CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Friday, July 28, 2023

D&H #5016 on train maintenance duty (7-28-1983)

Here is a shot of RS36 #5017 from July 28, 1983 leading a track maintenance train. It is somewhere near Sanataria Springs, NY. I knew I had this slide somewhere in my collection and I looked forever for it, finally finding it in the wrong place. I had referenced it earlier on my blog.

I don't think anyone offers an HO scale model of the ballast cleaning equipment, but it sure would  make for a neat train. Note that everything in the train is yellow including the former passenger car, whereas most D&H maintenance equipment during this time period was solid blue. Maybe Colonie was still out of blue paint?

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

MMR: Structures certificate earned!

It's official. All of my efforts to build twelve (well, actually thirteen) structures paid off and I was recently notified that I had earned my Master Model Railroader "Structures" certificate. I won't actually be presented with it until this fall, but it is nice to know that I accomplished the end goal. Here is it still in its mailing bubble wrap from NMRA headquarters at my friend's house.

I already have four other certificates (Author, Electrical, Civil, Cars) and only need two more. My "Dispatcher" certification only requires 6.5 hours dispatching another peron's model railroad to satisfy those requirements; I already have 60% of the hours needed for "Association Volunteer"; and my HO layout had about 50% of the work done for "Scenery". And that doesn't include the "Association Official" credits I am earning as President of the Hudson Berkshire Division. 

My goal was to earn one certificate every two years, and in general I have been able to maintain the pace required for that. The end is in sight, and in my opinion the two hardest / most labor intensive certificates (structures/cars) are finished.    

Saturday, July 22, 2023

D&H derailment (1980)

Here is a shot of RS3 #4094 on tthe ground. I don't know if the boxcar is along for the ride or not, but I assume the "Popsicle" engine in the background is coming to tow it away. Not a good day in the office on this August 03, 1980.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

D&H "Gray Ghost" #2311

The unique paint scheme that has since been dubbed the "Gray Ghost" is the result of the D&H Colonie paint shop being tasked with repainting GE U23B #2311 after an overhaul in April 1981. As the story goes, the railroad didn't have enough blue paint to do a proper "Lightning Stripe" scheme and instead improvised with an mostly-gray look. Considering there is a paint factory (Passonno Paints) located literally 5 minutes away from the shops, it is a sad indictment on the financial condition of the railroad that they couldn't splurge for enough blue paint to do the engine right. 

Some call it an "experimental" paint scheme. Others look at is as an extreme case of cost-cutting. A few dub it ugly. But I consider it neat.

Here is a shot of the fairly new looking engine in Conklin, NY, on June 13, 1981:

I have seen sources claim it was an intentional experiment and I suppose it was in its own right, but I don't think the D&H set out to create it (unlike the blue/yellow scheme for #5015). They just ran out of pennies in their piggy bank. By the end of the year, they aparently had acquired more blue paint because this was the only gray engine to appear on their roster.

Fast forward two years and this shot in Allentown, PA from September 10, 1983 demonstrates how badly the gray paint showed dirt and grime:

All of the D&H U23B engines were off the roster by the end of 1983, having been traded to Guilford owned Maine Central. Within a couple of year everything had completely faded and the "ghost" was nearly transparent. Here she is in Wiscasset, Maine in September 1987. The Maine Central painted their emblem on the cab side and renumbered the engine #290. Also note all the leaves stuck in the side radiator.

Because it is an odd ball I just love it. I even considered setting my layout in 1983 instead of 1984 so that I could include it. But, there is still a work-around: I also like the look of the M.C. patch-paint jobs, so I might buy the Atlas HO model and do the same thing 'Cause I ain't afraid of no ghosts!"

Monday, July 10, 2023

D&H Trackmobile (7-10-1982)

Here is a shot dated July 10, 1982 of a D&H (I think) Trackmobile in Mechanicville. What I find odd is that the front set of railroad wheels are between the rubber tires instead of at the front end. I wonder why that was?

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Installing Southworth's loading dock ramp

When I installed the concrete foundation around Southworth Machinery, the raised concrete foundation caused problems with the loading dock's ramp not matching up with the height of the concrete. The issue is that I built the ramp's height equal to that of a flatcar spotted on the track, and if I only raised up the ramp without modifying the track then the loading dock would be taller than the flatcar. So it was time to fix it, and what better time than the Fourth of July when I had the day off.(Note: because I can access both sides of the benchwork some of the pictures appear "backwards" from others).

I started mocking up some flaxtrack and realized that I could in theory lay another piece of track right over the track already in place. This would be taller, and it might work. Moving ahead with this plan, I cut the track where it came off the switch and then bent up a new piece of code 70 flextrack to fit. Unfortunately, it still wasn't tall enough so that wouldn't work. So I grabbed a paint scraper (a seriously useful tool) I had the old cork out and the area leveled in about 5 minutes. 

Next, I installed some 1/4" thick cork in the area. After looking at it for about 30 minutes, I realized it was now a little too tall... arrr... so I removed that cork and replaced it with some that was only 3/16" thick. This was just right because it created a little recessed area along the track for the ballast to fill in. Otherwise, ballast would be spilling onto the concrete foundation and I didn't want that.

Next, the flex track was installed and I soldered up the rail joiners. Then, the ties were painted a motly brownish black color, and the rails were painted with a dark brown. 

I should have stopped here and let the glue (Aleene Tacky Glue) holding down the track dry. It is not soluble in water which is why I like it because it holds up through the several subsequent layers of alcohol and glue solutions that are part of the scenery process. But instead of waiting I pressed ahead to take advantage of the day off and applied multiple colors and sizes of dirt, ballast, and ground foam in the area. The loading dock was also glued down.

Foolishly, I soaked everything in alcohol and then applied matte medium. Unfortunately, the track wasn't fully glued down yet and the alcohol solution caused the track to pop up! I had to secure it down with some nails (that I removed later) until everything was set good and hard.

But in the end, it all worked out. The pictures make the two concrete colors appear really garish, and I wish I had either made the concrete foundation a bit more grayish, or the loading ramp a little bit more yellowish so they would appear more congruent. But I can live with it. I still need to add static grass and trees, which will be next on my list.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July! On our nation's birthday my mind goes to things like fireworks, picnics, and Popsicles. As a result, I am going to skip my traditional Bicentennial engine post for this year.

Instead, here are two D&H RS3 engines (#4084, #4078) on the turntable in Rouses Point on July 4, 1975. Their unusual colors are the result of a leasing agreement with the Providence and Worchester Railroad whereby the D&H sent them six engines for their start-up operations. The P&W painted them in a snappy orange, black and white scheme that came to be nicknamed the "Popsicle scheme." When they were returned, a D&H shield was added to the cab and that was it. I don't recall ever seeing a picture featuring two of them together before... muchless sharing a turntable!

Speaking of two Popsicles, when I was a child my mother would purchase the original "Double Pops" which came two-to-a-package (cherry please). However, she would always break them in half in the paper wrapper so that we would only end up with one. Perhaps it was to save money or prevent us from going off on a crazy sugar high, but whatever the reason I never had a double pop as a kid and doubt I could handle that much sugar today!

Here is another slide I purchased several years after the first one. Note that the engine is the same #4078 as shown above, though here it is heading north and towing a lone caboose pass the beautiful Lacolle Station in Lacolle, Quebec. I guess it was sent out on assignment back to/from Canada. It was also dated July 4, 1975, but I am not sure if it was taken before or after the first picture. It looks like such a peaceful time and place.