The 5th Anniversary

My, how time flies! Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Louisiana Central layout construction. Unfortunately tragedy struck the Louisiana Central less than a month after the fourth anniversary post was made. For those of you who are new to reading this blog, my city suffered a horrific flood last August 13th. My home and the layout building took on about 15″ of flood waters. The good news is that the layout itself suffered only wet feet. However the restoration of the building (flooring, drywall, cabinets, etc.) is on hold until my house restoration is complete (hopefully within these next few weeks).

Since the layout and building have been out of service for the past year (the building is serving as a warehouse for items salvaged from the house), there is little to report with regards to layout construction. A few weeks before the flood I posted my latest (and last) progress report on the layout, the advancement of the mainline west out of Oneida. The only mainline track left to be done is the last stretch into Monterey, and the track in the turnback curve back in the alcove (this is the mainline between Oneida and Whitcomb). I had just finished casting the bridge abutments needed there, and was about to cast the wing walls.  The fourth anniversary installment gives more detail on the remaining work.

I’ve spent time surveying the layout progress these past few months. I’ve laid enough trackage and done enough wiring now to have a good feel for the time required for those tasks. Once layout construction resumes, I should be able to completely finish laying track (including the yards and service areas) within two or three months. Add a month for the wiring, and another month or so to install all the fascia and control panels, and the layout will be ready for shakedown operations. Maybe I’ll have a big announcement on the sixth anniversary!

Fortunately I was able to attend a half dozen railfan and model railroad events last winter and this spring. In just a few weeks (August 5th) the Southeastern Louisiana Chapter of the NRHS will be having their annual slide show at the Denham Springs library. It’s a lightly attended event, but I enjoy the company of those folks, and there are always some interesting slides to view.  You don’t have to be a member to attend, so I encourage those of you local to this area to come join the fun.

I’ll post my progress on the layout building restoration once it gets underway. Hopefully that will be soon.

-Jack

So, What’s Going On Now, Jack?

It seems like forever since the flooding of my home and train room last August.  While both buildings have been dried out, cleaned and treated for mold, and prepped for construction, not much has happened in the reconstruction department.  The problem has primarily been procuring the services of a reliable, local contractor.  But the search has ended, and I should be starting that reconstruction process within a few weeks.  I’ve started the ball rolling by insulating the house.  I’ve nearly through with the living area, and will do the garage and storage room early next week.  Then the new drywall can be hung, and that will be the first major step of many.

Unfortunately, the train room recovery is on a back burner.  It is in the same state as the house as far as remediation and preparation are concerned.  However I’m using the train room as a warehouse for all the stuff that wouldn’t fit in the mini-warehouse (and that’s a lot of stuff).  The plan is to move everything from the building into the house once the house is complete.  Then I can start the rebuild process in the train room.  I wish I could do things more quickly, but this is the best I’ll be able to do.

But I have enjoyed some quality hobby time over the past few months by attending several events in the area, and by spending time with some of my railroading buddies.  Back in late January I participated in the annual Train Day at the Library which is hosted by the Jones Creek Road branch of the public library of Baton Rouge.  The displays at the show were a bit lighter this year due to the fact that several of the participating hosts of the event had themselves flooded and lost much or all of their valued equipment and/or collections.  Particularly hard hit was Forrest Becht, the driving force behind the show.  Forrest lost virtually all of his photo collection (and that’s quite a bit).  But the show was still a hit, and we’ve already been invited back to do the show again next year.

The following week I was off to visit friends at the annual banquet of the Mississippi Great Southern Chapter of the NRHS in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  As usual, the food was excellent, the presentation superb and the camaraderie was marvelous.  This particular event has become my favorite each year and I’m already looking forward to next year’s get-together.

Fast forward two more weeks and I attended the annual banquet of the Southeast Louisiana Chapter of the NRHS in Hammond, Louisiana.  I have the same comment here as I had above.  I have friends in this group some of which go back to the late 70s, and it’s always a pleasure visiting with them.

