01/08/2005 Progress Report
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Progress Continues on the Shenandoah Division

The fall and holiday season each year is always incredibly busy 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. And, of course, I haven't updated this web site in a while either--when my spare time gets really constrained, I'd rather spend it working on the layout instead of sitting at the computer and updating this site. ;-)

Even when there aren't "regular" updates to the web site, construction progress towards the first operating session continues to be made, albeit slowly.  Many of the current construction tasks are tedious items when they have to be done in large quantities on a layout this size, and they don't always have readily visible results. Nonetheless, these items must be finished before operations can commence. Most of the visible progress shown in this report includes the installation of more backdrop and fascia sections since the 11/09/2004 Progress Report.


Track Crews Install Slide Switch Turnout Controls and Industrial Trackage

CSXT track crews held a "blitz" to install all remaining slide switch turnout controls in North Salem and Salem, Va. so the signal maintainers could finish their work in this area. All the Atlas code 55 turnouts installed on the layout now have a slide switch turnout control to hold the points in position and to power the frog. The track crews installed additional turnouts and some trackage at the industries in Salem in order to finish the installation of the slide switch turnout controls.


Signal Maintainers Activate Trackage

CSXT signal maintainers have continued activating Shenandoah Division trackage. They have wired all the slide switch turnout controls which have been installed so far on the entire layout, including detection resistors where appropriate. The detection resistors have been installed on non-signaled turnouts so the dispatcher will get an occupancy indication (once the dispatching software is installed, of course) if the turnout is lined for a main track or passing siding route.

The signal maintainers also built and installed control panels for the staging yards at Connellsville/Winchester, Wadesboro, and NS Charleston. These control panels were created in Microsoft Publisher and printed on photo paper. The photo paper was then glued to .020" styrene, and a piece of .010" clear styrene was attached to protect the panel. The panels were then placed on the hardboard fascia, and holes were drilled for toggle switches to turn the power off for each staging track. The SPST toggle switches were installed and wired, and each track was tested for successful operation.

The CSXT signal maintainers have also installed the two LocoNet Fast Clocks in preparation for operating session. One fast clock was installed on either side of the short wall above Pearson Curve (on the upper level), as crew feedback indicated these positions would allow everyone to see one of the clocks during an operating session.

Finally, the signal maintainers moved the Digitrax UR91 radio receiver from its temporary location underneath Catawba to a more central location under SN Cabin at North Salem, Va.


Backdrop and Fascia

Several recent work sessions (both by myself and with others in the work crew) have resulted in the completion of the installation of backdrop sections on the railroad. All the backdrop sections of hardboard have been installed, and most of it has had the joints and screw heads filled with joint compound and sanded. Almost all of these sections have received the final coat of blue paint as well.

In addition, I installed all the remaining fascia on the upper level over the first weekend of December. I also installed some additional wood bracing in a few places to better support the fascia. Having the fascia installed helps provide a more finished look to the railroad. In addition, with the installation of all the fascia, throttle holders and car card boxes can be installed. I've also cut initial scenery contours into the fascia which helps to visualize how scenes on the railroad will appear once scenery is started.

Cherie also has been helping out tremendously by working on backdrop and fascia sections. She has painted all the 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. And, she has almost finished applying the final coat of blue paint to the backdrops.

NS Roanoke Yard

Not to be outdone by the CSXT crews, Norfolk Southern released a track crew and signal maintainers to install the NS Roanoke Yard. Track crews have laid all the turnouts and track in this yard. The signal maintainers have installed all the track feeders in preparation for final wiring to activate the trackage at Roanoke.


Safety Barriers

Several members of the construction crew have helped install "safety barriers" over the entire layout since the last progress report. These barriers are strips of white poster board attached to the sides of the subroadbed with double stick tape. The barriers serve to prevent equipment from falling to the floor in case of a derailment, wreck, or bumping of the benchwork. The barriers are a temporary measure until the initial plaster scenery is created in the open areas of the benchwork. Having these barriers in place is a prerequisite before commencing operations.


Rolling Stock Arrives at Connellsville/Winchester

With most of the "heavy" construction completed, CSXT management authorized the Operations and Traffic departments to begin staging rolling stock on the layout. Rolling stock is beginning to come out of storage and be placed in the Connellsville/Winchester staging yard in preparation for the return of operations to the Shenandoah Division.


