Thursday, February 13, 2020

Catching up on 2019

It's certainly been a while since my last update in April 2019! Aside from summer activities taking my time, there was a renewed push to complete a long overdue bathroom remodel. To make sure my attention was on the bathroom I haven't allowed myself to work on the layout until that project was complete.

As it turns out late in the summer I did end up working on the layout but only to disassemble three sections due to a couple basement emergencies. Our main drain pipe needed snaked out which called for the removal of the Pine Valley Yard peninsula. Then only a week later the air conditioning failed which called for the removal of two sections between Adena Yard and Pine Valley to allow access to the back of the furnace just in case. Luckily only a few pounds of freon needed added and we avoided a costly replacement for now. Thankfully I had the foresight to design these sections to be removed if necessary. However I did not precut the rails between sections so there was a frantic night with a Dremel cutoff tool before the drain people and later HVAC people came.

Mainline sections between Adena and Pine Valley removed and shown above, the Pine Valley Yard peninsula has been removed at right.
During the summer Brendan and I traveled to the Chicagoland area to see the Union Pacific's newly restored Big Boy steam engine in action on its tour of western states. We caught the beast heading through Wheaton, IL and then at West Chicago, IL where it stayed for several days on public display.

Union Pacific "Big Boy" 4014 though Wheaton, IL Chris Ellis photo.
While in northern Illinois we made the train watching hotspot of Rochelle our homebase spending hours at the busy railpark in town. This was Brendan's first real taste of seeing western railroading in action with the busy BNSF and UP lines moving traffic to and from Chicago. The first night there we were treated to a non stop parade of trains that made it hard to leave and head back to the hotel for the night!

BNSF intermodal at Rochelle, IL Chris Ellis photo
We made a point to visit the must see Illinois Railway Museum and got lucky visiting when the Frisco 2-10-0 steam engine was in action for short rides. I didn't realize then but later I found out the Museum and steam engine starred in movie "A League of their Own" with Tom Hanks and Gina Davis. The Museum had literal tons to see but even out in Illinois we found a small piece of the Wheeling & Lake Erie. On a wall of builders plates on display inside a passenger car was a plate from one of the Brewster built 0-6-0 steam engines.

Illinois Railway Museum, Frisco 1630 Chris Ellis photo
W&LE 0-6-0 Builders Plate at the Illinois Railway Museum, Chris Ellis photo

2019 would also have us visiting another train watching hotspot of Folkston, GA on our way to Florida for vacation. We only had time for a brief stop but luckily caught one train making the diversion worthwhile.

CSX intermodal at Folkston, GA Chris Ellis photo
In the fall Brendan and I took a whirlwind day trip to Cassandra, PA and Altoona, PA hoping to catch some peak fall foliage photography. We were rewarded with a beautiful day and almost peak colors, not to mention several of Norfolk Southern's colorful heritage engines making an appearance.

NS SD70ACe 1022 at Cassandra, PA, Chris Ellis photo

NS AC44C6M 4002 at Cassandra, PA, Chris Ellis photo

NS Illinois Terminal "The Glow Worm" heritage engine at Cassandra, PA, Chris Ellis photo

NS Monongahela heritage engine pushing at Horse Shoe Curve, Altoona, PA, Chris Ellis photo
As for layout updates, aside from the emergency section removal there's not much to report. The entire layout was covered up to protect it from dust when a tile cutting "room" was created using sheet plastic. If you've ever seen the TV show Dexter you'll understand what it looks like...

As of today only the shower grout work and some minor details remain to complete the bathroom remodel. So my hope is by the end of February I'll have the basement back in order and ready for layout work to resume!

Almost done!


  1. Chris - Thanks for the update! The bathroom looks VERY nice, indeed. Can't wait to hear about new exploits in Adena.

  2. Chris - Glad to see that you are still at it. Can't wait to see any additions. Looks like you TWO have been putting on the miles for some GREAT shots. By the way, GREAT job on the bathroom! You have to keep peace at home. Do you contract out?

    1. Thanks Denny, I don't think you want me to contract out because it might take me 3 years to finish!

  3. Hello! Nice pictures of Cassandra and the curve. I do not live far from both places. Sounds like you enjoyed your visit.