Sand Fork Shifter

Sand Fork Shifter
C628 2759 leads CX 532 down the slight grade heading east toward Big Chimney..

Monday, September 12, 2016


Sometime in late August, this blog hit 200,000 page views. When I first posted back in late November of 2011, I had no idea how any of this would evolve or whether anyone would be interested in reading about some fictitious creation that I had developed. My hope was that, through the blog, I could offer some inspiration as repayment for all of the inspiration I've received over the years from the work of so many others.

Looking back over the last five years, I'm somewhat surprised in the amount of interest in the blog. But it has been fun and a great way to share some of the things I've learned in the hobby. 

I've had more fun and accomplished more in the past five years than in the prior twenty years in the hobby combined. And that's been primarily due to the great friendships that have developed over that period of time. I really never understood how neat it could be to share my passion for the hobby and railroads with others who felt the same. So to all of you who have either put up with my antics or enjoyed the postings on this blog, or both, I say thanks. It's been a great five years and I hope the next five are just as memorable.

I'll close with a shot of the Ellwater Branch Roustabout heading back to North Pierce.

Friday, September 2, 2016

End of Summer Update

Well, the Labor Day weekend has arrived and with it the unofficial end of Summer. My wife and I spent most of the past three months in Michigan, and as a result, not much got accomplished on the railroad. However, there were a number of projects in the works that got finished up before we left. Here's an update on some of them.

The new signal at the west end of Nelsonville Yard is now in place and operational. In a previous post, I commented on the need to move this signal from it's original location. Here's a ink to that post: The picture below shows the finished signal bridge. 

The deck girder bridges across Clear Creek next to the engine terminal at Nelsonville have been completed. The scenery on either side of the bridges still needs to be finished, but the hard part is finished. The stream was poured using EnviroTex Lite pour-on High Gloss Finish. 

The scenery around the station at Nelsonville has also been finished for the most part. Additional details need to be added such as switch machines, steps to the platform, grade crossing signals, etc. 

And lastly, the two N&W SD35 that were last seen on the workbench in December have been reassembled and weathered. Both units received Tsunami sound decoders. I used artist's oils for the majority of the weathering.

I wasn't please with how the weathering initially turned out on the roofs, so I went back and applied Pan Pastels with a deerfoot brush. I picked up this technique from Mike Confalone in his Weathering Like a Pro video series. If you haven't seen any of these and your interested in weathering, you really need to check these out. They are available from the Model Railroad Hobbyist and here's a link: I have used Pan Pastels in the past and have never been overly impressed with them. However, Mike's videos show some unique and different ways to use them that produce some really great results. Here's how the roofs turned out.

I did manage to get six of the new Bowser woodchip hopper cars built over the summer and they are now in the paint shop. Several other cars were painted and lettered and are now ready for weathering. A number of other new projects are in the works. While the summer was a blast, it's great to back workin' on the railroad!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

An Amazing Day

Yesterday, John Miller hosted the first operating session on the new version of the K&LE (4.0) and it truly was an amazing day. It's hard to believe that the last session on the old railroad was held in October of 2014. You can see pictures of it here: What has been accomplished since the last run is just incredible. Here are some shots from the session.

The photo below shows the view looking down Undercliff Yard toward Oasis Yard and the steel mill in Newport, KY. Terry Luginbuhl is classifying cars for locals in Oasis Yard.

In the next shot, Bill Doll is working the east end switcher in Undercliff. East is to the left of the picture- no one was really sure where Bill was headed with his locomotive.

Next up, Gerry Albers is working one of the many local jobs.

The Eggleston Avenue switching district on the new railroad is longer and much more complete than the previous layout. In the picture below, Keith VandeStadt has just received a cut of cars from Oasis and is preparing to work the many industries in the district as Dan Hadley looks on.

Next up are couple of shots of some of the completed areas of the Eggleston Avenue district.

As can be seen from the photos above, John really has a knack for capturing the colors, look and feel of the old industrial areas of Cincinnati.

In the next photo, Chris Wermuth is taking a train west out of Undercliff while Gerry works another switching district- all under the watchful eye of the superintendent.

Here's another view of Oasis Yard looking in the opposite direction from the view above.

Next up, Randy Seiler looks on as Jim Rollwage works the west end switcher at Undercliff. Oasis Yard is in the foreground.

Some foreign road power appeared during the session as is evidenced in the photo below.

And finally, the chicken car made its official visit. It's what he does... 

And the lunch- oh my goodness! John's wife Page prepared rib-eye steaks, baked potatoes, corn on the cob and a tossed salad. All of which was followed by lemon bars and brownies. I think it's a safe bet that none of us have ever eaten so well at an operating session. Thanks again, Page- it was wonderful.

