Friday, March 22, 2019

BayRails 2019 - Tour of US Operations

Last weekend I attended the operations at BayRails 2019 based out of Newark, California.  BayRails is one of many local events which bring a select group of people who own or help set up model railroad operations on their layouts from around the country (and even a few from outside the US!) who gather in a city to operate the 10-20 model railroads in the area which have passed several selection and operational requirements.

I've been attending the BayRails event since 2009 and the additional sessions held during the week ahead of the X2011W Sacramento NMRA Convention in 2011.  Each meet I select my top 10 railroads to operate on.  The BayRails crew then runs everyone's selections through a computer program to do a 'best fit' to get everyone as high of selection for the three railroads they will operate on given the restrictions of which days what railroads will be available, groups of people, etc.  After 10 years, I've almost visited every railroad on the offering!  I think this year, I still am missing one or two.  Several layouts I've either returned to again or been assigned to return to, all of which have been very enjoyable!

Chesapeake & Ohio - 1947 - Andy Schnur

One of Andy's impressive bridges on the C&O!

This year I started on Friday with a trip to the East Coast, to operate on the Chesapeake and Ohio of Andy Schnur.  The way-back machine for the weekend was set to 1947 to start the three day adventure.  Training for operations on the C&O started the weekend before when Andy sent out a message for those of us ski---... I mean crazy enough to 'volunteer' to Dispatch his railroad on our railroad 'top 10' list during registration.  Andy emailed me a packet of information with the layout track chart, a 'lineup' for the planned trains to run, the Employee Timetable (ETT), and an offer to answer any questions I might have.

The helper turntable at Alleghany

Operations were going to be D-251 (double track with ABS signals) and a branchline operating under TT/TO (light) authority.  (TT/TO 'light' is a concept some operations folks use when the railroad is compressed and they want to simplify the 'Rules' used to a minimum.)  The Dispatcher sits in Andy's living room, totally blind to what's happening on the railroad, except for the train crews, playing as towermen, contacting the Dispatcher to report movements of trains past their Cabins (towers on the C&O).  Two Dispatchers were selected for the day, this would allow us to trade off and also get to experience running a train or two over the railroad.

An overview of Meadow Creek, looking west.

After arriving at Andy's, the crew was given a few minute tour of the railroad, and then a briefing and a rough plan of what assignments each of us would have.  I would Dispatch Second Trick, after lunch.  My first train assignment was the 'Fanny', Nos. 155/165, a local mine-run passenger train for the miners to get from their homes in town to the mines on the Piney Creek Branch for the day and back.

John Rogers Dispatching 1st Shift, March 15, 1947 - Hinton Sub Division

C&O No.155, the 'Fanny'

The view of the house tracks at Hinton before the yard crew makes up No.155, around 5:45AM, March 15, 1947.

No. 155's day starts at 6:00AM at Hinton.  Today's 2-8-0, C&O 1056, sits quietly in front of the Hinton station with one coach.  A flurry of activity just to the west at the Division Roundhouse as the day's through trains will all be changing engines here.  The Eastward Freight Yard at Hinton, just south of the roundhouse is also starting to bustle with activity.

The Roundhouse crew at Hinton swings into action moving engines to their ready tracks.

Almost train time, but before I can depart, I need my clearance...


Train Order No.02, March 15, 1947
Clearance for No.155, March 15, 1947

With my orders in hand, No.155 departs at 6:30AM for Raleigh via Meadow Creek and the junction at Prince.

At 6:30AM, C&O 1048 departs Hinton with No.155, the Fanny. - Andy Schnur's C&O 1947.

On the Road!

No.155 departs Meadow Creek heading to Prince.

Per Train Order No.02, I contact the Dispatcher to get authority to cross the eastward main track at Prince, entering the Piney Creek Branch to Raleigh.

Between Prince and Stanaford, C&O 1048 leads the coach across a beautiful thru-truss bridge.

