CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Springfield Train Show 2024

Another Springfield train show has come and gone. I again went with the local NMRA Division on a chartered bus on Saturday and had a great time. But, I miss coming with my wife because she helps me from getting lost and forces me to slow down and take in the layouts. I look forward to the day when I can bring Harrison with me. However, it still was a good time.

Out of the eight hours of the show, I worked at the NMRA table for two of them so I was already in a bind to see everything. And I know I missed a lot. But here are some pictures I took of interesting things I came across (I left my small memory card in my camera and quickly maxed out on the number of pictures I could take... GRRR!)

There was an O scale layout called the "Crystal Cove" which ran off of live overhead wire. It was very well done and I watched the little train trundle back and forth for awhile.

The other end of the line featured a neat waterfront scene.

On the O gauge layout that kids are allowed to operate via pushbuttons, a Big Boy was pulling a long train. To me it is a large engine... to a kid of 5, it must have been gigantic!

A custom painter and engine detailer had some neat GE HO scale engines on display. The interiors were lit including the display stands, engine meters, track lights, etc. I liked the leaves stuck on the sides of the vents the most though.

Here is a Bar Mills model kit ("Fenster's Farm Fresh" that I want to build for my future O scale layout. But I might scratchbuild it instead of using the kit. I haven't decided yet. But it is a nice kit and ripe to add lots of details. 

While strolling by a large T-trak layout, I came across this one. It certainly gets originality points.

There were at least a half-dozen Z scale layouts scattered around. Here was a well done one that I suspect was built on a pre-fab base. The owner was explaining it but I came too late to hear all of the details.

Here is another Z scale layout in a guitar case. A simple loop is on the left, but a branch line off of it climbs up and over and down the "guitar neck" to a switching yard area. Neat.

The first actual T gauge (1:450) layout that I have seen (as opposed to a train on display). It ran well though it seemed more of a novelty piece than having potential for an actual model railroad. But to each his own.  

Some very old Trebel O train sets, which were the precurser to N scale. For complete in box, the prices seemed very reasonable if you wanted to capture a piece of N scale history.

Here was a large N scale display that was fantastically detailed. I took many pictures of it and could have stared at it for much longer. A plaque on the end identified it as built by "The Great South Bay Model Railroad Club". 

Another picture of the other end of the same layout. It was filled with neat little details and scenes that all looked so natural and realistic.

The display by the South Port Model Works. Yes, on the very right hand side there is a train siding with a boxcar but I was taken aback but all of the wonderful boat models. 

And I bought a couple of things too. Harrison is struggling to get a Lionel steam locomotive (with all of the pilot and driving wheels) AND tender on the track and connected up... hey, he is only 20 months hold! So, I bought him a cheap Lionel MPC engine with only 8 wheels and durable metal handrails to use on his layout. For $65 it was a good deal even though it is painted for the Union Pacific. If this leads him to a lifetime of modeling the UP I will kick myself forever...

I also bought two O scale bulkhead flatcars including one with a pipe load for $20 each. I will modify them and add new loads sometime in the future. Finally, I bought a Conrail caboose for $30. The seller had an Atlas trainman caboose (with less details) for $30 and I saw it last year at the show and forgot about it. I bought it this year but the seller pointed out more detailed Lionel one for $10 more. Sadly, I didn't have the extra $10 in my wallet but the guy had pity on me and sold it to me for $30. Yay!

I looked and looked for wooden Thomas trains to buy Harrison but didn't see many for sale. Maybe this year sellers of kid toys were in short supply. So, I bought him a pair of train socks instead which are a little too large but he will grow into them.

All in all it was a great time. But, next year I want to spend a lot more time just staring at the layouts on display and less time searching for elusive things to buy.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Wishes for 2024

While at my monthly NMRA meeting last night, someone brought up these meme and I just had to repost it... especially since the Springfield Train Show is coming up next week!

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

D&H train in Voorheesville (1985)

Here is a shot of a D&H/Guilford train going through the diamond in Voorheesville on December 29, 1985. I believe that it is heading west out of Albany. It will be interesting to see how the train scene changes in Voorheesville in 2024.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas!


But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12

Not much to report at the moment modeling wise, but Harrison received some trains this year under the tree. In the end, that is a good thing. 😀

Friday, December 1, 2023

Harrison's first Lionel layout

Though Harrison is free to pick whatever toys he wants, he really likes his wooden trains. I think most kids do these days, and I personally believe that Thomas the Tank Engine has done more to interest kids in trains and model railroading in general than any other promotional campaign. Still, I don't actively push trains on him.

