Public Relations Blog

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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.

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.

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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.

Civil AP

As of August 21, 2020, my Model Railroad Engineer - Civil AP was conferred. Six down; one to go.

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Members of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) are likely familiar with the Achievement Program (AP). The program is kind of like earning Boy Scout badges... you complete a number of tasks in a category and the reward is a certificate. At first look it can seem daunting, but when you really think about it, you are going to accomplish most of the tasks anyway just by building your own model railroad. What follows is my strategy towards gaining the MMR status.

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The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society (PRRT&HS) held its 51st annual meeting May 15-19 in Lancaster, Pa. The event was hosted by the Philadelphia Chapter. Attendance was over four hundred.

‚ÄčThe event kicked off on Wednesday evening with several hours of movies. I live too close to warrant a hotel, but too far to warrant the extra trip in, so I did not attend the first night.

The event kicked into full gear on Thursday, with concurrent sessions running from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. with breaks for lunch and dinner. There were 24 unique clinics with most presented twice, so it was relatively easy to work out a schedule.

 

rpm logo crop1I just returned from RPM EAST held in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. This event is held in odd-numbered years to offset the RPM Valley Forge held in Malvern, Pennsylvania in even-numbered years. This was my first time at the Greensburg event and it did not disappoint. A "shout out" to Eric Hannsman, Don Coulter, and the rest of the crew that put this event together.

There were eight model railroads open for operating sessions on Thursday evening, though I did not arrive until Friday. There were 14 model railroads open on Sunday for open houses; due to time constraints, I did not make it to any of these either. So, that all said...