Topics

The Day I Flummoxed John


Don Mitchell <donm@...>
 
Edited

it was my good fortune to be able to operate the Great Divide yard several times in the days before trains were run up to Angels Camp.  The track arrangements there always seemed a bit illogical to me.  If you look at the large track diagram on pages 84-85 of "The Book", you'll see what I mean.

Trains arrived and departed through the tunnel connecting with Cross Junction.  The main track, indicated by the heavy line in the drawing,, connected directly with the leads to the passenger and freight sections of the yard.  Switching the freight yard meant having to use the main as the switching lead, so my practice became to route incoming trains to the siding near the point marked 50" on the diagram.  That elicited some grumbles from John, but no major objections.

What really flummoxed John, though, was the time I was switching the passenger yard and associated industry trackage.  That meant clearing the main for incoming trains until they could run from the Cutoff Switch onto the siding.  But, if you look carefully, there is an alternative.  I routed an incoming train through the industrial trackage containing the double-slip switch while continuing to use the main as the passenger switching lead.

"No! No! You can't do that!" was the immediate and loud reaction from John.  Instructions were soon posted making it clear to all operators that this alternative was NOT to be used.  Properly chastened, I resumed holding passenger switching movements in the clear for arriving trains.

But, to this day, I still think the track at GD was not optimal for operations. <g>

Don M.


Randy Lee Decker <randyleedecker@...>
 

This is kind of fascinating to me as I would think any railroad scale or real would use any and all means to take advantage of any track and route possible to achieve the business at hand.   
 Don, I am far from an expert at switching features and efficient yard set up or etc. .... but John's switching features right there at the cutoff and the entrance to the engine yard and freight and passenger yard seem to me to be far more complex than would ever be needed or built on a real railroad.   

But since he had this option you found.... built in...    Would you venture a guess "Why" he would not want that route you came up with to get the job done... used?     

Randy


Don Mitchell <donm@...>
 

The reason is simple:  You don't route mainline trains through industrial switching trackage.

My thought would be to swap the designation of main and siding while doing away with the double slip and making that route part of the "new" main.

But that would be counter to John's desire to build the double-slip.  He scratch built it -- a feat back in those days -- and deliberately located it off the main so that any possible faults found during serious operation would not interfere with the running of the railroad.    That area is critical to satisfactory operation of the G & D.

As an aside that I may have posted previously, the double slip was used to test the skills of potential new operators.  John put paper clips with destination indications on top of a few cars, hitched them up to a switch engine, and then watched as the potential operator spotted the cars at the correct locations.  I can't remember how many cars were involved, but use of the double slip was required for all spots.   At least one runaround move was always needed.

Don M.

Don M.


Robert Purcell
 

Don,

I think that this is really funny.  Thank you for this wonderful story.

Rob Purcell


On Sun, Jul 14, 2019 at 10:57 PM Don Mitchell <donm@...> wrote:
The reason is simple:  You don't route mainline trains through industrial switching trackage.

My thought would be to swap the designation of main and siding while doing away with the double slip and making that route part of the "new" main.

But that would be counter to John's desire to build the double-slip.  He scratch built it -- a feat back in those days -- and deliberately located it off the main so that any possible faults found during serious operation would not interfere with the running of the railroad.    That area is critical to satisfactory operation of the G & D.

As an aside that I may have posted previously, the double slip was used to test the skills of potential new operators.  John put paper clips with destination indications on top of a few cars, hitched them up to a switch engine, and then watched as the potential operator spotted the cars at the correct locations.  I can't remember how many cars were involved, but use of the double slip was required for all spots.   At least one runaround move was always needed.

Don M.

Don M.


Randy Lee Decker <randyleedecker@...>
 

Wow, I am realising I might be able to mimic John's layout and I will have the mainline and sidings and keep some level of operational logic in any of the small changes I will have to make in a few spots but the operations you guy's delved so deeply in, every week, really were the heart and soul of all this work.   
     That I will never copy.  What an incredible thing you were part of Don.   Just incredible.  

