With the A&O rails now down through Sobol Springs, it was time to test out some of the planned operation in this area. The wholly-owned A&O subsidiary railroad, the New River and Western (Bob Sobol’s) connects to the A&O at Sobol Springs (surprise ). All the NR&W trackage has now been completed on the layout. Not counting the doodlebug, at least two NR&W Turns will work this town.
1The “Atomic Turn” - Called out of Ricksburg yard, this turn brings 10 empty Atlas fishbelly hoppers southbound over A&O rails and through NR&W Jct. and into the Springs. Using the runaround track and switch lead, 10 loads are picked up at the Atomic Fuels tipple (a future working loader) and the 10 empties put in their place, 5 on each track under the tipple. The engine crew will load the empties. Then the loads, with caboose on appropriate end, is reassembled and dispatcher called for unlock of NR&W Jct. turnout and clearance onto A&O rails and back to Ricksburg. (Atlas fishbellies are used exclusively for this tipple as its coal will be small in size to allow bottom discharge at the coal trestles in Glen Forge and Fillmore Heights.)
It took some planning, but the Turn worked as hoped. This will keep some lucky operator busy for awhile.
- The “NR&W Local” - Coming out of Willow Creek staging, this turn has cars bound for the station dock at Willow Creek, Sobol Springs industries, and A&O interchange cars. First the Local works the station dock at Willow Creek, then proceeds through the New River Diamond into the Springs. Here northbound pickups are made and Springs cars left before continuing on to Ricksburg through NR&W Jct. Return from Ricksburg is with interchange cars from the A&O. Arriving in the Springs, the Local works the industries here with cars left when passing thru previously and any just received from the A&O at Ricksburg bound for the Springs. The train then is reassembled for continued southbound movement into Willow Creek through the New River Diamond. This Turn will be able to run through staging and using the Slausen Cutoff reverse loop be turned and restaged at the end of its run.
While not enough A&O rails are in place to fully replicate this operation, like the Atomic Turn, the Local proved to make for some interesting switching.
What was learned-
- With the almost constant 2% grade through the Springs (industrial trackage is level), wheel brakes are needed at a couple places. These will likely be Tortoise- raised/lowered wire pins.
- Back EMF decoders are a better choice for the motive power working this area as the grades make for inertia issues otherwise.
- The Atomic Fuels tracks need to be about 6" longer (completed).
- There is a need for more temporary holding trackage for the various switching moves, especially for the Local. Therefore the diamond in the Springs that goes off to the unmodeled NR&W Falls Church Branch will be slightly realigned so that rather than immediately diving off the fascia, it will make a slight bend and follow the fascia for about 4 car lengths before exiting the layout. This will help with switching by providing another place to hold “for now” cars. (yet to be done)
Had we not powered things up and did some test ops, these simple changes would have been difficult later. Lesson learned.