FY 2019-2020 Officers Named

SMD officer elections were held at the 19 May business meeting for the upcoming 2019-2020 fiscal year. The previous administration was unanimously reelected. The current officers are:

Alex Polimeni, superintendent (2017-2020), NMRA South Mountain Division. (Tom Fedor)
Harvey Heyser III, clerk (2017-2020), NMRA South Mountain Division. (Tom Fedor)
Raymond Price, Paymaster (2017-2020), NMRA South Mountain Division. (Tom Fedor)

May Business Meeting Announcement

Alex Polimeni, superintendent (2017-2019), NMRA South Mountain Division. (Tom Fedor)

Hey everyone,

Now that spring has sprung, I hope you’ve all been having a good one. I’m writing to invite you to our last membership meeting of the ’18-’19 year at Bill Wilson’s home this coming Sunday, May 19th. Doors open at 2PM to view the layout, with the business meeting and a clinic to promptly follow. Bill models an HO scale point-to-point B&O freelance set in the 1950’s, and Bob Geldmacher will be giving a clinic on scenery. For  Bill’s address, contact me at southmountaindiv@gmail.com.

In other news, the Division had another outstanding Mini-Con this past month, with the largest public turnout we’ve seen to date and an all-around great job representing the Division. Thank you.

Looking ahead, our most significant item of new business this meeting will be in regard to our annual officer’s election. While our current board of officers have all agreed to serve another term, and there have been no other nominations that we have been made aware of, the election process has broken down in a number of ways, and I would like to ask the Division’s input to help satisfactorily resolve the situation as we wrap up the year. I’ll have more info on this with my second meeting reminder this Friday.

Hope to see you all soon,

Alex Polimeni, Superintendent, SMD

Draft Meeting Minutes – March 9, 2019

South Mountain Division

Mid-East Region – National Model Railroad Association

Draft Meeting Minutes – March 9, 2019

There was no SMD meeting in February because of difficulties finding a host.

Division members met at Hobby Town USA in Frederick, MD, hosted by Richard Benjamin, proprietor.  25 or so were present.  After looking at the shop’s offerings and socializing, Superintendant Alex Polimeni called the business meeting to order.

19.3-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $4032.75 in its bank account including a deposit from the MER.  In response to a question, the Paymaster indicated that the SMD receives $1 per year per member (in two payments).  For the most part, that revenue seems to cover Division expenses.  Other possible revenue sources include the Mini-Con and hosting Regional conventions.

19.3-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  Clerk Harvey Heyser summarized the draft minutes (based on notes taken by Dave Sweeney in the Clerk’s absence and previously distributed by e-mail).  Dave Sweeney made the following motion (seconded by Andy Dodge):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the January 2019 meeting be approved as submitted.  The motion passed unanimously.

Those present agreed that the sense of the motion made at the January meeting was that a summary of draft minutes for approval will be sufficient (rather than reading).

Old Business:

18.10-4 2019 Mini-Con:  Date:  Saturday, April 13, 2019.  Location: Blue Ridge Fire Company, Blue Ridge, PA.  Chair Pete Clarke (ebtmx5@aol.com) summarized arrangements to date and indicated arrangements were in good shape generally:

a. Registration and set up: Volunteers lined up.

b. Informal clinics:  Lined up.  Chair Clarke reviewed presenters and topics.

c. Hands-on clinics (make & take):  Lined up.  There will be a lot of preparation required.

d. Formal clinics (afternoon):  1) Philadelphia MER Convention Committee – brief convention announcement,  2) Jeff Grove – laser technology in modeling, 3) Ira Silverman, author of The Canadian, Last of the Great Streamliners, and 4) Alex Polimeni – model railroad operations as game design.  Superintendant Polimeni will bring the projector and screen.

e. Dealer and vendor tables:  1) Larry Nyce – railroadiana, 2) Grant Berry, 3) Jeff Grove – Carolina Craftsman Kits, 4) Mark Scheirer – Foggy Mountain Models – O scale craftsman kits, 5) Dave Sweeney, 6) Bob VanZant, and Michael Groves – Darwin fiber optic system of lights..  Vendors have agreed to make a $10 donation.  Chair Clarke requested notification of any specific vendor needs.

