Thursday, June 8, 2017

Peabody Coal Dock

On the new layout, I mentioned I wanted to model a river coal dock.  I decided to go with a Peabody Coal Dock.  I never knew much about the Peabody Short Line, but have been reading what little I can find.  It is surprising there are no books about it.

Back around Christmas, I came across some Peabody 70-Ton Offset Hoppers by Bluford Shops (special run for Walthers) on eBay.  I picked up a set and was very pleased with them upon arrival.

I managed to source two additional sets of these hoppers for a total of nine of them.  Bluford then released the Peabody 2-Bay Hoppers.  I was able to locate two complete sets of these for a total of 21 of the Peabody Coal Hoppers in either 2- or 3-bay style.

In an attempt to learn more about the Peabody Short Line, I found an article in Model Railroading Magazine - January 1989 issue about how someone modeled a river dock for unloading coal.

My wife's cousins work on the Mississippi River as Tug Boat Captains so I thought this would be neat to create in N scale.  I could scratchbuild the conveyor structure to the barge.  I could create a sign using Blair Lines DIY Custom Billboard Sign.

I'm also a fan of the Reddy Kilowatt character that was used on many coal hoppers.  I had picked up a Miller Engineering animated sign a while back.  I will incorporate this into the large river sign at the dock.

I will send a unit train of Peabody Coal hoppers (powered by ICG or UP units) as well as a train of Chicago & Illinois Midland Coal hoppers (powered by C&IM units) to the dock.  

The Chicago & Illinois Midland moves most of its coal to the former Commonwealth Edison Coal Dock in Havana, Illinois.  This one would be neat to model, but I would worry about the physics involved with the ramp on the far side of the unloading shed.  So, I will stick to a simple bottom dump facility with conveyor out to the waiting barge for my river dock.

Here are photos from the Model Railroading magazine article.  The Peabody Coal Company built the river dock facility in 1957 in East St. Louis along the Mississippi River.  It was located directly across from the Gateway Arch.  The sign used to be lighted, but after years of deferred maintenance, the letters were just painted red.  Coal was shipped from the River King mine in Freeburg, Illinois (southeast of St. Louis).  Sometime in the 1960s, Peabody gave up the line from Freeburg to East St. Louis and began shipping on the Illinois Central.  A new spur was run from the preparation plant at Freeburg to the Illinois Central DuQuoin to East St. Louis mainline which runs through the town of Freeburg.  The dock was sold to the Illinois Central.  "Illinois Central - Burlington" is written in large letters across the conveyor housing.   Burlington Northern offloaded coal here.  Years later, circa 1983, the dock was owned by Pillsbury.  

I need to find a good source for a tug boat and barge.  I searched for a bit and found the ones I had seen before.  Unfortunately, a big ol' unfortunately, the ones I like are made by TrainCat.  Purchasing stuff from them is quite random as you never know if they are in business or not.  Saddest of days.

This is one of my wife's cousin's tug boats.  Maybe I could scratchbuild one.

Any ideas for sourcing a reasonable tug boat or barge representation?

The First Interlocking

No track plan as of yet, but I have decided as previously mentioned I want to incorporate water and interlockings. Here is one schematic I drew up late the other night. I have decided to go with Central Valley 150' Truss Bridge with Walkways #1820 for the mainline bridges. For the single track bridge, I plan on using the RS Laser Kits 60 Foot Span Girder Bridge #31064. I don't know anything about this kit but figured I would give it a try. I know many people have reported the quality of the Micro Engineering bridges can be less than desirable. I was inspired by the scene created on my friend Allen's Little Rock Line. Check out Allen's blog as he does some excellent work.

Pondering the next layout.

So, I have been pondering a new layout for a while now. I have constructed and operated numerous layouts over the years, but really only two were successful layouts (modeling the Rock Island from Davenport, IA to Chicago and modeling the Rock Island between Ottawa and Utica). Both modeled in Nscale, the layouts worked well, but also had some issues that created some headaches.
I still don't know what our destiny holds regarding moving, but figure there are some things I can work on now for the next layout regardless.
So, here are some of my wish list items as well as some items to avoid. Thoughts?
Wish List:
Basic Mainline with Continuous Running.
Numerous interlockings with various connecting roads.
One small yard.
Numerous water crossings.
Basic operations with no more than two people or so.
Operate with various railroad power:
- Illinois Central Gulf
- Illinois Terminal
- Chicago & Illinois Midland
- Toledo, Peoria & Western
and lesser extent
- Chessie System
- Santa Fe
- Rock Island
- Maybe even a high-nose Southern unit for good measure.
Some Industrial Switching (fairly simply).
- Fuel Distributor
- LP Gas/Fertilizer Distributor
- Concrete Grain Elevator
- River Coal Dock
- Grocery Store Distributor
- A few general warehouses
Things to Avoid:
Do not model prototypical operations of any one railroad. I have gone that route before. I find it extremely interesting, but I simply get overwhelmed as I want to model it fully and have a hard time reducing the operating scheme to the space I have available or fitting my budgeting funds. It ends up causing me too much stress. I just need to go "free willy" on this one. :-)
Hold on to your hats. This is a big one! DCC. Say what?!?!?
Yeah, you read right. DCC has been a great source of pain for me over the past few years. New drop-in decoders not working in locomotives. Numerous locomotives going schizophrenic on me. I'm not alone in my issues either. Other layouts I have operated on have experienced similar issues (NCE or Digitrax). I know there are benefits for using DCC, but for my wish list, I just don't see it necessary anymore. I don't want to worry about it.
I would like to install a simple two throttle system using a DC walk-around throttle from GML Enterprises.
So, when you guys pull yourself off the floor and upright your chair, feel free to comment.