The engine terminal side of the layout operates quite well. I have nine more steam locomotives to build/prepare and the service train only needs a drop-bottom gondola for sand delivery. I am very happy with how this has turned out.
The coach yard, not so much…
- All the diesel switchers are currently non-operational: the two ALCo HH600’s, incredibly co-incidentally, had their decoders pack-up on the same day after an operating session. These are very nice Atlas models with factory-installed QSI DCC & Sound. I’ve had it with QSI anyway. I will install Soundtraxx Tsunami 2 ALCo decoders to get them going.
- I have an EMC SW1 (Walthers, DC powered, and which happens to be the proper locomotive for Central Terminal’s coach yard) to build. This diesel switcher model needs the works – stripping, details, couplers, paint, decals, weathering. I will install Soundtraxx Tsunami 2 DCC & Sound as well.
- I have sold the three REA-Wabash GATC 53″-6″ express reefers and have obtained generic Railway Express Agency marked cars of the same type. These need to be prepared.
- I would like to revisit Sergent couplers for the passenger and express cars. The chief difficulty is making them work with cars that have diaphragms. I think (I hope) the trouble is with the factory-installed diaphragms that put too much force against each other when coupled. Because of this, one cannot run in some coupler slack for uncoupling – most critical. I will experiment by removing the factory diaphragms from a pair of Walthers Pullman heavyweight cars, replacing them with new diaphragms from American Limited. I had good success with these in my EMC 103/103A build, although backing a locomotive into another to obtain coupler slack is easier due to the inertia of the stationary locomotive. Getting passenger cars to remain in place while running in some slack may be asking for too much. But I’ve got to try…
- If that works, well, there’s five other Walthers Pullmans to do.
- One 0-8-0 switcher has Kadee couplers for possible duty at the coach yard – hopefully success in the previous two items will allow me to replace these with Sergent Couplers.
- The three PRR B60 baggage-express and one RB50 express-reefer cars would need to be converted for Sergent couplers and upgraded diaphragms.
- There are five Branchline single window coaches to build. These are signature cars of the New York Central.
- There are also five Bethlehem Car Works baggage-express cars (four NYC and one Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railway) to build.
- I don’t like the look of the coach yard itself – it’s too “model railroady”. I think I over did it; both the passenger car service building and the REA platforms together is too much appearance-wise. I will remove the REA platforms and add tracks to create a plain yard. There is a big benefit too: this will actually allow for more varied operations because I can switch baggage/express and passenger cars together to simulate the building and breaking of passenger train sets. I had thought about removing the service building too, but I like it (particularly the ice house). Some time ago a very experienced railroad modeller, upon seeing and operating the engine terminal, commented that everything was “so spread out”. I took that as a nice compliment – Fillmore is compressed of course, but it does not look it. I think removing the express platforms will improve its appearance further.
- The staging fiddle yard should be reworked to have an easier method for adjusting rail heights (to the layout). The table top is light in weight – I think I need to add some ballast (a brick??) so that it will sit more positively on the carriage. Then I probably can make adjusters similar to the ones on the staging elevator. In addition, I should figure out a means to provide protection so that a car won’t roll off the end of the layout (crashing onto the floor) when the staging fiddle yard is not aligned to that track.
- I also would like to have more operating sessions which is the point of all this. At that means creating new permanent switch lists.
So it looks like there won’t be any dull moments here, down by the old roundhouse.