroad man who worked the spare board for a decade and would like to see the business stay with the railroad.

As interesting as the letter is, it's the statistics that he quotes that interests me: they receive 600 carloads/month of newsprint.

This is New York City, so they may receive it from several railroads. I don't have the 1% waybill statistics for New York (much less the city), but that's 7,200 carloads a year, and more than double the average delivered to CT 1950-1954.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Designing Operations for Paul's Layout Part III - The Movement of Trains and Staging

Here's Part I and Part II.

What do Railroads do?

Railroads are a shipping company. They move commodities from one place to another. 

Well, duh, right?

The Movement of Trains
In my view of operations, there are four major components: The Jobs Performed by the Railroad, the Movement of Trains, the Movement of Cars, and Paperwork. As you may have guessed, a lot of folks like to start with the Movement of Cars (car cards/waybills) when designing for operations, but for me that's still to come.

First we need to figure out how trains will be moving around the layout. To do that we need to know where we are, and what Point A and B are, and if there are any intermediate stops as well. Oh yes, and the layout is a loop.

A digression - for decades we've seen layout plans talk about point-to-point layouts, as if they are inherently different from a layout designed as a loop. But the real point (ahem) is that a real railroad travels and moves goods and/or people between two or more points. So that means you have to design a layout with a start and and end, right? 

But it probably didn't take long for people to realize that even in the smallest scales, we can't build the entire rail system in our basement (or laundry closet), so we'll need to find a way to include the parts we don't build. Thus the concept of staging.

It's pretty simple - you have a layout designed with two ends, and staging at either end to represent everything else. And obviously this has absolutely nothing to do with the layouts we built as uneducated kids on a 4' x 8' loop.

Except that my layout has a helix at either end, that goes down to the lower level where the staging is, and it also forms a complete loop. So I guess it can be a loop, but part of the loop is hidden, right?

Why don't I just get to my point, which is:
Point-to-point is a method of operation, and not necessarily a physical design.

Back to my layout to clarify. If I have an open house, I can just put a train on the mainline, and let it loop through the layout for as long as I let it run. It's a loop. But when operating the layout, we consider that the right helix is heading toward Hartford, and the left is going to Plainville, and no train going down one side would ever come back up the other one.

Yes, it's certainly possible (and often preferable) to design a physical point-to-point layout. But just because a layout is a loop doesn't mean we have to operate it that way.

OK, back to where we were: Where are we?

Paul labeled the left loop as New Haven and the right as Boston. I suggested an alternative. The layout is New Haven and Boston, depending on which end of the run we find your train.

That is Point A and Point B are defined by operation, not by the physical layout. 

You start the Session in Boston Yards, and in incoming train has arrived from New Haven, from the left loop (west). You break down the train, build a new one, and head west to New Haven.

If you enjoy watching trains run around a loop, then you can do so for as long as you'd like. Otherwise it can be just one. In which case you have arrived at Cedar Hill, and the layout is now in New Haven.

Some people won't like this approach, I get it. But then I'd suggest you try it. Because my modeling buddies and I have commented many times that the details don't matter when operating, because you're focused on the operations. Both Chris and I have had many ops sessions on our plywood (OSB) central layouts, and nobody has complained that the ops session was a failure because everything was the same shade of plywood (well, except Essex through East Haddam on Chris' since that's built on pink foam).

To me, Movement of Trains also addresses things like signaling, Time Table & Train Order, etc. But those are potential layers to consider in the future. We need to get this operating for Paul first, get a handle on the basics of operating the layout before we add those layers.

But that still doesn't address the issue of (lack of) staging or, to put it another way, the lack of connection to the outside world.

Staging
So let's look at staging.

I think it's one of the most important aspects of layout design. And to design proper staging, I think you need to have a general idea of what you'll be running on the layout in terms of trains. Because you must have a staging track for each train, right?

The answer, of course, is yes. And ideally that will be off-stage. But in a small space it may not be possible for you to have off-stage staging.

There are three basic types of staging: hidden, visible, and fiddle.

Hidden staging is the traditional staging, separate from the main layout, where trains await their next run. It can be a siding on the back of a loop and hidden from view. It can be in a second room, or a second level with a helix. Anyplace you can put a hidden track where a train will start or end its run is what most people think about when discussing staging.

Visible staging is also fairly popular. A yard at one end of the layout often serves as a visible staging yard. Trains are built and broken down at the yard, which runs to the other end of the layout, sometimes another yard, or a loop that returns to the same yard. A hidden staging track or two might exist for interchange to another road, or a dummy track serves the same purpose. Another type of visible staging is an interchange track.

Fiddle staging is a point, sometimes hidden, where trains are built and broken down. It's a real space saver, but requires you to actively swap out the cars. A carfloat operation is one possibility. You can even have multiple floats, pre-loaded, and you swap out the float itself. This can be combined with other types of staging as well. 

