History

November 15th- Bells and Whistles by Dillon Stokes

posted Nov 15, 2018, 8:39 AM by Sue Line RailRoad   [ updated Nov 16, 2018, 11:25 AM ]


A couple of questions often asked in model railroading is what are the proper whistle and bell signals and when and where are you supposed to use headlights? Well lets take a look at both of these rules.

We will start with the whistle and bell signals, Rules
5.8.1, 5.8.2. (GCOR)


5.8.1 Ringing Engine Bell
Ring the engine bell under any of the following conditions:
• Before moving, except when making momentary stop and start switching movements.
• As a warning signal anytime it is necessary.
• When approaching men or equipment on or near the track.
• Approaching public crossings at grade with the engine in front start signal at the crossing sign. If no sign, or if movement begins between sign and crossing, start signal soon enough before crossing to provide warning. Continue ringing bell until the crossing is occupied.


5.8.2 Sounding Whistle
The whistle may be used at anytime as a warning regardless of any whistle prohibitions.
When other employees are working in the immediate area, sound the required whistle signal before moving. When moving on the main track or siding, ring bell continuously while passing standing equipment on an adjacent track.
When moving in a designated mechanical facility, ring bell continuously.

Other forms of communications may be used in place of whistle signals, except signals (1), (7), and (8). See following chart.
The required whistle signals are illustrated by “o” for short sounds and “—” for longer sounds:


(1) ooooooooo Succession of short soundsUse when persons or livestock are on the track at other than road crossings at grade. In addition, use to warn railroad employees when an emergency exists, such as a derailment. When crews on other trains hear this signal, they must stop until it is safe to proceed.


(2) ——- When stopped: air brakes are applied, pressure equalized.


(3)——- ——- Release brakes. Proceed.


(4)oo Acknowledgment of any signal not otherwise provided for.


(5)ooo When stopped: back up. Acknowledgment of hand signal to back up.


(6) oooo Request for signal to be given or repeated if not understood.


(7)——- ——- o ——- When approaching public crossings at grade with the engine in front, sound signal as follows:

A. At speeds in excess of 45 MPH, start signal at or about the crossing sign but not more than 1/4 mile before the crossing.
B. At speeds of 45 MPH or less, start signal at least 15 seconds, but not more than 20 seconds, before entering the crossing.
C. If no crossing sign start signal at least 15 seconds, but not more than 20 seconds before entering crossing but not more than 1/4 mile before the crossing.
D. If movement starts less than 1/4 mile from a crossing, signal may be sounded less than 15 seconds before the crossing when it is clearly seen traffic is not approaching the crossing, traffic is not stopped at the crossing or when crossing gates are fully lowered.
Prolong or repeat signal until the engine completely occupies the crossing(s).


(8)——- o Approaching men or equipment on or near the track, regardless of any whistle prohibitions.
After this initial warning, sound whistle signal (4) intermittently until the head end of train has passed the men or equipment. For example: 
——- o oo oo oo oo

In the states of California and Montana sound whistle signal at all crossings, public and private.

If the engines on your railroad are sound equipped, these whistle and bell rules can add alot of realism and prototypical operations to your layout!

Next, lets look at headlights. 

Rules 5.9
5.9.1

5.9.2
5.9.3
5.9.4
5.9.6
5.9.7


5.9 Headlight Display
Turn the headlight on bright to the front of every train, except when the light must be dimmed as outlined in Rule 5.9.1 (Dimming Headlight) or turned off as outlined in Rule 5.9.2 (Headlight Off)


5.9.1 Dimming Headlight
Approaching public crossings at grade with engine in front, the headlight must be on bright at the crossing sign. If no sign, or if movement begins between sign and crossing, the headlight must be on bright soon enough before the crossing to provide warning. Except when the engine is approaching and passing over a public crossing at grade, dim the headlight during any of the following conditions:
1. (A) At stations and yards where switching is being done.


2. (B) When stopped close behind a train.


3. (C) When stopped on the main track waiting for an approaching train. However, when stopped in block system limits, turn the headlight off at the radio request of the crew of an approaching train, until the head end of the train passes.

4. (D)When approaching and passing the head end of a train at night

5. (E) At other times to permit passing of hand signals or when the safety of employees requires.

6. When left unattended on a main track in non-signaled territory.


5.9.2 Headlight Off
Turn the headlight off under either of the following conditions:
1. (A) The train is stopped clear of the main track.


2. (B) The train is left unattended on the main track in block system limit.

5.9.3 Headlight Failure
If the headlight on the train fails, ditch lights must be on, when so equipped. Headlight failure must be reported to the train dispatcher.
At night, if headlight and ditch lights fail to operate and no other unit can be used as the lead unit, continue movement with a white light displayed on the lead unit. Stop the train before each public crossing, so a crew member on the ground can provide warning until the crossing is occupied, unless:
• Crossing gates are in the fully lowered position. or
• No traffic is approaching or stopped at the crossing.


5.9.4 Displaying Headlights Front and Rear
When engines are moving, crew members must turn on the headlight to the front and rear, but may dim or extinguish it on the end coupled to cars.


