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Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: August 08, 2020, 05:12:28 PM »
Saturday Report - August 7, 2020  (Meeting held a day early due to schedule conflict)

The Board of Directors met promptly at 0830 hours and engaged in major discussions.  We discovered the A&S has an undec A-B set of Walthers E7s.  These have been in a stack under the layout for who knows how long.   Such a discovery must be put to good use.  While the A&S has a number of locomotives lettered for the road, it has no diesels.  Since those pesky things appear to be here to stay, the A&S has decided to acquire the aforesaid E7's and paint them for the A&S.  Naturally, the question arose as to just what color(s) should be selected for the diesels.  The tentative agreement reached isfor the A&S management to forecast the future and apply a scheme that will resemble the black and yellow scheme applied to ACL diesels after the road phased out the purple and silver around 1957.  The management thought a silver body with a purple stripe about 30" wide on the lower part would remind all fans of the ACL but would foretell the future of the road.  This project is on hold for further study.

The A&S recently acquired a device called an Accutrack II Speedometer.  This device is powered by two Tripple A batteries and looks like a short tunnel.  As a locomotive passes through it, the device measures the speed and publishes the result on an led display.  This handy gadget is most useful in speed matching locomotives for a consist.  Speed matching has become of great interest to your reporter lately and it is amazing how many videos on the subject can be found on Utube.  The videos by the DCC Guy are the easiest to follow. He uses the Accutrack II to demonstrate.

The meeting  next week will also be a day early due to the Babe's monthly hair appointment.

There is Covid -19 all around us here in Central Florida, but none of us are infected - at least not yet.  Your reporter and his spouse are basically hunkered down except tor occasional forays out to the grocery store and your reporter's trip to the A&S property.  "If you don't like a mask, you really won't like a ventilator!"

This week's story comes from the same addition of Railroad Magazine as last week's story - April, 1938.  The caboose is possibly the most interesting of all rolling stock.  It was required on the end of freight trians for over 100 years and the definition of a train included an end car with "markers."  The number of stories about these rolling bunk houses abound and here are two of them - One from the NC&StL and the other from the Pennsy.

                                                                                                             Life in The Caboose

    Down on the NC&StL, sometime before the depression, the crews used to have an unpaid member called a "caboose helper."  He was an ambitious colored boy who attached himself to the crew.  He cleaned lamps, cleaned windows, polished the markers, and generally kept the crummy spotless.  He became a first class cook who could make a meal as good as in any restaurant in Chattanooga on top of a pot-bellied stove.  He washed dishes after each meal and polished the conductor's shoes before a drag pulled into a terminal.  Then he departed until the next morning's run.  For all of this he got his meals free when on the road and usually picked up a dollar or two from the rest of the crew for his efforts.
    Signing on as a "caboose helper" may seem like a menial job, but in those days railroads paid better wages than laborers received.  Lots of railroads in the South hired Negro brakemen, but they had to learn the job while they worked it.  Competition for brakeman's jobs was fierce and, since the "caboose helpers" were a known quantity who had experience working with the train crews, they had an advantage.  After a "caboose helper" had been on the job for five or six months, his conductor woudl give him a letter "to whom it may concern" stating the bearer was a "qualified brakeman," and you could bet all the cotton in Jaw-ja he was.  Some of these men made the railroad a career and a few were promoted to firemen. 
    On the Pennsy, there was a crew of boomers who decided to stick around long enough to get a stake before moving on.  Most of the cabooses on the Pennsy had their interiors painted a sickly cream color.  This particular crew decided to make their crummy home and mooched paint from the shop foreman.  They painted the ceiling a dark green.  Then thry sanded down the walls and applied a coat of varnish to them.  They somehow found comfortable mattress cushions for the bunks in the cabin and took up residence there to avoid paying boarding house prices for a place to stay.  Their crummy was the envy of the division.  They even got the RIP track crew to jack her up and grease the springs until the crummy rode like a Pullman.  The trainmaster heard about the accomodations and regularly rode with the crew  when his schedule required his movement along the division. 
    But it wasn't to last.  One of the boomers did a job of short flagging and an extra piled into the caboose, which went up in smoke from the fire in the stove.  The flagman was fired and his partner quit.  They ended up in North Carolina working a shay on a logging pike. 
    The caboose is gone from the rails nowadays, but old-timers remember the red car at the end of the train fondly.   

