Engine Terminal

Engine Terminal
The power off CX 532 gets ready to spot its caboose on the cab track at Nelsonville, VA.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Another Retirement

Another old warrior has been retired from the railroad. CWE 1542 has officially been stricken from the roster and will take its place in the display case (yet to be built). The photo below shows the loco on the yard lead at the west end of Hollister Yard.

It is shown in its usual assignment between F7A's 1564 and 1562 which are regularly used in local/mine run service.

I am fairly certain that this engine was the first one ever painted in CWE colors back around 1980 or so. As is obvious from the photo, it's an old Athearn Blue Box GP7/9. I replaced most of the cast-on details and added new handrails fashioned from brass wire. Other changes and upgrades were made over the years.The story of the paint scheme and numbering change appeared in the July 2016 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.

In its place is GP7 1524 which is a Proto 2000 unit. The unit is shown below at Big Chimney. 

While I had always intended to replace 1542, I never imagined it would soldier on until 2019! Given all the runs its made on the Sand Fork Shifter, the Elwater Branch Roustabout and the Big Chimney Roustabout, it's certainly earned its retirement.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Freight Car Fail

Over the last 30+ years or so, I've probably painted and decaled over 200 cars and locomotives. Most of these have turned out pretty well. So one would think that I have developed a bit of knowledge about what works and what doesn't when spray painting rolling stock and applying decals. While that might be true, it certainly doesn't mean that I've remembered everything I've learned.

Last fall, I purchased some the of the beautiful Fruit Growers Express decals that Dan Kohlberg is producing. He makes a wide range of decals for 1960's to 1980's freight cars, primarily for mid-western roads. Here's a link to his website: http://paducah.home.mindspring.com/. My plan was to build one of the old Details West FGE kits and letter it for a CWE FGE car. The DW kit was lettered for the L&N but was missing the end lettering, a common trait of car kits from that era. Also, the car color seemed to be too light, especially compared to photos I've found and the more recent run of Athearn FGE cars. So that was it- this car would become a CWE FGE car.

A quick check of the paint rack revealed that Tru Color C&O/B&O Yellow was a very close match for the recent Athearn FGE cars. I had replaced the stirrup steps and added cut levers to two of these cars, and I painted them using the Tru Color C&O/B&O Yellow. So it was off to the paint both with the DW car.

After going back and forth over the car with my airbrush for about two hours, it became apparent that covering the black lettering with the yellow paint was going to be a challenge. Not to be deterred, I continued spraying for what seemed like another two hours. Finally, the black lettering was covered. And the finish on the car had the texture of 120 grit sandpaper. Sigh...

So I had another bright idea- give the car a good covering of Testor's Glosscote. I've never had any success fixing a rough finish like this in the past, but I'm sure it might be different this time. Sure. And after a week spent curing in the paint shop, the finish looked nice and shiny but it was still rough as could be. That's it- I give. Uncle. You win. It's off to the bath of 90% isopropyl alcohol for you!!!!

The photo below shows the car recovering on the workbench. Of course, all of the ladders came off in the alcohol bath and now have to be reapplied.

And to insure that I don't make the same mistake again, I made a little note and posted it above the spray both- see below.

Now if I can just remember to read the note before I start spraying paint...

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Merry Christmas!

One of the regular operators, Jim Rollwage, brought a box of ornaments to the session today. In the spirit of the season, he decorated the dispatcher's panel.

Here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a great 2019!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Dispatcher's Panel- Part 4

The new track model board arrived on the railroad yesterday, and all I can say is- WOW! Tyler Woodward, the graphic designer at Awards of Excellence in Dayton, OH, did an incredible job of copying my drawing and engraving the panel. Below is a shot  of the results.

Drawing the model board by hand allowed me to use the appropriate US&S symbols and schematics. I used the photo below of the C&O board from the New River Subdivision as a reference source. I also used information from Mike Burgett's Control Train Components website which can be found here: http://www.ctcparts.com/.

The photo below shows a close-up of the engraving.

Now that the board is installed, I'll go back and spray all of the sheet metal screws flat black.

A special shout out to Tyler Woodward for turning the board around so quickly. He sent me proofs of the artwork just a day after I delivered the original drawing. And the time it took from the initial phone conversation to installation on the dispatcher's panel was exactly one week. Just some really great service.

The last remaining pieces of hardware for the board are the photo etched aluminum switch, signal and lock plates from Mike Burgett. More to come on this. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

New East Staging Panel

The panel for the east staging yard has finally been replaced. The old panel was thrown together when I first started holding operating sessions and it has always confused the crews. In fact, the east staging yard was controlled by two separate panels which really made things interesting. And for whatever reason, I never thought to provide some type of instructions at the panels. No wonder everyone was confused!

The new panel utilizes pushbuttons for turnout routing using Gerry Alber's Signal By Spreadsheet products. 

