(The fireman on Wabash 658 grabs train orders at Walkerville, Ontario in 1964: Doug Leffler photo. Source: Railroad History of Michigan)
Yesterday, Hunter Hughson and I visited a 60-mile portion of the Wabash Buffalo Division that’s coming to life in Pierre Oliver‘s basement. Pierre’s layout is set in 1951 – so it’s a little earlier than the prototype photo at the top of this post, but the Wabash F7A units are signature locomotives on his line.
The primary purpose of our visit was to start work on implementing the schedule used for the line. The segment of the Wabash that Pierre models is actually the Canadian National Railway’s Cayuga Sub. The Wabash had trackage rights over this line and in fact was the primary user. A while ago, Pierre visited my place with a copy of the Cayuga Sub schedule and we re-created it in a table in MS Word. This was a first step: We needed an electronic, editable copy that we could then modify to reflect reality as presented on Pierre’s layout.
Hunter, Pierre and I did ran a train and recorded the time it took to travel between each station represented on his railroad. The entire run – from staging to staging – took about a half-hour, and if Pierre uses a 4:1 fast clock that will nicely translate to about two hours, which is approximately how long it took a Wabash Red Ball fast freight to cover the 60 miles of prototype line. With that knowledge in hand, I then started modifying a copy of our electronic time table, adjusting the scheduled times to reflect, in a 4:1 ratio, the actual travel times between modelled stations.
We then printed out several copies and tried running a couple of trains to see what would happen.
Much of the process of building a usable time table for a layout involves testing and revising. The idea is to start somewhere – anywhere – and see what conflicts arise and determine how they can be sorted, or even whether they should be sorted. Hunter took the throttle on Wabash mixed train 356, Pierre commandeered Red Ball train number 82, and I boarded a westbound freight extra – one of several that Pierre will have to run, as the Wabash did, to balance traffic and motive power on the Buffalo Division. Given that we were experimenting, we decided to start the extra west at 8:00 am – in between the starting times of the two scheduled eastbound trains.
Over all, things went very well for this first test of the time table. As with the prototype, Train 82 overtakes Train 356 at Aylmer and that went smoothly, although the wait time for 356 after 82 clears is pretty long. We might want to tighten that up a bit.
My extra freight made it as far west as Simcoe before it had to go into the hole to clear 82. I was also forced to wait in Simcoe for 356 – in part because on Pierre’s layout there’s a long stretch of mainline (44 scale minutes worth) in a helix between Simcoe and Delhi. I think if we start the westbound extra freight at 7:15 am instead of 8:00 am, that’ll allow it to make Delhi to meet 82, and Courtland or Tillsonburg to meet 356. A later start – perhaps or a second westbound extra – would allow a meet with 82 at Jarvis and 356 at either Renton or Simcoe. (Renton has a short siding – too short for two Red Balls to meet – so a meet there would have to involve the 356 and might require some fancy order writing on the part of the dispatcher. We’ll see…)
This is the sort of knowledge that only be gained by putting one’s ideas to the test.
The time table has now been edited to incorporate these observations and sent back to Pierre, in preparation for the next test.
(A great time, guys – I’m looking forward to more time table time trials, and to slotting more extras onto the layout!)