CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Friday, May 26, 2017

Athearn Genesis GP39-2s in "Blue Dip" scheme

Uh oh. A year or so after Athearn announced four new D&H GP39-2s (all in the lightning stripe scheme, though from several different eras), they recently announced four new D&H GP39-2s in two variations of the blue-dip scheme. The #7401/#7408 are blue with yellow chevrons on the nose, and #7402/#7413 are blue with a solid yellow nose. And ALL FOUR are perfect for my layout!

Here is an image of the announcement from their website:













Since I already own an Atlas GP38-2 Trainman model in each scheme, I may wait on some of these. I want my model roster to be Alco heavy, so I don't need a lot of Geeps. I cannot tell the difference between a 38-2 and a 39-2, though the extra detail on these Athearn Genesis engines is fantastic!


Thursday, May 18, 2017

New Miter/Chop Saw!

I have no idea how I went so long with a chop saw, but until last year I made every cut of lumber for any home or layout project with a cross-cut hand saw. And, as can be expected, my accuracy was so-so. Then, about a year ago I started to borrow my uncle's saw and that was wonderful. However, it wasn't mine. So, for projects when I didn't have it I again turned to my handsaw. As a result, I began looking online at saws.

I didn't want a 12" saw because it was too much machine for what I normally do. They sometimes are unstable due to the larger blade and leave rough cut edges. Now, I am not making heirloom furniture but I want the ends of whatever I am cutting like molding to be clean. Also, a 12" saw would be heavier... an important consideration when I plan to take it outside to do most of my cutting.

However, three things conspired together to force me to get a saw. First, my friend gave me a bunch of lumber he had picked up for my layout. Thanks! Second, my uncle asked for his saw back for a project of his own. And third, I had some money left over in one of my pay checks. With Memorial Day weekend and the week I took off from work coming up, I wanted to get set to work on my layout's benchwork.

So, I ordered a Hitachi 10" C10FCH2 from Amazon, as well as a replacement 80-tooth blade to get really clean cuts. For $141 with free shipping, it was an easy decision. Plus, it comes with a laser sight, which is a big plus for me. At only 26.5 pounds, I can move it easily. And, it was highly rated online which is important to me as I don't really want to find out the hard way that a saw is good or bad. Lookout lumber, I'm looking at you!

It works great, though upon reflection the laser isn't of much value outside in the sunlight. Also, I spent at least 40 minutes and several dozen cotton swabs cleaning off the copious amounts of yellow/green grease that they applied to every possible moving surface. Yuck!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

On30: Maine 2-footers

Imagine being on a WWII submarine in a movie, where the main lights go out, red blinking emergency panel lights have been activated, and the sound of a warning alarm is ringing in your ears. That is likely the scenario going on in my brain right now.

I have kept this blog pretty much devoted to the D&H Colonie Main layout I am working on, but I have lots of other railroad interests. I am building a 7.25" gauge, 1/3 scale Welsh Steam Locomotive. I collect Arcade and Attica RR memorabilia and models. I have many G scale trains, both electric and live steam powered. In short, I am like many of you.


Every year I try and ride a different train, and sometimes it falls on my birthday weekend which happens to be around Memorial Day. This year, my wife and I decided to take a long weekend and escape to Maine to ride some of the 2-foot gauge trains. Their history is fascinating, and rooted in Welsh narrow gauge lines which I love. When we attended the Springfield Train show in January, there in the parking lot right next to our bus was #11 from the Boothbay Railway Village.

Future blog posts will highlight our trip more, but along the way I thought it might be neat to build a couple of Maine 2-foot cars to remember our trip. This got me to thinking about Bachmann's On30 train line.

Before you start yelling at me, I know that they aren't "prototypical." I understand that they model-wise appear to be 30" gauge, and thus most of the Bachmann equipment looks wrong for 2-foot models. An excellent website by Scot Lawrence (link) contains all the information you could possibly want if you decided to convert them into an On2 model. But, I can live with the compromises. My layout will have HO track, and so when no one is looking I can run On30 trains on it. As long as the clearances are okay, I should be fine.

So, I decided to start researching what models I might see on my trip. We are going to visit the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum, the Boothbay Railway Village, and the Maine Narrow Gauge Railway Museum. I came across Deerfield River Laser, who manufacturer Maine two-foot kits which can be built as On2 models or you can mount them on On30 trucks. The basis for the kits are Bachmann's coaches, which are cut up and stretched.

