CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Springfield Train Show 2022

Despite the weather warning of a blizzard, I went to the Springfield train show on Saturday morning. Leaving Albany around 7:15AM, I got there around 9:15AM. There were no lines of cars to get in, and I got a great parking spot. I was able to buy my ticket on the spot without waiting either, which was a good thing too as it was very windy and cold outside. 

The show was not like a typical Springfield show. Many vendors were gone, either due to the weather or Covid. It felt like about 1/3 were missing, but that isn't an official number. At least four that I was hoping to go to were gone. But, on Saturday the place was a dead zone for much of the day and I felt like I had the show to myself. It was a nice trade off.

There were lots of neat things to see. One was these pair of Ffestiniog Railway Welsh prototype models on the Kato display table. They run on N scale track and model narrow gauge prototypes. I was told that they were being made by Kato Japan and would not be for sale in the USA. One can only hope that they will release some Talyllyn Railway (my favorite Welsh narrow gauge line) stuff in the future. 

On a slightly larger scale (1/16 scale, which runs on 3.5" gauge track), a friend had his Bassett-Lowke engine out for display. It was recently restored and looked beautiful. I can't remember how old he said it was, but it still ran well. He was only exhibiting it though today.

There were lots of great layouts on display, but one that struck my fancy was built by a U.S. serviceman stationed in Afghanistan. He created a pair of modules (Fremo, I believe) based on the Railways of Afghanistan. Bet you haven't seen that before!

I really got a kick out of the camels. Normally when you see them on a layout it is a circus scene. 

The Lego train display was as busy and well done as usual, but three engines with working valve gear surprised me. The Lego train I had as a kid (set #7722) was nothing like this!

Under the unusual category was this remote controlled dinosaur! I thought at first there was someone in a costume, but I overheard him say he imported it from China (for $5000!) and he directed it with something held in his hand. I don't know how it worked. Behind it was another near-extinct engine. Monson #3. More on that engine here.

I really took a look at the T-trak modules to see how others utilized the space. While many were well done but featured "generic" scenery, there were some outstanding examples. Here are a few pictures of them. The first shows two modules designed to work "back to back" instead of the normal "side by side". 

A couple featured really large ships. 

This dry dock was another fun scene.

I really liked the scenery on this one too.

The following pictures are based on a Star Wars park. Yup, Star Wars. The models were built from Bandai kits, and are 1:144 (pretty close to N scale's 1:160). The builder was Todd Blose and they were his covid project. I spent quite a bit of time talking with him about them.

The shot below had Jabba's palace on top, and the Sarlacc cave visible through the side!

That AT-AT is about to walk on the tracks

The Death Star trench run scene was my favorite, but I am extremely partial to X-wings.

Viewers looking onto the trench run. An interesting mash-up of different Star Wars scenes.

Jabba's palace was located on top of the corner module. Or perhaps it is just a regular Tatooine scene.

All in all, there were four modules I think. Those trees were fantastic as well.

One train I saw that I wanted but was very much out of my price range was this O scale Lionel B&M mogul and four MTH woodside coaches. 

But, I did purchase seven O gauge cars. My budget was between $20-45 per car, with the Mandarin Orange Express CP boxcar the most. All are detailed scale models, and will go towards my future layout. I discovered walking around with them that they take up a LOT more space (8x each) than their HO car equivalents. I was thankful I parked so close to the exit. 

I picked up a bunch of books for about $20. They will provide a lot of reading for the cold weather.

Finally, a couple of odds and ends. I bought a "challenge coin" from the WW&F Railway in Maine. They are building a new locomotive, WW&F #11, from scratch and funds generated from these coins will go towards that. More info on them can be found here. I also bought a magnet from the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum featuring Monson #4. Finally, I snagged a new pair of pliers for bending metal wire.

I really enjoyed the show. It was more like a regular train show because it wasn't as crowded or loud. I hope they recoup their costs, but I for one didn't miss the extra hustle and bustle. I hated walking between the buildings in the middle of a blizzard, but that couldn't be helped. Next year will be even better, and the countdown has begun!

