THOROUGHBREDS

The New York Central Hudson.  If there was no Hudson in HO, there would be no Fillmore.  I don’t even think I would have a layout. The lead photo shows the completed J1 Hudsons which now have been upgraded with Tsunami 2 DCC/Sound. There are three J1e’s (5326, 5330, 5341) and one J1d (5366).  In my era, the J1d and J1e sub-classes are easily identified by having a stepped running board with an air tank on both the engineer and fireman’s sides.  There was also a small run of J1c’s (for the MCRR) that had the balanced tanks, but the … Continue reading THOROUGHBREDS

OILING AROUND

I have been using Nano Oil (nano-oil.com) in my locomotives for the last few years.  I think it’s a quality product. Early on as I was investigating Nano Oil, I read some advice that described applying a drop of 5wt Nano Oil first, then followed by a drop of 10wt Nano Oil.  The idea being the lighter oil wicks the 10wt into position.  At the time I was preparing my Walthers 0-8-0 Switchers and this is how I applied the oils. However, after a period of time I started to notice the locomotive boilers and even tender tanks starting to … Continue reading OILING AROUND

OPERATIONAL TRICKERY

I have had to be creative to maximize operations.  The reason for this is because I do not have the full compliment of locomotives prepared, yet.  However, the terminal must operate and operating sessions are 2-1/2 hours long. Using real time (no fast clock) a normal busy through-put of locomotives is four per hour.  It takes one hour to go from inspection pit to roundhouse.  The longest servicing stop, the ash/wash pits, requires about 25 minutes and there is an additional five minutes safety factor.  So, with two roundhouse inbound leads, each hour we can service four locomotives (ten engines … Continue reading OPERATIONAL TRICKERY

NYC 3001

NYC 3001 (ALCo Schenectady, October 1940) is a member of the L3a class of modern dual service (passenger & freight) 4-8-2 “Mohawk” locomotives (3000-3024, all ALCo built).  She still exists at the National New York Central Museum (Elkhart, Indiana), one of only two large NYC steam locomotives that have been preserved. They were often used in fast-freight trains (69″ driver diameter).  However it was their great power, more so than the famous Hudsons, which made them very capable in heavy passenger service, with especially excellent acceleration for schedules with many stops and starts. The model is from MTH circa 2009 – they … Continue reading NYC 3001

PROGRESS

You may know very well when starting to build a layout there are a mountain of tasks to do.  There is much to consider.  We prioritize them as best we can.  Many things are left unrefined as one needs to move on to the next task.  Fillmore was/is no different. As I was collecting appropriate locomotives, my natural inclination was to think that they all will run fine even though there was a mix of DCC/sound systems.  The main ones were QSI, Paragon (Broadway Limited Imports), and MTH’s quasi-DCC/DCS system.  They were adequate for what little running I was able … Continue reading PROGRESS

OPERATING REMINDERS

We don’t operate often, only once a month, so it is easy to forget some of the detailed operational minutia.  On occasion a new operator will work Fillmore too.  To help on both counts, I’ve added key operational actions at each service station. Here is the one at the first station, water & inspection… -“DISPATCH LOCO” is a Digitrax command for releasing the DCC address.  Since the Staging Master, representing the road crew, drops the locomotive at the inspection pit, he must release it for the hostler, after turning on and off the locomotive-equipped tender water fill effect. – Fault … Continue reading OPERATING REMINDERS

AN OPERATING SESSION

Today we operated.  It wasn’t the best of sessions.  I wanted to get some thoughts down while they are still fresh…. It was a modified black board and era – June of 1944 (two years ahead of normal operations) and the recently completed EMD FT’s (NYC Class DFA-1a & DFB-1a, delivered June 1944) were incorporated into the scheme.  We were short one operator.  The blackboard, shown below, was quite aggressive, particularly in the last 45 minutes (11:45 to 12:30) of operation.  There was new power added – NYC 3000, a newly completed L3a 4-8-2 Mohawk.  And we were not sharp. … Continue reading AN OPERATING SESSION

ALL THAT GLITTERS…

Some weeks ago an acquaintance was giving an informal clinic on using Pan Pastels down at the local train shop (Credit Valley Railway Company).  He is a very fine railway modeller and his freight cars looked outstanding.  Besides the usual Pan Pastels used for weathering, he also uses Pearl Medium – Black COURSE #014 to refresh/enhance coal loads.  The model on hand showed this to be effective.  I thought that this was a rather creative idea. Basically this is a black powder with glitter added.  Last Saturday I decided to give it a try, first on a removable coal load … Continue reading ALL THAT GLITTERS…

