Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A Few Words about Wordless Wednesday #334: 3016 at Saybrook


You may have heard me mention that I'm doing some research on the New Haven RR's class J-1 2-8-2 Mikados in preparation for an article in the NHRHTA's Shoreliner magazine. Like most NHRR fans, I'm pretty familiar with the J-1, especially since one of them was brought off the scrap line for a movie starring Doris Day (which, incidentally, was also mostly filmed along the Valley Line). Alas! that locomotive - the #3016 - was the last remaining New Haven steam locomotive and it was scrapped shortly after the movie wrapped up.

You may have also heard me mention that I'm planning to model two of the J-1s: one as power for the Airline local (#3022), and one as power for one of the Shore Line locals. I haven't/hadn't decided which one to do, though my 1948 era limits me to two numbers: 3013 and 3016 (long story - it has to do with tender size - and I'm not going to take you down that rabbit hole, at least not yet :^). 

Now, all things being equal, I'm a bit of a contrarian and since most NH modelers that model the J-1 choose to model the 3016 (for the sentimental reasons above), I figured I'd model the 3013.

Then this image popped up during my research. Actually, I literally had just randomly grabbed it out of a sleeve to test a transparency scanner I'd just installed. I didn't even bother looking at what was written on the slide - all I figured is that it was a J-1.

Imagine my surprise when this image filled my screen! The setting looked oddly familiar - and then I looked at the writing on the slide: "NH 3016 Saybrook 1948"


It's a New Haven J-1

In color

In a town I model

During the year I model

The photo is even taken from the "other" side of the tracks (a fairly uncommon perspective) - which also happens to be how my model of this area is oriented.

So what number do you think I'm gonna model now?! :^)

* * *

It's often easy, especially after you've been working on a layout for a while, to figure you know just about everything there is to know about your prototype and have probably seen all the photos of the area you're modeling that you're gonna see. So when a photo of your area, in your era, which also includes something you're planning on modeling, pops up that you've never seen before . . . . well, that's definitely something special - and about as close to treasure as you get in this hobby.

Thanks to Jack Swanberg for loaning me his J-1 images (which included this slide) and thanks to all of you for accompanying me on this crazy journey - though I suspect more than a few of you can relate . . .

Monday, September 21, 2020

Monday Memory - On the New Haven, 82 Years Ago Today . . .The Great New England Hurricane

September 21, 1938 marks a somber - and for the New Haven Railroad, a devastating - event in history.

Making landfall that dayThe Great New England Hurricane was - and remains - the most powerful and deadly storm to hit New England in at least 300 years. It killed an estimated 682 people, damaged or destroyed 57,000 homes and cost an estimated $5.6 billion in 2019 dollars. Even as late as 1951, you could still see damaged trees and buildings.

The New Haven's Shore Line route was hit especially hard. . .

But the railroad - despite being in receivership after having gone into bankruptcy a few years earlier - restored its many washed-out lines in record time. The little booklet above tells the story:
"On September 21st, 1938, with flood waters already threatening major washouts at important points along the New Haven Railroad where the tracks paralleled or crossed the swollen torrents of New England's rivers...suddenly, just before dark, in the teeth of a howling southwest gale which increased momentarily to hurricane proportions, a steadily rising tide which in some places rose twenty feet in as many minutes, swept inland along the New England coast-line across the Shore Line Route of the New Haven Railroad...carrying on its crest hundreds of boats, ships, cottages, buildings, and wreckage. Communications by rail, wire, and telephone with many devastated areas was completely cut off. No one realized as yet what a staggering blow had been dealt by this combined hurricane - tidal wave - flood throughout the length and breadth of southern New England. But the next morning revealed a grim picture of death and desolation. Where fast freights and through passenger trains, including the crack Shore Line Limiteds had sped in rapid succession between New York and New England points carrying passengers, mail, express, and the vital necessities of miles of silent track hung at crazy angles over yawning chasms in a hopeless tangle of power lines, signal towers, houses, boats, and thousands of tons of debris. Further inland at Hartford, Springfield, Norwich, Willimantic, and Putnam the hurricane had left its toll of felled trees and communication systems, crumbled freight sheds and roofless factories...and to add to the chaos, the raging rivers from the north broke through dams and temporary dikes, washing out railroad bridges and miles of track...rendering useless the strategic points through which Shore Line trains might have been re-routed. The vital life-line between New England and points south and west had been effectually severed. It had to be restored without delay. Thousands of men were needed for the Herculean task of rebuilding a railroad. The summoning of trackmen, engineers, skilled repair crews, and laborers had to be carried out without the help of modern communications systems. In an incredibly short time an army of 5,000 men were at work...toiling 24 hours a day in 3 shifts...many of them eating and sleeping in work trains and Pullman cars on the job..."
For more photos, be sure to check out this site.

Those of us living in New England a few years back went through "Superstorm Sandy" and got a taste of what The Great New England Hurricane might have been like. But, as it turns out, it was a pretty small taste - as bad as Sandy was, it didn't come anywhere close. Check out this site for an eye-opening comparison of the two storms.

There are fewer and fewer folks that have first-hand memories of that fateful day over 80 years ago, but thanks to the extensive coverage the storm received - not to mention the wonders of the internet that allow all that coverage to be easily saved and shared - the heroic efforts of the employees of the New Haven Railroad, including those on the Valley Line and most especially along the Shore Line, will never be forgotten.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Short Sunday Solo Session: Westbound Shore Line Local (PDX-1)

I'm discovering that there's nothing quite like the relaxation and pleasant diversion you get from just operating a local freight train. Lots of others got to this party before me, but - driven by the lack of formal op sessions - I've just recently arrived at this realization, having operated the outbound leg of the Airline Local just a few weeks ago. As I mentioned back then, my session setup resulted in a nice full crock pot of operations that I could feed off of for a while. And so, having hopped back in the roadster, I headed down to Saybrook Junction to see if I could catch the eastbound local freight. . .