And a recent surprise: Matt Hardy, one of the former operators of the late Lou Schultz’s layout, organized an event held this past Wednesday over in Covington, Louisiana.  Several of us from the Baton Rouge area met with the Covington crowd at Lola’s Restaurant located in the former train depot in downtown Covington.  While there, we toured an old Brill car that is just starting to undergo a cosmetic restoration.  Afterward we retired to Matt’s home for an excellent presentation by David Price of Mississippi.  David is a local historian of the shortline railroads and logging operations in Mississippi, and also many of those in Louisiana.  I’ve enjoyed David’s presentations in the past and this was no exception.  We then took a short tour of Matt’s layout (always interesting to see the progression of layouts over the years), and then we went over to Mike Walsdorf’s to see what was up at his L&N pike.  Another great day!

And it isn’t over yet.  This weekend there will be a train show over in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, and near the end of this month the club up in Jackson, Louisiana will be hosting an open house at their huge facility.  Those folks have at least four large indoor layouts (and I think a few small ones), and two G scale outdoor layouts, one of which is live steam.  I always enjoy the show and camaraderie there as well.

The one thing that has really come to light over the past months is how important my relationships with fellow railfans and modelers have become.  The older I get, the more I cherish the time I spend with other like-minded folks.  Just last month Don Hanley, the associate editor of Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine, did an editorial entitled Build Relationships as Well as Models.  It was a timely piece and I agree with most all he espouses in the article.  You can read it yourself (for free) in the February 2017 issue.

Well, I hadn’t intended to pen such a lengthy rambling, but then I haven’t penned much of anything for months, so I had to catch up!

Here’s to all my great railroading friends!

Cheers!
-Jack

The Aftermath

It’s been over three months since my home and layout building flooded.  Both have since been dried out and are waiting for reconstruction.  The building inspector must certify the structures before the walls can be closed in.  However the inspection department is grossly overloaded, and the inspector is nowhere in sight!  It’s been several weeks since I received my building permit, but I’m dead in the water until the official shows up.

I thought I’d post a few photos showing the “cleaned up” train room and shop.  Fortunately, the layout itself has received no significant damage, as only the legs and bracing got wet.  It has all been sprayed with a mold killing chemical to insure there won’t be a future problem there.

Here’s the first view of the layout room.  As you can see, the carpet, and the bottom 30″ of gypsum board and wall insulation have been removed and disposed of.  Things are dried out pretty well now.  I still have to pack away all of the stuff on top of the layout.  In the minutes before the flood (yes, that’s all the time I had) I piled everything I could on top in an effort to (hopefully) minimize damage.Layout Flood - 1

This is a view from the diagonal corner of the room.  Note the flood water silt still covering the black chair base.  Many things from the house have since migrated to this resting place in order to clear the house for remediation, and will have to be packed up and put into storage before reconstruction commences in this building.Layout Flood - 2

The upper half of the shop is relatively unscathed.  However, all of the base cabinets (and much of the contents) were ruined and have been thrown out.  For the time being, I no longer have a workbench (though I wouldn’t be using it now anyhow).
Layout Flood - 3

I don’t plan to spend much effort out here until the house itself is complete and I’ve moved back in.  But eventually this building will recover, and I’ll be back at layout construction once again.

-Jack

Flood!

The Louisiana Central Railroad has flooded!

On Saturday, August 13th the region I live in suffered a horrific flood.  My home (and railroad building) were not in a flood zone (well, at least not before that fateful day).  However a flood of epic proportions swept thru the area and the house and railroad room found themselves with 15″ of water inside.  The river carrying the water has a flood stage somewhere near an elevation of 29 feet.  The maximum recorded water level for the area was 44 feet, and this was considered a 100 year event.  My house and railroad building are on land with an elevation of 52 feet.  Considering the height of the building slab, and the water depth within the buildings, I’m estimating that the water reached an elevation of near 54 feet.  Preliminary estimates I’ve heard on the radio say this may be close to a 1000 year event.  If only I had been born a century earlier or later!