An example I've provided fairly frequently when people online ask about small layout design and how much staging is needed is the CNZR. You can look at my earlier post for details on the operation, but the basic schematic is this:

It's a small branch line that has their engine servicing at the end of their line. On the CNZR it's literally the end of the track, with a couple of sheds, and the locomotives sitting in the open. A runaround is across a street. The other end of the line consists of a runaround, and a junction with another railroad's mainline, and a couple of interchange tracks.

If we look at it from the perspective of the crew, then they pull cars and drop them on one of the interchange tracks, and pull inbound cars from another interchange track. That, on the prototype, is visible staging. If this is wrapped around the walls of a room, you can easily add a hidden track to create a full loop for continuous running when you want it. They only have a single customer, but there's no reason why you can't add more.

For this layout, it's all visible staging. The passenger train never leaves the layout. Freight cars can stay on the layout, or you can fiddle some of them on/off, either during or between sessions. Locomotives are on trains or being serviced, and never leave the layout. But we can still have a connection to the outside world.

Track No. 5 is now designated as an Interchange Track.

We've already declared Track No. 3 as westbound, and Track No. 4 as eastbound. Since we're only running one freight at a time, this helps prep everything for the next train. Which means next time we can talk about the Movement of Cars.

Movement of Trains - Passenger Service
We can extend the "road scene" by switching between the freight and passenger trains. Since Track No. 2 is an independent block, the passenger train can be at the station while the freight pulls into the siding. Then the passenger will proceed to the passenger station on the Coast Main Line, stop, and then proceed back to the other side. If desired, it could be stopped in the New Haven block, while the freight continues around the Boston loop, and so on.

I would also use the reversing loop to allow the passenger train to go out, then back to meet the freight in different directions. Again, the freight can be parked temporarily in a block so the passenger crew can "turn" the train by running around their consist using Track No. 2, and being ready for another out-and-back.

Admittedly, this is not an ideal layout for long runs, but you can have a meet or two, and some people just enjoy watching the trains run. That's possible here, but for me the bulk of the operations would be in the yard. 

Back to the Movement of Trains
As for how trains are moved across the road, which is what I usually focus on? There isn't really any need to worry about TT&TO, or even operational paperwork here. Signaling could be added to indicate when one of the blocks is occupied. But as a single-operator layout with a single-track mainline in DC, there's not going to be any need for anything other than, "the train I'm running has the main." 

Having said that, we can design a schedule and we'll look at that next week.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Layout Construction: Spray Booth is Installed (again)

 I moved the spray booth back to where I originally planned, under the west end of the layout:


I had moved it to where Whiting Street is, and vented it through the old dryer vent. But since I built the backdrop only 2" off of the concrete wall, it's not thick enough to accommodate the flexible vent anymore. Here I have it running up through the wall and out the window:


As you can see, the booth has two fans, and two vents. Fortunately, I hadn't bothered taking this down when I moved the booth. One of the reasons I moved it was to provide desk space for the crews here. But they can use the booth for their paperwork just as easily, along with the other half of the agent's desk next to it. The bad patch job used to be behind the backdrop, so I'll have to finish that repair.

The refreshments (and bar) move to under Whiting St.

The compressor was a Christmas present, and is the same one Bill S. recently got and recommended. This all fits quite well, and accessing the two turnouts behind it isn't that difficult either. Lighting, of course, is great, and I think I may add a second one further back because the booth has a clear plexiglass top to allow a light to be used inside the booth too.

The booth itself was made by Artograph, and I did a lot of research before I purchased it years ago.  It has only seen a little use, but I'm sure that will change. Micro-Mark sold their own brand of the same one, but I paid a whole lot less than they want for it. I'm pretty sure it's out of production altogether, though, and now I'm having trouble finding the filters. It uses three, a think pre-filter which you used to be able to buy as a roll and would come through a slot in the back, plus a regular filter that other booths use, and a third layer that also looks like a pretty common material, even if I'll have to cut my own. There was a 20" wide version, but this is the 30" because I figured I might be doing buildings and other larger items at some point.

Next to it is a Flambeau tackle box from Walmart, that I purchased when I was building Harvey's layout. It has 5 multicompartment storage boxes which I have organized for various small parts, plus a good size open compartment for tools.

The storage drawers are just a basic plastic mobile storage unit, purchased from Wal Mart probably 20 years ago, but there are always similar ones available. These right half of the agent's desk is where I do my modeling now, so this unit and ready access to the spray booth will work well going forward I think.

The shelving, of course, is (at least 3 generations of) Ikea Ivar shelving that I've been using for years.

This is all part of finding a home for everything that doesn't currently have one, which is critical when living in a small house. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Commodities - Covered Hoppers


A picture I've posted a number of times, taken by Jim Karl in 1949. The last car in the consist is a covered hopper. I was wondering (once again) what might be in this covered hopper, since there isn't an industry in New Britain that would be receiving bulk cement. This car is clearly being switched since it's the DEY-4 (44-tonner) doing the work, so it was for someplace in New Britain.