A short stop to drop off miners for the two mines at Stanaford.  The C&O 2-8-0 begins to bark as she pulls the coach upgrade towards Raleigh.

Working out of a cut along a ridge, No.155 blasts out onto a steel deck bridge over the creek, the climb to Raleigh almost complete.

The Station at Raleigh, with the turn table in the backround.

No.155 turns the coach and engine at Raleigh for the return trip to Hinton as No.156 at 8.00AM.

After arriving C&O 1048 backs the coach onto the turntable and then pulls it back off to spot at the station.

After spotting the coach, C&O 1048 backs down to the yard throat to be turned as well.

During my time running Nos. 155 & 156, I had time to look closely at the 2-8-0 and Rivarossi coach. I also had a bit of time to snap a few photos of the train in scenic spots along the line.

C&O 1048 turned and taking water for the return trip to Hinton on No.156.

On the return trip I noticed some interesting use of Atlas N-scale bridges, kitbashed for use as a one-lane road over the creek in Meadow Creek.

Central Valley railroad bridge and N-scale Atlas bridge used for the one-lane road.  Very nicely done.

The rest of the run back to Hinton was uneventful.  I was able to grab a couple of shots of C&O 1048 putting the coach to bed for the night in the house tracks just west of the station.

C&O 1048 and coach 819 being put to bed for the night.

C&O No.14, the 'West Virginian'

No.14, the West Virginian, storming upgrade behind 4-8-2 number 549.

After the run on the 'Fanny', I was assigned No.14 which was a lovely heavyweight passenger train lead by a C&O 4-8-2.  Departing Thurmond (staging) heading to Hinton for an engine change, before continuing to Clifton Forge.

No.14 rounds the curve just west of Prince and cruises into the station.

This shot taken of No.14 from the bridge just south west of the depot on the Raleigh Branch.

No.14 under the charge of C&O 549 today pulls her train into the station at Prince.

I was impressed to see the work that Andy, et al, put into the consist of No.14, with a heavily kitbashed Rivarossi Pullman turned Baggage-Coach/Chair (Similarly rebuilt to my SP 3503 Baggage-Dorm).  I decided to take photos of each car in the consist to reference later and also to post here!

C&O 456 Combined Baggage-Coach/Chair, starting from a Rivarossi 12-1 Pullman (shown below)

After looking closely at the combine, I decided to have a closer look at the chair car, which also started life as a Rivarossi HW 12-1 Pullman, but has had all of its windows replaced with coach windows!  That's a LOT of work!

C&O 790 coach/chair car, also starting from a Rivarossi 12-1 Pullman

The consist was rounded out with several nice models of C&O RPO and Baggage car, and a fairly stock Rivarossi Pullman bringing up the markers at the rear.

C&O 379, obviously an Express-Baggage starting with an Athearn Blue-Box RPO with lightweight 4-wheel trucks used.

C&O 81, probably a Bethlehem Car Works, (sorry I don't know all the models of eastern road RPOs) for the RPO.

Rounding out the consist of No.14 is 'General Washington', a Rivarossi Pullman 12-1 with some nice work to the AC ducts and interior.

I was also able to catch a nice photo of the dining car Oak Tavern at Hinton's house track early in the session.

C&O 'Oak Tavern' from a Rivarossi HW Diner.

Unfortunately, 'I went on the law' (shift change and lunch was called) shortly after I departed Prince for Meadow Creek, so I didn't get to take anymore pictures of No.14.

Dispatching the C&O - Hinton Division March 15th, 1947

I sat down at the desk, taking the turnover from John Rogers.

Photo at the end of the Second Shift Dispatching.

By the end of the day, we had two full sheets filled in the TO and Clearance Book.  I believe the last Clearance was No.36!

Central Vermont - 1956 - Paul Weiss

Some of the 'rough' scenery on Paul's brand new layout. --- Looking good Paul and crew!

