Monday, February 11, 2019

Layout Update

 The layout is slowly progressing.  I've continued to add details and weeds and such.  I'm also in the middle of kit-bashing the final structure.  This is take two on that project after scrapping the first attempt.

I had a gap of a couple months where I didn't operate the layout due to the fact that my Digitrax Zephyr had to go back to the manufacturer for repairs.  Lo and behold, a hurricane hit Digitrax down in Florida!  Understandably, the repairs to my system are on the back-burner for the folks down there at Digitrax, so I decided to acquire an NCE Power Cab to fill in the gap in the meantime.

The Power Cab will be useful on my upcoming Pennsylvania industrial layout (more on that project in future posts).

Here's some photos of last night's 15 min operating session:

The Clinton Switcher arrives at the industrial park with a boxcar of drilling mud mix for Rock Creek Environmental and a tank car of hydrochloric acid for Coastal Energy
Shuffling cars at Rock Creek Environmental.  The multiple car spots there make it more challenging to switch.


Spotting the tank car on the unloading track for Coastal Energy.  Note the conductor's white pickup.  Farmrail uses Dodge Dakotas and Rams, but I have yet to find the right model in HO scale.


The crossing bucks and street weathering are new improvements.


Saturday, September 22, 2018

New Model Railroad - Clinton, OK Industrial Park

Hello y'all!

Now that we're settled here in North Carolina, I thought I'd update you on my latest modeling project.  I've been working on a small layout, about 1.5 x 5 ft (plus a 3 ft staging cassette).  Its based on the Palmetto Spur project layout in Lance Mindheim's book How To Build a Switching Layout (essentially my model railroading Bible!).  

Switching action on the new layout!

The layout depicts a portion of an industrial park just south of Clinton, OK on the Farmrail System.  The industrial park is mostly occupied by oilfield suppliers, and customers receive sand, drilling fluids, and chemicals by rail.  

Here's the Clinton, OK switch job working the industrial park back in February.  Both the boxcar and hopper have drilling fluids, which are actually shipped as a powder mix.

A satellite view of the industrial park.  The mainline of the Grainbelt line (Farmrail's subsidiary that owns a former Frisco/Burlington Northern line from Enid, OK to Frederick, OK) is along the right side of the screen shot.  My layout is based on the longest spur in the middle, but I'm not following the prototype exactly.

One interesting thing about the prototype is there is no run-around track here!  The crew uses two locomotives and separates them for the trip back north to the yard, placing a locomotive on each end of the train.  Since my layout only depicts switching one of the spurs, I don't have to worry about this.

I wanted to get something up and running quickly, so I decided to go for a very limited project rather than using the entire room I have at my disposal.  We rent, so I didn't want to attach a shelf to a wall; the layout is on simple free standing benchwork made with premium pine and topped with insulation foam.

Track is Peco Code 83 with #6 turnouts.  I weathered it with Rustoleum camo brown spray paint.  The layout is controlled by a Digitrax Zephyr system.

I ballasted the track using a blend of products from Arizona Rock & Mineral.

Here's an overall look at the layout early during construction.  Its lit by a single LED light bar I picked up from Lowe's

I decided to model three spurs with three different industries.  The shortest spur serves as a transload point for chemicals for Coastal Energy.  It can handle two tank cars at a time.  The next longest spur serves drilling fluid supplier Rock Creek Environmental.  They receive drilling fluids in two ways: pressurized covered hoppers and in bags on pallets inside boxcars.  This gives me an industry with multiple car spots to increase switching interest.  The longest spur is a team track where multiple customers transload frack sand.  Cars can be unloaded on both sides of the street, so long cuts of cars have to be broken up.  Finally, the end of the lead "main" can also be used for car storage and off-spot cars.

Switching the team track where multiple companies transload sand for fracking.


Switching Rock Creek Environmental.  Notice the off-spot hopper on the lead towards the back.  The grass is a blend of Heiki and Silflor static grass, applied with a Peco applicator.
Overall, its a very fun little layout to operate.  A typical switching session lasts about 20 min.  No bad for three turnouts!  I'm working on the final structure, a large warehouse for Rock Creek Environmental.  I've also started adding details and some more tufts of weeds and grass, and weathering more rolling stock.

I hope to have more updates and a YouTube video to share soon!


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Chasing Farmrail on the Choctaw Route

Here's a collection of video clips I took chasing a Farmrail train from Clinton to Elk City on the former Rock Island Choctaw Route, now Farmrail's Sunbelt Division.  Enjoy!



Saturday, July 7, 2018

Farmrail in 2018

Before I moved to the east coast in March, I got a couple chances to visit my favorite railroad, Farmrail.  I was lucky enough to be able to see them do some switching around Clinton on one day, and chase a train from Clinton to Elk City another day.

GNBC 3637 and a leased GP15-1 are powering a short local in Clinton, OK in this shot from March 1st

After putting together the train in the old Frisco yard, the crew headed south to work the industrial park.  They dropped several grain hoppers for Mars Petcare at this runaround track, to be spotted on the facing-point spur on the return trip.