PS: For dinner after the show I drove to Chick-fil-A, my favorite fast food place. I hadn't been to one in years (literally). Despite having a location less than 2 miles from my house, it is in an airport and not open to the public. How cruel! So I drove to one near the train show in the snow storm only to find out it was closed. Grrr.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

D&H train in Lowell, MA yard (1985)

Here is a shot of a D&H train led by D&H GP39-2 #7402 on February 18, 1985. The location is Lowell, Mass. I like it because it shows paint schemes from three different railroads and many colorful freight cars, all without a bit of graffiti. If you zoom in on the Guilford's GE engine, you can see lots of dead orange leaves stuck on the rear side air intake vents. For some reason, this was a common occurrence with GE locomotives and it would be fun to model. 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Then and Now: Colony Liquor (1984)

The shot below is dated July 23, 1984, and shows a southbound set of three engines passing by Colony Liquor. I imagine it is transfer of motive power to Kenwood Yard, which is a few miles south of here. I modeled that building as was previously shown on my blog here, here, and here. I had to make a few reasonable guesses when building it as I didn't have clear roof-top shots. The roof vents I used are too large for the building, but I am not in the mood to remove them at this time. Overall, though, I think I did a good job in capturing its 1984 appearance. 

Here is a more recent shot I took on October 12, 2012. The building hadn't changed much in twenty-eight years. The green exterior paint had held up remarkably well.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Then and Now - Peebles Island and Waterford (1974)

My wife and I are not originally from the Albany area. This means that we frequently discover on our own interesting or neat places which "locals" are already aware of. One of those is Peebles Island State Park, located where the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers join together. We have come here for weekend walks with our dog, on picnic holidays like Labor Day, and have watched Fourth of July fireworks from across the river. We like it because it is small, quiet, and secluded. 

It also has a history tied to railroads. The D&H's Troy Branch came off their Colonie Main line at Waterford Junction (near Higgins Road) and headed south into Waterford. After crossing Routes 4 and 32 it ran down the middle of Second Street between rows of houses. It then climbed up a concrete ramp and cross a large bridge into Peebles Island. Cluett Peabody & Company ran a bleachery here and manufactured "Arrow" shirts. The complex still is in existence and is currently part of the State Park.

Tracks then continued on to Van Schaick Island, where the Matton shipyard, Ludlow Valve Company, Peterson & Packer Coal, IGA Foods, and the Perkins Petroleum Company tank farm had businesses set up. The tracks went further south and joined up with the D&H's Green Island Branch. Most of the tracks from here north to Waterford Junction were abandoned around 1973-1974 and they were lifted in 1982 (Much of the information here is found in of Dominic Bourgeois' fantastic Delaware & Hudson Bridge Line Freight 1960-1983, Volume 1 book.)

The shot below is from August 15, 1974, and shows one of the former Providence & Worcester "popsicle" lease RS-3s after its return to the D&H. The Cleutt Peabody facility is in the background. The engine is pulling a mixed freight and is heading north into Waterford. I don't know if the train came up from Green Island or if it headed south from Waterford, did its switching, and then reversed ("a turn") to head back north and home. 

The engine is #4075, and the lack of the B&M number boards in the corner means it is their first engine numbered as such. It was later traded to the B&M for an engine with a steam boiler for heating passenger cars on The Adirondack passenger train, and that second engine lasted to the end on the D&H

Fast forward to a very cold January 2022, and here is the same shot. The road in the middle of the picture is the old railroad right of way. 

As the track left Peebles Island and headed north towards Waterford, it went over a bridge and then dropped down. How steep the drop was I don't know, but here is the view standing in Waterford facing south towards the railroad bridge which has been since converted to a road bridge. It must have been some grade! Can you imagine the train shown coming over the bridge and dropping down between the houses?

Well, you don't have to imagine it because I have another picture! The tracks ran right down Second Street and you can see a brakeman or conductor standing on the front steps of the engine as a lookout for problems. Note that the caboose is directly behind the engine. I don't know if this is because of a lack of a passing siding to maneuver it to the the end of the train, or because the crew didn't care and just wanted to go home. But, it provides proof that cabooses don't always need to be on the end.

