First run for The Daily Effort

I celebrated a milestone yesterday, with the first operating session on the new layout.

I finished spiking the wiring the turntable approach in Port Rowan and realized I could now test the layout with an operating session. This would be a good test of the track work (and I will admit right up front that I had a couple of derailments, which was to be expected. I’ve made note of what happened and will attend to them).

But an operating session would also confirm for me that a such a simple layout design concept – featuring a short mixed train serving a branchline terminal – could be entertaining and rewarding.

Since I do not yet have a staging yard, I used the main through the Lynn Valley to stage the mixed train – The Daily Effort, as locals called it.

Most of the time the Port Rowan yard is pretty quiet, but once per day the Mixed Train breaks the calm, rounding the corner out of the Lynn Valley:

First run

The engineer turned on 1532’s headlight as he crept through the yard and, with bell ringing, pulled up at the Port Rowan station:

First run

First run

While passengers and less-than-carload express were unloaded, the conductor picked up switching orders.

On arrival at Port Rowan, The Daily Effort consisted of:

CNR 1532 – an H-6-d class 4-6-0
CNR 487747 – a boxcar
CNR 7792 – a baggage-mail car
CNR 7184 – a combine

CNR 487747 was destined for the team track, while the crew would be lifting two cars in Port Rowan for the return trip to Hamilton:

MEC 36106 – a boxcar spotted at the feed mill
CNJ 65414 – a hopper spotted on the coal track

After a brief consultation, the crew got to work.

The first order of business was to back the train up the main, to clear the run-around siding. Then the crew pulled forward to collect the MEC boxcar:

First run

Hauling back, the crew took the siding, moving slowly past the CNR boxcar and the passenger cars:

First run

First run

First run

Having regained the main, the crew shoved forward on the main to couple onto the combine, then continued to shove ahead until the CNR boxcar cleared the track switch in front of the station:

First run

Here, the crew uncoupled the CNR boxcar and pulled back on the main, into the clear:

First run

First run

Then, they rolled forward along the siding to retrieve that CNR boxcar:

First run

First run

The crew hauled the CNR boxcar past the passenger cars and MEC boxcar, and continued up to the yard throat:

First run

Here, the switch was thrown for the coal track and – with much sanding of the rails – the crew collected the CNJ hopper:

First run

First run

(The crew always switches this track with the boiler pointing uphill to keep plenty of water over the firebox.)

Back on the main, the crew again coupled up to the train:

First run

At this point, The Daily Effort looked like this:

CNR 1532 – the 10-wheeler
CNR 487747 – a boxcar to set out
CNJ 65414 – a hopper car returning to Hamilton
MEC 36106 – a boxcar returning to Hamilton
CNR 7184 – a combine
CNR 7792 – a baggae-mail car

Shoving on the consist, the crew spotted the train so that the passenger cars were in front of the depot. Here, the engine crew left everything but the CNR boxcar and pulled back, leaving the conductor and station agent free to load passengers and outbound express:

First run

First run

With one last car to spot, the crew backed up to the yard throat, took the switch for the team track, and set off the CNR boxcar to the right of the barn:

First run

First run

First run

Back on the main, the final job was to turn the engine. More switches were thrown and the crew proceeded up the slight grade of the turntable lead and onto the turntable:

First run

First run

Turning the engine took time, giving bystanders and opportunity to admire both sides of the locomotive:

First run

First run

With the engine turned, the crew crept off the turntable and drifted down the lead to the yard throat:

First run

First run

First run

Switches were lined for the main and locked, then the crew backed down to their train. With the day’s work done, the crew could take a short break while waiting for their scheduled departure time from Port Rowan:

First run

First run

The departing mixed train looks like this:

CNR 1532 – the 10-wheeler
CNJ 65414 – a hopper car returning to Hamilton
MEC 36106 – a boxcar returning to Hamilton
CNR 7184 – a combine
CNR 7792 – a baggae-mail car

Train time came soon enough and with bell ringing, The Daily Effort pulled through the yard and out of Port Rowan…

First run

First run

…leaving a lone boxcar in the weeds … until next time.