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: August 04, 2020, 04:09:29 PM »
Dave - Thanks for the video.  It is much better than most.  I have seen dozens of these videos and most of them are terrible.  I have come up with a few suggestions (Rules?) that will make model RR videos more fun to watch. (Lawyers always like Rules.)
1.  Plan ahead.  Make sure the scene (as seen through the camera) shows railroad and not layout clutter, children's toys, and exposed ceilings.
2.  No full-size people or their voices or noises allowed in the video.
3.  Add variety.  Include shots other than shots taken from the cowcatcher.  Run-byes, switching, helper service, station stops and the like add interest to what otherwise looks like a home movie.
4.  Use short sentences and phrases to explain what is being viewed - "Big River Crossing," and" the Pacific begins the grade" are examples.
5. Spend the money and get a decent camera.  Download a user friendly program to edit the video.

Attached is an example of a video taken on the A&S several years ago that should rate no more than a "D."  Admittedly, the video photographer had no chance to edit the video, but there wasn't more than a minute or two worth salvaging.  The trip through the staging area (the Bottoms) was unnecessary and way too much time was taken on the Ovalix.  Additionally, the engineer failed to advance the throttle a notch or two at appropriate times and the whole trip was in notch 1. (I think I was the engineer.) I could go on and on.

On the other hand, I saw an excellent video yesterday.  It is attached also. It could be improved if the narrator had more of a Southern accent.

Frank - Great Video.  I wonder about the pulpwood load on your pulpwood car.  Is it store-bought or made by Frank?  We have several pulpwood cars that are sans loads and the overgrowth in Piney Woods is crying for harvesting. And where did you find pine trees out there in Arid-Zona?   

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: August 02, 2020, 01:33:55 PM »
Greg, Paul, Bob, Karl, and Curt -  Thanks for the kind comments.  The many victims of the evil geniuses in Human Resources will identify with this week's story. 

We are hunkered down for the virus and this small hurricane that is on its way up the East Coast of Florida.  I can't pronounce the name of this particular storm, but, like all the others, it too will pass. If the storm knocks out our power for any lengthy period of time, we plan on checking into one of the area hotels and eating through room service until power is restored.  Social distancing, you know. 

We have a good time making videos.  Our video cameras are just little Sonys and that limits our ability to get creative.  We plan on upgrading our video production capabilities when we get around to it.  We could start with a mini-cam that we can mount on a flatcar for track level viewing, along with a program we can use for editing.  Sometimes we have to reshoot a scene several times because a whistle didn't blow on time, an engine derailed, a train went into the wrong siding, or an engine stalled on a turnout.  This causes laughter and an occasional cuss word.  Fortunately, the expense of videoing is minimal due to digital technology eliminating the cost of film and development. 

I am searching the April, 1938 Railroad Magazine for ideas for next week's story.  Signing off for now.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: August 01, 2020, 03:26:22 PM »
Saturday Report - August 1, 2020

The Board of Directors met at 0830 hours as usual.  The discussion focused on the structure being finished for use by the boating public on the Tahope River.  There will be no swimming allowed in the area due to large alligators and poisonous runoff from the nearby pest control company.  Hopefully, the structure will be in place this week and the Oklawaha dam will then release enough water to flood the river bed. 

We ran mostly Southern Railroad engines in the morning session.  A brace of E7A's pulled a load of mixed freight from the Midlands up the Ovalix to Summit.  The assent was smooth as glass up the constant one-degree grade.  We fired up the Southern Ms4 2-8-2 and posed it for two glamour shot run-byes.  Then we went to lunch at Del-Dio's. 

After lunch we satisfied our curiosity and tested several WOW Sound decoders that have been on the dieplay shelf for two or three years.  They all worked pretty well.  A couple of them have minor problems like marker lights being out, but that may not be a decoder probem.  Some of our WOW Sound decoders are over six years old adn some problems are expected.

Speaking of problems, we had no serious failures today.  No wrecks.  No electrical failures.  No system failures.  Today is one for the books!.  Of course, those modelers who follow this weekly report never have problems like these and enjoy perfect performance from layouts wherever they are located.

A video of the Southern 2-8-2 passing through the outskirts of Sanlando is attached for your viewing pleasure.  A longer video is available on Tom's layout thread.


This week's story takes place in 1950-51, but it foretells the trials and tribulations of the company employees in the Dilbert comic strip.

