Friday, August 15, 2014

So, what have I been up to?

This past week, several friends and I were trading e-mails detailing all of our latest model railroading exploits. While I certainly haven't accomplished as much as they have, I thought I'd post an update to show what's taken place since the tipple at McHenry Coal was rebuilt.

Operations on the layout are finally at a point that we're using three of the four tracks in west staging and three of the six tracks in east staging. The remaining three tracks in the east staging yard are shorter than all of the other staging tracks by several feet due to their position on the yard ladder. This is something I've wanted to fix for some time. I remember thinking when I originally built the staging yard that I might have to come back and address the shorter tracks at some point. But once again, it was a case of building something today versus taking a little time to plan first.

The photo below shows the extension of the east end of the east staging yard. All of the tracks are at least 15 feet long now and several are considerably longer. One or two of the longer tracks will probably hold a caboose hop in addition to a staged train at some point in the future.

In one of the e-mail exchanges, Anthony Hardy asked if the top deck was going to be extended in the same manner. The short answer is yes, and this will potentially provide another six east end staging tracks. But the question started a discussion about how many trains in total the layout will be able to handle during a session. I really have no clue at this point but it will be fun to see how this develops over time. The question also started a discussion about extending a couple of staging tracks along the wall to right in order to accommodate a few more tipples. This is a definite possibility- more to come on that in the future.

At the end of the last op session it became apparent that one of the point rails on the turnout between west staging tracks 9 and 10 was misaligned. Since I would have to get all of the tools out to fix it, I decided to go ahead and build the turnouts for tracks 6-8. The photo below shows the progress so far.

Once tracks 6-8 are in service on the west end, the railroad will have 6 fully operational staging yard tracks on the east end and 7 on the west end. Time to get busy building some more locomotives and rolling stock. And time to take the box back over to the K&LE in order to "acquire" some nicely weathered freight cars...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Vandals Destroy Tipple on CWE

In what can only be called a blatant act of vandalism, a campfire built and left unattended on the load-out tracks of the McHenry Coal Company tipple at Irma, West Virginia has burned out of control and completely destroyed the mine structure. The building burned throughout the evening of July 19th and by the next morning, nothing was left. The photo below shows the former location of the mine after the company removed all of the debris from the fire.

The mine had been loading six to eight cars of coal per day and its loss will have a significant impact on McHenry Coal Company. In a statement issued by the company, officials said they are uncertain whether or not the structure will be replaced. The mine is located at the end of the Sand Fork Branch of the Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie Railroad.

Local authorities are searching for the perpetrators and are confident they will be apprehended. Numerous leads have been received and more are expected in the coming days. The photo below was taken on the afternoon before the fire by local railfans who subsequently gave it to the local sheriff's department. There apparently was nothing amiss when this photo was taken.

An anonymous individual sent the photo below to the sheriff's office and it appears to show the perpetrator and the campfire. "This kind of information is extremely important in our search for the vandals, and we're confident they will be apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

The sheriff's office has said that Smokey Doll is a person of interest in this case and they expect to apprehend him for questioning today. He was reportedly in the area at the time of fire and is known to have been associated with numerous other questionable fires in the past. Said an official of the CWE "Smokey would be better served looking for fires on his own property rather than roaming around this neck of the woods." The official was referring to the mysterious fire along the Forest Park Southern that has been burning for almost a month now. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

L&N 105509

About six months ago, I picked up a couple of Athearn Genesis 60' auto parts boxcars decorated for the L&N. These cars came from a collection at Tim's Trains and Hobbies ( In addition to having one decorated for the L&N, I figured I could strip the other and decorate it for the home road. These are beautiful cars and were in NIB condition. At $15 a piece, I couldn't pass them up.

The photo below shows the original car along with the one that I just completed.

The first challenge was figuring out how to fade the blue paint. I ended up spraying a number of coats of Floquil Grime that had been thinned to about 30% paint/70% thinner. Once the paint was faded, I applied a coat of Dullcote to seal it. Next, I applied washes of artist's acrylic burnt umber and ivory black.

I was stumped for some time as to how to fade the yellow lettering. On this particular paint scheme, the yellow lettering quickly faded to a brownish color and in many cases looked more like ghost lettering that the original paint job. The model sat for some time until one day it occurred to me that a colored pencil might work. After doing some research, I bought a set of Prismacolor Premier water-soluble colored pencils. I drew over the lettering using the dark umber pencil. 

While I'm satisfied with the results, I think the regular pencils might have worked better for this application. Even though I rubbed the pencil color with my finger once it was applied, there are still more "marks" than I would like. It might be possible to take the end of a tiny stiff brush, slightly dampened with water, to smear the color a little bit to get it blend better. I might try that on the next L&N car in this paint scheme.

