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


My friend Riley Triggs visited Fillmore on Monday past.  Riley is a great visionary whose mantra to designing, building, maintaining, and operating model railroads is one of simplicity.  His Port of New York layout (HO Scale) has impressed and intrigued me ever since I first saw his blog about it (PONYRR).  Some of the leading-edge features include: battery powered radio control, 3D printing of significant proportions, satellite layout locations (small terminals located in a different room fed by a car float operation from the main layout), a flexible approach to temporarily laying track to test operation, and prototypes (Hoboken Shore … Continue reading Riley!


This post is dedicated to my friend Gerard Fitzgerald, Fillmore’s BIGGEST fan and, more importantly for me, someone who understands my railroad modeling ramblings…. Gerry lives far away, but I had recently “ceremonially” invited him to join us on our yearly Niagara Falls Excursion.  I promised to let him know all about it – I brought my point-n-click camera (I ALWAYS forget to bring a camera), bought new batteries for it on the way, made sure I didn’t forget it in my truck, and started clicking away right when I got to GO Port Credit station.  But I made a … Continue reading MCRR BRIDGE


Further to my posting of yesterday, I offer what I think is an improved design…. One thing I did not like about my previous version, now called Staging Cassette Mk1 (See CATEGORY: TECH – LAYOUT CONCEPTS “STAGING CASSETTE Mk1”), was how thick the foam was.  To recall, the foam on the inside of both hinged sidewalls squeezes into the models and holds them in place while handling the cassette.  Even though I wrote that thinner foam could be used with wood strip spacers behind it, I didn’t entirely like this solution.  However, it would be workable. In noodling this some … Continue reading STAGING CASSETTE Mk2


Model railroad blogging is a very small universe.  At least, this is the impression I have from doing it the past 20 months.  Most know and enjoy Chris Mears’ blog, PRINCE STREET.  His posts are very thoughtful and focus in on, usually, modeling in small spaces.  Dropping in for a look is worthwhile. Last week Chris presented a clever concept for a functional layout design that is very interesting.  Here is a link to what he calls “The Matchbox”.  I like this neat little idea!  Staging is managed with cassettes, which Chris acknowledges is nothing new.  We’ve seen them offered as … Continue reading STAGING CASSETTE MkI

NYC 5426

New York Central 4-6-4 Class J3a Hudson 5426 (Alco, October 1937).  5426 was originally delivered as a standard non-streamlined locomotive.  In preparation for the 1941 edition of New York Central’s new lightweight Empire State Express, two J3a Super Hudsons (5426 & 5429) were selected for a stunning streamlined makeover similar to the Dreyfuss Hudsons of 1938 (they were most commonly found on the flagship Twentieth Century Limited).  The appearance of these Thoroughbreds certainly complimented the modern stainless steel Budd equipment found in the two new sixteen-car coach and parlor car streamliner sets. Now, those who know the Empire State Express … Continue reading NYC 5426


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


Pictured above is the upper level of the engine terminal staging elevator prior to operations many, many months ago (there have, unfortunately, been no ops since!) .   There are eleven locomotives squeezed in place.  This is obviously the maximum amount for staging.  However the lower level, which contains the terminal service trains (coal, ash, etc.), has plenty of extra trackage where some more locomotives can be staged. In practice, though, the lower level is typically used to get traffic off the layout in an emergency.  This usually means that the elevator is up to let off/take on a service … Continue reading PRE-OPS


Does an island layout have to be isolated? Avant-garde railroad modeler David Barrow had a brilliant series of Model Railroader articles in the mid-nineties.  He proposed, and practised, building layouts out of sectional table frames (“dominos”).  In the October 1997 issue (“South Plains District Revisited”), he wrote about using a staging trolley to move trains between two separate benchwork’s.  Having a short layout in two or more corners of a room, or in different rooms, may be one’s only choice for space.  A staging trolley allows traffic moves between them – another case of where not having a mainline between … Continue reading STAGING TROLLEY


