Tracing the Louisiana Central

This past Friday Wayne Robichaux and I took another field trip. This excursion was a repeat of an earlier trip in which we had “followed” the Louisiana Central from it’s beginnings near the east bank of the Mississippi River, to it’s eastern terminus at Bude, Mississippi.  That trip was made in the dead of winter so that we would be able to see better into the terrain.  Friday’s trip found the landscape in full summer greenery.  While it was considerably more difficult to see beyond the edge of the road in places, the look is more akin to the way the modeled scenery will look as I will be placing the time period in the summer.

We were able to precisely discern several of the locations where I’d taken photographs several years ago.  However several other scenes I’d previously photographed were hard to identify this go-around due to the extensive foliage and because of the passage of time.  I re-shot many of the scenes as a comparison, but didn’t discover anything “new”.  While there are way too many photos to post here, you can see the original collection on the website.

We broke off late in the afternoon and headed over to McComb, where we caught the northbound Amtrak train, with a northbound CN freight hot on his heels.  As most of you know, a local railroad museum makes its home in the depot at McComb.  Outside, a former Illinois Central Mountain steam locomotive, along with a few cars, are on display under a shelter roof.  We were pleased to see that an extension of the train shelter is well under construction.  This will place the recently acquired passenger cars on display under shelter as well.  After checking things out, we drove south on Highway 51 to Hammond where we caught one additional train before heading back west to home.  It was an enjoyable day!

Progress on the layout was a bit light this past weekend, but I did manage to assemble a few more car kits.  I also painted a new rack I’m making that will hold Dremel bits.  Oh, and I finally got started on those code 70 turnout DCC modifications that I’ve talked about several times in the past.  I’ve got a pair ready for installation on the layout now.  If anyone shows any interest, I’ll have to take a few photos showing what I’ve done with them.

-Jack

Rained Out

Yesterday Ron Findley and I joined a couple friends from Covington for a get-together at Tom Davidson’s home over in Hammond.  As many of you already know, Tom is a vast sea of knowledge about things railroad in southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi, especially when it comes to the Illinois Central.  Tom did a nice presentation on the railroad history in the greater Hammond area.  Of particular interest was the information presented regarding the strawberry shipments made from what was once known as “The Strawberry Capital of the World”.

Afterwards we had planned to shoot photos of several small industries and businesses around Hammond, but unfortunately the rains commenced.  Ron and I hung around for several hours, but it eventually sank in that this was not just a thundershower.  We relented and headed home.  We’ll simply return on a sunny day in the near future to complete our mission.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had started constructing a few easy car kits.  I’ve continued on that and now have a nice train full of new rolling stock added to the active roster.  I’m really enjoying this and I plan to continue assembling at least a few kits each month now.

A Group of New Cars Another Group of New Cars

As stated earlier, I won’t be detailing or weathering any of these cars initially . . . that can come later once the layout is operational.  However these cars are equipped with Kadee couplers and metal wheelsets.  Everything has been checked, adjusted and lubed so that these cars are ready for service.

I’ve also done a little more work on the assembly of the road bridge that I also mentioned earlier.  I’m assembling it in place so that it hopefully will fit the spot well when scenery work is started.  I’ll post a photo in the future once it’s completed and painted.

-Jack

The Field Trip Bonus

Wayne Robichaux accompanied me for part of my field trip last weekend.  We decided to head north up Hwy. 51 for a look at things between Hammond and Tangipahoa, Louisiana.  While we didn’t notice any older trestles or bridges to photograph, we did come across this old abandoned fuel oil dealership located a bit south of Amite.  This caught my eye as I plan to have a couple of these facilities on my new layout, one each at Monterey and Willis.

I took quite a few photos around the premises and thought I’d share a few of them here.

Here’s the overall view looking south east at the facility.  That’s a bi-level platform on the front of the building.  The CN mainline is about 25 feet behind my right shoulder.Fuel Oil Dealer - Looking Southeast

And looking east we see the loading shed for the trucks.  That’s the main pump house at right.  Note the small tank end in the distance.  This tank was separated from the three main tanks.Fuel Oil Dealer - Loading Shed

The loading shed detail:  the piping from each of the tanks rises next to the platform.  Each has a flow meter on it, then a hose and nozzle for filling the delivery trucks.  Note the supports for the missing signage at the roof ridge.Fuel Oil Dealer Shed Close-up

And finally, an overall view looking north east:  Visible here is the concrete dam built around the tank farm to contain any spillage.Fuel Oil Dealer Looking Northeast

This will aid tremendously in arranging at least one of my facilities.  Since the pumps and piping were still in place, I was able to discern the literal “flow” of the business.  My theory is that if you want to model a business or industry convincingly, you must understand the process or the flow of the business so that you can logically place the structure(s) and supporting elements.

