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Model Railroading > The Detroit And Milwaukee and Precision Scheduled Modeling

Date: 02/20/21 20:21
The Detroit And Milwaukee and Precision Scheduled Modeling
Author: rerun8ed

After an absence of over five years from model railroading, I've finally been able to get the new layout up and running. Scenery obviously is not the priority here--operations is everything that matters!  (As time allows I'm sure I will gradually add to the aesthetics) The Detroit and Milwaukee is based on the Grand Trunk's 1987 sale of two branch lines to the Central Michigan railroad. I adjusted history to give the new railroad a historic name and supplemented the traffic base with online customers from the 1970s. 

Train 650 has already cleared Grand Rapids after making the pick up and is now rolling east under the automated lap counter. With 57’ total length on track 1, it will take 135 laps to prototypically complete the entire Muskegon to Durand run (127 miles). Up front are 3 well worn blue box Athearns—with the leader’s headlights running off an onboard AAA battery.
First picture is the GSR (Grand Rapids switch run) in the siding at Ionia waiting for an eastbound to clear before heading back to Grand Rapids. 
Second picture is the working siding for three locations: Walker; Ada; and Lowell. Sidings off the main siding are for specific customers (B&B Distributing, for example, has the two MILW boxcars in the foreground). Partially visible on the lower level is the engine house module at Muskegon. Hopefully in the next couple months the down ramp can be built and yard tied on. 

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 02/20/21 20:36 by rerun8ed.

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Date: 02/21/21 05:33
Re: The Detroit And Milwaukee and Precision Scheduled Modeling
Author: Bob3985

Great loco paint scheme. I resized and rotated it for you.

Bob Krieger
Cheyenne, WY

Date: 02/21/21 09:58
Re: The Detroit And Milwaukee and Precision Scheduled Modeling
Author: tomstp

Hope you don't mind me straightening out this picture.

Date: 02/21/21 12:33
Re: The Detroit And Milwaukee and Precision Scheduled Modeling
Author: boejoe

Thanks for the corrections guys.

Date: 02/21/21 17:37
Re: The Detroit And Milwaukee and Precision Scheduled Modeling
Author: rerun8ed

Yes the pictures look much better when properly oriented. Thanks! Hopefully I'll have it figured out by my next post! (I did try!)  :)

Date: 02/21/21 21:16
Re: The Detroit And Milwaukee and Precision Scheduled Modeling
Author: dcmkris

Really like the paint scheme & backstory for the Railroad.

Hope to start building a new layout this year, based on the GTW Richmond to Pontiac & Jackson branch. 
Paint scheme will likely be red & black after the Romeo Bulldogs High School with a Bulldog in logo.

The line was ripped out by GTW in the late 90's even though a on-line stone quarry offered to 
purchase it. Not sure how true it is but have heard they offered twice the price of scrap & were
still turned down.

At the time the quarry had said if they purchased the line they had a 10 year contract all but signed
for with a road construction project that would generate 2 - 110 car stone trains per week. There 
were some legal battles from what I recall but eventually the construction company found another
source & the quarry moved on.

The line also went past the Ford Romeo Engine plant, who knows maybe a shortline could have
wrestled the traffice back from Ford. Of course there were some grain & lumber customers to 
serve as well as others one could imagine a shortline trying to get on board.

One could potentially imagine a shortline making a pitch to purchase the Conrail X-NYC from Detroit
to Bay City. Of course that line was ripped out in the early 80's (IIRC) I think so it would need some
back dating or change in history of which line was purchased first.

Do you plan on modeling the Lake Michigan car ferry service as if it still was in use?


Date: 02/22/21 05:25
Re: The Detroit And Milwaukee and Precision Scheduled Modeling
Author: rerun8ed

Hey Kris! I think you've got a great thing going with your layout plan! Hard to believe GTW wouldn't sell the branch to another operator--especially at 2x scrap value! I believe toward the end of the Muskegon line's days they had added a $250-$400 surcharge per car that, if true, would have suffocated remaining business. Seems as though GTW wanted out at any cost on some of these branch lines--which is understandable to an extent since the railroad itself was losing money and the optics of cutting off marginal branch lines had to look good...

I continue to debate running carferry traffic over the line. The only plausible rationale would be state subsidies along with ship crew reduction. The GTW seemed to solicit priority traffic for the ferries in decades past so this mindset fits in well. On the modeling side, having several autoracks run across Michigan on the through train would be nice! :) But the debate (in my mind) continues... Meanwhile, I'm just finishing up my first week of operations since the layout restarted. Essentially I run a full train week over the course of 3 months: Monday/Tuesday on month 1; Wednesday/Thursday on month 2; Friday/weekend on month 3. So total of four weeks a year operated. And while I have Grand Rapids set up, I have not yet connected the main yard at Muskegon so not operating at 100%. It may be that once I have Muskegon up and running (hopefully for week 2) I may not be able to handle much more with the limited time I have for the hobbies. That's another factor! So we shall see.

It would be fun to have a Michigan model railroading board to keep up on local layouts!


Date: 02/23/21 07:49
Re: The Detroit And Milwaukee and Precision Scheduled Modeling
Author: MichiganRailfan

We'll never know why GTW didn't sell the Romeo Sub at the offer they received. The would-be shortline buyer should have petitioned the STB, local Congressmen, Senators, asked for a Federal court injunction to prevent GTW from scrapping, etc. to press the issue. I don't recall if they ever did. Also, they were widing I-75 at the time which removed the overpass there. I do remember Grand Trunk pointing to the loss of the overpass as a reason for abandonment, but you can be certain the Feds would have replaced that RR bridge as part of the reconstruction. Just look at the idle M-59 Conrail overpass in Utica as an example, and that barely saw any train traffic until Utica Ford Trim was shut down.

The ex-PC-NYC-MCRR Bay City Branch from Utica north to Millington was pulled up by 1978 for the most part. N&W did hirail this line prior to Conrail Day but I understand they passed based upon the poor, worn-out condition of the line. The Dow and Consumers Power unit coal trains had really beaten up the old NYC rail, most of the ties were in need of replacement, and a whole lot of new ballast and surfacing would have been needed to save it as a through route. As it stood GTW pickup up the viable mid-Michigan trackate in the Tri-cities area, and reached it from their Durand-Saginaw 'Salt Line' which was upgraded. This kept two carriers - Grand Trunk and Chessie System - serving the area, which kept most larger shippers satisfied that enough competition was present to ensure acceptable service.

I grew up east of Rochester Jct. in the '70s and '80s and am very familar with the Romeo Sub when it was a daily operation, and walked the old NYC grade a lot during the same period. It's a shame towns like Rochester and Oxford - my current home - are without rails now. If I want to railfan these days I drive 20 minutes north to Lapeer to get my fix. The old Grand Trunk depot (old Lapeer Jct. site) is as comfortable and relaxing a spot as any small-town would be.

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