Engine Terminal

Engine Terminal
EB-14 drifts into the siding at Big Chimney, WV.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

FPS 1218

After the op session yesterday, I took a quick look around the railroad. Everything seemed to be in order, which is very strange given the crew that participated. But upon closer inspection this morning, not everything was as it should be.

It seems some Forest Park Southern MOW equipment was delivered to Big Chimney along with the load of ties that was spotted on the team track. Tucked in next to the speeders by the old station is what you see in the photo below.






























FPS 1218 has arrived to help out the MOW crews with any heavy lifting that needs to be done in the area.

The photo below shows a better view of the 1218.






























This fine piece of equipment is the work of regular crew member Anthony Hardy. Another CWE regular, Bill Doll of Forest Park Southern fame, had asked operators to bring gifts to him for his last operating session. Always the kind soul that he is, Anthony painted and lettered the prototypically decorated piece of equipment you see in the picture above. Note the attention to detail- the headlight, the appropriate reporting marks, dimensional data, etc. It's hard to believe that Bill would have actually parted with this nice gift. Then again...

Over the years, the railroad has been the victim of mysterious campfires, wondering chickens, a horse car, and now, a special piece of MOW equipment. And it's a pretty safe bet that this fine piece of equipment has just begun its journey across the railroads of the Golden Lamb Association.  

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Declaring Victory

As of this morning, I am declaring victory in the campaign to build an operating replica of a Union Switch and Signal CTC panel for the railroad. The last few remaining pieces of hardware were installed last night and configured this morning. The photo below shows the results.






























And here's one last look behind the scenes.






























There are still a few signals to place in service and a switch lock to install at the west end of North Pierce, but the panel is complete. This project is a dream-come-true for me. And it wouldn't have been possible without the help of many individuals, including Bill Ford, Randy Seiler, David Stewart, Mike Burgett, and all the others who have written articles about signalling and dispatcher's panels in the past. But most importantly, this would never have happened without the guidance and direction of Gerry Albers. In addition to providing his Signals By Spreadsheet product, he was instrumental in helping me learn how to actually make this all work. I am eternally grateful for his inspiration, friendship and patience. I am truly blessed to have met him, along with all the other fine people who have become great friends through this wonderful hobby of ours.

Now it's back to building more rolling stock and locos!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

And yet more staging...

As I mentioned in the last post about the dispatcher's panel, the introduction of CTC on the railroad provides the opportunity to run a lot more trains in any given period of time. And of course, more trains require more staging. So I spent the past week finishing the four turnouts on the west end and putting in some new tracks. The photo below shows the results.







































The new turnouts (on the left) will provide another five tracks for the west end. I also added the track on the far right. This is a stub track that ends a short distance after it disappears around the corner. It will be used to store power and possibly a work train. The tortoises these tracks won't be wired up until all of the toggle switches on the west end panel are replaced with pushbuttons. And that's the next big project. 

Speaking of storing power, the first occupants of the track on the far right will be the LV C628 and EL SD45-2 that appear in the left of the photo. These two units will be protection power for now. Someday, the EL unit will be weathered and will be run-thru power and the LV unit may end up in CWE colors. Or maybe a CR patch-out. Time will tell.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Panel- one year in

It was almost one year ago to the day that the steel panel arrived. Before me was the daunting task of transforming it from what you see in the picture below into a functioning CTC panel. 































To be perfectly honest, I was a bit overwhelmed. There was so much to figure out, from the hardware to be used to the electrical wiring to the paint color. And I had never tackled a project like this before. Fortunately for me, there are others who have, like Gerry Albers and David Stewart, and they were more than willing to offer help and advice. 

So after a year of working on this thing, where are we? Well, the photo below shows how it appears today.






























And here's a look at where all of the magic happens.






























So the railroad is now under CTC control from SJ Cabin at the east end of Hollister Yard in North Pierce all the way to New Market, VA (east staging). All that remains to be done is the signal bridge at the west end of Hollister Yard and the eastbound signal just west of North Pierce. Yes- the end is in sight.

