Engine Terminal

Engine Terminal
EB-16 passes SJ Cabin as it heads east out of Hollister Yard.

Monday, March 30, 2020

CWE Cab Ride

As I mentioned in a previous post, Greg McComas stopped by last month for a visit. He brought along his GoPro camera and we shot a cab ride on the railroad. It begins at the engine terminal in Nelsonville and wraps up at the west end of North Pierce. Greg kindly loaded the video up to his YouTube channel so that I could post a link here.


Enjoy the ride, and thanks again, Greg!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Finishing Stuff- Part 4

Progress continues to be made on all of the projects that were listed back in parts 1 and 3 of the Finishing Stuff series of posts. The two pulpwood flats that were kitbashed from old Athearn Blue Box gondolas and Tichy pulpwood flat ends have been completed. The photos below show the two cars.

The inspiration for these cars came from a C&O Historical Society magazine article on gons that were converted to pulpwood flats. The photo below shows the cars in revenue service during the most recent op session.

The Moloco SAL Fruit Growers Express car has finally been finished. It was weathered with artist's acrylics and Pan Pastels.

The roof of this car was weathered based upon the photo below by Richard Jahn.

And one of the home road covered hopper cars is finally getting weathered. I've used artist's oils and water soluble oils so far. 

With a lot of additional time on my hands now, I've started several other projects. There is a Bowser Alco C628 in the paint shop that will be decorated for the home road. It will paired with a LV C628 that is in the paint shop to be weathered. And of course, there are still plenty of freight car kits to build. It's times like these that make me extremely grateful for the wonderful hobby of model railroading.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Bartizek Brake

When I originally drew up the track plan for the railroad, I had absolutely no operating experience. I had read a great deal about track planning for operation, though, including John Armstrong's legendary book. Fortunately, most of what I had laid out originally works pretty well and what didn't I was able to change without much trouble. Except maybe the original west end staging...

One of the design issues that became apparent once I began operating was the grade in the yard at Nelsonville. The entire yard is on a grade of about 1.25% westbound. While this didn't seem like a lot during the planning phase, it's just enough to make it difficult for certain locomotives to push long cuts of cars up the tracks. And with advent of extremely free rolling wheelsets, holding cars on the grade has become a challenge. The solution to the lack of power was to replace the aging SW1200's with a GP7. The solution to holding cars on the grade is the Bartizek Brake.

My good friend Bob Bartizek is the owner and superintendent of the Pennsylvania & Western, a beautiful 3-rail, O-scale layout depicting the Pennsylvania Railroad in the early 1950's. Bob recently replaced a large number of his hopper cars with more accurate, and more free-rolling, models. And during a recent operating session, it became apparent that these cars weren't inclined to stay spotted at any location that had even the slightest grade. So Bob began to think of a way to make "brakes" to hold them in place. He discarded all of the usual ideas for various reasons. Then he hit upon the perfect solution- a small dab of ACC on top of the rail. A small blob is just enough to hold the car but not enough to impair movement over the track. And it's clear, so it's almost impossible to see. But most importantly, it's virtually maintenance free!

So armed with Bob's great idea, I finally had a solution to the brake problem at Nelsonville. The photo below shows the small dab of ACC on the rail near the west end of the yard.

Note the ties plates- the small blob is right above them. The tie plates will help the crews identify their locations (it's almost impossible to see them!). And there are "brakes" on one rail on each of the yard tracks and the siding at this location.

The next photo shows the brakes at mid-yard. A small piece of tie identifies the location of these brakes.

And the last brake is on the track near the east end of the yard. Once again, tie plates show the location.

These brakes are just a really great idea. No mess, no fuss, nothing to operate, easily replaced, almost invisible and work as advertised. Thanks, Bob! 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

MCTR 728

Earlier this week, Greg McComas stopped by for a visit. He was in town for business and had some extra time, so we got together for some photo ops. More to come on that later.

Greg is the creator of the Michigan Interstate St. Clair subdivision and you can find his blog here: https://michiganinterstatemodelrr.blogspot.com/. More recently, he has been posting updates to Facebook on the Michigan Interstate St. Clair Subdivision page. He has done a wonderful job of creating the backstory for his railroad and he is quite an accomplished modeler. As we both are followers of the proto-freelanced movement, we have been trading information and discussing possible run through connections for some time now. The fact that Greg models today's railroading environment has given us both the opportunity to model the other's railroad in a different timeframe. And I have mentioned in the past that there would be a MCIS car on the railroad some day.

Well, that day has finally come. Greg brought MCTR 728 to the CWE to be included in grain service. The Michigan Interstate was formed in 1976 when the Penn Central divested a number of branch lines in Michigan as part of the formation of Conrail. MCTR 728 was number 28 of 250 covered hopper cars that were transferred from Penn Central to the Michigan Interstate.

As you would expect from Greg, the car has a detailed history. Here's the summary from his FB page:

Project Seventy Sixer wrapping up.
MCTR 728 (PS 4750)
- Car built by Pullman Standard for NYC in 68’
- Car kept original NYC marks into PC era
- 28th of 250 various NYC, PC, and PCB marked LO hoppers (MCTR 700-950) that came with PC line sale of fictional subsidiary St. Clair Western
- Remarked MCTR denoting Lakes Interstate Transportation Group (Parent company of Michigan Interstate Railway which becomes Michigan Interstate Railroad in 1985).
You can even see where on the car the foreman marked in grease pencil “28 of 250”

Greg did a beautiful job on the weathering and the patch job just looks great. Here's one last look as the car travels east at Summit Springs on GE-8 headed for Hunter's Bay, VA.