Not knowing much about Maine 2-foot prototypes, and not wanting to invest a lot of money in books to research it, I reached out to D.R.L. and talked with the owners. It turns out that four of their coach kits are based on prototypes that still exist today. They were extremely generous with their time and knowledge. Here is what they have that I might run across:

Car Type
Current Owner
Built For
Kit
Parlor car “Rangeley”
MNGRM
SR&RL #9
Deerfield River Laser #DRL-O-M09
Coach
Jackson & Sharp
WW&F #3
W&Q RR #3
Deerfield River Laser #DRL-O-M10
Combine car “Carrabasset”
Boothbay
SR&RL #11
Deerfield River Laser #DRL-O-M11
Coach
Laconia Car Co.
SR #5
SR&RL #17
Deerfield River Laser #DRL-O-M17

I bet that there are freight car kits out there matching preserved freight cars, but for right now I just want to build a small passenger train. The Bachmann Forney will be a good match pulling it even though the prototypes for those engines, SR&RL #8 and #9, were both scrapped 80+ years ago.

I took the picture here right before boarding the bus for the ride home. I didn't realize until later that the pink Christmas trees make an eerie image in the cab windows!

This is just a diversion project from my main layout. I cannot see myself jumping in full board with this, and quite possibly in 6 months I will have put this on the shelf. But, for right now it sounds interesting.

Monday, May 8, 2017

HO Roster: Boxcars

One of the most interesting things affecting railroading in the 1970s was the shortage of serviceable boxcars. Railroads didn't want to pay to repair boxcars because their return on investment was lousy, in part due to governmental regulation of rates. But, shippers still needed boxcars to transport their products. So, the government stepped in and changed the rules allowing railroads to charge fees for every day a boxcar they owned was offline on another railroad. Thus, "Per Diem." Many railroads, and especially short lines, purchased new boxcars to generate money with the goal (and hope) that their boxcars would never come home again. The daily rental charges were enough. Unfortunately, after a while there were too many boxcars out there and they did come home.

What this means to the modeler of the 1970s and 1980s is that every train that rolled by likely had several colorful boxcars in the consist. And, most were probably less than 10 years old. Not only do I like the looks of a colorful train, but boxcars in general serve as a wonderful canvas for interesting weathering effects. Go another ten years and by the 1990s, many of the cars were not only faded and dirty but also patched out with new owners' markings and covered in graffiti. Yuck. By modeling 1984, I am straddling the two extremes in appearance.

One other point: by 1984, 40' boxcars were extremely rare. I am not sure any were still used by the D&H for interchange service, and in reviewing my slides and other research I don't see any 40' boxcars from any railroad. Sure, there might have been a couple now and again but for my HO roster I have avoided 40' boxcars. Not only do they appear too small and out of place, but their paint schemes are usually from the 1940s-1950s and they have full height ladders, roof walks, etc., which would be gone by 1984. So, only 50'+ cars for me.

The D&H alone had an amazing amount of diversity in their boxcar paint jobs. There were red and maroon boxcars, some orange ones which were originally built and painted for the Upper Merion & Plymouth but instead were diverted to the D&H, yellow, green (solid green, and green paint-outs of ex-Reading cars, and brown. Add the blue and white "I love NY" cars into the mix and you have a little bit of everything! (Walthers also released a waffle-side boxcar as part of a 3-car set, though there appears to be no prototype for it. I might just track it down anyway for fun.) I cannot imagine how boring it would be to model the 1920s-1950s with nearly every freight car a boring oxide red or brown.

As I built up my boxcar fleet I tried to keep a certain ratio of home road/foreign road cars:
- 25% would be D&H;
- 25% would be Guilford, Maine Central, or B&M;
- 25% would be other northeast railroads (Conrail or predecessor railroads, CV, etc.); and
- 25% would be everything else.


I have no idea if that is the appropriate breakdown for D&H trains in 1984. I didn't pass on buying a car just because it might not fit the ratio, but I did purposefully avoid lots of western roads like UP and BN. I focused more on D&H and Conrail. Since I probably won't have more than a dozen cars on the layout at one time, I should be fine. When it came to weathering, I focused heavy on the rust effects on the north-east cars and did more fading effects on the cars from the west. It wouldn't surprise me if cars rolled out of the Conrail paint shop already rusted. Cars that were newer based on the stencil info on the cars received lighter weathering.

Even with my boxes of cars, there are still gaps. I haven't even touched the "I love NY" cars, but there is a good reason for that. I am a cheapskate. I generally don't spend more than $10 on a car, and there are no good "I love NY" cars for that price. Athearn/Bev-Bel cars have a really light blue, almost like a pastel blue, that could work for an older weathered car but not a 2-year old car. Bachmann recently released one too but tragically again the blue is more vibrant. Only Intermountain has the correct dark blue color, but the cars are about twice as much as I like to pay. So, I keep hunting train shows and watching EBay. I will eventually buy a couple and likely add decals for the "Operation Lifesaver" which was applied to some of the cars.

Also, the Bath and Hammondsport Railroad in central NY owned several boxcars in an attractive maroon scheme with white graphics including a wine glass emblem. They were used to ship wine out of the winery on Keuka Lake in Hammondsport, NY, and so clean were the interiors of the cars that other railroads would grab them for other uses instead of sending them back! As a result, it sometimes took months to make it home. I have a couple of these cars, but again by the 1980s they were sold to other companies and patched out. I am torn about defacing a really neat looking car, so for right now they remain weathered but not modified with patch outs.

