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Loads in/empties out

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Loads in/empties out
Posted by NYBW-John on Sunday, April 16, 2017 10:37 AM

The recent issue of RMC had a discussion about dealing with loads in open top cars during operating sessions. They showed an example of a loads in/empties out arrangement in which the shipping industry (coal mine) is on the opposite side of a backdrop from the receiver (power plant) which allows loads entering the power plant to pass through the backdrop and reappear as coal loads at the mine. Conversely empties going under the coal tipple reappear on the other side as empties at the power plant. This allows loaded hoppers to go in one direction and empties in the other without manually loading and unloading the hoppers.

This of course is nothing new. John Armstrong wrote about it in his classic track planning manual and I'll bet it wasn't even a new concept then. I was fascinated by it when I first read it but I just couldn't work it into the track plan for my current layout without doing away with other druthers so I came up with a simpler version. My mainline is loop-to-loop with staging yards inside the loops. Both my coal mines and the receivers are imaginary industries beyond the modeled portion of the railroad. Rather than the coal drags entering the staging loops at either end of the layout I have cutoff tracks which bypass the loops and allow the drags to operate on a continuous oval, loads in one direction and empties in the other. All my drags are run as extras and are parked on the cutoff tracks so I can run one whenever I choose to without impacting the schedule. They have the lowest priority and must yield to superior trains in both directions.  

I am curious as to how many have created a loads in/empties out operation with both industries on the layout.

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Sunday, April 16, 2017 12:19 PM

Loads-in/empties-out is a must-have for me, with the paired industries being an anthracite breaker at the west terminal, and a rail-to-ship coal dock at the east terminal at the Hudson River. My layout is still in early plywood-pacific construction phase, but the pair will be fully modeled, and located at opposite sides of the room so one cannot easily see both at the same time.

The east-west terminals are connected through their back doors by tracks for continous run, hidden staging and loads/MTs.  While my operating plan is for coal trains to drop & pull at each end, I could as well run opposing trains on a continous basis as you've described.

Jim

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Posted by dknelson on Sunday, April 16, 2017 4:29 PM

It was a feature (the classic coal mine/coal powered utility combination) on a beautiful layout I operated a lot, the late Mike Ziegler's Conowingo Central (see RMC for July 2005).  Mike's layout was designed by Don Mitchell.  The concept worked very well because the two sides of the layout at that point were invisible to each other.  If a viewer can see both "sides" of the event taking place I think it loses some value.

And those particular industries do lend themselves to the cars being shoved into, or pulled out of, "dark holes."   It would be perhaps less plausible from a visual standpoint, to have, say loaded flats of tractors being pulled from a tractor factory which is opposite farm implement dealer.  Most dealers are open air.  

Dave Nelson

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Sunday, April 16, 2017 6:16 PM

I have two complementary "industries" that don't really fit the traditional mold, if there is such a mold: intermodal yard and deep-water port (mentioned just a couple of hours ago in another thread).

A basic operation on my layout would be having a workhorse SD40 pull a string of 15 or 20 empty well cars from the yard to the port to be loaded with containers from the very large container ship Albatross. And the reverse operation where the SD40 hauls fully-loaded double stacks from the port to the yard to be offloaded onto waiting tractor-trailer chassis. (I'm not sure how to spell the plural of chassis. Dang!)

Robert 

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Posted by andrechapelon on Sunday, April 16, 2017 6:38 PM

(I'm not sure how to spell the plural of chassis. Dang!)

 

The plural of chassis is chassis. It's prononounced differently when spoken (i.e. chassee singular and chasseez plural).

Andre

 

 

 

It's really kind of hard to support your local hobby shop when the nearest hobby shop that's worth the name is a 150 mile roundtrip.
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Posted by MisterBeasley on Sunday, April 16, 2017 6:58 PM

I can run live coal operations.  I have an old flood loader and I can unload the ancient Tyco/Mantua "clamshell" hoppers on another track.

Unfortunately, the loader only holds about 2 hoppers worth of coal.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Monday, April 17, 2017 9:56 PM

dknelson
And those particular industries do lend themselves to the cars being shoved into, or pulled out of, "dark holes." It would be perhaps less plausible from a visual standpoint, to have, say loaded flats of tractors being pulled from a tractor factory which is opposite farm implement dealer. Most dealers are open air.

Dave's point is on target that loads-in/empties-out has been pretty much applied to coal, and perhaps similar traffic, where strings of like cars enter or emerge via dark holes.  By necessity, these usually are major factors in the layout design.   

The mention of the tractor loads reminded me of a few examples in MR track plans where a single car was the subject of loads/empties between paired industries passing through a layout's center divider-backdrop. 

