Keeney Creek? Abandoned or just growing weeds

Good question, we seemed to have left Keeney Creek for the moment.

Well at the moment, it is collecting dust. After looking at the 12 inch deep prototype C, Graham and I decided to rebuild the Keeney Creek using the C design. We are keeping the original module working though. Makes for a fun evening switching cars if we do not want to build anything. Biggest problem is that we have to set the module up on our desk to run it.

I am still working on the number of coal loads that a branch the size of Keeney Creek would have generated. Considering the size of the mines I do not think Keeney Creek saw a regular daily mine run. That said, operating Keeney Creek is perfect for the person who has limited time to spend with their model trains. One or two short operating sessions a week would be about all the branch probably saw. I have not confirmed this yet, but I can not imagine much more work for the shifter in our time period. An occasional boxcar for Lookout, or a load of automobiles on a flat car for the local car dealer.

We have two Bachmann 2-8-0s, we just need to get them new couplers and in working order. We have a steel C&O caboose. What we really need is to start acquiring C&O hoppers. Considering that the branch has a low turnover of hoppers, I would imagine the yard would send out only C&O hoppers, which we have none of at the moment. Since we are modeling post WWII until early 1950s we need to find suitable hoppers in N scale for that time period.

Next up: C&O hoppers in N scale and where to find them. I told Graham that if we has modeled in HO we could get a new release of hoppers through C&O Historical society. If you are in HO scale and need C&O hoppers, check the Society website for more information. They are offering 6 pack sets of different AAR hoppers.

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Sea Trials or what we learned operating Lookout

My friend Trevor Marshall just posted on his blog “Early Ops session reports“. It got me thinking about my little notebook of issues on the Lookout module.

I will be the first to admit that I have no idea how railroad crews operating coal shifters did their jobs in the 1940-1960 time period. I am working on finding paperwork at shows and on e-bay. Not much luck yet. I understand the basic principles of moving coal from the mine to the end-user. Keeney Creek is not a place where you are going to find a massive 2-6-6-2 pushing or pulling 30 hopper cars. The track and bridges are too light for such a heavy engine. The whole idea was to find a branch that moved hoppers with small motive power such as a Consolidation. What I am trying to learn is how did the men on the shifter move cars at the tipple. Most tipples used gravity or a car puller to move empties into position under the tipple for loading. Then a mine worker would release the hand brake on the loaded hopper and let it drift clear of the tipple. That is possible to replicate, at least drifting an empty. But do I have to, want to? My thought is no. In preparing for an operating session, I can place my loads into the empty hoppers delivered and move them to the finished position. Animating the loading process would be interesting, but not necessary to have a functioning layout. Perhaps a good future project.

Early sessions with a track attached to the Lookout module provided me with some valuable information. The two stub tracks at Lookout were short. The tipple, with two tracks could fill at most 8 hopper cars on a good day, unless the shifter came twice a day. There just was not enough room to place more empties onto the stub sidings. Worse, there was not enough room for all the empties once they were full of coal. One track would always be fouling another. I looked at several photos in books I have and although not a normal event, it was plausible to have a string of loaded hoppers foul a track. It would be routine at Lookout tipple to foul the switch with loaded hoppers on track A, if all of the hoppers were loaded.

The obvious question is, would Lookout’s tipple ever load all 8 hoppers in a shift, or two? Not sure. if the tipple loaded an average of 5 cars a day, that would be 25 per week, 100 per month, about 1200 per year. At an average of 50 tons per car that was a whopping 60,000 tons of coal a year. That sounds like a lot of coal too me! Perhaps too much.