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Operations Reports

Reefer Madness
December 13, 2008

California Fast Freight #61 seen over the Royal Gorge Route, hauling (9) 40' American
Refrigerator Transit (ART) reefers out of Pueblo. Chased the train for awhile along US 50.
Caught #61 leaving Parkdale 12:43 PM. The ART reefers were double herald Mo-Pac/Wabash.
These cars were just recently shopped out of St. Louis and look like they've made their
first trip out on the road. No doubt, next time we see these baby's they will look much
worse for wear!
OS Parkdale #61/12:43 PM OS Parkdale #61/12:43 PM OS Parkdale #61/12:43 PM
OS Spikebuck #61/12:52 PM OS Spikebuck #61/12:52 PM OS Texas Creek #61/1:07 PM
OS Howard #61/1:36 PM OS Barrel #61/1:54 PM OS Salida #61/1:55 PM
(On Time!)

1st Main Reopens for Operation
July 22, 2008

After many, many work sessions, much new DG switch work, the 1st main is reopened for operating!

Alex brings Tunnel #5369
around the bend
1172 & 1173 awaiting duty New Athearn hoppers Uh-Oh!! Not to worry,
#5369 stops in time!
  No time for
detailing yet!
Heading thru Salida What the ?!
Trainwreck at
Hel Jct!
  Chauncey & Edgar's view The Collegiate
Range from Salida

Tamaqua Junction Operations
July 2008

Welcome to an operating session at Alex's switching layout! Come join us for a simple session!

Welcome to my Tamaqua
Junction layout!
Recently completed
switch panel
Here, I am temporarily
dropping some cars
#73 crosses the double-slip
Alright, now
let's see ...
Hmmm, where'd #73 go? View from the back wall #73 about to run-around A switchlist we used
  We solved the double-slip
throws with light paths
We used car cards
and/or switch lists
Switchlists work better,
but more paper work!
Thanks for visiting!
Hope you enjoyed the session!

Scenic Line Holiday Operation Session
Saturday, December 29, 2007

3rd Division (NG) Operators: Alex, Hal, Kent, Eric & Caleb, Barry
1st/2nd Division (SG) Operators: Alex, Eric & Caleb, GaryM, Barry
Gunnison YardMaster - Joe, Salida YardMaster - GaryM

Joe managed the NG trains from Gunnison and had a pair of doubleheaders and several other trains running to & from Salida. Barry worked a short problem with the switch lead into the Gunnison yard. Some switching was done in Gunnison, and some trains turned and switched at Crested Butte.

WB Train #61
Fast Freight
at Parkdale Depot
WB Train #61
at Texas Creek
Fares await #1
Royal Gorge
at Gorge
Hacks set up
for crew changes
in Salida

SG Operations was limited to 10 trains (due to Operator shortage), six (normally scheduled) and 4 extras all run with Form 19s. The scheduled trains were based on actual 1961 trains (although mostly steam was used). Starting off, EB #2 (Royal Gorge) ran into Salida, and picked up the REA reefer from the house track. Meanwhile, EB #44 (Fast Freight) was put together in the yard and headed to Denver. WB (Extra) Local #21 was dispatched from Pueblo and terminated in Salida, with a string of stock cars for loading. WB California Fast Freight #61 arrived shortly thereafter from Pueblo, running through Salida to Grand Junction. Following #61, was WB #1 Royal Gorge, stopping at Parkdale and Salida to discharge and pickup fares. EB Fast Freight #36 was dispatched from Grand Junction and terminated in Salida for a crew & power change, and proceeding as EB Fast Freight #46. Although (Extra) Local #22 was dispatched from Grand Junction, somehow got lost through a wormhole, arriving mysteriously at Cleora. #22 was held at Barrel, (violating additional rules in the process), while #46 was clearing and three narrow gauge trains were occupied on Main #2 and in the NG yard. WB (Extra) #23, headed up by SD40-T2s 5369/5370 brought a string of GS 46' gons from Pueblo, and were later dispatched as (Extra) #24 with loaded gons for a return trip to Pueblo with a new crew.

Salida yard crews kept busy switching cars, switching cars from Barrel, hostling locos and hacks.
SD-40T-2s running light during test runs
at Howard trestle
The Yard Switcher
has brought loaded gons
from Barrel
The Fall Stock Special
train runs into Salida

Overall, a fun session with only minor glitches. We ran several trains for a few hours, some Operators getting to run both SG and NG trains. Everything was managed fairly well with both SG and NG trains. Not to be too critical and not trying to make it read like a disaster, but a few observations and Lessons Learned.