Despite my principles, I am torn regarding the Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley thrall-door boxcars. The C&CV was owned by the D&H directly from 1957 until it was sold to the Delware Otsego Railroad in 1970. Walthers released several limited edition cars that look really sharp in black with "Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railway" spelled out in yellow along the top, and a small yellow D&H shield on the left. Unfortunately, by 1976 the shield was painted out. I am not sure I can bring myself to do that to these cars, so they sit untouched. The block of wood keeps the pizza boxes from collapsing when stacked up. 

There are a couple of other cars that I would like to acquire. Even though they probably didn't make it up to New York often, I would love a dark blue Chessie car with the kitten emblem. I think that is really classy. Also, Central Vermont had five boxcars painted white with black lettering for paper service that are really cool looking and might have found their way onto the D&H (link). I also need to do a couple of D&H "Reading repaint" cars in the two different shades of green. And one or two of the Rock Island's blue boxcars would be nice. And...

Monday, May 1, 2017

ATC - window castings ordered

I haven't touched this building in probably close to a year, and there were two good reasons (at least I tell myself that) for this. First, we moved last year and I had to pack up lots of my stuff for the trip. Second, I ran into a stumbling block: the windows.

I had told myself that everything on the structure would be scratchbuilt for maximum points in the NMRA contest judging. However, as time when on I realized I wouldn't get it done by the time of the convention so I just gave up on it. Once I moved, I unpacked all my old TOFC flat car and trailer kits, my cabooses, and other such gems and decided to work on them instead. I even had purchased some IHC heavyweight passenger cars painted in the D&H's "1939 World's Fair" scheme and I added some weight and details to them, body mounted the couplers, installed metal wheels, etc. And they don't even fit with my layout, much less have a real prototype for some of the cars! Yup, I was avoiding the ATC with everything I could muster. But, I have essentially run out of kits to do. So...

My wife told me "Don't rush the project- do a good job, even if it takes longer" and I agreed with her. Because these are recessed masonry windows, the window openings need to be cut perfectly as the edges of the window castings won't hide any mistakes. I think I did a reasonably good job with that. But, now I plan to buy castings instead of make them so I have run into another issue: the castings I buy must match the holes I cut. Doh! Whoever said "Don't cut your windows until you have the castings you are using in hand" was correct."

So, I printed out the catalogs from Tichy Train Group (website) and Grandt Line (website) and got to work. There was a little overlap, but for the most part either one or the other had what I needed but not both. I will need to place two orders. For my large upper windows, I need over a dozen and neither offers an exact match in size. I don't know how close they will be, and whether I can make them work by slighting opening the window or narrowing the window. We shall see.

However, it is nice to be able to make some progress on this building.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hobby Influences

This past fall I attended the NMRA's Northeastern Regional convention hosted by the Hudson-Berkshire Division. That is a mouthful. As fate would have it, it was only about a mile from our new house and I could have walked there. More recently, I attended a Japanese anime cartoon convention with my wife in Boston. While I am not really a big fan of those cartoons, there were several important takeaways: First, I imagine that there are times when I drag my wife to a train show and she must be as bored watching me go through binders of slides as I am watching her look through tables of colored wigs. Second, she was really excited to see some of the featured panelists who produced the cartoons she likes, and that reminded me of the NMRA convention when I got to see several panels by some of my favorite modelers.

Early Influences
When I was a child in the 1980s I lived in Rochester, NY, which was a Conrail town. Railroading was dirty, rusty, and an endless string of blue engines pulling the filthiest cars you could imagine. Coal trains were steady, and COFC didn't really exist. However, when I received my Model Railroader magazine every month I was somewhat disheartened to find articles about western railroads, specifically the UP or ATSF, as well as lots of narrow gauge. When eastern roads were shown, they were usually not contemporary layouts or they were traction layouts. I could probably count on one hand the number of 1980s Conrail layouts shown.

But, there was author Michael Tylick. His Conrail module series based on Conrails Boston Line was as close to hitting home as could be hoped for. Everything he did was weathered, but not the western "dusty" weathering. His stuff was dirty and gritty. And, his methods were simple to apply and used inexpensive materials. Some of his articles were out of my scope of ability (scratchbuilt trolley cars and a White Castle restaurant come to mind) but I loved reading his articles anyway. He was a consummate scratchbuilder, and I learned a lot from him. I met him once at the Springfield train show and I likely embarrassed him by asking for my picture taken with him. (Seeing the picture now, I am more embarrassed than he was!) He was quite polite then, and he still is. I try and say hello every Springfield show, and I enjoyed his presentation at the recent NMRA convention on scratchbuilding structures that are along the edges of layouts. His current website is http://www.raildesignservices.com/.

