Working on the railroad….

I haven’t recently ran on the layout, nor have I been working on it for about two weeks now. The major reason for this was major surgery a little over two weeks now, so my body has been out of commission. However my brain has not.

While recuperating and healing, I’ve been working on a program for the railroad I believe developed by a Tom Edwards called STS. STS stands for Shipper driven Traffic Simulator. Without going into two much technical detail, this program basically lets you develop, print, and use waybills and switchlists  for your layout, plus in real time through either a desktop at your layout or on a mobile device let you input pickups and set outs as you’re running your train. The program also will compile car management reports, shipper forecasts, forecasts of how many cars of each type are needed on your railroad for operating sessions, and more.

The program does take a lot of time inputting information into its database, but once there, it’s pretty cool what it will put together for you. One aspect of the program will allow you to print a color-coded waybill that’s quite different from the standard car cards available out there.

I’ve been working on this now for a little over a week, and I’m just about ready to start printing waybills and switchlists for use, whether for an operating session, or an individual session. I’ve posted several photos below of number one, the form showing all the shipments possible on the layout, and second, the preparation work just before printing out a switchlist. I’ll start with the photo below. These are a part of all the shipments possible on my Hitop, showing a computer code much like you’d see today as a train symbol, the next column shows the route. For example, the second line shows a routing from Arcata California from Sierra Pacific with a load of lumber going from Arcata-Dickinson yard-Alloy, with a final destination of the team track at Alloy to be unloaded by Carnahan Home Improvement Company of Alloy. Photo below:

The second photo below shows the cars that have been ordered by shippers for the Spring Street job, and Hitop mine turn, which is listed under “select job” in the far left column. The color coding is for each major station on the layout, dark blue for Hitop, grey for Spring Street. As soon as I hit the “build” key just off camera, this will build two switchlists, one for the Spring Street job, and one for the Hitop turn.


This looks to be an interesting program to test and use. I may use this in conjunction with my current car cards as well, but I’ve yet to start testing and experimenting. Hopefully this will start later this week! I’ll update how the program works, so stay tuned!

This week on the Hitop….

This week I was called again for the Spring Street turn from Dickinson to Spring Street yard in Charleston. With thermos of coffee in hand, I signed in at the yard office where our engineer Fred had already pulled our motive power up to as shown below. I grabbed our clearance card, waybills, and train orders and we proceeded to pull our caboose out of the caboose track also shown below. Today we’ll have an ex-NYC transfer caboose:

After leaving our caboose on the ladder, we pulled back up to track four where our train was waiting, put together by the third trick yard crew. Today we mostly had cars destined for Nitro, but also one for Armitage Furniture and several for the Valley turn. Below are photos I snapped of our consist:

I always like these early morning runs, when everything and everyone starts to stir, when the air is still cool from overnight, when the dew is still covering the grass. Every so often we’ll catch some deer along the railroad as we head towards Charleston, as we did this morning. After another uneventful trip, we are seen here arriving at Spring Street:

After dropping our cars in the yard, we took a break for lunch over at Sam and Mickey’s across from the yard. The Nitro job had already brought up our cars headed back to Dickinson, and  was waiting in the clear on the service track:


After lunch, we proceeded to make up our outbound train with an empty SOO Line boxcar plus tank cars from Nitro. After the Nitro job tied on our caboose, we departed for Dickinson yard. Another days work on the Penn Central…..

The trees are growing….

I’ve been slowly adding trees to certain parts of the layout recently. These are made using the “Super Trees” product from Scenic Express. The branches are sprayed with  3M super adhesive, then coated with fine green turf from Woodland Scenics. They are then sprayed with cheap hair spray and sprinkled with “Super Leaves” from Scenic Express, then are sealed one more time with hair spray. To plant these, a small hole is either drilled into the plywood or punched into the foam, then foam tack glue applied to the bottom of the trunks, then planted.

Below are photos of the recent work:

Traffic is booming….

Indeed, traffic is booming on the Penn Central in West Virginia. Not only chemicals and coal, but general merchandise freight is booming. Switch jobs are working three shifts to the chemical plants up and down the valley.

Sidings are full of cars either being loaded or unloaded. Two runs are being run to one of Union Carbide’s mines in the hills, while one run is going to the other major mine.

Even though the Kanawha Secondary isn’t well known to the rest of the Penn Central system nor to railfans, it brings in the revenue to the bottom line.

Below are photos of us railroaders working hard and moving freight….

New theme again…

As you can see, I have reverted back to the previous website theme. Although I like the original theme, I also felt it was too busy and perhaps too hard to read. So, back to this theme. I hope all of you give a thumbs up on this one….!