I am not a layout designer, but don’t we all dabble a little in it?  One of a small series of my hypotheticals…….. I have a passing interest for the trackage found along the Buffalo waterfront.  There, great grain elevators tower over a myriad of rails.  Many still silently stand today.  But this is just window dressing for a rough concept, which would, at least in North American terms, occupy a small space (6 feet x 8 feet).  The aim is to maximize the visible layout and minimize the staging. At the end of this posting there is a link to … Continue reading STAGING ELEVATOR


I have built this staging turntable before so it isn’t really a concept.  When I was with the Credit Valley Free-mo Group, being a self-serving steam guy, I wanted a means of turning my Erie USRA Heavy 2-10-2 locomotive at the end of a run.  So I built a double-track staging turntable. This device is handy for any size layout.  It can represent a non-modeled portion of a railroad – an engine terminal, a wye, a balloon loop.  Its relatively small size, dictated by the largest rolling stock to be turned, might be useful to the compact modeller allowing operations … Continue reading STAGING TURNTABLE


I am not a layout designer, but don’t we all dabble a little in it?  One of a small series of my hypotheticals…….. Does operating between two towns require a mainline? If a very limited space precludes a mainline run, one can still switch between two places – Compact 2-Place Switching (C2PS).  Presented as a bi-level shadow-box using a staging traverser with an elevating feature –  this type of operation is possible in a very small space.  For example, the upper level could have a small interchange yard and perhaps an industry and the lower level a destination industry or … Continue reading COMPACT 2-PLACE SWITCHING


The device that makes operations possible in the compact concepts S4F and CYS is the Staging Traverser.  This eliminates an unlimited number of turnouts and tail tracks. I would make this out of poplar dimensional lumber. Poplar is harder than pine but still easy to cut with hand tools.  In my experience, I find that it tends to be straighter and less warped than pine, although it costs more.  It looks very nice with a couple of coats of Varethane. Note that the end of the layout needs to be extended down to interface with the traverser (pictured below). The ball bearing … Continue reading STAGING TRAVERSER


I am not a layout designer, but don’t we all dabble a little in it?  One of a small series of my hypotheticals…….. Does a switching layout need industries to be a switching layout? Structures take up valuable space!  This rough concept is inspired by fine railroad modellers who like to build plastic/resin/wood, kit bash, and or scratch-build highly detailed and prototypically correct freight cars, who have very limited space for a layout but still wish to operate.  This is called Compact Yard Switching (CYS).  One needn’t bother with industries if the layout design is a classification yard, or more … Continue reading COMPACT YARD SWITCHING


  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


I am not a layout designer, but don’t we all dabble a little in it?  One of a small series of my hypotheticals…….. Does a model railway need to occupy a dedicated space? An alternative for limited space that also gives a bit of a mainline run – not much of one, of course, but something 🙂 .  I call this Model Railroad To Go (MR2G).  This is just two narrow four foot long sections coupled together with just enough staging to hide a train away from the layout.  The key feature of this design is that it can be … Continue reading MODEL RAILROAD TO GO

NYC 5341

New York Central 4-6-4 Class J1e Hudson 5341 (Schenectady, July 1931).  This is an older Broadway Limited Imports Paragon model – the last of three for Fillmore.  When the Class J3a “Super Hudsons” began arriving in 1937, some J1e Hudsons were bumped from the New York-Chicago mainline.  This happened to 5341 in September of 1937 when she was transferred to the former Michigan Central Railroad for passenger work west of Buffalo. Here is a summary of the work done to make her Fillmore-ready: Engine & Tender Chassis Locomotive chassis and gearbox cleaned. All pickups and contacts cleaned and adjusted. All … Continue reading NYC 5341


I am not a layout designer, but don’t we all dabble a little in it?  One of a small series of my hypotheticals…….. I offer a rough concept for a small switching layout: 12” x 48”; well actually about 61” including the staging.  I call this Switching in Four Feet (S4F).  I wanted to see how small I could go (within reason) for apartment sized spaces.  And since operating is very important to me, it is designed with that in mind.  I doubt that this is an original idea although I have not seen it before (my sincere respects to … Continue reading SWITCHING IN FOUR FEET

