Sunday, June 30, 2013

FreemoN Fun

I have been building the Skally as a set of FreemoN modules. For those not familiar you can see a little more about the Minnesota version of the standard here: MN FreemoN. This weekend our group was able to get together for a private event. We put together a very impressive 24' x 44' layout. I would ballpark our mainline was over 6 scale miles long. The layout was our first as a club in 6 months, we had a few bugs to work out, but after that the running was underway. Here are a couple shots from the event:
One endpoint was PK's massive Roseville Yard. Besides being great for staging, it also has a nice flyover for continuous running when necessary. Our second yard, CK's Valleyview Yard, can be seen in the upper right corner of the shot just past Tiller Corp. It took quite a while to drive the transfer job straight from one yard to the other.
On the far end was the other reverse loop, JB's Coal Loop, with a radius loadout track for unit coal trains..
In this shot you can see both of the wyes utilized in the layout. University wye in the center of the shot turned south to MN Transload and Rush City.
Here is another shot of the impressive Roseville Yard. It has 10 yard tracks and two long runners for turning even the longest unit trains. Our longest train this weekend was over a scale mile long.
Here is a scenic shot of the UP transfer heading though PK's Yolo module.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Epic Adventure Pt. 2

Not having made it half way through our first day I had no idea how amazing this trip would be. After battling a never ending onslaught of east bound trains, we finally found a moment of peace in St.Cloud, MN. There were some BNSF GP38s there that we would catch running light a little later, but my favorite piece of motive power in town was Northern Lines Railways (NLR) ex-BN GP10 1411.
Moving north from St.Cloud things got a little light as a couple of WB coal drags made their way up the single track portion of the Detroit Lakes Sub. This one was headed up by a pair of SD70ACe's that we caught up with in Audobon, MN.
After getting our fill of BNSF for the day we turned the car north and under cloudy skies we headed to Ulen, MN to check out ILSX SD40-3 #1341 at the West Central Elevator.
Taking the back roads from Ulen to Thief River Falls we ventured off the beaten path a little. We would point the car at any Prairie Sky Scraper we could see on the horizon. The motto of the trip seemed to be: "Why not? When will we be this close again?" The next turn took us to Hazel, MN to a freshly painted, but not numbered CHS SW1200.
After a good amount of the day on the road, HK and I finally drove through TRF. In town there we found ILSX SW7 #1373 at the local elevator. It was tied up to a scale car, no doubt performing state checks on the lines elevators.
Over at the TRF roundhouse was a fantastic looking spreader, one of several we saw on the trip. CP has spent a few dollars getting ready for snow duty. SOO 900078 looked eager for snow that was a long ways off now.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Epic Adventure Pt. 1

Last winter I proposed and epic adventure to my friend HK. What if we covered a ton of ground in Minnesota and North Dakota in 3 Days? I had certain hot spots in mind and HK and I refined the trip over a couple of month and then "BOOM!" it was here. In three days we covered around 1280 miles. The first day of the trip we started in St. Paul, MN. We bypassed our normal spots and we picked up the BNSF Staples Sub. in Elk River, MN. A better morning could not have been had. The sun was behind us and BNSF had stacked a steady stream of eastbound (EB) trains at us... here are a few of the highlights from before lunch on day 1:
The Saint Cloud local came screaming through with the extended cab GP50 BNSF 3158 on the point.
Next in line was an unit oil train from the Bakken Oil sands. We noticed an odd splash of color in the consist... 
The second unit was the NS 8101, the Central of Georgia heritage unit. What a surprise!
That was followed by another unit oil train. The odd thing here was an ES44DC on the point in the H2 paint scheme. 
A few miles up was another unit oil train. This one had BNSF 9794, an old school SD70MAC on the point, with the NS Operation Lifesaver C40-9W #9256 in the consist.
 We finally got a little manifest action, led by BNSF ES44C4 #6626 another mile up the road.
Soon we made it to Little Falls, MN and we let a westbound (WB) empty oil train catch up with us. We photographed this one from the old Soo Line bridge (now Soo Line Trail). BNSF ES44C4 #6962 was notched up and putting the miles down after clearing a track crew. The airhorns on this one popped me a couple inched off the bridge deck. What a great start to the day...