Sand Systems — Model Railroading

Plymouth Industrial Railroad

This was the last railroad we built. We moved so Dave could dramatically reduce his commute to work. Our new house was a townhouse with all the requirements of daily living on one floor but with a full basement underneath it. So, we designed a basement full of railroad. But we built only the sections seen in the spot diagrams below. We had just finished wiring the Auto District but did not yet have the paperwork in place for operations there when we had an ice dam that caused rain in our basement. It rained on the railroad from the right end of the Produce District through the left end of the yard. We had to tear out all that for the repairmen to replace the wet drywall and insulation. We never rebuilt.

Track Plan

Spot Diagrams

Working the Produce District Industries

Winter's Warehouses: These two buildings each had two tracks leading to three doors. Behind each door was a different business. So each business had two spots--a near one and a far one. The customer could unload the car nearest the door directly but had to unload the other car by going through the near car then across a ramp laid between the cars. This meant that if a railroad crew picked up only the car nearest the building and didn't have another car for that customer, the crew needed to move the car from the far track to the near track so the customer could reach it.

Strong Plastics: This customer had five unloading spots and received five different types of resin. Any resin could be unloaded at any spot but the customer needed different amounts of resin on different days depending on what product they were making that day. Each covered hopper had only one type of resin but the customer might not need all four bays unloaded on the same day. When the crew arrived at the customer each day, they received a list of how many bays of what types of resin the customer wanted that day. It was up to the crew to then determine which cars they would spot that day although they were strongly encouraged to spot as many partially unloaded hoppers as they could before spotting full ones. The hoppers that were not needed that day were left in Produce Yard to be quickly available should they be needed the following day.

City Produce: This was a produce warehouse with six unloading stations. Many growers shipped many varieties of produce here for sale to Plymouth restaurants and grocery stores. Various types of produce had various temperature and humidity needs so certain types needed to go to certain doors. It was important that all produce be unloaded first thing every morning as once the buyers were done shopping for that day's needs the remaining produce spoiled. Thus the crew was encouraged to work City Produce before working any other industries, and to come back in a timely manner if one car needed to be unloaded before another of the same type of produce needed to be spotted at the same door. Occasionally an early morning transfer train would drop a car of produce on the north pass instead of taking it to Union Yard so the produce could be delivered faster.

Creamy Cereal: This customer received grain that it made into cereal. Not all grain of one type has the same characteristics. So each arriving grain car needed to be spotted on the testing track so a sample could be quickly tested before the car was accepted for unloading. Unloading was done inside the building. The smart crew spotted incoming cars on the testing track, pulled outbound cars from the building, then moved the cars that had been tested into the building.

Decatur Soybean: This customer received beans by truck then processed them into oil, meal, and hulls. The cars for hulls and meal were sent to the cleanout track before being spotted for loading and were weighed on a scale at the industry as part of the process of being picked up. This customer also received fuel oil which it used during the processing of the beans.

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