GSC Handbook Garden State Central
Model Railroad Club

Engine Terminals

Probably no two engine terminals in the world are laid out identically; therefore it follows that none is operated just like another. But there are certain "basics" which apply to them all, and if we take a moment to study them, it is easy to see not only what procedures are followed but how a pattern of operation follows which we can use to make our modeling more effective, and thus more realistic.

Engine terminals are service facilities, like gasoline stations. They also are usually like parking lots. Engines (except for some electrics), require fuel, bi it coal, oil or something else. They must be lubricated. They must be sanded, not to take the paint off, but to carry some "seashore" to feed under the wheels when starting heavy trains and when slippery rail is encountered. They must be watered, just like horses. They must be periodically inspected, and repaired. And when economically feasible, they should be washed and cleaned.

"Track Planning for Realistic Operation," by John Armstrong; and "How to Operate Your Model Railroad," by Bruce Chubb; both published by Kalmbach, have chapters that go into this in detail. However, let us follow the movements required in "turning" an engine, at Jersey City, on the Garden State Central. Perhaps this will illustrate to you what SHOULD be done, and how we have chosen to model certain things.

First of all, our engine facility is carefully planned to fit into a restricted space. In today's world, it is still used to service diesel locomotives, but formerly it was designed to handle the work required in scheduling the rapid movement of many steam engines in a short time period.

There are 2 tracks that lead into the engine terminal., and both connect to a thorofare track so that engines can by-pass the Elizabethport Yards, without delay. Normally steam engines, being primarily single-ended, enter the terminal on the track furthest from our aisleway, and stop under the coal tipple to have their tenders filled with water and coal. At the same time, they would have their fires cleaned, but our ash-pit was filled in long ago as a safety measure. The engines were also inspected, and then turned on the turntable. Any minor or "running" repairs were performed, usually in the roundhouse; steamers are normally spotted in a roundhouse so that their tenders are closer to the turntable. This is because if the engine should inadvertently have a leaking throttle, or have its brakes bleed off, and creep, it is cheaper to rebrick the roundhouse rear wall than to lift a heavy water-filled boiler out of a turntable pit.

If no scheduled or running repairs are needed, the engines are then lubricated, washed with a mixture of steam and kerosene, and parked outside until needed for trains. Thus it can be seen that the turntable not only saved space, but actually turned the engines around to head out in a proper direction. They were then sanded, although on many roads, this was done at the coal tipple.

When we converted to diesels, we converted a former car shop building into a diesel repair shed, and enlarged the freight yard to eliminate the steamers' ready tracks. Our roundhouse is now used to park diesel units between runs, as are the tracks in front of the diesel repair shed.

A supply of parts is always being replenished, and we simulate this with industry track 3; we also still use a lot of sand (9), and we still use the coal tipple (11) to store coal for our powerhouse, not modeled. On our model, the Wm. Archer Co. took over what used to be another shop structure, and is now a busy industry (5).

Fortunately, our Operating Department has designed a train schedule whereby locomotives can come into the terminal from eastbound arriving trains, be fairly quickly serviced, and be efficiently scheduled out for westward departures. Of course this varies somewhat, so a few spare engines are maintained here, as well as the necessary switch engines for the yards.

Our location is also fairly convenient to the passenger station. which due to its' waterfront location, is stub ended. Thus, some single-ended cars must be turned around as well; since unlike the CNJ and the DL & W, we do not have enough land for a wye track or a loop, these cars must be switched out and shifted our to the engine terminal for reversing, and then switched back downtown. Between all of these required moves, we generally park passenger engines in the roundhouse, and freight engines in front of the old shop; since the freight power is usually made up of 2 or more units, they do not usually require turning, so this works out better for our circumstances.

the hostler (one who handles "horses") has to know when trains are scheduled to depart, and ensure that he has sufficient power available to enable their movements. He also has to keep enough room to service engines as they arrive, to ensure the efficiency of the whole operation. It can easily be seen that his job is one of the most important ones on the whole railroad.

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