One distinction of the demonstrator’s construction was its car body rivet strip arrangement.  The rivet strips on the sidewalls near the four portholes are different than on subsequent production models.  Fortunately I found this change to be very doable, although great care was needed. In the photo below, the vertical rivet strips marked with a blue arrow had to be removed.  The red arrow points to a yellow line that represents a rivet strip that must be added. I carefully removed the lower strips first with a Micromark chisel (Micromark), taking little material with each left and right pass (it … Continue reading EMC 103/103A RIVET STRIPS


One of the things I anticipated as a challenge to my build of EMC 103/103A was creating the diaphragms between the first and second sections.  Actually, this turned out to be quite easy. The Model F Demonstrator, like most Model F’s produced afterward, had a semi-permanent drawbar attaching the cab and booster power sections.  This item was not easily removed and was work for the railroad backshop.  The passageway between the two sections was covered with a one-piece canvass diaphragm. American Limited produces a very nice diaphragm set for the Stewart FT.  However, the diaphragm supplied that goes between the … Continue reading EMC 103/103A DIAPHRAGMS


I made up basic cab interiors for EMC 103/103A, just in case someone looks in there!  Having even a very rudimentary interior helps as I feel it completes the model just a bit more.  With the Stewart FT there is a limitation with regard to the floor height to clear the drive mechanism, so a faithfully prototypical interior is not possible. As it was a rather involved process in cutting and fitting the parts to fit inside the Stewart cab, I tackled this first after stripping the paint off the body shells.  In addition, since I have two more future … Continue reading EMC 103/103A CAB INTERIOR


Since its completion, I always felt that my 2700 hp Model F Demonstrator 103 was too olive.  The picture above accentuates this probably in the extreme.  Under normal lighting conditions, that would be in my train room, it looks darker and less olive.  The model was painted Polly Scale Empire Builder Green and the stripes are from the Microscale set (#87-613). For my new 5400 hp EMC 103/103A, I have been paying closer attention to the colors.  My main reference, aside from one period color photo in Classic Trains Spring 2015 (this photo shows quite a dark green although the … Continue reading EMC 103/103A COLORS


It is my preference to use the Stewart (Bowser) FT, already 20 years since its first issue.  Intermountain also offers a more recent FT with finer detail.  My experience with two samples from that company were disappointing, so I’ll stick with the trusty Stewarts. A look at the Bowser website shows that, unfortunately, the Stewart FT is no longer offered.  I did get a very fast e-mail reply from Mr English about a year ago stating that they may bring them back in the future.  There are parts available though, but no body shells.  I have noticed that these models … Continue reading EMC 103/103A MODELS


Here are some more resources I have…. Trains in Transition (Lucius Beebe, Appleton-Century, 1941) has a page (p.87 “THIS TRAIN SOLD THE BILL OF GOODS”) devoted to 103/103A.  There’s not a lot of info, just a paragraph below an R. H. Kindig photograph.  The significance of this locomotive is not lost on the author with respect to the number already ordered by the Santa Fe.  However, I do love how Mr Beebe opines “…steam has a sentimental appeal to all railroaders, and, in fact, to almost everyone…”. I had obtained FT Demonstrator decals from Microscale (#87-613) when I first modeled … Continue reading EMC 103/103A RESOURCES PT2


There is not a whole lot of info available on the EMD FT, errr Model F, let alone specifically on the 103/103A Demonstrator.  I have collected bits and pieces over time. The most info I have is found in the book, The Revolutionary Diesel: EMC’s FT (Diesel Era, 1996, softbound 130 pages). I find this a very informative and entertaining read.  I have re-read it numerous times and it never gets old.  EMC 103/103A is covered, although not as much as I would like.  Then all of the FT users (many written by their respective historical society) are covered alphabetically … Continue reading EMC 103/103A RESOURCES PT1


Whenever I see a train these days, like all of us, I stop and look.  While I take an interest in the railroading around me, I really have no interest in modeling it.  With the exception of the mid 1920’s to mid 1930’s, I have no interest to model anything but what I do now – 1938 to 1945, with a keen interest in the years 1940 and 1941.  Much was happening then; streamlined passenger trains, fast freight trains, large “super-power” steam locomotives, and the coming of the diesel-electric. I’m not a good model railroader or railfan.  I couldn’t tell the difference … Continue reading EMC 103/103A INTRODUCTION


Here’s an old trick for making fine plastic rod.  It is very easy to do.  Take a piece of the runner (or often called a sprue) from a polystyrene plastic model kit.  The sprue is what holds the parts making the kit “tree”. To take the clunky thick sprue diameter and turn it into finer useable stock, simply cut a length and hold it over a flame (a candle works best) while rotating, as below… …as it gets soft, it will droop down… …then stretch it by pulling on both ends… Presto!  One can make many different diameters by varying … Continue reading STRETCHING SPRUE


Here’s a handy tool that isn’t talked much about – the tapered reamer.  It is great for opening up holes.  While using an No 11 X-ACTO blade is an easy way to bore out a hole in, say, polystyrene, as the hole gets bigger it becomes less round and then becomes a jagged mess.  The reamer pictured above will do diameters from 1/8″ to 1/2″.  It makes very round holes by simply turning it clockwise.  The more it cuts, the bigger the hole gets. The hole created will have the same taper as the reamer.  To counter this, I insert … Continue reading TAPERED REAMER