Randy 

On Sun, Jul 14, 2019 at 10:57 PM Don Mitchell <donm@...> wrote:
The reason is simple:  You don't route mainline trains through industrial switching trackage.

My thought would be to swap the designation of main and siding while doing away with the double slip and making that route part of the "new" main.

But that would be counter to John's desire to build the double-slip.  He scratch built it -- a feat back in those days -- and deliberately located it off the main so that any possible faults found during serious operation would not interfere with the running of the railroad.    That area is critical to satisfactory operation of the G & D.

As an aside that I may have posted previously, the double slip was used to test the skills of potential new operators.  John put paper clips with destination indications on top of a few cars, hitched them up to a switch engine, and then watched as the potential operator spotted the cars at the correct locations.  I can't remember how many cars were involved, but use of the double slip was required for all spots.   At least one runaround move was always needed.

Don M.

Don M.


Randy Lee Decker <randyleedecker@...>
 

I think this shows your route through John's switch.    lol   


Bob Friddle
 

Thanks so much for this amusing and enlightening story, Don. These recollections are absolutely invaluable to us here! This yard lead track conundrum has been irritating me for years as I looked for ways to understand the design and, through doing so, divine whether I could (dare I?) improve on it at all. I thought I had a better understanding and acceptance of it when I arrived at the assumption about a year ago that the main line must have just been indicated (with bold) wrong; it made so much more sense to me to have the right track be the main line so the left track could be the (less) encumbered yard lead. Now you’re telling me that’s not the case, and it’s blowing my mind again! So trains arrive from Cross Junction, go up the bridge by the roundhouse, then back into the freight and passenger stub yard. Similarly, they were assembled on the main line/lead track?, then the engine went around them on the right track to lead them out to Gorre? Of course they don’t have the choice to go over Port and back around over the yard, because that yard crossing was never finished. I have speculated here before that he didn’t want to obscure the view of the passenger station, or perhaps he just liked the complication, or just didn’t want to complete the circuit – did he ever say?

 

So Randy, are you planning to finish the bridges over the yard or leave that open like John did????

 

Bob Friddle

Minneapolis

 

From: GandD@groups.io [mailto:GandD@groups.io] On Behalf Of Don Mitchell via Groups.Io
Sent: Sunday, July 14, 2019 6:50 PM
To: GandD@groups.io
Subject: [GandD] The Day I Flummoxed John

 

[Edited Message Follows]

it was my good fortune to be able to operate the Great Divide yard several times in the days before trains were run up to Angels Camp.  The track arrangements there always seemed a bit illogical to me.  If you look at the large track diagram on pages 84-85 of "The Book", you'll see what I mean.

Trains arrived and departed through the tunnel connecting with Cross Junction.  The main track, indicated by the heavy line in the drawing,, connected directly with the leads to the passenger and freight sections of the yard.  Switching the freight yard meant having to use the main as the switching lead, so my practice became to route incoming trains to the siding near the point marked 50" on the diagram.  That elicited some grumbles from John, but no major objections.

What really flummoxed John, though, was the time I was switching the passenger yard and associated industry trackage.  That meant clearing the main for incoming trains until they could run from the Cutoff Switch onto the siding.  But, if you look carefully, there is an alternative.  I routed an incoming train through the industrial trackage containing the double-slip switch while continuing to use the main as the passenger switching lead.

"No! No! You can't do that!" was the immediate and loud reaction from John.  Instructions were soon posted making it clear to all operators that this alternative was NOT to be used.  Properly chastened, I resumed holding passenger switching movements in the clear for arriving trains.

But, to this day, I still think the track at GD was not optimal for operations. <g>

Don M.


