CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Friday, June 29, 2018

Styrene organizer - Version 1.0

I used to keep all my Evergreen styrene strips in their original bags, which was pretty sensible as it listed the dimensions of the strips as well as the product number. However, over the years I have acquired a lot of bags of styrene in various sizes and the process of finding what I needed became unmanageable. I came across an amazing solution while searching online, but it really was a bit too large for my needs. Some people like plastic PVC pipe cut down but that leads to a lot of wasted space. Plus, my organizer needs to be mobile so I can bring it to work sessions at friends' houses.

So, I went to Lowes and looked around, and then looked around some more. Here and there, pricing various wooden dowels and trim pieces and boards and pipes. The challenge was making it strong enough to withstand dropping a tool on it (which could happen) while not overbuilding it and causing the budget or space requirements to go up. This is what I came up with. It ain't pretty, but it works.

Most of the square dowels are 1/4" and though they aren't perfectly straight they work well enough. I used wood glue to attach them and put enough on to build up a fillet at the bottom to prevent thin styrene from getting jammed underneath. Occasionally I clamped one of the pieces down at the end but otherwise I just put weights on top and left it at that. If I really cared I could have used some small track nails to hold the dowels while the glue dried but I was afraid of them splitting. For my larger, odd shaped styrene I built an organizer with 1/4" x 1/2" window screen trim. I should have made the slots slightly over 1/2" wide.

The wooden slats across the top help keep the styrene from bouncing around (and out!) and are glued at every joint. Everything was given a spray of dark blue paint to make the styrene visually pop out. I thought I purchased flat blue but it turned out to be gloss, which is probably better because it is more durable in the long run.

Keeping track of what I have and where it is will be problematic. My temporary solution was to write down on an index card what is in every slot. I don't want to assign slots to certain sizes because if I need to move stuff around it will be a hassle. But, I also don't want to reach for my calipers every time I pull a piece. It is a work in progress.

I want to build a "Cradle" of sorts that is just little wider and deeper than the racks I built. That way, I can slide these in it and it will prevent them from shifting and sliding around. But do they work? Yes! I partially dumped one already and most of the stuff stayed in place. Yay!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Essex Steam Train

It has been awhile since I worked on my layout but I have still been busy. Two weeks ago, I was at the Adirondack Live Steamers (1/8 scale, 7.25" gauge) for their Spring Meet. I have been a member there for years and the weather was perfect. Last weekend, I went to visit my friend Joe and his 1" scale (4.75" gauge) steam railroad in his backyard. And this past weekend, I went to Essex to ride their steam train and river boat. And, in the background I have been scratchbuilding a caboose as part of my NMRA certification. So, a lot has been going on behind the scenes and I will probably discuss some of it in future posts.

Essex proved to be enjoyable even though the weather was lousy. It rained off and on all day, it was cold, and the boat was crowded. However, a bad day behind a steam locomotive is still better than pretty much anything else and I managed to get some pictures from the day. We rode the train as part of a group from our NMRA Hudson Berkshire Division, and we had half of a coach reserved to ourselves. The other half was reserved for a church group. Because the train is run as part of the state park system, everything was in excellent shape including the buildings, the outdoor displays, and of course the train equipment.

The railroad owns four different 80-ton, center cab switchers. I have an affinity for all centercab engines, in no small part because the Arcade and Attica Railroad owns four themselves (two 44-tonners, a 65-tonner, and an 80-tonner). Two of their engines were out when we were there, and one was connected to a lunch train they were running. Our train was next to it and we were able to look through the windows and see the linen and fine china settings, the flowers on the table, etc. It would be fun to do in the future with my wife, but alas it is two and a half hours away.

The river boat trip was a big disappointment for me, mostly because of the rain. However, my wife and I normally love open-air cars and despite the weather I think we would have enjoyed riding in the open-window coach. It looked to be a regular passenger car with some of the windows removed and security bars in place. Our group was 6 coaches back and traveling between the cars wasn't permitted, so we never got to go to the open car. Maybe that was a good thing, as there were some strange doings going on in there!

All in all, though, I had a good time. I had been let down a bit with the Railroad Museum of New England excursion a couple of weeks ago and had high hopes for this place. The train itself was wonderful (I wish all tourist trains had state funding to keep the track work and cars in tip-top shape) and the steam engine was pretty cool. Our train was nine cars long which seemed like a lot, but the sure footed consolidation handled it well in the rain. Though the trip was about 20 minutes each way (much too short in my opinion), it was an enjoyable way to spend an otherwise wet, gray, Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Guilford Passenger Trains

Updated: 6/28/2018

Eventually I want to model the Guilford Office Car Special ("OCS") train as it looked in 1984. There are several reasons why this is an interesting train. At 3-4 cars long it would fit nicely on my layout. It is a simple paint scheme (mostly just orange stripes) and wouldn't be hard to do. Motive power included high-nose Geeps in shiny paint, which would stand out from my rusty D&H engines. Also, I actually saw the modern incarnation of the train in 2007. I am still trying to collect information about suitable HO models for the passenger cars. I tried the Kalmbach Model Railroader forums and got nothing. So, I will try the blog community! 

