Sunday, April 30, 2017

Track Department Replacing the Wooden Railroad Ties

These pictures are taken in front of the station of the WMSR Track Department replacing the wooden railroad ties under the crossover switches.  Railroad ties need to be replaced every 30-40 years and that is what happened here.  Safety is of the utmost importance and therefore, in order to ensure that WMSR passengers are safe in their coaches, we replaced the railroad ties this week.

In order to remove the 22 foot to 28 foot long railroad ties, the rail needed to be lifted and removed as the concrete platform is on both sides of the tracks.    This is a tremendous job as WMSR does not have the modern tools to replace railroad ties.  WMSR is a heritage railroad and although we do use some modern techniques, our track department relies the heritage human factor of performing track work by hand.

Josh Nixon, operator of the tie handler, Track Foreman
Steve Cooper, Trackman, Level 1
Nate Bundy, Trackman, Level 1
Bobby Bittinger, Trackman, Level 1

This project took 5 days to complete, Monday through Friday. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Western Maryland Scenic says funding delays will delay C&O 1309 restoration

 By Chase Gunnoe | April 26, 2017; Posted byt Trains Magazine

CUMBERLAND, Md. — Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 is going to be late for its own debut. Railroad officials say funding issues mean the locomotive will not make a July 1 appearance under its own power as announced in January.

John Garner, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad's superintendent tells Trains News Wire that while the railroad has spent $800,000 of its own money to push forward restoration of the giant articulated locomotive, reimbursements from the State of Maryland have been slow in coming.

Garner says that railroad workers and its contractor, Diversified Rail Services, stopped all restoration work in early March due to the funding setback. The railroad has also had to furlough workers due to a shortage in cash flow.

In 2016, the Maryland governor’s office set aside $400,000 in a matching grant to aid in the restoration of No. 1309. Garner says that the grant program is designed to contribute to the locomotive's restoration, but the railroad is required to match the state's financial contribution and must first spend its own capital dollars before an approved reimbursement can be processed by the state. Garner says that raising $400,000 for a single project, while also trying to run the railroad has made it difficult for officials to maintain steady cash flow for the railroad. He says state officials are working to make railroad vendors approved state contractors and to also approve vendors' invoices.

“It’s all up to the state now, if [the state] cuts a check loose tomorrow, we go back to work,” says Garner.

He declined to predict when the locomotive’s restoration would continue or a project when it may make its first run.

Garner did say that once the next grant reimbursement arrives, contractors have about eight weeks of restoration work remaining before the locomotive is ready to go. Remaining projects include preparations for a hydrostatic test for the boiler followed by reassembly work if the test shows the locomotive will safely hold steam and water under pressure.

In January, the railroad set July 1 as the inaugural weekend for No. 1309’s trip into Cumberland and Frostburg, Md., and began selling tickets for a series of July 4 weekend excursions.

Due to the uncertainties in when the state may send additional money, the railroad has started processing refunds and re-bookings for the July 4th weekend excursions. Garner says that many international visitors are unable to adjust their travel plans to re-accommodate No. 1309’s setback. The railroad is offering $10 vouchers that can be applied to train rides, gift shop purchases, and or on-board services.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

New (to us) Budd RDC Cars

Gary Bensman sent these pix of our Budd cars in the TVRM shop being prepped for shipment to us.

No. 22 is one of the former B&O cars they had in service on TVRM until very recently. The other car (with a little purple paint) is a former Boston & Maine car that mostly will be for parts--although we may someday put it back into service or sell it off. It is not necessarily a keeper.

We hope to have the two B&O cars ready to use as coaches within a month or so of their arrival, and to have at least one of them back together as a self-propelled passenger car by Fall, when it would come in very handy for all sorts of service.

Each car has 88 equivalent walkover seats, all with good views. There are two restrooms per car and vestibules on both ends.

We look forward to these cars being part of our 50 Year Fleet, and to being versatile, useful, durable workhorse coaches. I am certain there will be a learning curve, and we will have all sorts of issues to deal with (they are complex cars with lots of moving parts). But they are unique and interesting mid-1950s cars. I think they will be an excellent addition to the railroad.

WMSR Ridgeley Shop Tours

On Saturday, May 6, join WMSR’s CEO John Garner and Curator John Hankey for a one hour in depth tour of the Ridgeley Shop and 1309 restoration. Tours are a 9 AM and 4 PM, and last a total of 1 ½ hours. Capacity is limited to 40 participants for each tour.

Participants will board a special one-car shuttle train at the Western Maryland Station in Cumberland for the short ride across the Potomac River to Ridgeley. Upon detraining, the tour will visit the main shop where the 1309 will be available for inspection. Participants will also visit the “New Shop” to see other restoration efforts, and will tour the site and see other WMSR equipment and projects.

The cost of the tour is $35, and all proceeds go directly to the 1309 restoration project. Participants must be at least 14 years old and able to negotiate uneven ground and a working railroad shop. Sturdy footwear, long pants, and glasses/safety glasses are required.

Garner and Hankey will describe how the 1309 came to the Western Maryland, explain the restoration process, and outline plans for its future operation. They will answer any questions you may have.

At the tour conclusion, participants will reboard a train for the return trip to Cumberland Station. There will be ample time if participants wish to ride either the 11:30 AM Cumberland Crescent or the 6:00 PM Evening Paradise Dinner Train.

This will be a very special opportunity to see a large steam locomotive in the process of restoration in a classic, mid-20th Century locomotive shop.

Join Us, May 6th, For Our Return To Frostburg

Join us on May 6th, for our long anticipated return to Frostburg. There will be fun activities for the entire family including:
  • Queen City Creamery
  • Corner Market
  • Toasted Goat
  • Fat Boys
  • Princess Restaurant
State and Local Dignitaries will be in attendance for a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony.

Title holders from Miss Frostburg and Miss Mountain City including Miss Frostburg will also be attending.

WMSR will also host 2 separate 1 hour Shop Tours at our yard in Ridgeley, WV where ticket holders can admire the new 1309 Steam Engine, set to be released later this year, as well as many of our other ongoing projects.

Constitution Park B&O Caboose Relocated To WMSR