Caboose Service Area

Caboose Service Area
A view of the caboose service area at Hollister Yard in North Pierce, WV.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Quick Update 1

The track crews have been busy at Hollister Yard. The photo below shows the new turnouts that will connect the coal yard and the freight yard.

The background story on this can be found here: This connection will enable the yard crews to hand off cuts of coal and freight between the two yards without having to run all the way out the yard leads. This will be especially helpful in building and classifying the locals, all of which handle both coal and freight.

Of course, everything about this little project will be a challenge. Locating the toggle switch for the turnout on the yard panel will require moving a terminal strip that supplies track power to a bunch of toggle switches. Which will, in turn, require some more wiring. And the throw bars for both turnouts are located right over cross members under the layout. So those will have to be moved or reconfigured in order to accommodate the Tortoises. And... well, you get the picture.

Actually operating the layout can produce all kinds of fun projects!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A True "Duh" Moment

As I prepared for an upcoming op session, I realized that I needed more track warrants. The warrants are posted on small clipboards that hang from the fascia all around the railroad. This makes it convenient for the crews to grab one before calling the dispatcher for their next move. I usually have to print more prior to each session. And I also need them for the dispatcher.

I designed the warrant in Excel so that I could have four warrants per page and each would be the same size. The photo below shows the 8 1/2" x 11" form. Everything is spaced out so that the sheet gets cut in half in both directions in order to make equal sized warrants,

In an effort to save paper, I wondered if I could print the form on both sides and therefore get twice the number of warrants from a single piece of paper. So I printed both sides and sure enough, it lined up perfectly. Well, duh- of course it would. So I printed up a handful of pages on both sides and cut up the new supply of warrants.

About this time, I was feeling pretty good about myself. As I also needed a handful of full sheets for the dispatcher to use, I wondered if the full sheet printed on both sides would work. So I printed up a sheet on both sides and turned it over. Wow- this will work great! And then it occurred to me- Jim Rollwage had been doing this forever. And I've dispatched the Denver Pacific many times using his full page sheets that are printed on both side. This was clearly a double "duh" moment. So I dutifully printed up another five pages- on both sides- for the dispatcher.

I guess sometimes it just takes forever for a good idea to finally sink in... 

Monday, September 12, 2016


Sometime in late August, this blog hit 200,000 page views. When I first posted back in late November of 2011, I had no idea how any of this would evolve or whether anyone would be interested in reading about some fictitious creation that I had developed. My hope was that, through the blog, I could offer some inspiration as repayment for all of the inspiration I've received over the years from the work of so many others.

Looking back over the last five years, I'm somewhat surprised in the amount of interest in the blog. But it has been fun and a great way to share some of the things I've learned in the hobby. 

I've had more fun and accomplished more in the past five years than in the prior twenty years in the hobby combined. And that's been primarily due to the great friendships that have developed over that period of time. I really never understood how neat it could be to share my passion for the hobby and railroads with others who felt the same. So to all of you who have either put up with my antics or enjoyed the postings on this blog, or both, I say thanks. It's been a great five years and I hope the next five are just as memorable.

I'll close with a shot of the Ellwater Branch Roustabout heading back to North Pierce.

Friday, September 2, 2016

End of Summer Update

Well, the Labor Day weekend has arrived and with it the unofficial end of Summer. My wife and I spent most of the past three months in Michigan, and as a result, not much got accomplished on the railroad. However, there were a number of projects in the works that got finished up before we left. Here's an update on some of them.

The new signal at the west end of Nelsonville Yard is now in place and operational. In a previous post, I commented on the need to move this signal from it's original location. Here's a ink to that post: The picture below shows the finished signal bridge. 

The deck girder bridges across Clear Creek next to the engine terminal at Nelsonville have been completed. The scenery on either side of the bridges still needs to be finished, but the hard part is finished. The stream was poured using EnviroTex Lite pour-on High Gloss Finish. 

The scenery around the station at Nelsonville has also been finished for the most part. Additional details need to be added such as switch machines, steps to the platform, grade crossing signals, etc. 

And lastly, the two N&W SD35 that were last seen on the workbench in December have been reassembled and weathered. Both units received Tsunami sound decoders. I used artist's oils for the majority of the weathering.

I wasn't please with how the weathering initially turned out on the roofs, so I went back and applied Pan Pastels with a deerfoot brush. I picked up this technique from Mike Confalone in his Weathering Like a Pro video series. If you haven't seen any of these and your interested in weathering, you really need to check these out. They are available from the Model Railroad Hobbyist and here's a link: I have used Pan Pastels in the past and have never been overly impressed with them. However, Mike's videos show some unique and different ways to use them that produce some really great results. Here's how the roofs turned out.

I did manage to get six of the new Bowser woodchip hopper cars built over the summer and they are now in the paint shop. Several other cars were painted and lettered and are now ready for weathering. A number of other new projects are in the works. While the summer was a blast, it's great to back workin' on the railroad!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

An Amazing Day

Yesterday, John Miller hosted the first operating session on the new version of the K&LE (4.0) and it truly was an amazing day. It's hard to believe that the last session on the old railroad was held in October of 2014. You can see pictures of it here: What has been accomplished since the last run is just incredible. Here are some shots from the session.

The photo below shows the view looking down Undercliff Yard toward Oasis Yard and the steel mill in Newport, KY. Terry Luginbuhl is classifying cars for locals in Oasis Yard.

In the next shot, Bill Doll is working the east end switcher in Undercliff. East is to the left of the picture- no one was really sure where Bill was headed with his locomotive.

Next up, Gerry Albers is working one of the many local jobs.

The Eggleston Avenue switching district on the new railroad is longer and much more complete than the previous layout. In the picture below, Keith VandeStadt has just received a cut of cars from Oasis and is preparing to work the many industries in the district as Dan Hadley looks on.

Next up are couple of shots of some of the completed areas of the Eggleston Avenue district.

As can be seen from the photos above, John really has a knack for capturing the colors, look and feel of the old industrial areas of Cincinnati.

In the next photo, Chris Wermuth is taking a train west out of Undercliff while Gerry works another switching district- all under the watchful eye of the superintendent.

Here's another view of Oasis Yard looking in the opposite direction from the view above.

Next up, Randy Seiler looks on as Jim Rollwage works the west end switcher at Undercliff. Oasis Yard is in the foreground.

Some foreign road power appeared during the session as is evidenced in the photo below.

And finally, the chicken car made its official visit. It's what he does... 

And the lunch- oh my goodness! John's wife Page prepared rib-eye steaks, baked potatoes, corn on the cob and a tossed salad. All of which was followed by lemon bars and brownies. I think it's a safe bet that none of us have ever eaten so well at an operating session. Thanks again, Page- it was wonderful.

My apologies for the quality of the photos- they certainly don't do the layout justice. One must really see it in person in order to completely understand the size, scope, and attention to detail. But I think I can speak for all of us who attended in saying that it really was an amazing day. While we all enjoyed the previous railroad immensely, it's clear that version 4.0 will be even more incredible. Congratulations, John, on a job well done. You've achieved more than any of us thought possible in such a short period of time. And thanks again for the invitation- it was wonderful to be able to share in the inaugural session of 4.0.