On Bill's model of Livingston Manor he had learned that there was a cement company that received portland cement in covered hoppers. It was nothing more than a short trestle that allowed the O&W to drop the load directly into dump trucks. So it could still be cement, and unloaded where a conveyor could load it into trucks, for example.

Portland Cement

Cement would be the most common load in covered hoppers on through trains as well. So what models are available that I could use?

Looking at the 1% waybill study, about 1/3 of the portland cement from from NY, and 2/3 from PA. There are a number of models available that would be appropriate for those regions. The obvious place to start is the Intermountain model (with the same prototype being produced by Bowser, Eastern Car Works, and Kato in the past). Of the roads offered, I'll plan on:

Note that the D&H, NH, and LNE cars were all built by Pullman Standard and have a different hatch latching mechanism than the models (it should be "type 1c"). I've got a bunch of parts to experiment with modeling this more accurately. Unfortunately, it's not the "type 3" version offered by Yarmouth Model Works (Kit YMW 103). The New Haven car is also a slightly later lettering scheme than I will need.

Other models I have that are also good:

F&C has also released resin kits of a lot of other covered hoppers, many of which would be appropriate for me:

Atlas has also announced a run of some of the Canadian "slab side" covered hoppers we did at True Line Trains. I have a couple of them naturally, but I think it's probably unlikely that such cars would be common on the NH. F&C also has models of some of these cars.

Alumina and Aluminum Silicate

While cement is the most common load in covered hoppers in my era, it's not the only one. In researching other potential loads, I found that there are several related commodities that were common ladings. Bauxite, alumina, and aluminum silicate. Other than for aluminum products themselves, since I'm not familiar with their uses, I looked them up.

Bauxite is the stone that aluminum is mined from. 

Alumina is basically powdered aluminum separated from the bauxite. Although it has many uses, one of its common uses is as an abrasive, in sandpaper as well as cutting disks, etc. So I'm wondering if it might be used at Stanley Works or the other hardware companies.

I also found that aluminum silicate is a common ingredient in porcelain insulators. I also noticed that General Electric leased a number of covered hoppers. That got me wondering whether the GE plant in Plainville would receive them. Apparently that location was originally Trumbull Electric Co, taken over by GE, and manufactured porcelain fixtures, switchboards and panels, among other things. 

So add another Intermountain option:

Of course, that means I need to determine where such commodities would be sourced.

This lead to some interesting resources, such as this 1967 US Government report on Bauxite Reserves and Potential Aluminum Resources of the World. It's primary sources in North America are Arkansas, and to a lesser degree Alabama and Georgia in the southeast, and Oregon and Portland in the northwest.

Looking through my copy of the 1948 Rand McNally Railroad Atlas and aided with Google maps, I looked for the locations noted in the report to determine what railroads served them.

Arkansas

  • Bauxite (RI) Alcoa Mining Co, and Reynolds Metal Co

The general region on the map would also include MP, RI, SLSW, and SL-SF. The Intermountain Rock Island covered hopper is stenciled, "When empty return to Bauxite Ark."

Alabama

  • Eufala (CG)

Georgia

  • Andersonville (CG)

Oregon

  • Estacada (SP, UP)
  • Mehama (SP)
  • Portland (GN, NP, PS&S, SP, UP)
  • Salem (SP)

Washington

  • Kelso (CMSP&P, GN, NP, UP)
  • Cathlament (SP&S)

Quite a few railroads over that area which would allow quite an interesting mix of cars. So let's check the 1% waybill study for cars inbound to CT to get a mix.

Aluminum Ore is listed, would that be correct?

Checking the AAR Commodity List, 311 Aluminum Ore and Concentrates includes alumina, aluminum ore, bauxites or, bauxite ore concentrates, and bauxite. Aluminum silicate isn't noted by name, but this looks like the proper category since there are no aluminum based products listed under 399 Products of Mines, N.O.S.

And where did it come from?

75 cars from Illinois and 33 cars from...Canada?

OK, digging through some more resources like this and this. Under the heading How is Aluminum Made? on the second page it notes. "There are no bauxite mines in Canada." However, processing the bauxite takes a lot of electricity, so the processing plants are often built where electricity is cheaper, such as large rivers. 

So in Canada in my era Canadian alumina and aluminum silicate is all processed by the Aluminum Company of Canada in Arvida, Shawinigan, Beauharnois, and La Tuque, Canada, via the CN or CP. The True Line (now Atlas) slab side hopper models would be appropriate. Both CN and CP had cars appropriate for my era:

  • CN 113170-113544 series (built 1951-1953)
  • CP 380001-380200 series (built 1948)
  • CP 38201-380990 series (built 1950-1956)

In East St. Louis, the Aluminum Ore Co owned the A&S Railroad. Intermountain has a covered hopper model leased to the Aluminum Ore Co. These were owned by SHPX, and in 1952 33% of the SHPX covered hoppers were leased to Aluminum Ore Co. So these would probably be the most common cars.