As an added bonus to the day, we had six trains pass by while we were trackside (all duly recorded on silicon).  Taking a break from layout construction to do a little railfanning and research was what I needed.

-Jack

A Field Trip

Most of my readers are aware of the Canadian National (former Illinois Central) line that runs east from Baton Rouge to the connection with the north-south mainline in Hammond.  This line has been under an upgrade project for some time now, with lots of tie replacement, plenty of new ballast, and most significantly, the replacement of all the small wooden bridges and trestles to concrete and steel structures.  I had made a note to myself some time ago that I needed to photograph some of the old wooden trestles before they were demolished.  On a recent trip over to Hammond, I had driven down Hwy. 190 which parallels the line for much of it’s length.  I was shocked that only about a half dozen wooden structures remained, and those were grouped in a rather small area just west of Livingston.

So, this past weekend I grabbed the camera and set out to document these last few hold-outs while they still exist.  My aim was to not only document the structure, but to take some close up shots that I could use for detailing and creosoting (painting) these same structures on my own layout.  Here are a couple samples from the 60 or so images that I grabbed.

This is typical of the trestles left, a few are a bit shorter:CN Trestle

And a close-up view of a couple bents:CN Trestle Detail

This is a small “bridge” (actually, more like a big wooden box culvert):CN Bridge

Note the variations of color and texture on the wing walls:CN Bridge Detail

The day was clear and bright and I over exposed a bit because I wanted to get some of the color and detail beneath the trestles.  It is very apparent why most models painted flat black don’t look much like creosoted structures after you study these images.  Not only are the many colors apparent, black, grays, tans, etc., but the textures and streaking are very pronounced.  This should be interesting to try to simulate.

More later…

-Jack

The Tall Timber and Santa Fe

Last Saturday I managed to drag myself out of bed early enough to make breakfast over at the Warehouse Restaurant in Baton Rouge.  An informal group of railroad enthusiasts and modelers usually gather there on Saturday mornings to socialize and enjoy a good breakfast together.  Jim Lofland was there and after the meal, he invited a few of us to drop by his home for an impromptu operating session on his Tall Timber and Santa Fe Railway.  Wayne Robichaux and I accepted, along with Gary McMills, and shortly after we were getting a tour of all the latest things to happen on the railroad.  Gary had other obligations and couldn’t stay for the session, so just Jim, Wayne and I started the trains rolling.

Jim’s layout has been in existence pushing 40 years now.  Even though the construction is very “old school”, it still looks good and operates very well.  Jim keeps everything in fine tune and trains run smoothly.  The layout recently received a make-over with hundreds of new trees installed.  Jim loves to build structures and as a result, industries on the layout frequently change as newer buildings replace the old.  I hadn’t been to Jim’s in several years, so there was an awful lot of new stuff to check out and study.  The short session went well and I’m happy that Jim invited us over for a visit.

I’ve hunkered down beneath my layout these past few weeks and have been busy installing Tortoise switch machines.  The weekend before, Ron Findley and I had gone over to Hattiesburg, Mississippi for the NRHS Mississippi Great Southern Chapter’s annual banquet, and as usual it was excellent.  The advertised guest speaker had cancelled at the last minute due to illness, however David Price and Dan Watson put together a splendid presentation about their exploits back in the 60s ferreting out and visiting quite a few shortlines (many of them steam powered) in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.  They ended the show with me clamoring for more.  After the banquet while heading toward home, we managed to catch a couple freight trains passing the depots at Hattiesburg and Slidell.  A really nice day!

This Saturday Ron and I will head over to Hammond for the NRHS Southeast Louisiana Chapter’s banquet, and we’ll probably hang around the depot over there for a bit afterward.  The traffic has increased on the CN line and it’s not uncommon to see BNSF and UP power on the trains.

And I’ll be installing more Tortoises the day after.

-Jack