f. Modular layouts:  George Saar – dead rail layout and (Mr. Saar was unable to attend.)  Andy Van Slyke – F scale (large scale) live steamer on rollers.  Chair Clarke will coordinate proper safety measures.

g. Raffle – $150 gift certificate to Mainline Hobbies – $10 ticket price.

h. Door prizes – $50 gift certificate to Hobby Town USA, Frederick, an HOn3 MDC kit loco from Andy Dodge and a Classic Miniatures craftsman kit from Bob Johnson.

i. SMD brochure to hand out – not discussed.

j. Participation by other clubs and groups:  Hagerstown and Frederick Railroad Historic Society, the Four County Society of Model Engineers, and the Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum at Antietam Station will be there.

k. Publicity – not discussed specifically.

l. Video record:  HO Scale Customs, who taped last year’s Mini-Con, will be present taping this year’s and requested some comments from informal clinic presenters (with permission only).

m. Manufacturer’s displays:  See item e. above.

n. White elephant table:  Those present discussed their desire for one and reviewed the effect on Mainline Hobbies..  Frank Benenati volunteered to set up a tally sheet, get change, and make other arrangements for the table.  The Division will accept donations rather than charge a set fee for items sold.

o. Food:  The Boy Scout group confirmed their participation after Chair Clarke managed to contact them.

p. Equipment needed form SMD members:  Chair Clarke requested extension cords and surge protectors, and coolers. (Coolers were not required because the Boy Scouts were confirmed for food.)

New Business:

19.3-3 Richard Benjamin, proprietor, welcomed everyone to Hobby Town USA of Frederick, MD.  Those present thanked him for making space available for the meeting.

19.3-4 E-mails to Members:  Superintendent Polimeni reported some difficulties reaching some addresses from the Division’s G-mail accounts.  To minimize chances of being confused with junk mail, it was suggested breaking up the membership list (reducing the number of addresses) and making multiple mailings.

19.3-5 Future hosts:  The officers met to discuss this issue.  A host for the May meeting has been found.

19.3-6 Nominations for the Election (May meeting):  Submit names to Scott Schill, Nominations Chair.

19.3-7 Andy Dodge thanked the SMD for the opportunity to participate in SMD activities and indicated he has transferred his membership to the Potomac Division, where he will be serving as Assistant Superintendent.

19.3-8 Winchester Club Layout:  Andy Arnold reported that CSX has accepted an offer from the battered women’s shelter to purchase the building the Club currently occupies.  The Club is fundraising to build a new building and layout (estimated funding needed – $60,000).  In the mean time they have to tear their existing layout down.  Documenting that task offers someone interested in AP author credits an opportunity to write about the process of tearing a layout down.

19.3-9 Talking about Our Hobby with Lay People:  There is a wide interest in learning about model railroading.  How do we communicate with the general public?  This was suggested as a round table topic for next year’s Mini-Con.

Adjournment:  The Chair accepted a motion to adjourn.  Notice of the May SMD meeting and annual election will be communicated to the members.

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Following the meeting, Dr. Michael Groves from Darwin Enterprises spoke on ‘A Revolutionary Way to Light Your Hobby” using low cost fiber optics rather than the complicated wiring required for numerous LEDs.

Liberty Bell 2019 News

Submitted by Chip Stevens/Philly Division, NMRA

The baseball season has started, in some parts of the region the grass is greening and yard work is fast approaching. And all over the region, Liberty Bell 2019 is also fast approaching. We’ve been busy on your behalf readying a memorable fall get-together. The clinic schedule is filled, 41 layout owners have agreed to sponsor open houses, and several operating sessions have been scheduled. There is still room for layout owners outside the Philly division who want to open their layouts for travelers to let us know their intentions to rest weary travelers. Those interested should email Bill Fagan at wfagan@comcast.net. There is also ops information available on the convention website at libertybellspecial.org. Note, you can sign up for automatic updates on the convention status on the site.

In our last communication, we described the extensive, behind the scenes Saturday trip available on the former Reading branch now called the Colebrookdale Railroad. This all-day trip will demonstrate everything from locomotive startup through duties of the various crew members and will include opportunities for photo run-bys. Sign ups for this trip are on the convention website at libertybellspecial.org. Please note, there is a capacity limitation for this trip, so register early.

