Busy Day on the Allen Sub

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Brent Strong hosted a busy little operating session on his BN Allen Sub layout. The layout is based on a fictional east-west mainline of the BN in Washington state that connects the ports and forested regions west of the Cascades to the rolling wheat fields and transcon mainlines east of the Cascades. The operating sessions are fairly informal and held when enough people can be gathered for such a session. Car forwarding is based on a car-card system. And the layout is operated with a MRC DCC system. So lets get started.

1. In addition to being the company photographer this day, I was also the Allen Yard Yardmaster, the central classification point on the layout. My reliable P2K SD9 is a dependable workhorse that glides through the maze turnouts and crossovers and can pull anything that I ask of it.

2. The hot Fruit express (Q-FLDCAS) hustles the produce through East Allen. This train rates a hefty amount of horsepower compared to most trains on the layout. The train switches a large cold Storage Facility in the Columbia Basin before heading west. It drops some cars at the port and then heads south to deliver it's load of Washington State apples and other groceries to California via the SP.

3. Another SP connecting train using pool power was on the Fruit Block's tail. This train is a railfan favorite since it regulary hosts SP power in this BN stronghold.

4. A coal train goes about it's duties trading loads for empties at the large coal fired power plant at Evan Gap. The coal comes from the Jacobson Branch mine, another on-line customer.


5. The Allen Sub like most modern railroads is experiancing it's share of congestion due to increasing car and train movements. Here the "Old Head" engineer of the Bobbo Local, Robert Scott kicks back awaiting his time on the mainline. Ahead of him a baretable (B-BNXFLD) holds down the rail on main 1 awaiting a westbound.

6. Our harried dispatcher, Mr. Drew "I'm going out for a smoke" Mitchem, looks like he's had enough. Aw...but the day has only started.

7. At least there is enough power around to handle whatever needs that will arise. No power shortages on this end of the system.

8. Finally, some movement. A loaded grain train that just conquered the Cascades has re-entered civilization. Now the eastbounds can have their turn at the hill.


9. While a grain empty preforms a air brake test on the mainline at the Port of Allen, a M-CASALL sneaks by using the siding.

10. Brent Strong (left) looks on as Brain Sopke (right) is engrossed in the switching of his grain train. Center is the board of trains to be operated.

11. With the newly arrived M-CASALL on track 1, it's time for me to go to work breaking it down and sorting it out.

12. Trouble strikes a short time later when the grain empty destroys a vehicle at East Allen. It seems that the vehicle was attempting to turn around on Main 1 because local was blocking the road on the switching lead. That's when the grain empty came highballing around the corner and had no time to stop.


13. With the wrecked car towed off the tracks, the grain empty gets under way again. The East Allen Switcher will crossover to switch the MILW interchange once the Grain Empty clears.

14. The scene of the incident is at center, a busy crossing across multiple tracks.

15. Uh-Oh, Allen Yard is getting congested. The two GP38-2's of the recently returned Bobbo Local make thier way to the servicing facility as the tail end of the M-FLDALL pulls down main 2. Since the two trains came in together, the M-FLDALL will have to be stored on the mainline until space can be freed up in the yard. In hind-sight, I made a mistake here. I should have had the dispatcher hold the Bobbo Local out and run the M-FLDALL around it and into the yard first. I needed the cars off the Field train more than the local.

16. Robert switches East Allen while Brian keeps track of his train on the lower level.


17. The port is a mess! A M-ALLCAS eases by on the siding as the power off the intermodal train in foreground is deep in the port trying to sort out it's cars.

18. The M-ALLFLD pulls it's cars out of the yard. Once it tacks on the two cars and caboose on the rear and leaves, the switcher on main two can go back to work.

19. While M-ALLFLD continues to double over it's train, the East Allen Local stashes it's train away.


Nice narrative Ted. I must have looked over this post a couple times in the past week. That was definitely a good ops session. It pays off when everyone knows what they're doing, and knows the layout well. 5 of us was about the right amount of people for a session, maybe 1 or 2 more max, as long as they waited out in the work area.

Looking forward to the next ops session!

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