Engine Terminal

Engine Terminal
CX 351 westbound at Summit Springs. August 1976

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Introducing... The Suffolk Northern Railway Blog

As my good friend Keith VandeStadt likes to say, "drum roll please!" And with that, we'll formally introduce the new blog for the Suffolk Northern Railway. It can be found here: http://www.suffolknorthern.com/. A link is also listed in the Great Railroad Modeling Sites column on the right hand side of the page.

You may recall from previous posts that the Suffolk Northern is a proto-freelanced coal hauler set in the mid-1950's. I've had the pleasure of operating on this railroad for almost 10 years now. Part of what makes it so special is how well it runs and that's thanks to Keith's fastidious attention to making sure everything works just as it should. But it really is the complete package- from paint schemes to weathering to scenery to structures, it's a joy not only to operate but to view as well.

Keith has done a remarkable job with the new blog. It's entertaining, informative, humorous, and just a really fun read. He has gone into great detail about the background and history of just about every aspect of his railroad. I can't imagine there's anything about it that you couldn't find in the wealth of information posted here. So do yourself a favor and check it out. I think you'll enjoy the time spent on the Suffolk Northern.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Tool Car 91094

The shops have been busy. The most recent addition to the roster is tool car 91094. I had planned to convert a couple of passenger and/or baggage cars for wreck train service ever since I read an article on kit-bashing them in Model Railroad back in the late 1970's. There's just something about MofW equipment and wreck trains that appeals to just about anyone interested in railroading.

The original plan was to modify a couple of Athearn Blue Box passenger cars. These cars measure a scale 74' over the coupler faces and are right at the limit of what will operate on the railroad given the tight tunnel clearances and 30" minimum radius curves. At some point, I started looking at shorter cars. Most of these have 4-wheel trucks, and I'm preferential to the look of 6-wheel trucks under passenger equipment. Fortunately, I found a Rivarossi 60' baggage car on eBay and it was reasonably priced. In addition, it came with wire grabs and some great looking underbody detail.

A trip through the paint shop followed by decals and weathering resulted in Tool Car 91094.
















The sides were painted UP Armor Yellow and the roof was painted Vallejo aluminum. I studied a number of photos of various baggage cars in MW and wreck train service and was surprised at the lack of dimensional data and lettering. I had planned to add small "MofW" lettering or "Tool Car" on either side, but passed for the simplicity of what you see here. I am absolutely certain that I have never put so few decals on a piece of rolling stock.
















The grab irons were painted white per the standard paint scheme for MW equipment and the ends of the diaphragms were heavily weathered with oil paints. The sides and roof were weathered lightly using artist's acrylics to represent a car that had recently been repainted.
















This last shot shows the car in wreck consist. It will be joined soon by the Tichy 120-ton Brownhoist crane that's about to go into the paint shop.
















When the wreck train is finished, it will occasionally make an appearance during an op session. It may also be stored temporarily on one of the RIP tracks at North Pierce.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

"What a long...

 ...strange trip it's been." At least with regard to getting this freight car on the railroad!

It all started back in the fall of 2017 when I purchased an Accurail covered hopper car at the local NMRA show. It was decorated for the PC and I intended to patch it and reletter it for Greg McComas' Michigan Interstate. You can read more about this car on this post: https://cwerailroad.blogspot.com/2019/10/finishing-stuff.html. I finally got the car painted, lettered for the K&LE, and prepped for weathering. And then into the paint shop drawer it went- a year ago last month.

While I am generally pretty good about finishing projects that I have started, there are those occasions when I just lose interest somewhere along the way. Such was the case with this car. It sat waiting to be weathered for over a year. About a week ago, I started perusing covered hopper car photos and sure enough, the inspiration came. I got out the gouache and powders and went at it. The photos below show the results.

































This car was new in 1972 so it was weathered to reflect just four years of service. I mixed up a wash of light grey gouache using Windex and white, ivory black and a little burnt umber. The wash dries fairly quickly but can be manipulated for a long time. I took a rough bristle brush, wetted it with Windex, and then drew it down the sides to get the rain and dirt streaks. The same mix was blotted on the roof with a cosmetic sponge. The trucks received the usual mix of artist's acrylics and powders. While certainly not anything close to an award winner, it will look fine running the railroad in a grainer. And it's great to finally have this one done!


Monday, February 1, 2021

Back to the Future

The incredible M.R. Snell is at it again. He recently decided to add several buffer cars to the Conrail Shared Assets Operation fleet and he included a CWE car in the mix. As you would expect from Matt, the car includes all of the appropriate markings. He even went so far as to number the car in the same MofW/Company Service series that previous non-revenue car have been assigned. The photo below shows the car on the Oak Island Runner during a recent op session.


















And speaking of back to the future, you'll note that the boxcar in the lower left hand corner of the photo is a Suffolk Northern Railway car. That's the proto-freelanced railroad of Keith VandeStadt, another one of the local crew and a frequent operator on the CSAO. The SNR is set in the late 1950's but there just happens to be a modern car roaming the rails in New Jersey.

