CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween (and domes "in disguise")!

Halloween means a lot of things to different people, but one memory is dressing up and going to collect candy. My mother sewed us excellent costumes when I was a child. Anyway, the D&H tried its own Halloween magic in 1975 when it decided to push back against Amtrak regarding the operation of the "Adirondack" passenger trains. Though they were jointly run by the two railroads, with funding from the State of New York, it was Amtrak that provided the dome cars in their standard red and blue colors. Usually the rest of the train, including the engines, was in the D&H's yellow and blue as seen in the below show taken in Mechanicville on August 21, 2976. They couldn't fit through the tunnels into NYC so they were always pulled off the train at Rensselaer before the train headed south. Due to the cost of switching them off the train they were always located behind the engine and got filthy from Alco exhaust smoke as a result.

However, some D&H employees thought that the domes would look better repainted in blue and yellow to match the rest of the train. So, for a week at the end of October 1975 the D&H secretly modified the domes between runs by painting over the red Amtrak stripes with yellow paint and even added D&H shield emblems on the sides! Within a couple of days (literally) Amtrak officials saw it while riding the inaugural Lake Shore Limited train (Doh!) and demanded that the red be restored.

Back when I started collecting D&H slides I focused on obtaining one of these illusive dome shots. Why I cannot say, except that they were only available during a five-day window before the cars had their red stripe restored. This is the first "dome slide" I found (dated October 28, 1975) and I was super excited to buy it. It is hard to make out the colors of the stripes on the dome, but they are in fact yellow and blue.

This next picture dated 10/31/1975 shows the yellow and blue stripes along with Amtrak's red and blue "pointless arrow" emblem. The yellow is much more obvious than the first image. I guess the D&H decided not to paint over the Amtrak emblem.

The last picture is only dated "1976". By this time, it is my understanding that Amtrak and the D&H had fought over the dome cars so much that Amtrak pulled them from the trains. The D&H, in response, leased two dome cars from Canadian Pacific. These cars had green glass in the domes and are easier to spot. They were painted in the proper D&H colors.

Though just a footnote in the history of the D&H, I found this story fascinating. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Weedy, overgrown tracks

The next time you accidently sprinkle too much ground foam over your ballast when you are working on scenery, keep this undated shot in mind. I don't know the location or the date but the overgrown track looks like the "Third Main" near Colonie before it was finally removed. Those side tracks aren't faring much better.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Day trip to Maine

While going through some model railroad magazines I came across advertisements for Model Rail Scenes, a company that custom builds train layouts. They seemed to focus mainly on three rail, O scale, layouts, and I found their designs to be pretty realistic and evocative of New England scenery. If I ever did build an O scale layout, I would want mine to focus on the north east. So, I called the owner, Brian Inch, just to talk about basic layout concepts and such. I wasn't planning on hiring him to build a layout for me, but he does things I haven't seen elsewhere and I wanted to pick his brain. He did one better, and invited me to visit his showroom and talk with him in person. Great!... except he was 330 miles away in Augusta, Maine. 

While that was going on, I had a desire to revisit the WW&F Railway in Alna, Maine. I am a member of the organization and read their newsletters but haven't been there in person since 2017. My wife has wanted to take a long weekend vacation in Maine again, but it has been busy with work and the WW&F is located about 300 miles from where we live.

So, these two Maine destinations sat on my backburner until I just decided to go for it. I would go on a Saturday and visit both in the same day, and then drive home. It was an 11+ hour trip covering almost 700 miles, but I figured I could do it. So, I woke up early last Saturday and left the house at 6:00 AM exactly. I arrived back home at 10:45 PM. But, aside from waiting in line for over 2 hours at Red's Eats for a fried chicken sandwich (which I was told they were out of when I got to the front of the line!) it was a good day. Below are some pictures from my trip.

Brian's display layout is 10x16'. There is a lot packed in it. It is considered an "island" style layout in that you can walk completely around it. I really liked his duck scene.

This bridge took up a lot of space but it wasn't forced into the scene, and that is what made it so realistic. Many bridges are shoehorned in by layout builders who want add them just because they look good without giving thought to whether the rest of the scenery would demand such a bridge be built there.

The center area is part of his old display layout that I actually saw at the Springfield, MA train show a couple of years ago. Even the tree-covered forests look good and they aren't those cheap "puff ball trees" that everyone seems to like to build.

Around the layout area were display shelves filled with O scale trains that would have run on railroads in Maine. It was inspiring to see.

After we talked for a while, I drove to the WW&F Railway. They were running multiple trains which required passing each other at their station stop in Alna Center.

The train pulled by B&SR #7 arrived first and took the straight portion of the dual track.

Then, the other train pulled by WW&F #9 (the train I rode earlier) took the siding. While I can't be sure of it, I think they always kept the train pulled by the B&SR #7 engine on the straight mainline portion of the track to keep it off of the reverse curves leading into and out of the passing siding.

The railyard in Sheepscot was jam packed full of trains, including at least two other steamers and a diesel engine. Part of the equipment belongs to the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum in Portland, ME.

