Friday, December 25, 2020

Saturday Solo Session: Westbound Shoreline Local - PDX-2

Happy Holidays! I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas and are having a nice weekend with family and friends, despite all the current craziness.

It's been a long time since we were cruisin' in our roadster 'round south central Connecticut, circa Autumn, 1948. It's been a few months ago, back in September in fact, when we caught the eastbound Shore Line local in Old Saybrook. Click here for the railfan report of that day.

Now it's time to try and catch the westbound version - PDX-1 (aka the "Haddam Local" or the westbound Shore Line local). And we're in luck - catching it just as it's about to leave Fort Yard in New London, CT (aka east end staging)!

You'll notice a couple of things right away with this post: 1) it's LOADED with photos, and 2) the photo quality isn't fantastic. But hopefully you'll also feel like you're riding right along with the operator of PDX-2 as we run it up the Valley Line to East Haddam and back . . .

First thing we do before we depart is check our "Wheel Report." This is the list of cars (drops) in our train at the beginning of the run and shows where they're to be delivered. Incidentally, I'm indebted to my buddy Randy who is doing a deep dive on NHRR operations over on his blog (click here for the latest installment). Learning from what he's learning, the way I do my ops may evolve a bit in the coming months. For example, the conductor may not have gotten a "Wheel Report" like this and it may not have listed the cars in order from engine back, but from caboose forward. But this is the way I'm doing ops for now - stay tuned for changes! In this case, we have 7 cars in our train to deliver to Essex and East Haddam. . .

Once we get clearance to leave, we pull out of the yard and immediately enter Track 5 (a long siding through Saybrook) via switch #24.

And... we stop shortly(!) This is the first run since this part of the layout was completed - and it's immediately apparent that I have a clearance issue!

So, back goes the train, out comes the saw, and before you know it - clearance issue SOLVED!

PDX-2 passes under the Rt 1 overpass and enters Saybrook on Track 5 . . .

. . . and stops just short of the switch into Track 7.

We check the bill box (another step in the ops scheme that may change due to Randy's research, but for now . . .), and see we have 4 cars to pick up from Track 5 and take with us to Cedar Hill yard in New Haven (and the end of our run).

We also see that there are 3 cars on Track 7 for us as well - 2 cars of coal for consignees in Essex and a car of coal for the bulk track in East Haddam.

So we pin off our train and head up the east leg of the wye . . .

. . . back down the west leg . . .

. . . and nose into Track 7.

Once coupled onto the cut of cars left for us on Track 7, we push them onto our train (now you know why we stopped just short of that switch).

Once everything's all together, we pump up the air, get our orders to move up the line, and get final clearance from Saybrook Tower . . .

. . . then we head northbound up the Valley Line! Here we are crossing over the old Middlesex Turnpike (severed by the Shore Line when they closed the grade crossing in the late 1920s) and Mill Rock Road.

Continuing north (across the liftout %^)

Once we arrive in Essex, we stop to review what work we have to do. There's also a lot of room here to sort cars as needed ahead of time for our run further north.

Reviewing our wheel report, we see that we have 2 cars to drop from our train here - in addition to 2 cars we picked up in Saybrook.

The Essex agent has also given us a list of cars that need to be dealt with here (eventually, waybills may substitute for the agent's switchlist). There are 3 cars that we have to pick up and take to Cedar Hill.

So we do our switching, leaving the Essex drops on Track 5 (a long passing siding - but no other trains are on the line, so we are free to use it as we wish).

Once our Essex drops are set-aside, it's time to pin back on to our train and pump up the air in preparation for our trip further north.
(And it was here I made a rookie mistake - thankfully, it didn't turn into a critical error - KayleeZ will notice immediately what I did wrong. . .)

And here we are headed north out of Essex yard . . .

Rounding the curve between Essex and Deep River, coming up to Old Deep River Road.
(pretty decent superelevation, if I don't say so myself... click here for how I did it)

Heading into Deep River - but no work here on the northbound trip since all the switches are facing-point.

Arriving in East Haddam, blowing the whistle for Bridge Street (aka Rt. 82).

Typically, we'll head straight into Track 8 to pin on to any cars left there that we need to pick up. Doing so puts them right on the tender for the southbound trip.

Once we pin off our train, we head south on Track 6 (passing siding) to run around our train and get the caboose off of it.

Lots of whistle action as we cross back and forth over Bridge St while switching East Haddam. Here, we've put the caboose - and the pickups heading south - onto Track 6 (which we're using to assemble our southbound train).

Once we have the caboose out of the way, sorting and setting out cars is relatively easy - but requires a lot of back and forth (and more whistling for the crossing). Incidentally, the structures here - modeled faithfully from the prototype - were built by my good friend Dave Messer. Sadly, he left us before he was able to finish them.

Once all the switching's done, we pick up our southbound train on Track 6, pump up the air, and head back down the Valley Line to Deep River, CT.

If there's any switching needed in Deep River, we do it on the southbound run. Here we've stopped in Deep River and I noticed my second mistake. I totally forgot to leave the Erie hopper load of coal at East Haddam! And it was actually here also that I noticed my first mistake from earlier: I'd brought ALL the cars in my train with me from Essex - even the ones ultimately destined for Cedar Hill - instead of leaving them in Essex (and only taking what I needed for East Haddam and Deep River). On this portion of the line, the job acts as a turn job - so why take cars back and forth unnecessarily?  Fortunately, there weren't too many cars to run-around in East Haddam. Often, if you make this mistake, there would be (eh, Kaylee? ;^)

Now, a load of coal isn't "hot" enough to justify running it all the way back up the line to deliver, so the prototype would just leave it "off spot" somewhere to pick up and deliver the next day. My first thought was to just drop it here in Deep River - but then it'd be on a facing point siding northbound. So.... we have to take it back and leave it in Essex. Ugh!

Once the work was done in Deep River, we continued south around the big curve at Old Deep River Road . . .

. . . and headed back into Essex.

Once there, we had a lot of switching to do - some of which we deferred from earlier to head up the line. First, we get our "pulls" from the bulk track . . .

. . . and use the main to assemble our train that we'll take on to Cedar Hill yard (the caboose and our East Haddam pickups are already spotted there). Track 5 has the drops/deliveries for Essex.

Having left some drops fouling the Track 7-9 switch, we back up Track 5 to get the cars we have to deliver to Essex customers.

The NC&StL and LNE boxcars get spotted at the Dickinson Witch Hazel warehouse . . .

. . . and the load of B&O coal gets spotted at Burdick Coal.

After the remaining switching is done (including picks/drops on the House Track and leaving our Erie load of coal for next time on the Bulk Track), we couple back on to our train, pump up the air, and head back south to Saybrook.

Once in Saybrook, we take the west leg of the wye, and pin off our train to pick up the cars left on Track 5 that are destined for Cedar Hill yard in New Haven.

After adding these cars to our train, we have to stay stopped here until we get clearance to get back on the westbound main, Track Number 1.

But once we get that clearance, it's HIGHBALL all the way to - well, Westbrook in the real world, but New Haven & Cedar Hill yard (aka West End Staging) on my layout . . .

Despite the many photos (or maybe because of them?), I hope you've enjoyed this trip on PDX-2. If you want more detail, but fewer photos, click here. It'll certainly give you a taste of what it's like to operate 'round here and I, for one, am looking forward to the day (hopefully very soon!) when I can have an ops session with someone other than just me, myself, and I!

Next time, we'll see if we can catch the Flagship train of the layout - The Valley Local!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing you and yours a most wonderful holiday season,
a Very Merry Christmas,
and a much better New Year!