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 a 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 have 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.