Many roads served East St Louis, including B&O, CB&Q, IC, L&N, NYC (Big Four), and many others. Again, Intermountain makes cars for many of the appropriate roads:

  • CB&Q - has "type 3" hatch latching mechanisms available from Yarmouth Model Works
  • IC 
  • L&N - has the "type 2" hatch latching mechanisms
  • MP - has "type 3" hatch latching mechanisms available from Yarmouth Model Works
  • RI - has "type 1b or 1c" hatch latching mechanisms
  • SSW
  • WAB

The variations of hatch latching mechanisms, along with pretty much everything else to know about the ACF-Design 1,958 Cu Ft 70-ton covered hoppers that are the basis of the Intermountain models is detailed in Railway Prototype Cyclopedia volumes 27, 28, and 30.

Note that a number of the roads have more than one group of these covered hoppers, often with different mechanisms, or closed instead of open sides. Where possible, Intermountain appears to have only used the number groups that have the "type 1" mechanisms. Only when a road doesn't have that particular mechanism does it appear they have lettered the car without regard to the mechanism.

For those interested in the Yarmouth Model Works minikit for the "type 3" mechanism, since there is'nt a list of owners noted on the site I'll provide one here. It was used on cars owned by: ATSF, C&S, CB&Q, CIL, CNW, DRG&W, DMIR, DPCX, EJ&E, GN, I-GN, LS&BC, M-I, M-K-T, MP, SL-SF, and StL&BM.

By chance I happen to already own one lettered for Aluminum Ore company, plus a CB&Q, and WAB car from Intermountain. Lucky guess!

Kaolin

Kaolin is a type of clay used in the papermaking industry for finishing glossy papers. So cars with this commodity are appropriate for Holyoke. Nine cars owned by SHPX were built in 1940 and leased to Edgar Brothers Co of Metuchen, NJ (25051-25059). These cars had "type 1" mechanisms and open sides and are a match for the Intermountain model, although they haven't released this scheme. 

Where did Kaolin come from? It's part of 323 Clay and Bentonite, which came from quite a few locations across the country to CT:

  • CA 100
  • FL 75
  • GA 175
  • MO 25
  • NJ 25
  • PA 25
  • SC 200
  • TN 25

Edgar Brothers was based in NJ, but also mined in Edgar, FL. So these would be appropriate cars. It appears Georgia is the largest producer. I've also learned that Kaolin is often shipped as a slurry in tank cars, so that's another possibility. But since the Edgar Brothers were prototype cars, I may see if I can get some decals produced for them (or maybe Intermountain will add the scheme to their line).

Industrial Sand

Edgar Brothers also sold sand. A lot of the bulk sand sent to CT would have been used by the railroad. It would also have been shipped in bags in box car. But with an average of 1,250 cars annually, there would certainly be covered hoppers in the mix by this era. Two-thirds of this was from NJ, the rest from NY, except for a small amount (25 carloads) from Illinois. All of the local roads noted before, plus the Edgar Bros SHPX cars, would cover this traffic.

Other Commodities

Food commodities are common today, but even in my era malted barley, flour, sodium bicarbonate, and granulated sugar were shipped in covered hoppers, although I can't think of any bulk customers that would result in such loads running through New Britain. 

The same applies for fertilizer, powdered gypsum (although US Gypsum did have plants on the NH), potash, limestone, zinc oxide, etc.

Carbon black was another common commodity in covered hoppers, and while there were tire plants in CT, once again I don't think the cars would be running through New Britain. Rail Shop made a Carbon Black car (and a PRR H30 kit) but they don't seem to have an active website anymore. I have some of the Carbon Black cars and may be able to justify a car on a through train.

Kimberly-Clark leased cars from SHPX and they were based in New Milford. I'm not sure what commodity they were used for, but they would be very appropriate for somebody modeling the Berkshire line, but not coming through New Britain unfortunately (cars destined for the Berkshire from Springfield are routed through Cedar Hill).

--

Overall, covered hoppers won't be a common car delivered to New Britain, but as the photo shows they are receiving some in my era. Cars on their way to Hartford, Plainville or Holyoke are certainly appropriate, though, and with a greater variety than I originally thought.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Operations - A Day on A Way Freight

 As you may know, Chris' layout grew out of a Shoreliner article by our friend John Wallace and his experience as a teenager when he was able to ride (and fire) the Valley Local. The article details the work of the day quite extensively, and John has continued to provide insight and information to Chris as he builds his layout.

Chris gave me a copy of this article a while ago, and I thought it would be worth posting here. This is from the October 1946 issue of Along the Line, a (usually monthly) employee magazine. 


The article doesn't list an author, and it appears to be a railroad employee writing it. It covers a day on the Canal Local - not the YN/NY freight through New Britain, but the local freight that handles the traffic on the south end of the Canal Line. At the time of this article it was NHDX #4 (later NX-18).

