Sunday, November 23, 2014

Some Different Angles

Yesterday, I was sitting at my laptop working on the signaling program and I glanced over at the layout. I was just about at eye level with the track and it struck me that it might make a neat photo. And Randy Seiler recently took a bunch of really great close-up shots on John Miller's Kanawha & Lake Erie which got me thinking about some different angles to shoot on the CWE. So here are a couple of shots from some slightly different angles.

The next shot shows the eastbound signal at the west end of Big Chimney. I'm working on getting ABS up and running on this section of the layout. Of the fifteen signals in this area, 12 are now wired and operational and all of the block detection boards are in place. The Signals By Spreadsheet program is up and running thanks to the assistance of Gerry Albers.

And here's what the area looks like right now as I make like a mole and crawl around under the layout hooking up wires.

While I had hoped to have the signals operational in this area for upcoming session in January, it occurred to me the other day that I will need resistors on wheel sets in order to make that happen. Sigh... The resistors and the paint have been ordered, but there's just no way enough cars will done to make all of this work by then. Buying wheel sets with resistor on them is an option, but as my friends will tell you- I'm way too cheap to do that. Guess we'll just have to wait until the shop forces can get enough resistors installed.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Slight Correction

After numerous complaints from C&O fans about the condition of the caboose in the last post, it became clear that the car should be re-lettered to reflect its original owner. So check the "Yet Another Special Boxcar" post to see the correction.

My sincere apologies to all of you Chesapeake & Ohio Railway fans.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Yet Another Special Boxcar

As a result of the recently expanded west staging, it's become apparent that the CWE going to need a lot more locomotives and rolling stock. Ever the good friend that he is, Bill Doll stepped up to assist in my efforts to expand operations. At one of the last Monday morning work session on the K&LE, he handed me several boxes. The first three contained the equipment in the photo below.

Bill's keen eye for the nuances of eras and observation skills clearly told him that this equipment would be a great fit for 1970's era, coal hauling railroad. And while the caboose on the right at least appears to have both trucks and all of its wheels, it rolls as well as the one on the left without the truck. This equipment will certainly help fill out the roster!

Needless to say, I was a little apprehensive when I opened the fourth box. Inside was an Athearn 50' plug door boxcar painted and lettered for the Forest Park Southern. Bill even went so far as to remove the roofwalk to reflect how it would look in service circa 1976. I added an ACI label and a little weathering as you can see in the pictures below.

It's a great looking car and it's neat to have some FPS rolling stock on the layout.

One good turn deserves another, as they say, and I been the beneficiary of several nice freight cars over the last several years. So in order to show my gratitude for this most recent addition to the fleet, I painted and lettered a CWE car in the mid-1950's paint scheme. I had designed this paint scheme many years ago when I first developed the concept of the Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie Railroad, but nothing had ever been lettered this way. This is the first car in the "early" scheme.

This boxcar was delivered to the FPS last Friday night. With any luck, it might actually appear regular revenue service at some point.

I've been blessed over the last several years to have met some really fine people. Thanks again for the beautiful freight car, Bill, but most importantly, thanks for your friendship.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Last Run of the K&LE

This past Saturday, the last regular operating session on the Kanawha & Lake Erie took place. It was a bitter sweet day for anyone who has been involved with current version of the K&LE over the years. John Miller and his wife Page have purchased a new home and will be moving in the next month or so. The bad news is that the layout will come down soon. The good news is that John has over ten acres at his new place and intends to build a separate building for the new version of the K&LE. Portions of the old layout will be saved for the new location and John is looking forward to expanding on the current theme.

It only seemed fitting to capture some of the action during the last session. The photo below shows the crew gathered for a group shot right after lunch (photo by Stuart Thayer).

Undercliff Yard is always a hub of activity with trains originating and terminating, through trains making set-outs and/or pick-ups and local traffic between transfer runs and Oasis Yard, which distributes all the cars destined for local industries. In the photo below, Bob Bartizek is working as the west end switcher while Jim Rollwage is working on a cut of cars in Oasis Yard.

In addition to the west end switcher and the yardmaster positions, Undercliff also requires an east switcher who's primary duty is to classify inbound and outbound cars and make up or break down trains. In the photo below, Matt Snell is working the east end switcher job while George Roos brings a manifest freight through on the main. The superintendent is watching the action, complete with his banana yellow apron.

The next shot will give you an idea of the overall size of Undercliff Yard. The picture was taken from where Bob B. is standing in the first photo above.

Out on the road, Debie Snell is taking a freight east through Milford while Randy Seiler is working east end of St. Joe where the grain terminals and oil depots are located along the Ohio River.

Later in the session, Stuart Thayer has brought the Hillsboro switcher west to work the local industries at Milford.

Out over the industrial bottoms of Cincinnati we see (l to r) Perry Simpson, Anthony Hardy and George Roos working the industries and coordinating moves with the transfer runs.

In the same area as above, we catch the tail end DC7 (DT&I run-through train) running through the street trackage as it heads west.

Like many in the hobby, John was heavily influenced by the work of Allen McClelland and his legendary Virginian & Ohio. The V&O line east out of Dayton went through Hillsboro, as does the K&LE, and this gave John the opportunity to include several V&O through freights in addition to having a V&O local come into Hillsboro to serve a group of industries. In the photo below, we see VO 91 coming into Undercliff Yard where it will set out a block of cars.

