Monday, January 14, 2019

Preventative Maintenance

How many of us actually have and implement a preventative maintenance program for our railroad?  I know I have one, as my using the Easy Model Railroading software reminds me that I have entered some dates periodically.  But have I really implemented a PM system?  For those who know me, I work in the chemicals business, where PM systems are taking very seriously as part of maintaining equipment operational and ultimately quality control.

So one of my winter projects was to drag out all of my tank cars, and start performing PM activities on them.  Of course this morphed into adding some weathering efforts and deciding what to do with several of those pesky duplicate tank cars. With a trip to several hobby stores and swap meets in the plans, I ended up with enough new decal sets that I was able to repaint and re-letter all of my duplicates.  So I know have six brand new tank cars available for operations.

What about the weathering?  Well that work will take a little bit more effort, but I have been weathering wheels, trucks and axles as I can.  To date, approximately 1/3 of my 32 available tank cars have had weathering applied this month and I really will try to get the remaining done in the weeks to come.

At the same as I complete the weathering efforts, I have inspected all of the fittings, wheels, trucks, etc and made repair efforts.  Again I anticipate having all of these efforts completed in the next 3-4 weeks.  Not a bad start, but then I look at all of the remaining 120+ pieces of rolling stock and realize that I really need to start a more periodic and routine PM program.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Adding Wood Chip Gondolas to the Roster

New Additions to the Layout

Woodchips are generated by lumber mills and separate purpose built woodchip mills in many areas of the U.S. and Canada. Most are used in paper or cardboard manufacture. While I have a paper mill on my layout, I chose not to model the wood chip portion due o space constraints.  Currently wood chips are received at the mill in the Yard and the loads removed after a set number of days before being returned to the yard as empty's.  Wood chips are received from either an off-site source, or from the Muskoka saw mill (on the layout).  As I discussed in another blog entry, I currently have four wood chip car resin kits manufactured by Alpine Railway Shops of Kettleby, Ontario, which were marketed as being representative of rolling stock used by CN and BCR for saw mills and paper mills. I have several additional car kits which are modeled after the BNSF cars to also handle chips.

A common variation of CP’s woodchip gondolas rebuilt from a 52′ gondola with extended sides.  Bill Grandin photo.

I recently found myself with three 52' gondola kits which I have tried to sell at several railroad shows, but unfortunately no takers. So rather then seeing them sit for months until the next show, I decided to try my hand at kitbashing these kits to resemble a photo I had seen of a CP rebuilt gondola that was placed into wood chip service. These would become lettered in the ONR, although to the best of my knowledge the ONR never had any cars that even approached this configuration.

From what I have been able to research, in the 1970's, CP Rail began to convert some randomly selected old boxcars to woodchip cars; this was done through the early 1980s.  These cars were made by cutting away the old roof and adding an extension. Later cars did not receive the extensions to the sides.  They also took an unknown number of 52' gondolas and extended the sides.

The story for my cars is that CP rebuilt these wood chip gondolas with extended sides from a standard gondola.  After some years of use in the north, CP parked them on a siding for lack of use.  The ONR then purchased them and repainted them to a woodchip only service marks that you see.
Proto 2000 Gondolas getting ready for conversion

Adding bracing for wall extensions. I didn't like the looks of this so the other two cars were done by adding bar stock

No matter how carefully you cut, there are always gaps. Next step some sanding followed by painting

Finished product in chevron scheme
Finished gon in the progressive paint scheme and added Wood Chip Service Only. Note I carried all of the ribs forward on this car after realizing that the gon looked odd with only alternating ribs. Still need to make a load for this unit

Friday, November 2, 2018

ONR Convention - Warm up Trip to White River

With the ONRHT&S convention scheduled for Kirkland Lake this year, I had originally planned for a few days to railfan my way up to the convention as well as to ride VIA's train 185/186, with its two Budd cars that travel from Sudbury to White River.  I have photographed this train several times over the years, but never have been able to ride it.  Bram Bailey and I had decided to jointly make our way to the convention this year, and it didn't take much for me to convince Bram that we should make this side trip to White River.  Somewhere along the planning, we mentioned our plans to Lloyd Leonard and soon we had three ONRHT&S members making the trip.  So the Monday before the convention, Bram and I headed towards Ontario from Ohio.  With tickets purchased long before the ride, Bram picked me up at 0100 (yes that's 0100 dark) to begin our trek east and northward into Ontario and our destination for the day being Sudbury.  As many of you know, Bram lives on the far west side of Cleveland while I live on the far east side.  In a few hours we found ourselves talking to the officer at the Peace Bridge about where we were headed and what we were planning to do. I can only imagine what he thought, maybe something like what kind of folks to I get crossing so early in the morning and going to ride a train?  After passing into Ft. Erie, it was onwards to beat the Toronto traffic and get northward of all of the commuters. A quick stop at Tim Horton's and we were ready to begin our day railfanning around Perry Sound before ultimately landing in Sudbury.  A few trains were caught south of Sudbury, as well as exploring some of the old CP trackage before we decided to head north.  Of course after setting our departure time from Perry Sound after sitting there hoping to catch a shot of a train coming across the CP trestle that spans the river, our railfanning pal Murphy's Law came along and sent a NB CN train while both our camera's were packed and we were ready to leave.

Tuesday morning we met Lloyd at the Sudbury station, and after a small delay, our train arrived and we boarded with about a total of close to a dozen passengers.  As most of you may know, the VIA train shuttles back and forth between Sudbury and White River three trips each week.  The train provides flag stop service to many remote locations only accessible by rail on the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline.  The journey is some 300 miles in length and averages about 10 hours travel time as it treks through Ontario.  The typical equipment are Budd Rail Diesel Car (RDCs), using an RDC-2 (6219) and RDC-4 (6250).  Lloyd mentioned that he had ridden the train when an extra RDC had been included.  While it’s a long journey, there were several stops at established stations such Chapleau as well as the opportunity to photograph some meets with CP Rail freight trains.  I also used the time to take some photos of the landscape, in hopes that I could add some of that Ontario flavor to my home layout. 