After leaving New Haven it serviced:

  • Highwood
  • Plasticrete
  • Mt Carmel
  • Cheshire
  • Milldale
  • Plantsville
  • Southington
  • Plainville and back

Picks up and sets off over-dimension cars at Highwood. Connects at Plainville to & from HDX #5.

This train is very similar to the Valley Local. The Canal Line by this era is freight only, and in Manual Block territory, but there's only a single local freight. The freight houses in Mt. Carmel, Cheshire, Milldale, Plantsville, and Southington are all served by truck, not rail. It originates in New Haven, and turns at a junction and small yard at Plainville, and exchanges cars with another local freight. It would be very easy to model with New Haven as staging, and the east/west Highland Line, along with the north branch of the Canal Line also going to staging (or stub-ended). The cars from HDX-5 could simply be waiting in Plainville Yard.

Day Train Order stations are at Mt. Carmel and Milldale (Bob Belletzkie has helped get the train order signal operational at Milldale again).

I don't have assignments before the April 20, 1948 Engine Utilization report, but on that day it was J-1 3010 and it reports that it was only a 34 mile run. It’s about that far to Plainville, so they must not have gone that far on that day.

By April, 1949 it is handled by DERS-1b (RS-1) 0670. That locomotive lives on (sort of) on the roster of CNZR. It's not operable right now, but Dale and I continue to hope...

By fall of that year it's DEY-5 (S-2) 0620. No. 0606 is assigned in October, 1950.

By April 1952 it had been upgraded to DERS-2c (RS-3) 533, then 550 in fall of that year, 594 in fall 1954,  560 a year later, 

In September of 1956 it's now a  DEY-7 (SW-1200) 651, and in April, 1957 it's 652. 

A Day on a Way Freight

There are few railroaders who have more of a finger on the pulse of business than the crew of a way freight. And few get closer to our customers. The way freight crew know which plants are busy and which are in the doldrums. They know what new plants are being built, and where expansion is planned. They know these things because they live with the industries in their territory. They know and talk with our customers. They are friends.

The five men who run the Canal Local are just such a crew. This train leaves New Haven each morning around 9:45 a.m. to serve the industries on the "Canal", or Northampton Branch, as far as Plainville. Not only do the men know all their customers, but even know most of our neighbors who live adjacent to the tracks. And they perform little extra services for many of them, .in addition to giving them bang-up railroad service.

For the shipping clerk at Clark Bros. plant at Milldale, they have a Boston newspaper. A dozen or more of their customers look for delivery of copies of ALONG THE LINE each month, as do also some of their friends in houses along the right of way. At Southington they invariably drop off a piece of ice for Rose Verderame, clerk at the freight office. And returning the compliment, in wintertime Rose always has a cup of hot "Java" for the boys when the way freight arrives.

There's no doubt about it—this way freight job is a friendly job! The crew of the Canal Local enjoy their run and you would have a hard time weaning them away from it. The three train crew members alone have a total of one hundred and fourteen years' service between them right there on the "Canal" line. Leading off is Conductor Abram D. W. Holmes, Jr." Ducky" to you and to all his customers and railroad buddies from New Haven to Plainville. "Ducky", who lives in Springfield and deadheads back and forth to New Haven every day, has operated on the "Canal" line for forty-two years. He knows every tie and rail joint on the line, and the family history of the occupants of most of the houses within sight as the Canal Local shuttles back and forth delivering and collecting freight at the plants and stations en route. And he recalls that his wife's grandmother rode down from Northampton to New Haven on the old canal in pre-railroading days. It took her a night and a day to make the trip.

Frederick Henry Miller is the "flag"-his buddies know him as "Highball" ("Because I'm so fast," Fred modestly admits)-and he's been working the "Canal Local" for thirty-six years, as has his partner, William A. Cumm, brakeman, known to all and sundry as "Biddy". "Biddy" lives in Haydenville, Mass., and gets home only at weekends, going home Saturday evenings and coming back to New Haven Monday mornings. During the week he makes his home at the Railroad "Y". "Highball" lives in New Haven. He is one of three Miller brothers, all of whom were working on the "Canal" at one time, and they were affectionately nicknamed "Highball," "Fishball" and "Cannonball". Another brother, Benny, still works on the New York division.


Brakeman "Biddy" Cumm and Conductor "Ducky" Holmes


Flagman "Highball" Miller

The day we rode the caboose of the Canal Local as guest of "Ducky" Holmes, it was pouring rain most of the time-but the boys take that right in their stride. Togged out in oilskin hats, rubber raincoats, and boots, a bit of rain doesn't bother them at all.

On the head-end was Engineer Matthew O'Dea and Fireman James Cavanaugh. Pulling out of Water Street Yard at New Haven, our train, with five freight cars, rolled through the east cut and across the main line tracks and then "across lots" through the "Canal" cut, right through the city of New Haven, past the Arena, past the old Grove Street Cemetery where rest the remains of Noah Webster, Lyman Beecher, Eli Whitney, Samuel F. B.-Morse and other distinguished New Englanders; and then, parallel to Winchester and Dixwell Avenues, out to Hamden.


