Saturday, June 28, 2014

For the 100th Post: The First Operations Session - Hooray!

I had a 5 hour window of availability with my new crew/"posse". Since this was our first session together, I took them on a tour of the prototype area I modeled in Westville and Woodbury.  This gave them a feel for what we are trying to accomplish.

We then watched segments of a DVD showing PRR & RDG steam going through the area modeled and a David Popp video on car cards & waybills.

After pigging out on pizza we hit the train room with only 2 hours left.

The only PRSL freight schedule I have is a 1974 version (the trackage is 1950 accurate) and we attempted to run 4 of the 5 scheduled freights in the time we had available.

Skipping the morning and evening commuter runs we planned to run the following:
  1. Philly transfer into Pavonia (took longer than expected to break it down)
  2. WY843/842            Deepwater coal drag 
  3. WY33/34                Millville local
  4. WY841/840            Deepwater local
  5. WY79/80                Tank train sweeper for Texaco (Westville) and Sunoco (Paulsboro (off-line)).
  6. Pavonia to Philly transfer

We got halfway through.

The yard had electrical continuity issues (in spite of running perfectly the night before  :-)) but the yard crew persevered.

Even though south Woodbury did not have a separate switcher on the prototype , I think it will need one on my layout.

I think we have proven that the layout can keep 4 people very busy and is relatively balanced if we can keep the main yard working efficiently..

In the end:
  • We had fun
  • There is still a lot of planning that needs to be done to clean up the bottle necks.
  • In the fall we will have another go at it.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Getting Ready for Operations - Preparing for the First Session

To get ready for our first operating session (6/28/14) I collected supplies and began getting the freight cars where they need to be.

The mini-flashlights compensate for minimal room lighting and aged eyes to be able to read the car numbers. The aprons hold the waybills and the picks are for uncoupling.

To determine what freight cars I would need for an operating session, I removed all the freight cars on the layout (they had been selected using the criteria in my October 24th, 2013 blog entry). I arranged them in order by car type and the railroad proportions we had calculated.

I then started adding cars back to meet the operational requirements I had planned (industry generated) for the Monday schedule. I then ran the Monday schedule making required set-outs (nothing ready for pick-up yet). It starts with a coal drag arriving from Philadelphia with the loaded hoppers needed on the line. (Seen to the right of the picture below.)

It soon became apparent that I would need to split the yard into 4 tracks for Camden/Pavonia and only 2 for the terminating portion of (the same yard). I also moved the shared MOW & Cabin track to the 5th of the 7 tracks.

The schedule includes a hotshot coal drag to the Atlantic City Electric power plant (off-line in Deepwater, Penns Grove branch), the Millville local, the refinery sweeper (delivers/collects tankers at the Texaco refinery in Westville (on-line) and the Sunoco refinery in Paulsboro (off-line)). Then a Deepwater local. As on the prototype, all runs are out and back the same day.

I soon realized I had too many cars being delivered to Camden (by the yard crew). The sidings need to hold today's set-outs + yesterdays set-outs (pick-up take place on each car's 3rd day) (Set-out - Hold - Pick-up cycle).

Anyway I finally got the 3rd day's schedule running which gets everything set-up for a full operation session.

My Lessons Learned (standard project management requirement) included:
  • Before placing the cars, run them all and remove the ones that derail or have broken couplers (10 of my 125). Reliability counts.
  • Running the whole schedule by yourself is exhausting (and there is nobody to joke around with). I need to get some bar stools
  • I needed the construction aprons to hold car cards (and waybills) and uncoupling pics and flashlight to read car numbers and to see to uncouple the cars.
  • I had too many cars scheduled for the Camden industries (and others). I need to significantly reduce the industry request waybills from my original matrix.
  • I think I have enough yard capacity to keep the yards below 70% full. Time will tell.
  • I think it works well in planning by removing all cars and adding them as needed the first time.
  • I ended up with about the same number of cars calculated but in different car type ratios (less box cars and more tankers and reefers).