5.9.5 Displaying Ditch Lights
Display ditch lights, if equipped, to the front of the train when moving over public crossings and anytime the headlight is required to be on bright.
Locomotives must not be operated as the lead unit out of a train’s initial terminal unless both ditch lights are operating. However, if no units are equipped with ditch lights, do not exceed 20 MPH over public crossings until occupied.
If one ditch light fails enroute, the train may proceed, but repairs must be made by the next daily inspection. If two ditch lights fail enroute, the train may proceed, but not exceeding 20 MPH over public crossings until occupied, but must not travel beyond the first point where repairs may be made or until the next daily inspection, whichever occurs first. The term "ditch lights" includes oscillating white headlights or strobe lights located on the front of the locomotive. Ditch lights on some foreign locomotives are configured to operate only when the horn is activated. Ditch lights which operate in this manner will be considered as meeting the requirements of this rule. When a remote control locomotive is being controlled with a remote control transmitter the ditch lights need not be displayed if speed does not exceed 20 MPH. Ditch lights are not required on steam locomotives. Failure of two ditch lights includes employee failure to turn on the ditch lights.


5.9.6 Displaying Oscillating White Headlight
If the leading engine is equipped with an oscillating white headlight, turn the light on when the engine is moving. However, turn the light off when meeting trains, passing trains, or during switching operations, unless movement involves public crossings at grade.


5.9.7 Displaying Oscillating or Flashing Red Light
If the leading engine is equipped with an oscillating or flashing red light, turn the light on under any of the following conditions:
• Train is stopped suddenly where adjacent tracks may be fouled.
• Head-end protection is required.
or
• Condition exists that endangers movement.
The red light signals an approaching train on the same or adjacent track to stop at once and to proceed only after the track is safe for train passage. Extinguish red flashing lights when they are no longer needed.

These rules can add even more operation realism to your operating sessions!

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June 5th- SIGNALS ON THE SUE LINE by Dillon Stokes

posted Jun 5, 2018, 11:04 AM by Sue Line RailRoad

This posting is about signals, and your authority on the track. What they are called, what they mean, and how to operate on them. This article is by Sue Line Crew member Dillon Stokes, who's day job is locomotive engineer for The Union Pacific Railroad.

We will start with signals.

Block signals are used to protect trains from running into one another by using colored lights to tell trains the conditions of tracks ahead. There are many variations of colored signals used around the world, but the Sue Line Railroad Company uses a vary basic version of signal system used across the US.

Those signals include:
Clear
Advanced Approach
Approach Diverging
Approach
Diverging Advanced Approach
Diverging Approach
Restricting
Restricted Proceed
Stop

The Sue Line Railroad uses CTC, Centralized Traffic Control, to route trains on the mainline.

Centralized traffic control (CTC) is a form of railway signalling that originated in North America. CTC consolidates train routing decisions that were previously carried out by local signal operators or the train crews themselves. The system consists of a centralized train dispatcher's office that controls railroad interlockings and traffic flows in portions of the rail system designated as CTC territory. One hallmark of CTC is a control panel with a graphical depiction of the railroad. On this panel, the dispatcher can keep track of trains' locations across the territory that the dispatcher controls. Larger railroads may have multiple dispatcher's offices and even multiple dispatchers for each operating division. These offices are usually located near the busiest yards or stations, and their operational qualities can be compared to air traffic towers.

Sue Line Railroad is controlled by a single mainline dispatcher between the limits of Ashby Jct (northern most mainline point of the railroad), and Richardson (Southern most mainline point on the Railroad)

Before leaving any Yard, (Riverfront, Ginnings, USY, Shreveport), or entering the main track at any town, (Morgan, Brandon, Robinson, Sue City, RCX, Leming, Maryville, Pinecrest, Northpark, Sherwood, Jeauxville), you need to contact the Sue Line Dispatcher to get authority out onto the mainline.

The Dispatcher needs to know your Train Number, what direction your headed, and where you need to go before you enter a mainline. With this information, the dispatcher can route you to where you need to go and route you and other trains around each other to minimize train delay and keep trains moving.

After talking to the dispatcher, you will usually hear the phrase “Signal Indication.” What this phrase means is the dispatcher knows who you are and where you need to go, and will allow you out onto the mainline via a colored signal. Once you get a light, you can proceed out onto the main.

Now lets break down the signals.

Clear: (Green) Proceed

A green signal is known as a “Clear.”
This signals tells you to proceed at track speed.
This signal can be displayed as a single green light or if the signal has more than one light, it will be a green light over a red light.

Advanced Approach: (Flashing Yellow) Slow your train and be prepared to stop at the second signal.

A flashing yellow signal is known as an Advanced Approach. This signal tells you that there is potentially a situation ahead that will cause you to stop your train, like a train ahead that you are following for example. If you encounter an Advanced Approach, you must be prepared to stop in two signals. This gives the engineer enough time to slow the train and stop for a stop signal. Note, signals will change as trains move around the railroad so you may not have to stop in two signals, hence the phrase “be prepared to stop.” This signal will be displayed as a flashing yellow signal, or a flashing yellow over a red.