I tried to replicate the same shot. However, all I had to go on was the pointed house front on the left and the front entryways of the houses on the right. I narrowed it down to two locations, and I think this is it. The fronts of the buildings have changed (trim is repainted, the porch of one building has been remodeled), but I think I can see the end of the road in both pictures. The winter shadows made it tough to take pictures, and I should have moved up about 20 feet before snapping it. It was REALLY cold outside, and I left my printout of the photo above in the car and didn't want to go back for it.

At the end of the road, the track hooked left (west) and headed towards a freight station. It is visible in the distance in the 2022 picture below.

After driving down the alley (the old right of way) I arrived at the station which is currently used as a library. I hadn't been here in five or more years, but bet they have a lot of old maps and pictures inside so I should return for some research at a later date.

Waterford clearly has some pride in their railroad heritage. Note the sign on the crossbucks!

For those who would need some context, on the satellite map below the blue line is the current D&H line and the red is where where it branched off and headed south. The orange arrow is the Cluett Peabody & Company, and the yellow arrow is the former D&H freight station/library. I believe the bend in the red line in Waterford is near where the street trackage pictures were taken.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Structure - Agway (main building)

It has been almost a year since I have done any serious work on the layout, and this structure is primarily the reason for it. I did a lot of research and photo taking in 2010 and again in early 2021 and expected to get right on it, but instead my attentions went to scratchbuilding structures for my NMRA certificate. It felt good to do something else and try new methods and materials. Plus, I knew this building would be challenging for me to stay focused on. 

At the same time, I was falling in love with three-rail high rail scale trains and I have spent the last six months wondering if I should tear this layout down and start over. The answer for now is "no" but my next layout is already established.

Here is a shot of the Agway from March 28, 1984. The siding in weeds on the very left curves towards it and then makes a reverse curve to straighten out and run parallel to the building. I am not sure if it still received rail service at that time, as the siding looks pretty buried in the weeds and that might be a pile of brush or ties on the track just around the bend. The Agway is the cream colored building on the very left, though its roof profile seems awfully pointed compared to what exists today. However, directly to the left of it (visible in another shot in my collection) is the Quonset hut and that is still there today. So who knows?

This biggest issue with this structure is that it is a enigma. As the prototype pictures in this thread will show, it is festooned with odd openings that have been boarded or bricked up and loaded with lots of neat details that would make modeling it fun. But, it also has a big problem... it is big! Too big for the meager space I have devoted on my layout for it. The sides of the building have to be truncated because my layout area is too narrow in depth, and the side facing the aisle will end up being plain styrene. And the side facing the tracks isn't even visible. Out of all of my structures, compressing this one would result in the most loss of character. A better satellite picture of it is here.

So, I was faced with the proposition of building something that will not really look at all like the prototype, while at the same time any areas I spent time detailing wouldn't be visible by anybody. I didn't have a solution, and wasn't sure I wanted to find one anyway, so I left it alone. For a long time.

Recently I was talking about this dilemma with my wife and she encouraged me to skip it and move onto other areas of the layout. Her suggestion was sound, but I just couldn't do that. I wanted everything built in order, and I knew if I skipped it I might not ever come back. Plus, I couldn't finish the scene without it. So, the next morning (the morning before Christmas) I woke up early and went to the basement to draw up some scale plans. Some over-size graph paper, lots of laminated referenced pictures of the building, as well as my inventory of window castings helped me sketch up what I could do in the space I had. As expected, I had to make compromises. I had to shorten it by over 50%, and its depth was reduced by at least that much as well. I just hope it doesn't end up looking like a caricature of itself.

Below are some shots of the building (from 2010 and 2021) that show various elements I tried to incorporate into my model. This is the SW wall and we are looking due north. Note the concrete blocks for most of the bottom tiers, the brick wall portion along the peaked areas, and the blanked out doors and windows. The history of this building's expansions and contractions must be fascinating.