But, I bought him a Thomas train set last year for Christmas and he enjoys watching me run my HO scale layout in the basement (had I known this fact months ago, I never would have redesigned my layout to remove the option for continous running. Sigh)

He plays with a 4'x4' layout on the floor but the curves are very tight and the train can't go fast before it skyrockets off at the corner. Something had to be done. But, the new layout had to be semi-portable or at least movable, it had to fit under my layout, it had to be cheap in case he lost interest, and it had to have some green scenery to draw Harrison's interest. So, I dug into an old Model Railroader special issue magazine from the late 1980s that I had as a kid. It featured a roll-around O scale layout designed by Jim Hediger which looked like it would work.

I started in September with a pair of wooden dolly carts I had left over from Harbor Freight. I cut them apart to salvage the coaster wheels and built a frame about 14" tall (a good height for Harrison) from some 1x2" lumber. This later proved to be a mistake.

The layout itself is a piece of plywood split down the middle. To get this home I had to wait until November when I purchased a larger vehicle- my Toyota Rav4. I love it, and it can just barely fit in a piece of plywood which I had cut to size on the night before Thanksgiving at the store. The plans called for 3/8" thick and 3/4" thick plywood, and that must have been a typo. It couldn't be both. Splitting the difference, I used 1/2" plywood. The two outer edges are framed with 1x4" boards.

The ends are framed with pieces of 2x4" board. This is important because they need to be beefy to support the hinges which will be mounted on them. 

Here is Harrison's current O-gauge layout, mounted on a 4x4' cork board. I bought the board on Craigslist and had to transport it on the roof of my Toyota Corolla while holding one side with my hand sticking out the window. It was a slow trip, but thankfully a short trip. Clearly, a larger layout was necessary. The other green board is something I use for photos.

The right side of the table with flipped over and two more 2x4's were mounted along the edge on the underside. Then, the caster/leg assembles were set in place. 

I didn't want to glue the wheel/legs in place, so I instead glued and screwed blocks cut from 2x4" lumber on each side of the legs. The wheel assemblies slide out, but friction keeps them in place except when they need to be removed. 

As it turns out, the cheap plywood on the Harbor Freight dolly delaminated and broke so I removed the casters and modified the leg assemblies to use a solid 2x4" instead. 

The non-wheel side of the table also had 2x4" braces underneath along the two sides as well. I then mounted a pair of 14" tall legs made from 2x4" lumber on the left hand side to raise it up in height to match the right side table. Hinges will hold them together later. 

My wife helped me carry the two pieces outside and I went over everything with my power sander. Since Harrison won't know any better, I rounded over all the sharp edges and removed all splinter areas that I could find. Then, I started to paint them the same green that I used on my HO layout fascia. I thought a 1/2 pint of paint would be enough, but I was wrong. When I went to buy more, the store's paint mixer was broken. 

The next day, I bought another pint of paint which I thought would be enough, but I was wrong. It barely gave everything two coats. But I like the way it looks. The color is "Jungle Green". I am thinking about adding some indoor/outdoor carpeting but haven't done it yet.

A pair of heavy duty 6" strap hinges bought on Amazon were installed. None of the big box stores carrieed what I needed, so they had to be ordered online. They look and work great though. I replaced the mounting screws with longer wood screws.

A pair of handles were installed on the top part of the layout to assist in flipping it over. I also screws on some rubber "bumpers" on the corners to leave a gap between the pieces... helpful for getting fingers between them if necessary.

Some cheap building kits (Lionel MPC era, old/dirty Plasticville, etc.) were glued up and painted to go on the layout. There was no point in building something nice that a toddler would destroy. Note: Harrison won a raffle at a local show and picked out a light-up police car. He was also given a very old, plastic cow toy at the same show.

There you have it. Harrison's first real train layout (Brio toys don't count). Naturally, the track isn't attached but when a final track plan is picked we can do so and cut the track at the fold line. Until then, he is content to play with it as is. It might not be much, but it cost only about $100 and it doesn't take up much space once folded up and rolled away. 

Saturday, November 25, 2023

C.P. Holiday train on the Colonie Main!

On the Friday after Thanksgiving the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train toured the Colonie Main! Normally it would go to Mechanicville, but this year it stopped first at Menands. Apparently it laid over at Kenwood Yard, though a friend was there hours before its arrival in Menands and it wasn't in the yard. And you can't exactly hide a bright red train with lights.