Matthew O'Dea was at the throttle

Passing through Hamden, "Ducky" called attention to an "A" pole at the entrance to Winchester's powder house reservation. It's a pole similar to a whistle post, except that it has the letter "A" instead of a "W". As our train service readers will know, but others probably not, this means that before entering the gate with a cut of cars the air must be coupled up.


Passing Winchester's, in Hamden

Coming· to a plant on the west side of the tracks, Conductor Holmes explained that this was the Plasticrete plant, where building blocks are manufactured out of cinders. "There's an industry I've seen grow in just a couple of years, from a single tiny building to that big plant-and they're constantly expanding. We handle a lot of freight for them. Just shows the power of a new ideal"


Monument to an idea: The Plasticrete plant

At Highwood siding we picked up one load and two empties—high cars which would not clear the bridges through the cut in New Haven and so had to be taken around via Plainville. Then we passed from the New Haven Division into Hartford Division jurisdiction.

At the W. I. Clark siding, a car was set off loaded with cork for a new freezing plant they were installing.

At Mt. Carmel, on this particular day, there was nothing but company mail. But on the siding, placed there the day previous, was a huge bridge girder, loaded on three flat-cars and destined to be used in the building of the bridge over Whitney Avenue which is a part of the extension of the Wilbur Cross Highway.

The Canal Local carries mostly heavy freight-steel, lumber, feed. "Down by this next bend," remarked our host, "is Munson's house--he's the superintendent of the cemetery - and they always ring a bell and wave to us as the train goes by, or if it's after dark, signal with a flashlight." Just friendly stuff!"

And over here on the other side -the woman in that house always waves to us. Oh, that's her daughter, Mary, out there today. She had infantile paralysis."

At Cheshire we picked up one car at the Cheshire Ball & Socket plant, and while "Highball" was flagging his job, the manager of the Cheshire Coal & Lumber Co. came over to pass the time of day.


Cheshire Ball & Socket plant

Beyond Cheshire, the. old canal became very much in evidence, running alongside the tracks for miles at a stretch. The water apparently is stagnant.


In places the old canal is much in evidence

At Milldale one car was picked up, and the Plainville cars were swung behind the Atwater Manufacturing "drops" since it is difficult to go in there with too many cars. The Atwater plant manufactures clutches and other items for Ford cars. At the Atwater plant two cars were dropped and three picked up.

At Atwater's the caboose was cut off while cars were switched.

There were no drops or pick-ups that particular day at the Blakeslee Drop Forge at Plantsville, but Conductor Holmes stopped there to telephone and get the "dope" on how much Atwater freight would be ready for pick-up on the return trip.


Blakeslee's, Plantsville

At Southington Harry Blanchette and Rose Verderame greeted the Canal Local. Rose got her ice and Harry, who is the son of Agent Harry Blanchette at Willimantic compared notes with the crew. '

Plainville was reached about 2:15. There all hands took fifteen minutes to fortify the inner man at a local lunchroom and then proceeded to do the local work at the several plants there—Peck, Stow & Wilcox's hardware factory, Southington Hardware, Tubular Products Co. (during the war they turned out miles of tubes for airplanes), Southington Lumber (a Diamond Match affiliate), and Pratt & Whitney's. The last-named plant covers an area a quarter-mile square and the Canal Local handled for its construction over 200 carloads of piles, 68 carloads of wooden blocks, and a great deal of other material, as well as hundreds of cars of highly important materials when the plant started operations.


Peck, Stow & Wilcox

At Plainville the train was turned on the "Y" and cars left by the Hartford Local were picked up and then, southbound, there was repetition of the northbound trip—stops to drop or pick up cars all along the line.


Turning on the "Y" at Plainville

Back at Water Street at 6:40 p.m., "Ducky" was fortunate enough to be able that day to make No. 80 home, after checking in at the Yard Office. Another day's work accomplished, customers satisfied, and then-home!

Just a day on a way freight.

--

The first thing that comes to mind when I read this (again) is that for the most part, railroading is the same thing every day. The crew knows their territory very well, and they know where there are challenges (don't bring too many cars at Atwater, for example).

I want to work this into my sessions where I can by having a seasoned "qualified" operator as conductor to teach new operators (as engineers) the line. I will also detail how the crews work New Britain. In my case, since they are switching crews, it will vary a bit more than a local freight. 

Chris has detailed his solo sessions on two of his freights on his blog, and they are also a great tutorial for crews who will work the jobs:

The stop to call and find out how much work there will be on the way back is also quite interesting. Even where the freight houses are served by truck, there will still be an Agent and a phone. We saw in the Along the Line article following BO-5 that the crew received orders at New Britain for work in Plainville. Now we can see that even in this era before radios that the crew could also check with Agents down the line for additional work. 

