12/31/2008 Progress Report
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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 work.

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.

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


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