My First DCC Conversion, PT. 1…

This is my first DCC conversion as opposed to my first decoder install as the early Athearn, Bachmann and LifeLike engines came DCC ready. All you had to do was pop out the jumper plug and add the decoder. All were without sound. Ah yes, a project for another day.

As I had mentioned before the test subject is a Athearn Blue Box SD 40-2. I also had mentioned that I had started this project about 10 years ago. Not much was really accomplished, I had gotten a couple of things for the conversion and started working on the shell.

What I had accomplished at that time was cutting out the front radiator fan and fitting a winterization hatch to it. Not sure of the brand but it has an etched metal grill. Perfect for a speaker to be mounted under it. I also had built the baffle for the speaker. Again not sure of the brand of speaker, though I suspect it is from Sountraxx. In addition to the speaker the other purchase at the time was a better motor than the stock Athearn. It is from Accurate Lighting and a quick web search shows that you can still get them from HobbyLinc.com.

The Accurate Lighting motor upgrade, I had picked up two of these.

The speaker baffle and winterization hatch.

Baffle and hole for the speaker, will be covered by the winterization hatch.
Speaker installed into baffle.
Hole cut for the speaker, speaker installed.
Winterization hatch installed over speaker.

Once I do the final install on the speaker I will close up the enclosure. Also the four wires on the motor are for a an install on a standard DC locomotive, one pair to each truck. I will clip one set when hooking up.

Having the motor in place and the speaker ready to install the next step was to get power from the tracks. Using wire on hand, I soldered wires directly to the trucks. Red to the high side, this would be the one on the BB Athearn that had the metal bar running across the top of the motor and black to the low side on top of the truck.

The trucks wired for pickup, unfortunately the wire was to brittle and already had broken off the top of the right truck.

Unfortunately the scrounged wire was too brittle. A little handling and one broke off right away. So, off to the internet, specifically Amazon where I found a very flexible 28 gauge wire. Unsoldered the old and installed the new.

Trucks wired motor installed, ready to start the final hookup.
Let there be light…

Part of the conversion was adding new lights to the engine. I believe one of the reasons I had not gone much further with the project was that I needed to add new lights to the engine. The old Athearn incandescent bulbs were to big and I knew that even smaller incandescent bulbs ran hot, so clearance was needed as to not melt the plastic of the cab.

Well in the time between then and now, LED’s have really come into their own. I stumbled across LighthouseLED’s. Their selection is quite complete. Everything from 5mm down to pico size bulbs. Didn’t even know there was a pico size LED. And you can get any of them prewired with a resistor. Saves a lot of time and frustration. My first order included a white SMD LED mounted on a small resistor board with leads. It was hard to tell the size of the board from their diagram. It turned out to be about 1/4″ by 3/8″ (sorry, didn’t feel like running down and measuring). Which meant the it would show if using to light the front headlight. But it fit in perfectly to the rear of the engine for the rear light.

LED board with resistor installed for the rear light.
Rear light lit.

For the front I ordered a prewired 3mm bulb. I made a bracket out of styrene to hold it up in the headlight/number board housing. Still working on fit, will get you a couple of photos when placed. In addition I ordered some prewired pico sized bulbs that are amber. These are for the beacon on the cab roof. My thought was that when I got the bulb I would drill out the beacon and slide it in. Turns out I didn’t need to as Details West had already done this.

Thought I was going to have to drill these out. Luckily they are already cored.
The unlit pico sized LED for the roof beacon.
The amber pico sized LED for the roof beacon.
The pico sized LED in the strobe housing.

The decoder that I’m using is a Sountraxx Econami ECO-PNP. I chose this one primarily based on price and basic functions. It has standard motor functions, sound and front and rear lights. In addition it has several extra programmable functions. One of which is a Strato-Light beacon function. I have to image the decoder will make the beacon flash like the original. My dilemma now in seeing the size of the pico LED’s is do I want to add front wheel slip lights and step lights. Or keep it simple for first install and go with what I planned.

At this point I think I’m going to go with simple. I have all the parts ready to install. Just a little afraid after reading posts of people whose installs didn’t go as planned. But I’m ready to muscle past that, as I’m really wanting to see a diesel with a flashing beacon, something that doesn’t seem to be on many factory diesels.

