Engineering Blog

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As 2021 comes to a close, there certainly was a lot of turmoil on the PRR Middle Division... a lightning strike, a hurricane's flood, a water heater replacement, and coronovirus (last week).

Despite the setbacks, the Middle Division is going to be better for it moving forward. Following the lightning strike, most electronics were refreshed to more current versions and wiring busses were cleaned up a bit. The only remaining task from that event are reconstruction of the local control panels, which was going to be done anyway. I am changing from glass panels to more traditional panels with Barrett Hill's cup toggles. I was having connectivity issues with the contacts behind the glass.

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When life serves you lemons, you have choices. I opted to make Lemonade... This past Tuesday morning I woke up to a broken water heater. The control board was definitely shot and the unit was 8-10 years old, so a replacement was in order.

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.

It's been a very productive quarter on the Middle Division. We are getting closer and closer to completing the missing link -- the scale track at Lewistown. Once completed and installed, the yard will connect with the branch and we can start looking forward to operations!

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Found a great solution for offline staging/storage of rolling stock... This cart from Michael's has ten drawers, each of which can hold 10-12 transition era freight cars. That's 100-120 overall! Being on wheels, it can also be wheeled easily around the train room. A layer of bubble wrap protects the cars and keeps them from jostling about.

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I've known Dan Cupper -- noted railroad author and historian -- for about 25 years now. More recently, Dan retired as an engineer for Norfolk Southern.

I learned early on that Dan was a Lewistown native, and he became very helpful in my research for the model railroad. In 2019, he joined me on a field trip to visit areas that I will be modeling and to take measurements of numerous structures that remain.

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The Chief Engineer reports continued progress this quarter. Your management traveled to Springfield, Mass., for the Amherst Railway Society's Railroad Hobby Show in January. Numerous group activities were held for members of the AML Nation (group photo above).

Highlights of the quarter include the renovation of LEWIS tower, new storage in the warehouse, and the opening of the Lewistown Yard. Photos of each are included below.

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Lewistown, like dozens of other locales across the Pennsylvania Railroad system, had a track scale for weighing of cars loaded with bulk commodities. In the case of Lewistown, the predominant cargo was limestone from the multiple quarries on the Milroy Secondary.

This article follows my build of the Lewistown scale house and its gauntlet track. As an aside, this project will be presented towards my NMRA AP certificate in Civil Engineering which requires three scratch built track items. This project will address two: gauntlet switch and gauntlet track.

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The Chief Engineer reports much better progress this quarter, especially in the Lewistown Yard. Ballast has been completed between the tracks, on the tracks of the main line arrival/departure yard, and the branch arrival/departure tracks.

In the image above, the four tracks at upper left are the main line tracks. In the distance above center is the main line arrival departure yard. Left to right, then, are 11 classification tracks. They have not been ballasted yet. Then two branch arrival/departure tracks, and finally a thoroughfare track.