                                                                                               PERSONNEL DEPARTMENT EFFICIENCY

Like every large company, the Atlantic & Southern Railroad has a "Personnel Department." (Years in the future it will be called "Human Resources" and will be dreaded by all of the workers.  Besides hiring and firing, one part of the HR office will be called I.T. and another will be charged with investigating on the job conduct of employees.)  But in 1950-51 it was just called the Personnel Department and a lot of the employees assigned there had little to do on most days.

Naturally, one of the personnel Department employees decided it was her job to make work for others so she became an efficiency expert.  Stopwatches were issued to managers, who crept around the roundhouse, the supply shed, the commissary, and the main office building timing various aspects of the duties of others in order to determine what stepes could be taken to reduce the time each job required.

One day, the head of the efficiency team, Lollie Timer, looked upon the various switching goats in the roundhouse service yard and in the yards at Sanlando and Summit and decided there was considerable lost motion there.  It appeared to her that the switch engines spent a lot of time "on the spot," panting and wating for something to do. 

Now Lollie, a recent graduate of Florida State College for Women, knew little or nothing about railroading, but that did not stop her from moving foreward with her efficiency project.  She convinced the A&S Financial Officer, Bucks Denaro, to purchase some timing clocks, which she had mounted in boxes attached to the inside roof inside the cab of each switcher.  These devices were attached secretely and none of the crews knew of their existence.  The timers were designed to time the moves the swithchers made and show the amount of time in between moves.

In early August, 1950, Engineer Ralph Clark climbed into the cab of 0-8-0 #71 and prepared for his daily switch list.  His fireman, Jim, brought the pressure up to the pop-off point and took his seat on hte left-hand side.  As he worked the blower, his eyes wandered up to the roof of the cab and he spied Lollie's box containing the timer.

Jim removed the box and heard it ticking.  He shouted "BOMB!" adn thrw the box into the tender's water tank.  About that time, the conductor, Cap;n Jack P. Cook, climbed into the cab to see what was causing the commotion.  Upon learning the facts, he sent the head shack to the roundhouse to call the police.

In due time, Officer Poovey of the Tahope Police Department arrived on the scene.  Poovey fished the box out from teh tank and, since it was no longer tickng, opened it.  The innards of the box looked like a harmless clocking device so Officer Poovey, Engineer Clark and Jim walked to the roundhouse and reported the incident to Will Fixer, the Roundhouse Foreman and Director of Maintenance. 

Boy oh Boy!  If Lollie Timer had been there to hear Fixer's opinion about effeciency experts, she would have heard language never uttered in the sorority houses of FSCW and would have crawled into a hole and pulled the hole in after her.  "I'll tell you about efficiency," said Fixer.  "Any fool that has been around a railroad yard for ten minutes can tell you that switch engines have down time in between aassignements.  And nothing can be done about it.  Now we've lost over two hours of time and trians are backing up in Sanlando, all because of a clock in a box."

Kit Building / Re: FOS Harbor Master Office build.
« on: July 28, 2020, 03:50:24 PM »
Tom - Good idea to enlarge the deck.  Room for more junk and maybe even a table or two for relaxing while Newt refills the gas tanks.

Layout Tours / Re: PRR Bellevue Sub Build
« on: July 26, 2020, 03:44:20 PM »
Looking good, Curt!  Modeling the Pennsylvania Railroad in a room that size will give new meaning to "selective compression!"  We look forward to the ribbon-cutting when the first train makes a revenue run. 

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: July 25, 2020, 02:57:56 PM »
Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report July 25, 2020.

The Board of Directors met this morning at 0830 hours.  The main topics were receipt of the new A&S decals for freight and passenger cars and locomotives and the acquisition of a new engine through a lease with the C&O.

The decals are excellent.  We have a complete passenger train composed of Walthers Bud cars lettered for Penn Central.  Don't ask me why.  We've had them so long I can't recall their origin.  I do remember they were acquired back in the day when those cars were going for $20 each.  The plan sometime in the future is to re-letter them for Atlantic & Southern.  The A&S logo will go on tenders of larger steam engines, such as Pacifics and Mikes and the words "Atlantic & Southern" will be painted on the tenders of smaller engines, such as switchers, consolidations, and ten-wheelers.