My first realization that something was awry was about 7:30 that morning.  I was about to head out to meet some railroad buddies for our weekly Saturday breakfast, when I noticed that the backyard was almost covered in water.  Looking out the front window, I saw the street was under water.  I had never seen this in my 21 years in this house, so I immediately starting raising what I could.  About 45 minutes later I saw water seeping in the back door, at which time I thought “I better get out of here!”.  I pulled the truck out of the garage, but it was too late.  I saw a car stalled in the street and the water was already over the door sills.  I knew that the rural highway at the end of the street was several feet lower than my street, so knew I had waited too long.  I put the truck back in the garage (the highest point on the lot), and waded out to the street.  All my neighbors were doing the same thing; we were all caught off guard.  Someone said that they heard on the radio that the sheriff’s office had air boats coming out to rescue people.  After wading around the center of the road for a while, a couple small boats appeared.  They were crewed by young folks and they were trying to rescue people.  I scored a ride in an old bass boat and off we went.  The water was at about 30″ in the street at this time.  When the boat turned at the highway, we were shocked.  The houses along the highway already had water from mid window to just under the eaves.  I noticed something sticking out of the water and realized that it was the light bar on the top of the police car that my neighbor drives home at night.  The car itself was completely submerged.  All this water in under two hours!

I returned to the homestead on Tuesday, the 16th.  I have been working continuously each day trying to dry out everything.  Those that have experienced flooding know what I’m talking about . . . cutting out the sheetrock, removing insulation, removing cabinets, etc., etc.  The big enemy here is mold, and it sets in very rapidly.

The railroad room is a mixed bag.  The actual layout suffered no damage, just wet benchwork legs.  I had managed to pick up tools and really important stuff and stacked things on top of the benchwork.  I lost all the materials and less important things.  Actually, I was quite lucky to get some important things up in both the house and the train building.

But about the railroad:  After I got back to my home, I had been extremely worried about mitigating damage in the train building, as the house had first priority.  Late last week four of the fellows from the old C&O operating group in Covington stopped by to see if they could offer some help, Walter Rieger, Sam Urrate, Mike Walsdorf and Johnny Miranda.  They cut out and removed all the carpeting in the train room . . . a major piece of work.  Thanks guys!  Then a few days later my cousins from Hammond came over.  Debbie spent time packing my dishes and cookware so I could put them in storage, and Jim went out to the train building.  When I checked on him hours later, he had cut out the sheetrock below the layout level and removed all the wet insulation.  Another great piece of work complete!  Thanks to my cousins.  Finally, earlier this week Wayne Robichaux and I went out there and removed the cabinets in the shop and restroom, cut out the sheetrock in that area, and removed the insulation.  The immediate remediation in the train room is done, and it’s now drying out.  Wayne has been extremely helpful in my recovery.  Hopefully in a few days I can spray down the house and train building with the mold killing stuff, then start with the reconstruction.

I don’t have a feel for how long the process will take, as there will be a shortage of contractors due to the HUGE number of people that lost their homes.   I feel that I’ll be lucky to get back into my home within 4-6 months.

But the most important thing is that I’m still alive and well.  The Lord was with me on that fateful day.

-Jack

The 4th Anniversary

It’s hard for me to believe that today marks the fourth anniversary of the Louisiana Central layout construction.  No, it doesn’t seem as if I just started last year.  But neither does it seem like four years!

I’m pleased to report that significant progress was made over the past year.  To be sure, I went into full retirement last winter, so now have more time to spend on the construction.  But I’ve also been in better spirits, and as a result, have been a bit more productive with the work.

If you’d like to follow along as I discuss the construction, you can click here to open a track plan in a new tab.

All three of the intermediate towns along the line (Oneida, Whitcomb and Maynard) are complete (with reference to roadbed, track and wiring).  The only thing preventing them from full operation is the pending installation of the control panels so that the Tortoise switch motors can be controlled.  The entire Spencer Lumber Company railroad operation has been completed.  This includes the mill complex at Oneida, and all the way out to the re-load point up in the woods at Camp 6.  Again, only the control panels need completion for operations to begin.