Second on my lineup at BayRails 2019 requires moving forward 9 years and north to New Haven, Connecticut to Paul Wiess's lovely new layout, under construction for only two years his new railroad modeling the Central Vermont during 1956 as already held eight operating sessions.  He's leading a small group of serious modelers and researchers who have 'finished' their own 'operating' railroads and have poured their time and effort into helping Paul with his new project.  Already the scope of historical information about the operations and timetables, even in some cases the train orders have been preserved from the prototype to show how the CV operated in this area!

A view of East New London Yard with rough benchwork still going in on the two levels above.  This view was taken April 6th, 2018, only 11 months before the TT/TO session that I attended!

The crews were called and a 'lottery' was held to see who would take what road jobs.  Don Mitchell, also an 'old head' from La Mesa Club, bid as Yard Master for East New London (ENL) Yard.  I and one other bid in as the yard crew before the road lottery was held.  The lottery was a bunch of marbles with a number on each, which was the job number and cued the crew for the rest of the day's rotation through the schedule.

East New London Yard (North Job)

The session for BayRails 2019 was only the 9th held on the railroad, so some aspects were still up for grabs as to how the yard was to be used to best effect.  This was certainly interesting because the East New London (ENL) Yard is not layed out as many model railroads 'normally' are with a big central classification yard, etc.  Instead the yard, as all prototype yards are, layed out to serve the need for which it was built.

In the thick of it... Switching a large cut of cars in the North End's '30's Yard' just after a southbound freight tied up on the Engine Lead, which will be switched next.  So much action!

The CV yard at ENL is at the South end of the railroad.  Traffic entering from the North is either going to be interchanged to the New Haven RR or is going to one of the local destinations, or perhaps back-hauled a short distance on one of the locals back North slightly.  There are small  feeder or local classification yards around the ENL complex where work can be done without going back to the 'central yard'... which even after looking at the aerial photos and research, is still a question as to which the 'main yard' was!

The "CV Pier"

The "CV Pier" in all it's 'meatball scenery' glory! - March 2019

The car spots in the immediate East New London area are dominated by two large 'piers' which sees mostly l.c.l. freight and some bulk or open loads heading to or from the water.

A view of the south "CV Pier" on April 6th, 2018 during a 'tinkering session' to work out car capacities and engine ratings.

How much the view changes around ENL in 11 months - 2018 above and 2019 below!  There were some minor track changes around the 'Center Yard' area that resulted from the April 'tinker' session.

Linton looks like a real switchman during the March 2019 BayRails session as he brings in a NH transfer job to ENL.

The "State Pier"

A view NW at the 'State Pier' between the 'center' yard at ENL and the 'North 30's' yard.

A view SW of the 'center yard', and the 'State Pier' in the left foreground.  The CN engines are heading to the roundhouse off to the right.

The 'Center Yard' as I'm calling it (Tracks 1A-3) are roughly located in the middle of the ENL yard complex, along side the 'State Pier'.  The North Job started with a pull of one string of cars for the '30's Yard' which was destined for the local industries on the north side of the complex and the 'State Pier'.  I didn't spend a lot of time in the 'Center Yard' other than the occasional transfer of cars back for the South Job to work, or leave in Tracks 1-3.  Generally the South Job worked the "CV Pier" and the Center Yard areas with all the l.c.l. traffic at "CV Pier" - which is quite a bit!

The Roundhouse

The CV's roundhouse and engine servicing areas at East New London, with the 30's Yard in the foreground.  The Yardmaster's window for passing paperwork is below the layout at the left.

While the roundhouse stalls themselves were not really serviceable (yet), the roundhouse's leads were just fine to spot engines on until their next assignments.  With most of the road freights currently using sets of run-through CN engines from the Northern Division of the CV, not having engine stalls in the house wasn't really an issue.  Notice the little 4-6-0 in the photo above used on the Passenger Trains, Nos.1-4 discussed below.

