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.