CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Friday, August 25, 2023

D&H #752 in Watervliet (1969)

Here is a shot of D&H U33C #752 leading a train south through Watervliet on August 25, 1969. If you are wondering about the unual paint scheme, there is a story behind it. 

The D&H normally purchased diesels only from Alco and General Electric, but in 1967 EMD tested three SD45 demonstrator locomotives on the D&H. Apparently, the D&H needed engines and EMD offered them a great deal... perhaps to attempt to lure the D&H into buying more EMDs. It worked, and the three engines were acquired.

However, the D&H didn't like them. They were nicknamed "Hummingbirds" though I am not sure why. Part of their issue was because the maintenance crews needed separate inventories for three lone EMD engines in a roster of Alcos and GEs. So, in 1969 after only two years they were swapped with the Erie Lackawanna for three GE U33C engines. The Erie Lackawanna's maroon and gray scheme was retained, with D&H blue replacing the maroon. As D&H repaints go (and there were a lot when it aquiried a bunch of Geeps at the formation of Conrail), this was pretty tasteful. By 1972, the U33C engines were repainted into the more traditional D&H "Lightning Stripe" scheme. 

Ironically, the three initial SD45s were later returned to the D&H on Conrail's "Conveyance Day" in 1976 and all were then patch painted for the D&H, again with the EL's maroon repainted in blue. They lasted on the D&H for two more years before being sold to Mexico in 1978.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

RIP Clover

Sadly, today was the day when Clover decided to leave us. She was a great dog, and a wonderful modeling companion. She kept my feet warm in the winter during our long basement modeling sessions at my workbench, and in the summer she loved going up to the Live Steam club and being around the trains and people. She lived 12+ fun filled years, 6 with us, and even yesterday when we were at the park people complimented us on her appearance and exuberance. 

She will definitely be missed. 

Friday, August 18, 2023

D&H train passing Albany Steel (1974)

Here is a neat shot of a southbound D&H train passing through North Albany in August 18, 1974. While the colors of the freight cars on the left are pretty muted, the last couple are really bright and that caboose stands out. Perhaps it was recently painted. Right behind and to the right of the caboose is Albany Steel, which I modeled on my layout. Sadly, I only had room for the piles of pipes that are evident here.

For those familiar with the area, this picture looks like it was shot from the roof of what is now Huck Finn's Warehouse.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Growing grass on the ridge in North Menands

I only realized recently that I hadn't worked on the background ridge in my North Menands section of the layout since December 2020! Wow, where did the time go? Admittedly, I am not very good at scenery I didn't want to mess it up so I left it alone and focused my attention on structures. However, it was time to move on with the process. This entire project was done over the course of a week, spending between 5-15 minutes a night after I put my son to bed. I much prefer working in larger chunks of time, but since I had to constantly wait for glue to dry along the way it worked out well.

Here is what I was hoping to model, albeit during a much greener time (May) then is shown in this late October 2012 photo. The ridge on the left runs behind the tracks, and just to the other side of the trees on that hill is a cemetary. A neat opportunity to model something different, but space probably won't allow it on my layout. 

I had done a lot of the scenery between the front of the layout and the ridge, so I didn't want to mess that up by reaching over it. But, the backdrop in this area is removable and access to the rear is easy from the laundry area. The ridge already had a coat of Ground Goop applied, along with several colors of ground foam. But it didn't look go, and static grass was the answer. So, I started by covering the track along the ridge with paper towels and spraying them with water to settle them in. They would serve as shields to capture errant static grass fibers.

Then, Woodland Scenics' Static Tac glue was drizzled onto the terrain and brushed around with a cheap 1" chip brush. One thing I noticed right away was that the Woodland Scenic's glue was a lot thinner than the Aleens tacky glue I had been using. Also, I didn't spray the entire area with rubbing alcohol first before applying glue. I had read that you needed to get everything wet (hence the alcohol) for the static charge to be fully transferred from the end of the probe to the layout area you are working on, but that didn't seem to be the case here. 

Then, a layer of mixed green 2mm grass was applied consistently along the ridge. The back area (facing the camera) didn't get as much because it wouldn't be seen from normal layout viewing angles. I used a shop vac with a stocking over the end to capture excess grass and help it stand up, but 2mm stuff usually comes out straight. 

This is really bright stuff... but it does reflect the fresh spring growth in the area. And, the colors will change as the scenery process continued.

The next day, I added more glue and then applied a layer of dark green 4mm grass over top.

When the glue dried it looked a bit better.

Finally, I went and applied four different shades of ground foam and other scenic materials to further break up the monotony of the color palette. 

It helps have a rolling cart filled with scenery supplies at the ready.

I also keep the nine scenery materials I use the most used colors in a separate container. They are: fine cinder ballast; fine gray blend ballast; fine screened real coal; super fine screened real dirt; fine brown ballast; fine dark green foam; fine mixed green/yellow foam; and medium light and dark green foam.

Once the foam was on, I sprayed it all with alcohol and applied more matte medium cement to lock it all in place.

And when I say "applied", I took no chances. Loose foam could easily roll down the hill onto the tracks and get into the engine's gears, so I made sure that stuff wasn't going anywhere. Because of the humidity, it took several days for the white appearance to disappear. I was getting pretty worried, actually.

With a train in front of it and from this high perspective, it doesn't look as massive as the prototype. From eye-level, though, it works okay. I didn't want it so high that it appeared like a mountain. Besides, I still need to add some large bushes and trees along the ridge and they will add to the overall height.

This is a step forward. And even though I hate making trees, I will try and not wait another 2.5 years before I work on this section again!

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Hazy day for a train (1982)

Here is a hazy summer day shot taken in August, 1982 of a D&H train with engines #7314, #502, and #7320 on point. Look how disgusting the front of the short hood is on the lead engine, further "highlighted" by the faded yellow paint underneath. Something I find interesting is that most pictures I see always show the rebuilt RS3-m engines in the middle of a consider, never leading or trailing (which depending on direction of the consist could make them the lead engine). Were the cabs that uncomfortable? I know the engines were known to be slippery, but did that prevent them from taking lead-engine spots?

I don't see a lot of Alco exhaust either for that matter, so perhaps this train was stopped or else rolling really slowly.

Friday, August 4, 2023

D&H train in Mechanicville (1984)

Here are two shots taken in Mechanicville Yard on August 04, 1984 of a southbound train departing.

The engines are passing over the diamond crossing with the Boston and Maine.