So while we typically think of the concept being a space consuming feature, for two-sided layout designs, there could be multiple opportunities to apply it to small traffic industries.

Jim

 

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Posted by NYBW-John on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 7:01 PM

I seem to recall a layout in which the loads in a coal train entered what theoretically was a balloon track disappearing behind the scenery and then reappearing on the other end with emptied hoppers while the rear end loads were still on the entry side of the balloon track. Of course the coal train wasn't actually on a balloon track but was passing through the backdrop to the paired industry while the empties from that industry were "reappearing" as the front end of the coal train. Of course the paired load and empty trains would have to sync up their movement  to make the illusion work.

 I wish I could remember where I saw this and whether it was an actual layout or just a track plan designed to create that illusion. Does anyone else remember this set up? 

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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 7:33 PM

I generally have never used loads in/empties out, in most cases the producer and consumer are not that close (railroads make money hauling stuff long distances, the mine is next to the port, it doesn't make a lot of sense to ship it by rail).  I have substituted staging instead.  A staging yard can absorb loads, empties, whatever and generate the opposite just as easy.

Dave H. Painted side goes up.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 8:05 PM

dehusman

I generally have never used loads in/empties out, in most cases the producer and consumer are not that close (railroads make money hauling stuff long distances, the mine is next to the port, it doesn't make a lot of sense to ship it by rail).  I have substituted staging instead.  A staging yard can absorb loads, empties, whatever and generate the opposite just as easy.

 

While I agree in general there was some exceptions.As modelers we are  force to reduce the travel to several feet.

IMHO loads in /empties out can be a blessing since you don't need to return empty coal drags to staging or return loads to the mine between op sessions.

Larry

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 8:23 PM

BRAKIE

IMHO loads in /empties out can be a blessing since you don't need to return empty coal drags to staging or return loads to the mine between op sessions.

Yes. And I've always assumed the explanation-operational-narrative was that no matter where it was on the layout or what direction it was facing, an empty coal drag was always heading toward the mine and a string of loaded coal porters was always enroute to the power plant.

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 9:10 PM

BRAKIE

IMHO loads in /empties out can be a blessing since you don't need to return empty coal drags to staging or return loads to the mine between op sessions.

 
Yes indeed.  And in broader terms, I've never been a big fan of deadend staging for exactly this reason.  But, ok, I get it, for an operational-intense layout, that can be the price to include a desired real or fictional interchange connection.
 
Speaking of the blessings of loads/empties, another is the flexibility to engage in whatever level of activity you feel like at the moment. You can actively switch the cars (making sure that certain hoppers are positioned to receive the required grade/size of coal) or do minimal switching by dropping the loads and picking up the empties, or just use two opposing trains as the OP has suggested. 
 
No matter how you mix up these options, all the cars end up in the right place waiting for the next session, just as Brakie noted.
 
Jim
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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 10:22 PM

BRAKIE
IMHO loads in /empties out can be a blessing since you don't need to return empty coal drags to staging or return loads to the mine between op sessions.

Don't think you understood what I was saying.  You don't need a mine and apower plant, just connect them through staging.  Loads come out of the mine, run across the railroad, go through staging, come out in the mine, run across the railroad, go through staging, come out in the mine, run across the railroad, go through staging, come out in the mine.  No power plant.  Empties come out of staging, run across the railroad, go into the mine, come out in staging, empties come out of staging,  run across the railroad, go into the mine, come out in staging.  No power plant.  Empties always in one direction, loads in the other, never changing cars from loaded to empty.

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Posted by FowlmereRR on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 3:03 AM

Dave - So do you have two continuous loops, loads running one way and empties the other? Do you run fully identical trains or swap the locos in staging?

I could use a solution like this on my planned layout, but that is an "around the walls" plan, so either there is a lot of hidden return track or staging is a short piece to close the loops. How would you suggest doing that?

I am still a little dubious about trains actually entering "the dark hole of the mine". Do they really do that in mines? I have seen many examples of mines with tipples where the "dark hole" is only serviced by small carts or narrow gauge trams at most. Is it credible for a mine to swallow a whole train?

Bob

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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 4:02 AM

dehusman
Don't think you understood what I was saying. You don't need a mine and apower plant, just connect them through staging. Loads come out of the mine, run across the railroad, go through staging, come out in the mine, run across the railroad, go through staging, come out in the mine, run across the railroad, go through staging, come out in the mine. No power plant. Empties come out of staging, run across the railroad, go into the mine, come out in staging, empties come out of staging, run across the railroad, go into the mine, come out in staging. No power plant. Empties always in one direction, loads in the other, never changing cars from loaded to empty.