Remember that the host hotel has extended their room rate discount to attendees due to the Columbus Day holiday on the Monday after the close of the convention. With this in mind, there are a couple of NON-NMRA SPONSORED/NON-NMRA ENDORSED attractions will available to attendees after our wrap-up Sunday morning. The historic Norfolk & Western (Norfolk Southern) steam engine #611 will be offering trips under steam Sunday and Monday on the Strasburg Railroad. We have reserved a block of discounted tickets for the Sunday afternoon trip which is available through the convention registration page. Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for children. Please note, this reservation must be made by July 31, 2019 as the remaining tickets must be returned to the railroad on August 1st. Strasburg is approximately 65 miles west of the convention hotel. Also situated at Strasburg is the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, dedicated primarily to the Pennsylvania Railroad, but of major interest to all train enthusiasts. More information on either of these attractions can be found at www.strasburgrailroad.com and rrmuseumpa.org. In a different direction, weekend operations are scheduled on the Reading and Northern Railroad and the Lehigh Valley Gorge Railroads.

As you can see, we have a lot planned at the convention and there are many opportunities to have a total railroad experience while you are in Pennsylvania. As we said before, all roads lead to King of Prussia!

Colebrookdale RR Tour Added to Liberty Bell Convention

Submitted by Chip Stevens/Philly Division, NMRA

We’ve been battling the cold weather as many of you have been recently, but we have made good progress on Liberty Bell 2019 scheduled for October 2019.

Our clinic schedule has begun to gel. We have a great list of speakers and subjects committed to us or penciled into our draft clinic schedule which will be published later this spring. The highlight so far is a seminar about The Hot Rod Chicken. No, it’s not barbecues nor car racing, but the description looks intriguing. We have also had several well-known manufacturers volunteer to do “Make and Take” clinics carrying a small charge for materials.

But the biggest development firmed up is the Saturday, October 12th Day on the Colebrookdale Railroad. The railroad was a branch line of the former Reading Railroad. Our tentative plans are to meet at the Boyertown, PA yard at 9 AM to review the days plan. We will then have a locomotive tour and go through the actual start up process for a day’s locomotive work. Next, we’ll have an abbreviated explanation of the conductors and brakeman’s duties followed by an Initial Terminal Test and Inspection walk of our train and a crew meeting.

After boarding a passenger coach, there will be a raffle for tickets giving the winners an actual cab ride during the day’s trip. Three photo run by’s are scheduled prior to lunch in the dining car. After arrival in Pottstown, PA, a run-around is slated with a Continuity test scheduled prior to the start of the return trip to Boyertown. There is an additional photo op scheduled during the return trip which should reach Boyertown by 3 PM., in time for the Saturday night banquet. One of our division members is working with the railroad to add additional features to this exciting day. Cost information for this trip should be on the Liberty Bell website by the time you read this summary. Work is under way on additional tours, but so far, this is my favorite.

For updates and additional activities and convention and hotel reservations, please visit the Regional websites LibertyBellSpecial.org, MER2019.org, or LibertyBellSpecail2019.org regularly.

Mini-Con UPDATE

Updates include:
1. Informal clinic presentation by Andy Arnold – Build a diode matrix.
2. White Elephant Table added.
3. Coolers – We will need a few for beverages.
4. Please consider supporting this event. Review the “You can still help” section and let me (Pete) know what you will do to assist.

Submitted by Pete Clarke

Plans for this year’s Mini-Con have come together nicely. Brian and Bonnie Wolfe of Mainline Hobby Supply have rented the hall, advertised the event, supplied some of the make and take kits, and so much more. Be sure to stop by the shop and thank them. Oh, and buy something while you are there.

The scout troop will offer lunch. 

Ray Price, Herb Biegel, Don Florwick, and Grant Berry will greet attendees at the welcome desk.

Informal clinics:  9:00 to 10:00, and again from 11:00 to 12:00

  • Jane Clarke – Making backdrops
  • Dave Thalman – Rolling stock tuning/weathering
  • Don Florwick – Casting stone portals/walls
  • Dotti Caldwell – Modeling buildings
  • Jerry Skeim – Structures
  • Ron Polimeni – Budget model railroading
  • John Madden – DCC++
  • Bill Wilson – JMRI DecoderPro (9:00); then JMRI OperationsPro (11:00)
  • Jeff Adams – Diesel loco tune-up/lighting
  • Bob Morningstar – Soldering Techniques

Informal clinics:  10:00 to 11:00, and again from 12:00 to 1:00

  • Bill Reynolds – Using Hunterline stains
  • Jack Fritz – Building old Central Valley kits
  • Gary Nastase – Rebuilding turnouts for DCC
  • Jay Beckham – On site 3D printing
  • Harvey Heyser – Layout design
  • Dave Moltrup – Steel mill product transportation
  • Bob Law – Using dry transfers
  • Andrew Dodge – Building a car float
  • Bob Johnson – Track laying 101
  • Andy Arnold – Build a diode matrix

Make and take clinics:  Begin at 10:00.