For the roof, I used artist's acrylic raw sienna and burnt umber and burnt sienna gouache straight from the tube. I started with the raw sienna, applying it with a cosmetic sponge, and the worked in the burnt sienna and burnt umber using both a cosmetic sponge and a stiff bristled brush.

Given how fragile these cars are, I'm a little hesitant to try and strip the paint off the second one in order to repaint it for the home road. Perhaps I'll just weather it like this one and add it to the fleet. That would certainly please the L&N fanatics among the regular crew.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dry Creek Coal Tipple #2

The tipple for Dry Creek Coal #2 at Summit Springs has been finished and the scenery surrounding the structure has been completed. As mentioned in previous posts, this structure is based upon Virginia Iron and Coke Company's 10-K tipple at Esco, Kentucky. Below are some screen shots from Bing Maps that show the tipple several years ago.

There are also several great shots of the tipple in "Appalachian Coal Mines and Railroads in Color, Vol. 1, Kentucky: The Color Photography of Everett N. Young" by Stephen M. Timko. One of the shots in the book shows the original loader in 1985 prior to construction of the adjacent flood loader shown in these pictures. I was trying to capture the look of the original installation.

Due to space constraints and the track layout in this area, I had to change the basic set-up of the tipple. I also couldn't model the truck dump, so I had to settle for a small conveyor that heads up the hill into the trees.

The tipple loads 6-8 cars per day and is worked by the Springs Man out of Nelsonville. At some point, the tipple may get worked by an eastbound coal extra which would pull the westbound loads and spot them on the siding. The eastbound movement would then spot empties before proceeding to Nelsonville to fill out with eastbound coal. Later in the day, a westbound coal extra out of Nelsonville would fill out with the loads at Summit Springs for the trip to North Pierce.

The photo below shows the overall area looking west. Some additional detail will be added at some point, including the ever present rusty barrels and a derail to protect the main line.

The idea for the small pump house and oil tank came from the shot below that Robby Vaughn took of a loader in southeastern Kentucky.

It's a good thing that Everett Young captured the photos he did of the tipple. Robby Vaughn recently visited the area and took the photo below.

The large, concrete silo off to the right of the tipple in the Bing map shots is still there, but the original tipple and flood loader are gone. And while the tracks for the tipple remain in place, it's unlikely this location will ever load coal again.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Continuing Adventures of the Mysterious Traveling Campfire

There were confirmed reports yesterday of an unattended campfire on the Forest Park Southern. This time, the campfire was captured on film by two people traveling through Beagle Creek and the photo below shows the campfire dangerously close to the general store.

Mysteriously, though, as soon as local officials rounded the corner to check out the fire- it was gone. There was a note tacked to the wall of the general store, however, that warned of more dastardly deeds. It said another fire had been planted and was burning and offered the following clues as to its locations:
1) The perpetrators are vertically challenged.
2)  It's not where it appears to be in the photo.
3)  It's not in a building.

Forest Park Southern officials are relieved that the fire is not purportedly in a building after the disastrous destruction of the roundhouse roof at Random which was caused by a similar act of vandalism. Local officials are concerned, though, given the inability of the railroad's local officials to find similar fires in the past. Said the mayor of Beagle Creek, "I hope we don't have to call in the CEO of Forest Park Industries on order to find the fire. Several other communities around here have had to do that in the past. It's hard to believe these railroad guys can't find a fire. Most of us around here just look for the smoke."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie on TrainMasters TV

The full length video of the CWE that appeared in the November 2013 edition of TrainMasters TV is now available for viewing as a free sample. If you enjoy the video and some of the other free samples, consider signing up for TrainMasters TV. Here's a link to the video:

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Mysterious Traveling Campfire- Part 4

Over the weekend, reports surfaced once again of a mysterious, unattended campfire. This time, the fire was reported in the area around East Valley along the right-of-way of the Pennsylvania & Western. Several well known miscreants were reported to have been in the area, and authorities suspect that they are responsible for the fire.

Railroad officials are sparing no resources in order to find the fire before it gets to the large wooden trestle just outside of East Valley. An anonymous local resident sent in the photo below of what appears to be the beginnings of a campfire. 

Officials are confident that the fire will be located and the suspects brought to justice. The Pennsylvania & Western is known for its competent management and local emergency services are rated among the finest in the county. Said Superintendent  Bartizek, "This isn't like some railroad in West Virginia where they can't seem to find the fire even with smoke in the area. Our employees are highly skilled individuals who will have this issue resolved posthaste." Mr. Bartizek was referring to a fire on the Forest Park Southern that was reported during the last Friday night operating session and still hasn't been found. There are also rumors of numerous fires along the right of way of the Kanawha & Lake Erie Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio. Officials are unsure whether or not a traveling band of mischievous misfits are responsible for setting all of these fires or if it's the work of numerous individuals.