Having made its set-outs, VO 91's power backs down to its train.

Toward the end of the session, Bob B. continues to work the west end switcher while Greg Stevens brings another freight through Undercliff.

Bill "Smokey" Doll usually works as the east end switcher, but he wasn't able to attend this session. All of us are fairly certain that his absence was the only reason Undercliff Yard looked like it did in the picture below at the end of the session.

I think I can speak for all of us in extending John Miller a huge thank you, not only for everything he has done to make this railroad what it is, but also for allowing us to spend some time running it. It really doesn't get much better than this and we were all very fortunate to have been part of the K&LE. Thanks, John.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quick Update

It occurred to me this morning that we are half way through October and there hasn't been a single post to the blog yet this month. So here's a quick update on what's been happening over the last thirty days or so.

The U30C below has just rolled out of the CWE shops. The loco is headed for the K&LE where it will be teamed up with the L&N U30C in the picture and be assigned to grain train service. Its first revenue run will be this Saturday during a K&LE op session.

The signal system that I've mentioned in the past has begun and the photo below shows the first DIO boards and detectors installed.

These boards are made by Signals By Spreadsheet and you can find more information on the signal system and products here: My goal is to get the system up and running with ABS and then eventually move to CTC. In addition to installing the hardware, I've been working on the spreadsheets for the signals and DIO boards. I've also been documenting all of the work on the signal system along with modifying and re-documenting the electrical system. More to come on this in the future.

Over the past month, I spent several Fridays with Bob Bartizek taking pictures of his beautiful Pennsylvania & Western layout for an upcoming article. Here's one of my favorite shots from those sessions.

There are two Atlas standard cupola cabooses in the paint shop along with several boxcars to be weathered. An SD45 is painted and ready to be reassembled and weathered. There are a handful of hopper cars in various stages of completion. At last but not least, several new signals for Petersburg Junction are under construction. So while the posts may have been a bit sparse recently, there's been a lot taking place behind the scenes.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Tale of Two Boxcars- Part 3

This last post in the series will deal with weathering the RBL boxcars and placing them in service on the railroad.

Prior to weathering any car, I like to tone down the factory paint job and add a protective finish to prevent any damage to the graphics on the car. I sprayed the sides, ends and roof with a tiny bit of Floquil Grime added to a paint cup full of thinned Testor’s Dullcote. For this step I used a Paashe Model H airbrush and put a 50/50 mix of Dullcote and lacquer thinner in the paint cup. I then dipped the end of a paint brush into the bottle of Floquil Grime and stirred it into the paint cup. Doing this several times gave me a slightly tinted flat finish to apply to the car. The photo below shows the car once this flat finish has been applied and the ACI labels and tack boards added.

This car was shopped in December of 1975 and I’m modeling August of 1976, so I applied light weathering to reflect a car that had been recently repainted. I started by mixing some artist’s tube acrylic burnt umber and ivory black with some Windex. The mix for this car was about 50/50 burnt umber to ivory black. I like to get a small batch mixed to the consistency of paint and then thin it slightly prior to applying it to the car. After applying the thinned mix, I took another brush, dipped it into the Windex and wiped it gently on a paper towel. I then began removing the wash with vertical strokes on the car sides, moving from top to bottom. Gently removing the wash in this manner will give you lightly faded and slightly grimed look on the side of the car. The photo below shows how the car sides appear at this point.

For the ends, use the same steps as the sides but leave a little more of the wash towards the bottom. You can also take the brush used to remove the wash and dab it at the wash. This produces some of the blotches seen in the photo below.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a couple of areas where the wash dried in a small pool. Dabbing these areas with the end of a cosmetic sponge before the wash dried would have improved the appearance and added a little more texture to the weathering. Another lesson learned.

After the sides and ends were finished, I tackled the roof by making up a wash of burnt umber with a little bit of ivory black. I covered about half of the roof panels with this wash. Next, I went back across the panels with another brush that had been dipped in Windex and wiped on a paper towel. The idea is to get the look of a roof that has been exposed to the elements for a relatively short period of time. The photo below shows the finished roof.

The last step in weathering the car was to apply a light dusting of AIM medium grey weathering powder to the truck side frames. The photo below shows the finished car.

These two cars are now in service moving canned goods from the Libby Foods plant in Chicago to Mountain Food Distributors at Bass, WV on the Elkwater Branch. During a session, one car generally comes back empty into North Pierce on the Elkwater Branch Roustabout (AM) while the other. loaded car gets set out at North Pierce by an eastbound manifest. Later in the session, the first car will move west toward Chicago while the second car will move up the branch on the Elkwater Branch Roustabout (PM) and be delivered to its destination. The photo below shows one of cars headed up the branch on the Roustabout.

At some point, another source of canned goods will be identified to the east and a new waybill will be made up. This will provide for the set-out of one of the cars at Big Chimney to picked up by an eastbound way freight. In the next session, the car will move west to Big Chimney to be picked up for delivery by the Elkwater Branch Roustabout (PM). 

It was Anthony Hardy sharing the “CUSTOMER IDENTIFICATION CODES for WORK ORDER REPORTING” for the EK Subdivision of the L&N that got this whole project started. In addition to having a couple of nice new freight cars on the layout, I now have a few additional industries to be served on the branches. So thanks, Anthony!