Interesting operation you got going there but,I don't think that would work for me.. I would rather have the train to disappear behind a hill or going under a highway overpass near the power plant before going into the dark hole.

Larry

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Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 9:03 AM

dehusman
in most cases the producer and consumer are not that close (railroads make money hauling stuff long distances, the mine is next to the port, it doesn't make a lot of sense to ship it by rail).  I have substituted staging instead.  A staging yard can absorb loads, empties, whatever and generate the opposite just as easy.

As Dave H. notes, staging helps here in two ways: by making it easy to manage loaded and empty cars; and by suggesting the distance between producing and consuming industries that makes real railroading profitable (and model railroading realistic).

I have designed some layouts for clients with the Armstrong-esque loads-in/empties-out feature, but I usually try to insure that different crews will be handling each end of the exchange. For example, on this large N scale layout, the power plan end is handled by a local switch crew assigned to the town (Dixonville) and the mine end is on a branch served by a different train.

Byron

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Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 9:13 AM

NYBW-John
I seem to recall a layout in which the loads in a coal train entered what theoretically was a balloon track disappearing behind the scenery and then reappearing on the other end with emptied hoppers while the rear end loads were still on the entry side of the balloon track. Of course the coal train wasn't actually on a balloon track but was passing through the backdrop to the paired industry while the empties from that industry were "reappearing" as the front end of the coal train. Of course the paired load and empty trains would have to sync up their movement  to make the illusion work.

This scheme was described in the book John Armstrong on Creative Layout Design (Kalmbach, 1978). This was on a layout design for a club layout, “The Union Atlantic System.” I believe that this was a theoretical layout; the grades and clearances to make it work look pretty demanding. I don’t remember ever seeing the concept actually implemented anywhere, but it may have been.

Byron

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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 9:41 AM

Guys,I dunno..Dave's operation is very interesting as I said but,I still like the mine to power plant thing as long as the track disappears without going into the mine or power plant.

To help the illusion I would park some loaded and empty hoppers at the mine and power plant on curved track.As I mention the train would disappear behind the hill at the mine and under a highway overpass before it curves into the power plant "yard" and on to the hidden track..

Larry

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 11:09 AM

For me, everything stems from the 'narrative', and every layout has a distinct story because there's always some sleight-of-hand going on.

My layout has a mine and there are specific regular loading and unloading operations scheduled. There is also a coal-fired power plant, but it has no sidings or unloading facilities. Not enough room, even in N-scale. The power plant is just there, a visual explanation as to why there is a double-headed 40-car coal drag (loaded or empty) rumbling around my layout, or why a beat up old glacier green BN SD40 that has been re-stenciled dozens of times tramps around rounding up orphaned empty coal porters to bring them home to mama.

Hidden or off-layout staging makes the sleight-of-hand possible, but some sort of plausible narrative is essential. In my humble opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.

Robert 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 11:59 AM

FowlmereRR
I am still a little dubious about trains actually entering "the dark hole of the mine". Do they really do that in mines? I have seen many examples of mines with tipples where the "dark hole" is only serviced by small carts or narrow gauge trams at most. Is it credible for a mine to swallow a whole train?

Bob

As you may or may not know, D&RGW was a major coal hauler of western low sulfer, low moisture coal.  I've seen photo's of one mine that serviced the Kaiser steel plant in California from a mine in Utah (joint UP/D&RGW train) and it looked like giant coal pile.  The coal trains went through a tunnel under the coal pile and was filled as it creeped through.

The above could be modeled with duplicate equipment by having an empy going in to the tunnel and into a staging yard while another train comes out the other side with loaded cars from a staging yard.  The coal pile wasn't large enough to swallow an entire unit train, but it was large enough to, in model form, hide the fact that the train going in isn't the same one coming out.

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Posted by Capt. Grimek on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 8:21 PM

Rio Grande, That is my plan, using a double ended staging track or tracks.

Jim

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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 11:15 PM

riogrande5761
The above could be modeled with duplicate equipment by having an empty going in to the tunnel and into a staging yard while another train comes out the other side with loaded cars from a staging yard.

Jim,One doesn't need to have duplicate equipment since you have two different trains a load and empty. This thought came to light years ago during a ops clinic I attended.

Since loads in/empties out is another form of staging, why bother with duplicate equipment? You see the outbound loaded coal is already staged as if it was another train that arrived earlier..Same applies to the power plant.

