About 2 weeks ago I met Ray Criscoe from our local Asheboro Hub newspaper. I was able to show off the railroad and answer some questions for him. I do like to share the hobby.
Here's a link to his article online;
The newspaper printed a shorter article which was not the interview but really summed up the railroad and my goals. And they put a huge picture of me on the cover. Wow. Talk about scaring away your patrons.
I guess I need to really buckle down and get some more work done. Speaking of, here's where I stand with the engine house. I have the electrical runs done, all the outlets in and am ready to install the inside insulation on the walls and wall board. The ceiling is completed except for a 4' long section in the middle which I left open for a brief while longer until I had all the electrical done. Then it will be insulated and the ceiling installed. I coated both sides of these boards in case they get damp on either side (steam engines can be humid too!) The heater will be a 1500 watt heater which has a thermostat but I will use a second thermostat at the front of the building next to where the #20 will be parked. That way I can make sure the front stays above freezing too. The heater will be installed in the back of track 2 since track 1 ends at the man door. The wall boards I have started to cut and stain (deck stain) and will begin to put these up soon. The trick is I have to cut them to go around the outlets and switches, etc. There is one outdoor outlet (yes, using the proper electrical cover) on the south east side near the inspection pit so I can plug in stuff like stack fans, lights, Christmas lights (oh, the engine house BEGS for Christmas lights) and so on. The interior outlets are mainly to power battery chargers and so on for the diesels.
Once the walls are up, I will finish the concrete floors and the remaining pieces of trim on the building. Then I will complete the electrical run from the barn which will include an outlet on the Dogwood bridge for whatever (probably Christmas lights but an outlet is handy.) Also will be the electrical connection to the northern bank of switch controllers which I will mount on the south end of the bridge in an electrical box. (That means all the switches will be interlocked so the signals will display not just the local turnout switch position but the next turnout. The control heads at the Upper Switchback tail track will allow me to choose to go downhill or uphill to either Telluride (the barn) or Wood Station (near the water wood stove.) The later track is the tail track for the uphill section around the coop, to the garage (site), the splitter / rockpile wye and the end of the tracks near the end of the driveway where the loading / unloading ramps will be. The only controller which can not be installed in the box on the bridge is the upper switchback tail track. It is too far to run 12 volts to the electric motor. And there are the sensors, signals and controller buttons up there too. So a single cat-5 wire will connect the two boxes so they can control each other. And since these boxes are locally powered by transformers, the power switch will be inside the barn so it's easy to shut them off when the day's running is done. I was thinking about putting it inside the engine house or on the outside but that meant I would have to run the wires back uphill again.
The next project once the engine house is powered is to redo all the tracks at Telluride (the barn.) The wooden deck there is shot as is the wood underneath. So I am going to remove all the wood from the bridge north around the train tracks. I will leave the "engineers deck" along the water tower but the rest will be replaced with concrete curbs and the train tracks will be uncovered in a bed of ballast. That way it can dry naturally. The end of the bridge will probably be redone after I remove the wooden guard rails alongside the edges and replace it with durable plastic wood, similar to the material used on the Inspection Pit cover at Pine Hill. I am thinking that at the same time I will extend both tracks an additional 10 feet over the road crossing into the barn and concrete the driveway. This will get me that much closer to the turntable site which will take some extensive grading and concrete work. The concrete contractor suggested just pouring it as a square pad (although I might be able to convince him to use an octagon) and then building the round walls up on the pad. I guess decorative cinderblocks will be in the future of the railroad's pit there. The real issue is that the creek is almost the same level so I need to make sure the pit will not flood if I can avoid it. When the time comes, I'll throw some brainpower at it and come up with a solution. Extending the pipe might help but there is a lot of water which comes down the hill right in that area from both sides. Most likely I will move the bearings up higher and use sealed bearings.
Once I get Telluride squared away, it's time to get some switches powered and get those controllers wired up, the existing powered turnout switches and signals connected up. Then I need to replace Wood Spur switch which is a harp switchstand with the powered switch (luckily my design puts everything on one long headblock tie so I can slip them in easily. The other head blocks are just to support the box over the motor and keep a channel for the throw rod. Signals take a little more effort to install as I have run conduit to them and anchor the bottom box.
I know I should start work on the uphill extension of the railroad so I can unload the 20 when Bob, the wizard, gets her completed, but I really need to stabilize some tracks. The switchback sits on a lot of built up fill held in place with landscape timbers which I am finding is rotting very quickly. So the entire wall needs to be refaced like the approach to the Dogwood bridge was redone. It's an expensive proposition to use that much wall block so I might switch to granite rip-rap concreted in place. It would give me some time to practice my skills. But I believe the wall blocks might be quicker, drain better and be more cohesive with what is already built. And I can buy a few each week and just build some of the wall, a little at a time. Pretty much most of the track will be raised a little as the lower switchback switch will be raised up about 12" to fix the grade issue of the tail track there.
Once the switchback is stabilized and the switches powered up and working, I will work two directions. The uphill track from Wood Station around the Chicken Loop and the downhill track across the trestle into the start of the big s-curve and those bigger bridges.
Yes, plans do change. And I reserve the right to change them. And to make a fool of myself until I change my mind. It's a hobby. I do it when I can, depending upon health, wealth and help.