  1. SG Form 19s worked fairly well for the most part, especially for being used for the first time.
  2. Clock was not used, which was a good thing, with SG gauge trains often running slow or lost, and unscheduled NG trains flooding the NG yard in waves, and few operators to move trains/cars.
  3. Read your train orders. Understand them. Follow directions. Ask Questions. (X #22 disregarded train orders and went wrong direction and through checkpoints.)
  4. Authority for trains in yards is Yard Master, not other Operators. (X #22 ignored hold orders and blocked Main #2, trying to accomodate NG train operators.)
  5. NG trains need to request permission from Yard Master to use Salida Mains. (Overall, permission was granted often, but NG train operators need to understand clearance protocol.)
  6. Check train orders between destinations for special instructions. (#36 failed to heed instructions to use Main #1)
  7. Pay attention to other trains and ask Dispatcher for clearance when a problem is apparent. (#61 correctly checked with Dispatch for clearance for a very late #2 occupying the helix.)
  8. Not very many operators for the session or showing up on time to start. This operating session had plenty of notice, e-mails, Xmas dinner, discussions, etc. Seemed like only a few knew we were operating Saturday.
  9. Briefing for SG operators would have been more effective if everyone was there at the start.
  10. Switch motors at Salida NG main will dramatically improve operations there, NG trains were slowed, crawling through three consective switches that had to be held manually - very difficult for an Operator to handle with dead frogs to boot. Operators are to be congratulated for negotiating this challenge.
  11. Salida engine facility tracks and switch completion will dramatically enhance those operations.
  12. The NG yard lead did indeed enhance NG operations in Salida, but MAIN #2 was utilized often as NG trains sometimes arrived in two or threes.
  13. DO NOT THROW SWITCHES AFTER POWER DOWN. (Sunday, the layout was shorted out from all the toggle switches thrown - probably from the Crested Butte wye switch. With power supplies shut off, throwing the switches will cause the frogs to have all the wrong polarity with the switch motor positions and switches in incorrect position.)
  14. ALWAYS LEAVE SWITCH IN THRU (STRAIGHT) POSITION AFTER USE. (Always easier for the next train to assume normal conditions for operating, prevents trains running into yards, less work for the next Operator, etc.

Scenic Line Official Std Gauge Operation Session
Thursday, July 14, 2007

by Gary Myers

1st/2nd Division Standard Gauge Operations
The first really full up Ops Session was conducted with several operators in a long time. The Time-Table was adjusted for the new fast "1:1" clock and worked fairly well. Staging tracks were operated at 75% max capacity, running 3/trains per track out of 4, for a total of 12 trains for the day in about 3 hours of operations. A Yardmaster at Salida was used and the Chief Dispatcher helped orient crews during the start of the day, to re-find their way.

Again, car cards & waybills were not used, and times and trains were slightly re-arranged for a successful operation. The schedule is appearing to finally work well, and trains operated without any passenger deaths, collisions, major derailments and only a few minor delays. Time will still need adjustment for the Tennessee Pass to Grand Junction run, as those times in the Table were consistently over-optimistic.

More tested & proven rolling stock are needed to add additional trains. The biggest handicap is the tight radii and kink spots in the helix which is preventing the use of heavyweights in the passenger consists. Waybills and the 8:1 fast clock are next on the horizon, for future Ops Sessions. Track repairs are required on Transfer Yard Switch 8, as well as DG Switch 11. A few mainline switches require adjustment through Main #1 for tight & dead spots. Also, Salida now has only 4 DG switches to complete, although some still need a little adjustment, as mentioned.

3rd Division Narrow Gauge Operations
Track problems and improvements are still required to be fixed on the main line for reliable operations, with a major holdup of connection of the line across the Arkansas River and Salida Depot switches. #492 ran light again, but otherwise, work continued at Gunnison & Parlin in lieu of operations.

D&RGW Scenic Line Operations
Thursday, July 12, 2007

by Gary & Alex Myers

2rd Division/Branch Narrow Gauge Operations
At dawn, Southerner "Reb" DeKruif, took #460 with a string of empty freight cars from Crested Butte up to Marshall Pass, where #460 had encountered mechanical failure (Dirty tires). #460 was shopped for preventive maintenance. Fresh from the shops, #375 was dispatched from Salida to retrieve the train stranded at Marshall. #375 ran without delays to Poncha Jct.

