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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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Look! A headlight!

It's now been two months since the Middle Division was devastated by a lightning strike. Progress on rebuilding has been excrutiatingly slow, but is continuing. A third claim to the insurance company was submitted yesterday. The previous two were fully reimbursed. Here's an update:

The PRR Middle Division continues to recovery from the wrath of Mother Nature...

On August 9th, lightning struck a tree just 50' or so from the headquarters of the railroad (Catastrophe!). The surge travelled through the ground and foundation and caused significant damage to the electronics of the railroad. Then, later in the month, Hurricane Ida dumped 7" of rain in the area, resulting in a shallow pool of water in the basement of headquarters. Furthermore, a 70' tree uprooted and fell across the driveway just in front of the headquarters building, causing significant effort to remove it.

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On Monday, August 9th, 2021, at 6:30 p.m., disaster struck the PRR Middle Division! A bolt of lightning struck a 60 foot tree located about 50 feet from division headquarters.

The outer skin (bark plus a half inch of wood) of the tree literally exploded off the core of the tree. Pieces were found up to 100 feet away. Just inside the outer band of wood of the tree is where the water and sap move through the tree. The lightning superheats this moisture and creates a steam explosion. Pretty massive amount of force.

The surge went through the ground and impacted a number of homes, mostly ours. On the first floor, it fried a cable model, TiVo box, an Apple AirPort wireless router and backup device, an external hard drive, and a 55 inch television. My wife was holding her iPhone, which was plugged in, and she got shocked, The breaker for our septic system tripped, but thankfully it was operational upon reset.

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The control panel under reconstruction.

Well, it's been a month since I reported the lightning strike, so I guess I am due to provide an update...

To add insult to injury, Hurricane Ida came through three weeks later. The sump pump worked its butt off, but for a very brief period it could not keep up and the well overflowed. I ended up with a mere 1/4" on the basement floor, but that still requires moving everything and scrubbing with a strong bleech mix to prevent mold. The logistics of moving everything requires scrubbing areas in patches. I just finished today.

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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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