Monday, July 25, 2022

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 33) - Expanding Operations

SP 3203 with a protection tender starting test runs on DC-power under the new LED lighting!

So as I've dug back into the layout construction, getting excited about the projects with the LED lights working, getting DC track power set up to run an engine around Owenyo, and getting new freight cars starting to make operations actually happen... I started thinking more about the grand operations scheme for the Jawbone Branch.

Owenyo Operations!

San Joaquin #178 1953-09-27 ETT pg11, Owenyo Branch TT -SheldonPerry

It turns out that I started digging in the 1953-54 Employe Timetables and Owenyo was assigned the new system station number 3144.  Each station on the SP system received a unique number to ID it.  So this will work well, as it bridges forward into the concept of the SPINS maps, but in my modeling era!

Of course, it would be really fun to have more stations on the branch, but the following three stations is all I have space for with my current layout plans: Owenyo (3144), Bartlett (3130), Little Lake (3089), and Mojave (1579).

New switchlists... 

For 20 years I've worked with the LMRC's replica SP and ATSF switchlists during operations and setup.  The SP lists are usually printed on a light manila/yellowish cardstock.  For my purposes here, I have removed the colored paper and will with black/white artwork, which could be printed onto colored paper/card stock if desired.

Scanned LMRC replicated SP switchlist, "unfolded" to fit on 8.5x11" standard size page.

Basically I just put two scanned lists (front/back) side-by-side so that with one print, I can write in all the data for a full 64 car switchlist.  Now to make the modifications to the Jawbone Branch's needs...

SP Switchlist 1963 Oxnard - Cliff Prather Collection - fair use

So looking at this switchlist, notice that the 'Destination' column is filled out only with station numbers!

My notebook page sketching out the operations on the branch.

Here's what I came up with for the spot count and station/spot numbering for the Jawbone.

Trying it out... Oops, too late at night, Bartlett and Little Lake are in the wrong order!

So, let's make a 19 car switchlist for the train departing Mojave and then fill out the rest of the switch-sheet space with a station 'spot check' which will show all the work on the branch that needs to be done.

Conceptual changes filling in for the Jawbone Branch?

In the extra space at the bottom of the lists, I did a quick drawing for Owenyo with the SPINS style inspired spot numbers, which are added as a decimal after the station number on the spot-check list above.

In playing with this version, I've discovered that I'm not really sure I'll need exact spots for some of the spots, like #7 currently is redundant with #6.  So I'll probably move #6 over to the Stock Transfer and include the whole section of track from the west fouling point of the house track to the loader at #8.  Then spot #7 will be the whole stub spur which was a direct transfer between cars to the NG.  This will allow maximized flexibility to car spotting.  Also I'll probably do away with Spot #26 through 30, and reduce 22/23 and 24/25 to only single spots, despite two cars being able to physically fit.  This should allow for more flexible off-spotting of cars and allow me space on the spot list to show the cars as 'off spots'.

Expanding the World?

So, what's to be done with Mojave staging yard with this scheme?   Yes, I know now that it's Station 1579... but that doesn't really seem to be that helpful as nearly everything going west once it's done on the branch is just a "1579" car now.  Well, maybe not?

Mojave Yard work with through trains, Jan 14 1953, at LMRC Jason Hill photo.

From my time at LMRC's sessions, I like the operations at Mojave. For the SP, the Mojave based trains received traffic mostly from two SP symbol freights: Mojave Shorts East (MSE) and Mojave Shorts West (MSW).  The ATSF also interchanged at Mojave for cars going to the Jawbone and Searles/Trona Rwy from N-34 and BAW symbol freights.  Will I be able to create a similar experience with the Jawbone Branch version?

Looking at a 1954 ETT for the San Joaquin Division, Bakersfield is Station #1511 and Los Angeles Yard (Taylor Yard) is Station #3429, which are the two yards for the MSE/MSW to originate and terminate at.  From those yards the cars would be routed to the rest of the country, or coming into the Jawbone branch, all the cars would come through these two stations en route to Mojave.  So for my purposes, all my Agent at Mojave or Owenyo will need to know is if an outbound car from the Jawbone is going to 1511 or 3429, and to mark the list as such.

What is the "Jawbone's Mojave Yard" Now?

Well, now I'm starting to think about traffic routing out of Mojave Yard to the "rest of the world"... could I be do more with my "staging yard"?  

Here's the new scheme for Mojave's operations.

The yard is very simple, basically only being a pair of tracks working as an Arrival/Departure (A/D) track and a runaround track.  A stub caboose/mixed passenger track next to the far engine run-around at the west end, and three additional storage/staging tracks behind the A/D, worked only from the east end round out the yard.

If a second person was to join me operating the branch could I cut down on what equipment I leave on the layout, specifically in the staging yard, I could make Mojave into a more functional yard?

Maybe I could have the second person (probably me) play the game of switching the arriving consists from MSE/MSWs into the train for the Jawbone Branch... and maybe if Track 5 is also available, the yard engine could then actually work a full track into the other locals that worked out of Mojave.  This would also be a place to "use" my other cars that aren't really going to work well for the Jawbone or other "through cars" which I don't want to show up on the branch too often.

Obviously switching the Mojave yard on my layout would mean pulling cuts of cars well into the station of Little Lake, as well as up a 1.5% grade, so I may have to use a couple of heavier than prototype switching engines, but that wouldn't be a bad thing as the real Mojave sometimes even pulled a big AC to do switching duties!

In Closing

SP 2335 mid-Owenyo direct transfer stub - Oct 1954 excurions - Alden Armstrong photo

I had been planning to have Track 5 for storing my excursion passenger train consist, but I may reconsider just keeping it on the track for the occasional time I may feel like playing double-heading excursion mode.  I like the idea of finding a way to make more operations on my existing track plan.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Mojave Based Locals - from my series of LMRC Operations blog posts.

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