FIRST OP SESSION -- October 31, 2010

This week I completed benchwork construction, built a temporary model of the Anne Street overpass at New Castle Jct., and conducted my first real operating session.  Because it's such a milestone for me, I chose to photograph the session as I went along.  Pardon the lack of scenery, amorphous buildings and large red track pins:-)

It's a cold November morning as we head to the New Castle Industrial Park.  We get a glimpse of the railroad as we cross the Anne Street Bridge.  CSX dropped seven cars on the industrial lead overnight.  Looks like PCA has a full compliment of boxcars at the warehouse/dock and there are a couple cars on the storage track... 

We arrive at the north end of the industrial park, off Commerce Street, where RS-11 no. 318 is kept tied down.  Our engineer arrived a few minutes before we did and 318 is already alive and idling in the morning sun.  He performs his walk around inspection and we go inside the office to retrieve our paperwork...

We find our switchlist in the fax machine:

ISS New Castle   7 November 2009

CSXT Inbound
TR 405543 Pulpboard
TR 405418 Pulpboard
RBOX 303309 Pulpboard     *Spot Warehouse*
NAHX 99628 Mg02     *Spot Premier*
EEC 3150 Pulpboard     *Spot Warehouse*
GTW 306636 Pulpboard    
WC 21084 Pulpboard     *Spot Dock*

New Castle Holding
RBOX 33604 Pulpboard     *Spot Warehouse*
CSXT 136007  Pulpboard

PCA Dock
CN 405690 Empty    *Pull*
CNA 419309 Empty     *Pull*

PCA Warehouse

CNA 419341 Empty     *Pull*
CSXT 136026 Empty    *Respot Dock*
CSXT 141068 Empty     *Pull*

We go over the switchlist on the way down to New Castle Jct, thinking about the moves we need to make.  Here we are at PCA.  Stopping to unlock switches and remove derails at the plant...  

Then we tie onto our inbounds, charge air and inspect the cars...

Inspection and brake test complete, we pull north a few carlengths and prepare for our first move...spotting the Premier hopper.  We make our cut on the main...

Then we go into the holding track, grab the two boxcars and bring them out on the main...  

With the holding track now clear, we can tie back onto the hopper and spot it at the far end of the holding track, near the underpass...

It takes another 30 minutes or so to build our inbound loads into spot order and deal the others into the holding track...

Now we run light into the plant spur to grab the outbounds... 

CSXT 136026 is an empty, which PCA requested to be respotted at the dock for scrap cardboard loading.  To do this, we tie a handbrake on the CN car and leave it on the PCA spur...

This allows us to kick out our CSXT car, coupling it to our inbound loads on the main...

Then we go back and grab our empty CN...

Spotting the inbounds.  With all the fork trucks and personnel at the dock and warehouse, we try to make one pull out and one shove back in.  Much safer than shifting cars on the plant spur...

Two cars spotted at the dock: a loaded WC hi-cube and the empty CSXT...

Setting off the outbounds.  Viewed from Anne Street... 

Time to warm up in the cab and complete our wheel report as we run light back to the end of track at Commerce Street...


  1. Looks great. The detail on the front end of your engine makes me want to switch scales!

  2. Jack,
    Even without scenery, all those patched paint job and weathered boxcars look terrific.

    Mike C.

  3. Jack:

    I admire your modeling skills, and now your writing too. Great description of a short operating session.

    Two questions. 1. How long, in real time, did this op session take?
    2. The next time you operate, will you pick up at the point we are at now, or re-stage?

  4. Thanks guys!

    Toner: This session took about 45 minutes real time. Yes, I'll just pick up with the next operating "day" when I run the layout again. There will be a fresh string of inbounds, the Premier car will most likely be empty, and Borden's probably has a couple corn syrup tanks in transit:-)



  5. Hi Jack,

    This was pretty neat to read! Maybe next time a video?? :0)

    A question; Do you think the switching will get too predictable after awhile or is there a danger of it getting stale?

    Thanks! Andy

  6. Hey Andy. Good question.

    I think that repetition will actually be rare...given the three industries; the number of inbounds on a given day; the particular cars that get spotted vs. going to/staying on the storage track etc. Lots of variety!


  7. very enjoyable post to read , thanks !

  8. Very enjoyable posting Jack! No substitute for prototype operations! Although I have yet to finalize my HO switching layout track plan, I temporarily glued down two industry tracks and a "main" running the length of the benchwork (20ft) and was pleasantly surprised that it took 22 minutes to place and pull two cars! About as long as it would have taken when I worked for the railroad. Love your authentic layout design and operation. Looking forward to your next posting.

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