This is officially the 100th post on my blog.  There were 2-3 that I have deleted along the way, I don’t know how many exactly, but the counter says this is #100 and we’ll go with that. My thanks to you for tuning in…I hope that you have found it worthwhile. I really didn’t think I would make it this far.  I’m not a computer guy: I don’t Tweet, never use Facebook, couldn’t say what an Instagram is.  Some may say, and maybe rightly so, that I am not very “social” given that I have turned the comments feature off🙂 … Continue reading THE CENTURY


I have had the most success in stripping the factory applied paint from models by using Easy-Off oven cleaner. I always ensure that I apply it in a well ventilated area and use a rubber glove to protect my hand that holds the model.  Very simply, I apply the Easy-Off as per instructions (meaning I shake the bottle well) and apply it very liberally.  In the picture above, we see the plastic container where the well-soaked body shell (a Stewart model) rests.  I leave it like this for about 3/4 of an hour.  Then, with my glove on because this … Continue reading STRIPPING PAINT


As a blogger it would be way too easy to complain about a disappointing purchase or experience.  No negativity here though.  It is important for me to salute those who go beyond what is requested and give a little, and often, a lot more.  There are two guys who have given exceptionally good service when responding to my questions. The first is Rich from Digitrax.  Sorry, I do not know your last name, but you have always answered my questions very quickly.  In fact, the service/support I get from Digitrax is the BEST of anything I’ve ever purchased (homes, automobiles, … Continue reading MY THANKS


Operating allows us to find inadequacies within our scheme.  One such inadequacy was found on the passenger/express car switching side of the layout. In my previous switch lists I had failed to show in what order, direction-wise, the cars needed to be made up for taking them from the passenger car service building or REA platforms to the passenger platforms (staging).  As seen below, the new switch lists indicate the direction (east/west) and order.  This also helps me staging the cars properly because they are stored away in boxes. Also, as originally intended, the switching on the passenger/express car side is … Continue reading REVISED SWITCHLISTS

NYC 3004

This is a model of a modern New York Central 4-8-2 Mohawk, Class L3a (Alco, Oct 1940).  The L3a class was 25 strong and all were built by Alco (as opposed to subsequent L3 and L4 classes).  The locomotives of this sub-class were dual-purpose: designed for both passenger and fast freight operations.  While not having the top speed of a class J3a Super Hudson, the L3a had more power and better acceleration, useful on heavy passenger trains with many stops and starts.  These modern Mohawks (the L1 originals were first introduced into service in 1916 and followed-up post-war by the … Continue reading NYC 3004


So I finally have a follow-up to my earlier posting of 9 July where I was about to release an NYC L3a 4-8-2 Mohawk locomotive for service at Fillmore.  Just at the last moment I discovered a cyclical hesitation in the driving mechanism at very, very slow speed.  In that post (LOCOMOTIVE TUNING PT1), I went through all the checks I made to diagnose the trouble.  I concluded that one or more of the drivers might be out-of-quarter, and so I went about obtaining the tools and knowledge to check this – see category TECH – TOOLS: SENSIPRESS+, QUARTERER 2, … Continue reading LOCOMOTIVE TUNING PT2

LOST RAILROADS OF WESTERN NEW YORK Vol 1: Lehigh Valley at Buffalo

I just finished re-reading Lost Railroads of Western New York, Volume 1: The Lehigh Valley at Buffalo.  This is the first of three excellent books in this series (thus far) from Stephan M. Koenig. This book covers the following in b&w pictures, concise text, diagrams, and maps: A history of the Lehigh Valley in the Western New York area.  Well written and not overwhelmed with minutia. The City Branch and Lehigh Valley Terminal – the passenger station and freight house in downtown Buffalo and the line from there to sub-urban Dingens Street Terminal.  Lots of fine pictures of station and … Continue reading LOST RAILROADS OF WESTERN NEW YORK Vol 1: Lehigh Valley at Buffalo


Way back in June I read a post on Eric Hansmann’s excellent blog regarding blue flags.  Here is a link to that post (HansmannBlueFlags).  This inspired me to make up some and incorporate them into Fillmore operations.  The obvious places for blue flags are at the REA platforms, the passenger car service building, and at the roundhouse dock beside Garden Track 1 – anywhere where men would be working in, under, or around spotted cars. I made two sets of flags.  One set is more robust and is used like gaming pieces during operating sessions while the other is finer for … Continue reading BLUE FLAGS


This post shows how I have used the NWSL tools to dismount a driving wheel and re-install it while ensuring the proper quartering. CASE 1 – Re-quartering a Driver Wheelset Here we have a surplus traction-tired driver (without gear) from a Broadway Limited Imports 4-6-4 J1 Hudson.  As I don’t care for traction tires on my locomotives, this was a very convenient item to practice on.  We see it mounted in a Puller frame with V-plate support under the wheel and installed in the Sensipress+.  As the axle diameter on this import model is 3.00mm, I have the 3/32” adaptor … Continue reading RE-QUARTERING WHEELSETS


My apologies for how long this post has taken to be written.  Being new to this, there were some small parts that I needed, but didn’t know about them until after I had the Quarterer 2 in hand. The Quarterer 2 is a tool used to ensure that steam locomotive driver wheels have their crank pins properly positioned when the drivers are assembled onto the axle.  The prototype steam locomotive has the crank pin positioned one-quarter of a turn away on one wheel in relation to the pin on the other wheel on the same axle.  The reason why one-quarter … Continue reading QUARTERER 2