Thanks again for the nice gift, Greg- it was very kind of you. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

A Special Flatcar

This past December, Patrick Tillery stopped by to see the railroad. He was in town to visit family and we had a nice chat about coal haulers, the Short Line, and railroad modeling in general. Patrick is a close friend of Stuart Thayer, one of the founding members of the CWE operating group, and Stuart helped arrange the visit. Patrick is also a very fine modeler and you can see some of his work here on the Appalachian Railroad Modeling website: https://appalachianrailroadmodeling.com/models/ln-models/.

Fast forward to last week and a package arrives in the mail. In the box is a fully assembled Tichy pulpwood flat. It even has the plate for the ACI label and the plates on the bulkheads for the end reporting marks. All of the features that you would expect to find on one of the CWE pulpwood flats are included as you can see in the photo below.

The car is Patrick's work and it is beautifully done. Next up is decals and weathering, and then it's on to work on the railroad.

Thanks again for the nice gift, Patrick.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

No.'s 149 and 150

Back in November of 2013, I posted about a renewed effort to get more hopper cars on the railroad. You can view the post here: https://cwerailroad.blogspot.com/2013/11/a-renewed-effort.html. As I've commented before, coal hauling railroads just seem to eat coal cars. There are never enough and you can always use more than you have. Combine this with the fact that each one must be painted, lettered and weathered before entering service and it's enough to make one abandoned the proto-freelance concept for some railroad with a plentiful supply of RTR cars.

Then in February of 2014, I made a post about the 99th and 100th hopper cars that were added to the fleet. You can see that post here: https://cwerailroad.blogspot.com/2014/02/nos-99-and-100.html. Since then, another 50 cars have been added to the roster. The photo below shows numbers 149 and 150. 

This total doesn't include the eight Train Miniature cars or the two Athearn quad hoppers that were retired during this period. It also doesn't include the 10 Ortner cars that have been painted and lettered for the home road or the 18 DEEX cars that were weathered and placed in service. 

It often seems to me like I'm not making much progress towards adding rolling stock to the railroad. Perhaps it's because most of what has been built has gotten lost in the never ending sea of hopper cars...

Monday, January 27, 2020

Bring on the rolling stock!

The final tracks have been laid in the west end staging yard. All of the Tortoise switch machines are in and hooked up and feeders have been run to all of the tracks. The photo below shows the results.

There are twelve tracks capable of holding trains and a shorter track that can be used to store protection power. The LV 628 and EL SD45-2 in the background are sitting on track 13.

Changes have also been made to the east end staging yard in anticipation of future expansion out into the crew lounge. The biggest change was removing a section of the upper staging yard that was over the ladder for the lower yard. The picture below shows the results.

It occurred to me that I would never be able to get to those turnouts when they need some tweaking with the upper staging yard built over them. And they will need some attention at some point- I've already learned that lesson. The expansion plan calls for the upper staging yard to be approached from the other end, so there will be plenty of room to make up for the lost section above. The upper yard could also have the ladder start at the west end above as there is room along the far wall to extend the shelving.

Another addition to the east end staging yard can be seen above- an LED strip. During the last op session, Randy Seiler suggested adding some LED's in order to improve visibility. He was kind enough to give me a 4' section and the results can be seen below.

Given the intensity of the light, it's almost impossible to get a good shot with a cell phone camera. But suffice it to say that the strip will provide more than enough light for the crews to see their trains. Thanks again for the tip and the strip, Randy.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

US&S T-21 Switch and Lock Movement

At the end of last month, Mike Burgett posted pictures of a switch stand he recently added to his beautiful C&O's Alleghany and James River Subdivision. But this wasn't just any switch stand- it's a model of a specific Union Switch & Signal hand throw switch mechanism for an electrically locked, hand operated switch used by the C&O in CTC territory from the mid-1940's right up through CSX. As Mike describes it "a US&S style T-21 switch and lock movement equipped with a SL-21a force drop electric switch." It's available from Shapeways and is exactly what I need for a number of locations so, of course, I had to order a bunch.

These switch stands are used in locations where the dispatcher controls the locking mechanism but the turnout must be thrown in the field. Turnout 361 to the spur at Logan is one such location and the photo below shows the lock on the dispatcher's panel.

The photo below shows the mechanism installed at the turnout.

Crews working BC-10/11, the local to Big Chimney and back from North Pierce, have to call the dispatcher to unlock the turnout to the spur at Logan. Once their work is complete, they need to inform the dispatcher that the turnout is lined for the main and ready to be locked back up. If they leave without lining the turnout for the main, the dispatcher won't be able to lock it up. And when the turnout is unlocked, the dispatcher can't line a route into Logan from either direction.

The photo below shows the mechanism installed at the west end of the short passing siding at Summit Springs. Both ends of the passing siding are electronically locked, and the crews working either mine at Summit Springs must call to get them unlocked.

The last example is the crossover at North Pierce from the main into the yard. 

Crews will now be able to distinguish between dual control turnouts and electronically locked, hand operated turnouts simply by looking the switch stand. A big thanks to Mike Burgett for the heads up on these.