Like last year, each of these will have two sign up sheets. One will be for those 18 and younger.  The other for 19 and older. Clinics will be filled first by those from the ‘younger’ list, then filled out by those on the ‘older’ list.  Within those categories it will be first come first served.

Modular layouts:

  • George Sarra will bring another version of his On30 Dead Rail Layout.
  • More to come…

Clubs and Societies:

For sale:

  • Carolina Craftsman Kits – Jeff Grove.
  • Foggy Mountain Models – Mark Schreier
  • Nyce Collectables – Railroadiania – Larry Nyce
  • Dwarvin Enterprises – Lighting without Wiring  – Michael Groves
  • SMD members Grant Berry, Bob VanZant, and David Sweeney will have things for sale.
  • White Elephant Table
    1. Bring RR-related items you’d like to sell.
    2. Include a list of the items with the price you’ll sell it for.
    3. A SMD member will man the table and  make the sale for you.
    4. Unsold items not claimed by the end of the event will be thrown away.
    5. No charges or fees, but consider a donation to the SMD if you use this service.

Raffle:

SMD has purchased a $150 gift certificate from Mainline Hobby Supply to be raffled off for $10 per chance. Odds of winning depend on how many are sold. Please note that this certificate can be used to pay for anything offered by the Mainline. Purchase tickets through the morning and the drawing will be at 1:00.

Door prizes (awarded at 1:00):

  • $50 gift certificate – HobbyTown USA – Frederick, from Richard Benjamin.
  • HOn3 loco, from Andrew Dodge.
  • Classic Miniatures kit, from Bob Johnson.

Formal clinics:

  • At 1:05 the Mid-Eastern Region will give a short talk about the coming Fall Convention – The Liberty Bell Special 2019.
  • At about 1:15 Jeff Grove of Carolina Craftsman Kits will speak on “Laser Technology in Modeling.”
  • At 2:00 Ira Silverman will give a talk on his book “The Canadian, the Last of the Great Streamliners.”
  • At 3:00 Alex Polimeni will give a talk on “Model railroading as game design.”

You can still help…

  • Extension cords – We will need several; and surge protectors (that add extra plugs).
  • Coolers – We will need a few for beverages.
  • Volunteer – Help manage the white elephant table.
  • For the make and take clinic’s we’ll need all the following. Put your name on it and you’ll get it back at the end.  We really do need these, you can’t make a kit without tools.
    • Exacto knife
    • Flat file
    • Sprue nippers
    • Straight edge/ruler for cutting/measuring
    • Sandpaper
    • Squares
    • Super glue
    • Cutting pads
    • Toothpicks
    • Elmer’s glue (for wood kit)
    • Plastic cement (for styrene kit)
    • Clamps for gluing corners
    • Paint (craft acrylics)
    • Paint brushes
    • Thinner (not if only acrylics)

Did you notice that the formal clinics are by a model manufacturer, an author, a young guy?

Did you notice that you’ll have the chance to watch something be printed on a 3-D printer?

Did you notice that you have a chance to win a $150 gift certificate for Mainline Hobby Supply and a free $50 gift certificate from HobbyTown USA?

Don’t let the tried and true format fool you, this event gets better each year. It’s going to be a great day. The only way it could be better is if you are there!

Draft Meeting Minutes – January 13, 2019

South Mountain Division

Mid-East Region – National Model Railroad Association

Draft Meeting Minutes – January 13, 2019

Division members met at Pete and Jane Clarke’s home.  10 or so were present because of impending weather.  After viewing the layout and socializing, Superintendent Alex Polimeni called the business meeting to order.

19.1-1 Paymaster’s Report:  As the Paymaster was not present (because of weather), the Superintendent presented the report (received by e-mail) with a balance of $4032.75.