Industries continue loading/unloading cars through the day. So the crew won't know what all of their work is when they leave in the morning. Adding work through the session is not only prototypical, but makes the operations more interesting. I'm also always looking for confirmation on how to do it more prototypically than just stopping and checking the bill box at every industry.

This is a small freight, with only 5 cars to start, a great model railroad local:

  • Picked up 3 at Highwood siding.
  • Set out one at W. I. Clark
  • Pick up one at Ball & Socket
  • Picked up a car at Milldale and blocked the train for Atwater.
  • Dropped two and picked up three at Atwater.

They arrived at Plainville with 10 cars. Two of those were cars from their original consist leaving New Haven. These must have been for the industries in Plainville, although the article doesn't specify the work that was done. This local worked Plainville, so any cars on HDX-5 for Plainville would have been left for them to deliver. The 3 over-dimension cars would be for HDX-5, and they would also leave any outbound cars that had originally come via HDX-5. We don't know how many cars they returned with, nor how much work there was on the way back.

Note that they didn't leave any cars along the line to pick up on the way back, as we frequently do (and John recalls the crew doing) on the Valley Line. They picked up 5 on the way.

As small as this job seems, it's still a full ops session job, and would take (me anyway) 3-4 hours to complete, which is a full day with a 3:1 or 4:1 fast clock.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Designing Operations for Paul's Layout Part II - The Jobs Performed by the Railroad

Here's Part I.

So, we have a simple loop and two industries to service. We can turn a train, but only one direction. And a yard. What are we going to use the yard for?


Well, to me the yard is the key for this layout. But first a little model railroading philosophy...

One thing you may notice when operating a layout, is that your focus is on the work in front of you. Since this is primarily going to be a single-operator layout, we can take advantage of this. This narrowed focus also narrows your view of the layout. Which is one of the reasons I like a layout to be built somewhere between chest and eye height. It draws you into the scene, and limits your view of the rest of the layout.

We accomplish similar things with view blocks, etc., but with a small layout in the form of a loop, we'll have to rely on our imagination and narrowed focus a bit more. By doing so, we can focus on the action as a series of scenes, rather than how the relate to each other in the context of the layout itself.

The layout is our stage. For many of us, the stage is large, with different scenery for each. In other cases, the stage is a small independent theater. The scenery is more imaginary. Implied by the action on the stage, rather than a literal depiction built by the scenery crew.

By thinking more interpretive than literal, a small layout can represent a much bigger operation. And more we dress up the operations themselves, the less important the surrounding scenery is. 

You'll also notice that my focus is, once again, more on the operating experience. I'm sure you can get a sense as to how this will look on the the layout when you operate it. The details, about how trains or cars are moved, or even the paperwork used, are details that are added to clarify and provide structure and prototypical 'operations scenery' to the process of operating.

A typical approach to designing operations would be to try to jump in with car cards and waybills. And in fact, that's what Paul originally asked me to help with. "Supplies and bill boxes are already ordered from Micromark, how do I get started?" sort of thing:


But with only two industries, that wouldn't provide a whole lot of operation. By stepping back a bit, we can let the layout design itself help inform us as to where to start with operations design.

The Jobs Performed by the Railroad
As I've said, my focus on designing operations is on the operating experience that the crew has when running your layout. So I like to start with the jobs they'll be performing. This is more than just a practical consideration, it also enhances the operating experience.

In this case, we're handling a lot of different jobs. Since this is a single operator layout, all of them will be performed by the same person. But rather than lump everything together, I still like to think of them independently.

Since the majority of the layout is a yard, we'll start by looking at the jobs in a typical terminal yard:
  • The road crew brings their train into the yard, but they do not have permission to move their locomotive within the yard facility. In fact, the railroad forbids it because they would have to pay the road crew higher rates for their entire run if they did.
  • Hostlers are responsible for taking the road power to engine servicing, and also for bringing the road power to any newly assembled train. 
  • Yard crews man the switchers that do the work classifying cars and breaking down/building trains. 
  • The Yardmaster is responsible for coordinating all the work in the yard, and the Foreman is responsible for ensuring that the work is completed as directed by the Yardmaster.
All this is interesting, but why do I care for a single operator layout?

Because it helps to envision the scene we're creating. It helps to provide the tunnel vision that will obscure the fact that everything is occurring sequentially since you can only do so much at one time. In a sense you are like an actor stepping out of one role and into another and, like a movie, things that happen simultaneously must be shown separately to avoid missing any of the action.

Understanding the different jobs helps us visualize and separate those scenes into distinct events, enhancing the illusion that this is all part of a much bigger operation. It also makes it easy to operate a larger layout where you might be assigned to be a hostler, yard crew, or yardmaster. 

Although quite condensed, this already achieves the goal of prototypical operations. You can add layers, such as how you run the trains, paperwork, etc. to enhance that experience. But for a big picture overview, think of it in a series of scenes in a movie:

Scene 1: A road freight has arrived, and the locomotives need to go for their inspection and maintenance to prepare for the next run. Hostlers uncouple from the consist, and head to the engine house.