First run

Obviously, I paused fairly frequently during this first operating session to take photos to share here – which is why my session lasted almost two hours. Without the photo-taking, the session would have run almost an hour, which is about what I expected. I’ll admit that I unlocked all switches before running the session since I wanted to focus on how well the equipment navigated my track work. With a two-person crew, the need to unlock and re-lock switches would have added time to the work in Port Rowan – but more play value, too.

The pace is relaxed, but I was never bored. With a short tail track in front of the station and a fairly short run-around, careful planning is required to avoid boxing oneself in. That said, my model of Port Rowan is also long enough that it takes a fair bit of time to get from place to place at a reasonable speed (which, thanks to a custom speed table in the 1532’s DCC decoder, is one’s only choice), so planning ahead helps save wasted moves and time.

I’m really happy with how this first session went. Now, it’s time to tweak the track and equipment to address a couple of minor issues, and add some more foam board terrain. Then I can invite a couple of friends over for an operating session!

37 thoughts on “First run for The Daily Effort

  1. Congratulations on reaching this milestone. Even with the absence of final scenery, the images you’re recreating come through loud and clear. It’ll just get better from here.

    Regards,
    Mike

    • Thanks, Mike.

      I can see the scenes in my mind already.

      Obviously, I’ve really benefitted from our conversations about how much – or how little – railroad is needed and how one can enhance a simple layout (such as mine – and yours).

  2. “Obviously, I’ve really benefitted from our conversations about how much – or how little – railroad is needed and how one can enhance a simple layout (such as mine – and yours).”

    I’ve benefitted as well from your clarity and insights about the potential this hobby offers for a lifetime of enjoyment and satisfaction.

    Mike

  3. Simply beautiful, and that about sums it all. Faithful to the prototoype settings, enough with out being too much. “Attainable excellence” is a fitting phrase that seems to come to mind.

    Rich

    • Thank you Rich – I know you know the area well so I’m very pleased you enjoyed the photos and description. As we’ve discussed, Port Rowan was a compact place but contained all the elements essential to a terminal: station for passengers and express… LCL and carload freight… a run-around and place to turn the locomotive… etc. And as my first run demonstrated to me, this essence works and is fun. Now on to the hard part – building decent models of those structures!

    • Thanks Pierre!

      I wouldn’t be this far without your excellent benchwork skills, the combine builds and you help with everything from paint colours to section house rooflines. So thanks for that as well.

      I’m looking forward to having you over for an operating session.

  4. Trevor
    Well done!
    Your focus is to be admired. Rarely, does one do such a good job of staying on point.
    Your concept has guided me in the development of my own railroad.

    Gene Deimling

    • Thank you Gene – I’m delighted that you’re enjoying the blog and finding the information useful. I’m enjoying working within the boundaries defined by the Port Rowan branch and pleased at how well S is enabling me to address them.

  5. Congratulations! I admire your drive and focus. Now you can enjoy constructing the buildings, the operating sessions and the local hostelries.

    Terry

    • Thanks Terry.
      There’s still a bit of track work to do – about three feet of single track main, plus the sector plate. But you’re right – I can starting building more structures, creating scenery – and hosting sessions. It’s great to be at this point in the project!

  6. Trevor– I add my most sincere congratulations! — and especially appreciate the detailed photo-story. You’ve thought this project through so well and made great progress, so it’s reassuring to read that you’re pleased with the outcome.

    Best regards,
    Dick

    • Hi Dick:
      Thanks for the kind words. If I’ve done a good job of thinking through this project, you can share the credit for that. Our email conversations have helped focus my attention and have brought to life a line that I never had the good fortune to see first-hand.
      Cheers!

  7. Trevor,

    Congratulations on the milestone. You have done a great job and I know you could not be happier with the ability to run at slow speeds and switch at a leisurely pace. Your layout serves as an inspiration for a simple realistic plan done very well.
    Thanks you for sharing the first run with us, keep up the great work.

    Matt

  8. Excellent Trevor. Wonderful branch line railroading atmosphere! That is the type of railroading I am hoping to attain with my emerging M&PRR. Looking forward to more in your blog.