As of now that’s where I’m at, will update in the near future.

Till then, happy modeling….

 

 

 

 

Christmas in April…

My wife and I are at a stage in life where if we need something we generally just get it. Doesn’t mean that we’re out constantly shopping, It just means we don’t have to think about it. In fact, we’re also at that stage of life where we are looking around and thinking we got too much “stuff”.

So apparently when my wife asked before Christmas what I wanted, my reply of “I don’t know, I hadn’t really thought about it” wasn’t the correct response. I answered incorrectly to the follow up question also, which was – “what about for downstairs?”. Meaning the layout. My answer was “I don’t really need anything right now.”

Let me explain. Early in our marriage, when money was tight, we would shop together and watch what the other would longingly look at knowing that it was out of reach at the moment. That was how we built gift lists for each other. As our situation improved there was less hesitation in buying things and the advent of the Christmas wish list came into being.

So after she “suggested” that I think about and put together a list so that she and the kids had some idea of what to get me, I started to look around and see if I was missing anything.

Turns out there were a few things that I had wanted but hadn’t gotten around to getting.

I follow several groups on Facebook and one of the popular topics that pops up often is track cleaning. Answers range from bright boys and gleaning to one of several track cleaning cars. As I now was running a bright boy over the rails on a regular basis the thought of a track cleaning car over the rails was appealing. But which one?

In the groups this is like asking which is better? Digitrax or NCE? Loksound or Soundtrax? HO or N scale? And the list goes on and on. It is, as I know, a matter of personal choice. Something that you started with, like and stay with. The intriguing answer was “one of each”.

And that was what went on the list. On the list was a CMX Products track cleaning car, a Centerline track cleaning car and a Walthers track cleaning car. Each operates a little differently. The Walther’s car has an abrasive pad spring mounted on the bottom. Much like a bright boy. The Centerline and CMX car use a cleaner and pad system. The CMX car is an actual tank car that you fill with your preferred cleaner. It drips this onto a pad that cleans the railhead. The Centerline car has a cloth covered roller that also runs on the rail head.

Of course just because I asked doesn’t mean I received all three. I did get the Walther’s and the CMX cars. The Centerline car will be in the future.

The cars…

Walther’s 40′ plug door track cleaning car
CMX Products Clean Machine Track Cleaning car.

And they work great. The cars are both very heavy and offer a lot of rolling resistance. To get them around the layout I am using two BLI SD-9s. These engines are heavy in themselves and have great pulling power, The setup is one engine pulling the two cleaning cars in the middle and the other engine pushing.

Make up of the track cleaning train.

Even with the two engines, you have to give them more throttle than you would normally use. Otherwise they can get hung up on high spots like switches and mainly road crossings. But it is fun to run and the amount of dirt they pick up is surprising. I look forward to adding the third car to this consist.

The other things I had on the list and received were a couple of buildings from Micro Marks Scientific line. They are the Parson’s Home #89546 and the Protestant Church #89545.

Couple of new laser cut kits for the layout.

They are for a future town on the upper level and remind me of visiting my grandmother when I was little. I have had a couple of their kits and though the fit is great, I had some issues with the wood being a little brittle. Of course knowing this going in helps. When I get to them I will update.

Next up, my first actual DCC conversion/install.

Till then, stay safe and enjoy…

 

The Evolution of a Paint Scheme…

As you may (or may not) remember that the reason I model a freelance railroad is an off hand comment made to me by an experienced model railroader friend of my fathers. He was over once visiting my father and stopped down in the basement while I was running trains on my older brothers layout. My transgression was (as far as I know) running an engine from one road with the caboose from another. He told me I was doing it wrong and that wasn’t the way a real railroad would do it. No offense, but I was 6 at the time of this heinous crime. That comment always stuck with me.

When I was about 11 or 12 I became a more serious modeler complete with a subscription to Model Railroad Craftsman.

It opened my eyes to all the hobby had to offer. And yes it showed me that railroad A would not run a caboose from railroad B. I also became aware from the letters pages that there were a lot of people who were ready to point out that someone had not done something prototypical. That old comment came back to haunt me and I was afraid to do something wrong.