Note the westbound repeater signal on the panel. Now that CTC is in place from East Staging to Cedar Falls Junction, the dispatcher will be able to route trains through Nelsonville and beyond. The yard limits from East Staging to just west of BA Cabin have been eliminated and the Nelsonville Yardmaster will now need to contact the dispatcher in order to "open up" and access the main. The shot below of the dispatcher's panel shows the route lined through Nelsonville.

And the next shot shows the green indication on the East Staging panel. The new instructions inform the crews to turn on the power to the appropriate staging track, acquire their locomotive, and then call the dispatcher for clearance west. The crews can depart when given either a green or yellow board on the panel.

The issue with the track model board on the dispatcher's panel has been resolved, too. As I couldn't find any software that I could use, I drew it up to scale using my old drafting equipment. I laid out all of the signals, place names and turnout and lock numbers in PowerPoint and then glued them to the drawing. The end product was dropped off at the engraver's yesterday and it should be ready in about a week. It will certainly be an improvement over the Avery labels that won't stay on!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Freight Car Friday

Back when I first started planning the railroad, one of my goals was to have prototypically accurate rolling stock. To accomplish this during the 1980's required a lot of kit-bashing. Fortunately, at that time there were a number of very talented modelers who were doing just that and publishing articles about their efforts. I collected all of those articles I could find about kit-bashed rolling stock that would be appropriate for my era (1976). And along the way, I kit-bashed a lot of freight cars. Many of these are dated and a bit crude by today's standards, but they remain some of my favorites. Along the lines of the Wordless Wednesdays, Throw Back Thursdays, and Front End Friday posts, I thought I would start a Freight Car Friday series of posts. Periodically, on a Friday, I'll post pictures and a story about some of the cars I've built over the years. So let's get started.

The very first subject of the Freight Car Friday posts is GM&O 47298. There was a picture of a 40' GM&O car that appeared in the August 1979 issue of Model Railroader. It was part of an article on the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad by Harold Russell. The car was spotted on the team track at Johnstown and a group of workers from Karg Brothers was unloading hides onto a truck. It was one of those classic 40' cars that I thought would make a great addition to the railroad.

The starting point for the car was an Athearn Blue Box 40' car. The GM&O car appeared to have the same Dreadnaught end as the Athearn car. Upon closer inspection of the article today, that's exactly what is on the car. However, when I built this car back in 1985, I chose to modify the end per an article by Jim Eager in Railroad Model Craftsman. You can see the modified end in the picture below.

The end ladders were removed and new ones added from some long forgotten source. The side ladders were cut down to match the photo and new grab irons were added to the sides and ends. A new side sill was made from styrene to match the prototype. The rivets on the side sills came from old diesel shells. They were sliced off the shells and then added to the sill by placing them in position and applying a small spec of styrene cement. This is one of my favorite tricks from the old days. The stirrup steps are staples.

All the remnants of the original door tracks were removed and new ones were fashioned from styrene and Plastruct shapes. The door is from the old Athearn Railbox kit and while not accurate, it is at least the same width as the prototype. I believe the GM&O decals were made by Champ. Unfortunately, the truck in the original photo blocked the car number and the end of the car was blocked by another boxcar. So I am absolutely certain that the number is wrong. Remember- there was no Internet in 1985 and finding the correct number for this car would have been a herculean task.

Prototypically accurate? Not really, and certainly not by today's standards. But it was a fun build and carries enough of that generic, 40' boxcar flavor from the 1970's to meet the "exempt from retirement" standard.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Where's Waldo?

Well, the rascals are at it again. During the last op session, I overheard Bill Doll ask someone if I would be able to spot the change in the scenery over in the Big Chimney area. I grimaced, but decided to wait until after the session to check it out. Based upon past history, there's no telling what may have happened and I wasn't ready to face some major calamity at the start of the session.

First, though, a little history. Over the last handful of years, a number of the regular operators have made comments about the lack of figures on the railroad. The only place you'll find anything resembling a living thing is in the cabs of the locos. I think they look really neat there. But that's it. In my opinion, figures in action mode, i.e. shoveling coal or running down the street, distract from the realism of any given scene. Figures in sedentary poses are something else, and I suppose I could live with a few of them. So by now I'm sure you know where this is headed.

The next several photos show the handy work of the rascals. Finding them is a little like playing Where's Waldo.

But wait- there's more! Not to limit themselves to mere humans, the rascals also decided to add animals!

It seems as though every time I walk into the railroad room I find another lost soul or a wayward animal. There's just no telling where they may be.

And yes, there are more. And I'm sure I'll be finding them for some time into the future. And no- it's unlikely that I'll find all of them. I'm sure a few may end up like the first two figures the rascals placed on the railroad. Unbeknownst to me, I sucked them up into the vacuum while cleaning the layout. They were the two unwitting accomplices to the campfire scene, and we all know what shenanigans that led to.

So if you ever happen to have Bill Doll at one of your sessions, be sure to ask- continually- Where's Bill?