The most exciting part of the morning was taking possession of a new-in-the-box PFM C15A 0-8-0.  This baby is a beauty, although it has a face only a mother could love.  It has a single air pump located on the left side of the smokebox and the somokebox door looks something like the grill of an Edsel.  (How many remember those?  Anybody own one?)  Anyway, there were 15 of these brutes manufactured by Baldwin in 1929 (just in time for the other depression).  They were numbered 110-124.  They stuck around until they were scrapped in 1952-53.  They had 52" drivers, no stokers, 185 lbs. boiler pressure, Baker valve gear and produced 53,950 lbs. of tractive effort.  Seems like there should have been more than one air pump for such a big engine, but the pump looks larger than usual and, since the C15A's were switchers, it is unlikely the air brake hoses were connected very often on cars in tow.  The pic below was taken at the time of delivery and is the artistic creation of Tom Langford.  This model is a relatively rare find and is expected to be busy at Summit Yard after shopping and road testing.

There will be no story this week.  Weekend house guest arriving shortly.


Kit Building / Re: FOS Harbor Master Office build.
« on: July 23, 2020, 12:47:08 PM »
Jim - No grits?  Pu-lease!  You must have only had runny, tasteless quaker grits out of a pasteboard carton.  You should try real stone-ground grits like the ones you get from Falls Mill in Tennessee.  We order them ten bags at a time.  Yum, yum. 

Scratchbuilding / Re: Baltimore Amoco Station - Finished Pics
« on: July 23, 2020, 05:42:37 AM »
Matt - WOW!  What else can I say?  You captured the age, deterioration, and hopelessness of the row house as well as the junkiness that goes with old service stations.  The backside of the row house is particularly well done.  Cardboard?  Really?  The scene would fit nicely into the Summit level of the Atlantic & Southern Railroad near the red light district.  Of course, we would have to add a few palm trees and maybe add a vegetable/citrus market next door.  So let us know when you will be shipping the whole thing to Tahope. 

Kit Building / Re: FOS Harbor Master Office build.
« on: July 22, 2020, 03:26:09 PM »
    This kit could be kitbashed a number of ways.  First, it doesn't have to be a harbormaster shack.  Such a thing is not needed on the Tahope River since there is no harbor.  The dock could be extended to allow more boats to tie up, then the building could be a restaurant and gas station.  Newt Fisher's father, Luke, could run it and serve blue crabs and fried fish.  That would give Luke an opportunity to sell his blue crabs locally without a middleman and it would improve the quality of life on Eaton's curve.  Newt could finally accomplish something if he was in charge of servicing the boats that stopped by for lunch.  Sweaty Betty might see the handwriting on the wall and agree to take over the cooking end of the project.  Imagine the breakfast menu:  Tahope River Fried Catfish;  Fried eggs the way you like 'em; Cheese grits; Breaded and fried Gator tail, and Betty's homemade biscuits with orange blossom honey.  Makes a Florida boy's mouth water.  And, of course, iced tea. Beer, $.25 extra.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: July 21, 2020, 09:24:22 AM »
Jim - The minutes from the A&S July 21, 1951, Board of Directors Meeting contain the following information:

The Management of the Atlantic & Southern Railroad has determined that competition by the airlines will never amount to anything to worry about.  After all, how much freight can those planes carry?  And the railroads have no worry about serious competition from the trucking industry.   Most of the highways in the United States are two-lane and the trucks have those gasoline engines that cannot compete with diesel engine efficiency.  In Jaw-ja, many of the highway bridges are wooden structures that cannot hold a vehicle with more than 14 wheels.  Citrus products from Tahope County cannot be economically transported over bridges with those weight limitations.   Besides, if the trucking industry does improve its ability to transport goods in sufficient bulk to cause competition with the railroads, Congress will tax the industry to death to pay for the highway improvements needed.  Nothing will seriously interfere with the interstate transportation of goods by railroad for at least the next fifty years.


Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: July 18, 2020, 01:41:42 PM »
Saturday Report - July 18, 2020

The Board of Directors met promptly at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, July 17, 2020, instead of July 18, 2020, because the Babe had her monthly hair appointment in Mount Dora on the 18th.  The discussion centered around the decals being finalized and mailed to the A&S Maintenance Department.  Arrival is expected in a matter of days.  Soon the famous name will be emblazoned on boxcars, steam locomotives, and streamlined passenger cars.

The newly shopped and painted Southern Ms4 2-8-2 looks great!  The mechanism is perfect.  Unfortunately, there is some sort of glitch that causes it to stall frequently.  The A&S maintenance department will look into the problem this week and make adjustments.  Seems like brass engines all have a down-side glitch when they just come out of the shop. 

We are growing more and more concerned about the effectiveness of the "Keep-Alive" feature on WOW Sound decoders.  Your reporter has suggested a call into TCS for an explanation of why some of our locomotives tend to stall on turnouts. 

