The conversion of the Potomac & Patuxent to digital command control (DCC) began this fall. Two other members of our round-robin operating group and I are adopting DCC. We agreed to standardize on Digitrax so we could share throttles on operating nights although each of us models in a different scale: HO, S, and O. Because of delays in the production of decoders and throttles, the conversion is temporarily stalled. Since this is an O scale railroad, I was excited when Digitrax showed 3.5 amp decoders at the NMRA national convention this year. I ordered seven through my dealer. We are still waiting for them. At this time, one locomotive, an 0-6-0T switcher, has been digitized. In addition, I ordered two auxiliary throttles that are also encountering production problems. This may be blessing in that Digitrax is working on a simple, basic throttle, scheduled for release in early 1998. I also ordered stationary decoders, occupancy detectors, the computer interface, and the WinLoc software. These will be installed after I have the locomotive decoders installed and the railroad running.
There were some motive power changes on the railroad this year. An EMD NW2 diesel switcher was acquired last spring. The locomotive kit was produced by All Nation; this is an older locomotive with an open-frame motor. The installation of a can motor is planned. A previous owner did a very nice job detailing this locomotive for the B&O as number 405. The number is correct for that class of switcher. This fall, a serious step was taken toward the replacement of steam with diesels when the B&O Mikado was sold. This was a Williams USRA 2-8-2 that I had detailed as a B&O Q-3. The proceeds from this sale will be used to purchase an A-B set of first generation diesels, probably a F-3. The reason for the change had more to do with operating dependability than era. The steam locomotives in general are less reliable and take more work than the diesels (just like the prototype). Buying diesel locomotives is easier (and cheaper) than spending hours to improve electrical pickup on steamers.
The P&P was honored to have John Armstrong attend an operating session last spring. I should have known that I was in trouble because the session occurred on April 1. Performance of the railroad was less than stellar. Murphy’s Law in spades. I was very frustrated and a bit embarrassed.
My father, mother, wife, and I also spent an enjoyable long weekend in and around Altoona, PA in June. We were able to visit or view the Allegheny Portage Railroad historic site, Horseshoe Curve historic site, Gallitzin Tunnels, East Broad Top Railroad, and the Railroaders Museum in Altoona. We stayed in a delightful bed and breakfast in Hollidaysburg, which also is home to Conrail car repair shops. I highly recommend a visit to the area if you have not seen these railroad sites. As a bonus, the Railroaders Museum is moving to a restored building in the spring. Plus, the future of the EBT seems tenuous.
As suggested, I attended the national convention this summer. My father was able to accompany me so we had an enjoyable week in Madison. For me, the all O-scale layout tour was a treat, although there were only three layouts open. I attended the fall Mid Eastern Region (MER) convention in Chadds Ford, PA, with members of the operating crew. We seemed to spend most of our time on the road visiting the many railroads open for inspection.