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Accu-tie Loop Tunnel Update

Have you ever started a project not really realizing exactly how much work and effort it would take to complete? Well, the new extension loop, which includes a large fill, a bridge and a 100 foot tunnel was just that project! The expansion, when complete, will add 2,900 feet of additional track to the mainline. Plans are to have it up and running by the 2023 Buckeye Limited Convention next August. At this point the fill is mostly complete, with a little fine grading needed before adding ballast and track, as is the bridge, for which we reported on several weeks ago. But of those the tunnel build is by far the big project. Last year in 2021 we began the excavation of the area that we planned to construct the tunnel and used that material for the fill that was discussed above. But at that time we were not ready to complete the tunnel project due to other priorities and an incomplete plan for the design. While starting the initial excavation we quickly determined that this area was extremely wet and appeared to have a seep or spring in the east end of the tunnel area. We also determined that the tunnel, originally planned to be 60 feet in length, would likely need to be 100 feet. This area was also found to remain wet for the greater part of 9 months out of the year so the only reasonable time to complete the project was mid-August through mid-November. After sitting a year the tunnel excavation looked like this:

As you can see it was quite the mess! With the help of our volunteers and the limited equipment we had, we proceeded to finish removing the material that we needed to establish the grade. But in doing so we also determined that we would need some extensive drainage work done to maintain the structure. Here are a few pictures of the excavation.

It took an incredible amount of work to accomplish this task and the railroad would like to especially thank Bob Vanderkarr and Andy Dickey who both have left their homes in other states to come out to the track for an extensive period of time to help work on this project. Bob has especially been an invaluable volunteer for this project and has worked at the track for a couple of months now and we would not have gotten as far as we have without his extensive help this fall. I'd also like to thank Mark Betlem for his help during this time and Brody Brightwell during the excavation as he also worked for two weeks to help move this material.

After most of the grade was established we now needed to level the side to side elevations as well as put in proper drainage. Unfortunately, we did not have the proper equipment to do this nor the experience to operate this equipment at the level that we needed.

To the rescue came Jim Lesiak, President of "Over The Top Specialties," a long time friend of the railroad. Jim had been out to see our progress on the tunnel in early October and offered to assist us in the earth removal but unfortunately for us he had a couple of projects he needed to complete before giving us a hand so we moved ahead without his assistance. This past weekend during the Fall Farm and Foliage Tour he stopped out again to see how we were doing and after reviewing where we were offered to come out this past week for a couple of days to help us complete our final grading and drainage work. He also offered to bring out his equipment and rent a couple pieces to help us complete the drainage in the hole so that we could begin setting the structures! WHAT A LIFE SAVER!!! Jim, with his extensive experience in equipment operations and earth removal was able to help us complete in two days what it would have taken us two weeks to complete and with a much higher level of quality of workmanship.

Jim also brought Gwen down to assist so in total we had five to six people working during those two days. Also assisting was Bob V., Jim H., Noelle R., and Dick. Here are a few pictures of the work completed during those two days:

Note that all of the water from the spring/seep is coming from the coal seam.

Thanks to Jim Lesiak's incredible work we are now ready to construct the tunnel.

All the structural timbers were purchased in August and September from Coshocton Lumber and Brody and Jim H. cut all of the structural timbers. Jim H., with the the help of Tom Gano of "Gano Construction", built a jig so that the base of the structures could be routed out prior to assembly. Tom has also helped us out by volunteering and allowing us to use some of his equipment! Here are a few pictures from that process:

Jim H. also constructed a jig for the assembly of the 76 structures. Just prior to the Fall Blow Down in early October, Bob Vanderkarr and Jim Henry assembled the structures and Dick hauled them away for drying in only three days. The construction consisted of both gluing and lagging the structures together to maximize their strength.

So, beginning tomorrow October 28, 2022, we will begin placing the structures into the tunnel area and wrapping them with 2x6's followed by roofing membrane. We'd also like to thank Coshocton Lumber for their generosity in providing us with much of our wood and wood assembly materials at cost! This will take us a few weeks to complete and we hope to be done by Thanksgiving. In the parting two photos below is the clearing of the right of way near the tunnel for the Accu-tie loop that began around two years ago. What a difference two years and a tremendous amount of hard work from our volunteers over that timeframe can do in getting a project completed. I also wish to acknowledge the help early on in the loop and on the initial cut from Chris and Clee. I'm sure I've left several volunteers out so if I've missed you it wasn't intentional. Hopefully the next pictures will be of a completed tunnel!!

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