Indeed, the only Louisiana Central mainline trackage left to be laid is in the turn-back curve at the alcove, and about 30 feet of mainline west of Oneida, and in to Monterey.  And that won’t be undone for long.  I’m almost finished with the first 15 feet of roadbed out of Oneida and track should be going down on that next week.  The hold up in the alcove is the small overpass bridge west of Whitcomb.  The bridge itself is built, and I’ve started building the forms for the abutments and wing walls that I plan to cast in plaster.  Once the bridge is installed, the mainline can proceed across, and around the curve in the alcove.

As a side note, the only downside to filling up all these areas with track has been the diminishing areas of storage for all of my clutter!  But that’s a good price to pay.

The remaining un-laid trackwork is at each end of the layout.  The yards at Willis and Monterey have to be constructed, and there is an industrial complex between those areas that must be done.  And finally, there is the locomotive service area at Willis that must be installed.  That will likely be the last trackwork to go in.  Fortunately, the sub-roadbed for all of this trackwork is complete, and the track centers have been laid out.  So it’s just a matter of putting down the track and installing the Tortoise switch motors.  All of this trackage will be code 70, and I still have to modify about 25 more Shinohara switches for DCC compatibility.

And there is one more major thing that must be built: the bridge across the doorway into the room!  This bridge is a few feet east of Monterey, and until it’s built, Monterey is isolated from the world.  It’s not going to be just a narrow bridge with a strip of track.  It will be a long timber trestle crossing a small spillway.  Plans call for a bridge section nearly four feet long by one foot in width.  The trestle will span most of that length.  I feel that at least a 12″ width is needed to suggest the land and water that the trestle must span.  I haven’t decided yet whether this bridge is going to swing down or lift up, but am favoring the lift up.  This will be done similar to the pop-up that I built over in Monterey, but on a larger scale.  I can’t swing the bridge up vertically, as it would hit the valance.  Hence, the entire span must lift about two feet so that one can walk under it.  I think that I’ll probably tackle this project this year so that I can complete the mainline.  Wish me luck!

Any questions or comments about what I’ve done, or where I’m going?  Shoot me your words . . . I’d love to hear ’em.

-Jack

Lenz DCC Equipment For Sale – SOLD

I’ve decided to sell some of my Lenz equipment.  I’m offering a command station/booster, a computer interface, and several throttles.  All items are like new, clean, no scratches or dents, and are complete, and have the latest version 3.6 software.  My layout is not operational yet; equipment has only been used for testing during construction.  Manuals are included.  If you’d like to take a look at what I’m offering, head over to my For Sale page on the main website.

In my last post I had indicated my need to take a bit of a breather from layout construction.  I think that was a good decision as my spirits are taking a lift with this time off.  To be sure, my enthusiasm for the hobby hasn’t waned a bit, as most every day I find myself focused on something hobby related.  One of the things I’ve been mulling for some time is a slightly different approach to the method I’ll be using to control the layout.  I’m going to take something of a hybrid approach to this, hence my decision to sell off some of my Lenz equipment that won’t be needed in my new scheme of things.

I spent a little time last night visiting the MidSouth Model Railroad Club over in Baton Rouge, and I enjoyed seeing their relatively complete layout in action.  Getting around an operational layout helps to get the juices flowing again.  I spec I’ll be back out in the train room pretty soon for some construction.

-Jack

Side Stepping Burn-out, Part Deaux

I have to confess, I really haven’t felt much like working on the layout for a couple of weeks now.  Sure, I’ve been heading out to the layout room most each day, but I really haven’t been very productive . . . mostly looking for “low hanging fruit” to work on.  I reconditioned a bunch of old Tortoise switch motors.  And I transferred a sound decoder and speaker from a “basket case” Bachmann modern 4-4-0 to another similar model I have that is running and intact.  Another small project completed.  And I spent a day checking out my newly repaired digital camera.  But none of this was advancing the state of the layout itself.