Around noon, A.J. "SkyWalker" Myers took #455 with freight from Salida to Tank #7, and finally succombed to the long haul in time for a crew change. There, his pa "Chopper" Myers, ran #455 up to Crested Butte, where the townspeople were very grateful for supplies, produce and goods. The train crews found their way in town that night by the Red lantern lights. Skywalker's crew somehow arrived, found the locomotive and cars deserted, and returned with Crested loads to Gray's Siding, where coaling was required and rest, probably after a long afternoon of hiking.

The Professor ran #492 light, at Monarch, and from Poncha to Gunnison. It was found #492's brake shoes were interfering with the locomotive's operation. The offensive brake equipment was discarded, swiftening the descent from Marshall to Gunnison with a very nervous crew.

1st/2nd Division Operations
The Scenic Limited ran on schedule, followed by the President's fast freight, who was on hand to ride in the cab of trains between Pueblo and Grand Jct all day. The Panoramic consist replaced the heavily damaged wrecked heavyweights with the new lightweights, pulled by a F3 AB pair, with slacking el Presidente enjoying a fair view from the business car. Thousands of gallons of milk were spilled in the helix dark territory, where unseen forces were at work, when 3 50' milk cars and caboose separated from the 4th train of the day. The lead car derailed and became wedged between the track and what appeared to be 'sky.' A stock special ran next and dropped off some cars at Salida and picked up some LCL freight. Another stock special with some minor derailments in Salida, jousted for switching with a eastbound train of flats, while another fast freight ran through. The day ended with higher revenues, no passengers killed, and less trainmen injured/killed than Tuesday for a total of 8 trains on the division.

Scenic Line Time-Table Update
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

by Gary & Alex Myers

3 1-man crews were able to run 10 trains this evening, and a yard switcher. The time-tables were adjusted by adding 2 minutes to the helix runs (up & down), and operations commenced with the built-in clocks running at 1:1.

It was noted soon afterwards that 1:1 was really not always 1:1, but varied 40-50 seconds:1 minute, or thereabouts, but not always. This proved troublesome with the timed approaches built into the schedules. It is expected that a with a faster clock, we should have a more predictable time continuoum. It was noted that the 8:1 fast clock ran at 1 minute every 7 to 8 seconds. Time-tables will have to evolve into a fast clock time accounting for these nonlinearites, with additional time alloted for varying speeds.

It was also noted that when the clock is set on a throttle, all of the other throttles display the same time at + 1 minute. So, from then on, one throttle was designated to set time and was out of service for running. The QT4 throttle was used for the yard switcher, and was effective and made switching easier with it's rev-brake-Fwd toggle switch.

Switching operations were simulated in the transfer yard with the road engine and yard switcher, without the use of carcards & waybills. Significant changes in scheduling around way-freights will be required, although in general, the current time-table functioned fairly well, considering the 1:1 clock was like 0.8:1. It seems that switching requires 15-30 minutes real time for each wayfreight. Yard switching activity clocked about 20 minutes (real time). No narrow gauge operations or switching was conducted during the day.

Andrew, Alex & Gary ran 2 trains from Track 5 and the yard switcher, 3 trains from Tracks 4 & 3, and 2 + the yard switcher from Track 2.

Accident Report
Major derailments were frequent on the Panoramic (Barry's Ski Train), so apparently Skywalker's adjustments to Bryn College proved insufficient. Several passengers drowned in the Arkansas River, when their coach behind Bryn College plunged into the icy waters just west of Hanging Bridge. This after only narrowly escaping death but still suffering serious injuries from the pile-up of cars after leaving the helix and entering reversing. Not only did passengers suffer injury, but hung on tenaciously to the cork roadbed, a wire, or piece of partially attached wallboard shim as their car teetered on the brink of destruction. So finally, after passing through Cleora, passengers anxiously awaiting to disembark at the Monte Cristo to enjoy some nice hard tack and coffee, had their nerves tested once again as several cars derailed at Barrel and nearly plummeted into the void of the Arkansas and beyond. From there, everyone got off the train and walked the last mile to the Salida D&RGW Hospital (at least those who still could). Massive lawsuits expected. The management is preparing bankrupty and reorganization filings in preparation for protection.

Track Repairs The 3 points in Switch 13 were resoldered and the Switch is again operational, but was not used during the Ops Session.

Scenery Note
Please thank Alex and Andrew on their excellant painting of the rock face side of Red Hill tunnel. The area is now ready to receve dirt & foilage material.

Equipment Note
2 Tunnel Motor orders were placed with the RGM&HS today. July 11th is the deadline before the price goes up again. See their website for details.

