Saturday, August 22, 2020

Saturday Solo Session - The Airline Local, Part 1

If not having regular ops sessions is one of the lemons of life lately, then being able to operate your own layout is definitely the lemonade. After all the setup required for one of my typical sessions, it's all over in a bit over 3 hours during one evening. Reminds me of a holiday dinner: the eating only takes a small fraction of the prep and cooking.

But setting up a session for myself actually results in at least four sessions, one per local freight, or even five, if you count a session to just run all the Shore Line trains per the timetable. It's like the Crock Pot of operations: Do a lot of prep work once, operate all week (or month, depending how fast you eat operate).

So, having done all the set up, I decided to operate the Airline Local first. Follow along to see how all the preparation breathes life into the layout . . .
By the time we get to Somerset, the local has already pulled 4 cars from the back track and spotted them on the main. The empty gon was from behind the coal tower, the empty flat came from the smelter works, and one of the boxcars is being pulled from the barrel factory. The other boxcar has to be respotted at the factory, but the other three cars will go back to Cedar Hill yard, where the local originated

The first three cars in the local's train are all destined for Somerset and are being used here to pull the empty hopper from Derwin Coal.

The rest of the train is left on the main.

The empty hopper and the two boxcars are placed temporarily on the siding. The hopper will need to be respotted near Derwin's, since it's not slated to be picked up yet, and the boxcars will be spotted at the bulk track.

First though, the loaded hopper needs to be spotted . . .

. . . then the cars can be picked up from the siding to be moved over to the bulk track.

UGH! In keeping with the spirit of branchline railroading, the empty hopper obliged by splitting the switch and derailing.

Once re-railed, the cars could finally be spotted.

The local uses the siding to store cars which will be picked up on the way back to Cedar Hill later in the day. Now that the siding is empty, they can move this cut over.

First though, they need to respot the DLW car at the barrel factory. Had to climb up on a boxcar roof to get this shot!

Then it's back to get the pickups put over on the siding for later in the day.

Backing down the siding to spot the Cedar Hill-bound cars.

With the Somerset switching done, the local pins on to the rest of its train and pumps up the air prior to departure for Mill Hollow and Middletown.

While waiting, the conductor reviews his paperwork: Wheel report on the left shows delivery of 3 cars to Somerset and still have 6 to take to Middletown for HDX-7/The Valley Local. The Somerset switchlist on the right (which the crew picked up from the bill box when they got to town) shows the 3 cars picked up and spotted on the siding. They'll get those on their way back to Cedar Hill this evening.

Once the air is up and the brakes tested, they whistle off.

Here's the local coming into Mill Hollow . . .

. . . but a check of the bill box show that there's no work here today. And there are no cars in the train for Mill Hollow either, so they continue on to Middletown.

Airline local passing under Main Street, Middletown. The back of O'Rourke's Diner can be seen right next to the overpass.

The Airline local just drops off cars for Middletown and picks up any Airline/Cedar Hill-destined cars. It leaves the switching in town to the Valley Local. Here we see the Airline local backing into the yard to drop off its cars.

Leaving just one crewmember for point protection, the rest of the gang drops off the caboose to wait for the engine . . .

Once the cut of cars is spotted on Yard Track 2, the conductor takes his paperwork to the yard office and the rest of the crew join the engineer and fireman in the cab.

Lots of work being left for the Valley Local: There was already a switchlist there, showing what cars in town are ready for pickup. There are also 2 empties going back to Hartford Yard, and a couple of cars left from yesterday's Airline local that need to be delivered to towns between Middletown and Hartford. And then there's today's cars - 6 of'em on the list our conductor is leaving in the office.

Once the conductor joins the rest of the crew in the engine, the hogger pulls out the throttle and runs south, light, to get some water for the tank . . .

. . . and some lunch for a hungry crew. O'Rourke's Diner is a convenient walk from the water spout - just up a flight of stairs. Hot coffee and a corned beef sandwich will hit the spot nicely on this clear, crisp October day.
While the engine and crew are filling up and waiting for Valley Local to arrive, we'll hop in our souped-up, flathead 8 powered roadster and see if we can catch another one of the local freights in the area. It's 1948, so no highways, but the roads aren't busy and with the top - and the pedal - down, we should be able to see a lot more railroading before the day is done. Hope you can stay along for the ride!


  1. I chuckled out loud at "crockpot of operations"

    1. Heh - I couldn't think of a better way to describe it LOL!