I also became aware of the “Freelance Railroad”. One that had their own way of doing things, but within the context of what was prototypical for that region. The most famous was the Allen McClelland’s Virginian and Ohio. It’s still talked about like it was an actual railroad. My favorite though is Frank Ellison’s O scale Delta Lines. Frank would remove the pilot trucks from steam engines because they caused derailments. Though a well detailed and scenic layout, operations were more important than scale fidelity.

So I decided at 12 that was the way to go. Came up with a semi plausible name and a totally hideous paint scheme.

When I returned to the hobby I decided to stay with the freelance theme. I refined the name to the Grand Forks and Western Minnesota, DBA the Grand Western. From there I started work on a paint scheme. The early attempts sometimes bordered on circus like. I think I kept the local hobby shop in business just buying undecorated Athearn diesel shells. A big part of the problem was that they were too intricate for someone with no airbrush or masking skills. It was spray can and hand brushing.

I finely landed on a scheme, that looking at it now was very close to the Southern Pacific’s. It was a light gray body with a red cab, nose and rear end. The roof was painted black with the thought that it hid the diesel exhaust along the top. A basic utilitarian scheme and easy for the shops to keep up. And I could use a spray can for the gray and brush paint the rest.

The original diesel paint scheme, kept it simple and utilitarian.
A change of name and paint…

First of all you will note the change of name. I went from Grand Western to Continental Northern because for what ever reason people couldn’t understand the Grand Western name, but will go Oh, OK when they see Continental Northern.  The black patch below the cab is where the GF&WM reporting marks were. The gray paint is no longer available so I removed the reporting marks and left the black patch.

But before we talk new engine paint we have to look at cabooses. I had painted one in the gray and red scheme to match the diesel scheme. It never struck me as very caboosy. (I know, not a word). The scheme I landed on was the basic red caboose.

The older wooden cabooses of the fleet.
Side view of the older wooden cabooses in the traditional red paint scheme.

When I started painting the modern steel cabooses I wanted something a little more modern and interesting looking. I remembered a paint scheme from a video a rented from the LHS from Model Railroader. It was on airbrushing, as my wife had gotten me a vey nice/expensive new airbrush. I found the process daunting with prepping the surface, mixing the paint with thinner and clear coating the finished car. Add to that the clean up with oil based paints and it was a lot. I held off airbrushing until acrylics came in to their own.

But I always remembered the finished caboose that Jim Hediger painted in that video. Bright red with yellow ends. With my airbrushing and masking skills greatly improved I decided to recreate that look for my road.

Side view of the modern (steel) cabooses in the “Safety” paint scheme.
Rear view of the modern cabooses in the “Safety” paint scheme.

Side note, I have found a great resource for LED’s. It is Lighthouse LEDS. I found them while gathering supplies for a different project. They have prewired flashing red LEDs. I plan to equip the cabooses with rear red flashing lights powered from the rails.

So when it came time for the diesels I figured I would just carry that scheme forward to them.

And this is the look…

The new “Safety” high visibility paint scheme. Wanted to update the look of the diesel fleet.

The Continental Northern refers to it as their “High visibility Safety scheme”. The diesel itself is a Athearn BB that I have been converting to DCC/sound (for like the last 10 years) and is the subject of an upcoming post. I had the shell ready for paint and it became the test bed for the new scheme.

More found stuff…

The reason this became something of a priority was that as I was digging through the shelves looking for cars that needed to be put together, I came across two Broadway Limited Import SD 40-2s and a Bachmann GE 8-40c that were undecorated. The BLI engines are DCC/sound and the Bachmann will need to be converted.

So loving the new look I went ahead and started the BLI engines, held off on the Bachmann as I need to check out decoders for it.

Fresh out of the paint booth. Last color applied, soon to be unmasked.
Fresh out the spray booth, time to put them together.
The BLI SD40-2’s front view. Painted and assembled, waiting for decals. Then final assembly.
Rear view of the BLI SD40-2’s. Ready for decals.

And that’s where I am with them at this point. They just need decals and then final assembly. After that it’s off to the programming track and then the layout. Will keep you updated.

Till next time, stay safe and happy modeling…

 

 

Some Thoughts, An Interlude…

I will try and keep this somewhat short and simple. Looking at the work I have been posting on and a couple of projects that are coming up soon, one would get the impression of a change of eras on the layout.