The new signals at the east end of Hollister Yard include the cantilevered bridge pictured below. These two signals control the main and siding eastbound at SJ Cabin.






























As this bridge is right next to an area where the yardmaster is usually working, I installed a piece of Plexiglas to protect it from wayward forearms and elbows.

Also part of the CP at SJ Cabin is the dwarf at the east end of the yard lead.






























And the last piece of the plant is the westbound signal at the entrance to the yard. This signal controls the main and the siding to the west of the turnout in the photo below in addition to the entrance to the yard.






























During the last session, CTC was in place from east staging all the way to Petersburg Junction, which is just east of the signal above. As I suspected, the pace of trains over the road picked up significantly using CTC versus the old method of track warrants. It's clear that we'll need more overhead trains in order to keep the crews busy while giving the yards enough time to do their work. Which means more locos, freight cars and cabooses are needed! And that was the plan all along.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Another Retirement

Another old warrior has been retired from the railroad. CWE 1542 has officially been stricken from the roster and will take its place in the display case (yet to be built). The photo below shows the loco on the yard lead at the west end of Hollister Yard.


























It is shown in its usual assignment between F7A's 1564 and 1562 which are regularly used in local/mine run service.

I am fairly certain that this engine was the first one ever painted in CWE colors back around 1980 or so. As is obvious from the photo, it's an old Athearn Blue Box GP7/9. I replaced most of the cast-on details and added new handrails fashioned from brass wire. Other changes and upgrades were made over the years.The story of the paint scheme and numbering change appeared in the July 2016 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.

In its place is GP7 1524 which is a Proto 2000 unit. The unit is shown below at Big Chimney. 

































While I had always intended to replace 1542, I never imagined it would soldier on until 2019! Given all the runs its made on the Sand Fork Shifter, the Elwater Branch Roustabout and the Big Chimney Roustabout, it's certainly earned its retirement.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Freight Car Fail

Over the last 30+ years or so, I've probably painted and decaled over 200 cars and locomotives. Most of these have turned out pretty well. So one would think that I have developed a bit of knowledge about what works and what doesn't when spray painting rolling stock and applying decals. While that might be true, it certainly doesn't mean that I've remembered everything I've learned.

Last fall, I purchased some the of the beautiful Fruit Growers Express decals that Dan Kohlberg is producing. He makes a wide range of decals for 1960's to 1980's freight cars, primarily for mid-western roads. Here's a link to his website: http://paducah.home.mindspring.com/. My plan was to build one of the old Details West FGE kits and letter it for a CWE FGE car. The DW kit was lettered for the L&N but was missing the end lettering, a common trait of car kits from that era. Also, the car color seemed to be too light, especially compared to photos I've found and the more recent run of Athearn FGE cars. So that was it- this car would become a CWE FGE car.

A quick check of the paint rack revealed that Tru Color C&O/B&O Yellow was a very close match for the recent Athearn FGE cars. I had replaced the stirrup steps and added cut levers to two of these cars, and I painted them using the Tru Color C&O/B&O Yellow. So it was off to the paint both with the DW car.

After going back and forth over the car with my airbrush for about two hours, it became apparent that covering the black lettering with the yellow paint was going to be a challenge. Not to be deterred, I continued spraying for what seemed like another two hours. Finally, the black lettering was covered. And the finish on the car had the texture of 120 grit sandpaper. Sigh...

So I had another bright idea- give the car a good covering of Testor's Glosscote. I've never had any success fixing a rough finish like this in the past, but I'm sure it might be different this time. Sure. And after a week spent curing in the paint shop, the finish looked nice and shiny but it was still rough as could be. That's it- I give. Uncle. You win. It's off to the bath of 90% isopropyl alcohol for you!!!!

The photo below shows the car recovering on the workbench. Of course, all of the ladders came off in the alcohol bath and now have to be reapplied.






























And to insure that I don't make the same mistake again, I made a little note and posted it above the spray both- see below.






























Now if I can just remember to read the note before I start spraying paint...