The local continues south across this neat old trestle.


Arriving at the Clinton industrial park for a good hour or so of switching at the various oilfield suppliers


One of the newly painted additions to the roster.


A nice view of the Farmrail shops in Clinton


The shop crew moves GNBC 8126, a GP10 still in Illinois Central black, around the shop tracks.


Looking north up the old Frisco tracks in Bessie, OK. 

Farmrail had several strings of old hoppers they use for grain shuttles stored on the Grainbelt line in Bessie, OK.  Here's one still sporting faded C&NW colors.



The Rock Lives!  Many of Farmrail Corp.'s shuttle hoppers still sport faded Rock Island "Bankruptcy Blue."


One of the leased locomotives on the property rests at Clinton, OK


GP9 4079 at Clinton


I returned on March 7th.  It was pretty chilly that morning!  The Clinton switch crew's power, with leased GP15 still wearing its Texas flag colors from the Heart of Texas RR, rests at the junction.  Behind it are two old GP10s likely from the "Weatherford Turn" job.  This junction is once where the Santa Fe's Orient line and a Frisco branch both met the Rock Island's Choctaw Route.  All three lines (or at least what's left of them) are now operated by Farmrail. 

With lots of power thanks to former Iowa Interstate and Union Pacific locomotives, Farmrail hauls a long train of sand and drilling fluids from Clinton to Elk City on the former Rock Island.  Seen here at Foss, OK.



Headed across the prairie for Elk City.  A video of this chase is forthcoming on my YouTube channel.

BNSF in Central Texas (2014-2018)

I know this blog is focused on Oklahoma railroads, but until recently, I was stationed south of the Red River for about four years.  Here's a video I recently put together of some of the highlights of what I saw BNSF up to in Central Texas.  Check out my YouTube channel while you're at it!








Friday, January 5, 2018

A Quick Trip Up to Altus

Hello all!

I'm sorry that I haven't had the chance to update this blog more frequently.  The Army has kept me busy, as usual. 

Recently, I was able to pass through Altus, OK and see the Wichita, Tillman & Jackson RR and Farmrail in operation.  This included seeing the WT&J's freshly painted locomotives working together!

When I arrived, the WT&J crew was just about to tie down for the day.  This was the day before Thanksgiving, and I'm sure they were ready to get home!  Then I watched Farmrail switch their yard a bit with a lone locomotive before taking a few hopper cars over to Livestock Nutrition near the BNSF interchange.






Thursday, March 23, 2017

Union Pacific Operations in Oklahoma City

Hello all!

My apologies for not posting a blog in some time.  Army life has been as demanding as ever, but I hope to become a little more consistent in posting here.

Today I thought I'd share some photos and notes on Union Pacific switching operations in Oklahoma City on the aptly named Oklahoma City Subdivision.

Switching work in Oklahoma City on the UP is handled by a daily switch job that leaves the OKC yard (formerly the Rock Island Harter Yard) just east of downtown usually around 0800.  Most of the industries are west of downtown, and include several lumber yards, a Purina plant, a Coca-Cola bottling plant, a recycling facility, and several warehouses.  The train is usually powered by a single geep and is often quite short; a perfect modeling project!

Here UP 1500, a former Southern Pacific unit now sporting a patch job, is tied down in the yard.

On another day, 1500 leads a short switch job across Reno Ave through the Bricktown area.  In tow were several empty boxcars for the recycling facility and a couple loads of lumber on center-beam flat cars.  The boxcars for the recycling facility tend to be Railbox, CSX, or Norfolk Southern.



Leased locomotives are also commonly assigned as the Oklahoma City switcher.  Here GMTX 2168, a GP38-2, is pulling loaded boxcars from Waste Management.


Nearby, on the main at the Ann Arbor grade crossing, the crew shoves a load to the Cedar Creek lumber yard. 

The locomotives pulls boxcars back up onto the main from the spur that serves the Waste Management plant, a food warehouse, and several other warehouses.  There is also a short runaround track on the spur that ends at Reno Ave.


Here we see the switcher preparing to leave the yard on another day, this time with corn syrup tank cars for the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in tow.


This spur is also former Rock Island track and makes a fishhook just east of the fairgrounds and heads back towards downtown.  The portion that goes back east is actually the former Rock Island mainline through town, before a re-alignment back in the 1920's.  It once served a dense industrial district, but times have changed, and the dilapidated old tracks serve only two businesses currently: a lumber yard and the Purina plant.  I've never managed to actually catch a train creeping down these tracks, but judging by what I've been told and the volume of cars at Purina, it must happen at least a couple times a week.


On this particular day I visited, the crew was switching the yard rather than running a switch job west.  They used the SD70s from the previous night's Enid-Oklahoma City Local rather than the GP38-2 to do the switching.  They "kicked" the cars into two or three different tracks in the yard as they sorted them out.




The switcher and the power from the Enid-Oklahoma City Local tied down, looking west back towards downtown.

I hope you've enjoyed this update.  I will try to add another one soon, including an update on my new model railroad!