Monday, October 22, 2012


After a year long hiatus from our Free-mo modular setups, we will be headed to Timonium, Maryland this coming weekend to join our comrades from Capitol Area Free-mo and New Jersey Free-mo for a weekend long set-up at the Great Scale Train Show.  Once a regular at the Capitol Area Free-mo set-ups, we have missed the last four events due to work or hospital stays.  We still have yet to pull or modules out of  the shed so hopefully they haven't been eaten or used as a home by rodents.    If you are there, please stop by and say hello.
building the shaker things (sorry, don't know the official term) - 
Unfortunately, due to a small house, the only time we get to work on the modules is just before, or during these shows.  Not much has changed, although we intend to try to touch up some of the scenery in the next few days and maybe some wiring work.  Jimmy will be no doubt running his new 16 and 20 wheel bottle cars from Park Lane Hobbies, but he still doesn't have his BOF built.   I'm trying to add a few details and things like railings, to my pipe foundry.  One of my usual rituals is to pull out the large bag house and work a little on it, only to fall short for the show.  Along those lines, I've been adding some details to the upper walkway, however, with 27 sections, it's a lot of repetitive work
adding motors and actuating arms 
On a different note, for health and fun Glori and I usually try to take long walks when we can.  The two dogs always like these, and our town has progressed from a typical, drive everywhere NJ town, to having a very decent interconnected system of municipal, county, and state park land, with nice paths.   We have so many choices in paths that we can usually make every walk different from the one before, well at least that we can remember (which isn't as much as it used to be)  This past sunday we tried a different route - we walked a few blocks east to the Conrail Shared Assets Mount Holly Branch, and followed it a mile or so north/east, before cutting back across a church yard and street to rejoin the county park trails and then the town paths to home.  Today this railroad line extends from Camden and ends a few miles north of my house at Mount Holly.  The team track operation in Mt Holly ended about a year or so ago, so technically the end of the line now is the Atlantic Wood Industries Plant in my hometown.
I think this is a load in.
This plant receives cut and milled utility poles and treats them with some sort of creosote like preservative.  I believe they also can treat the poles with some sort of cca type preservative too.  The raw poles are received on a  siding - there were three cars in it on sunday - one loaded and two empty.  I know for sure the poles arrive via rail and the finished products are shipped by truck, but I also believe seeing some outbound loads too.  I'm not sure what the ratio is, but I think most of the product leaves by truck.   A few things to note for the modeler -

  • The siding is a good distance from the treating operation itself.  There is a large storage yard for poles between the siding and the plant.  The siding itself looks to extend well through the yard, but it appears that most unloading is now done near the turnout, I guess so not to have to push the cars through the yard.  The track also looks to be mostly buried and maybe from all the heavy equipment, isn't in the best shape
  • Bulkhead flats are used with steel cradles for the logs.  I'm not sure if these are available with the cradles, but they could probably be easily fabricated from styrene strip.
  • As you can see, there are no buildings around the siding and the area is pretty rural in appearance.  The siding could be modeled in a very small space without actually depicting the plant itself.   The rolling stock and loads would add some interest to a modern layout

Captive cars that poles are loaded on and then are pushed into the creosoting pressure vessels.  This concrete pad is the end of this short track and where the poles are loaded.  There is a parallel track for each of the two pressure vessels and just to the left of this picture is a double crossover so either track can be pushed into either vessel.  I'm not sure if these cars are narrow gauge, standard, or wider
When I first moved to town 21 years ago, this line was served by a local about two times a week, sometimes less.  Around the holidays  it would go to three times a week as there is a Gallo Wine distributor in my town that would receive more wine from California then.  The local was usually powered by a single GP15-1.  There were passing sidings at the end of track in Mount Holly and in the industrial park in my town, Hainesport.   If there were cars destined for the Atlantic Wood Industries plant, the train would run past the plant to Mt Holly where the engine would run around the train, sometime leaving a boxcar of lumber on the team track, and then continue back to Atlantic Wood and work the siding.
Another view of the pole loading cars
Operationally, things have changed a bit.  The line is operated every weekday now and the traffic is probably triple or more than 21 years ago.  A large paper processing plant in Mt Laurel receives up to 16 boxcars of mill paper, and a trash to rail transfer facility in the Hainesport industrial park ships 4-10 cars of trash in containers on skeleton flats or loose in very large high side gondolas (maybe woodchip cars?)  Plus the Gallo Wine boxcars,  steel in coil cars, rebar on flats, and lumber in center frame flats - not too shabby for a few miles of railroad on a line that Conrail wanted to abandon in 1978.     Given the larger trains, Conrail Joint Assets almost always uses two GP38-2 to switch the line.  Occasionally you will see a SD40-2 in place of one of the Geeps, and there must be some sort of arrangement on who provides power as it is never mixed, always both Norfolk Southern, or both CSX. With two engines,  passing sidings aren't needed and the train can be run around using just a siding by splitting the engines.  It takes a few moves and would also add some operational interest on a model pike.  Unfortunately this has led to the portion of rail between Atlantic Wood and Mount Holly becoming overgrown - always a sad sight for us railfans.
Aerial View of the plant - I would guess the buildings on the upper left are for maintenance/storage .  You can see the double tracks leading to the long creosoting vessels.  Then an interesting mix of tanks, piping, cooling towers, and no doubt some mechanical and control equipment in the buildings
The elements of this industry cry to be modeled.  There are several different elements, but the overall scale is very compact, and there are commercially available structure for most of the buildings and tanks.  Some of the piping and the creosoting vessels themselves would have to be scratchbuilt.
It won't take you a few years to model this facility.


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