The last two weekends have featured back-to-back NRHS* Chapter banquets, one in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and the other in Hammond, Louisiana.  I attended both and thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of each day.  The journeys were good, the meals were good, the presentations at both were excellent, and most importantly, I really enjoyed the company of fellow modelers, railfans and historians.  Today was the Hammond event, and afterward Ron Findley and I headed over to the train depot to hopefully catch a few trains.  Traffic was a bit slow, so we decided to just stroll down Cate Street (along the track) and I started photographing the wonderful old buildings along that street.  I guess Ron and I really got caught up into it, as we ended up strolling to the end of the business district, then started down Thomas Street where we repeated our photographic endeavors.  And then there was Oak Street, and finally, Church Street.  I believe I ended up with several hundred images, and I totally enjoyed our little foray.  We eventually found our way back to the depot, where I noticed that there was quite a bit a material staged along the tracks and maintenance-of-way area.  There was a crane parked on a spur, and one of those neat (Difco?) side dump ballast cars.  Lots of rail, ties, ballast, spikes, tie plates and more.  I suspect that this was material left over from the recent trestle repairs down at the Bonnet Carre Spillway. For those of you who are unaware, the CN experienced a major fire there a couple weeks ago that took out an entire span of trestle between two concrete fire breaks.

But back to my original confession above, I have been going “hot and heavy” on the layout construction for over a year now.  You long time readers may remember I went through an intense period of burn-out during my second year of construction and got very little accomplished, relatively speaking, as a result.  I even wrote a post about it, Side-Stepping Burn Out.  When I returned to serious construction a few months later, I knew I would have to change my work habits to help avoid this problem in the future.  In large part, I’ve done better because I will work on something -say, trackwork- for several weeks, then I’ll switch off to something else; benchwork, electrical work, workshop projects, just about anything to break up the repetition and boredom that sometimes occurs when building a relatively large layout (mostly single handedly).  But the burn-out symptoms have been rearing their ugly head again for some time now.  And I’ve simply backed off from what I’ve been doing.  I’m feeling a bit better about things now, especially after these two great Saturdays, and I suspect in another week or so that I’ll be raring to get after it again.  To be sure, I continually feel some guilt for letting this time pass without “real” production, but I’ve told myself that this is after all, a hobby.  And if I’m not happy doing it, then it ain’t a hobby!

So not to worry, the Louisiana Central will continue to see heavy construction, albeit with just a short delay.

Hmmm, now I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to fit those neat city buildings in over at Willis.

-Jack

*National Railway Historical Society

Railroad Construction Crews Advance Despite Interference by Others

As I mentioned in the previous post, I have managed to get some work done on the layout.  I’m a couple weeks behind where I’d like to be, but all-in-all, things are still moving along nicely.

The Spencer logging operation received a bit of track, extending from the high line (along the wall), down to the mainline that will head back to the mill.  Last weekend I cut out the next section of sub-roadbed that, when installed, will take the mainline past Whitcomb to the point where the Spencer line ducks beneath the Louisiana Central mainline (see the track plan).

And speaking of the Louisiana Central, the sub-roadbed has been extended from Maynard westward to within about three feet of Whitcomb.  The next section of sub-roadbed, which will carry the line up to the middle of Whitcomb, has been cut out and is waiting for installation.  I’ve also started laying cork roadbed from Maynard out to near the end of the new sub-roadbed.

Electrically, all of the bus wiring that was run a few weeks ago has been tied into the circuit breakers beneath Whitcomb.  Now they are energized and ready for service.  And the Tortoise motors serving the Spencer trackage have their wiring extended down to the control panel location at the (future) fascia.

Finally, Wayne and I made a lumber run and then ripped enough joists, risers and fascia supports to carry us through Whitcomb and Oneida (the next town down the line).  We also cut several sections of Masonite fascia, and even managed to cut some long wooden tapers to use where track needs to drop from the cork roadbed down to the tabletop.

I’d like to complete just a bit more work before posting any progress photos, but I think that will be soon.  I’m optimistic about September and look forward to some solid progress during this month.