It's a great looking car, Matt- thanks for including the CWE in the project!

Sunday, January 31, 2021

For the L&N guys

 As I've mentioned before, I rely on prototype photos for inspiration. Being able to see something in a photo from my era provides both the motivation and the colors to recreate it in miniature. And so it was when I came across the photo below of a yard in Allentown, PA in 1975.
















I could model every freight car in this photo and have already done the Lehigh Valley X58 boxcar, albeit in a modified version of the old Athearn BB kit. But it was the L&N boxcar in the lower right hand corner that caught my eye recently. I seemed to recall having purchased a similar car from the second-hand inventory at the old Tim's Trains a while back. Sure enough- I bought two of them. They are the old Intermountain kits that were part of a run done by the Louisville & Nashville Historical Society.  I assumed the paint scheme and numbers were correct and a quick check with my good friend Stuart Thayer confirmed it. In fact, Stuart worked with Intermountain on the graphics for the kit. In addition to being a very accomplished modeler, Stuart is a long-time member of the L&NHS. He is also one of three members of the operating crew on the railroad that are dyed in the wool L&N fans/modelers. So it was only fitting that a few cars from their favorite railroad should show up occasionally during an op session.

I only made a few changes while building the kits. I added cut levers and wire grabs at the bottom right hand side of the ends and replaced the plastic stirrup steps on the left side of the sides. I also replaced the COTS stencils as the ones on the kit appeared too small to me. With the addition of metal wheels and an ACI label, the cars were complete.

The photo below shows the two cars after a trip through the paint shop. 


















The roofs of the kit were painted the same blue as the rest of the car. It was difficult to see in the original photo just what the roof looked like, but it appeared to have some peeling paint in addition to some faded paint with perhaps a little rust. I blew up the photo to get a better look and you can see what I found below.
















I decided to paint the entire roof silver and then come back and add some blue to represent the old paint. I used Vallejo Model Air Aluminum followed by Testor's DulIcote for the base layer. I then mixed Vallejo Model Color Medium Blue with a little white and applied it sparsely using a cosmetic sponge. I got a little too aggressive with the blue and ended up going back over the roof with some Aluminum applied with a cosmetic sponge. Lastly, I added a little artist's acrylic burnt umber to represent rust in a few locations. The photos below shows the results.


    































The trucks were weathered with the usual combination of artist's acrylics and powders. Once a few waybills have been made up, these cars will be ready for revenue service!


Sunday, January 24, 2021

Freight Car Redo- 2

Continuing with the freight car improvement program, I tackled an old E&B Valley 65' mill gon this past week. I built this car back in 1991 and was pleased at the time with the weathering. I used oils to represent rust on the exterior and a wash of oils mixed with ground foam to dirty up the interior. However, the car had that monotone look that came from a lack of detailed weathering on the trucks and a basic overspray of Floquil Grime. The photos below show the car before the trip through the shops.

































These old E&B kits took a lot of work in order to get them to look good and run well. In addition to adding weight to the underframes, the truck bolsters needed to be modified. This resulted in the removal of the sleeve that the trucks fit over, and if you then used the trucks that came with the kit, there was way too much side-to-side play in them. Consequently, they wouldn't track very well and were prone to derailment. I decided that if I was going to spend time re-weathering these cars, I was going to fix the truck problem.

I dug through my parts and found some old Kadee sprung trucks that have a small hole in the bolster for the mounting screw. Using a 2-56 screw, this eliminated almost all of the side-to-side play. Next up was weathering. I used a combination of artist's acrylics, AIM powders and MIG pigments to improve the overall look. The photos below show the results.


































Now the car can be billed to go anywhere on the railroad and not be restricted to one of the branches. Guess that means I need to come up with a load of some kind!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

New Motive Power- 2

 Along with the SD9 that was added to the roster recently, the shops have completed another Alco C628 for the railroad. This is one of the original Stewart kits from back in the day. 


















It was originally intended to be a powered unit. I have another one of these older models on the railroad and it runs extremely well. But after installing a Tsunami in this one, I couldn't get it to run smoothly to save my life. So I yanked the decoder and the motor along with the gears and turned it into a dummy. It will initially be paired up with the Lehigh Valley C628 in the photo above along with an SD45 that's ready to be weathered.


















I used the usual assortment of artist's acrylics, weathering powders and Pan Pastels to weather the unit. While these Alcos were delivered in the Phase 3 paint scheme with the large "Central Belt" on the long hood, they were subsequently repainted in to the more modern Phase 4 scheme seen in these pictures.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Follow by email

 One of my good friends asked me some time ago if there was a way to subscribe to the blog so that he would be notified by email when a new post showed up. I spent a little time looking through the design setup and couldn't find anything, Well, that friend is now setting up a blog for his railroad and, of course, he found it in no time. So now you will be able to subscribe by entering your email address in the gadget to the right of this post.

As soon as Keith's blog for his Suffolk Northern is up and running, I'll get the word out here. You won't want to miss it as Keith does some fantastic transition era modeling. And his railroad is a real treat to operate.

And thanks, Keith, for the instructions on email subscribing!