Whether you care or not, there is no such thing in the works.

It was the mid 80’s when I re-entered the world of model railroading. At that time if you wanted a decent steam locomotive you had to spend some serious money.  For those in my price range, I was looking at early Bachmann or IHC/AHM. I did purchase a couple of Bachmann locomotives. Worked OK, but pulling power (traction) was not great.

The real value at that time were the Athearn Blue Box Locomotives. I think at the time a powered loco was about $20.00 and a dummy went for about half that. It also introduced you to the world of super detailing as the level of detail on an Athearn was about nil.

So thats what I bought. My era at that time was the current year. Meaning I was modeling what was happening at that time. Think Eric Brooman’s “Utah Belt”. I bought mainly SD 40-2’s or variants, like tunnel motors. This was also the about the time when Walthers was introducing new cars like their cushioned coil cars. And the intermodal cars that I just recently finished. A great time for kits of modern cars.

Although I was able to purchase and collect the engines, cars and a wide variety of buildings, I really didn’t have room for a layout until our current house. The basement was finished and the layout started about 2000.

And thats about the time that Bachmann started coming out with their Spectrum Line of steam locomotives. Excellent detail and reliability at a great price. Soon followed by Life Like and Athearn.

So where am I going with this? Simple, once great steam was available, I switched from “present day” to the “transition era”. I set my date as 1954 and started rebuilding my loco and freight car fleet for that time frame. Which meant I ended up with a lot of modern equipment sitting in boxes unbuilt and only recently seeing the light of day.

And it’s been a nice change of pace. The modern trains will get some time on the layout where they’ll get a chance to stretch their legs. Plus the photo opportunity’s will be fun. The layout is, I believe, generic enough that I can throw some modern automobiles (yes, collected a bunch of those too) into a scene and have the era feel right.

It’s been nice to have a bunch of stuff to work on without having to go out or for that matter spend any money. Especially with the way everything has been this last year. Additionally I’m taking care of the problem that all modelers seem to have, a giant backlog of kits and never getting around to building them.

And there you have it, not a change of eras, just a change of pace.

Till next time – stay safe and happy modeling …

Rebuilding The Staging Yard…

I figured it was time to get the staging yard up and running when I noticed that I had 4 freight trains and 1 passenger train sitting on the mainline. And if I wanted one off, I would have to manually remove it and put everything back into their boxes.

If you don’t recall, I had done a little downsizing of the layout. I removed a “visible” city yard and replaced it with the “hidden” staging yard. The new yard won’t technically be “hidden” anymore as it will directly connect to the engine service facility. I may end up doing some mild scenery work on the yard for photo purposes.

The yard itself is 8 tracks wide. Before it moved, there was a nice symmetry to it. Two track from the mainline came in centered and branched out to the other 6 staging tracks for a total of 8. The 8 tracks will still work, but because of the way the mainline now comes in I had to rework the whole switch end of the yard.

Rather than trying to describe it I’ll just show it to you.

Looking at the new staging yard.
Putting the staging yard back together. Tracks on the left will be for engine and caboose storage. Looking towards the turntable/roundhouse area.

As you can see in the first picture each track get shorter with the track nearest the front more of a drill track then a storage track. It also serves the track heading into the engine servicing and roundhouse.

In the second image you can see the track running along the front of the layout. This is the one that runs to the turntable. It also branches out to three track that will be diesel storage / servicing tracks. May use one for caboose storage  / service.

Of course as I was working on this…

Squirrel …

I thought since I’m laying the track that is going  to connect to the turntable, I should work on the installation of the turntable and roundhouse.

The first thing was to locate the center of the turntable. After that was to then lay out the tracks that would radiate from it for the roundhouse and outdoor service/storage tracks.

Laying out track spacing for the roundhouse.

Once those were in I then located the service pit areas of the roundhouse. I would have to cut away the plywood for the service pits to sit in.

Cutting the slots for the inspection pits. Time consuming, but not difficult.

Not difficult but time consuming. On top of that, my oscillating cutter has a lot of miles on it and is starting to overheat with a lot of use. This meant that I would have to let it cool down every once in a while.