-Jack

Spencer Camp 6

The Spencer Lumber Company will play a significant role on the layout.  Spencer will have a sawmill at Oneida (on the peninsula closest to the top of the track plan), and will have a railroad mainline running from the mill up to Camp 6 (a re-load point) in the woods east of Whitcomb.  Camp 6 is physically located along the wall at the top of the track plan.  The Louisiana Central mainline between Maynard and Whitcomb will also run along this section of benchwork, near the aisle.  My construction protocol is to work from the wall out toward the aisle (a lesson learned the hard way).  Therefore, I needed to build and install the Camp 6 roadbed and trackage before advancing the LC mainline from Maynard (where it presently ends) to Whitcomb.

The sub-roadbed for Camp 6 has been in place since last September.  However trackwork was never started only because I’d not tackled the task of modifying the Shinohara code 70 switches required for this area.  As I mentioned in a recent post, the switch modification program has finally gotten under way, and work up at Camp 6 has resumed.  The high line was designed to be removable for construction work.  Two weekends ago I removed the right half and started laying track.  This past weekend, the track was completed on this section, the Tortoise switch motors were installed, and all wiring was completed.  I sprayed all the track with a coat of Rust-Oleum Camouflage Brown paint (first time I’ve done this), then re-installed the entire section of benchwork atop the risers.  The left side benchwork has been removed and next weekend, similar work will ensue.  As the final step, the double switchback will be constructed which will bring the trackage down to roughly the level of the (future) LC mainline.

Once all this happens, both the Spencer and Louisiana Central trackage can advance to Whitcomb, and then on to Oneida.  This will be a major milestone for the layout.  I am anxious to achieve this progress, and have an excellent start to making it happen.

The trackage along the wall and the peninsula written about above will be powered by the 3rd of the three DCC booster districts.  Booster districts 1 and 2 have already been completed.  This past weekend I set about installing this final district.  The Lenz booster feeds two DCC Specialties PSX circuit breakers, one each for the LC and the Spencer operation.  All components have been installed and wired, and some of the Spencer track bus wiring has been strung.  The only work remaining will be the LC track bus and the Spencer track bus onto the peninsula.

This summer is turning into a fairly productive one.  I’m pleased with the progress being made on the layout thus far.

-Jack

The 3rd Anniversary

Well, we are wrapping up year number three on the Louisiana Central.  Much work has transpired over this past year, though not nearly as much trackwork was completed as I would have liked.  But significant progress has been made nevertheless.  All of the basic benchwork is completed, however two of the five sections are still needing roadbed for the track.  Benchwork fascia has been installed along a substantial section of the center aisle and at Maynard adjacent to the rear wall.

Electrical districts have been clearly defined and the DCC power, cab and booster bus wiring for five of the seven districts is complete.  The optical detection system was completed with the exception of the panel indicators (which need panels before that happens).  The first four control panels have been constructed and test fitted into their fascia “frames”.  A few hours of wiring will see them completed.  I’m pleased with these initial panels as they present a neat, clean appearance and are recessed to resist damage from passers-by.

While trackwork has lagged, a good bit of it has indeed been installed.  All of the staging tracks are in, and the entire Illinois Central presence is complete.  The interchange to the Louisiana Central has been laid, and the passing siding at Willis yard is nearly complete.  At the Monterey end of the line the mainline and passing siding have been installed, along with the turning wye, the house track, the MOW track, the Texas and Pacific interchange, and a spur to the Sean Cannery Company.  All of the trackage at Maynard was completed some time ago.

The Spencer Lumber Company’s line up to Camp 6 in the woods is under construction.  The upper roadbed is installed and waiting for track.  As I’ve mentioned before, that trackage needs to go in before the Louisiana Central can advance it’s mainline west out of Maynard.  The hang-up (as I’ve also mentioned) has been the modification of about 40 Shinohara code 70 switches to make them “DCC friendly”.  Well, the good news is that the program has finally started.  It shouldn’t be long before that trackage starts going down.

Speaking of trackage, I’ve installed the Tortoise switch motors on those turnouts presently down.  And I’ve got a good stash of Tortoises that have been inspected, lubed, pre-wired, and are ready for installation as additional track is laid.