Randy Lee Decker <randyleedecker@...>
 

Hey Bob, My solution to this area will be slightly less complex.. I would have liked to have copied it exactly just for posterity but this was one of the bottleneck areas for me and I am squeezing fractions of inches on everything just to make this resemble Johns layout yet function for me.  My solution will be nailed down fairly soon.  I need to get a few things first before setting it all in place.  
  And yes Bridges over the yard.   This entire high bridge run will function soon as well.  I want to finish this layout for John.  He had 5 bridge sections on this upper track run that he had to finish to drive the spike.   He got four of them done, but never finished the last massive 5' span to connect to Scalp Mountain.  I will run this high bridge over to Angles Camp soon, establishing the support locations so I can nail the yard track in.....

Randy  
   


David Woodrell
 

Hi, Don,

Very interesting to hear your stories about operating on the layout.  I'm a little confused, though, about the following comment you included in your last post, "in the days before trains were run up to Angels Camp."  Looking at the "Big Book" map on pg 84-85 the only way I can see that that would have been possible was if the bridge sections over Great Divide had been completed and the line connected to Angel's Camp?  I guess there was a string discussing this a while back and maybe even a few pictures showing it in place but I've never heard that the line up there was ever included in his operating scheme.  Can you elaborate?

Thanks.  Keep those memories coming!!!

Dave


Russell Courtenay
 

Most prototypes changed their track layout over time to suit the need, it seems though that space is more of a constraint on our models so when an extra track is called for, such as an additional yard lead, it can be difficult to fit. 

Eventually some (many? most?!?) model railroaders get to the point where it makes more sense to tear out the railroad and start over, the full-size ones seldom have this option...

Russell Courtenay
July is national what month?

On Jul 16, 2019, at 9:04 AM, Bob Friddle <bob.friddle@...> wrote:

Thanks so much for this amusing and enlightening story, Don. These recollections are absolutely invaluable to us here! This yard lead track conundrum has been irritating me for years as I looked for ways to understand the design and, through doing so, divine whether I could (dare I?) improve on it at all. I thought I had a better understanding and acceptance of it when I arrived at the assumption about a year ago that the main line must have just been indicated (with bold) wrong; it made so much more sense to me to have the right track be the main line so the left track could be the (less) encumbered yard lead. Now you’re telling me that’s not the case, and it’s blowing my mind again! So trains arrive from Cross Junction, go up the bridge by the roundhouse, then back into the freight and passenger stub yard. Similarly, they were assembled on the main line/lead track?, then the engine went around them on the right track to lead them out to Gorre? Of course they don’t have the choice to go over Port and back around over the yard, because that yard crossing was never finished. I have speculated here before that he didn’t want to obscure the view of the passenger station, or perhaps he just liked the complication, or just didn’t want to complete the circuit – did he ever say?

 

So Randy, are you planning to finish the bridges over the yard or leave that open like John did????

 

Bob Friddle

Minneapolis

 

From: GandD@groups.io [mailto:GandD@groups.io] On Behalf Of Don Mitchell via Groups.Io
Sent: Sunday, July 14, 2019 6:50 PM
To: GandD@groups.io
Subject: [GandD] The Day I Flummoxed John

 

[Edited Message Follows]

it was my good fortune to be able to operate the Great Divide yard several times in the days before trains were run up to Angels Camp.  The track arrangements there always seemed a bit illogical to me.  If you look at the large track diagram on pages 84-85 of "The Book", you'll see what I mean.

Trains arrived and departed through the tunnel connecting with Cross Junction.  The main track, indicated by the heavy line in the drawing,, connected directly with the leads to the passenger and freight sections of the yard.  Switching the freight yard meant having to use the main as the switching lead, so my practice became to route incoming trains to the siding near the point marked 50" on the diagram.  That elicited some grumbles from John, but no major objections.

What really flummoxed John, though, was the time I was switching the passenger yard and associated industry trackage.  That meant clearing the main for incoming trains until they could run from the Cutoff Switch onto the siding.  But, if you look carefully, there is an alternative.  I routed an incoming train through the industrial trackage containing the double-slip switch while continuing to use the main as the passenger switching lead.

