Friday, July 25, 2014

Visits from the Pennsylvanians

Received a short visit from "Blazeman" (Larry) and his friends Bob & Alden. We ran the return trip of WY80, the  Tank Sweeper (collects cars from the Sunoco and Texaco refineries) from Paulsboro to Camden and WY841, the Camden to Penns Grove local.

WY80 only had to collect 3 cars from the South Woodbury yard (left after the Texaco pickups by WY79). So it returned home quickly.

Meanwhile WY841 was launched from Camden. It started with only 6 cars. (It will have 14 cars by the time it reaches Penns Grove and Deepwater.) Bob and Alden did the drops and pick ups in Westville and North Woodbury but had to leave before completing the South Woodbury yard work. So I completed that.

I am now left to break down 2 trains, run WY840 from Penns Grove back to Camden and do the Camden yard switching. At this rate it will be about 6 weeks to finish the first day's schedule!

Dropping off a reefer for icing:

Picking up 2 box cars:

Reassembling the train:

Snaking through crossovers and getting out of town:

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Bachmann Lifetime Warranty.

A relatively local hobby shop makes periodic runs to Bachmann's repair center in Philadelphia and said they have a lifetime warranty and would fix any Bachmann equipment. Well I have managed to collect 3 Bachmann Reading 2-8-0 steam engines (only one of which sorta ran) so in April I delivered 2 of them to the hobby shop for the repair run. One should have been an easy repair since I believe the worm was just loose on the shaft and spinning.

Later I heard that if they can't fix them they will substitute an equivalent engine FOR A FEE. So when I heard that I stopped into the hobby shop and told them I did not want to pay for a substitute, so if necessary just get my engines back if they can't fix them

Well Wednesday (11 weeks later) I get a call from the hobby shop saying they couldn't repair them (I very much doubt that they tried) and just gave me substitutes and wanted $25 each for them. Ignoring the fact that that was exactly what I didn't want, I went to the hobby shop. The substitutes were both Bachman 2-6-2 Prairie locomotives, neither of them Reading and neither having a Reading Wooten fire box. (One was in a beautiful Southern green scheme and was a temptress.) Neither being of any value on a 1950 Pennsylvania - Reading Seashore Lines layout (and not wanting to spend $25/$50) I refused them. So now I've lost 2 Reading 2-8-0s that at least had display potential and am very ticked at Bachmann (and the hobby shop).

Also last week I had won a new Bachmann Reading GP7 on eBay at a very reasonable price. It arrived DOA. Did nothing on DC and nothing on a friend's DCC layout. No light, no noise, no movement. Nice looking engine but back it went.

[35 of my 130 remaining engines are Bachmann, most of them still run.]

Update: While the consols (2-8-0s) are lost forever I must give kudos to Bachmann for their customer service rep, Laura. Multiple emails and a phone call is service beyond what I could have ever expected. They tried their best.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Blog Anniversary #3

This is the third anniversary of this blog. On the first blog anniversary I estimated that most blogs seem to run out of things to say somewhere between the 2nd and 4th years so I guess I should run out of gas soon!

So what have we learned:
  • I have found that blogs are a great place to store info about the prototype and a way to keep myself from repeating mistakes (somewhat) and a chance to reflect on the path to get to here.
  • The social aspects of the hobby make the journey worthwhile. I actively participate on the Railwire and forums (and boy are they worlds apart) and monitor Trainboard. Through them I have met several interesting people, many of whom I would call friends. I have learned a lot and been pushed to accomplish things I would not have attempted on my own.
  • Historical Societies provide a ton of prototype information but many of the ex-railroaders are sometimes a little rough around the edges. (It must have been difficult work and I don't think the Pennsy was very employee friendly.)
  • To get to a semi-completed layout state a lot of compromises have to be made.

What has been accomplished:
  • In 3 years my PRSL layout has gotten to an operational state with most of the first pass scenery complete. (Long, long way to go.)
  • Realistic operations is a lot of work but a group makes it enjoyable.
  • It is fun to put a stake in an historical period and bring back to life your childhood.

Things I still don't know:
  • Does anybody else actually read this blog? I have only gotten comments from 3 people. It would be nice to know if anyone found anything here helpful (or at least amusing).
Anyway it has been a good 3 years, I now need to go blow out the candles.
Have a great day!  :-)

P.S. I hate blog entries without pictures!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The "Learnings" List

Project Management requirements include the necessity of maintaining a "Learnings List". There you keep note of all the things you learned (mostly bad but some good) during the project so you don't repeat the same mistakes on the next project.

Two things I learned during the first operating session were:

1) You need someplace to sort the car cards/ waybills, especially when blocking cars in the yard (can't do that in the tool aprons). So I added shelving at the Camden Pavonia yard and the small South Woodbury yard. In the Woodbury yard you need to sort out which cars you are picking up (depends on the direction you are going).

2) When you are my age you need someplace to rest your weary bones and Walmart's 30" wooden stools ($20) give you rest and the ability to watch the trains at nearly eye level!