When you spot or pull a 40' box car for a customer - visually, you can't tell if that car is loaded or empty - unless the door is open and you can see inside the car. Sure, the switchlist tells you what is or isn't inside the car, but that means most of us run cars with closed doors. To help us maintain the illusion. Right?
But what about open cars, like flats and hoppers? Well some, or most of you, might have removable hopper loads - I'm just not satisfied with that concept. Operationally, I feel it's cheating yourself out of an aspect of realism we can't easily achieve with the average 40' box car. Especially on a coal hauling railroad like the Inverness & Richmond.
Enter live loads. The idea is that hoppers aren't just spotted at a mine for loading with foam inserts between sessions - they're actively loaded with loose, simulated coal, by an operator during sessions. Now this system will have a couple benefits:
- Increased weight of loaded hoppers for better tracking qualities
- Extra train during Op session dedicated to mine load-out
During an operating session, an engineer will be assigned the Black River Turn - whose job will be taking ten to fifteen empty hoppers to the mine for live loading. The engineer will pull his train under the load-out, filling each car with loose coal until all cars are loaded. At this point the motive power will be run around the train and returned to Inverness Yard, where 30 car unit coal trains are assembled and taken to Port Hastings for interchange with CN on a separate assignment.
If you look at the Black River Mine below, you'll notice five spots where tracks are designed to go. These will be the load-out tracks, although I haven't decided which or how many will actually load cars.
You will also notice that a section of roof appears to be missing. Obviously I've not finished assembling the structure, and that's where the operator will be placing the loose coal.