Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Into the New Year

A new year, and slow, steady progress on the Onondaga Cutoff continues! Best wishes for 2012 to all. Thanks to assistance from several regular operators, most of the backdrop is now installed, awaiting tape, spackle, and paint. It’s actually nice not to see the foundation walls, at least, behind the railroad.

One recent development on the OC is that through operations, a limitation has become clear. If you click on this ‘straight-line diagram’ of the railroad, which shows both original and new crossovers now at CP 294, it becomes clearer.

Though there are 5 tracks in staging, there was no way for a train in either direction on Track 1 in staging to come out of staging and cross over to Track 2 until that train reached an interlocking with turnouts that allow that move. For westbound trains, this is resolved at CP 277, where a universal crossover exists just for this purpose. This allows a dispatcher to route trains on either track in either direction, and at a nice distance from Onondaga Yard.

For eastbounds, however, there was no universal interlocking from staging all the way to CP 282, which is also the west entrance to Onondaga Yard. Trains leaving staging on Track 1 working east could not cross over to Track 2 until they were at 282. When a train is working the yard and fouling Track 1 at CP 282, then, Track 1 was essentially unavailable from CP 295 all the way to CP 280, more than half the railroad.

Therefore, it was necessary to build a crossover to enable trains leaving staging eastbound on Track 1 from CP 295 to cross over to Track 2. The existing geometry allowed me to install a new #8 right-hand crossover at CP 294, creating a new universal interlocking there – and eliminating a major bottleneck for the dispatcher.

However, the installation of that crossover meant cutting into existing track and roadbed, drilling new holes for Tortoise machine throw rods, mounting Tortoises – challenging tasks, especially after the fact. It took time to align the new turnouts with existing track, and with each other. This allowed me to locate the throw rod locations and drill the holes, and finally to install each component while ensuring the geometry worked out as intended. Finally, both turnouts had to have feeders installed for track power.

The next major development is a biggie: design and construction of a working, dispatcher-controlled signal system. Much more to come soon as this gets underway!