19.1-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  As the Clerk was not present (because of weather), the Superintendent read the draft December minutes, which had been distributed by e-mail to the members.  Pete Clarke made the following motion (seconded by ?):

Motion:  That the draft minutes not be read at future meetings if they have been distributed by e-mail.  The motion passed unanimously.

Tom Fedor made the following motion (seconded by Pete Clarke):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the December 2018 meeting be approved as submitted.  The motion passed unanimously.

Former Clerk David Sweeney volunteered to take minutes in the present Clerk’s absence.

Old Business:

18.10-4 2019 Mini-Con:  Date:  Saturday, April 13, 2019.  Location: Blue Ridge Fire Company, Blue Ridge, PA.  Chair Pete Clarke (ebtmx5@aol.com) summarized arrangements to date:

b. Informal clinics:  Approximately nine spaces are still available.  (One suggestion:  working on a model has gotten very positive response in the past.)

k. Publicity:  Use of e-mail addresses received at past Mini-Cons for publicizing the up-coming Mini-Con was discussed.  The proposed use of the list is for a short (3 sentence) notice of the upcoming Mini-Con and for a late summer notice of up-coming SMD activities to promote interest in NMRA (and SMD) membership.  The Superintendent has not yet assembled the list.

18.10-5 Web Site:  Tom Fedor reported he is not able to modify the current web site and, consequently, has been tasked with developing a new web site.  He requested direction for what the SMD wanted the new site to be.  What should be kept and what discarded?

He advocated for choosing the Word Press Blog, which is easy for him to edit and up-date.  It will keep the site more active.  He suggested keeping the old web site as an archive/link to the new site for old Wheel Reports, by-laws, and achievement program information.  The Superintendent concurred.

Consensus:  Tom Fedor should proceed with revising the web site on his own and should keep the Superintendent informed.  The membership does not need to be directly involved.

18.12-4 MER Convention Registrar:  A volunteer is still needed immediately.  Other MER volunteer positions are also open (per Bob Charles, Susquehanna Division Superintendent).

18.12-6 Contacting Mini-Con attendees:  See discussion in 18.10-4-k above.

New Business:

19.1-3 Hosts Pete and Jane Clarke welcomed everyone to their HOn3 East Broad Top Railroad.

19.1-4 Jack Fritz reported that the widow of the proprietor of Grand Dad’s Hobbies has old magazines, kits, and other model railroading materials she wishes to dispose of.  The members suggested forwarding information about auctioneers, including the one Andy Arnold has had good experiences with.

19.1-5 Meeting hosts:  The superintendent reported difficulty getting commitments to host future meetings.  He has been trying to arrange meetings at layouts the SMD has not been to recently (the last year or two).  He asked for ideas and suggestions, especially for the March and May meetings.  Members present encouraged Jack Fritz (also present) to volunteer.

19.1-6 Future Meeting agendas:  To make meetings more interesting, Andy Dodge has suggested the following to Jane Clarke:

– Show and tell sessions for both models and techniques,

– Themed meetings (for instance, everybody bring a caboose), and

– Discussion of the Achievement Program.

Adjournment:  The Chair accepted a motion to adjourn.  Notice of the next SMD meeting will be communicated to the members.

Minutes taken by Former Clerk David Sweeney and compiled by Clerk Harvey Heyser

March SMD Meeting

Alex Polimeni, superintendent (2017-2019), NMRA South Mountain Division. (Tom Fedor)

Hey there,

I’m writing to invite you all to our March meeting at Hobbytown USA in Frederick, MD next Sunday, March 10th. You’re welcome to arrive before 2PM, with the business meeting to begin no later than 2:30pm. The address is…

454 Prospect Blvd, Frederick, MD 21701

The store has an example layout featuring N, HO, and O-scales. Furthermore, Richard Benjamin has also advised that the Hagerstown and Frederick Railway Historical Society’s artifacts are on display at the Frederick library, which is open from 1-5. For more information, you can visit the library’s website here.

After the meeting adjourns, we’ll be joined by special guest speaker Michael Groves of Dwarvin Enterprise, who will be giving a presentation on “Lighting without Wiring.” You can find out more about it on his website, dwarvin.com.

In other news, if you haven’t already seen it, the Spring issue of the Wheel Report is available now! I’d like to give a shout out to our editor Tom Fedor and all the contributors that have made this winter’s Wheel Reports possible. Check it out here.

