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This blog is limited to articles; random photos or quick updates are posted to the FaceBook page.

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

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As the COVID lockdown winds down -- for those who are vaccinated -- opportunities in model railroading are slowly coming back. I made my first visit to a shop (White Rose Hobbies) in over a year, participated in an op session (Dave Trone's West Penn), and look forward to shows this fall (Great Scale Model Train Show), and undoubtedly November open houses (modelrailroadopenhouse.com).

I had a very successful quarter on the Middle Division, with the only distraction being surgery for a miniscus tear in my left knee. Not too much trouble though. Here's a recap:

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As evidenced by the many articles I have written about Pennsy TrucTrain service and its successor, Trailer Train Corp. (now TTX), I've always been a fan of intermodal. Many don't realize that the Pennsylvania Railroad was the primary party behind the formation of Trailer Train.

During my stint in N scale, I worked with Alan Curtis Models to develop the F30D flat car kit. This was the initial flat car used for TOFC service on the Pennsy, in 1954. Alan retired, but the kits are still available through N Scale Kits and the decals from MicroScale.

Middle Division CTC

The Middle Division is crawling closer and closer to operations!

The stand-in 1980s-style dispatcher panel is fully operational (above). It was constructed using CATS, which rides on top of JMRI. Putting together this panel was a snap -- with full interlocking controls -- versus an era-correct US&S panel which will come later. The main line is at top and practices CTC; the branches are below and practice DTC.

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Boy did I miss an opportunity on April 1st! No, I am not changing eras! I've always been a fan of intermodal and planned to have a modern intermodal train for kicks. Won't be on the layout regularly. I went on a binge the last few weeks and filled out a train with 12 wells and four flats. I have a ScaleTrains ET44AC Tier 4 GEVO coming this summer.

For some time I have also had a RoadRailer train hidden from view. Though RoadRailers left Pennsylvania in 2015, I always thought they were pretty cool. Eventually I'll do a short Amtrak train to represent the Pennsylvanian. If I ever get there, I may model the original AutoTrain; all of the correct cars are available.

New CTC Screen

This past week I had the pleasure to participate in remote operations on Dave Abeles' Conrail Onondaga Cutoff. While remote dispatching is nothing new, remote control of actual trains is leading edge. Dave probably wasn't the first, but he is definitely at the forefront and has gained a lot of visibility over the past year.

I met Dave through Lionel Strang's A Modeler's Life podcast. He's also been featured in Railroad Model Craftsman and Model Railroader over the past few months and, this coming month, has a feature on remote operations in Model Railroader... look for it!

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