When the Director's meeting was over, we calibrated and made adjustments on five engines that had new decoders recently installed.  Old 1516, an ACL P-5a Pacific, is back in service.  Two SAL E Units were tested and two ACL FP7's were put through their paces.

Curt Webb arrived in time for an informal bull session and lunch.  We had lunch at the local Red Lobster.  That was the first real restaurant your reporter has entered since March.  Your reporter's apprehensions about social distancing were satisfied when it became apparent that there were only four other people in the joint.

After lunch, we returned to the shed for a short run of the Pennsy K-4s and a ride on the Jacksonian before we called it a day.

This week's story is a little different.  The idea about surplus airplanes came from my childhood when these aircraft were actually being sold.  The rest of the story is a combination of my own imagination and the humor of Al Capp.  Here goes. . . .

                                                                                                         TRANS TAHOPE AIRWAYS

     One day, in the summer of 1951, the feral cousins, Newt Fisher and Shortstack Turner (See Inhabitants of Eaton's Curve, Page. eight), were resting near the river in The Bottoms when Newt suddenly had an idea.  Newt, who had almost done something several times in his life but had always failed, suggested they branch out from their activities as vagabonds and start a business, or as Newt said, "Bid-ness." 
    Shortstack, who was tending the Mulligan Stew, said he read an article in the Tahope Daily Blatter announcing that the federal government was selling war surplus C-47 airplanes at Orlando Air Force Base for $2500 each.  Shortstack thought they could make some money "if'n they bought one of them-thar airplanes" and started up a cargo airline.  They became partners in the venture and decided to call the airline Trans Tahope Airways.  The venture would provide cargo service from Tahope to surrounding cities in competition with the Atlantic & Southern Railroad.
     There were two problems: (1) neither of the partners could fly and (2) they had no money to purchase an aircraft.
    Fortunately, for our would-be entrepreneurs, a recent arrival to The Bottoms was an older gent who identified himself as a WWI German Air Ace named Wilhelm Ludwig Von Outhausen.  He claimed to have been a member of the Red Baron's fighter wing, which was known as "The Flying Circus."  He convinced Newt and Shortstack that his bonafides stretched back to the court of Fredrick the Great of Prussia and assured the two would-be tycoons that he could fly any airplane anywhere and would "join up" as the airline's pilot if he could have an advance of $500. 
    Newt and Shortstack made an appointment with the president of the TAhope State Bank, J. Pierpont Forrest (Great, great grand-nephew of General Bedford Forrest) , who incidentally is the step-father of Peaches Weaver, girlfriend of "Tater" Cartwright, who is the Assistant Roundhouse Forman of the TAhope Steam Service Facility and Roundhouse.
    Mr. Forrest listened to the business plan proposed by Newt and Shortstack and said he would look into it.  He found out that the government had money available to guarantee loans made for war surplus purchases and made arrangements for the loan of $3000.  He delivered a bank check for $500 to Shortstack and said the balance of the government loan would be available as soon as the FAA licensed the enterprise.  Shortack gave Baron Von Outhausen the %500 check to retain his services and awaited approval of their application to the FAA. 
    Upon further inquiry, Mr. Forrest learned there was a catch involving the purchase of the C-47 Aircraft.  The purchase price was $2500 per aircraft, but they had to be bought in groups of ten.  The bank was unwilling to loan that much money to Newt and Shortstack, so the deal fell through.
    About that time, Officer Poovey told  Mr. Forrest that Baron Von Outhausen was a fraud who had a fugitive warrant out of "Jaw-ja." and he had vanished from The Bottoms on a drag freight with the $500.
    "Well," said Newt, "I've almost done something a whole bunch of times and this is one of them."  And Shortstack thought of an alternative plan and said, "Why don't we buy a truck?"  "Naw," said Newt, "you can't compete with the Atlantic & Southern Railroad with a truck."

Dave -About that old cow. . . . she walks, she talks, she's full of chalk. Etc.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: July 12, 2020, 09:30:20 AM »
Jerry - The arrival at Union Station in Jacksonville back in the days before AMTRAK was an experience in itself.  The trains backed into the station, but the lead track was several miles long.  it seemed like it took forever to get the train spotted for demarcation.   The ACL, Seaboard, and Southern all had trains coming and going. 

The reference to "back ends" was inadvertent.  I passed your comments on to Maggie Hussy and she remarked that she always gets compliments about hers. 

Thank all of you who commented on this week's story.

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