The above shot was from July 2010, and the below picture is from February 2021, both showing the same corner. The railroad track spur came from the north and headed parallel to the left side of the building. Now, there is currently nothing but trees and some yellow metal scaffolding.

The picture below shows the trackside of the building. Note the roof gable that sticks up for just this portion of the building. Capturing that on the model was important, but I wasn't sure how much would fit in my space. I assume that loading and unloading of the boxcars was done here. Now, the doors are currently boarded over and the portion above the awning looks like corrugated steel.

Continuing along the side of the building are lots of windows and other details which the trees were blocking. As the model was significantly reduced in length, most of them were omitted. 

There was a strange "bump-out" along part of the wall which I assume was added after railroad service ended as I think it is located where the track siding was. 

The NW corner which is next to the Quonset building is unremarkable except for the window. 

Once I had my drawings done, I could begin construction of the model. I knew the substructure, or core, would be either 0.060" or 0.080" thick styrene (depending on what I had in my scrap box). After cutting out the two ends and the side that faced the track, I taped them together and set them on the layout to see how they looked proportionally to everything else. It will work, but it really should be twice as long as I made it. 

Inside corners were braced with 1/4" square styrene... which I go through so frequently that I usually purchase 6 packages of it at a time. Squares and 1-2-3 blocks were useful for both ensuring 90-degree corners and adding weight while the MEK set.

Instead of using Rix concrete block wall casting pieces, I ordered some JTT Architectural Model Parts concrete block pattern sheets (#97425). Though listed as 1:100 scale (HO is 1:87), they looked fine to me and the large sheets meant I didn't have to make lots of splices as I did the the Rix castings. 

I cut out the concrete block overlays and then cut out the window openings. I then used them as templates to mark the window holes in the plain styrene core walls. I used drills and files to finish them to size.

The concrete block walls were then glued to the core. Perfect corner joints are impossible to make, but I arranged the seams so the gap was on the long side (which won't be visible).

For the area around the loading doors, I first had cut away the area and then attached a piece of styrene all along the back. This created a recess for the doors, which I could fill in later with whatever doors (or blanked off areas) I choose. I also stopped the concrete blocks from going over that area. I intentionally cut out parts and holes in the concrete blocks and patched them to match prototype pictures, but they aren't really visible.

Once the window openings were cut, I mounted the fourth wall. I held off on doing that until the openings were made because otherwise getting a file in would have been problematic. I then added bracing and used weights to keep everything square.

Some N Scale Architects' "Modern Brick" sheets (#50001) from my scrap box were glued on top of the cement blocks and later trimmed down.

The roof gable overhanging the loading door on the rear was built up from styrene. 

The inside of the roof gable was braced with square and round styrene rod stock.

Roof panels made from plain styrene were glued on. Any gaps were filled with tiny strips of styrene, though they will be hidden by the roofing materials.

Gaps along the rear wall's upper joint were filled with a mixture of modeling putty and MEK. My tube of filler was so clogged I had to cut the bottom of the tube off to get to fresh stuff. That, essentially, was the end of this tube! Once dry, the filler was sanded smooth.

I have no idea what the rear boxcar loading doors looked like. So, I rummaged through my parts and casting inventory for doors but they were either too old, too modern, or the wrong size. So, instead I scratchbuilt some using scribed styrene sheet and styrene strips. The blue brick piece is supposed to look like another of the prototype's patchwork appearance. 

The awning started off as Evergreen corrugated styrene sheet that I framed with strip styrene and glued on. Some 0.030" brass wire was bent up and glued into holes drilled on the sides of the awning and the face of the building. Nothing fancy here.

Finally, it was ready for paint. The walls of the prototype building are currently off-white, and decades of dirt and grime and neglect have made them look pretty bad. Paint is peeling, gaps in the blocks and bricks are quite visible, and all exposed metal and wood parts are decayed. I didn't know what it looked like in 1984 but I assumed it hadn't been repainted since then, so I chose an off-white color for the walls (Rustoleum satin "Heritage White"). Of course, I started with coat of white primer underneath. The edges of the roof were then painted dark gray to match the color of the "tar paper" that was to come.