Another favorite author as a child was Lee Vande Visse. However, it is an odd choice because he usually modeled old, narrow-gauge Colorado equipment. His layout construction series, the Crown Mountain Division, was the first real introduction I had to soldered tie, scratchbuilt track. He wrote about how to build a station using cast bricks, stone by stone. His weathering articles were fantastic including suggestions to leave wood outdoors to warp from the rain. His resin casting article made it look so easy. He made a paint-bottle rotating machine out of rotisserie grill hardware. His writing style was fluid and engaging. It didn't matter that most of his subjects were models of trains I didn't care about. I still wanted to do what he was doing. Sadly, he left us much too early and I don't think any magazine ever did a feature on his full layout.

Current Inspirations
Over the past decade or so I have developed a sense of what I am looking for on my layout, and as a result, I have identified several authors/modelers who emulate those traits. Today, the most realistic modeler that I have come across is Mike Confalone. His current layout is the Allagash Railway which is set in the state of Maine in the 1970s. It has been featured extensively in the Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine (http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/15291) and also in Model Railroad Planning. Before that, he modeled the short line "Woodsville Terminal." His attention to detail in areas such as weathering and ground cover are mindblowing. He models the "fifth season" which is the mud season in early spring, a time that is rarely modeled elsewhere. It means trees are bare and poor modeling has no where to hide, but he pull it off well. I would love to see it sometime, but for now I shall drool over the pictures I have come across. By the way, he has released several instructional DVDs (here) that I watched several times. Even my wife enjoyed one of them. He recently released some on freight car weathering and I hope to pick them up in the future.

Another modeler in the same vein and certainly with the same eye for overall composition is Mike McNamara. His blog (here) showcases his modeling of the Maine Central in the late 1970s in the fall. The colors are a bit brighter, but they are so realistic you can just feel as if you are lost in the back woods on a September afternoon. His blog covers lots of interesting subjects like equipment detailing and scenery construction, and I have already learned a couple of new tricks because of him. I met Mike a couple of years ago at Springfield and saw some of his Freemo modules first-hand, and they looked even better in person.

Dick Elwell and his famous "Hoosac Valley Lines" is another modeler I try and take tips from. His layout is without a doubt the nicest layout I have every visited in person. And it should be, considering Dick has worked on it for over 50 years! Everything is done with a level of attention to detail that you cannot look at anything... be it a bustling city, a rural farm house, or a striking trestle, and not be in awe of it. Like George Sellios, he has also striven to model the north east with excellent bustling cities and lots of craftsman structures. However, he has spread out his cities with plenty of scenery between the towns so that when you leave the station you feel as if you are actually in the countryside. His chose to also model fall, a difficult thing to do without having the layout appear fake and orange. I think he pulled it off admirably.

Finally, he certainly is a modeler in every sense of the word, people may not associate Dave Frary anymore as a layout builder. It has been years since he built a Model Railroader magazine project layout, and it seems equally long since his collaborations with Bob Hayden on their Maine 2-foot gauge layouts which were built in HOn2.5. Certainly, Dave is probably most well known for his water-based scenery methods which have been memorialized in his Kalmbach books and magazine articles. Also, he wrote 222 Tips for Building Model Railroad Structures which is a fantastic book. Everyone has his scenery book on their shelves, but if you are at all considering scratchbuilding or even kitbashing structures you should find a copy of this. It may be out of print but can easily be found on Ebay and Amazon.

Blogs
There are several blogs that I try and actively follow by modelers not already mentioned above. Three of the most interesting ones are written by Bernard Kempinski, Tom Patterson and Dave Abeles. All are featured in my "Favorite Blogs" list on the right hand column of my own blog. Bernard is a hard man to comprehend sometimes, as he has actively modeled in N scale, HO scale, and O scale with prototypes located in various areas of the country and even in different centuries. I especially love his current American Civil War layout. Trains of that period interest me greatly, but the poor running characteristics have always scared me from committing to them. I do have a couple Bachmann old-timer trains though for those times when I want to crank my throttle up and hope that the 4-4-0 makes it around without stalling. Tom's layout, on the other hand, is an excellent blend of proto-freelancing. His trackwork and detailing are quite exquisite, and some of the challenges he faces (small space, big ambitions) are things I have to deal with too. For different reasons, I also enjoy Dave's Conrail layout in part because it models a childhood favorite railroad. It is wonderful to see a railroad bathed in Conrail blue! Plus, he is modeling central New York which I am familiar with. The distinct signals, equipment, paint schemes, and bring me back to my younger railfanning experiences. I know that if I moved back to Rochester I would be modeling the local scene there from the 1980s... Conrail in the blood I suppose.

