Public Relations Blog

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I can report "continued progress" on the PRR Middle Division since our lightning strike in August. This week I received and implemented replacements for three DCC Specialties RRampmeter II's and three PSX circuit breakers. I also neatened up the wiring a bit.

i changed the flux capacitor now i have 121 jigawatts

As of yesterday I have changed out the last Digitrax BDL168 detection board (which supplies power to the track). The main line is now 100% restored to service, including detection!

For the most part, I am now functioning where I was three months ago, with the caveat of two remaining projects...

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Oh, the carnage! Above is my growing pile of electronics that I have replaced since the lightning strike. Not seen is another bin containing surge protectors, a laptop, two routers, etc., etc., etc. I've received a third insurance reimbursement and the recovery goes on!

To recap, all of the central power components -- power supplies, command station, and boosters -- were replaced. A new, dedicated throttle bus (LocoNet and power) was built. All of the Berrett Hill Touch Toggles used at local control panels were replaced. The middle level (Lewistown Secondary) and top level (Milroy Secondary) are up and running.

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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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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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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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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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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.