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.
The dispatcher area has been rearranged. The desk is now immediately adjacent to LEWIS tower on the railroad. I have also mounted on the wall two PRR lanterns and a cabin car lamp.
The months-long cleanup continues but the end is in sight. For about three years the layout had become one large workbench and weathered two surgeries. The top level is now clear and I've actually run trains again. I need to clean the track on the middle level. Then I will be able to start testing operations solo-style. Can't wait until society achieves "herd immunity" and we can reconvene for op sessions and open houses.
Quality-control has been completed at the east end of the Lewistown Yard. There are two turnouts with issues, but the issues have been identified and assigned to a work crew.
The prototypic history of the modeled area has been substantially updated in the Research Wiki. Original and 1949 valuation maps have been added, which show the changes over time. I continue to learn so many facts via FaceBook groups based on localities.
Rapido has been especially good to the Pennsy this year. X31A box cars are due soon and F30A and F30D flat cars and GLA hoppers have been announced. The latter flat cars represent the Pennsy's first foray into TOFC service. To support that service on trains LCL-1, LCL-3, and LCL-7, the Middle Division has all six initial road numbers reserved, and 10 26' Fruehauf trailers are under construction (Sylvan Scale Models).
Rapido has also announced EMD E8 units, including PRR Tuscan Red five-stripers. I have sold off a pair of Walthers E8's and a Q2 steam turbine in order to make room. These will "raise the bar" for other manufacturers.
The DCC command station has been replaced and in the process it resolved numerous LocoNet and power issues.
The PRR-Pro group has started a new projects as of today... mail cars. I am going to endeavor to participate and actually complete this project on-time (June 30th). The scope of my work will be full construction of (1) Bethlehem Car Works BM70K and (1) Bethlehem Car Works M70B. In addition, decaling road numbers on (4) Walthers BM70M cars. I already have a lot of open projects and had sworn off more, but this one seems managable. We'll see.
Here is the full Report of the Chief Engineer.