Brief stop at Chapleau

One word of advice for the trip is make sure that you make motel reservations prior to the trip and bring along enough munchies for a two-day trip. While White River has a grocery store, selections were a little limited, although a sufficient stash of crackers and peanut butter was available to make the author happy, especially for the return trip. 

So after our return to Sudbury Wednesday afternoon (we actually arrived ahead of schedule), it was on to Englehart for the evening and meeting fellow convention attendees Thursday evening. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Upgrading the Lighting

For several months I've been following the various discussions on the MRH website about new ways to light a layout.  So let's take a step back and say that the KLR was originally designed using a combination of track and rope lighting.  Track lighting to cover the upper level (back when the rail way was a two-level adventure) and rope lighting for the lower level.  Track lighting certainly lights up the layout, however, the initial costs were high, as I had to run one track over the center of each module and most modules required 1-2 lamps per section, which is fairly pricey when the average lighting can runs about $10 USD.  Now add on the costs for special adapters to turn the tracks 90 degrees, add extensions, etc. and the system quickly becomes pricey.  Add to it that the cost of bulbs (which burn out fairly quickly, especially when you forget to turn the master switch off and everyone coming to the basement is turning the entire system on).

When I added the paper mill and Muskoka Lumber island, I used regular florescent lighting from a system that I had salvaged from a job site long ago.  Re-purposed yes but again not the best system as tubes tended to wiggle free and lose proper contact with traffic on the floor above, making it always questionable whether light would be present when you flipped that switch.

The last lighting used was the "rope" lighting found prominently in Christmas displays.  A bargain when bought on sale after the holidays, but mounting has its own challenges and I never quite liked the yellow-ness of the lighting in spite of them being white ropes.  So this was the first lighting to be removed.

On my layout, I've figured that I have around 100 linear feet to light. At 1 track light can per each 36", that meant that a minimum of 8 lights on my longest section.  All told, I think that I've bought 20 some cans of varying sizes.  Over the years I've switched from small 60-watt incandescent bulbs to 25 watt or lower LED bulbs.  I've also tried a few halogen bulbs, however they're pricey and really not well suited for this task.  
Enter my new favorite, the LED strip light. Weighing in at practically nothing and looking more like a strip of tiny bumps, the LED light strip comes conveniently packaged in a 10 meter rolled "tape" strip, set on a plastic spool.  Of course a transformer was also needed to take the 110 volt power to what is usable for the strip.  One strip operates on about 12 volts DC at around 1 amp or so of power, produces no heat to speak of and costs only $20 bucks (or LESS) a roll! And if that weren't enough, it even comes with a nice bit of self-adhesive on the back side so you can just peel-n-stick it practically anywhere you want it.  All I had to add was a strip of cabinetry molding to allow the lights to be slightly pointed downward and the job was complete.  Though truthfully the sticky tape part isn't really that good and you'll probably want to make other arrangements to hang it. For my layout I went back to the old tried and true hot glue gun and laid a small bead of glue about every 12 inches.

LED lighting installed on the back side of drop down valance over the island modules. Skyline in background is another set of modules along the wall

I'd say the project took me all of a few hours to install around my island section of modules and I'm very pleased with the results.  Definitely the next materials I will use when I re-wire the modules when we move to a new location.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

ONR Convention - 2018 @ Kirtland Lake - Saturday

Day 2 of the ONRHT&S convention had us reviewing the morning lineup and trying to determine which trains and locations we could photograph.  Our first train of the day was the southbound train from Englehart to North Bay.  ONR SD75I #2105 was leading a newly repainted SD40-2 #1734.  While some of the group decided to shoot this train at Englehart, Bram Bailey, Mike Robin and I opted to head south to Earlton, where we had previously seen some piles of hay bales.

Southbound train passing by Mini Farm Rd crossing at Earlton. Photo by Ken Stroebel
We chased this train southward, however, he got ahead of us and we watched him beat us to the Hwy 11 crossing at New Liskeard and broke off the chase.

Pacing shot through the farmers fields around Earlton. Photo by Ken Stroebel

We found the ditcher still working at New Liskeard after a brief lunch break at Gillies, however, the sun was mostly behind the clouds and the ditcher would soon be headed back north.

Work train at the New Liskeard station siding. Photo by Ken Stroebel

So it was back to Englehart as we tried to remain one step ahead of the northbound work train.

Work train approximately 1/2 mile east of the Englehart River bridge. Photo by Courtland Saunders

Northbound Work 1733 is captured crossing the Englehart River. Photo by Mike Robin.
ONR 1733 and 1735 at Englehart. Photo by Terry Shwetz.

Catching the work train was our last bit of railfanning for the day, as attendees had an appointment to tour the Museum of Northern History in Kirkland Lake. Located in the former chateau home of successful mine owner Sir Harry Oakes, this museum focuses on Northeastern Ontario including the Kirkland Lake area.  The site’s collection dates from 1907 to the present and includes many objects related to the home as well as mining industry and documents from the area.

Chateau of Sir Harry Oakes

Various mineral and rock specimens; note large scale on top of cabinet

Our evening presentations included a review of mining and smelting operations for Kidd Creek, Rouyn-Noranda, and Sudbury, as well as an overall review and discussion of the geology of the area and how the various ore deposits came to be.  Bill Woods then taught us how to make conifer trees using wire, hemp sisal, spray paint and ground foam.