11/09/2004 Progress Report
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Progress Continues on the Shenandoah Division

Every year the fall season seems to be busier than the previous year for me. This year has been no exception, and with all the non-model railroad activities of the fall, progress on the Shenandoah Division has not been as rapid nor as consistent as I would like. However, there is some progress, albeit slow, which has been accomplished since the 09/15/2004 Progress Report, including the first "test" operating session on the new layout, additional wiring, and the installation of more backdrop and fascia sections.

Test Operating Session on September 18, 2004

The biggest news since the last progress report is that the first ever "operating session" was held on the new CSXT Shenandoah Division. At the conclusion of a work session held on September 18, 2004, I decided to have a "test" operating session since there were several members of the operating crew present. I had staged 2 freight trains, a coal train, and Amtrak passenger train at various points around the railroad. Jan, Larry, Rich, and Robert ran these four trains while I acted as the dispatcher. This session was the first time we've "operated" the Shenandoah Division since April 2001, save for some test running when the mainline wiring was completed in April of this year. And, in fact, the first ever operating session on the original CSXT Shenandoah Division layout was held on September 18, 1998, so this session marked the 6 year anniversary of that session. Even though it was a "test" session, we managed to operate four trains simultaneously for the first time on this layout as a tune-up for future operations and to help start the process of fine-tuning the layout for operating reliability.

To start the "session," Jan took the T379 southbound coal train from Connellsville to Ridgemont where the SD Dispatcher had him hold since P050, Amtrak's eastbound Cardinal, was due to arrive soon from the NS at Shenandoah Junction. Meanwhile, Rich took northbound freight R698 from Wadesboro to the siding at Catawba in anticipation of P050's arrival. Larry was on the P050, and he was given permission to proceed to New Castle. Jan was then authorized to move the T379 to Laurel where he was told he'd meet two northbounds.

Shortly thereafter, Robert took the R694 northbound freight from Wadesboro to SN Cabin at the north end of double track in North Salem. With the station stop complete in New Castle, P050 was cleared by the dispatcher to the Market Street Union Station in Salem. R698 was then given permission to move from Catawba to the siding in New Castle. After P050 passed R694 at SN Cabin, Robert took R694 out of the Salem Terminal and over the road where he passed R698 at New Castle and met T379 at Laurel.

The crew of R698 had gone on the law at New Castle and tied down their train there. With no other crew members available, the SD dispatcher gave T379 permission to the yard at Wadesboro. At the same time, R694 was given permission to the north end at Connellsville. With both trains tied down in their respective terminals, this first mini-session was over. The session included 3 meets and 1 pass between trains, which I  hope started to give those crew members present some idea of the flavor of operations (and length of the mainline) once we begin "real" sessions.

Given that the railroad is not completed and that neither track nor rolling stock has been tuned yet, I was pretty pleased with the overall reliability of the initial train operation. There were a few problem areas (mainly unpowered turnout frogs), but I fully expected those, and we will start fine-tuning the layout in preparation for the commencement of "real" operations.

Of course, the company photographer was not on duty, so there are no photos of the event.


Potts Valley Railway Benchwork Finished

The crew of the Potts Valley Railway (PVRY) has finished installation of the benchwork for this short line railroad. The remainder of the work on the PVRY will likely not start until after operating sessions have begun on the main portion of the layout. However, CSXT Shenandoah Division officials had asked the PVRY crews to install the benchwork before CSXT would begin to store trains in the Connellsville/Winchester and Wadesboro staging yards.

Signal Maintainers Activate Trackage

CSXT signal maintainers have continued to activate additional trackage in the town Catawba. After having recovered from burnout resulting from the railroad-wide "blitz" during late summer and early fall, the signal maintainers have soldered approximately 25 feeders to finish the wiring in Catawba.

Backdrop and Fascia

Several recent work sessions (both by myself and with others in the work crew) have resulted in much additional backdrop and fascia being installed on the railroad. The installation of backdrop sections is complete now at Covington, and nearly complete at North Salem and Carpenter. In addition, Jan and Scott helped to build a frame for the backdrop at the end of the New Castle peninsula so the backdrop could be installed there as well. Additional fascia has been installed at Covington, Carpenter, Connellsville/Winchester, and Wadesboro.

Cherie also has been helping out since the last progress report by working on backdrop and fascia sections. She has painted additional fascia sections green. She has also been working on applying joint compound to the joints between the backdrop sections as well as covering the screws used to attach the backdrop.

Future Plans

The focus for the remainder of 2004 and into 2005 is to complete all the "heavy" construction, such as benchwork, backdrop, and fascia in addition to completing all of the wiring before starting to prepare for operating sessions.


Photos of Progress as of September 19, 2004

Overall view of the newly installed benchwork for the Potts Valley Railway on the upper level in the vicinity of Glade Springs, Va. The Norfolk Southern Roanoke Terminal (staging yard) will be located on the lower level.


Overall view of the Potts Valley Railway benchwork at Mill Ridge, Va.


Photos of Progress as of November 9, 2004

Newly installed backdrop at the north end of New Castle, Va. The darker color blue sky is the current standard on the Shenandoah Division. The lighter color sky to the right was used on the previous layout and will be repainted at some point in the future.


The back side of the backdrop frame at the end of the New Castle peninsula. Eventually, fascia will be added to cover this side of the frame. As you can see, a hole was left in the frame. This hole will be covered with a removable piece of fascia for access to Bald Knob Tunnel north of New Castle. The clamp is temporarily holding a section of backdrop in place.


Overall view of the Catawba aisle showing the progress being made on the installation of backdrop and fascia.


Newly installed fascia at the north end of Covington on the upper level.



Overall view of the Salem aisle showing progress on backdrop and fascia installation. The lighter color backdrop sections from the previous layout are being recycled for use in this layout. They will be repainted into the darker sky color at some future point. The upper level backdrop sections to the left of the window (between Carpenter and Covington) have yet to be installed.


Another view of the Salem aisle showing the backdrop sections at North Salem and Carpenter on the right hand side of the photo.


This page was last updated on 01/01/11.


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