2007 - 2008 Annual Report

      B&O Railroad Pass from 1933       ORW Pass for 1913          

A significant expansion of the railroad began in 2007 with the construction of bench work and sub-roadbed for a continuous running display railroad which will assume the Potomac & Patuxent (P&P) name. The railroad is double-tracked with parallel loops of 3-rail and 2-rail track. Each loop has two passing sidings. There are additional storage tracks for the 3-rail trains. The 2-rail features a number of industrial sidings for possible way freight switching during an operating session. The new railroad is located under the B&O Shepherd Branch, the 2-rail, O-scale industrial switching railroad. The 3-rail loop is being constructed of AtlasO “flex” track and O54 switches. The 2-rail loop is being constructed of recycled Atlas flex-track and Old Pullman Code 148, Number 4 turnouts. The 3-rail loop is blocked for dual cab control. The 2-rail loop will also be blocked to support DC and DCC operation. Construction has progressed intermittently throughout 2007 and 2008, with about one-half of the sub-roadbed and one-third of the track in place.

While laying out the new P&P, surveyors and track planners determined that there was also room for a tabletop On30 layout. The “tabletop” is 40 inches wide and 15 feet long. Using the Ohio River & Western as a prototype, a county seat, based on Woodsfield Ohio, will be modeled in the foreground. Three staging tracks will be placed behind a low view block against the back wall. Trains will enter Woodsfield from east (Bellaire) or west (Zanesville) switching the local industries. There will also be a passenger train that terminates in Woodsfield, requiring the turning of the engine and observation car. Through active trading on eBay, the railroad has already acquired three locomotives (two 4-6-0s and one 2-8-0), three passenger cars, and four freight cars. The railroad will be constructed with Model Engineering Code 83 On30 flex-track and Number 5 turnouts.

The B&O Shepherd Branch operating crew (a round-robin group) conducted 14 operating sessions throughout the two-year period. Five trains are run during each operating session: Port Shepherd Job; Uniontown Turn (U-Turn), Twining City (TC) Switch, Second Port Shepherd, and the B&O Coal Extra to the Potomac Electric plant. All trains are staged in Benning Yard. Recently, the operating department tried to add a second U-Turn, but the effort has not been totally successful. The extra train seems to tie up the branch and further congest the yard.

I simplified the car forwarding system after attending a clinic during the 2007 NMRA Convention. The system is still manual, but treats each move as an unrelated event. This makes it easier to set up for an operating session, but sacrifices most of the operating realism. I have been experimenting with RailOps, a train management system used by other members of my round-robin group. So far, I have not been able to simulate my preferred operations.

Sanitary Grocery, a three-story warehouse kit-bashed from Pecos John modular components, was added to the railroad in Uniontown. The building is done, but it still needs a loading dock, electrical hookup for the building lights, and a scenery touchup.

In locomotive news, a second Weaver RS-3 was acquired. It is likely that the locomotive will be salvaged for its frame, motor, drive train, and trucks to power either the Gilmaur RS-1 (acquired in 2005) or the Alco-General Electric-Ingersoll Rand (AGEIR) oil-electric (acquired in 2006). Or, it might be rebuilt as a Southern Railroad RS-2 which was the original justification for acquiring the first RS-3.

I attended the 2007 NMRA Convention in Detroit during which I began construction of an O-scale blacksmith shop at a “Scratch-building with Wood” clinic. (The shop was completed after I got home and will be placed in Woodsfield on the On30 layout.) I also enjoyed the all-day, all O-scale layout tour and the evening industrial history cruise on the Detroit River.

Chris accompanied me to Indianapolis for the 2007 O-scale National Convention. This gave her a chance to see her niece, with whom we stayed, and her sister, who drove down from west Chicago. While I toured layouts, attended clinics, and roamed the sales rooms, mother, daughter, child, and aunt enjoyed each other’s company. On Friday night, we were invited to travel in a restored Pullman business car (NKP #1) at the end of a local dinner train. The owners of the railcar are friends of my niece and her husband. So, we packed a gourmet picnic supper and met the train at Fishers. Through the graces of the railcar owner, I also got to ride in the cab of the F-unit pulling the train. The dinner train is sponsored by the Indiana Transportation Museum (Noblesville) which we toured on Saturday.

Hilary Smith and I ventured over to West Virginia this past May for the Mountain State Railroad & Logging Historical Association’s 2008 Cass Railfan Weekend. We spent Wednesday afternoon railfanning Elkins and Buckhannon. The Western Maryland depot at Elkins is open as a museum, ticket office, and gift shop. On Thursday, we rode a special diesel excursion of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad from Spruce to Elkins. On Friday, we made a round-trip from Elkins to Cheat River Falls pulled by diesels. On Friday night, we were able to wander through the locomotive shops of the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. Shays took us back to Spruce on Saturday and up to Whittaker Station on Sunday. Rain drenched the Friday excursion and dampened the Sunday outing. Nevertheless, the photo run-by sites were numerous and well-chosen.

Hilary and I returned to Montpelier, VA, for five operating sessions on Mike Dodd’s Virginian Railway (http://virginian.mdodd.com), a time table and train orders railroad set in 1954. We had the privileged of running the last train on the railroad before it was dismantled in July 2008. Mike and his family are building a new house and Mike has plans for a new railroad.

I attended B&O Railroad Historical Society mini-conventions in Brunswick MD (2007) and Harpers Ferry WV (2008). I am always amazed at the knowledge that some people have accumulated regarding the Best and Only.

I’ve become an intermittent attendee at the Friday night sessions of the Capitol Area O-Scalers. So far, I’ve visited the Western Maryland layouts of Dan Pence and Wes Morgenstern, the Norfolk & Western layout of Chris Smith, the NKP layout of Dave Vaughn, Rick Wright’s CONUS Lines, and the Baltimore & Ohio layout of Nick Powell (saving the best for last). I’ve enjoyed running both the eastbound and westbound locals, plus through trains, on Wes’ layout.

P&P management will focus on making the display railroad operational in 2009. Shepherd Branch management will focus on improving the operating sessions and adding scenery at Shepherd Junction and Twining City.