Approach Diverging: (Yellow over Yellow) Be prepared to take diverging route at the next signal.

This signal tells you that at the next signal, be prepared to take the diverging route. The dispatcher could be routing you onto another mainline, a siding, or off the mainline. Be prepared for a speed change depending on your route.
This signal will be displayed as a Solid (non flashing) Yellow over a yellow signal.

Approach: (Solid Yellow) Slow your train and be prepared to stop at the next signal.

This signal tells you that the next signal could stop your train. Engineers must have their trains under control and be prepared to stop at the next signal. Note, signals will change as trains move around the railroad so you may not have to stop at the next signal, hence the phrase “be prepared to stop.”
This signal will be displayed as a solid (non flashing) yellow light, or a solid yellow over a red.

Diverging Advanced Approach: (Red over Flashing Yellow) Proceeded on diverging route prepred to stop at second signal.

This signal tells you two things. The first is that at the signal, you will be changing tracks. Usually to another main or into a siding. The second is that you need to be prepared to stop in two signals. Note, signals will change as trains move around the railroad so you may not have to stop in two signals, hence the phrase “be prepared to stop.” This signal will be displayed as a Red over a Flashing Yellow light.

Diverging Approach: (Red over Yellow) Proceed on the diverging route prepared to stop at the next signal.

This signal tells you two things. The first is that at the signal, you will be changing tracks. Usually to another main or into a siding. The second is that you need to be prepared to stop at the next signal. Note, signals will change as trains move around the railroad so you may not have to stop at the next signal, hence the phrase “be prepared to stop.” This signal will be displayed as a Red over a Yellow light.

Restricting: (Flashing Red) Proceed at Restricted speed.

This signal tells you to proceed at restricted speed looking out for anything ahead that could stop your train. This could include another train or an open switch. Note, while at restricted speed, be prepared to stop at anything obstructing your trains movement. This signal will be displayed as a flashing red light.

Restricted Proceed: (Solid Red, not at a switch) Proceed at restricted speed.

This signal tells you to proceed at restricted speed looking out for anything ahead that could stop your train. This could include another train or an open switch. Note, while at restricted speed, be prepared to stop at anything obstructing your trains movement. THIS SIGNAL WILL ONLY BE IN BETWEEN TOWNS. If this signal is at a switch, stop all movement and comply with a stop signal as explained below. This signal will be displayed as a red light, NOT AT A SWITCH.

Stop: (Red) Stop

This signal tells you to stop your train before any part of your train goes past the signal. This signal will be at switches and at OS’s on the outside limits of towns. This signal will be displayed as a solid red signal, AT A SWITCH OR OS. If you encounter a red signal, wait a few minutes to see if there is opposing traffic or a train ahead. If nothing is evident, call the dispatcher and call out that you are stopped at a red signal at _ location. DO NOT GO PAST THE SIGNAL WITHOUT DISPATCHER AUTHORITY.

Following these signals will help you get your train over the road and make train movements safe over our mainline.

Now lets discuss your track authority.

There are 4 types of track authority used on the Sue Line Railroad: CTC, Track and Time, Yard Limits, and 6.28.

CTC: (see above)
Track and Time: Authority to work between two points
Yard Limits: Non Dispatcher Authority
6.28: Other Than Main Track

Track and time is used for trains working a town and the train needs to work industries off the mainline. This is only used on mainline or sidings controlled by the dispatcher. When issued track and time, the dispatcher will keep other trains from your location so you can work your industries. The dispatcher will issue you track and time until a certain time, or until called. If your issued to a time, you must be in the clear by that time, or get your time extended. If you get track and time until called, you can work until the dispatcher calls you. Dispatcher will also unlock all main track switches in the area you are working so you can throw mainline switches on your own. If you encounter a Stop Signal in your track and time limits, you treat it as a restricted proceed (see above.)

Yard Limits is mainly used by the Sue City operator, Maryville, and the Northpark operator.
When operating in Yard Limits, proceed at restricted speed when given permission by the town operator. YARD LIMITS IS NOT IN EFFECT ON ANY MAINLINE ON THE SUE LINE RAILROAD, ONLY IN THE TOWNS LISTED ABOVE.

6.28 is used on all other tracks that are not mainline, sidings, or under Yard Limits. For example, a track leading into an industry or a yard track. When operating under 6.28, proceed at restricted speed.

A firm understanding of these rules and signals will make our railroad a safer place and keep train on train accidents to a minimum.

Many thanks to Dillon Stokes for his review of signals as used on the Sue Line Railroad. This material, by Dillon Stokes, was originally posted on Sue Line Railroad on Facebook.
PhotoPhotoPhoto
4/17/18
3 Photos - View album

February 6th- On the Shoulder of Giants- Part 18

posted Feb 6, 2018, 8:58 AM by Sue Line RailRoad

Make no mistake about it.  The Sue Line is about operations.  It is the glue that helps bring together a disparate group of people together each Thursday night.  Over the past several months, I’ve had the honor and pleasure of bringing to your attention a group of people who have influenced me and my enjoyment of the hobby especially in regards to operations.  I’m now going to switch tracks (pun intended) and share some thoughts on the evolution of different aspects of the layout.

