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


Canada Southern 482790 is a member of Lot 344 F flat cars built in 1916-17 (St Thomas, Ontario) for the parent Michigan Central Railroad.  They were lettered originally for the MCRR as 32750-32899.  In 1941 they were re-lettered for the CASO and given the road numbers 482750-482899.  At that time New York Central System open topped freight cars (hoppers, gondolas, flats) changed their color scheme from black to freight car red. Canada Southern was a New York Central subsidiary in my era of interest.  Previously under Michigan Central control, the CASO provided an easy route through Southern Ontario from Niagara … Continue reading LOT 344 F FLAT CAR


A notable Canadian contribution to Allied Victory in World War II was the Canadian Military Pattern series of trucks produced by both Ford and General Motors (Chevrolet).  Over 410,000 were made using standardized cabs and bodies. The most identifiable cab was known as the No. 13 Cab.  The obvious distinguishing feature is the back-slanted windshield (an attempt to reduce the chances of sun-glare reflections that might give away its position to opposing forces).  Among the many body styles available, one of the most common was the 3-Ton GS (General Service or cargo) version, equivalent in roles to the US Army … Continue reading CMP 3-TONNERS


Have I mentioned that I use Tamiya TS-80 Flat Clear lacquer?  Probably too often, sorry, but I view this product as important to my layout as anything else. Until I gave it a try, I had experimented with acrylic flat clears via air brush: PollyScale/Testors, Badger, Tamiya, True Line Trains, Vallejo.  I had mixed results.  Sometimes I got a model that was flat and looked natural, sometimes I got a model that looked dusty or chalky, even when using the same product.  I couldn’t get a handle on consistency to my satisfaction. I had tried flat lacquer spray from Testors … Continue reading THE KING OF CANS


The working lamps around Fillmore are home made.  My thinking at the time was to achieve something a little finer and more scale-like. Some years ago I saw an article by John Licharson in Model Railroader (June 1994).  Basically, I took the design he offered and made some changes.  The construction is relatively simple as seen below: I use the Miniatronics 12V light bulb and shade assembly (unpainted brass).  I have found that the assembled lights sit deeper inside the shade, as opposed to buying the bulbs and shades separately which don’t fit as well.  When first making the lights … Continue reading HOMEMADE LAMP POSTS


The concrete platforms around Fillmore are fabricated with styrene sheet.  The expansion joints are made with a scriber and straight edge following lines drawn in pencil.  Prior to painting, I scuff all the flat surfaces with 400 or 600 grit paper and wipe down with rubbing alcohol.  This is how I paint concrete… 1. I apply Polly Scale Concrete thinned as usual for painting a model for an opaque finish.  This is usually a couple of drops of distilled water added to the paint in my air brush paint cup to make the liquid a milky appearance.  To gauge this … Continue reading PAINTING CONCRETE


My very good friend Bill Nesbitt works Saturdays at the local train shop (Credit Valley Railway Company).  On occasion he runs trains of his on the impressive store layout.  One such day in September 2015 saw his MTH 20th Century Limited seven-car set headed by Dreyfuss J3a Hudson 5446 making the large circuit.  At some point in time a derailment went unnoticed and when discovered the Dining Car 680 suffered damage.  Bill brought the car along to an operating session here at Fillmore and when he left, he left the car sitting on my work bench.  It sat forlornly for … Continue reading REPAIRING NYC 680


I’m currently reading the Lucius Beebe classic, Trains in Transition.  Now, I do admit that I have a hard time reading his prose;  I often have to go over a sentence a couple of times to get it.  Obviously my vocabulary is not up to scratch.  Where does he find words like: coda, anabases, militated????? I bought this used book for $5 at the local train shop – an excellent value for, in spite of my lack of education, it is a snap shot of railroading in the era of my interest.  I am fascinated with the years 1940-1941.  Originally … Continue reading TRAINS IN TRANSITION


Another service train operation is the delivery of a box car to the rail-height dock at the south-side of the roundhouse. Here we see said box car and U3a Switcher NYC 7815 emerging from the coaling tower on roundhouse inbound track 1… …and rolls through the ash/wash pits… …to the turntable. To get to Garden Track 1, our mini-train gets turned slightly. When aligned for the roundhouse dock, 7815 slowly moves NYC 277010 into position. Three short blasts and our U3a backs away onto the turntable… …and without delay moves off through Ready Track 1 onto her next chore. Continue reading ROUNDHOUSE SERVICE TRAIN PT1


Here is a model of one of the 2500 USRA Single Sheath Box Cars received by the New York Central and its subsidiaries, Michigan Central (1000 cars), Pittsburgh, McKeesport & Youghiogheny (500 cars).  The New York Central proper received the remaining 1000 cars.  They were the only single sheathed box cars on the system, so are fairly distinctive in that respect. This is the Tichy kit and was a lot of fun to build.  In fact, I built it a few years ago in the as-delivered form.  Recently I took this model and upgraded it with Kadee semi-scale 33″ wheels … Continue reading LOT 376-B BOX CAR


The following tool is not an original idea, but I think it is worthwhile mentioning.  Someone I know spent a lot of time building a resin box car (and did a nice job of it) but in a moment of inattention laid it down and crushed the delicate stirrups. I like to use a simple handle, made from a 1/4″ wide brass strip with a hole at each end, for painting car models. It simply attaches where the truck screw holes are… …it keeps fingers well away from airbrush spray…. …and it prevents one from laying the model down on … Continue reading HANDY HANDLE


The tools I ordered from NorthWest Short Lines for dismounting driver wheels/gears and for the proper assembly of those items again (“quartering”) arrived a couple of weeks ago.  This is totally new to me, so in spite of Dave Rygmyr’s detailed and patient e-mail replies to my questions, I did miss a couple of small accessories for the Quarterer 2.  I’ll do a review of the Quarterer 2 in another post.  This post will describe the tools: Puller 1&2, Sensipress+, and The Aligner. I’ve never been good at cutting corners, so I typically spend more and buy the proper tools … Continue reading PULLERS, SENSIPRESS+ & THE ALIGNER


Whenever I get to operate on a switching job, like the Ash Service Train, I’m the Conductor/Brakeman.  I like to use hand signals to direct the train movement.  Obviously, it is of great importance to review the hand signals with the locomotive engineer ahead of time.  This is best done during the briefing prior to commencing ops. To keep things simple, I have five basic hand signals which can be placed into two categories: Movement Control and Movement Direction.  This makes communicating with a new operator as easy as possible.  I always stand at the end of the train where … Continue reading HAND SIGNALS


Since Fillmore is “essentially complete” (defined as: all of the trackage is in place and operational, scenery is plausibly detailed, and the operating scheme is working), I find that I can now explore some more finer points of railroad modeling.  One aspect of operations that I was slow to jump on is momentum & braking.  It was something that I was aware of before, but it was not a priority at the time. Two things influenced me to adopt m&b.  The first is a brilliant posting by Riley Triggs, one that very much got me thinking.  In it he describes … Continue reading M&B UPGRADING SWITCHERS