NYC 5330

New York Central 4-6-4 Class J1e Hudson 5330 (Alco, May 1931) at the coaling tower.  This is an older Broadway Limited Imports Paragon model – the second of three such for Fillmore.  The J1e subclass was the last of the original Hudsons.  30 were built for the New York Central (5315-5344) and 10 for the “Big Four” – the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St Louis Railway (6620-6629, later as 5395-5404 in the NYC 1936 system-wide renumbering). Here is a summary of the work done to make her Fillmore-ready: Engine & Tender Chassis Locomotive chassis and gearbox cleaned. All pickups and … Continue reading NYC 5330

NYC 5326

  New York Central 4-6-4 Class J1e Hudson 5326 (Alco, May 1931) is simmering on a Fillmore inspection pit.  This is a Broadway Limited Imports model – a much older Paragon issue (maybe around year 2002?).  This was a used model with extremely dirty wheel sets and a grimy drive.  The drivers appear to be made of sintered metal infused with copper and there looks to be much more copper showing on the treads than on other Paragon Hudsons I have.  This could be wear resulting from high mileage. Here is a summary of the work done to make her … Continue reading NYC 5326


I am not a layout designer, but don’t we all dabble a little in it?  One of a small series of my hypotheticals…….. I live in a condominium apartment.  I have a rectangular open space (9 feet wide by almost 19 feet long) in what would be my living/dining room.  Fillmore is 16 feet long, including my two staging modules.  The remaining distance is for an aisle at one end to get into the engine terminal side of the layout.  I am very lucky to have this rather extravagant space on hand!  Many railroad modellers have much, much less to work … Continue reading ENGINE TERMINAL IN EIGHT FEET


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


A busy evening (below) at Fillmore Avenue Roundhouse, Monday September 16th 1940… Here’s how operations would work with EMC 103/103A on tour with the New York Central System: Fillmore can easily be back-dated to September of 1940.  Just in time, though, because in the summer of 1940 the New York Central changed the font style for the lettering on their locomotives from Roman to Gothic (sans serifs).  This change was made very quickly in railroading terms.  Whereas in most railroads a mix of old and new lettering could be seen for many years, repainted when shopped, the NYCS re-paint seemed … Continue reading EMC 103/103A OPERATIONS


Not quite La Grange in November 1939 – my EMC 103/103A is seen under final assembly (below).  They’re almost ready: first section of 103 (on the right) only needs glass installed. The portal glass was masked for painting with tacky putty.  There are some definitions moulded in the glass for internal body structural members and these were painted in the interior colour – Testors Model Master acrylic RAF Sky Type ’S’. The toothpick and piece of .030”x.080” strip styrene were used to form the putty and make the straight edges respectively. Next, the diaphragms were mounted on both sections.  On … Continue reading EMC 103/103A ROLLOUT


A big part of this build was to see if I could paint the wave striping and nose logo using masks, as opposed to using decals.  I previously had much trouble getting the stripe decals to conform with the sharply raised boarding ladders and rivet strip details.  I had, however, an advantage in knowing that the decals would fit.  If I had not known that, I would have decal’d an unpainted plastic first section shell to see how they are sized.  My plan was to mask and paint the stripes and nose logo using the decals as patterns. Here’s how … Continue reading EMC 103/103A PAINTING PT2


Going back some years ago when I built my first EMC 103 (only as the 2700 hp locomotive) I used the full decal striping from the Microscale set (87-613).  I had a very difficult time getting the decals to conform over the boarding ladders and rivet strips without deforming.  After much fussing around, I got what I thought was a respectable result for the time.  However, I did wonder what sort of outcome would be had in painting the striping instead of using the decals.  I was about to find out…. All four car bodies were mounted on blocks for … Continue reading EMC 103/103A PAINTING PT1

EMC 103/103A DCC PT2

Looking more like the ghosts of O&W power past, EMC 103/103A is on the Fillmore programming track… Right out of the bag the locomotives ran very well.  I did notice, however, the speaker in the second section was overpowering (louder than the one in the first section).  So I modified the speaker enclosure in each second section by removing the extension ring, making them the same half-height as the speaker in the rear of the first sections.  The result was balanced sound from both sections. Next, I used my Broadway Limited Imports Address Changer to program the addresses: finally settling … Continue reading EMC 103/103A DCC PT2