Engine Terminal

Engine Terminal
A westbound coal extra passes PN cabin at Petersburg Junction.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Found Foot

As I was re-staging the Sand Fork Branch the other day, I noticed that one of the feet on the conveyor to the South Branch Loader was missing- see the photo below. I looked around the immediate area but it was nowhere to be found. It was probably knocked loose during the last op session. Given its size, I was doubtful I would ever find it.

Earlier this evening as I was shuffling empties through Big Chimney, I noticed something silver in one of the cars. Sure enough, there was the missing foot- see the photo below.

So the found foot will be reinstalled along with the railing on the safety platform in the middle of the bridge at Nelsonville that I knocked off. Again.

And something else was found right after the last session. Suffice it to say that it wasn't a piece of CWE equipment. More info on this later.

Friday, November 8, 2019


I got distracted in my recent efforts to finish up a number of projects that have been in the works for far too long. A recent post on the History of the Peavine Railroad Facebook page showed a picture of the N&W's sanding tower at Clare Yard in Cincinnati. It brought back memories of the drawings I made of the tower on the Southern in Ludlow, KY back in the early 1980's. And the photo at Clare showed some of the features that I wanted to include in the sanding tower that I've been working on for the last, ah... 35 years. So maybe this project should be included in the "finishing things up" category.

Back in 1984, I was living in an apartment in Cleveland. I decided to build a small diorama of engine service facility. It would be three tracks, a sanding tower, concrete platforms, and details that would be scratch-built based upon an article in Model Railroader. I got the tracks laid, the platforms poured, some of the details built, and had made a start on the sanding tower before other priorities got in the way. And then our cat chewed on the top of the sanding tower. Sigh. Everything went into a box to be fixed later.

Sometime later, I got inspired and opened the box. One of the biggest challenges with the project was the piping- how could I get an accurate representation of the fittings where the pipes joined one another? Remember- this was the mid-1980's and there wasn't a lot available in terms of commercial products. My solution was to use links of small chain. Individual links were removed and stretched into an oval and then slipped onto brass wire. The photo below shows the result.

While the technique worked, it was incredibly challenging. And I was still left with trying to connect the separate pieces of piping. How would they be held in place while the 2-part epoxy dried? Was epoxy even the right glue? What about soldering? After making a bit of progress, the whole mess went back in the box.

Fast forward to the recent past. I was visiting my good friend Jim Rollwage's Denver Pacific and he had just installed a sanding tower in the diesel service facility at 36th Street Yard. It had the delivery piping that I had been looking for all these years! And it certainly seemed I could bash the piping onto my tower. Jim informed me that the sanding tower was the recent Walthers kit so I promptly purchased one.

Back to the original project. For whatever reason, I decided to build two sanding towers at the time. The first progressed to the point where the ladder was installed and it was painted. The picture below shows how it looks today. Some of the piping has been removed for use on the new tower and you can see where I tried to sand off the teeth marks from the cat.

The second tower only got as far as the Plastruct frame. As it turns out, the sanding bin in the Walthers kit just happened to fit perfectly between the two I-beam uprights. And I could making the piping work. And I could add some Tichy grating and ladders. And this will take a lot of planning. And so on. And back in the box it all went. That is, until I saw the photo at Clare.

The picture below shows the progress on the new tower. Everything is coming together fairly well, and while it has taken a bit of imagineering and planning, I'm excited to get it finished.

With any luck, the railroad will actually be able to add sand to diesels in for service at Hollister Yard in the not-too-distant future. Unless, of course, I get distracted again.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Allagash Railway on Facebook

For those of you who are on Facebook, Mike Confalone has set up an Allagash Railway Facebook Group. Here is Mike's description of the group:

The Allagash Railway Group is devoted to Mike Confalone's proto-freelance HO scale Allagash Railway model railroad. The Allagash is based in west-central and northern Maine in the early spring of 1985. Allagash is a fully integrated part of the Guilford family, which includes sister roads Maine Central, Boston & Maine and Delaware & Hudson.

The railroad occupies a 58' x 24' space (basement and garage) in our New Hampshire home. Constructions began in 2006 or so. 85% of the railroad is fully scenicked. We operate every 4 or 5 weeks.

In addition to many how-to videos and articles in the model railroad press, Mike posts regularly on the Model Railroad Hobbyist forum.

If you aren't familiar with Mike's work, you owe it to yourself to check out his group. He is one of the finest modelers in the hobby today and his work is absolutely amazing. I've picked up a number of helpful tips and techniques from his work. And if you are familiar with the Allagash, well, you already know you owe it to yourself to check out his group.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Finishing Stuff

So I have come to the realization that I have too many projects in the works. Over the last two years or so, I have started almost ten different freight car/locomotive projects that have languished in various states of completion. Sure, there were other projects that got my attention such as the dispatcher's panel. But now it's time to push these through to completion, and I've promised myself that I won't start another freight car until these are done.

At the risk of revealing just how lax I've been, I'll try to list these in order (provided I can remember that far back!). The photo below shows the oldest project which is a P2K GP7. I've built four or five of these over the last handful of years and I had some momentum going after completing the last one. I got as far as rebuilding the chassis and installing a decoder before I lost interest. All of the details have been added to the body and it's now in the paint shop. Next up will be UP Armor Yellow and then on to decals.

