Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December Update

The holidays are here and the end of 2015 is rapidly approaching. There are a lot of projects in the works on the railroad so I thought I'd provide a quick update on recent activity.

The new panel design has been finalized and the first one is shown below. As I've mentioned before, the new panels will utilize route selection versus turnout controls. This should simplify operation for the crews as some have found the toggles confusing. The system will be run by the Route Control System (RCS) developed by Gerry Albers and sold by his Signals By Spreadsheet company (http://www.signalsbyspreadsheet.com/). More on this later. The new panels will be printed on Avery full sheet labels, given a light coat of clear gloss to protect them, and then mounted directly on the existing panels. 

There are five signals in the vicinity of Big Chimney that either aren't visible from the aisle or are difficult to see. The solution to this is to provide repeater signals on the panel. Holes will be drilled and LED's installed in each of the targets on the panel which in turn will mirror the aspects in the field. Four of the repeater signals are on the Big Chimney panel and the fifth will be on the Cedar Falls Jct. panel. While this sounds great is concept, it requires wiring another complete signal for each one repeated. Needless to say, I'm glad there are only two other signals on the railroad that will require this setup. The photo below shows the repeater signal terminals wired up and awaiting the leads from the LED's.

The first RCS card has been installed and is shown in the photo below. It can control up to eight turnouts. Also shown to the left of the RCS card are the Tortoise drivers (TD8's) which are wired directly to the switch motors and control their movement based upon input from the RCS card.

After the next op session, all the toggle switches will be pulled and the Tortoises will be wired to the TD8's. One of the SPDT switches on each Tortoise will be used for power routing for the frogs and all of this wiring is now in place. 

The next photo shows the current mock-up for a portion of the CTC panel that controls Big Chimney. The panel itself will be in the crew lounge outside of the layout room. Part of the beauty of the SBS system is that there will only be one wire between the layout and the panel.

In addition to the signalling project, the scenery around the caboose service area is just  about complete. Some more vegetation will be added along with some additional details.  

The rails have been put down in the roundhouse and the two radial tracks although they haven't been wired yet. The walls are being held in place temporarily with small blocks of wood. I haven't decided yet just what I'm going to do with all of the doors and windows.

And the two N&W SD35's that see regular service on the Nelsonville Turn are in the shop being completely stripped and cleaned. They'll get Tsunami decoders and sugar cube speakers along with some weathering before going back out on the railroad.

There are a number of other projects in the works, including another SD40 and a two-bay hopper car for sand service that are in the paint shop, the fuel unloading cranes, a pump house for the diesel fuel service area at North Pierce and some additional small detail items like mailboxes and fire extinguishers.

More progress to come in the new year, but for now, I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a great 2016!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Another Spot

While working on the scenery and structures around the engine service area at North Pierce, I happened to notice that there was some extra room at the end of the spur where tank cars of diesel fuel will be spotted for unloading. That led me to place a boxcar at the end of the spur to see just how much room there really is.

So with a boxcar spotted as above, would there still be enough room for two tank cars to be spotted at the fuel unloading cranes? If I moved one of the cranes closer to the turnout, it might be able to unload a car on either the Supply 2 or the adjacent Supply 1 spur. I mounted one of the unpainted cranes to check clearances, and sure enough, it works. As can be seen in the photo below, Supply 1 will also accommodate two tank cars and a boxcar.

So the old water treatment building next to the water tank is now used for storing supplies and a boxcar will be spotted there occasionally for unloading. It's always great to find another location to receive cars during an operating session, especially given the limited amount of switching on the railroad. And it's these types of finds that can really ramp up the enthusiasm to get a particular area finished.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Go west, young man!

While filling out waybills for cars heading west via various connections with the CWE, it became apparent that there was a real dearth of western road cars on the railroad. An article by Bob Rivard in the July 2014 edition of Model Railroad Hobbyist (http://mrhpub.com/2014-07-jul/land/#94) provided the inspiration to correct this problem. I had purchased two of the ExactRail Gunderson 50 foot double door boxcars which were decorated for the Frisco. However, a little research revealed that the Frisco never owned these cars. I set them aside with the plan to strip them and paint them for the home road some day.

Then Bob Rivard's article appeared in MRH. I have long been a big fan of Bob's modeling and, in particular, his freight car modeling. He has written many articles over the years and they have always been a source of inspiration for me. So armed with his article and the two SLSF boxcars, I got to work.

First up is BN 318572. Basically, I just followed all of the instructions in Bob's article on this one. The only difference is that I drew the weld seams directly onto the car with a number 2 pencil versus first drawing them on clear decal paper and then applying the decals.

Next up is SP&S 319179. I struggled a bit with the doors on this one as I couldn't find any Superior doors that didn't have cast-on tack boards. The door on the left side doesn't have them so I either had to try and remove them from a couple of doors or scratch build them. I chose the latter route and used Evergreen styrene strips to make the doors. I also painted the yellow band on the left hand door versus using Micro Scale trim film as Bob did on his model. The photo below shows the car after I painted the yellow band. There are several places where I need to touch up the green paint prior to weathering the car.

And to round out this first group of western road cars, I picked up couple of the new BLMA Models ATSF Bx-166 double door 60' boxcars. These cars are absolutely beautiful- the detail and prototypical accuracy is just amazing. These cars were new in July of 1974 so I weathered them lightly to reflect how they might have looked after several years of service. The bottom of the car and the trucks were sprayed with Rust-Oleum camouflage brown.Then the entire car was sprayed with a highly diluted coat of Vallejo Model Air aged white. After the aged white had dried, I applied a light coat of Dullcote. Next, I applied a thin wash of artist's acrylic ivory black mixed with a small amount of burnt umber. This wash helps bring out the details. The trucks and wheels were weathered using gouache and weathering powders.