When I first started, like many modelers, I had no backdrop

(Malcolm Vordenbaum's layout in Wichita Falls, Texas).  

It was just whatever was on the wall of the room I had my layout in.  The basic white wall was the usual result. However, after reading the writings of Frank Ellison, Bill McClanahan, John Armstrong, John Allen, and others I discovered that there are many types of effective backgrounds.  If your layout is to be the stage on which your trains are the actors, then I felt I must begin at the back of the scene and work forward. Just as in at the theater there is a backdrop to “set the place”. I felt a backdrop was necessary.

For my first backdrop, I just painted the wall a pleasing shade of blue. Later, with the help of my mother, an artist, I started to use three shades of blue, the lightest shade at the horizon, the middle shade in the middle and the darkest shade at the top. This was done to reflect the natural gradations of light we have here in Louisiana.  Later, I discovered coving.  This was using rounded luan plywood or Masonite at the top of my wall to gently bring the wall and ceiling together. I constructed a special box for the corners. It was at this point that I began to appreciate the depth a backdrop added to a scene.

My first hand-painted backdrop 

(By my wife)
(By a friend, Daggi Wallace) 

began to add more detail to the horizon. If you want hand-painted there are numerous well-done videos available on how to paint backdrops from simple clouds to complex industrial locations.  Some have turned to hiring someone to paint what you want.

As the years went by, I began to use commercial lithographs 

(From Walther’s).

 The effect was impressive and added a great deal to the backdrop. However, they were still less than what I wanted. Next, I found and used commercial photographs 

(Photo murals) 

which added even more detail to the backdrop. I then noticed the field of vision that the backdrop added to the scene. My eye did not just stop at the back edge of the layout. I became aware that I could now focus on a part of the scene and not try to see everything at once.  This effect became most noticeable when photographs were taken of the layout. There are numerous sources for commercial photographic backdrops.

Backdrops are not the solution for every situation. Sometimes, I let the rest of the railroad be the backdrop, especially when I have a center island or peninsula. There are areas when they add immensely to the effect of distance in the overall effect. Other areas are best suited for letting the railroad extend onto itself 

(View from Leming with Sue City in background).

While not an absolute necessity for operations, backdrops do help to “set the scene”, they do help to reinforce where the railroad is located. They give an atmosphere to the railroad.  Mountains, plains, swamps, or cities- they all help give the railroad a stage to operate on. I model in Louisiana and our highest “mountain” is just over 500 feet above sea level, so no Rocky Mountains for me. Flat is the rule of the day!  Naturally, you should choose the backdrop that best suits the story that you are trying to tell with your railroad.  Time to bring the backdrop to the forefront of your planning and efforts.

Addendum: Commercial sources Backdrop Warehouse (Backdropwarehouse.com), Trackside scenery (tracksidescenery.com), Backdrop Junction (backdropjunction.com), and Railroad Backdrops (Railroadbackdrops.com).

October 19th- On the Shoulders of G1ants- Part 17

posted Oct 22, 2017, 7:13 PM by Sue Line RailRoad

A Reflection and a Challenge


I hope you have had some degree of inspiration as I have shared the “giants” who have inspired me.

Each of these individuals has been, in their own way, special to me and have helped me to move forward in the hobby and to improve the Sue Line Railroad.

 Some of these individuals have provided direct, “hands on” contact.  Others I have never met but, through their sharing, have been inspiring to me.

 I suggest that each of you reflect on the “giants” who have been in your life and in turn I challenge you to be an inspiration or “giant” for others.

 I once heard that there are two ways to be immortal- to be a parent or to be a teacher. This world needs teachers, people who take the time and effort to help and inspire others. You can be one of those people.

 Consider taking the time to show others how you do what you do. I realize in our busy world this may be difficult to do, but it is well worth the effort.  Often, we will not even realize who we have inspired. Writing articles, even brief ones, can be inspirational. Give clinics.  They are good for others and good for you.

 Many times, I have seen a project where the author kept back one “secret” ingredient that made their project work. Don’t be one of those people. Give these “secrets” freely to others so that they may be successful in their model railroading project.

In short, let someone else think that it would be almost impossible to find a better friend in the hobby than you and that they are extremely lucky to have you as one of their “giants.” 

September 28th- On the Shoulders of Giants- Part 16

posted Sep 26, 2017, 6:22 PM by Sue Line RailRoad   [ updated Sep 29, 2017, 5:27 PM ]

This “giant” is once again a local giant and a member of the Sue Line Crew. This giant is a soft spoken, jovial, hard worker who is equally at home dispatching seven trains over the Sue Line, plumbing the bathroom toilet or carrying out the trash.   He would never consider himself to be included in the class of the other 15 mentioned.  But what he doesn’t always appreciate is how much of a push he can be to keep myself inspired to add to my own skills and conquer steep grades of learning as new techniques and ideas come along.

