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


I have been using Nano Oil ( 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


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…


  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


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


We all have a small collection that has nothing to do with our main layout.  These models just make us feel good when we see them even though they are hardly, if ever, operated.  One part of my collection is the EMC/EMD E6 Cabinet, pictured below. These are all Broadway Limited Imports models of the higher quality finish offered beginning in 2012, I believe.  I have a rule to put some control over my model railroad spending: I only buy locomotives and rolling stock from the years 1937 to 1945.  This is reflected in the mostly U.S. pre-war (1940-41) as-delivered … Continue reading EXCESS AND THE RAILROAD MODELLER


In my era of interest, the 1930’s and early 40’s, the standard railroad coupler in North America was the Type E.  It was found on both freight and passenger cars.  Here are two pictures from the 1941 Locomotive Cyclopedia: When lightweight high-speed passenger equipment was introduced a new coupler was too, effective March 1, 1940.  The Tight Lock Coupler (later called Type F) was designed to eliminate free slack in the contour (vertical plane).  It has a tapered protrusion on one side that engages in a tapered pocket on the mating coupler.  It can couple to a Type E and has … Continue reading TIGHT LOCK COUPLERS


  The cultural differences in the various scale modeling interests has always fascinated me.  On 22 July 2016, I wrote a post about how our hobby is quite different than other kinds of scale modeling (aircraft, military, ships) in that we railroad modellers can and do revisit our models, retro-fitting/upgrading them as we desire (just like the prototypes were are trying to emulate). In that post I described the changes I made to class J1d Hudson NYC 5366 long after it was built (the post can be found in CATEGORY: TECH-LOCOMOTIVES “BACKSHOPPING 5366 PT1“).  Having learned a thing or two … Continue reading BACKSHOPPING 5366 PT2


So I finally have ATS receivers mounted on some of my locomotives.  It was an interesting project where I learned about Automatic Train Stop on the New York Central and 3D printing via Shapeways.  Also, while doing my research, I discovered that I could add an additional prototype operation which was actually performed in New York Central engine terminals that served locomotives from a main line which had ATS. Even though the checking of the ATS electrical circuits was part of the routine inspection performed inside the roundhouse, before an engine left the ready track, the ATS was tested again.  … Continue reading ATS PT3


As Fillmore Avenue Roundhouse (set in Buffalo, NY in 1942) is on the NYCS mainline from New York City to Chicago and was fully equipped with General Railway Signal Company’s intermittent Automatic Train Stop system, all mainline locomotives visiting Fillmore ought to have a tender truck mounted ATS receiver.  Switchers at Fillmore do not need this detail. This is one item that is almost never included on a locomotive model, whether New York Central or other.  It is a relatively small part, so perhaps it is usually missed when researching a particular prototype.  None of my models have one, so it … Continue reading ATS PT2


One entry in the Special Rules section of the New York Central 1937 Edition RULES FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE OPERATING DEPARTMENT book is most interesting.  It is under the fireman’s responsibilities: Rule 943: If engineman fails to regulate speed of train when approaching a signal indication or other condition requiring that speed be reduced, they must communicate with him at once, and, if necessary, stop the train. The pressure on enginemen to meet schedule, particularly on the top passenger trains, must have been tremendous.  They were only human and it is a natural tendency in all of us to … Continue reading ATS PT1


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


I have had the most success in stripping the factory applied paint from models by using Easy-Off oven cleaner.  However, this doesn’t always work.  For example, it will not remove Tamiya lacquer sprays – for that I have had limited success with 99% isopropyl alcohol. The Easy-Off should remove acrylic-based model paint easily. 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 … Continue reading STRIPPING PAINT


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


Our hobby is unique in many ways.  There are many varied things to learn and one can spend a happy lifetime trying this and that and having a special satisfaction when success comes.  Building scale models is a major part of that joy.  Unlike other scale model builders, our culture is a little different though. Imagine a scale aircraft modeller spending countless hours making that 1/72nd B-17F Flying Fortress.  Neatly built, impressively detailed and perfectly weathered, but once complete he finds that the turbo superchargers were not correctly moulded.  What does he do?  Well I would not be surprised if … Continue reading BACKSHOPPING 5366


One of the many things I like about this hobby is the sense of discovery.  That comes in many ways, although I would say that I am very fond of finding new things by reading.  Last Fall my very good friend Phil Spencer (an NYCS aficionado, among other loves dealing with the iron rail) informed me about a new book on the New York Central Hudson and asked if he could order one for me along with the one he was getting for himself.  Well, I jumped at the chance and am so glad I did.  Thanks Phil!  Know Thy … Continue reading COAL PUSHERS


Model railroading can take one to unexpected places.  I have discovered this because I’m doing things that I really didn’t expect to do or even thought of when I started. I would like to say that I am definitely not a model railroading expert.  I am learning along the way , very much as you are doing too.  This series of posts will document my pursuit of smoother running steam locomotive models….. Last Sunday, I was all set to reveal, in the-then next post, my latest steam locomotive in the Fillmore power pool: NYC Class L3a 4-8-2 Mohawk .  Previously … Continue reading LOCOMOTIVE TUNING PT1


We HO scale railroad modellers have so many choices of locomotive and car models with very fine details.  Obviously, these models cost more, but to those of us who like the finer detail, we spend the money.  In almost all cases, though, the packaging is not really meant to store the model it came with as it is not really designed with that in mind.  The packaging is made as inexpensively as possible in order to get the model to our workbench.  Putting the model back into the box, well, isn’t as easy as getting it out (and even at … Continue reading LOCOMOTIVE & CAR STORAGE


It seems that every project at Fillmore requires a lot of planning.  I think this is true for everyone who is building a layout.  That is why I write things down so as to avoid missing a step.  Most of these lists are temporary, usually written in my iPhone, but on complex projects that I expect to repeat from time to time, I write the steps down as a document that I keep with all my other Fillmore info on my laptop. One such checklist is the process for prepping a locomotive for service.  Here it is: LOCOMOTIVE WORK CHECKLIST … Continue reading LOCOMOTIVE CHECKLIST


When prepping a steam locomotive for ops (detailing, painting, decaling, weathering, etc), I like to pre-weather the driving wheels.  This is just a thinned coat of Grimy Black sprayed, but applied when the wheels are moving so that I don’t have a masking effect from the side rods. This is how I do it. I made up a cradle that holds the locomotive while it is running (below). The cradle is tilted back with a foam backing.  A short piece of track has a pair of feeder wires soldered on and I hold this to the tender with light elastics. … Continue reading DRIVER PRE-WEATHERING