We usually go see it at night, when it is very dark and my pictures are lousy. This year, it was nice outside (though cold) and we got some good pictures. 

A crowd of at least a couple of hundred people, including Santa and Mrs. Claus, where there to await the train's arrival by Ganser Park.

Naturally, the Police were in full force to protect the public from doing something stupid. This is a C.P. police truck.

Though Harrison seemed to enjoy it, it didn't look like Thomas the Tank Engine or make steam train sounds. 

It didn't take much prodding for Harrison to start running around. There were lots of things to see and people to meet.

I think I enjoyed the lights more during the day time than at night.Next year, I might try and stake out a better spot in advance. But it still was a good winter afternoon working off yesterday's food.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

I've been published in O Gauge Railroading magazine!

I love the D&H's blue hoppers used for glass service and have written about them a lot on this blog

When on a trip near Philadelphis a couple of years ago I purchased an O scale Atlas blue D&H hopper at a train store, and I knew I was going to make glass loads for it similar to my HO scale ones (here and here). Even as I was driving away from the store I started to write the article in my mind. I knew that if the cars looked good in HO scale, they would look even better in O scale. So, I got to work. 

I actually acquired three O scale cars (an Atlas 2-bay hopper car, a special TTOS Empire and Eastern Division 3-bay hopper club car; and an MTH 2-bay hopper). Unlike the HO scale cars, though, I needed a lot more glass beads. And, I decided to make the loads removable.

When I wrote the article my friend Don offered to let me photograph the cars on his layout, and in exchange I made six loads for him for his unit train. I made another one for my friend Frank in Buffalo too. Below shows my three cars.

The article described how to make the loads removable, which meant that the hopper cars could be used to carry other things too. Pictures on my blog certainly show the prototype cars used in MOW gravel service. I used real crushed coal in one, and real crushed stone in the other.

I submitted the article, and waited and waited. Such is how the publishing business goes. But this week the finished article arrived in the December 2023/January 2024 issue of O Gauge Railroading magazine. It looks great, and I am real happy how it turned out.

Working in O scale was a lot of fun, and readers of my blog know that I haven't done much on the HO layout recently. Much of that is because of a lack of time, and I hope to get to my layout again in the future. But for now, some side projects in the larger scale are a good way to work on new modeling skills.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Happy Halloween (1981)

Here is a shot of U23B #2304 fresh out of Colonie paint shop. The engine behind it, #504, is one of the RS3-u engines and clearly was just in for maintenance work as its paint is still weathered.

Note the trucks on #2304, which haven't been painted and are various shades of black, brown, and gray (perhaps overspray from painting the frame of the engine?)

Either way, its new "costume" looks pretty good on this Halloween afternoon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Chester Railway Museum (Mass.)

The Hudson Berkshire Division of the NMRA held our October monthly meeting at the Chester Railway Station and Museum in Chester, MA over the past weekend.


Though it was a 70 minute trip from our house, my wife and son came with me and we had a great time learning about the local railroad history. 

Some fun facts I never knew were that the first pusher operations were conducted on the original railroad in this location, and technically the first "mountain railroad" was located here. 

They have an attractive tank car painted up for "Bakers Chocolate", which apparently shows the oldest American trademark (the old woman) on file. 

They also have an old Rutland caboose, painted for the New York Central, that you can rent for the night. I definitely plan to do that in the spring. 

An unusual steam locomotive, which arrived with a two-axle tender that was powered by a motor, is also on the property. 

The station itself is nicely restored and smelled like an old railroad station. 

Inside, they had lots of displays and memorabilia as well as tables and chairs to rest in.

During the meeting I was also awarded officially my MMR Structures certificate.

A CSX train happened to go by on the old Boston and Albany mainline, which was neat and caught everybody's attention.

An old schematic of the tracks that use to be in the area.

They even had a "kiddie" boxcar (an actual boxcar) filled with toys and children's books and things for young ones to play with. An old Lionel train circled the ceiling.

Across the street from the station was the location of an old marble quarry. 

Apparently, someone tried to steal the cutting wheel with a blowtorch! They might have cut part way through, but they never got it off though.

One neat thing about this trip was that I found out about the background for Michael Tylick's (one of my biggest influences) large scale Chester and Beckett Railroad which is frequently exhibited at the Springfield Train Show. It has models of quarry operations based on this area, and when I go in January to see it again I will take better notice of all that he built.

All in all, I learned a lot and it was a really enjoyable place to visit for an hour or two. Even my wife and Harrison (who is in a couple of the shots) enjoyed themselves too.