Photo 1- David Colvin at the Sue Line Dispatcher's Panel.

David Colvin has had a lifelong affinity for trains.  He started with a 4 x 8-foot layout built by another person and TYCO equipment. After a many year stint in N Scale, he returned to HO.

This giant has been in such projects as synchronizing digital fast clocks with room lighting, designing and implementing operations on the Sue Line using RailOp, installing LED lighting in structures and towns, a scenery person extraordinaire as well as an extremely good model builder.

He is almost always the first one here on Thursday and generally one of the last to leave. I can truly say that the Sue Line would not be what it is today without the help of this giant, my friend and my mentor, David Colvin.

David Colvin is the kind of person who will teach you how to do something rather than just do it for you. I have seen him work endlessly to help myself or other Sue Line crew members solve a problem which he could probably have solved in mere minutes. He is non-judgmental and appreciates the effort of the individual facing a challenge as well as the outcome.

He has worked tirelessly on multiple scenery projects for the Sue Line. From dirt to grass to shrubs, to trees and from water scenes to docks and ships, he has completed numerous mini-scenes and inspired other members to complete other mini-scenes.

The room lighting has been another of David Colvin’s contributions to the Sue Line. He has installed LED replacement lighting for fluorescent light fixtures as well as red/green/blue/white LED light strips which he has under remote control and is working on having them synchronized to a digital fast clock. He has spent countless hours on this project and has supplied almost all of the equipment needs for the project.


Photo 2- LED lighting in Brandon on the Sue Line

For the last two years, he has been methodically and tirelessly adding LED lights to the towns, the structures, and the signs on the Sue Line. This has added tremendously to the effect of each mini-scene on the Sue Line.


Photo 3- David Colvin at work in Shreveport on the Sue Line

His real forte is in operations.  He has utilized a commercial program (RailOp) to do so much more than it was originally designed for.  He currently has trains from the Sue Line operating alongside trains from various North Louisiana Connecting Railroad Association (NoLaCRA) member trains in a seamless and entertaining manor that allows for crew variations like I have never seen.  On average, about every 2 years, he will revise the operating scheme of the Sue Line to help keep things fresh for the weekly sessions and push the limits on contemporary thinking of what an operating session should be.  He has broken a lot of conventional “rules” on how to operate a model railroad over the years.  As one example, we operated over 4 years with just 2 six foot long staging tracks that handled over 40 trains per 24 hours and it ran smooth as silk.  The only reason we stopped was to freshen the scheme and introduce new challenges for the operators.  He has traveled the country operating on different layouts and has an analytical approach to both the good, the bad, and even the ugly that he has seen, but always can find a kind word to say about each session.  You can always learn from someone else no matter where they are in the hobby.  He, along with Mose Crews from the last edition of this column, can analyze an operating scheme and suggest improvements in ways many of us never see.

His starting point always asks the same question:  “What is the story you are trying to tell”?  We’ve now had multiple editions of the Sue Line operating scheme over the years thanks to this giant.  Just when you think the story couldn’t get any better, along comes the latest installment.

He can be a patient listener which is becoming unfortunately increasingly rare in this hobby.  Just recently, I had worked for several hours on two projects which did not work. I discussed the projects with David Colvin and demonstrated what I had done and what did not work. After several minutes of consideration, he offered the helpful suggestion “Perhaps you should connect the battery.” Lo and behold after connecting the battery both projects worked just fine.


Photo 4 - David Colvin at work under the Sue Line

After working as part of the regular Sue Line crew for over 25 years now, he reports “I enjoy the many opportunities that the Sue Line has provided to interact with like-minded individuals on a regular basis.  A railroad this size with an aggressive operating paradigm requires a group to not only be committed but also be talented operators.  We come from a diverse set of backgrounds.  I love the fact that social status and cultures are left at the front door and for a few hours each week we become railroaders on the same team.  The Sue Line has also afforded me an opportunity to really work on several skill sets from electrical to scenery to operations that I will carry with me.”

In short, almost every railroad the size of the Sue Line has an integral friend in the background helping to keep things running. He is certainly one of those special friends for me.

I am extremely fortunate to have him as one of my “giants” but is also one of the reasons this hobby brings us all so much pleasure.  It is the people that we meet and get to know personally that follow us down the tracks we lay.  We all can get to a point where we need a helper pushing us up the grade.

September 21st- Amber Alert

posted Sep 17, 2017, 11:57 AM by Sue Line RailRoad

Due to a or multiple challenges, the system is NOT working at this time.
Thursday night will be car check and maintenance (cleaning track, etc).
If you do NOT want to work, do not come...
I regret the inconvenience......

Richard

September 7th- On the Shoulders of Giants- Part 15

posted Sep 10, 2017, 7:45 AM by Sue Line RailRoad

Up until now, you have read of people that have influenced that have made their way into regional or national press and could be considered easy pickings.  However, this “giant” is a local one and a member of the Sue Line Crew. It has been said that a prophet is never respected in his own land, but this man is well respected in the Sue Line Crew. I have known Mose Crews for about 45 years. 