My apologies for the quality of the photos- they certainly don't do the layout justice. One must really see it in person in order to completely understand the size, scope, and attention to detail. But I think I can speak for all of us who attended in saying that it really was an amazing day. While we all enjoyed the previous railroad immensely, it's clear that version 4.0 will be even more incredible. Congratulations, John, on a job well done. You've achieved more than any of us thought possible in such a short period of time. And thanks again for the invitation- it was wonderful to be able to share in the inaugural session of 4.0.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Developing a Locomotive Paint Scheme

There's an article in the July issue of Railroad Model Craftsman on how the paint scheme for the locomotives on the CWE was developed. It was originally intended to be a sidebar to the layout piece in last month's RMC, but Stephen Priest wanted to expand the article and include it in this months all diesel issue.

There is also an article in the July issue on weathering diesel trucks. The lead photo shows some of the most incredible weathering I've ever seen on a diesel truck. The author makes extensive use of AK Interactive paints and powders. Here's a link to the company's website: I'm not familiar with this line of products, but based upon the results shown in the article, I'm definitely going to check them out.

Friday, May 20, 2016


The June issue of Railroad Model Craftsman will include an article on the Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie Railroad. Here's a link to the RMC website which shows the cover:

Stephen Priest, the editor of RMC, did the drawing of the track plan and it's incredible! In addition to being a real work of art, it includes more detail than I ever thought would be possible. I have always imagined what the track plan would look like if it was drawn by a professional- it turned out better than I ever could have hoped for.

Having the railroad featured in RMC is a dream come true. Thanks to everyone at RMC for making it possible.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Kanawha & Lake Erie 4.0

Many of us were shocked when John Miller announced back in the summer of 2014 that he was dismantling his K&LE layout and moving to a new house. While we were encouraged with his talk of constructing a large, new building for the next version of the railroad, we knew how much work that would entail. And the lack of an operating layout would mean that he would be placed on probation with the GLA. As time went on, it appeared that the probationary period would run its course and John would be cast out of the group he helped found.

Fast forward to the spring of 2016. Not only has the building been finished, but tremendous progress has been made on the new railroad. As with everything John does that's railroad related, the size and scope of the new operation is, well... large. The building measures 60' x 35' and it's clear that every inch it will be filled with railroad. So let's take a tour of what's happening on the new K&LE.

First up are a couple of shots that were taken from the end of the building near the entrance. These will give you an idea of the overall size of the structure.

Now let's take a look at how some of the sections of the old layout have been incorporated into the new one. The shot below shows the east end of Undercliff Yard. Those familiar with the old layout will recognize Herrick Lumber and the tracks that curved east to Fairfax. The new yard extend toward the back of the building in the left center of the picture.

In the shot below, Undercliff Yard is on the right and the Eggleston Avenue switching district is on the near left. On the far left we can see a portion of Newport Steel along the wall and it extends all the way across the wall in the back of the building.

All of these photos were taken during a Monday work session. As is typical for a work session, John is doing anything but working on the layout. In the photo below, he's weathering another freight car. 

The photo above shows  the workshop that's under the SOU and L&N staging yards and a portion of Newport Steel which can be seen just to the right of John's head. The door into the building is at the far left of the picture.

The photo below shows more detail of the service yard for Newport Steel that can be seen in the photo above. The back of the Eggleston Avenue switching district can be seen on the right.

Oasis Yard has survived the move and can be seen in the photo below beneath the steel mill building. The switching district to the left of the main line has been modified from the previous version. And in the middle left of the photo, you can see the engine terminal at Undercliff Yard.

Now we're looking down Undercliff Yard toward the garage door on the far end of the building. The Eggleston Avenue switching district is in the middle right of the photo.

Turning to the left from where the photo above was taken, we can see the new route of the main line and the approach to the Ohio River bridge. Another portion of Newport Steel can be seen against the back wall. The track coming through the approach to the bridge leads to a small support yard and the switching district to the right of the main line. 

The photo below shows the main line heading under the approach to the Ohio River bridge and on to the west of Cincinnati. To the right of the main line is... you guessed it... another switching district. 

And last but not least, a shot of a train that actually ran on the day of the visit. This is the ore train headed to Newport Steel.

It's incredible to see how much has been done over the past year and a half. And it's clear that this railroad is going to be every bit as much fun to operate as the last one, if not more so. The only drawback is that he's had Bill "Smokey" Doll working on the electrical connections. Bill has never met a wire that can't be soldered with a blow torch. That's probably why the underside of the benchwork looks like someone's wood burning project. Here's hoping that electrical current can actually pass through the maze of wires, connectors and smoldering benchwork.

Congratulations on the progress, John- we are all anxiously awaiting the first operating session on the new K&LE!