Bits and Pieces
Finally, there are a couple of authors whom I cannot say I entirely "get," even though I will take away parts of what they are doing. The best example that comes to mind is Tony Koester. I think it is fair to say that any modeler who doesn't recognize his name must be living in a cave. As for pronunciation, it rhymes with "Custer" though I didn't know that originally and once when I ran into him at a train show I could only say "Hey Tony" because I didn't want to botch his last name. Anyway, at this point I don't really want to hear him talk about the NKP anymore but I do agree with his concept of "owning" it. I am trying to follow in his steps and learn as much about the D&H for my era as he did for the NKP. I also didn't understand his Time Table and Train Order (TT&TO) operating concepts until I attended one of his clinics. The beginning slides made sense, but after awhile I got lost. I am more of a "drive the train round and round" anyway. But, I like to read about his adventures in modeling a prototype as accurately as possible reasonable.


My wife and I are both of the opinion that there are many fantastic layouts out there loaded with details, but they somehow just don't grab us. For one, I am thinking of George Sellios' Franklin and South Manchester railroad. We went to visit it a year ago and it was stunning, to say the least. Everywhere you looked were details piled onto details. It all looked very realistic. But, it also looked busy. And, it reflected a time period that was quite foreign to me. I didn't grow up in the age of steam, and most brick warehouses are either gone or repainted. Craftsmen kits are wonderful and I hope to build some one day in the future, but most are not appropriate for a 1980s layout. In other words, the layout was fun to look at but much of what it featured didn't translate to my layout. However, if I could even have 1% of his passion and commitment I would be content.

Conclusions
Finally, I am extremely disappointed that I moved to the Capitol District area and joined the NMRA just after local modeler Lou Sassi left for the South. I discovered he lived within a short drive of where I lived, and he was both an excellent modeler and photographer. Even though I have lived here since 2004, I did not join the NMRA until 2010... just a couple of years after he left. He would have been an excellent person to get to know. Plus, his "ground" goop scenic treatment concept is something I really think I will enjoy doing. Not only that, but I bet my wife would also find it fun and perhaps help me with. I can't wait to try it out on my layout.

I guess there are a couple of takeaways here. First, not everyone can be a writer just as much as not everyone can be a car mechanic or a doctor. If the written words aren't both engaging and articulate then something will be lost in translation. The people I learn most from are both of those things. Taking lots of nice pictures which can serve as the inspiration for your own modeling efforts is helpful, and they describe their reasoning process and procedures for accomplishing various tasks that lead up to their models. Second, I am drawn towards those who focus on the modeling the North east portion of the US during a time period I am familiar with.

Monday, April 24, 2017

HO Roster: D&H engines

Who doesn't love buying trains? I know I do. And there are few things more exciting than a new engine. I hadn't bought any D&H engines by the time I selected 1984 to model, which helped me to avoid any anachronistic purchases. In a previous post I described in exhausting detail all the different D&H paint schemes that existed in 1984. Thankfully, manufacturers have stepped up to offer models in nearly every engine and scheme appropriate for my layout (except RS-3ms, though Bowser may fix that in the future).

Based on internet research, I think I found most of what is or was commercially available ready-to-run that would fit my layout based solely on their paint schemes. However, if the louvers were for a phase 2 and the D&H had a phase 3, I am not sweating it. Also, I am not in the mood to strip paint or numbers and re-decal but in the rare cases where a model came with lightning stripes and no numbers but I could just add the small number decals, I included it. In the case of D&H patch-paint jobs I included some of the engines painted for their original owners.

Here is the list (and I will update this over time), with the yellow highlighted ones representing engines I currently own:

RS-3
#4103 - Lightning stripe with small numbers (Bachmann #63901)

RS-11:
#5000 - Lightning stripe with small numbers (Life Like P2K #30320)
             (Atlas #8791 has no road number at all on hood).
#5001 - Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large numbers (Atlas #8781)
#5002 - Blue Dip with large numbers (Atlas #8782)

RS-36:
#5016 - Lightning stripe with large numbers (Atlas #10 000 396)
#5018 - Lightning stripe with large numbers (Atlas #0040 Trainman set)
#5020 - Lightning stripe with small numbers (Atlas #10 0001 514)
#5022 - Lightning stripe with small blue numbers on hood
#5023 - Lightning stripe with large numbers (Atlas #10 000 304)
             (Atlas #8385B has no road number at all on hood).

C-420:
#401 - L&HR colors / patch outs (Atlas #10000013; #10000014; #10000055; #10000056)
#405 - Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" (Atlas #10000011)
#409 - LV red with patch-outs (Atlas #10001113; 10000307; 10000308; 10000309)
#411 - Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" (Atlas #10000012)
#413 - Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose. (Atlas #10000111)
#414 - LV red with patch-outs (Atlas #10001113; 10000307; 10000308; 10000309) 
#415 - Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" (Atlas #10000112)
  
C-424:
#452 - Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" (Atlas #9339)
#455 - Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" (Atlas #9340)

U-33C:
#760 - Lightning stripe with small numbers (Atlas #8514)

GP38-2:
#7316 - Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" (Athearn RTR #79978)
#7322 - Lightning stripe with large numbers (Athearn RTR #79977)
#7323 - Blue Dip with yellow nose, large numbers (Athearn RTR #79977)

GP39-2:
#7401 - Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" (Atlas #10000480A)
#7402 - Blue Dip with yellow nose, large numbers (Atlas #10000496)
#7406 - Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" (Atlas #10000481A)
#7410/7418 - Reading green with patch-outs (Athearn #G40953)

If I moved the year up to 1983 I would get flooded with more Geeps as well as the U23B class by Atlas and Athearn. However, considering I can at most run two trains on my layout and most likely only a single engine pulling the local will be needed, I am sure the list above will be enough. In a way, it is refreshing as the limitations help me to focus on more important areas. And, you can see that there are a lot of options out there. I already have seven engines. 