We first met when attending an open house in 1971 to help UNICEF at a model railroad in Bossier City. We both kept coming back and became great friends. Mose Crews has a keen mind for operations and is very insightful on what it takes to make a railroad like the Sue Line work. Mose Crews once told me “I could operate with wooden blocks and tracks drawn on plywood. Operation was and is everything to Mose Crews. Some years back, Mose Crews built a car routing program using a Commodore 64 computer. It took six or seven different programs to complete the function of producing the final lists, but we used it for years on the Sue Line.  Mose Crews led the way for us to escape the limitations of car cards many years ago.

 

He has retired after more than 40 years as an auto body and paint technician and shop manager for an auto dealership. Mose Crews is a steady and loyal friend, the kind who will tell you to your face when you are wrong, but still like you.

Like any good operator, another of Mose Crews’ passions is railfanning and he has more knowledge of short line railroads than any other person I have ever met in this area.  Mose Crews interest started by watching local trains of the Kansas City Southern (KCS), Illinois Central (IC) and local short lines in and around his hometown of Minden, LA.  At one time, I believe Mose Crews knew the name of every short line railroad employee, most of their wife’s names and many of their children’s name in northwest Louisiana. Mose, with his very understanding, patient and lovely wife Sherry and their children in the early years, have traveled to and photographed trains in 37 states


Mose Crews drives about 35 miles one way each week for our operating session and I believe he has attended more sessions on the Sue Line than I have.  Near his home was a siding with a sand company and rock company.  He took photos of the buildings and measurements and then built scale models of these structures for inclusion on the Sue Line as the town of Crews Siding.  He also added a butane distributor for more operation potential on the spur.

 Mose Crews had a model railroad- the Dorcheat & Lake Bistineau Railroad that is based on the Sibley, Lake Bistineau & Southern Railroad that was abandoned in 1942.   It operated from a connection with that Louisiana & Arkansas (L&A) and Illinois Central (IC) at Sibley, Louisiana to the town of Hall Summit and was originally built as a logging road. Mose put a tremendous amount of trackage into a relatively small room and used names such a Door Jam, and Over Yard to describe the towns

Over the years, he has dug trenches for drainage, built a roof over the expansion, stayed up all hours of the night, invested blood and sweat in the Sue Line.  He is generally way too modest in regard to his contributions, but the Sue Line would have been dead in the water many times had it not been for his help and sacrifice.  Recently, he took several hundred Kodachrome slides that had been shoved back in a drawer in the work room and scanned them into JPEG files.  Many of these photos are of the history of the construction of the railroad and the people who did the work. Again, hours spent dedicated to a project that is bigger than any one of us.  That’s what giants do.  That is just the kind of man that Mose Crews is.

 Mose Crews will tackle the toughest operating positions on the Sue Line. He will analyze them and then make suggestions to improve them so that other can enjoy doing them. He will then move on to another operating position.  He is always analyzing for ways to make operation more fun for all.  There are many core operating principals of the Sue Line that have been stalwarts for 25 plus years that are due to his input and keen insight.  Through all of that time and now, though, it is always about the railroad and not one particular position.


 Mose Crews has been a major factor in the history of The Sue Line Railroad and Mose Crews has seen that growth and development from the very beginning.  Mose Crews says “Over the years there have been many great times and some hard times, but with the friendships from operating on The Sue Line Railroad it has brought together many great people and friends to keep the railroad running. “ Mose Crews  also reports “One of the things about this great hobby is the friendships that develop.”

Mose Crews was around for the early testing of command control systems and has a prototype or two that probably belong in a museum.  Operations on more than one railroad have been heavily influenced by him.  He can look at any track diagram or visit a layout and design an incredibly sophisticated but realistic operating scheme quickly.  The list goes on and on.  To this day, he takes our often pie-in-the-sky discussions back to down to earth by bringing our focus back to the core principles of operation and why the Sue Line has done so weekly for over 3 decades.

So, you may not have ever heard of Mose Crews before now, but I can tell you that he is the giant on whose shoulders I have stood on the longest to reach my highest goals with the Sue Line all the while keeping me grounded. 

August 24th- On the Shoulders of Giants- Part 14

posted Aug 26, 2017, 7:28 AM by Sue Line RailRoad

Some people see obstacles as opportunities.  This article, the “giant” I would like to tell you about is a long-term friend and mentor of 40 years.  He is Gil Freitag who lives in Houston, Texas with his wife Virginia. They own the wonderful Stoney Creek and Western (SC&W).


The SC&W is a freelance railroad across Colorado and Utah connecting with the AT&SF at Middletown, Colorado (staging) and runs westward to Salt Lake City (staging). The D&RGW has trackage rights from Toluca to Pagosa Jct. The D&RGW narrow gauge runs from Stony Creek westward to Sierra Vista and into Grand Junction (staging). The mainline of the SC&W is 485ft and the D&RGW narrow gauge has a mainline of 157 ft. The railroad is mostly mountainous terrain. The scenery includes numerous scratch built structures and is about 95% complete.


