The near record cold spell in 2007 stopped all construction on the railroad but it didn't stop the planning of projects that have now got underway with the warmer weather.
Car Barn Expansion: This photo shows how the tracks used to lead to the car barn. More storage is needed for the many new cars that have arrived. Several options were considered and it was determined that the easiest way to add storage was to add a track under the deck on the right in the photo and to extend the car barn to the north (toward the camera).
This photo shows the new track configuration leading into the car barn. Straightening the tracks into the barn has allowed one or two more cars per track in the existing structure. After the barn is extended, a total of 32 feet more storage per track will be available.
Jim Norris made the six new switches while it was still too wet to do track work. The track modifications were made in April as soon as there was a couple warm dry days. Check out those switches, Jim sure makes tracks flow smoothly!
Wood is being collected for the barn expansion.
No work was done on the barn expansion during the summer. After the blowdown meet in October we got at the barn again. The photo at right show the situation just before Halloween. The hardest part is done ---- we should have it finished before Thanksgiving.
The added track under the deck and reconfiguration of the tracks leading to that are is still to be done.
Moving the Tool Shed: This tool shed was the first Mill Creek Central structure. It was located south of the shop in the area where the motor homes are parked. It was decided to move adjacent to the yard north of the steaming bays making it handy for storing many of the track tools --- thus freeing up space in other areas to store more cars.
This photo shows pulling the shed with the dozer. The shed had been emptied and all doors and windows removed. The structure was put together really well and it remained square even when dragged over very uneven ground. This was done in April.
It was a tight fit between the trees but we made it with only a few minor scrapes.
This shows the shed in its new location. The final movement and positioning required both the backhoe and the dozer. At this point the side closest to the track is about 5 inches too low.
This location is good should it be decided to put the yardmaster and dispatcher offices in the shed.
This photo was taken a few days later after the ground dried a bit allowing the shed to be leveled. Reinstallation of the doors, windows and storage shelves will be good rainy day jobs. A little paint or stain might be a good idea too.
This is the shed on a dreary day in late October. The shed is level and a deck has been added. That deck is a cool place to relax and watch the trains. Paint/stain will be a 2008 project.
Flood Damage: Every spring there seems to be at least one area of the track that has flood damage. The area hardest hit this year was just south of the grade crossing over the driveway. The water that flows down the valley and under the trestle flowed through a pair of 6" pipes under the track here. This spring there was a much greater than usual water flow which moved debris to the ends of the pipes which plugged them. The water then flowed over the track and eroded the base and ballast.
The cure for this problem was to replace the pair of 6" pipes with an 18" pipe shown in the photo at right.
The ditch was also increased in size. The little bridge in this photo was constructed to make it easy to move the mower over the deeper ditch.
Dick is hand tamping the ballast on the reinstalled section of track. The Valley Division is now back in operation.
Frost Damage: There is also usually some heaving due to frost every winter. This year the north end of the concrete grade crossing over the driveway heaved up about an inch. The main part over the driveway stayed pretty much in the place so the north end of the concrete appeared to have bent up. Close examination revealed that the concrete had cracked. The dirt was removed from under the end and the track went part way back in place. The next step was to use the "big foot" shown in the photo to push it all the way back in place.
This shows the side view of the offending piece of concrete. The hole quickly filled with water after the dirt was removed. A trench was dug to drain the water. The water was probably the root cause of the heaving. A drain pipe and filling the hole with gravel should be a long term solution.
Mountain Division Meadow: The track between the tunnel and the trestle was laid in the spring. Through the summer we tweaked a few spots which were a bit rough. Later in the fall we graded the area to the east of the tracks to make a level path for vehicles and to improve the drainage, The next four photos were taken in mid October.
This photo was taken from the south tunnel portal looking south.
This photo was taken from beside the turntable looking south.,
This is looking north from the middle of the meadow.
This is taken from the south end of the meadow looking south west toward the trestle.
Moving Ballast Tipple: The ballast tipple had been located near the main yard for several years. This was convenient to most the construction. Now that the Mountain Division tracks are finished through the tunnel and across the meadow it was decided to move the tipple to the south end of the trestle where it will be close to the construction of the Mountain Division reverse loop. This also freed valuable space around the main yard.
The photo at right (taken from the trestle) shows the new location. The ballast will be stored to the right which is about 30" higher than the track. Having the area behind the tipple higher will enable us to use the Kubota to load the tipple (smaller bucket-less spill) and will enable one to stand behind the tipple and poke clear jambs.
This closer view of the tipple shows the walled off area beyond the chute which will be used to store the ballast cars. The 4X4 pole will be cut to the correct height to support a roof to keep the cars dry. We hope to get this roof done before winter.
Mountain Division Reverse Loop: The next major project is the Mountain Division reverse loop located on the hilltop south of the trestle.
We have the first hundred yards or so just beyond the tipple graded and were able to get this grade crossing installed. The photo was taken from just south of the tipple and is looking south.
The single track block starts just north of the trestle and goes over the trestle, past the tipple, over this grade crossing and then on to the edge of the woods.
Double track starts at the edge of the woods . The double track does a 180 degree curve in the woods and exits on the west side of the clearing --- off to the right of the photo. Just before the tracks exit the woods they split to form a circle in the clearing.
This photo was taken from the edge of the woods looking north, The right away on the right leads to the grade crossing, tipple and trestle. The graded area to the left is the east side of the reverse loop
The track from the tipple through the woods to the reverse loop in the clearing will have a ~1.75% grade. Most of the reverse loop will be flat.
This photo is taken from 75 yards into the woods looking back on the curve leading to the grade crossing.
The photo is taken from the same spot as the previous photo but is looking west. Several feet of fill was required in this area The fill ends near the top right of the photo where a cut begins as the tracks turn north towards the edge of the woods.
This is the cut on the west end of the 180 degree curve in the woods. Just beyond the puddle one track curves to the right to start the east side of the reverse loop.
The other track continues north to form the west side of the reverse loop.
This summer Brian Maiher brought his large dozer out and made these cuts for us which saved us several weeks of work with our smaller equipment. He was able to grade the the entire loop very close to what we wanted. We now have to go back with our smaller equipment and remove some of the trees and finish the sides of the cuts.
This photo showing the east side of the reverse loop was taken from the edges of the woods just after the double tracks split. This cut+ is a continuation of the cut in the woods shown in the previous photo.
This is looking north showing the fill on the east side of the reverse loop near the middle of the clearing. The graded area on the right leads to the grade crossing and the trestle.
The plan for this winter is to work on grading when weather permits and to build track panels when it's too wet to grade. Hopefully the loop will be in operation before next summer.
Crossing Signal: Bruce Werner lent us this really neat signal for the grade crossing on the driveway. The signal is about half size which is a good match for 1/8th scale trains and full scale autos. The signal has flashing lights and a loud bell.
We're using wireless motion detectors to trigger the signal and and a time delay circuit to keep the signal operating for a reasonable time after initially triggered.
Thanks for letting us use the neat signal Bruce!