The 'North End'

The area I spent most of my day was the 'North Job' which works in the '30's Yard' mostly and also serves a few industries on the land-side at the North end of the yard complex.

Matt Menker brings in a southbound freight into the 'Engine Lead' at the North end of ENL yard while a yard job shoves a cut to the 'Cneter Yard' (?) --- Is it possible to have too many yards?

The '30's Yard' at the North end, Arrival-Departure Tracks 950-952 (as I recall), then Track 35 and 36 at the far right in the photo above.  The 'Center Yard' has a very long lead, as can be seen with the North Job shoving a long string back to the various tracks in the 'Center Yard', and a couple for an outbound train being made up in the 'Center Yard'.

Matt takes his engines to the roundhouse at ENL while the switcher moves to the North end to start working the newly arrived train.

New Haven Transfers and Run-Through 'Newsboy'

ENL yard engine pulls the NH caboose for the SB 'Newsboy'.

The Southbound hotshot is the 'Newsboy', which was actually worked on one of the few 'through tracks', usually the Main Track, while the rear CV cars were cut off and the majority of the newsprint cars continued.

Southbound 'Newsboy' ready to depart ENL yard with New Haven engine, caboose and crew.

After a very quick engine and caboose change to New Haven RR equipment and crew the 'News Boy' continuing to the interchange point down at the New Haven Station.  Several other New Haven interchange jobs brought cars up to East New London Yard and returned light.  The News Boy job was a special agreement where the NH crew waited in the CV yard for the through cars to arrive.

Morning passenger trains CV Nos.1 & 2 and later day Nos. 3 & 4 are run as a one-car train with NH Chair-Lounge, which are nicer for the passengers than the C&O's miner's coach!

On Paul's CV, passenger service has been extended a few more years, to give some operation interest of a short passenger train making two round trips over the railroad per day.  The engine assigned was a small 4-6-0 with one Osgood-Bradley Chair-Lounge car.  A rather interesting model from Rapido.

Santa Cruz Northern - Sept 24-25, 1971 - Jim Providenza

In the middle of the action on the SCN... Crews working Fallon (top) and WP Crossing (bottom) - March 2019

Next up, the clock jumps forward 15 years and we move to the West Coast, specifically the Santa Cruz Mountains, South of San Fransisco.  Jim Providenza's SCN is historical fiction and has been featured many times over the years in modeling and operational articles.

ATSF 3207 switching Fallon - May 3, 2012

For those that haven't heard of it before, the SCN is basically the Western Pacific and Santa Fe's takeover of the Southern Pacific's Santa Cruz Branch.  The year's 1971, Amtrak has just been formed.  The passenger train 'Suntan' is the regular train.  It consists of some Phase I Amtrak coaches and baggage car, with an SP 'Yellow' dining car (probably ex-COSF or 10200/10201) bringing up the rear.  Jim's recently decided to add the Del Monte to the schedule (thanks to some friend's equipment and Athearn's release of their very nice GP9s!).  The freight traffic on the SCN consists of lumber traffic and a couple of merchandise trains. 

The center portion of the SCN, during the May 2012 ProRail.  Fallon at the right, Dam Site left, and SP Crossing below left.

An SP cement train (Cementapede) works from SP Crossing to Damsite and returns.  There's also a lumber shortline 'log train' work on SCN trackage between Fallon and Laurel.

A pair of Baldwin S12s work the 'Logging Train' as it rolls through a wooded cut heading to Laurel's lumber mill from Fallon. - May 3, 2012

One of the interesting things about this hobby is how things come full circle.  Twenty-five old years ago I was reading operations books on 'How to Operate Your Model Railroad', which featured sections on classification written by Jim Providenza using the SCN Yard at Mac Street for his examples.  Here it is 2009-2019 and I'm at BayRails running on Jim's layout and watching crews switch in the Mac Street Yard.  (One funny La Mesa - Tehachapi interjection here is a few years ago Jim P. came down to Tehachapi and marked up as the SP Bakersfield Yardmaster.  Just before that session, I'd finished up some blocking diagrams for operations for the Tehachapi Sub visually based on the graphic style used in Jim Providenza's articles 20+ years before!)

