It’s that in-between time of year, that time between RPM Chicagoland and Trainfest in Milwaukee, when not much get’s done. Yes, freight cars have started, but this year, there’s more going on.
Research has continued on freight cars, but knowing how many cars to build, and hunt for, is always one of the things I am interested in. To do that, figuring out the industries on the layout is important.
For industry inspiration, I’ve been spending some time researching the Norfolk & Western operations in Cincinnati, Ohio along the Cincinnati Belt. There are many fascinating industries in the area beyond just the expected freight houses, interchange with the New York Central (CCC&STL) and things I expected to find like the Glob Soap Company (Tangent made a 1917 tank car lettered for the Globe Soap Co of Cincinnati.)
Let’s look at this sample industry that I’m toying with. This will most likely wind up being a company that makes shoe lasts, the forms used by cobblers to form shoes over. (When you model earlier times in history, you learn all about dead industries). The company has two docks, one inbound and one outbound dock. In all likelyhood, there will be a split set of loading docks, so operating instructions for a crew will be to deliver a car to the inbound dock or the outbound dock, and there won’t be a specific door spot. To spite the fact that there are three inbound doors, and 4 outbound dock doors, it’s likely that each dock will support 2 cars spotted there. That means this industry might be switching 1-4 cars per operating session. So I know that the top end here is 4 cars. It could, however, at scale speeds, with paperwork for the crew and the like, time to set and remove flags, etc… have a crew occupied by this industry alone for 20-30 minutes shuffling cars around. That’s well worth the space to build the industry.
This is the kind of research that I find fascinating. Learning about industries and what they ship in and out, then telling that story in my models. With many industries to pick from, from a last company to soap companies to lumber companies and on to fertilizer companies, deciding what to model and what to compress out or leave out is the harder choice.
That brings me to how this all ties together. The freight cars need a place to run, and the industries on a layout provide that. Modeling coal is fantastic, but I love my boxcars and other types of equipment, and fitting other industries in has become important to me. Thus, the decision has been made to spot the layout space (eventual layout space) and model coal and also model some more urban operations based on the Cincinnati Belt.
See…. Deep down, I know that prototype modeling bug would wake up and sink it’s teeth in some way again.
It’s Trainfest weekend in Milwaukee, WI. I hope to see friends and enjoy the show. Maybe I’ll come home with some fun things to add to the layout, or the book shelf.