I honestly wasn't sure if I should use a rolled roof or shingles on the building, but current pictures show dark grayish/black tarpaper or something similar. Shingles would look nicer, but I figured that would be straying too far into the "what if" category. So I cut strips of blue painter's tape to width (about 1", which is around 8' in HO scale) and applied them vertically to match prototype satellite pictures.

The tape was carefully brush painted a dark gray. Two coats were required to hide any traces of blue.

One the paint dried it looked pretty good, but it needed some weathering.

I propped the building at an angle so that the roof was level and then applied a wash of black oil paint and thinner. I first tested on a sample (that paint stick in the corner) to ensure the black concentration was what I wanted.

Then, all four sides of the building were given a weak wash of brown oil paint. This allowed the bricks to pop out without making everything look too run down. I just wanted to give the appearance of dirt, not necessarily neglect. I then went and added a light coat of black wash over the top to reflect decades of Alco soot that passed by.

The side facing the aisle received the same dirty wash, though without any brick detail it just left an overall coating of filth.

Changing directions, I then worked on the wood planks which went on the sides of the roof gable. The building currently has near-black wood. I assume it was originally painted white to match the rest of the building but all traces of paint have worn off. I started with real stripwood but found it too thick, and it was difficult to accurately cut the angles on the end. So I switched to 0.020" thick V-groove styrene siding (Evergreen #2050). Once painted white and weathered, it was glued on.

I had previously cut some corrugated styrene into pieces that would mount above the awning. The prototype pictures show very rough cut pieces, so I staggered the bottom to look like multiple pieces attached side-by-side. I am not sure if they were there in 1984, but they seemed interesting enough to include. 

I painted them gray, gave them a mottled appearance with alcohol and oil paint washes, and then added vertical dividing lines with a black marker to look like separate panels. In person the effect isn't terribly realistic, but this side of the building will never be seen anyway. At least I get points for effort. Finally, everything was given a coat of Dullcote.

The window castings are Grandt Line #5299 and #5277. They appear dark and difficult to see through in pictures, so I painted the castings a dark charcoal gray. Then, I used Canopy glue to secure them to pieces of 0.015" thick clear styrene. I left the clear plastic large around the edges because that overhang gave me glue surfaces to attach them to the inside of the building. They will pop through the window holes and be recessed... perfect for masonry windows.

Then I painted the extra clear styrene around the window frames black before mounting them to hide any gaps. I may also paint the clear styrene black on the inside to prevent light from shining through, though when propped up on the layout I couldn't see anything by looking inside. Canopy glue held the windows in place.

Then, disaster! I set the building on the layout to double-check clearances and discovered I had a problem. I had made sure to build the awning so that it didn't hit a boxcar parked at the loading door, but didn't check the curve clearances leading into the door! Now, truth be told there wasn't much I could do about it. If I shortened the awning enough to clear the boxcar then it would be so short as to be useless. 

The real issue is that the scene is so compressed that nothing works well. The parking lot from Colony Liquor is surrounding the track to Agway. There should be lots of trees between the two buildings. And the spur leading into Agway should have a much longer section before it curves to the main line. Relaying the track would allow the boxcar clearance, but it would put the boxcar so far away from the building (about an inch) that the awning would need to be lengthened more to cover the unloading area.

So, I am going to compromise. The siding will stay as it is, and the building will get attached where I planned. But, the siding into it will be put out-of-service so that freight cars can't get to the building. In the past three years I have rarely switched the siding anyway, and its inclusion is more of a scenic detail than an operational one. 

Sadly, from normal viewing angles the below shot of the structure is all that can be seen. But you can stretch your neck and look over the building, in which case there is more to see. Despite all of the compromises I had to make I am proud of my building. In less than a month I took a project that had stalled me for a year and brought it to completion. Now, I can put all three Agway buildings in place and start pulling the scenery together.