Matt Menker working Mac Street Yard, just before his 25th birthday. - Happy Birthday Matt!

Jim's SCN has now seen generations of operators run on it!  Nothing however stays the same, Jim decided a couple of years ago that he would make some serious changes to the railroad after removing the water heater from the center of his helix.  This change to a tank-less heater allows for the movement of the agent/operator's desk for the stations of East Rica and Laurel to the space vacated by the water heater tank.

The changes also included a new 'bridge' across the door to the layout room at chin level, which allowed the helix to end 1/2 lap earlier, this reversed the whole upper deck.  This also allowed the staging yards to change names, and required the reversal order of the towns of Fallon and Laural in the time table.  -- This reversal messed with me while working as the operator at Laural and Jim says he's still getting used to the change after so many years of the railroad being the way it was.

Fun Factoid: Jim's SCN was one of the first two model railroads to be built with a functioning helix in the design.  Many people had theorized about it in magazines, but from what Jim's told me, he had one other started building their railroads the same month, and no one has found another model railroad which had a helix before these two model railroads.

Previous Visits

I believe this was my third or fourth visit to the SCN.  Jim always starts the job selection process by asking who will Dispatch and be the Mac Street Yardmaster, followed by two Agent-Operators.  The first time I was there I was hoping to work the Fallon-Zayante Agent-Operator job.  Instead two other people were pressed into the Agent-Operator rolls, and I was 'battlefield promoted' to Dispatching the SCN.  That was a fun day working TT/TO - As I mentioned, I think this is probably why it still messes with me with the changes to the RR in the last couple years, because in my mind's map it's still the old way.

Rob Bowdidge doing a fine job as Dispatcher of the SCN on May 3, 2012.

The second visit I was able to work Fallon-Zayante and Robert Bowdidge worked as Dispatcher, and did a very fine job of it!  I believe the third time, or maybe it was later in the second visit, I worked on the SP Cementapede at Dam Site.

Dam Site plant - May 3, 2012

Agent-Operator Laural & East Rica - (and sometimes Mac Street Yard!)

The new location of Laural-East Rica Operator is better than the previous position in one of the narrow-ish aisles, it now only requires ducking under the lowest level of the helix to enter.  Jim has set up a lovely little track-level view video camera of the TO station at Laural so trains can be observed passing.  Trains at approaching East Rica are pretty easily detected, either by seeing them straight ahead of the operator or from seeing them passing westward from SP Crossing, on the departure from Mac Street Yard.  Working the SP Crossing was fun with a control panel which has annunciator approach lights and a three level interlocking panel completes the 'office'.  Copying Train Orders and Clearances written on the standard form 'flimsies' and using carbon paper... an all but lost art in the 21st century!

By the end of the day several folks had to leave, so I ended up shifting to the Fallon office and copying orders as the 'General Operator' for the whole division.

Unfortunately, I didn't grab many good photos of Jim's RR this trip, so I'm pulling some photos of the trains from my 2012 trip to the SCN.  I see now that I didn't get any of the new Laurel/E.Rica office... Oops, not exactly easy to photograph the inside of a mountain!

BayRails 2019 Wrap-Up

Generally the visit to BayRails 2019 was a great visit and a much needed vacation from real-life challenges.  As always, it is wonderful to see friends from across the country I've not seen in several years, and keep up ties with those who I have seen more often.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Triple Trouble on Tehachapi - A Weird Day on the Hill

A Trip Over Tehachapi on SCX-BI

My Story - Freight Symbols Over Tehachapi (Part 1)

Two Years of Blogging - Reflections