Friday, June 3, 2011

Test Operations Begin!

Last Saturday, 6 months & 2 days since construction began, Marcus, Mike, Steven and I ran an informal operations test session.  We started about 10 & with a break for lunch I think we ran until about 3.  Things went very well, with only a few minor issues identified.  Mike & Steven ran road freights & locals, Marcus ran a couple of road freights & worked Maybrook, and I worked Warwick.  I should have taken better (any) notes, but I think we ran 2 L&NE road freights, 3 L&HR road freights, 1 PRR road freight, 1 RDG unit coal train & 3 L&HR locals, plus 2 or 3 NH trains & 1 Erie in and out of Maybrook.  I handled dispatching verbally & very informally.  I put in place a last minute, like Saturday morning, waybill on car system, which left a lot to be desired & won't be repeated.  But, it served its purpose & provided some entertainment.  I'm sure I've not heard the last of it!  Anyway, I can't thank Marcus, Mike & Steven enough for their participation--it was most excellent to see the RR really start to come to life in the way I envisioned it. 

I asked for problem areas to be indentified with post it notes & the RR had a liberal coating of purple notes by the end of the test session.  But, the problems were all minor & all have been corrected.  I also wired the frogs on the NH Cedar Hill staging yard ladder, which seems to have helped with stuttering across the turnouts.  We had no isses with the the Phillipsburg/Allentown staging yard ladder, but I used all new turnouts there.  I used Peconic relay turnouts at Cedar Hill & I think I should have used new.  But, if wiring the frogs works, the used turnouts will probably stay in place. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mainline Golden Spike!

It seems that it's getting longer & longer between my posts; I didn't realize that the last update was April 9.  Well, be that as it may, the big news for today is that the mainline is complete & operational from east staging (New Haven Cedar Hill Yard) to west staging (Phillipsburg/Allentown).  I've made some other progress, too, including installing the New Haven line from Maybrook to Campbell Hall, which serves as E/L staging, and I've gotten started laying track on the long delayed Ogdensburg branch.  I've also installed slide switches on all mainline and yard turnouts & have installed linkages on all but 4 or 5 of them.  I think now that the mainline is essentially complete I can actually start running some significant test trains, which should reveal where fine tuning is needed--at least I hope that only fine tuning will be needed! 

For what it's worth, this coming Thursday is 6 months since construction began.  It seems longer ago than that, but it's not.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mainline nears completion!

I don't feel as if I've made a whole lot of progress this week, but looking back I guess I have.  All mainline track is laid except for the last piece of flex to connect with west end Phillipsburg/Allentown staging.  All tortoises are installed, all feeders have been placed & those midway thru Andover Jct have been connected.  The west yard lead at Warwick has been installed, all slide switches in Maybrook have linkages, except 2, frogs at the west end of Maybrook have been wired.  I hope to get the rest of the feeders connected tomorrow & hope to put the mainline in service to the end of track at the entrance to west end staging.  West end staging will be deferred for a week or so until I get some surplus twin coil switch machines, since I've given up on Atlas under the table machines.  I'll keep using the ones I've already installed, but won't be installing any more.

The time is getting closer & closer for near full scale test sessions!  As of today I'm 2 weeks shy of 5 months since construction started.  I don't think I'll be able to initiate near full scale test sessions by the 6 month anniversary, but I think I won't miss it by much.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Progress Continues

Well, it's been more than 2 weeks since the last update & the L&HR has continued to progress.  Since then I took a week off from work & basically worked full time on the RR.  Between that & evenings & last weekend & with the help of Steven Johnson & Marcus Neubacher, I've wrapped all the feeders from the feeder frenzy of a couple of weeks ago & all track is in service to the west end of Sparta Jct.  Tortoises have been installed through the west end of Sparta Jct & have been tested and are in service through the east end of Sparta Jct.  Track has been laid to the east end of Andover Jct & track and roadbed have been acquired to complete the mainline into west end staging (Phillipsburg/Allentown).  All bus wire has been pulled through west end staging.  additional loconet cable & 6 throttle jacks have been installed, thanx to the generosity of CRI&P management.  slide switches & linkages have been installed in Maybrook and along the mainline.  I think my focus at this point will be to complete the mainline & west end staging.  Once that's complete I can begin some operations testing.

Beyond the construction progress, the big news is that test trains have run successfully from Maybrook to Sparta Jct & return.  Last Saturday I ran the first west bound revenue freight from Maybrook to Sparta Jct, & after delivery of the loconet cable & 6 throttle jacks, Steven Johnson ran the first east bound revenue freight from Sparta Jct to Maybrook.   Last Sunday Marcus came to help with slide switch installation.  Before starting on that project, he ran a "stress test" westbound freight.  2 C420s departed Maybrook with 24 cars, stopping at Warwick to set off 5 underweight cars & pick up 11 fully weighted cars, making a 30 car train, all fully weighted, plus caboose.  I'm pleased to report that 2 C420s made it all the way from Warwick to Franklin (almost a continuous grade at about 1% to DeKays & about 1.75% from DeKays to Hamburg before easing off to Franklin), although it was a very close call in some locations, particularly when the train was stretched thru turnback curves between DeKays & Hamburg.  Nevertheless, expert train handling by Marcus got the job done; very impressive!  In any event, since I'm planning 25 car max trains, I now feel confident that 2 C420s can handle that train length.  Since the other L&HR road power will be Atlas Classic RS3s, & a pair of Atlas CNJ SD35s, both of which I know to be good pullers, I'm confident that all L&HR trains can operate over the road with 2 units. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More track in service

I wrapped more feeders to the bus wires today & am happy to report that all track to Warwick is now in service! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Maybrook News

There's big news on the L&HR today.  Following the feeder frenzy on Saturday, I spent some time yesterday and today wrapping the Maybrook feeders around the Maybrook bus wires.  With anticipation and not a little anxiety, I then hooked the bus to the booster & fired up my Digitrax system.  It worked!  Maybrook is wired & operational on all tracks including yard leads and caboose tracks!  I haven't powered turnout frogs or installed slide switches, so there are some dead frogs & flopping turnout points, but that was expected & should be corrected with the installation of slide switches.  The only problem I ran into was the frog on one turnout in the east yard ladder shorting when set for the straight route.  I think I can fix it pretty easily & if not I'll just replace it.  NBD (no big deal) either way. 

Well, I'm pretty excited to see Maybrook coming to life & am anxious to wrap the rest of the feeders & test more track!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wiring Madness!

Astounding progress was made today on the L&HR due to the outstanding effort of good friends Mike,  Marcus & Steven!  I can't thank you guys enough for all your hard work today.  Basically, all feeders from NH staging to midway thru Sparta Jct, which is where I've gotten with tracklaying, have been soldered to the rails.  And, bus wire has been pulled past Warwick, plus wire for staging switch machines.  And, Marcus has got my block detection scheme figured out.  I can't thank Mike, Marcus & Steven enough for all their efforts.  In fact, Mike & Steven were soldering at such a pace that their irons were casualties!  Thanks again guys!