Larry

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Posted by C&O Fan on Thursday, April 20, 2017 7:06 AM

I run both A Loads in Emptys out  Mine/PowerPlant operation but also

run live loads from the tipple to the coaling tower using Tyco Clam bucket

cars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTBttOvnLvE

 

 

TerryinTexas

See my Web Site Here

http://conewriversubdivision.yolasite.com/

 

 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, April 20, 2017 9:09 AM

BRAKIE
Jim,One doesn't need to have duplicate equipment


Larry, don't shoot the messenger!  Obviously there mulitple ways to simulate coal train loads/empties which I am fully aware of - I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday ya'know.  
 
But if you had the funds to build two identical trains except one loaded and the other empty, it would be cool to see the empty train going in while the loaded train is creeping out!  =P

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Posted by NYBW-John on Friday, April 21, 2017 7:44 AM

hardcoalcase

 

 
BRAKIE

IMHO loads in /empties out can be a blessing since you don't need to return empty coal drags to staging or return loads to the mine between op sessions.

 

 

 
Yes indeed.  And in broader terms, I've never been a big fan of deadend staging for exactly this reason.  But, ok, I get it, for an operational-intense layout, that can be the price to include a desired real or fictional interchange connection.
 
Speaking of the blessings of loads/empties, another is the flexibility to engage in whatever level of activity you feel like at the moment. You can actively switch the cars (making sure that certain hoppers are positioned to receive the required grade/size of coal) or do minimal switching by dropping the loads and picking up the empties, or just use two opposing trains as the OP has suggested. 
 
No matter how you mix up these options, all the cars end up in the right place waiting for the next session, just as Brakie noted.
 
Jim
 

In essence the cutoff tracks I use to bypass the loop staging yards are themselves staging tracks. The difference is that rather than reverse directions at the end of each run the loaded coal train always travels in the same direction and opposite the empty hopper train.

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Posted by NYBW-John on Friday, April 21, 2017 7:49 AM

cuyama

 

 
NYBW-John
I seem to recall a layout in which the loads in a coal train entered what theoretically was a balloon track disappearing behind the scenery and then reappearing on the other end with emptied hoppers while the rear end loads were still on the entry side of the balloon track. Of course the coal train wasn't actually on a balloon track but was passing through the backdrop to the paired industry while the empties from that industry were "reappearing" as the front end of the coal train. Of course the paired load and empty trains would have to sync up their movement  to make the illusion work.

 

This scheme was described in the book John Armstrong on Creative Layout Design (Kalmbach, 1978). This was on a layout design for a club layout, “The Union Atlantic System.” I believe that this was a theoretical layout; the grades and clearances to make it work look pretty demanding. I don’t remember ever seeing the concept actually implemented anywhere, but it may have been.

Byron

 

That must have been it. I have that book buried away somewhere as well as a well worn copy of Track Planning for Realistic Operation which has been my bible for two layout designs. I'll have to dig that up and check it out again.

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Posted by NYBW-John on Friday, April 21, 2017 7:55 AM

riogrande5761

 

 
BRAKIE
Jim,One doesn't need to have duplicate equipment

 


Larry, don't shoot the messenger!  Obviously there mulitple ways to simulate coal train loads/empties which I am fully aware of - I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday ya'know.  
 
But if you had the funds to build two identical trains except one loaded and the other empty, it would be cool to see the empty train going in while the loaded train is creeping out!  =P
 

To me, that would be the only reason for creating duplicate equipment. It would allow one to simulate the loading or unloading of the coal train through some creative layout design. The key is to sync the movement of the loaded train and the empty one.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, April 21, 2017 9:19 AM

NYBW-John
To me, that would be the only reason for creating duplicate equipment. It would allow one to simulate the loading or unloading of the coal train through some creative layout design. The key is to sync the movement of the loaded train and the empty one.

If I may? The duplicate train method was old school thinking since little was known about prototypical operations and the knowledge gained over the years lead to better planing..

Photos of the Powder River basin coal operation will show several empty and loaded trains and photos of some mines will show curved tracks beyond the loader with empty and loaded hoppers.A perfect way to sneak a empty coal train on to hidden track.

Photos of power plants will show both empty and loaded hoppers.Again duck under a overpass or behind  the main building and between loaded and empty hoppers already stored there. This illusion works quite well and you can even park your empty hopper train in the open and it will fit in..

 

 

Larry

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Posted by jmbjmb on Friday, April 21, 2017 9:51 PM

dehusman

I generally have never used loads in/empties out, in most cases the producer and consumer are not that close (railroads make money hauling stuff long distances, the mine is next to the port, it doesn't make a lot of sense to ship it by rail).  I have substituted staging instead.  A staging yard can absorb loads, empties, whatever and generate the opposite just as easy.

I solved this distance problem once by modeling a somewhat Dante like arrangement.  Coal came down from the mine to the yard where it was weighed and sent down the line into staging which fed back into the mine.  And vice versa.  Worked pretty well.

 

jim

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