Thursday, January 15, 2015

Operating Leadville | 7 Comments - Click Here :

Boomer Engineer/Conductor Darel Leedy drags a cut of coal cars through Leadville.

    Keith Hayes - About once or twice a year, I try to invite Darel over to operate Leadville. I have made some progress on the layout and it had been a while since he has seen the it. Plus, we had some catching up to do. Plans were made and he came over early in January. Of course it snowed, as it always snows when Darel visits.

    In order to prep for the visit, I cleaned all the track and ran the locomotives back and forth to find last minute shorts and track issues. Naturally, everything worked great. At the previous two operating sessions, I created some short switch lists on scrap paper by hand. For this session, I took the time to create a more realistic form. I combined the lettering from a Form 31 found in Klinger’s “C&S High Line Memories and Then Some” with a Monon Switch List in Koester’s “Realistic Model Railroad Operation.” It was a great improvement, though I have not seen such a C&S form myself (hint: someone post some images of C&S paper and rules, please!). 

    After some catching up, Darel and I got to work. The session starts with a C&S freight just arriving from Denver, and the D&RGW local arriving from Salida. Each train has a locomotive and six freight cars, plus a caboose. On this occasion, the Denver passenger train was spotted on the C&S Depot track, so no cars could be spotted there. Darel chose the C&S job, and I reviewed the setout locations with him. And we got to work. 

    The whole point of building the models and recreating Leadville is to operate the layout, and Darel is a willing and patient participant in these ‘shakedown’ sessions. Though C&S 74 was a star performer after I cleaned the track, it repeatedly stopped. Darel diagnosed this to the tender wheels, and some added weight helped for a bit, but it looks like I really need to add some ‘keep alive’ boards to the locomotives. Though I am not fond of tearing into brass locos, I promise I will throw caution to the wind and perform a couple installs. 

    D&RGW 278 was not short free, either. The pony truck must be mounted in a slot, as the assembly appears to slide back in forward moves and the wheel shorts on a couple diverging turnouts. Maybe a little clear film will help?
The first task is assessing the switch list and planning the moves. Being familiar with the layout is a plus. In my case, I used this opportunity to switch the Arkansas Valley Smelter. This is a complicated move as the coal track is on a switchback, requiring some thought staging the new cars, pulling the empty cars, and spotting the fresh loads. 

    Consequently, it can take some time to get the first spot completed. It took both Darel and I almost an actual hour between arriving at the terminal and getting our first cars spotted. I think this is attributed more to the length of the sidings and perhaps having about 4-5 too many cars on the layout. 

    When designing the layout, I tried to balance the number of leading and trailing industries, while deferring to the prototype layout. As we operate, the use of tracks is becoming apparent, and some names are starting to stick. Though the prototype C&S yard had four tracks, I only modeled three: the main, what I am calling the arrival track, and the freight house track. 

    Having two railroads in Leadville provides an opportunity for an interchange. In my case, this is a short connection adjacent to the C&S Depot. If I were doing it again, I would provide four car lengths between turnouts as a place for set-outs. As it is, transferred cars have to be spotted either on C&S or D&RGW track. At the start of the session, I had five C&S coals on the D&RGW track I had to work around. Fortunately Darel picked these up rather quickly! 

The Grand Poobah of Leadville (Mayor Keith Hayes) switching.

    This was the first time I had the short stretch of track past the eastern-most switch at Leadville, so the C&S loco can now run around trains. This greatly aids the C&S crew in switching, and Darel made good use of this humble start of mainline during our session. 

    In fact, he tended to work his train from the east end of the yard, often moving long cuts of cars back and forth past the Depot. It was great fun to watch! 

    If you don’t read Model Railroader, Andy Sperandeo has had a great column, “The Operators.” One of Andy’s most valuable tips is to spot cars just past the clearance point. Sawing back and forth can take a while, and working cuts of cars just past the clearance point saves time. Though at Leadville there are also the numerous street crossings to contend with. As scenery progresses, and operations become more consistent, I will become more militant about keeping the street crossings clear during switching. 

    After about two hours of operating, we both had most of our switch lists completed, and had little time left of the clock besides. It was a fun session and both showed the merits of the plan and areas to attend to. While I am anxious to start the Cañon campaign, I also have a number of maintenance items to attend to, like those pesky ‘stay-alive’ boards. And, while completing some building signage will aide in identifying industries, I need to give some thought to labeling tracks on the fascia. The switch lists worked well: the fact that we were both fully occupied for the better part of two hours JUST SWITCHING is sobering considering plans to extend the main line and add a helix to a lower level. How long will it take to do just a little switching and make the run up the High Line to the pass? There is also now incentive to get the turntable and roundhouse in place. And backdrops. The list does not end.
It was great to see Darel, and I had a fine time. Who says you can't operate on the narrow gauge?

Keith Hayes
Modeling Leadville in Sn3

7 Comments - Click Here :
  1. Sounds like it was a great session. I need to get back to the "patch" and get something running there. There aren't enough pictures of C&S #74 though, let's make sure that's rectified next time.

  2. When you clean the track do you also clean the loco AND tender wheels?

  3. Obviously the Broncos were still in the playoffs when I was wearing that hoodie. Cant find it now.

  4. There looks to be quite some potential in this layout, especially with the right equipment.

    Maybe one day I can kick your door in on one of these "opratetin" sessions, I could handle that Diesel as I loved notch8 kicking. {:)

    New Zealand

  5. Very cool, Keith. You've made a lot of progress.

  6. Sounds like great fun!

    Just think what a challenge it must have been switching all the mines above Leadville!

  7. It has been a busy week. Chris, you are welcome to journey to Denver for an operating session. Robert, you are correct that I did NOT clean the wheels. I did buy a couple current keepers and am investigating installing them. In anticipation of this, I got 75 out, put it on the rails and it ran with nary a stall.

    Keith Hayes
    Leadville in Sn3