Pardon me as I hop-scotch back to the HO layout this time, as this seems to be the way my mind is working lately as I ponder the new twin scale stacked layouts.
With the impending Minnesota winter weather looming just around the corner, my efforts have been to complete outside projects at our new home before the snow flies. So modeling has been confined to working on the On30 steam saddle tanker conversion and keeping the pencils worn-down as I work and rework plans for the new layouts.
My latest thoughts for the upper-level Hawaiian-theme modern HO scale shortline railroad is to downplay the Big Island Rail concept and play up more of the gritty industrial sugar company railroading concept. In my former layout, the Puna Sugar Company sugar mill complex never was built. In it's old supporting role, the mill's bulk sugar and sugar cane unit trains had trackage rights over the BIRR to the 'mill' from the cane fields and from the mill to the Hilo Harbor area with bulk raw sugar for transfer to ocean-going ships. Other than that, a mill switcher would have shuttled cars around the mill.
In this new concept, the BIRR takes on the supporting role and the PSCX takes center stage. With a much smaller layout area to build in, I'm trying to develop a plan that will offer a lot of operation possibilities as well as my desired continuous running loop. One of the features of the HO layout will be a compact Puna Sugar processing mill (built over the workbench in the basement) where fresh-cut sugar cane is brought in - with unit cane trains (using my cool see-through cane cars home-built from retired boxcars - a la U.S. Sugar in Florida) - to the dump for crushing. Bulk sugar is loaded in covered hopper cars and back hauled to the BIRR interchange for shipment to the Bulk Sugar Transfer Facility at Hilo Bay (which may be located on a long spur to the back of the staging yard over the washer and dryer in the basement.)
With my current track plan for the HO layout, the sugar mill would be reached via the diamond at "Sugar Jct." where the track squeezes passes through beside the AC/Heater unit. The mill will, as stated earlier, have a cane dump track, as well as the bulk sugar loader. If there is room, bagasse loader and molasses pipe spurs will be worked into the mill facility. PSCX transfer runs will connect the mill with the BIRR interchange in Hilo over branchline rails. Cane trains will run from staging to the mill via "Sugar Jct." A mill switcher will work trackage.
Big Island Rail crews will have some work to do as well on the branchline with a possible ethanol plant (or maybe a HELCO power plant or intermodal ramp), plus the Hawaiian Fruit Exchange cold storage spur and maybe a spur into Hilo Auto Recycling to switch in the "Sugar Jct." industrial district. BIRR will offer "Live Interchange" working the South Hilo interchange tracks to set out cars bound for Puna Sugar and hauling outbound cars to the BIRR Hilo yard (staging) or the C and H / Puna Sugar Bulk Sugar Transfer.
All this and continuous running to boot!
Thanks for reading! Leave a comment if you'd like!