I expect my local jobs will probably be pulled by RS-36s or RS-11s, as both classes seemed to perform most of the transfer and switching runs in the area. The four RS-3s sometimes also ran solo on the locals but they seemed more frequently to be found in the yards. As for RS-3u engines, they could be found anywhere and if they were easier to acquire I would have some by now. I have a pair of GP38-2s for through trains, as well as the Alco C-424. I would love a couple of C-420s but Atlas has seen fit to release outstanding models loaded in detail but also over $100 each. At that price, I can wait.

More exciting, Bowser recently announced that they would be producing RS-3 engines in various paint schemes with railroad-specific details. The "Phase 3" engine they selected for D&H paint was the only Phase 3 the D&H owned, #1508, which was acquired for use on The Adirondack passenger train while the PA units were being rebuilt. But, it lingered on to become #4075, which in its solid blue scheme was seen all over the Colonie Main through the 1980s. Though Bowser is only releasing it in the Lightning Stripe scheme, I hope to buy an undecorated model and I likely can handle giving it the blue dip treatment (or hiring someone who can). If I were to pick one RS-3 to model, it would be venerable #4075.

Also, I admit that I did purchase a few other things that aren't quite correct. For example, I have a pair of Bachmann's Baldwin Sharks (#1205/#1216) which I found at a great price with DCC installed. And, when I joined a modular club and needed engines (a pair is better than one to push the other over dirty track) to run and wanted some with only a few details to break (like handrails), the sharks fit in perfectly. I am sure they will eventually see limited use on my layout "for fun." Also, when Atlas released the RS-36 in the limited edition experimental #5015 scheme of blue and yellow I wanted it bad. A train store had it in its inventory forever and it didn't sell, so we made a deal. Finally, a Like-Like Proto-2000 PA #16 engine fell into my lap at a great price so it had to come home with me.

However, I still cannot purchase any engine I feel like. Besides the cost of the engine itself, there is DCC to add. Every one of my engines is sent to Empire Train and Hobby (link) for decoder installation, and I have been going them to him for over 14 years. Thanks Tim! His work is excellent and his prices reasonable. He has done all of my HO engines, plus many of my N scale engines too... at least a dozen total. I do plan to run DC trains on my layout by first removing any DCC engines and then flipping a switch so that a regular DC power pack is controlling the layout. However, I would prefer to have decoders installed in as many engines as possible.

Then, there is sound and weathering. I don't own an airbrush and D&H engines need lots of soot and smoke residue so I send my engines to Elgin Car Shops (link) for custom weathering services. Thanks Pierre! He also installed the sound decoders in my two Atlas RS-11 engines, though I haven't explored sound much. Once I can actually run my trains on my layout I may want more. He also has weathered them to match pictures I send of the engines as they appeared in 1984. Sadly, it looks like my entire roster will appear decrepit because so many of the engine they were dirty.





Do I need more engines? Probably not, but I sure like them! I have serious gaps in my collection (not a single RS-3 or RS-3u, patch-paint engine, or small hood numbered engine) and I hope to rectify that in the future. Plus, Athearn released four new D&H GP-38-2 engines in 2016 and one (#7414) is perfect for my layout. Also, for any through freights that typically ran with 3-4 engines, I may want to acquire a couple of models and remove their motors to draw less current but still look the part.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The L-girder benchwork is finished

After another weekend of sawing, drilling, gluing and screwing together, the "bottom" portion of the benchwork... the L-girders and leg assemblies... is finished on three sides. I cannot build the fourth side until I decide what I want to do for the access gate. Plus, if I finish the fourth side I will need to remove that rolling table serving as my workbench and I will need it for the putting together the open-frame boxes that will be my LDE areas. So, I am at a good stopping point.

As can be seen from the pictures, I arranged the cross girders on their sides. That is because they are really only there to tie the L-girders together at the top, and also provide a smooth supporting surface for the boxes. I won't be using them to support track risers or anything. As luck would have it, I was 4' (or two cross girders) short when I bought the wood so I had to go to the store again for another stick of wood. They are screws but not glued to the L-girders, as I might need to adjust them to allow for access to the undersides of the layout. Also, they do serve a purpose in making sure the L-girders are spaced exactly 22" apart (outer flange to outer flange). While having them parallel isn't critical to L-girder benchwork, it is critical in fitting in the layout in the space I have. As it is, it fits with about 2" to spare. Stupid ceiling support pole.

