The Year 2008 in Review
Wow, it is hard to believe 2008 has come and gone, and this posting is the
first updated I've made to the web site in over a year. The year 2008 was full
of challenges for me, and other priorities often took precedence over model
railroading. I also did a lot traveling in 2008. Fortunately, the travel was all
railroad related for railfanning, attending model railroad conventions, and
visiting with model railroad friends. And, while I did find time to work
on the railroad, much of the progress either was not very visually apparent or I
simply ran out of time to try to post to the web site.
The last progress report posted to this web site (08/19/2007
Progress Report) was made on 12/27/2007 and showed the start of some scenery
in the Pearson Curve area. I had hoped to do more scenery in 2008, but I ended
up working instead primarily on projects which directly impacted the operations
of the railroad.
One major project was the completion of the classification yard at North
Salem. I started working on this project in late November 2007 and completed the
yard in late February 2008, barely in time for our March operating session.
Learning from experience on the previous version of the Shenandoah Division, I
had delayed construction of the classification yard until after getting the rest
of the layout operational. Because I enjoy yard operations and because I wanted
to see the layout reach its full operating potential, I worked hard to get this
yard in service.
In 2008 I continued with another ongoing effort to improve the reliability of
operating sessions by improving the operating characteristics of the rolling
stock on the railroad. I've continue to build resistive wheelsets, with the
eventual goal of having at least one resistor-equipped wheelset on each car on
the railroad. Currently, I have about 42% of the cars on the railroad equipped
with resistive wheelsets. I've also worked on body mounting Micro-Trains
couplers on rolling stock, and a big thanks goes to Larry, one of my operating
crew members, for providing a lot of help with body mounting couplers.
Another big project this year was the installation of more prototypical signals
to replace the Digitrax test mast signals I had previously installed while
waiting for appropriate signals in N scale. One of my crew members alerted me to
the signals manufactured by South Bend Signal
Company. After ordering a test sample and installing it, I decided to
proceed with the replacement of the Digitrax test mast signals on the entire
portion of the railroad under TCS control (from MC Cabin to the north end of
Covington). I worked on this project as time and finances allowed in several
phases from late March 2008 through late September 2008.
Operations have continued to be a focus for me on the Shenandoah Division. I
hosted operating sessions in January, March, May, July, and November. We took
September off this year as a result of a travel conflict. A couple of model
railroad friends from Colorado and Utah attended the May session.
I've spent a lot of time this year refining the operating procedures on the
Shenandoah Division. Making these changes has occupied a lot of model
railroading time this year, but I think all the changes are positive. I've also
spent a fair amount of time this year working on configuring the switchlist
software I'm using to run the railroad the way I want. There has definitely been
a learning curve associated with this software package, but I think I'm getting
close to having it all set up to my satisfaction. Spending the time working to
configure the switchlist software often chewed up computer time I would have
otherwise used to update this web site.
Towards the end of the year I decided I'd spent enough time working on the
computer for the railroad and I needed to start scenery to avoid losing what is
left of my sanity. I worked on staining tunnel portals and liners, and then I
began installing the portals and liners at various tunnels around the railroad.
I've also started painting track and applying ballast at the tunnel portal
locations before the installation of the plaster makes access the track
difficult for this work.
Before proceeding with scenery, I decided to repair several seams in the
backdrop where I had installed the 1/8" hardboard too tightly and the seam had
cracked. I had to remove several backdrop sections and reduce the length of them
before reinstalling them. Once I completed the installation of them, Cherie has
graciously applied "Fast and Final" spackling to the joints, sanded them, and
repainted the affected areas with Glidden Azure Afternoon paint.
We also decided to apply some rounded backdrop overlays to deal with some
problem areas. We used Strathmore 400 Bristol board to round off the backdrop
ends at three peninsula locations (Wall Curve, Catawba Tunnel, and MC Cabin). We
also applied this same board (a thick paper product found locally at Michael's
Arts & Crafts) to create an inside corner at SN Cabin. With the backdrop work
nearing completion, I'm looking forward to continuing with additional scenery
Looking ahead to 2009, I hope the pace of the year will be a little less
challenging so I have more time and energy for model railroading. I have several
areas on the layout where I want to install rough scenery. I also want add body
mounted couplers and resistive wheelsets to more of my rolling stock. Continuing
with changes to the CATS dispatcher panel software and with switchlist software
configuration will enhance operations. Installation of the track and wiring for
the Salem Shops at North Salem Yard as well as wiring the industries in North
Salem and Salem will bring most track and wiring work to completion. And, of
course, I'm looking forward to continuing to operate the CSXT Shenandoah
Division as we bring my vision to reality several times each year.