Their machine shop filled with equipment looked great.

Their new engine house was under construction. It will be great to have a nice, safe place to store all of the steam locomotives.

Monson #4, which at one time was abandoned in a scrap yard in Rochester NY, was here on loan. I wish I had my picture taken with it here like I did with Monson #3 in 2020. Maybe next time I come up.

The inside scoop on a passenger car being built from scratch in their shops.

One of only two Maine 2-foot gauge tank cars, this one was restored in the past few years here. I took some more pictures as I would like to build a model of it someday.

My very own T.C.D.A. #65 next to the real thing in Wiscasset, ME. The dock was filled with stuff as part of the clean up for the end of season and this was the best shot I could manage.

Saying goodbye to the railroads in Maine... until next time.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Circus Train in Menands (1987)

Who doesn't love the circus? Maybe me. I don't recall ever going to one as a child, though while in high school my youth group attended a Shriner's Circus. I don't remember much about it. I know the Barnum & Bailey Circus used to move from city to city by train (they had a "blue" train and a "red" train), and up until a few years ago those trains were the primary method of transporting the circus equipment around. It was a very long train, at least in my mind, made up of coaches for the employees and extra-long flatcars for holding various wagons and road equipment.

Here is an image of the circus train on May 31, 1987. The slide's location is labeled as Menands, but I can't place exactly where this shot was taken. The power lines on the left should be helpful, but the only possible location I can think of is facing south on the I-787 Exit 6 on-ramp. If true, there was some expert cropping to hide the old William Press building which would be directly on the right. That could be why the photographer framed the image as a portrait and not a landscape.

Regardless, it is interesting for several reasons: the train sure looks long, that it required four locomotives, and there are a lot of trees and growth in the area. For as industrial and commercial as the D&H's line through Albany way, some parts were still wooded and secluded. My "cut corner" section strives to represent part of this.

I do have my own story to tell about the circus train, however. On May 1, 2005, it was a wonderful spring day and I wanted to get away from my studies. I drove to the Port of Albany and came upon an odd looking set of coaches that revealed itself as a circus train. Passenger cars were parked on a couple of sidings (some with access ramps leading to their doors). Extended length flatcars were secured behind wire fences on the tracks alongside the warehouses where the huge transfer cranes are. 

It is my guess that the circus workers actually needed access to these cars while they were parked, hence the need for the ramps.

I don't know if this is the "red" train or the "blue" train, but the red lettering on the side of the car might be a way to distinguish them.

I also assume that the cars were parked on a siding with an access road nearby instead of in the adjacent rail yard because the Albany Port RR didn't want circus employees walking through an active railyard.

Some of the doors look to be non-factory standard. Those baggage doors sure look unusual, as do the windows on the sides.

Behind the fences, 89' flatcars are ready and waiting for the call to be loaded up.

There were a lot of flat cars.

Sadly, the circus train is no more. It is a memory. I remember reading a couple of years ago how the train cars were to be auctioned off. I am glad I took the time to wander away from my studies and explore the port that day. If only I had known when they were loading, I would have cut class again. Oh well...

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Partially repainted D&H caboose #35721 (1971)

I enjoy collecting and weathering models of D&H cabooses, as I previously described on my blog. But, because my layout is set in 1984 I could never justify purchasing one of the D&H's yellow bay window cabooses that they ordered in 1968. The paint faded and weathered badly and by the early 1970s they were already being repainted red.

I came across the slide dated August 1971. Based on the unusual vertical weathering break line along the left, I can only assume that side of the caboose was washed and/or repainted and then stenciled with the "Delaware & Hudson" logo. But what led to that? 

The situation is very similar to this D&H boxcar that received the same treatment.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Herzog track machine hiding in Menands tunnel (2012)

I was driving through Menands with the wife on August 15, 2012, and we looked down the tracks to see if a train was coming. Indeed, one was and it had an unusual headlight arrangement. So, we parked by a crossing and waited. And waited.

After several minutes, it became clear that the train was not moving. So, we drove around and then got out to investigate. This is what we found. The road on the overpass is Broadway in Menands, and the building behind on the very right is the old Williams Press building, where either Life or Time magazine (I can't remember which) were printed. I am not sure why the equipment was in the tunnel for so long- either they were hiding from view in the tunnel, or else they were inspecting track in the tunnel.

It sort of reminds me of Henry the green steam locomotive who stayed in a tunnel to prevent his bright paint from being spoiled. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Switching General Electric in Waterford (1985)

Here is a shot of the D&H #4103 switching the G.E. facility in Waterford on November 09, 1985. The camera is facing north, and the train is on the eastern track which is a switching lead (or might have been some existing double track at that time, though I think not). The building on the right is now currently a business called Tony's Tires, and from online maps it looks like you could actually drive there without having to go through security check points. 

It is worth pointing out that by 1985 there were only at most two RS3 engines in the "Lightening Stripe" scheme, and nearly all of the old Alcos were based around the Colonie shops. So it makes sense that one of them was used for this job.