The railroad consists of two main yards and eight towns and five additional towns on branch lines. The main business on the railroad is sweepers and way freights with two-unit coal trains serving five mines. They also have a good passenger business…running seven passenger trains, most of which do switching along the way.

The railroad has been in the April, 1975 Model Railroad Craftsman, the July 1982, the July 1995 and the April 2003 issues of Model Railroader, the March 1987 NMRA Bulletin and the 1994 Great Model Railroads as well as Volume 13 of Alan Keller’s series Great Model Railroads.

 I had the great fortune of first meeting Gil when I was attending a clinic at a Lone Star Region Convention.  Gil Freitag gave a clinic In “Sudden Sand Scenery”.  By the next week, the Sue Line was covered in sand. It was a tremendous inspiration to me then and remains so through today. Gil stayed active in the Lone Star Region for many many years and served in different capacities because it was always in his heart to give back to the model railroading community.

 

Gil Freitag is not only active in HO scale model railroading, but he has a fantastic G-scale railroad in his back yard which is housed in a depot which he built. Gil Freitag is also active in the Houston Area Live Steamers group in the Houston Area and has some beautiful life steam equipment.

 

Later I had the privilege of attending the 50th Anniversary of Gil and Virginia Freitag. It was beautiful and very moving experience. It was a valuable insight into the family life which exists outside the model railroad life and an example for all of us. There is much more to him than just model railroading. Gil is also active in his community and several groups which help and inspire children.

 

Gil is a soft spoken, easy going man who loves to help others. As some of you may know, Gil was slowed several years ago by a stroke as he was getting ready to go out one evening. He was rushed down the street to the local hospital and treatment was started immediately followed by a l-o-n-g rehabilitation which continues today. The stroke may have slowed Gil down, but it did not stop him. He and Virginia have hosted may Lone Star Region events since the stroke. He has even has even added a stair chair to allow him continued access to his beloved model railroad.

Gil Freitag excels not only in scenery on the SC&W, but also in electronics and operation. Some of my fondest memories are operating with Gill Freitag on the SC&W. Gil runs both passenger and freight trains on the SC&W using a schedule, a dispatcher’s panel which he built, and signal system with he also designed and built. If Gil Freitag had one drawback, it was that he was born too long ago. He only rather lately got the hang of integrated circuits. If you have seen his wiring, you know that Ma Bell was envious of his complex next of copper strands underneath the layout!  I have also have had the pleasure of several interesting conversations with Virginia Freitag about her embroidery and its utilization on the T&CW.


When I look at Gil Freitag, I see the drive and determination that made him the man and friend he is today.  Over the last few years, the sands of time have worn on me and could have easily eroded my interest in the hobby.  But I look to Gil to be inspired that even when our lives seem to get a little out of gauge, our bodies don’t seem to be on track like they used to be, and every step feels like the Rock Island in the final days, model railroading is still fun.

 

The obstacles that life has presented me lately have become opportunities to share with the next generation.  Thanks Gil for reminding us that we always have something to contribute.

July 13th- Standing on the Shoulders of Giants- Part 13

posted Jul 14, 2017, 6:23 PM by Sue Line RailRoad

This time I want to discuss a “giant” who very few of you may know or have heard of, the late Larry Keeler. Larry was a giant both figuratively and physically.



He spent his early years in a log cabin which his father built in northern Wisconsin.  By 16, he had earned his private pilot’s license and would later spend eight years as a fireman and engineer on the Milwaukee Road.

Later, Larry moved to Dallas, Texas where he worked as an industrial x-ray technician. While eating lunch one fall day in Shreveport, Louisiana, Larry Keeler met a young lady by the name of Patsy Braswell. They married and remained so for 56 years.

In 1964 Larry Keeler moved to Kansas City where he worked for Greb X-ray company for nearly 30 years, returning to his love for flying as a corporate pilot for them for 27 years.

In 1995, he left aviation and returned to railroading for the Dakota, Minnesota, and Eastern Railroad. Larry Keeler loved working for the railroad and was a conductor and engineer for six years. On his retirement, at age 72, Larry Keeler was given a scale railroad car with his name and company number on it. Larry Keeler always thought he was the luckiest of men as he indulged himself in two careers:  planes and trains.

After retirement, he returned to Overland Park, Kansas where his home was filled with an elaborate model railroad which he had designed and built. It was a frequent gathering place for local model railroaders and attracted visitors from around the country.

One of the many inventions of Larry Keeler was a model railroad command control system which he named CTC80. Larry Keeler designed the circuit boards and sold the systems across the country as Keeler Rail Supply. This was before any of the commercial command control systems were available.

Another fascinating invention of Larry Keeler was his HO scale layout which had an operating hump yard with air jet retarders which slowed the cars that were set free at the top of the hump. Each car landed exactly where it should. It was fascinating and I recall spending hours watching the hump yard in action.

Larry Keeler was awarded Master Model Railroader 137 in March 1988. I recall that I had many happy discussions with Larry Keeler about how to operate and control my model railroad. I also recall having had the honor of reviewing the CTC80 system by Keeler Rail Specialties in Model Railroader in the March 1988 edition.

