M-100 Enters Passenger Service

The Louisiana Central features passenger service, with two trains running each direction daily.  The early morning/afternoon train consists of a baggage/express car, and a day coach.  However, the late morning/evening train has been the source of discussion lately in the board room.  That second train is necessary because of the working schedules of the commuters who use the service, however ridership is on the low side.  It was decided to refurbish the old EMC doodlebug that had been inherited from one of the predecessor roads, the Willis, Acadia and Monterey.  The M-100 was in sorry condition, and the original gas engine had pretty much given up the ghost.  But Harry “Bubba” Griffith, the Master Mechanic, was confident he could re-engine the old girl, and at the same time, spruce her up with new upholstery and a fresh coat of paint.

Today the M-100 rolled for the first time across some temporary trackage near the town of Monterey.  She’s a bit stiff, but overall she performed well.  This will be a great addition to the roster, and she should serve quite nicely.

>>The M-100 is from Bachmann’s latest run of Spectrum series EMC doodlebugs.  Interestingly, it is advertised as “an 80′ doodlebug with a 72′ trailer coach”.  In reality, it is a 72′ doodlebug with an 80′ coach.  For me, this was a good thing because I almost didn’t buy the doodlebug because I thought it might be too long.  I read several reviews and comments on the internet about these units, and NO ONE mentioned that little quirk.

The detail is fair, but could use a little help.  I might replace a few of the plastic details such as the bell, headlight, etc. with nicer aftermarket ones.  It has wire grabs, but not at all the locations that need them.  It shouldn’t be too difficult to upgrade it to a decent level.  The motor has a DCC decoder included (very bare bones), but I’ll likely replace it with a sound decoder eventually.  And the yellow LEDs Bachmann uses in the headlights and interior lights are just terrible, with a sickly yellow color that has a hint of green.  Golden white LEDs will look much nicer, I think.  The coach is similar in detail to the motor, so also could use a little better detailing.

I won’t judge the running qualities yet as it hasn’t been broken in, but I can already tell that it should run decently once a better decoder is fitted into it.

I look forward to operating the beast on the new layout.

Regards, Jack

Marcel’s Pulpwood

One of the key features that will be incorporated into the Louisiana Central is a pair of ‘loads in-empties out’ scenarios.  On the Willis end there will be a plywood plant that will generate a significant amount of wood chips.  Behind the plywood plant will be a pulpwood dealer (Marcel’s) where loading of pulpwood onto railcars will take place.  Most of these chip and pulpwood loads will travel down to Monterey, where they will be consumed by a kraft paper products plant.

Marcel’s will generate 8-10 cars of pulpwood per day.  I will need this many loaded cars, along with an equal number of unloaded cars for this operation.  I have a nice fleet of Atlas pulpwood cars (known as woodracks on the Louisiana Central) that need loads built (the cast plastic loads are just terrible looking IMHO).  Earlier this year, while at Lou Schultz’s C&O Railroad, I was admiring the loads on his woodracks.  These were built up by Bill Williams using Azalea bush clippings, a slow and tedious process I’m sure, but one that produces an outstanding looking load.

Last weekend I was raking up a zillion River Birch branches that had fallen during a recent storm.  I noticed that the reddish-grey color of the tiny twigs wasn’t that far off from the color of the pine trees in this region, and from which my pulpwood will be harvested.  I clipped a few “logs” using a Chopper and was pleased with the resulting pulpwood it produced.  I spent a couple hours gathering small branches for this future project.  Actually, I have estimated that a woodrack will likely hold 1200-1400 logs, so if I’m going to fill 8-10 cars, plus a couple big piles on the ground, I’d probably be wise to start building these loads very soon.  It should make a nice leisurely project that can be done in evening spurts, utilizing a TV tray  while watching the tube.

If you’d care to chime in on any of the ramblings I present here, please feel free to do so.  I’m hoping this new blog will generate some conversation.

Regards, Jack