I also joined the two side structures to the one in the rear with steel corner brackets. To reinforce the wood where the brackets are, I glued and screwed extra 1x4 lumber scraps. It might be overkill, but since I may need to move the layout around a little all by myself it has to be strong. Once it was all joined together, I adjusted the bolts on the bottom of the legs to ensure that everything was at least touching the floor. I won't level everything until LDE's are on it, but for now it is close.

Coming into this weekend, I had spent $300 on the benchwork. All of the diagonal cross braces for the legs, as well as their support gussets, and the cross girders on the top of the L-girders, totaled another $60. So, $360 total. Underneath the layout sides, I plan to purchase some storage cabinets on casters to store layout supplies, which will free up space on my bookshelves on the other side of the basement. I have owned some of these in the past and they aren't very rugged, but I know better now than to overload them. The casters are usually a weak point, so taking them off and mounting the shelves on plywood with real casters underneath may be a future project.

Anyway, I am pretty content where I am with the layout right now.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

D&H diesel engines in 1984

D&H's roster in 1984 was diverse. The diversity of locomotive types (Alco, GE, EMD) and paint schemes really interested me. Some railroads (ex: Union Pacific, Conrail) have had a mind-numbing assortment of engines, they were pretty much all painted the same way. Boring! The D&H wasn't like that at all, though it took a bit of research to find out just how diverse they were.


I first started with the D&H's historical group, the Bridge Line Historical Society, whose website (www.dhbridgeline.org) had some information and pictures about their all-time roster. This allowed me to make the spreadsheet above. The year is along the top, and the type of engine on the left. I sorted out the RS-11s by nose height (high and low). I also added a couple of other things that appealed to me (when the Adirondack passenger train ran, the one-week period when the D&H repainted an Amtrak dome, and the I love NY boxcars). While I am happy with my decision, I do miss the U23B class- especially the "Gray Ghost" #2311. However, I can still add that as a Maine Central patch paint job.

To further narrow down what was on the roster in 1984, I relied heavily on the book Bridge Line Blues by Hal Reiser. This excellent work had a section on motive power from the late 1970s to the early 1980s which gave specific road numbers and paint scheme histories. With this information, I started making charts by type (RS-3, GP-39-2, etc.) listing each road number that was supposedly around in 1984. Next, I went online to the Railroad Picture Archives  (RRPA - D&H engine page) and hunted down pictures of these engines. I also scoured Ebay for relevant slides. Those pictures were also helpful for determining how to weather the engines as they looked in 1984. A couple of things immediately jumped out at me.

First, though the D&H had 9 types of locomotives in 1984 all but three were Alco, and usually a class size was a dozen or less. Surprisingly, through attrition and rebuilding into RS-3m engines the large class of RS-3s had been whittled down to just four in May of 1984. 


Second, the diversity of paint schemes was astounding. The classic "Lightning Stripe" design in the early 1960s was modified by the N&W when they controlled the D&H through their holding company "Dereco," as N&W insisted that road numbers be painted on the sides of the engines. This was not done consistently done though. Then, in 1977 in an austerity move the D&H went to solid blue scheme nicknamed "Altschul Blue" or "Blue Dip" (referring to D&H president Selig Altschul who served briefly in 1977). There were variants such as the color of the nose, frame trim, truck colors, and even one engine had script lettering. Then, in 1979 to spruce it up yellow chevrons were added on the ends, creating the "zebra stripe" scheme. 

Then, the side numbers were enlarged beginning with the lightning stripe repaints at Colonie beginning with the 5012 on 3/15/1981. Units which were still in blue and grey paint were usually re-stenciled in this fashion by patch painting out the original lettering and applying the new standard numbering over the top. Unfortunately, this weathered poorly and peeled or washed off revealing the older lettering.

So how did this all play out? A perfect example is the six low-nose RS-11s. By 1984 every one was different. One was in its original lightning stripe scheme with small hood numbers (#5000), one was in a blue dip with yellow nose (#5001), one was in solid blue with silver trucks (#5002), one was in a solid blue with yellow nose chevrons (#5003), one was in the lightning stripe scheme with large hood numbers (#5005), and one had its nose chopped/modified (#5004)! Consider RS-36 #5015, which featured three different paint schemes from 1977-1979.

Third, many of the Alcos by 1984 on borrowed time. The influx of reliable GP-38-2s and GP-39-2s made it economically and mechanically smart to congregate all of the remaining Alcos near the Colonie shops. So, even though some escaped to other parts of the system most were based in the Colonie Main area. Some made it into the late 1980s, but they were likely on the Colonie dead line at that point. And, the engines were filthy by 1984. The striking zebra stripe scheme looked dingy, anything with the lightning stripe scheme was severely faded, most had their numbers worn off, and the Geeps frequently had their previous owner's scheme coming through.