With his exposure to piloting skills, train handling prowess and attention to detail with his work and electronics, Larry showed me that making things better for others was a real gift for the hobby.  At the Sue Line, we try to make things better for others.  As operations tend not to be a spectator sport, I have utilized his approach of always trying to make things better for the operator.  The control system, placement of toggle switches, clearly marked labels and maps, to straightforward paperwork are all integral parts for creating successful weekly operating sessions on the Sue Line.  Those are all details that must be tended to that have nothing to do with the above rail appearance of the railroad but have everything to do with getting us through an enjoyable journey for 3 hours each week.

There are many people out there that have done great things in the hobby whose name will be lost to the passage of time and lack of “fame”.  Their contributions are no less important.  But, as I recall, Larry Keeler would far rather you benefit today with fun on your railroad with better controls and improved operations than he would want notoriety for himself.  Command control is one of those legacies he helped put in place.  How is that benefitting you today?

So you are also standing on the shoulders of one of these more quiet giants in the world of model railroading.  Thank you, Larry.

June 29th- On the Shoulders of Giants Pt 12

posted Jun 30, 2017, 5:36 PM by Sue Line RailRoad   [ updated Jun 30, 2017, 5:45 PM ]

How do you introduce a “giant” who needs no introduction?  The late John Allen, the “Wizard of Monterey”, who had the magnificent Gorre & Daphetid model railroad.  His influence is seen throughout model railroading, but specifically in a small forgotten corner of the Sue Line world in the town of Jeauxville.

John Allen began construction of the first version of the Gorre & Daphetid (G&D) model railroad in HO scale in 1953.  As with most modelers, John Allen needed more space, and he chose to move. In so doing, John Allen offered a railroad for sale with a free house included. That sense of humor would persevere throughout his modeling career.  When no one was interested in buying the house with the railroad, John Allen dismantled it. The original 3.5 ft by 6.5 ft Gorre &Daphetid was saved and incorporated into the final version, while other parts were given to friends.


John Allen later moved to his final house which was chosen for its unfinished basement. John Allen dug out the basement, added a concrete floor, and prepared it for construction of his now well-known masterpiece.John Allen allocated about half the 1,200 sq ft to the layout, the remainder for a workshop and storage.

Construction began in January 1954. He constructed the layout almost completely by himself and devoted the next 20 years to this project.


During this period John Allen revolutionized model railroading with realistic operations, lighting (including night lighting), and weathering of models. He used forced perspective to enhance the illusion of realism, and only allowed photography under his conditions, in part, due to his background in photography.   John Allen had the artistic talent and skills to create and document incredibly realistic scenes that have appeared in numerous articles in the model railroad press.  He had a wonderful story of origin for the G&D, including humor and numerous references to his friends in the model railroading and model railroading publishing industry. The final layout is considered one of the greatest layouts of all time, and has several fan websites and a devoted Yahoo discussion groups.

John Allen suffered a fatal heart attack on the evening of January 6, 1973. Although he was not feeling well, he worked at completing the Gorre & Daphetid. In conversation with Linn Westcott, John Allen suggested that he would be driving the last spike in the spring of 1973, and that Linn Westcott should come for a visit then. In 1972, John Allen was already suggesting that things might not be going well, and wondering "what to do with the railroad" in letters to a friend.


Ten days after he died, some of John Allen's friends gathered for an operating session and discussion on the preservation of the railroad in accordance with John Allen's wishes. When they left, someone set a furnace in the train room to 65 °F.  John Allen never used the furnace and had covered it with tar paper. This caused a fire, which was quickly reported and extinguished fast enough to save the house, but it destroyed the final, still-unfinished incarnation of the G&D.

Andrew Allen (John Allen's brother) asked Linn Westcott to investigate if the layout could be salvaged. The fire had caused extensive damage. They tried to save the "French Gulch" section, but it collapsed as they moved it after two hours of work. A few model railroad items attributed to Allen survive and have been authenticated.

Beyond the G&D, he had developed a simple, easily portable “game/display” which he called the time saver. It was a compact switching module which offered a challenge to operators depending on how many cars were used. I cannot recall the number of hours I have spent enjoying the Sue Line’s version of the timesaver.



On a personal note, my grandfather Al G Kamm was an O-scaler in Hartford, Connecticut, who had a good friend named Watson “Watty” House. Later, Watson House mover to Monterrey, California and met up with a photographer who also "played with trains". John Allen built a hotel structure in one corner of his layout which he named Watson House. With some of the leftover castings, John Allen built a structure which he gave to his good friend Wit Towers. Witt Towers later gave this structure to the late Cliff Robinson in Dallas Texas. When Cliff Robinson died, he left me that structure.


In true John Allen fashion, we did the unthinkable and tore into the model to bring it to life with lights on its perch at the end of a pier.  The wizard of model railroading of the last century lives on as a structure in the swampy bottoms at the end of a pier in Jeauxville.  From there, they workers have a great place to watch the trains go by and gaze into the water to see the reflection of a giant still working his magic in 2017.

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