Two years ago I purchased an Accurail covered hopper at the local NMRA fall meet. I had intended to make this a paint out and re-letter it for Greg McComas' proto-freelanced Michigan Interstate Railroad. Greg had kindly sent me the decals along with the number series for this car. The back story was that the MCIS got this car when it took over ex-PC lines in Michigan at the formation of Conrail. The build date on the car is 4-74 and it struck me that Conrail probably wouldn't have given up a car this new. So I decided to keep it as a PC car even though I didn't like the shade of green and I couldn't find a photo of a car in this number series with this paint scheme. After weathering the car, I still didn't like it. Then it occurred to me- repaint it into a K&LE car! I checked my decal stash and I have enough to do a covered hopper car. So into the the 91% bath of isopropyl alcohol the car went. As if to add insult to injury with this #@!$ thing, the paint wouldn't come off. At least the weathering did. So here it is ready for stirrup steps and a trip to the paint shop.

And note those Tichy pulpwood flats in the foreground. I started those back in March of 2017 and ran into numerous stumbling blocks. I had originally planned to scratch-build loads for them with twigs that would have surrounded block weights. Great idea, but after I figured out how many twigs I would have to cut, the kits went back on the shelf. I finally decided to fill the under frames with lead shot and if that didn't provide enough weight, I'd scrap them. Fortunately, with the addition of metal wheels, I think they'll track OK. More to come on these two.

Next up are three kit-bashes that have been in the works for some time. The first is a Bowser two-bay covered hopper car. I removed all of the  cast on grab irons on the ladders and replaced them with .010 styrene rod. This was the third of three cars that were to be painted for use in sand service on the home road. The other two made it onto the railroad but this one got left behind. It will be painted soon and placed in service. Behind the covered hopper car are two kit-bashed pulpwood cars made from old Athearn Blue Box gons. The C&O Historical Society magazine had an article on gons that were converted to pulpwood flats and I thought that would make a great kit-bashing project. I had one of the old Athearn cars and I picked up another at the NMRA flea market. I purchased some Tichy pulpwood flat ends to add to them and started on the project. Then I got stuck on how to cut the sides down. Back on the shelf they went. I finally figured this out and got them finished. They are now awaiting paint. More on these cars later, too.

That's it for now. Stay tuned- there are more to come!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

FPS 82756

Over the last year or so, I've been building a bunch of freight cars. While some of them are now on the railroad, a significant number remain in the paint shop in various stages of completion. And some of these have been in the works for some time, such as FPS 82756.

Those of you who read the blog on a regular basis will be familiar with the Forest Park Southern. It's the proto-freelanced railroad of Bill "Smokey" Doll and it has appeared in both Model Railroader and a segment of TrainmastersTV. It's a beautiful railroad set in the late 1950's in Virgina and West Virginia. And as you might expect, the FPS interchanges with a number of the other railroads in the Cincinnati area, including the CWE.

The story of FPS 82756 begins with another good friend, John Miller. He has painted and lettered almost as many FPS freight cars as Bill, with one exception: all of John's cars are set in the mid-1970's era which is the time frame of his Kanawha & Lake Erie Railroad. It was John who came up with the mid-1960's auto parts boxcar scheme that you see on FPS 82756. John was kind enough to give me some of the decals for the car, and what you see below is the result.

The car is one of the old Robins Rails 60' Greenville cars that was produced back in the mid-1980's. The kit was subsequently produced by A-Line for a period of time. While it lacks the detail and fidelity to scale of more modern cars, it's a fairly good representation of the Greenville car and a neat kit. I changed the truck spacing, added some additional details, and then painted and weathered the car with artist's acrylics and powders. The big FPS letters in the logo are white decals that were colored with a highlighter to get the yellow tint. However, the yellow washed out during the weathering process so I went back and hit the letters with a watercolor pencil. It was one of those ideas that came out of nowhere as I was finishing the car. I'm glad it did, because the yellow letters are one of the key features of John's neat scheme.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


The two cabooses that I mentioned in the last post are now in service. The photos below show them awaiting their next assignment on the caboose service track at North Pierce.

Both of these are in pool service and so are available for the next road train. The caboose to the left is in dedicated mine run service out of Hollister Yard.

One of these cabooses will replace the N&W caboose on NW-17/18 which is the transfer run that comes in to Nelsonville from the Wilson Bridge Branch. There are major changes in order for this train, including the elimination of the N&W caboose and the six N&W hopper cars that get spotted at the tipple in Nelsonville. But that's the topic of another post- stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Back at it- again

First, I apologize for the lack of posts over the last few months. My wife and I bought a sailboat in June and we have spent almost all of our time learning everything about it and sailing in general. Second, while there haven't been any recent posts, that doesn't mean that work hasn't been progressing on the railroad, albeit at a slower pace than usual. I have had a chance to push a few projects along, and here's a quick look at some of them.

After the last op session in May, I installed short circuit protection using 1156 tail light bulbs. I know, I know- I should have done this years ago. The photo below shows one of the bulbs inconspicuously installed in the fascia. However, once a short occurs, it becomes pretty obvious as can be seen in the second photo.

There are now eight separate power districts on the line from Logan east to Nelsonville. This should help alleviate the occasional issue with crews running switches and shorting this section of railroad. Next up will be short protection for Hollister Yard.

Two Atlas wide vision cabooses have been painted and lettered and are awaiting final weathering. Several windows in each have been blanked or filled in to represent the Class C6A cabooses that were acquired by the railroad in January of 1967.

And three of the new Walthers wide vision cabooses have been stripped and are under construction. By the time I ordered these, the undecorated versions were long gone. So I purchased the ones in the Chessie System livery and used 91% isopropyl alcohol to remove the paint. These three will be Class C8 and will be the newest cabooses on the railroad.

So that's all for now- thanks for hanging around!