Engine Terminal

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


The two cabooses that I mentioned in the last post are now in service. The photos below show them awaiting their next assignment on the caboose service track at North Pierce.

Both of these are in pool service and so are available for the next road train. The caboose to the left is in dedicated mine run service out of Hollister Yard.

One of these cabooses will replace the N&W caboose on NW-17/18 which is the transfer run that comes in to Nelsonville from the Wilson Bridge Branch. There are major changes in order for this train, including the elimination of the N&W caboose and the six N&W hopper cars that get spotted at the tipple in Nelsonville. But that's the topic of another post- stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Back at it- again

First, I apologize for the lack of posts over the last few months. My wife and I bought a sailboat in June and we have spent almost all of our time learning everything about it and sailing in general. Second, while there haven't been any recent posts, that doesn't mean that work hasn't been progressing on the railroad, albeit at a slower pace than usual. I have had a chance to push a few projects along, and here's a quick look at some of them.

After the last op session in May, I installed short circuit protection using 1156 tail light bulbs. I know, I know- I should have done this years ago. The photo below shows one of the bulbs inconspicuously installed in the fascia. However, once a short occurs, it becomes pretty obvious as can be seen in the second photo.

There are now eight separate power districts on the line from Logan east to Nelsonville. This should help alleviate the occasional issue with crews running switches and shorting this section of railroad. Next up will be short protection for Hollister Yard.

Two Atlas wide vision cabooses have been painted and lettered and are awaiting final weathering. Several windows in each have been blanked or filled in to represent the Class C6A cabooses that were acquired by the railroad in January of 1967.

And three of the new Walthers wide vision cabooses have been stripped and are under construction. By the time I ordered these, the undecorated versions were long gone. So I purchased the ones in the Chessie System livery and used 91% isopropyl alcohol to remove the paint. These three will be Class C8 and will be the newest cabooses on the railroad.

So that's all for now- thanks for hanging around!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

CTC Complete!

This past week, I finished the last signal bridge on the North Pierce Subdivision. With the installation of the signals controlling the west end of North Pierce, the railroad is now fully under CTC control. 

Oddly enough, the first signals ever placed on the railroad were located here. The photo below shows the original signal bridge.

Yep- that's a kitbashed Bachman bridge. Unfortunately, I built it long before I learned about the prototype practices of the C&O. As a result, the LED's were in the wrong positions in the targets. There were several other aspects of the bridge that I never liked, so I vowed to replace it at some point.

The new bridge is an Oregon Rail Supply kit that was modified to fit the location. There are still some final details to be added and scenery to touch up, but the basic bridge is in place and operational. 

It's been a long, long journey to get to this point, but the CTC project is finally complete. And operating the railroad with the dispatcher's panel is everything I had ever hoped it would be. A dream come true indeed!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

FPS 1218 is on the move!

FPS 1218 was spotted earlier this week in Henderson, CO on the Denver Pacific Division of the Union Pacific.

With all of the problems that this railroad suffers on a daily basis, it's unlikely that Big El will move on any time soon. 

Actually, this is Jim Rollwage's railroad and it was featured in the January 2014 edition of TrainMasters TV. The scenery is absolutely beautiful, as is evident in this picture, and it runs even better.

So how long do we think it will take Jim to find Big El?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Push-button Finale

So the dreaded West Staging panel has finally been replaced and the toggle switch replacement project is complete. This was the last panel to be converted and I'm glad to finally have this done! The photo below shows the panel prior to conversion.

While I thought the layout was pretty clear, crews often got confused at to which toggle switch they needed to get a route lined to a particular track in the yard. Once I started misrouting trains on a fairly regular basis, I knew something had to be done.

The photo below shows the new panel with push-button routing. All you need to do is push the button for the track you want, turn on the track power, and everything will work just fine. I hope. 

So now every panel on the railroad has been replaced with push-button controls. And once the last signal bridge in North Pierce is in place, the conversion to full CTC and Signals By Spreadsheet route control and signaling will be complete. For now.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Freight Car Friday 2

In this installment of Freight Car Friday, we'll look at N&W 160578. This was the first real kit-bash project I ever undertook and it was based upon two articles by Jim Eager in Railroad Model Craftsman in the early 1980's. In the November 1980 issue, Jim described how to modify the ends of the old Athearn plug-door boxcar to more closely resemble the ACF Precision Design plug-door car. He also detailed how to remove the rivets and replace them with weld seams. In the may 1981 issue, he went on to describe how to kit-bash a group of double door cars. I followed Jim's instructions to the letter.

There were two significant modifications to the N&W car. The first was the addition of the second plug-door. Jim described how to narrow an Athearn door that had been removed from another project from 8' -0" to 7' -0". The second big change was the addition of the reinforcement plates next to the doors. These were cut from .005 clear sheet styrene and glued in place. The door tracks were extended with pieces of styrene. The photo below shows the modifications to the sides.

The modifications to the ends can be seen in the photo below.

This car was completed sometime before 1983 and I'm not sure what I used as a reference for the car color. The photos in the article were black and white. I mixed up the N&W blue from Floquil paint that I had on hand and lettered the car with Microscale decals. I also weathered the car using thinned Floquil and lacquer thinner. I'm surprised it turned out as well as it did. I originally thought I had overdone the weathering, but I now think it fits in pretty well with the rest of the fleet. I may go back at some point and re-weather the trucks, but for now, the car just keeps racking up the miles on the railroad.

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.