Selma Rail Days Superintendent's Report October 5-7, 2017

Twelve members participated in the 2017 Selma Rail Days T-TRAK layout, 3 of them all three days. One member rode the train to the train show; Joe Johnston rode the Carolinian from Durham to Selma and return.

Visits by children, the reason for having the layout operating on Thursday and Friday, was disappointing. 52 children from Head Start in Selma visited on Thursday, and 12 children from a nursery school on Friday. There were lots of visitors on Saturday, but these tailed off in the afternoon as the rain showers came.

Prototype Railroads

Watching prototype trains go by has been one of the highlights of the Selma show. Not this year. On Thursday CSX provided only three trains, none of which were more than 15 cars. On Friday CSX didn't show up at all, but NS sent a local across the diamond westbound, then returned eastbound later. On Saturday CSX sent a 100+ car train south early in the day.

The highlight on Saturday was the appearance of the Loram Rail Grinding Train, which ground the CSX No. 1 track going southbound - spectacular. It would be a great train for someone to model. A couple of ties about a 1/4 mile south caught on fire.

On the passenger side the Amtrak Phase 1 Heritage Unit appeared 3 times in Selma -- Thursday northbound on the Silver Star, Friday southbound on the Palmetto, and Saturday northbound on the Palmetto.

The Carolinian was 1h 5m late on Thursday, 45m late on Friday, and on Saturday hell froze over - the Carolinian was 8m early into Selma.

A group of young railfans was on the platform Saturday to video all the CSX and Amtrak action. They ended up getting more footage of out T-TRAK trains than they did of the prototype.


Our layout was set up exactly as shown in the latest plan. Setup on Thursday took about 1-1/2 hours, with trains running in plenty of time before our first visitors. Tear down on Saturday started about 4:30 will everyone out of the station by 5:00 pm.


Trains operated continuously throughout the show with a maximum of 5 trains operating simultaneously on Saturday. Some issues with trains were identified and corrected, including wheel gauge. The usual problem of operators not re-aligning turnouts occurred throughout the show.


Foster Modules -- A section of the red track was dead at the start of operations. This was traced to an incorrect length of track that did not fit entirely into a rail joiner. A temporary fix was made by soldering the inside of the rail joiner. A new track section will be the permanent fix.

Yard Crossover/Left Throat -- There was a dead spot on the crossover red track when the throat turnouts were aligned for entry into the yard. The 0-5-0 was used to get trains into the powered section of the yard.  Wiring will be checked and fixed before the NRV show. Operation on the main red track was not affected.

Blaustein Modules -- The track joints at the right side of Forecorner were rough and caused several derailments; the rails do not extend the required 1mm beyond the edge of the module. New track pieces should be installed per the latest configuration for inside corners. On the Farm module the tracks at the left end of the module were not securely fastened as the nails were not fastened down securely. They should be replaced with screws.


One Digitrax LNWI was used as the sole interface for smartphones. Some testing of issues from Danville was successfully carried out. However, a more serious limitation of the LNWI was found. On Saturday, when one member setup a consist of 3 locomotives using Engine Driver we discovered it used 3 ports of the 4 on the LNWI, and thus allowed only one other user. For future layouts we will use only the JMRI software with a router or the Raspberry Pi 3 computer as a router.

This was the first layout at which the DCC Automatic Fuses that were earlier installed on the yard tracks were given a full test, and they worked as they should. The problem they solved was the momentary short caused by operators placing locos on the track without sufficient care to ensure they do not short, thus shutting down the electrical district (or the whole layout) powered by that Booster.


A good show, but sparse attendance on Thursday and Friday. The Town of Selma paid us $150 for our participation (Joe - the check will shortly be in the mail) and we have been invited back next year.


John Wallis




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