Pardon our dust ... After months of discussion and fund raising, the steaming bay cover has finally started to become a reality. With all the storms during the last few weeks, the start of construction was delayed several times but now we are back on schedule.
It has been a few weeks since the club has posted about all the work going on at the track. First, a new gravel parking area has been installed and the loading areas got some work as well. This should make it much smoother and level while using the transfer tabels.
Lutz Braun has constructed a new bridge that was installed in the steaming bay area.
There have been a lot of little projects around the layout. From repairing track, replacing sidings, fixing lights, and other various things. All these have been needed to get ready for the upcoming fall meet.
Over the summer, a number of heat kinks have developed around the track. It took about an hour, but three of the major ones have been repaired. On the next workday, final corrections will be made and areas will have more gravel added.
In the coming weeks, the club is going to re-gravel the area from the street to the unloading area. During this time, we will also replace two storage sidings. These sidings were in bad shape and the ground is very uneven. Since there will be skid steer on site for the gravel installation, replacing these tracks seemed like a good idea.
Also, a switch was removed from the unloading track ramp to allow equipment access to the steaming bay area for a couple of weeks.
This years night run was a huge success. The beautiful weather made conditions perfect for running in the afternoon and into the evening. With 8 Steamers and 6 Diesel Engines running, this was a new record for the Night Run Event. Some members started arriving at noon and some members keep running past 10 pm!!
John Norcross has been at the club working on restoring the Full Size Steam Engine and Cars. Back on June 8th, a small group pressure washed the area and did some general cleaning of debris around the enclosure. John came out and has painted the cars and began work prepping the engine for paint. John will continue this project a couple of weeks before the Fall Meet so we will all get to admire his work during the meet.
From the club archives, here is a photo of the Engine and Cars in the early 1970s.
We want to give a huge thank you to club member Mike Bassham for getting a new roof put on the club buildings. The new metal roof should last a long time and makes the buildings look really good! The orignal roofs were 20/30+ years old and were starting to show their age.
Over the next few weeks, club members will be working on the Steam Engine display located at our facility. The engine is in need of some cleaning and the pavilion supports need repair. Today's work was pressure washing the engine, cars, and removing debris around the area.
The annual backwards run day was held on Saturday. The weather was nice and everyone had a great time running the track. Running the track in the reverse direction from normal operations presents some unique challenges for engineers and makes for a unique experience.
With the Spring Meet only three weeks away, everyone has been working hard to wrap up all the track work projects started this winter. With the triple bridge reinstalled two weeks ago, the first task was to gravel the area just after the high bridge that was completed on the February 25 Workday. The second task is to reinstall all the other tracks on the triple bridge as well as brand new bypass switches on the bridge.
With beautiful weather and a crew ready to work, the first project of the day was to install the new decking on the triple bridge. The first half of the day, crews secured the decking to the bridge and back filled the area so track could be installed. The second half of the day, crews installed panels of track and the two new switches for the crossover.
The main focus was to complete the inside track before the end of the day. This will allow a ballast train to begin work on the track from the high bridge down to this area. That track work was completed on the February 25 workday, but due to its location, could not be reached until this was completed. The next few work days (April 15 & 22) crews will continue the installation of the other two tracks on the bridges as well as complete the crossover track.
The first part of the workday was spent completing the track replacement project near the steaming bay. We have been working on this project for a few weeks as time permits and glad it is finally complete. It will be leveled and ballisted before the Spring Meet.
On February 11th, the triple bridge on the upper loop was removed so new footers could be installed. Last week the footers were poured and the bridge was reinstalled on Tuesday. The second part of the day was spent removing the old decking from the bridge. At the upcoming Saturday (April 8th) Workday, new decking will be installed and work will begin on reconnecting the track accross the bridge.
Continuing the work from the March 21th Workday, additional track was replaced near the steaming bays that lead to the unload & loading ramp. All three switches have now been rehabilitated and the layout of the switches has been altered slightly from their original configuration. Additionally, the track next to the diesel turntable has been reinforced, just like the track in the bottom photo on the opposite site of these switches, due to high amounts of foot traffic in that area. The final siding track will be reconnected with the last switch on the next workday. Sometime after the 2017 Spring Meet, more track in this yard will be replaced as time and weather permits.
With the Spring Meet fast approaching and the workday on March 11th ended by snow fall, the work crew got to work early this morning putting down ballast. With two gravel trains running non-stop for hours, the crew worked very fast to empty one train before the next one arrived. The crew was able to ballast huge sections of track that has been installed over the last few months.
During the month of February, the lights over the steaming bay area were serviced and repaired. Due to their location and height, a large lift is needed to reach them and some track damage occurred during this event. Damaged track was painted red so the work crew could get an overall view of what and where needed to be fixed. The track on the left had the most damage, so the decision was made to replace the entire section (70 feet).
After some debate and planning, the work crew removed the first switch for rehabilitation and moved it 10 feet further down so rolling stock is on a flatter area before reaching the switch.
The track pictured below connects to the unloading ramp and is a high foot traffic area during the meets. It was decided to to put steel rail on these panels as well as aluminum support rails to help protect the area from future damage. Work crews will continue repairs in this area over the new few weeks to get it all ready for the Spring Meet.
Tennessee weather can change in a instant and on Saturday it did just that. With highs only in the upper 30s, club members came out to ballast the new track sections that were installed over the last few months. Two ballast trains were running non-stop for 4 hours and members were able to to get the first layer of ballast on about 50% of the new sections. Members were able to level and tamp these sections very effectively ( see photos below) and these sections will get one more layer to complete the job. Another ballast day is scheduled on March 25th to add more ballast and finish the sections still remaining we could not get to on this workday.
The workday started out a little colder then was hoped for! Bob Auchenbaugh, Jon Sproat, Bill Gardei, & Michael Haywood showed up to get some new track installed. As the day progressed, it warmed up and the track crew really started working hard to get this work completed. The crew was able to install almost 400 feet of track today.
Bill Gardei & Michael Haywood came out to the track to rehabilitate three switches. The first two switches were removed from the area between the "High Bridge" and the "Triple Bridge" on the Upperloop. These switches have been in service for over 18 years and needed a ground up rebuild. After refurbishment was completed, the switches are now ready to be put back in service in the exact same area.
The 3rd switch that was refurbished is located at the end of Conner Siding on the lowerloop. A lot of track work has been done in that area, especially on the January 28 Workday, and this was the last thing to complete. Sometime late in 2017 or early 2018, all of Conner Siding (Pictured Below) will be refurbished with new ties and rail.
Tennessee Crossroads (WNPT) has visited Mid-South Live Steamers three times over the last 30 years. Once in 1989, again in 1998, and finally in 2015. Michael Haywood has been working with their production team, over the last six months, to recover the footage from their film archives. The video was stored on 1" tapes and is still in great condition.
The work day started promptly at 8:30 AM as Mike Bassham got to work removing the triple bridge. New Footers will be installed and the bridge will be put back on its brand new foundation. While that crew worked, the track crew got busy dismantling the downhill track from the High Bridge to the removed Triple Bridge. Over the next few week this track and siding will be replaced with new track panels. This is the last major project to complete before the 2017 Spring Meet.
We had a good crew come out to the track today and work non-stop for hours at a time. One group was in charge of building track panels for the upcoming work on the upperloop. That team was able to build over 20 panels today out of the 50 needed. The other crew spent the day installing 70 feet of new track from Conner Siding down to the street crossing.