Blog entries from August 2017 and earlier have been migrated from a former site and many of the images are incorrectly linked. These will be repaired over time.

The helix between Lewistown Junction and downtown Lewistown has been completed and made operational.

Heading east on the Lewistown Secondary, the line enters the helix just east of the scale house behind the Lewistown station -- at the bottom center on the above photo. The helix exits at upper left where it will come across the Juniata River into downtown Lewistown.

The helix was a kit from Ashlin Designs. Designed for two tracks, I needed only one, so the end result is an approximate 27" radius with a 2% grade. The kit went together easily and is sturdy and firm. This proved a very cost and time effective solution. 

The helix is located directly below Mann's Narrows, which is why I had to finish the scenery in The Narrows before tackling this section.

Mann's Narrows, a gap through the mountains between Yeagertown and Reedsville, is now fully completed on the Milroy Secondary.

This is one area of the model railroad where I had to complete the scenery in short order prior to placing a helix below the area. It's taken about six months to build the mountains, pour a limestone stream, place ground cover, and plant a hundred or so trees.

Fourth quarter was a slow starter for Middle Division construction. The family had a late vacation; then I had to coordinate picking up the models from Joe Henry Kline's family. Add a few holidays, and where did all that time go?

The past two weeks have been very productive. I got about fifteen feet of backdrop installed on the top display level, as well as about fifteen feet through Yeagertown. I've also formed, but not installed, rough scenery forms for the Yeagertown area. Track painting is next for this area, as the photo indicates.

Over the past few days I completed two track lighting projects. At right is a current view of Mann's Narrows. This is representative of how I plan to light the upper level during op sessions and open houses -- with the ceiling flourescent "house lights" off. Installation of the tracks was actually pretty easy. What took longer was wiring two new circuits into the breaker box.

Mann's Narrows still isn't done. My goal was April 30th, but spring happened. My self-imposed hard deadline is Q2 -- about two weeks away. It will be close, but I have completed a few tasks that I had on my timeline for Q3, so I guess it'll be a fair wash.

Undaunted by Hurricane Sandy bearing down on central Pennsylvania, I made use of the Governor's closure of the state to work on the turnout control wiring in Yeagertown.

This past weekend at the Timonium show I picked up wiring connectors for Tortoise switch machines. Though these add to the cost per turnout, they allow you to perform all of the wire soldering on the bench and then slip the connector over the card edge of the switch motor. It also allows you to more easily swap out a switch machine without having to resolder anything.

I've been getting a lot accomplished as the winter modeling season comes to a close. Since last time I have installed backdrops on the upper display level. I also finished installing the backdrop behind Yeagertown and Burnham.

I'm focusing on Mann's Narrows, with the goal of getting the area fully sceniced by the end of the month. The mountain has received a complement of trees and I have completed the plastering and some of the sculptamodling on the foreground scenery, including some trademark Pennsy retaining walls along the edge of the Kishocoquillas Creek.

Nothing better than a holiday without family plans, and Columbus Day was one of them. A whole day in the train room!

The first task at hand was installation in the fascia of a Digitrax UR-91 radio receiver and a Logic Rail Technologies LocoNet Fast Clock. May seem like a simple task, but it took a lot more effort than I had anticipated to make it look good. Also had to provide power to both, home-runned to the UPS system at the Power Desk. Had to also run a LocoNet home run back to the Power Desk.

I love President's Day... it's a holiday for me and I always plan on working on the model railroad. Spring is just around the corner and I am sprinting to complete several projects before the yard work comes a calling.

Since my last report, the mountain on the far side of the track received its final plaster coat and a

coat of Sculptamold. Plaster castings of rock outcroppings were applied and appropriately colored. A based coat of "dirt" paint was appied to all non-rock areas. The mountain is ready for a layer of "forest floor" and then comes tree planting time. Oops, gotta make the trees first!

Mann's Narrows Progress

With an assist from my son, Andrew, I got the first coat of plaster on the main mountain that forms the backdrop of the Milroy Branch as it runs through Mann's Narrows, between Yeagertown and Reedsville.

I'm using plaster-of-paris with paper towels over a cardboard web. I've found that I need to make the plaster a little wetter than the recipe dictates. Without the extra shot of water, the plaster was lumpy and way too thick.

Scenery has never been my forte, but this section will be very hard to access once the Lewistown Yard is constructed on the lower level. The trackage of the upper level will be accessible, but the back edge of the mountains will have to go untouched until the end of time!