Scene 1a: In the meantime, a yard crew starts classifying the inbound cars, building new trains, or shoving the cars to an interchange track to be picked up by another road.

Scene 1b: A switching crew is handling work at several industries within yard limits.

Scene 1c: A train is near ready for departure, and the hostlers are on their way with the road power.
The crew is given their orders, and throw the iron just after the latest passenger train passes, and starts to pull out onto the main.

Scene 2: The road freight is on the high iron, on its way to Cedar Hill and making good time. They'll have to take the siding at a couple of points to let the first class passenger trains pass, before pulling into the yard.

Scene 2a: The first class passenger train is running from station-to-station, and turning at the terminal at the end of its run for the return trip.

We're not talking about the physical scene, and how to model the landscape, structures, etc., but the action that takes place. But it relates to the physical elements as well. We need to determine where this will take place on the layout itself.

Designating Yard Tracks

A yard typically has a number of dedicated tracks for specific purposes. In this case, though, we'll have to use different tracks for multiple purposes. Remember that on the rear (North Main) west is left and east is right.

Track No. 2 is a runaround for the North Main Line, but we're also going to use it as an arrival and departure track. Freight trains will terminate here, and when a train is built, we'll stage it here. When a freight arrives, the road power will be taken to the engine house, and a switching crew will break down the trains.

Tracks No. 3-5 are the yard tracks, where cars will be classified. 

The yard ladder also serves as the Yard Lead, along with a portion of the main line. Runaround moves will also have to use the main line. 

The Coast Main Line is actually just part of the yard complex at this point, allowing access to the engine servicing tracks. Paul has wisely kept that in the same electrical block as the yard.

Cabooses will have to be shoved out of the way temporarily as working. Either on one of the yard tracks, left on Track No. 2, or on Coast Main Line.

Not ideal, but we can have a fully operational yard.

Yards also have tracks designated for specific purposes. That is, the same outbound train is built on the same track every day. With that in mind, here's a track list:
  • Yard Ladder and North Main to the right of the ladder: Yard Lead
  • Track No. 2: Runaround, arrival, and departure track.
  • Track No. 3: Yard Track for Westbound trains.
  • Track No. 4: Yard Track for Eastbound trains.
  • Track No. 5: Yard Track
This is all we'll need for terminating a freight, servicing power, having a switching crew break down, classify, and build new trains, and originating a new freight. Even better, this process takes quite a bit of time, and while you're operating you are ignoring the two loops at either end of the layout.

With those designated, we can easily see how the scenes I described can occur on this layout.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

What else am I working on? Lots of small projects

Most of my recent modeling hasn't been that post-worthy. Gluing down track, etc., and I've had a lot more research/computer time recently (thus all the posts on commodities), but I wanted to keep up with the modeling posts too. 

I did spend a couple of evenings de-flashing 7 resin hopper kits worth of parts. The top box is 3 kits, and each of the other boxes two additional kits, each box being a different prototype.

I have 6 more to go. I'm kind of making a habit of this when I have some spare time that's not long enough for another project. I have already cleaned the flash off of the hopper bodies, and also drilled holes. So I'll be ready to do a push to finish assembling them once I've gathered the prototype material and made sure I have trucks for them. 

I also added a couple more short staging tracks behind the Agent's desk where I realized I had some space (and a couple of spare turnouts):

These will be used for parking locomotives not used in a given session. I'd like to have enough tracks to store all of the locomotives on the layout to minimize handling. I will probably install switches to cut power to the tracks when not used.

I also noticed that the couplers sat a little high on the RS-2s. So I used a red Kadee washer to lower them.


This required filing down a small amount of the pointed portion of the steam line doors.


I completed relaying the mainline and Track No. 5 around the back corner where I had taken them up for some work. I wanted the tracks closer together along the straight section to provide more room for the eventual Union Manufacturing building.


The front track (eastbound main) proved a bit more problematic to get right, and once I did I decided not to try to adjust the curvature of the other tracks to be closer here. It will be pretty well hidden by buildings anyway and I can work with it scenically. The key is that it must operate properly.

I had considered installing a track for Skinner Chuck Co. on the inside of this curve (the only major industry missing), but it really just won't fit. This entire section should be on a broad curve going the other direction, but the basement wall got in the way...

The light blue masonite has two new industries, North & Judd storage, and P&F Corbin coal track, so I'm glad I was able to add those. The rest of the work on Track No. 5 will wait, because I want to use the forthcoming Fast Tracks Diamond Line crossing once they are available. They look amazing. I'm also considering hand laying the turnout at the end of Track No. 5, which is currently a curved Walthers turnout. 

The rest of the work has been continuing to rearrange the basement and find homes for everything, final tweaks on trackwork and dropping feeders. I'll spend a day (hopefully with Chris' help) soldering them all to the rail, since that's easier with two people for a lot of these locations. I'm really not that far from having a fully operational layout again, and that's a priority.