It’s the time of year for officer elections, and Scott Schill has generously volunteered to be Nominations Chair once again. If you would like to put yours or another Division members’ name in the hat for the positions of Superintendent, Clerk or Paymaster, please reach out to Scott at scottschill@comcast.net . The election itself will take place during our May meeting, and I’ve attached the relevant bylaws Article for ease of reference, as well.

Article XIII  Terms of Office, Nominations, and Elections

1. The Superintendent and Clerk-Paymaster will serve one-year terms.

2. No one may fill more than one elected position simultaneously except for brief transition periods.

3. In preparation for each year’s annual meeting and election, the Nominating Committee will solicit candidates, explaining the requirements of the position. In addition, any three members may nominate someone via a written notice to the Nominating Committee, with the permission of the nominee. Such nominations must be submitted to the Nominating Committee at least thirty days ahead of the election.

4. The names of the candidates for office will be communicated to the membership at least fifteen days before the election.

5. If contested, the election will be conducted by the Nominating Committee Chair at the annual meeting via secret ballot. Ballots will be counted and results announced before the close of the meeting. Positions will be filled by a simple plurality of votes.

6. Members elected will take office on July 1.

7. In case of a vacancy in an elected position (article VIII), a special election can be held at any Division meeting. Special elections must be held in accordance with the rules defined above.

Stay safe, stay warm, and I hope to see you all there!

Alex Polimeni, Superintendent

Working a Big Industry

by Don Florwick

Ops at Mat Thompson’s Oregon Coast Railroad. Swift Packing Plant. (Tom Fedor)

This January fourteen members of the South Mountain Division responded to an invitation from Mat Thompson, MMR to operate on Mat’s exquisite Oregon Coast Railroad. We had a wonderful time and thank Mat for sharing his wonderful railroad with us. This was my 4th visit to Mat’s railroad. This time Mary Miller, MMR and I were assigned to work at the Swift Packing Plant. We had a blast, hence this article.

Ops at Mat Thompson’s Oregon Coast Railroad. (Don Florwick)

Mary and I begin our session at Hoyt Street Yard. The yardmaster showed us our Oregon Coast train. Behind our switcher we find a cut of 8 cars billed to the packing plant consisting of 4 empty reefers, 3 loaded stock cars, a box car of packing material, and a caboose.

The Swift Packing Plant is located along the railroad between the Hoyt Street Yard and Willbridge, 2 railroad miles away. As an extra, all scheduled trains are superior to us and we have to carefully pick our time to leave the yard for our run on the single track main to reach the plant. We receive a clearance from the yardmaster and, after checking our timetable for superior trains, we pick our way out of the West end.

Before reaching the plant siding we notice a double ended siding along the main, used for outbound traffic to be picked up by passing freights or another switcher out of Hoyt Street. This day, a yard switcher will service the siding during our 8 hour shift; taking our outbounds while delivering more empties and loads.

Just short of Willbridge, we pull our string slowly ahead until the caboose clears the siding switch and glide to a stop. With the switch lined for the plant, we back our string of cars slowly down the siding, clearing the main.

(Don Florwick)

A mailbox at the plant holds special instructions for us, from the customer, so that cars are spotted correctly and in a timely manner, ensuring plant operations proceed smoothly despite our inexperience with this job.

Reading the instruction provided by plant management, we discover that it takes 21 minutes to unload a stock car at the stock pens on track-2. It takes about an hour to load a clean chilled reefer at the plant on track-2, and about 2 hours to ice and chill a block of reefers on track-1 at the icing dock. We also note the track diagram provided so we can find our way among the maze of tracks at the plant.

Ops at Mat Thompson’s Oregon Coast Railroad. (Don Florwick)

Looking at the diagram, we note that track-3 runs along the back where supplies are offloaded for the packing plant. Track-4 is a service track and track-5 is the cleanout track for reefers. There also is a short runaround track on the ladder between tracks-3 & 5. Note the presence of another stock yard on the property. We were pleased to see there was plenty of head room on the lead to switch the plant without fouling the mainline.