I started roughing in for a bit of scenery recently.  There is a stretch between Willis and Maynard that consists only of the track on 2″ wide roadbed.  I thought it might be prudent to at least install the hardshell scenery base between the roadbed and the fascia and also a bit to the far side of the track just to make sure nothing takes a quick trip to the valley floor 385′ below.

Oh, and car kits . . . I’ve started assembling some car kits.  I’ve completed nearly 50 kits now (of the 300 or so kits in my stash).  Admittedly, I started with the low hanging fruit, going through many Accurail kits, along with a few Walthers, Atlas and McKean.  All of these cars now have metal wheelsets and Kadee couplers, and all have been certified road worthy.

Plenty of other things have been done, some not directly related to the layout (shelving in the workshop, drill press table, Dremel bit rack, and a few other improvements).  Even a bit of lighting work was done.

All-in-all, it really wasn’t a bad year.  During the second year, I had started burning out on construction.  The vast majority of the work had been on benchwork, roadbed and some track.  I decided to broaden the scope of work on the layout and began putting more time in on the other aspects of the layout.  After all, the layout will not become operational until all these things are done, including some basic scenery (as mentioned above).  After a long break from trackwork, I’m now in the mood to tackle some more and have refocused on that task again.

I had decided during my last annual assessment to not make predictions of what I’d accomplish in the upcoming year, then promptly made a prediction (which of course, failed to materialize).  This year I’m sticking to that tenet.

However, I’m optimistic about the fourth year ahead.

-Jack

Dremel Tool and Bit Rack

Over the years I’ve acquired four Dremel Moto-Tools, each of which came with an assortment of bits, accessories, and tool parts.  And each time I needed a bit or accessory, I’d spend more time rummaging through the tools cases where the tidbits were stored than actually doing the work.  So I cobbled this rack together from “scraps of scraps” (literally).  I liked the finished result so much that I caved at the end and shot a coat of paint on the thing.

Dremel Bit Rack 1

Dremel Bit Rack 2

The blue plastic box came with my last motor tool purchase.  I simply screwed it to the rack and will use it to hold sanding drums, polishing pads, etc.

-Jack

Tracing the Louisiana Central

This past Friday Wayne Robichaux and I took another field trip. This excursion was a repeat of an earlier trip in which we had “followed” the Louisiana Central from it’s beginnings near the east bank of the Mississippi River, to it’s eastern terminus at Bude, Mississippi.  That trip was made in the dead of winter so that we would be able to see better into the terrain.  Friday’s trip found the landscape in full summer greenery.  While it was considerably more difficult to see beyond the edge of the road in places, the look is more akin to the way the modeled scenery will look as I will be placing the time period in the summer.

We were able to precisely discern several of the locations where I’d taken photographs several years ago.  However several other scenes I’d previously photographed were hard to identify this go-around due to the extensive foliage and because of the passage of time.  I re-shot many of the scenes as a comparison, but didn’t discover anything “new”.  While there are way too many photos to post here, you can see the original collection on the website.

We broke off late in the afternoon and headed over to McComb, where we caught the northbound Amtrak train, with a northbound CN freight hot on his heels.  As most of you know, a local railroad museum makes its home in the depot at McComb.  Outside, a former Illinois Central Mountain steam locomotive, along with a few cars, are on display under a shelter roof.  We were pleased to see that an extension of the train shelter is well under construction.  This will place the recently acquired passenger cars on display under shelter as well.  After checking things out, we drove south on Highway 51 to Hammond where we caught one additional train before heading back west to home.  It was an enjoyable day!

Progress on the layout was a bit light this past weekend, but I did manage to assemble a few more car kits.  I also painted a new rack I’m making that will hold Dremel bits.  Oh, and I finally got started on those code 70 turnout DCC modifications that I’ve talked about several times in the past.  I’ve got a pair ready for installation on the layout now.  If anyone shows any interest, I’ll have to take a few photos showing what I’ve done with them.

-Jack