The BN and SP&S cars are the first two boxcar projects in a long while where I took the time to carve off ladders, change the doors, etc. in order to model a specific prototype. This has long been one of my favorite parts of the hobby and it was a lot of fun working on these two cars. And now that all of John Miller's freight cars are stored away in boxes, I have to add cars to my fleet the old fashioned way- by actually building them myself rather than "borrowing" them from John.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Continuing Adventures of FRC- Part 2

Yesterday, FRC (Free Range Chicken) finally made it onto the Pennsylvania & Western. He had last been spotted on the Deepwater Distrcit of the Virginian back in May. While we're not sure where he stayed over the summer, it's good to have him back in our neck of the woods.

Some sharp-eyed railfan caught FRC as he arrived in Annville Yard.

Later in the day, he was spotted at the caboose service track on the west end of Annville Yard. 

Toward the end of the day, he was spotted over in Lebanon at Quality Meat Packers. He was obviously concerned with the subtle advertising he found there and was last seen chasing a westbound freight.

While we wish he could have stayed longer, we're looking forward to more pictures of his adventures. Because as we all know, if you're a free range chicken...

Friday, September 18, 2015

So What's On the Workbench- 1

Now that the summer is over, I'm knee deep in a number of different projects. It feels great to be making progress on the layout again.

First up is the roundhouse at North Pierce. Little has been done in this area since I built the diesel fuel tank back in March of 2012. It appeared in an article in MRH and here's a link to it: http://issuu.com/mr-hobbyist/docs/mrh12-05-may2012-ol?viewMode=presentation&mode=embed. Over the last month or so, I've toyed with the idea of replacing the roundhouse with a two stall board and batten engine house similar to the one at Cane Fork Yard on the C&O. The existing turntable is too short to turn a set of 4-axle diesels coupled together, so to get two locomotives into a single stall, they would have to be removed from a consist. This just isn't something that's going to happen during a operating session so the two stall engine house seemed to be a good solution. However, after reviewing the plans of the Cane Fork facility that Bill Ford sent me, it became apparent that it was just too big. Even a scaled down version would have required a new turnout and the removal of the turntable. But then it struck me- the radial track aligned with the track leading to the turntable is long enough for two 4-axle diesels. And the turntable and lead track could hold another two 4-axle units. So the turntable and roundhouse stay and I've now started working on the radial tracks and roundhouse. The photo below shows progress so far.

After playing around with the concrete color for the base of the roundhouse, it finally occurred to me that nothing inside the building will ever be seen by anyone. All of the neat little touches that I had planned, like painting the interior walls as though they had been whitewashed and painting the lower portion of the roof support beams in safety yellow, would be a big waste of time. I have no interest in making a removable roof so none of this stuff would be visible. I'll spend some extra time making sure the exterior looks good, but for now I plan to skip the interior detail.

In addition to the Kadee covered hopper car that I weathered in a previous post, I also painted and letter an Atlas covered hopper for the home road. This is another one of the kits I picked up used at Tim's Trains and Hobbies in Covington, KY. The detail on this car is really impressive.

I used the same techniques on this car that I used on the Kadee car but I went a little bit lighter on the overall weathering.

Along with the two covered hopper cars, I also painted and lettered two tank cars. The UTLX car will be in diesel fuel service in much the same fashion as a large number of similar UTLX cars on the L&N. These two cars are now in the paint shop awaiting weathering.

In addition to the two tank cars, I've been kit-bashing a couple of Gunderson double door boxcars as outlined in Bob Rivard's article in the July 2014 edition of MRH. Here's a link to the article: http://mrhpub.com/2014-07-jul/land/#94. The side ladders w were removed and new ones made from Details Associated ladders. The doors on the SP&S car were cut off and new ones were scratch-built. This seemed easier than trying to remove the tack boards that were on the Superior doors I had in the scrap box. The photo below shows the BN car in the decal shop along with a couple more coal cars.

The next photo shows the progress on the SP&S car. I'm waiting for the door hardware to arrive and the cut levers still have to be added.

It's been a long time since I kit-bashed a car like this and it has been a blast. I'd forgotten how much fun and how rewarding projects like this can be.

And last up, I'm finally getting around to finishing the caboose service tracks at North Pierce. The shot below shows what I believe will be the final placement of the old coal storage shed, the trailer and the fuel oil tank. Other details such as line poles, lights, ladders, etc. are currently under construction. I plan to finish the scenery in this area of the yard as well.

And the last shot shows the coal shed after its trip through the paint shop this morning. It was scratch-built according to standard C&O plans. I had one here previously but it ended up next to BA Cabin at the west end of the yard at Nelsonville.

As long as the Evergreen board and batten siding is out, I may as well build the tool shed that will be located at Nelsonville. But that's a topic for another post.

Monday, September 14, 2015

West End of Nelsonville

The scenery around the west end of Nelsonville is finally complete. Well, almost. There's still a little work to be done around the pulpwood unloading area, but for the most part, the scenery work here is finished. In the photo below, you can see the signals that are now controlling the west end of Nelsonville Yard.

Signal are now operational from here to Petersburg Junction west of Big Chimney. In the next photo, we see the Summit Springs Shifter as it begins the climb up the two percent grade to Summit Springs.

Last up, we catch a glimpse of the cab on the back end of COXL 351 as it heads up the hill toward Summit Springs.

If you take a look at the free layout tour of the Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie on TrainMasters.TV (http://trainmasters.tv/videos/tmtv-2013-11-act-iib), you can see all of the structures and scenery that has been added since the video was shot. It's fun sometimes to look back and see what progress has been made.