A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

October 17, 2016

ACWRRHS 2016 Meet After Action Report

Wow, what a great meet. The guys in Tennessee really put on a wonderful event. Special thanks go to Charlie and Ginger Taylor, Thom Radice, Harold Taylor, Charlie Curro, Lee Millar and all the others   that did presentations or brought models to display.

UP action in Memphis
The official meet started with talks at the hotel on Thursday evening. However, I managed to do some rail fanning on Thursday morning in Arkansas and Memphis. I saw a double stack train east bound as I crossed the Mississippi, and a coal train westbound, but couldn't get photos. Later I chased a mixed freight east through Memphis.

Large scale model of Sultana in the museum.
On Friday morning the attendees went in small groups to local museums or activities. I went with Don and Becky Ball to see the Sultana Disaster Museum in Marion, Arkansas. It was a major tragedy that is little known. It is still the greatest nautical disaster in terms of loss of life in American history.

Thom Radice giving conductors their instructions
Friday afternoon was the highlight of the trip as we got to tour and operate Charlie Taylor's huge O scale Memphis and Charleston layout. Thom Radice helped Charlie set up an operating session that allowed all of the attendees that wanted to, to operate trains. I was an engineer teamed with my conductor Ron Flowers to run the Nitre (basical ly bat guano from a mine in a cave - how appropriate)  train from Huntsville to Chattanooga and back. The run took all afternoon, as we had request for numerous photo run bys and meets with other trains.

Charlie's layout is set in a 75 by 35 foot loft above his large garage and guest house. It is a wonderful space for a large model railroad. His engines use DCC and sound. The layout includes two turntables with a unique mechanism based on a "Geneva Wheel" that allows for automatic indexing. They were designed and built by Charlie's brother Harold, a mechanical engineering whiz.  Before dinner Harold took me for a tour of his machine shop. It was fully equipped with a multi head CNC mill and several other industrial grade lathes, brakes, and grinders.

Charlie Curro poses by the O Scale Tennessee River bridge,
one of two huge bridges on the layout.

In keeping with the family affair, Charlie's nephew,  Will, painted the backdrops and his 90-year old mother built many of the smaller structures on the layout. Charlie Curro, a long time colleague of Charlie Taylor, built most of the big structures.

It was a delightful experience for me to operate on another ACW O scale railroad.  Dave Schneider, owner of SMR trains, told me that we (Charlie Taylor and I)  are the only two layouts he knows that actually operate his O scale engines.

Harold's Geneva wheel

Some of Curro's structures
The "Charlies" and I compared notes on techniques and tips.  Charlie uses Digitrax DCC with Tsunami sound decoders. They sounded quite good and ran great. His cars use link and pin couplers.

After a genuine Memphis BBQ dinner, we had more talks back at the hotel.

Diorama in Shiloh Museum
NS on the former M&C in Germantown, TN

On Saturday, we went by bus to Shiloh Battlefield National Park. The park includes Corinth and Battery Robinette. Lee Millar, as a CSA Captain,  lead the tour.  First we stopped in Germantown to examine a 19th century boxcar hidden in a storage shed. Once at Shiloh, he gave many of us a chance to load and fire blanks with a musket, showed us the key points on the battlefield, and told a bunch of groan-inducing jokes, usually with a unreconstructed rebel theme.

Thom Radice fires the musket
The Shiloh Battlefield is about what I expected  in terms of gently rolling and wooded terrain. However, I was surprised at the small size of the final position of Grant's lines on the first day. I expected them to be a bit larger. They really where crammed in between the creek and the river.

Overall the battlefield is well preserved and undeveloped. The woods were allegedly not as thick then as they are now, but the open fields are very similar to the way they were in 1862.

The crossing at Corinth was interesting, even if all the ACW era stuff is mostly gone except for the location of the tracks. The crossing diamond uses an continuous track for the Norfolk Southern  east-west line. The north-south line has guard rails as the wheels have to "jump" the East-west rails- at slow speed I imagine.

KCS loco on display in Corinth
Unusual diamond crossing
On Saturday night we had a couple of presentations on the ACW TTRAK.  Joel Salmons set up a small layout and ran some trains. 

This was one of the best ACW meets that I have attended (I haven't been to all of them). I am looking forward to next year. Martinsburg-Harpers Ferry and Antietam might be a possible location.  Maybe with a new TTRAK module and hosting an op session on the Aquia Line.

From Nortraks website.  One-Way Low-Speed diamond frogs are used in their namesake diamonds, often referred to as OWLS diamonds. These types of frogs are analogous to lift frogs in turnouts: the higher-trafficked line crosses the diamond on a normal rail surface in tread-bearing mode, and the lower-trafficked line crosses over the higher-trafficked line in flange-bearing mode. Because there is no flangeway gap to cross on the higher-trafficked line, vehicles using this line can cross the diamonds at the maximum speed allowed by the track design. Because the lower-trafficked line is in a situation where gauge restraint is reduced and because it has to cross over the flangeway gap for the higher-trafficked line, vehicles using this line are limited to speeds at or below 10 miles per hour. OWLS diamonds are commonly used where a rail line with very little traffic operating at low speed crosses a rail line with considerably more traffic operating at higher speeds.

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