July 2002 was not a very good month for progress on the Shenandoah Division, but
now that it is August, I have hopes that the rate of construction will increase.
A good bit of July was taken up by non-railroad activities. The time I did
have to work on the railroad was largely spent experimenting with various switch
machines to determine which ones would work well. I needed to know this so that
I could figure out whether or not I needed to pre-drill holes in the subroadbed
as a I lay the turnouts. I've decided powered turnouts will likely use
Circuitron Tortoise machines, and that I'll use a technique published by Lionel
Strang in the July 1997 Model Railroader so the holes for the turnout linkages
can be drilled after installation.
A potential issue with the Atlas code 55 turnouts was then pointed out
to me, so I also did some work to determine that various Atlas locomotives
having wheelsets to the narrow side of being in gauge have difficulty tracking
through the code 55 #5 turnouts. It appears from my experiments that regauging
the wheelsets allows the locomotives to traverse the turnouts with no
With those two issues resolved to my current satisfaction, I proceeded with
the installation of the first track on the layout. On August 4, 2002, I
installed 3 Peco code 80 turnouts, an Atlas rerailer, and 1 section of Atlas
code 55 flextrack at the north end of Wadesboro yard (south end staging
The code 55 to code 80 transition was made at the rerailer by soldering the
code 55 track to the top of the code 80 rail joiners. The code 55 track is the
start of the mainline north of Wadesboro into the Salem Terminal. With this
transition installed, I can now make progress northward on the (visible)
mainline and southward into the staging area.