The D&H also had patch paints (LV red, L&HR blue and white, CR blue engines), the Bicentennial #506, and several one-offs. That being said, I plan to use restraint in compiling my HO scale roster. Because I like Alcos, I will lean heavily on the four classes that were prevalent in the area: RS-36s and RS-3Us for mainline and yard trains, RS-3s for yards, and RS-11s for mainline and local trains.
I would be remiss without mentioning Scot Lawrence's (a fellow railfan from Rochester) compilation of engines that the D&H owned prior to Guilford's takeover on 1/04/1984. (Scot's website) While our lists aren't a perfect match, it is certainly very close. I likely had resources he didn't have and vice versa, and his list is for January while mine if for May. Still, it is very useful.



There were also engines acquired from Guilford (transferred from the B&M or Maine Central), including types that would normally not have been found the D&H. I haven't fully tracked everything down yet that was painted for Guilford but lettered for D&H. However, the one I am most excited about modeling in their high-nose Geep #569, which was used for their executive and special railfan trains during the early period of Guilford's ownership. In January 1984, MEC GP7's 569 & 573 (which had recently been repainted in the new Guilford paint scheme) were relettered D&H. The #573 was relettered back to MEC later in 1984, but D&H 569 kept its D&H lettering until 1988. They also leased six Conrail U33B engines in 1984 which were patch painted and lettered. They lasted a couple of years. 


Here is the roster with paint schemes as best as I can put it together in 1984:

RS-3
Road #
Notes
4075
Blue Dip with yellow stripe along frame, large yellow numbers on hood
4099
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
4103
Lightning stripe with small blue numbers on hood (in 1981… what about 1984?)
4118
Blue Dip with yellow stripe along frame, large yellow numbers on hood
  
RS-3m
Road #
Notes
501
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
502
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
503
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
504
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
505
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
506
"Bicentennial scheme" with white script lettering and stars on cab.
507
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
508
Lightning stripe, but no evidence of any numbers on hood
  
RS-11
Road #
Notes             (#5000-5005 originally high nose, #5006-5011 originally low nose)
5000
Lightning stripe with small blue numbers on hood
5001
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
5002
Blue Dip with large yellow numbers on hood
5003
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
5004
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood; nose chopped
5005
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
5006
Lightning stripe, but no evidence of any numbers on hood
5007
Blue Dip with large yellow numbers on hood
5008
Lightning stripe, but no evidence of any numbers on hood
5009
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
5010
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood
5011
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood
  
RS-36
Road #
Notes
5012
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
5013
Lightning stripe with small blue numbers on hood
5014
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
5015
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
5016
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
5017
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
5018
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
5019
Lightning stripe with small blue numbers on hood
5020
Lightning stripe with small blue numbers on hood
5021
Lightning stripe, but no evidence of any numbers on hood
5022
Lightning stripe with small blue numbers on hood
5023
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood

C-420
Road #
Notes
401
L&HR colors with D&H patch-outs on front of hood and cab numbers on sides of hood.
404
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood
405
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
406
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
407
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
408
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
409
LV red with white diamonds on nose, D&H patch-outs on front and sides of hood.
410
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood. Notched nose from high-nose N&W C-420
411
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
412
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
413
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
414
LV red with white diamonds on nose, D&H patch-outs on front and sides of hood.
415
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
  
C-424
Road #
Notes
451
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
452
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
453
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
454
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
455
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
456
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
461
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
462
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
  
U-33C
Road #
Notes
754*
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
755
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
756
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
757*
Lightning stripe with small blue numbers on hood
758
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
759*
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
760*
Lightning stripe with small blue numbers on hood.
761
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
762
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
* After 1981, generally stored inactive at Colonie


GP38-2
Road #
Notes
7314
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7315
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
7316
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
7317
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7318
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7319
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7320
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7321
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
7322
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
7323
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7324
Guilford gray with orange band and large white “G” on side of hood.
7325
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood


GP39-2
Road #
Notes
7401
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
7402
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7403
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
7404
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7405
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7406
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
7407
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7408
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
7409
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7410
Reading green with yellow diamonds on nose, D&H patch-outs on front of nose and cab sides.
7411
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
7412
Reading green with yellow diamonds on nose, D&H patch-outs on front of nose and cab sides.
7413
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7414
Lightning stripe with large blue numbers on hood.
7415
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7416
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
7417
Blue Dip with full yellow nose, large yellow numbers on hood
7418
Reading green with yellow diamonds on nose, D&H patch-outs on front of nose and cab sides.
7419
Blue Dip with "zebra stripes" on nose, yellow stripe along frame, and large yellow numbers on hood.
7420
Guilford gray with orange band and large white “G” on side of hood.

As for the #7600 class (#7601-7620) of GP39-2 engines, Hal Reiser's book states that they were sent in 1984 for rebuilding by Morrison Knudsen and when they returned they were painted for Guilford and lettered for the B&M. I have found no pictures online of any surviving in D&H paint to May 1984, and very few pictures exist of them after 1983.