    I may have to rethink my plans for simplification of the modeled area with reduction of modeled towns.

    Thanks.
    Art Kuperstein
    http://tinyurl.com/http-Ma-Pa-RR

    • Hi Art:
      Thanks for writing – I’m glad you found this useful.
      I have to admit that I’ve built a number of layouts and this one is not only the most simple – it’s also the most satisfying. Simple and relaxed does not need to be dull.
      Good luck with your layout – I look forward to exploring it via the link you shared.
      Cheers!

  9. Trevor,

    Well, you’ve cinched it for me! I had been debating op schemes for my own freelanced branch line railroad, and also whether or not to use a turntable or a wye. In my era of the late 1920’s a daily passenger train and a daily freight would be appropriate even on a branch line, but I like mixed trains with a distinct flavor (like a morning milk & mail run). So mixed trains it is (for now at least) and yes, I’ll go with a turntable instead of the wye.

    Thank you for a well written photo log of a typical run. Looking forward to seeing how the scenery develops, and of course a feature article in a publication down the road. Have you considered Model Railroad Hobbyist? 😉

    Galen

    • Hi Galen:

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog and that you’re finding it useful.

      Scenery is developing – check the postings on the orchards and the meadow!

      Yes, I’m sure I’ll write something about the layout for publication (beyond the piece I wrote for the Layout Design Journal, which was reprinted on the S Scale SIG site). As for where? Well, we’ll see.

      Cheers!

  10. Hi Trevor,
    The railway looks great, love the first shot of the train rounding the curve from the Lynn valley. I really like how you’ve focused on a prototype that has enough going to keep your interest up, but is achievable in scope. Yet more food for thought!

    Regards,
    Mark

    • Hi Mark:
      Great to hear from you – thanks for the nice words.
      I’m really enjoying the layout – more than others I’ve built – and I think that’s coming through on this blog. I’ve done a few more runs of The Daily Effort and I’m enjoying how the layout looks and operates. A friend and I ran last night – it took 70 minutes to switch four cars, which proves one does not need a complex layout to have fun…
      Cheers!

    • Thanks Simon. Glad you enjoyed it!

      Looking at that post I realize I should do another such sequence of photos – with either The Daily Effort or a freight extra. The layout has a lot more scenery now than when I did this run.

      I’ll add it to the to-do list!

  11. Curious as to whether the passenger equipment is steam heated. If so wouldn’t the freight equipment go on the tail end behind the lovely green cars? Of course coal fired pot bellies would take care of the heating anywhere in the trainand keep the conductor in his proper place at the rear end.

    • Hi Bill:
      Very good question!
      The passenger cars are equipped with smoke jacks so I’m assuming they have stoves (unless they’d been removed and the stove pipes are plated over inside). I added steam lines to the models, though.
      That said, I’m modelling August, so heat really isn’t an issue.
      Cheers!

    • I should add that all the photos I’ve seen of The Daily Effort (Trains M233/M238) show the freight equipment directly behind the locomotive, with passenger cars bringing up the rear.

  12. Hi Trevor,
    Sure does look like the train went to “Port” today! I commend you on a lot of hard work, research and creativity. “M238 by St.Williams at 2:12” CM Reeves
    Congratulations,
    Monte

    • Hi Monty:
      Thanks, as always, for the nice words – and thanks for your contributions to this blog. The information you have provided to me has helped with my understanding of this little slice of the CNR, and made my layout better for it.
      Cheers!

  13. Lovely – now that it has in-line pictures, even better.

    This post, along with Mike Cougill’s “Pieces of the Puzzle” led me to re-think my approach to the hobby, and got me back on track (sorry – unintended pun!)

    5 turnouts, a turntable, a loco and all of 5 pieces of equipment seems to be an equation or contentment. (Obviously there is scope to have more locos and equipment if so desired, but it isn’t essential.)

    Nice one!

    Simon

    • Thank you, Simon – and thanks for the vigilant eye on my work, too. The blog is better for it.

      And I’m flattered to think that my writings have helped someone else define their own modelling aspirations!

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