2003 Annual Report

      B&O Railroad Pass from 1933       ORW Pass for 1913          

This was a year of often-intense construction for the Potomac & Patuxent Railroad. In January, the staging tracks representing Benning Yard were laid. Before the end of April, locomotives were moving under their own power between Benning Yard and Shepherd Junction. By the end of the year, powered track was extended through Twining City and Uniontown to the yard limits of Port Shepherd. On Christmas Day, much to my delight, a locomotive operated from Benning to Uniontown. Along the way, most of the industrial track has been laid. I did skip the industrial park at Shepherd since I have to scratch build a slightly curved crossing. My goal is to have trains running the full length of the railroad, probably with minimal scenery, in time for the O Scale National Convention being held in the Washington Metropolitan Area in July.

My plan for constructing the Old Pullman turnouts at the workbench, then installing them on the layout, was not a great success. The trouble was that the spikes that I use are too long, thus I was spiking the turnouts to my workbench. After a while, I got pretty good at building them in place on the layout while incorporating some modifications to make the all-metal OP turnouts DCC-safe. On the other hand, the mounting plates that I designed for the Tortoise switch machines worked fairly well. I was helped by the members of my round-robin group who in one night solder leads to the switch machines en masse, so each machine was ready to go when I needed it. On other nights, the group also helped to cut and lay ties for the turnouts as well as laid ties on the branch line and sidings.

A new, interesting feature of the railroad is the use of a closed circuit surveillance camera to monitor the hidden staging yards. The engineers in Shepherd Junction can see the end of the train approaching the foam bumpers in Benning and, hopefully, stop in time. This eliminated the complexity of installing and maintaining a set of LEDs for each of the four staging tracks to indicate position and occupancy.

The P&P made one major locomotive acquisition this year. An AtlasO RS-1 will be painted and lettered for the Washington Terminal Company. The B&O leased a number of WTC RS-1s in the mid-50s for service around Washington, so an RS-1 on the Shepherd Branch shouldn’t be too far-fetched. It was very interesting researching the color and lettering schemes of the WTC diesels in the late 1950s. Most of the color photos available date from the 1970s after the WTC switched to blue bodies and white lettering. In the 50s, the locomotives were black with gold lettering (I hope).

In railroad related activities, I was a guest operator on Paul Dolkos’ New Hampshire Division of the Boston and Maine in March. The railroad operates under timetable and train orders with a dispatcher. I had a very good time and don’t think that I made too many mistakes.

Chris and I were part of an alumni group from Hiram College (Ohio), my alma mater that toured Wales and England in early summer. This gave me an opportunity to rail fan the Llangollen Railway and to ride the Llanberis Lake Railway. The Llangollen is a standard gauge excursion line running steam locomotives through a beautiful river valley setting. The Llanberis, on the other hand, is very narrow gauge (19 inches), former slate hauling railroad that lies at the foot of Mt. Snowden in north Wales. Llanberis has two steam and one diesel locomotives; all beautifully restored. We also spent time in the train station/gift shop of the Welsh Highland Railway in Porthmadog. While in London, we explored Euston, Kings Cross, and St. Pancreas stations en route to and from the new British Library. (Chris is a librarian.) St. Pancreas is a beautiful, extremely ornate brick structure.

Bob Schildt and I spent Friday and Sunday touring home layouts during the Mid Eastern Region (NMRA) convention in October. We also caught a bit of the action at the convention hotel in Reston, VA. On Sunday night, Chris and I helped Bob celebrate his 50th birthday.

The collapse of the roundhouse roof at the B&O Railroad Museum due to tremendous snowfall over the Presidents’ Day Weekend abruptly ended my monthly volunteering in the library and at other special museum events. Later in the year, I participated in my first sorting session at the B&O Railroad Historical Society archives.