NYC DFA-1a & DFB-1a

NYC 1600/2400/2401/1601 (Electro-Motive, June 1944) was the first of two, four-section (A-B-B-A) 5400 hp FT locomotives delivered to the New York Central Railroad.  They were classed as DFA-1a (A-Unit) and DFB-1a (B-Unit). Originally EMC (so named until January 1st 1941 when they became EMD) designated the A-Unit and B-Unit as: first section and second section, respectively.  Why did they do this, after all there were cab-equipped A-Units and cab-less booster B-Units in their passenger Model E line already in service? The first & second sections together were considered one 2700 hp locomotive, the Model F.  It was designed in two … Continue reading NYC DFA-1a & DFB-1a

YEARLY LAYOUT MAINTENANCE

New Year’s.  For me, and I think many, a time of renewal.  A chance to clean up and be ready for the future.  One morning during the holidays I decided to give Fillmore the yearly maintenance it deserves. Beforehand I had decided that I would give it a good going-over that may take the better part of the day.  It would be at a leisurely pace; just doing whatever needed to be done without looking at the clock.  It would be a big  job, after all – you know cleaning (ugh). But my grandiose plan was totally unnecessary because it … Continue reading YEARLY LAYOUT MAINTENANCE

WEATHERING STEAM LOCOMOTIVES

  I think weathering any model is largely a matter of personal preference.  For me, I like a more restrained approach.  I will lean more towards something plain – I think this enhances plausibility and the chances of acceptance by the viewer. My preference is more of what I would call a grimy/oily look. Pre-war, the New York Central Railroad maintained their locomotives in very good condition.  There certainly was no rust or heavily weathered areas.  Color photos from that time (my favourite are from Emery Gulash and from NYC Company Photographer Ed Nowak) show this, so I think my mild weathering treatment is prototypically appropriate. … Continue reading WEATHERING STEAM LOCOMOTIVES

NEW COACH YARD

Back in the Summer I started to have second thoughts about how I modelled the coach yard….. I’m usually of the mind for spreading out scenes; less is better.  Dull and mundane is better still.  Whenever I thought about the Railway Express Agency platforms, I felt it was too much, too close to the passenger car servicing building.  Too busy.  Too “model-railroady” – you know, cramming something into every bit of available space.  However, whenever I uncovered the layout and looked at it, it didn’t seem all that bad. But, I couldn’t let go of that thought and now the … Continue reading NEW COACH YARD

CRI&P 628

The ROCKET!  The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific is often forgotten as a diesel pioneer.  Their EMC TA locomotives set the thinking towards having an independent locomotive and separate lightweight cars – the earliest streamliners had operationally inflexible articulated train sets. As the Rockets, Kansas City-Oklahoma City [1937] Texas Rocket Fort Worth-Houston [1937] Chicago-Des Moines [1937] Chicago-Peoria [1937] Minneapolis-Kansas City [1937] Denver-Kansas City [1937] Kansas City-Dallas [1938] Rocky Mountain Rocket Chicago-Denver/Colorado Springs [1939] Choctaw Rocket Memphis-Amarillo [1940] Zephyr Rocket (with CB&Q) St Louis-Minneapolis [1941] became more popular, with train lengths increasing, the little EMC TA’s could not handle them.  Sometimes … Continue reading CRI&P 628

HH600 UPGRADE

There are two ALCo HH600 switchers at Fillmore.  They are Atlas models factory equipped with DCC & sound; that means they have QSI decoders.  Over the years I have had a bumpy relationship with QSI decoders, however they were working okay in these engines until after the operating session last December. NYC 675 was on the layout and used for a refuelling operation as part of the engine terminal blackboard operations.  When I was putting away the layout, this engine did not respond although it was running (sound was on).  I tried a number of things and ultimately tried resetting the decoder … Continue reading HH600 UPGRADE

ATSF 12 & 12A

The next-to-last locomotives for upgrading to Soundtraxx Tsunami 2 DCC/Sound, LEDs, and Sergent Couplers were ATSF 12 & 12A. The model is from Broadway Limited Imports, of about 2012. Along with Union Pacific, Chicago Burlington & Quincy, and Baltimore and Ohio, Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe was a diesel pioneer.  Perhaps their greatest contribution to the application of the diesel-electric locomotive was in mainline freight operations just before and during the Second World War.  They were the largest operator, by a wide margin, of the EMC/EMD FT (320 units of 1096 produced). And they were nearly the first to operate EMC’s new … Continue reading ATSF 12 & 12A

A SHAMBLES!

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 … Continue reading A SHAMBLES!