Let’s get started spotting the 8 cars we brought to the plant this morning. You recall we boldly backed into the plant without thought, to clear the main while we looked over our instructions and developed a plan for our first service switch. At the plant we found 1 reefer loaded on track-2, at door-5 and 3 reefers iced, chilled and waiting at the ice dock on track-1. We noted there was one empty box car at door-5 on track-3 and a loaded tank car of tallow spotted near the oil tank, billed outbound.

Ops at Mat Thompson’s Oregon Coast Railroad. (Tom Fedor)

Once oriented, we devise our plan. Here is what we did. First, we pulled our string forward to clear the track-4 switch, then we backed onto track-4 to drop our caboose. Pulling forward to again clear the switch we lined it for the ladder and backed our 4 reefers onto track-5, the cleanout track, and cut away. We then left the remaining 3 loaded stock cars short of track-2 and moved to track-1 where we pulled the 3 iced reefers over to track-2 and shoved them down to doors-1, 2, & 3 for loading.

Ops at Mat Thompson’s Oregon Coast Railroad. (Don Florwick)

There were three timers provided for our convenience so we set one for 20 minutes.  That would use exactly 1 hour of the 3:1 fast clock time for loading. We then came back to the lead and grabbed the 3 loaded stock cars and swung them over to track-2 at the pens. We had 40 foot stock cars so each had to be individually positioned at the unloading shoots that were spaced for 50 foot cars. Once in position we set the second timer to 7 minutes, giving us 21 minutes of fast time for unloading.

Ops at Mat Thompson’s Oregon Coast Railroad. (Tom Fedor)

Moving to track-5 we pulled our cleaned reefer string to move them to the icing dock on track-1. We set our third timer for 40 minutes giving us 2 fast clock hours for icing and chilling. Pulling off the icing track, it’s back up the ladder to track-4 to pick up the loaded box car for door-6. Coupled up we move West down the ladder to track-3.

Ops at Mat Thompson’s Oregon Coast Railroad. (Tom Fedor)

We pick up the loaded tank car and empty box from door-5, then out to the ladder again, backing East to drop the box and tanker against the caboose on track-4 and cut away. We then spot the loaded box we had keep near the engine at door-6, on track-3.

Stepping back to asses our progress we find we have spotted the entire cut of cars we brought from Hoyt Street Yard. It’s now time to build a cut for the interchange. Checking our timers we see that our stock cars have been unloaded and the other timer for the loading dock has expired so the 4 reefers on track-2 at the plant are also ready to be pulled.  The interchange track will hold 8 cars, so we back down to track-4 and pick up the tank car of tallow. Next it’s over to  track-2 for all three empty stock cars. We also grab the 4 loaded reefers.

Once we had everything on track-2, we had our cut of 8 cars. Pulling up the spur to the company phone and after checking our timetable for scheduled traffic we called the dispatcher to ask if we could have time and track to pull out onto the main and drop our string onto the double ended siding for pickup.

The dispatcher gave us track time after passage of a scheduled freight. We waited 15 minutes for the freight to pass, notified the dispatcher, then pulled onto the main and made our backing move to the siding. Surprised, we find a new cut of cars awaiting us. You can imagine our movements, making the car exchanges along with the time it took plus returning to the plant siding with a new string of cars.

Ops at Mat Thompson’s Oregon Coast Railroad. (Tom Fedor)

We have now completed one servicing of the plant. The new string of cars picked up from the interchange brought 4 empty reefers and 4 loaded stock cars for us to position as our shift continued. And so it goes, we start another cycle of cleaning, chilling, loading, unloading cattle at the pens, as well as spotting supplies for the plant, and removal of byproducts. The process varies each cycle, dependent on the flow of cars to and from the plant. For instance we received 4 loaded stock cars this time and we have only 3 unloading shoots, so we will have to watch our timing since reefer loading and stock unloading happen on the same track. This variety of movement, timing of processes, masterful placement of service tracks at the plant make this a rich, challenging, and most sought out assignment on Mat’s railroad.

A big industry can be the main theme for a railroad when you are cramped for space. Mary and I were busy for over 3 real time hours servicing the plant. The randomness of cars received required a different operating plan to keep the product flowing from the plant on schedule. So a Swift Packing, cement, automobile, glass plant, or other big industry, with a realistic operating strategy and a few staging tracks can keep a small crew busy in an enjoyable and challenging way for hours.  Big industries can be fun and that might be all that you need!

Ops at Mat Thompson’s Oregon Coast Railroad. (Tom Fedor)