D&RGW returns Limited Standard Gauge Operations on the Scenic Line
Monday, July 9, 2007

by Gary & Alex Myers

Operations were set up with 2 standard gauge trains per staging track, with the limitation of having only 2 operators on hand.

Initially, The Scenic Limited ran under a 8:1 fast clock and fast times were recorded. The train returned to staging for nominal 1:1 clock operations, as set up on the Call Board. It will take extensive work to rework the time-tables with fast clock times because normal conversion will not be possible, at least not until 1:1 clock times are improved, as noted below.

Track 5
#1178 pulled the Scenic Limited and was 2 minutes late leaving the helix. Apparently, Timetable adjustments will be needed, as noted later as well. Followed by #828 pulling a fast freight of fresh fruit, running in the 3rd slot (trains #2 & #4 omitted). Having trouble getting up the helix and what turned out to be a dirty spot in the helix, #828 had to drop 4 reefers to get up the grade, (but they were added back in at the end of the day as it was noted later on it was not a grade problem). Being very late, #828 returned to staging following the Scenic Limited (and placed back in starting order for the next go).

Track 4
We ended up running Barry's #1502/Ski Train in the #1 slot, followed by a Stock special pulled by #827 as a wayfreight in the #3 slot again (and trains in slots #2 & #4 were omitted again). Slot #s refer to the order of trains on each staging track, Tracks 5, 4, 3 & 2 (with 5 in the back). Each staging track can hold a max of 4 trains. #1502 had to drop a coach with truck/coupler problems, that Alex fixed later. #1502 had a very difficult time meeting timetable schedule, needing additional time, and with some excessive spurts of speed, regained schedule. The stock special, leaving on time could not achieve the sheduled time at Tenessee Pass or meet the Panoramic (Ski Train) at Cleora as scheduled. Maybe, providence was shining on those passengers from not having the pleasure of a stock train sitting in the 90 degree heat waiting at Cleora, while they passed on to Salida. However, it was clear that with trains running at prototypical speed, schedules posted on the Timetable (on the Call Board) could not be maintained, and rework is needed. Stock cars were dropped off at Cleora 2nd Main and Parkdale sidings. The next scheduled train is another Stock special (on Track 3) and will be required to clear the tracks of these cars.

Note: A few RR ties have been left by the Cleora and Parkdale stockpens to be used for preventing stockcars left on the sidings from rolling away. Please note these are loose, not glued down, and should be left there for operations use and please use care when vacuuming to not suck up the ties!

Operations will most probably resume Tuesday, late afternoon, July 10th, starting from Track 3. Additional operators and equipment requested/ desired/invited. Desire would be to run 3 trains/track and a 4th operator for yard duty.

Renegade Railroads Run Amok on SLMI Trackage!!!!
Sunday, August 6, 2006

by Joe Snoy

Sunday, while SMLI managers slept or were not looking, elements of the Union Pacific, Santa Fe and Western Pacific "frolicked" undisturbed on SMLI tracks without any formal trackage warrant or agreement. UP's large 6-axle GE AC4000s hauled huge 20+ car freight manifests up and down the SMLI helix into the town of Salida without the hint of a problem. The crews commented "Yeah we could do anything we wanted - up and down, forward and reverse, not a problem"!!!!!!!

UP management disavowed any knowledge of the unusual occurrence and responded "The crews musta got lost or were drunk".

Western Pacific officials were not talking, but rumor has it that two of their F3B's had problems and an anonymous WP worker said "Our single F3A just couldn't manage the helix alone despite the good trackage. Well at least our F7A was operating, we passed a DRGW F7ABB lashup that was totally "dead"!

Santa Fe officials, on the other hand, were ecstatic - "Our F3ABB Warbonnet lashup was able to haul 33 boxcars, hoppers, drop bottom gons and a new 50' Ice Reefer up the helix accelerating all the way - hell we even threw some crummy old DRGW cars on the end for good measure!" SF crews loudly crowed "WE CAN HANDLE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For good measure SF ran their prestigious Centennial State passenger train, lead by the giant 4-8-4 Northern 3755, up and down the helix and backed it all the way from Royal Gorge to the cattle pens at Cleora. The lawyers riding in the 6 Bachmann heavyweight passenger cars plus 5 Athearn DRGW heavyweights were not impressed by the smell from the cattle pens while waiting for a head-end crew change.

When it was over everyone said "We had a frolicking good time"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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This page last modified 15 December 2008.