TWELVE FEET SWITCHING IN SIX

I’m not a layout designer, but don’t we all dabble a little in it?  Another in a short series of space saving designs with operations in mind… For those with limited layout space, a previous concept (COMPACT TWO-PLACE SWITCHING) has two scenes stacked one on top of the other.  In TWELVE FEET SWITCHING IN SIX, offered below, it is all one level, but the inactive scene is hidden when operating.  This is done by means of a folding shelf, or rather, half of the layout folds away during operations and for storage. The designed rail height from the floor is … Continue reading TWELVE FEET SWITCHING IN SIX

RAILROADS INTERCHANGE IN TWELVE FEET

I am not a layout designer, but don’t we all dabble a little in it?  Another in a short series of space saving designs with operations in mind… The interchange of traffic on railroads is essential.  A small layout based solely on the interchange of cars from one railroad to another is rare.  By its nature it would be a layout created for the operator. Taking the dynamic redeploying layout and staging concept in a different direction, I offer Railroads Interchange in Twelve Feet.  Of course, if more space is available then the layout and staging trolley can be increased in length, … Continue reading RAILROADS INTERCHANGE IN TWELVE FEET

VALLEJO WASH

When experimenting with the OLD OUTHOUSE, one takeaway from it was how impressed I was with the Dark Grey Wash.  It flowed nicely.  I guess acrylic washes have come a long way – I’ve avoided them due to past experience long ago.  Since then, I use enamel washes (enamel paint thinned with Varsol). EMC 103/103A was a bit incomplete.  I did not like the appearance of the side and roof grills.  I decided to give these areas a Vallejo Wash treatment.  Since the olive paint on the Model F Demonstrator is quite dark, I decided to apply their black wash. … Continue reading VALLEJO WASH

DOUBLE-ENDED YARD IN FIFTEEN FEET

I am not a layout designer, but don’t we all dabble a little in it?  Another in a short series of space saving designs with operations in mind… I think a yard as a layout is overlooked as a model railroad option.  Personally, I love the idea.  It is a great way to provide for lots of operation.  It is a “universal industry” that can accept any type of car.  It is simple and quick to build and scenic.  Those freight car aficionados who enjoy building detailed models can not only display their work in a natural setting, but can operate … Continue reading DOUBLE-ENDED YARD IN FIFTEEN FEET

CITY OF LOS ANGELES

Six thousand horsepower for fourteen lightweight passenger cars! Union Pacific’s premiere Los Angeles to Chicago streamliner, the City of Los Angeles, in 1941, was powered along the entire route by a single EMD E6 A-B-B trio. In the 1930’s Union Pacific were pioneers in lightweight diesel-powered streamlined passenger trains.  Ironically, this forward thinking in dieselization did not extend to freight operations.  UP watched all of their main Western competitors dieselize their fast freight trains with EMC/EMD FT locomotive sets prior to and during World War 2.  It seems as though their situation was similar to New York Central’s:  pre-war, the UP … Continue reading CITY OF LOS ANGELES

FILLMORE POWER DISTRICTS

The DCC system at Fillmore is by Digitrax.  At the time, it was packaged as the Empire Builder Duplex Radio starter set (5 Amp) and I later added a second 5 Amp Booster.  It has served me very well.  The Command Station is Power District 1, the Booster is Power District 2, and they are labelled as shown below. To manage the track power requirements, due to the high density of DCC sound-equipped locomotives, I took some time to consider how I would divide the two power districts that the command station and booster naturally provide.  Here is the result: … Continue reading FILLMORE POWER DISTRICTS

KCS 4

As I work through the cabinet collection, the next E6 locomotive to be upgraded with Soundtraxx Tsunami 2 DCC/Sound, LEDs, and Sergent couplers is Kansas City Southern #4.  Like all EMD E6 locomotives previously described, this too is a Broadway Limited Imports model (circa 2013?). After upgrading eight such BLI units, this one went very smoothly and very quickly – a Friday evening to remove the coupler & modify the coupler box, carefully lift the body, disconnect the wiring (& snip the connectors off), remove the factory decoder, mount the new decoder, and a Saturday evening to solder the connections, … Continue reading KCS 4

SETTING UP FOR OPS

Here’s what I do to set up for an operating session…. We operate on Sunday mornings, and mid-week prior I review the blackboard (engine terminal schedule).  The blackboard is just a dressed-up spreadsheet that I broadcast on my flat screen tv.  I save a copy of each one we use, so I have a number to choose from. But I find it is an evolutionary process and I typically take the latest one, copy and modify it.  Here is an example: On the blackboard, we’ll begin at 10:00AM and operate until 12:30 (with a ten-minute break at 11:00).  There is no … Continue reading SETTING UP FOR OPS

OLD OUTHOUSE

I am not an artist.  I don’t recognize the many different colors that a given object displays.  I admire those who do and can translate that into creating a realistic model.  Painting something that represents unpainted wood has been something of a challenge for me. I recently tried the Vallejo paint kit NEW AND OLD WOOD EFFECTS to see if I could achieve decent results.  The kit is just paint, of course, but at least the colors provided are chosen by accomplished model builders/artists – something that I think I could never get a good handle on.   A bottle … Continue reading OLD OUTHOUSE