Luckily, we got there just as it was nosing into the balloon track/Track 6 . . .

PDX-1 (Providence Division Local No. 1) is the eastbound local that works all the trailing point switches between Cedar Hill Yard (New Haven) and Fort Yard (New London). Since it needs to stay out of the way of the busy Shore Line traffic, it doesn't bother with facing point industries - taking cars consigned to those spots all the way to Saybrook where they're left for the westbound local (PDX-2) to take care of.

PDX-1 continues east on Track 6 behind the station.

According to the paperwork, the local has 3 boxcars to leave on the Saybrook bulk track (what the NHRR calls a team track), and one hopper of coal to leave for PDX-2 to take up the Valley Line to Essex.

We also check in with the Saybrook agent who gives us the paperwork for the cars in town that need to be dealt with. We see that the two tank cars (at Chapman's) and the two boxcars (currently on the bulk track) are going back west to Cedar Hill yard, so we'll move those over to Track 5 for later pickup by PDX-2.

The two waybills are for loaded hoppers that are already on Track 5 for the westbound local to take up the Valley Line.

The crew's first move is to pin off the 3 cars consigned to the Saybrook bulk track and use those as a handle to pull the cars off Tracks 8 (bulk track) and 10 (Chapman's/house track).

They clear the bulk track by putting all four cars headed back to Cedar Hill onto Track 10 temporarily . . .

. . . and then spot the three drops on the bulk track.

Next, they pick up the cars from Track 10 . . .

And move back over to Track 6 to pick up the load of coal destined for Essex via PDX-2.

Down at the east end of Track 6, the local has to wait for permission to get on the main and have the switch aligned . . .

. . . and then they have a stressful - and fast - move to get out of Track 6 and back down through the crossovers onto Track 5 before another Shore Line train is due through.

Once clear of the mainline tracks, the crew can take its time spotting the cars for PDX-2. The two loaded hoppers that were already there, as well as today's hopper delivery, are all at the west end of this cut of cars - positioned perfectly for PDX-2 to pick them up and take them up the branch later. The remaining 4 cars (two tanks, two boxcars) will remain on Track 5 until PDX-2 comes back down off the branch and picks them up to continue west to Cedar Hill.

PDX-1's crew leaves the paperwork for these cars for PDX-2 (above) and, once the main is clear again, they run light (and quickly) back across the main tracks to pick up the rest of their train that's been sitting on Track 6 (the balloon track behind the station).

Once coupled up and the brakes are tested, it's time to continue east to Fort Yard, New London, and home.

As you can see, there's only one actual town (Saybrook) for PDX-1 to switch on my layout - all the rest of the traffic (cars from towns west of Saybrook, and cars for towns east of Saybrook) is simulated by being included in the train, but those cars aren't actually switched. They just go from staging to staging.

But hopefully you can see how immersive even switching one town can be - especially when that one town also happens to be on a mainline that saw over 70 trains a day! There can be a lot of waiting for permission to foul the main - and then a lot of scurrying when that permission is finally granted and switches are thrown for you. And while we didn't see all that mainline traffic today, rest assured it's there during a formal session. And with a 4:1 fast clock, you've got to keep your wits about you - just like on the prototype.

Now that the eastbound local has left town, we need to check our watches and decide if we want to wait for the westbound local to appear, or head back up the Valley to catch up with the Airline Local - or maybe we'll even get a glimpse of the famed Valley Local!

Thankfully, the flathead '8 is purring nicely and ready for whenever we finally make a decision . . . Ah, the "problem" of having so many great trains to chase during the Autumn of 1948 . . .

Friday, September 11, 2020

Friday Fun: DERS-2b, New Tools, New Project

Went over to Randy's place last night to help on his layout and caught these images of his just-completed RS-2 (New Haven class DERS-2b):

You may recall I did an article showing how I detailed a factory-painted Proto 1000 loco to match NHRR #510, but that's basically where Randy started and then he went WAY beyond what I did, adding a lot of additional detail. Be sure to check out his build thread for how he created this amazing model.

In other news....

One of the running-jokes among folks that visit for open houses and op sessions is that first-timers often go to our neighbor's house first, instead of our house. Makes some sense - not only is the neighbor's house right next to the tracks, but there's a big RR crossing sign attached to the outside wall. So it's an easy mistake to make. Fortunately, the neighbor is a friendly sort - and a bit of a 'buff as well - so he just points folks in the right direction - just the next house over.

Well, the neighbor is moving and downsizing so that RR crossing sign is now in my basement. AND just the other day he came by to give me these:

His father had hired out on the New Haven and he had these laying around for years. I don't know what they're for (I think the long one might be a joint bar wrench), but they're both clearly (and not-so-clearly) marked "NYNH&H" so they'll make fine additions to the display with my RR stove and scoop!

Click on the links above for more about these items...

I injured my thumb while helping out Bill with his new layout build last week, so I haven't been doing any modeling lately. But I've started gathering material and doing research for what I hope will be a feature article in the NHRHTA's Shoreliner magazine. As I turned my focus to modeling the Airline Local's steam power - specifically class J-1 #3022 - I was surprised to discover that the J-1 had never been covered in the Shoreliner. So, I figured since I was gathering research/info for my modeling project anyway, I might as well do an article too.

So that's what I've been spending my hobby time on lately.... but once I can hold things again, I have a decoder install to do and a house to finish . . . So stay tuned - and here's hoping you're able to get to your layouts and workbenches soon too - Have a great weekend!