October 1985
When it comes to modeling 1984, very few passenger trains ran on the Colonie Main. As near as I can tell, aside from an extremely rare Amtrak rerouting (which I am not sure ever occured) the only passenger cars to travel these tracks would have been inspection cars. But, the OCS train was also used for railfan specials all over the Guilford system, and it may have covered the Colonie Main line.

It was even on the cover of the June 1984 Railpace magazine as the chartered "Rumford Rocket." Over the past few years I have collected images of the OCS train that are scattered online or on slides, and I have a good grasp of what equipment was used in 1984. The best reference is a thread on railroad.net discussing the curren Pan Am's OCS train (of which some of the equipment dates back to the 1980s), though at 77 pages long it took a while to get through. Another thread about surviving MEC passenger equipment had some interesting information. However, there are still gaps when it comes to the train equipment and even a mystery passenger car, so I will need to keep digging. As I find more pictures or information about this train, I will update this page so that I can keep all of my research into one place.

October 1985
My current HO scale passenger car collection consists of various Amtrak Amfleet I and II coaches in Phase II and III paint schemes. I also have some old IHC heavyweight D&H passenger cars bought cheap for $8 each even though I knew that they weren't realistic. Walthers had announced in 2015 a short "D&H Fallen Flags" train but it was cancelled for lack of interest. I have never set out to actually acquire realistic models of D&H or Guilford passenger equipment, and don't really know where to start. Thankfully, I don't think most other people are fully knowledgable about the train either so I can get away with substitute cars until I find the right models.

Motive Power
October 1985
As for engines, pictures I have seen from 1983-1985 usually show Guilford (D&H/MEC) GP7 #573, Guilford (MC) GP38 #251, or Guilford (MC) GP9 #470 pulling the train. Maybe they were equipped to provide power and heat for the coaches and/or they were the cleanest engines on the roster at the time. They always ran the train with two engines which would be entirely unnecessary from a horsepower standpoint for only a couple of coaches, and pictures show both engines either on one end or the other, not top and tail. I guess they always has passing sidings at their destinations.

September 1985
Engine #573 has a colorful past. Literally. In the early 1980s it was painted in MEC's historic green scheme with gold stripes. In July 1982 it was repainted in the maroon and yellow stripe scheme. By 1983 it was in Guilford gray and lettered Maine Central, but in early 1984 it was lettered D&H. By 1985, it was back to Maine Central lettering.

In 1996, a company called Mary Jayne's Railroad Specialties Inc. produced a post card of #573.
Here is the caption from the postcard: Maine Central GP7 Unit Number 573, still equipped with a steam boiler for Passenger Service and painted in the Guilford Transportation Industries colors, stands at the Rigby Engine Terminal in South Portland, Maine in early 1985. Eleven years later, in 1996, this Unit would be acquired by Conway Scenic Railroad and repainted in its original maroon and gold livery for service on the New Hampshire Tourist Road. 

Passenger Cars
Springfield Terminal #100 (Observation Car)
October 08, 2007
It was purchased by the D&H from the Norfolk & Western (N&W #102) in 1976. I haven't been able to find out the early history of the car, so I don't know if it was built for the N&W or another railroad. It originally had stainless steel fluting below the windows and it still had it in 1984, though it was subsequently removed.

Springfield Terminal #101 (Diner/Lounge), "North Point" 
October 08, 2007
It was built by the Pullman-Standard company for the Pere Marquette Railroad in 1946, but before it was delivered in 1950 the C&O which controlled the PM sold it to the D&RGW (D&RGW #1290). The D&RGW sold it to the D&H (D&H #43) in 1967. It also originally had stainless steel fluting below the windows and it still had it in 1984, though it also was subsequently removed.

Maine Central #390 
It was built by the Pullman-Standard company for the Pennsylvania (Pennsy #4044). It was absorbed by the Penn Central (PC #4044) and later transferred to Amtrak (Amtrak #5444). I am not sure when the Maine Central (or possibly Guilford) acquired it. A great side shot from 1978 can be found online here.

Maine Central #391 (Food service)
There are conflicting references as to who built this car. One source says that it was built by Budd in 1939, but a different source says that it was built by Pullman-Standard in 1948 for NYC (NYC #3011). Regardless of who built it, it was renumbered (NYC #3211), then became PC (PC #3211), and finally was transferred to Amtrak (Amtrak #3951). I am not sure when the Maine Central (or possibly Guilford) acquired it. Side shot post Guilford at CPC RR Museum 

October 1985
There are some excellent shots on rrpicturearchives of a fan special to North Conway, NH, in 1983 and Maine in 1984 that show the passenger cars even better. You will need to scroll down the links to see them.

Note: I will keep adding pictures to this thread as they are added to my collection.