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.
Bill Gardei & Michael Haywood came out to the track to rehabilitate two of the switches on the mainline. The first switch is near the "bathroom curve" and completed the track work from the January 14 & 18 workdays. The track just beyond the switch was replaced last year due to the amount of sediment that has accumulated over the years. The same thing had occurred around this switch but has been corrected during the switch rehabilitation. The second switch that was rehabilitated is located just before the street crossing after the "Bypass" and Conner Siding.
Several club members attended the Montgomery Bell State Park Train History Festival this weekend to exhibit some of their engines. Everyone had a great time and the event was very fun. Thanks to Greg Glos for taking photos from this event.
Bill Gardei & Michael Haywood held a workday to continue the installation of new track in the same area as the January 14th Workday. The first task was to put new ties on the siding switch. After that, the new siding was built and almost completed. The switch at the other end also needs some rehabilitation before connecting the siding.
Normally, January in Tennessee is cold and no one wants to work outside. Luckily, this weekend was sunny and a high of 60F so many members decided to take advantage of this beautiful weekend. The next section of track that was slated for replacement was the main line and siding going towards the upper loop section of the layout.
As you can see from the photo below, the switch leading to the lower / upper loop has been moved about 50 feet from its original location. Also, the siding entrance has been flipped from its previous location to allow for easier access and usage when needed. The siding, next to the main line, will be replaced on the next workday.
The switches still need some rehabilitation and minor tweaks to get their position correct. As with all the track replacement projects completed in the last 3 months, new track sections will be graveled on the same work day in the near future. This allows us maximum flexibility to make adjustments to the new track as needed until gravel day arrives.
On December 17, 1966, 9 individuals came together to form the Mid-South Live Steamers.
On December 17, 2016, on the 50th Anniversary of that date, many members and their families came together at a local restaurant in Columbia, TN to commemorate that special day. Everyone had a good time catching up with friends and sharing stories during the dinner. It is one of the rare times members have gotten together away from the track but the general conservation was still about engines, track building, and having fun with trains!
On the last official workday for the year, we had a good turnout and got a lot of work completed. I want to personally thank all the members who have came out this year to help with the track work. With the dedication of so many members, we have repaired and rebuilt more track this year then in a number of years combined. Of course, there is always more projects to complete in the future, our club track is getting in one of the best conditions it has ever been. It is all thanks to the generous donations and hard work of everyone involved.
Bill Gardei came out to the track earlier in the week and finished connecting all the rail to the new switch. The new switch and track going to Conner Siding looks amazing!
Michael Haywood came out to the track the day before the work day to remove the old mainline in Conner Siding. This allowed the work crew on Saturday to start immediately installing new track.
On Saturday, the crew started to install the new track panels. The high never got above 50F but all the hard work kept the workers warm. Many members of the work crew expected to get maybe 50%-60%, of this area completed by the afternoon. As it hit 10:00 AM, we all realized that we were way ahead of schedule and a huge push was made to complete the install.
Here in Tennessee, you never quite know what the weather will be like. On Friday, the high was 81, and on Saturday, the high was 52 with high winds. While it was a little cooler today, we got a lot of good work done on the track. Continuing with the lower loop rebuild and installing the new switch going into Conner Siding.
The last hour of the workday was spend removing all the tracks from the trple bridges on the upper loop. This winter, the bridge will have a new foundation constructed.
With great weather today, several members came to the track to build some new track panels and dismantle some older ones. The first task was taking apart the remaining 15 panels that were pulled up last week. After that, the crew worked hard to build 36 New Track Panels, 26 of them have steel rail on one side, while the remaining 10 have aluminium rail only.