"No! No! You can't do that!" was the immediate and loud reaction from John.  Instructions were soon posted making it clear to all operators that this alternative was NOT to be used.  Properly chastened, I resumed holding passenger switching movements in the clear for arriving trains.

But, to this day, I still think the track at GD was not optimal for operations. <g>

Don M.


Randy Lee Decker <randyleedecker@...>
 

Don, you mentioned running to Angels Camp...  For how long would you say was the highbridge section finished to the high track along the back wall and Angels Camp and the mine up there and operations took place that included a run up there.  He had a siding/ run around track up on the flats.... so I will assume engines would run up there forward with a small group of cars and back down into GD towing the return train...  ? 

Randy

   


Don Mitchell <donm@...>
 
Edited

Bob --

The post describes how I switched GD and my thoughts about the track design.

The book describes (presumably) which track John regarded as the main.

At the time I was running GD, trains did pull up towards the bridge over Port and then backed in to the GD yards.

I can't remember whether the trains were partially made up in the yard and then completed on the Main, or whether they were made up on the main from the get-go.  Looking at it today, it would make sense to start in the yards -- but that an opinion, not a factual description of what John did/planned.

Don M.


Don Mitchell <donm@...>
 
Edited

David --

The GD track did not extend much beyond the bridge over Port when I started on the G&D in '62. 

At his last op session before passing, I ran Gorre but have a sense that there was a train (gas-electric?) that ran up to Angel's Camp.  The bridges over GD were completed.

Don M.


Don Mitchell <donm@...>
 

Russell --

Not only do prototypes change their track, so did the G&D.  I saw John add extra tracks at both Gorre and Port to handle the increased traffic as the layout got further towards completion.

Don M.


Don Mitchell <donm@...>
 

Randy --

No idea how long the track to Angels Camp was finished and in operation.

Don M.


David Woodrell
 

Thank you, Don.  Greatly enjoy your recollections.

Dave


Loren Martell
 

I want to say that I read somewhere that trackage was set up for the
“ Completed G & D “ running schematic, but John installed the cut-off trackage to get operation up & running prior to the High Bridges being completed.

Looking at operation from the view point of completed high bridges does this make sense?

loren martell
Aloha, OR 97007


Don Mitchell <donm@...>
 

i have a very vague remembrance of a passing remark that trains would run GD to Gorre.  The engines would then be cut off and run through Cross Junction to the GD turntable as the Gorre turntable was too small for turning most of the mainline steamers.

But please don't take that as gospel; it's been 50 years or so since then.

Don M.


Tom Hokel (Pine Ridge RR)
 

Just to add to this.

John’s concept for the GD Line was that it was a mountain railroad and what he modeled was just the Akinbak Division, roughly 76 miles, from Great Divide west to Gorre. He said that the Colorado Midland was a close prototype.

 

Re: Tab-on-car system & color coding (pg 118): “Once the mainline was completed, John planned to use red and black to signify westbound and eastbound through trips out of Great Divide, around the whole loop and back again—simulating across-the-division traffic from connecting railroads or adjoining divisions.”

 

When I reread this years ago as I was designing my layout, I was really happy … I could run Santa Fe reefer blocks and passenger trains across the division … and even use diesels. I would have done this anyway.

 

Adding that final “Great” bridge, as The Book referred to it, would have significantly changed operations; although many of the peddler trains would operate the same. I have always been puzzled as to why John didn’t re-assign some of his priorities and finish the mainline years sooner. Maybe he just wanted to have the GD Line further along in its development before driving the “Golden Spike.”

 

When I setup my tabs, I used the same tab colors as John and added a couple of others. I kind of think of my Pine Ridge RR prototype as running from Denver west to Durango and my narrow gauge as the D&RGW from Durango north to Silverton.


--
Tom
<PR> PINE RIDGE RR