Blog

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.

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.

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!

It's been another very productive quarter on the Middle Division. The "missing link" -- the scale track at Lewistown -- has been installed. The yard is now connected with the Lewistown Secondary and, subsequently, the Milroy Secondary.

The Mechanical Department has gotten back in the practice of posting news of new rolling stock acquisitions. The fleet has recently grown by nine tank cars. In addition, the Pennsylvania Midland has received three hopper cars.

DCS240

Over the past few weeks I have encountered some "bizarre" power and LocoNet issues, without having changed anything on the layout. I have multiple LocoNet segments, and I could not keep them all connected concurrently. Even my LocoNet repeater wasn't working properly.

At one point I wondered if it might be the CMOS battery in my DCS 100 command stations. I replaced them; no help.

IMG 0431

The American Viscose Company, at Lewistown on my PRR Middle Division, was a manufacturer of rayon. It once employed over 3,000 people and eventually closed when Hurricane Agnes flooded the plant in 1972.

One of the raw materials for the manufacture of rayon is sodium hydroxide, more commonly known as "caustic soda". To prepare waybills, I used the Waybill and IndMan (free) applications from Shenware and the industry database (also free) from the OpSIG, I got a list of providers of caustic soda. One was Hooker Chemicals in Wilmington, CA.

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