Future Plans

There are a myriad of projects to complete before the first operating session, but CSXT management is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The focus for the early part of 2005 is to continue to return rolling stock and locomotives into service and to begin preparations for the first "real" operating session.


Photos of Progress as of December 6, 2004

Newly installed fascia and backdrop sections on the upper level between Carpenter, Va. and Covington, Va. along with newly installed backdrop sections on the lower level at North Salem, Va. The light blue backdrop sections were salvaged from the first version of the Shenandoah Division and are being reused on the current layout. They will be painted the darker blue which is the new standard sky color for the Shenandoah Division.


Overall view of Carpenter, Va. on the upper level and North Salem, Va. on the lower level.


New fascia at Pearson Curve on the upper level. The backdrop installation is progressing north of SN Cabin in North Salem on the lower level.


Another view of the fascia at Pearson Curve on the upper level. The fascia has been contoured in an effort to evoke the image of Helmstetters Curve on the Western Maryland.


Another view of Pearson Curve. Again, the light blue section of fascia is a salvaged backdrop section from the original layout and will be repainted green.


Overall view of fascia and backdrop installation at Catawba on the lower level, and Shenandoah Junction, High Meadow, and Ridgemont on the upper level.


Close-up view of the fascia at High Meadow. Mud Run Tunnel will be behind the left-hand section of unpainted brown fascia, with the cut at High Meadow located behind the right-hand section of brown fascia.


Overall view of the scenic dividers which will help hide the NS Charleston staging yard behind the CSXT Shenandoah Division mainline.


Newly installed fascia looking downgrade from Mud Run Tunnel to Shenandoah Junction, Va.


View of the fascia and backdrop at Ridgemont, looking downgrade from the south end of the passing siding towards the north end.


Another view of the fascia at Ridgemont on the upper level.


Newly installed fascia at the north end of Ridgemont leading towards Pearson Curve.


Photos of Progress as of January 8, 2005

The track and turnouts have been completed in the Norfolk Southern Roanoke staging yard. Feeders have been installed, and toggle switches have been temporarily connected awaiting the installation of fascia and a control panel.


A view of the rest of the NS Roanoke yard (on the left).


Overall view of the staging yard aisle. Rolling stock and locomotives are starting to be placed in the Connellsville/Winchester staging yard in preparation for the first operating session later in 2005. The NS Roanoke yard is on the right.


Overall view of the Salem aisle showing the current state of fascia and backdrop. Throttle holders for the Digitrax throttles have been installed now that the fascia has been installed and painted.


Another view of the Salem aisle looking towards Pearson Curve in the distance. This view shows the current progress of backdrop and fascia sections.


Pearson Curve on the upper level.


Another view of the Pearson Curve on the upper level. MC Cabin is on the left-hand side of the peninsula on the lower level.


Overall view of the Abbott/Laurel aisle showing the backdrop sections and fascia there. Additional sanding of joint compound and application of the final coat of paint still needs to be done to the backdrop sections in this aisle.


A view 180 degrees from the previous picture showing the fascia at Wall Curve on the upper level at the left-hand side of the photo, with the high ridge side of Pearson Curve straight ahead.


A view of the fascia at the Laurel end of Wall Curve on the upper level.


A view of the fascia at the Shenandoah Junction end of Wall Curve on the upper level.


Overall view of the Catawba aisle showing the completed fascia and backdrop sections.


A close-up view of the fascia at High Meadow and the south end of Ridgemont.


This photo shows the scenic divider I installed at the front side of the Norfolk Southern Charleston staging yard. Eventually, scenery will rise from the back side of the CSXT subroadbed in the foreground to the top of the scenic divider, hiding the NS staging yard from view but still allowing access to it both from above and through the slots cut in the rear two pieces of hardboard.


Another view of the Catawba aisle looking towards the north end of Ridgemont on the upper level and Hanging Rock (at the rear) on the lower level.


Connellsville/Winchester staging yard control panel.


Wadesboro staging yard control panel.


Norfolk Southern Charleston staging yard control panel..


Fast clock located above Pearson Curve on the north end of the curve (towards Carpenter). This clock is visible from the Salem aisle and the staging aisle.


Fast clock located above Pearson Curve on the south end of the curve (towards Ridgemont). This clock is visible from the Catawba, Abbott, and New Castle aisles.


A broader view of the fast clock showing its placement above Pearson Curve relative to the opening between the two rooms of the layout.



Close-up view of the one of the throttle holders for the Digitrax throttles.


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


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