Slowly working at getting the roundhouse and turntable in place. Two more slots to cut the the inspection pits.

As the picture shows, progress is being made. As of this photo, I only had two more slots to cut. Those are done now, as well as the round hole for the turntable. As I was getting ready to start fitting this all into place…

Squirrel …

I realized that if I installed the roundhouse / turntable, I would have to reach over it to finish off the backdrop. So everything temporarily came to a halt on this project. What I envision for the backdrop is a  urban scene. Basically a bunch of the backsides of tall buildings. Some fences between them and the tracks and ballasting the track. I still need to get the backdrop hard board on the right side up. This would be just out of frame on the second picture. It also would hide the helix that is visible on this side.

Of course I’m sure you have already figured out what has taken me a while to figure out. And that is, you don’t need the backdrop finished in order to finish hooking up the staging yard tracks.

And that’s where I’m at. Finish hooking up the staging yard tracks. I have a little realignment to do in order to get the mainline hooked up to the staging yard ladder. After that, get everything wired up so that I can get actually use the thing.

Well, as soon as this happens, I’ll let you know.

Till next time, Happy Modeling…

 

 

 

Not Sure… A Quarterly Update?

Wow, it’s been a while. (Major Understatement). While I would love to say that while I haven’t had the time to sit down and write, I have gotten a ton done on the layout.

Truth is, other things have eaten into available time. Personally I would have thought with the current pandemic keeping myself and my wife at home, I would have more than enough time and money. We don’t do anything or go anywhere. Big trip out is to pickup curbside for the things we ordered online.

First there were the home projects…

Part of it was the home projects. Last I left you I had only to make and mount the cabinet doors on my wife’s shelf system. I formally called it a project on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving it was merely to paint the kitchen. As you may recall I was having the heavy lifting on the other things done professionally.

Yeah, that didn’t work out. The day we were having the appliances installed, we also had the guy who was doing the final measurements for the new granite countertops. He kindly informed me that when they installed the countertops the appliances would have to come out. Additionally, because we had a portion of the counter with a 10″ overhang for a breakfast nook, we would have to add support for the stone countertop.

Yes I removed and reinstalled the appliances (which I had paid to have installed). And yes, I tracked down the brackets for the overhang. Which meant I had to remove the old countertop (yup, paid to have this done) to install them.

Also in there, my wife’s parents needed some light work done around their home and didn’t want any outside workers in their house. I was it.

That all being said, I did get some work done. It was one of those get a little done and write about it or skip the writing and get a little more done.

Where I left you…

I will start with the the drive in theater sign.

I remembered that Miller Engineering had a drive-in theater sign, just not this one. This one was much better. As I was exploring it I noticed that it was a limited run piece. And they were out. The scramble was on as I now had to have THAT sign. I did find it on Amazon without much of a markup from suggested list. Once I had the sign I realized that it was going to need a little work before hitting the layout.

Next project up, Drive In theater sign form Miller Engineering.

As you can see, it has everything needed for basic installation. The problem would mainly be in the gray portion of the sign. It’s rather flexible, plus it had a slight bend to it.

The naked base.

My plan was simple. I would build a base around the circuit board that looked like a brick planter base and would work up from there, strengthening the gray portion and ending with a walkway for putting up the letters on the marquee.

First step was to give myself something to glue to. Using Evergreen I-beams glued to the outer edge of the circuit board gave me a good starting point.

Added styrene I-beams for gluing surface.

A larger piece of styrene was added to the I-beam to give me a larger gluing surface and a little added clearance for the wiring harness .

Additional styrene strip added as gluing surface.

Next I added the brick sides. The brick work is cut from a brick wall left over from some unknown kit. They measure out at just under 4 feet high. Was shooting for 4 feet, but went down to the nearest mortar line for easier cutting. Once in place I cut out a piece of styrene for the top. I split this and cut out a notch to fit around the upright gray portion.

Brick base done.

To finish off the planter I then added plastic to form a concrete cap around the top.

Concrete cap installed.

Two larger styrene I-beams were cut and added to the edges of the upright gray portion of the sign. These alone straightened  and strengthened the upright. I attached them with white tacky glue as I was afraid anything stronger may attack the sign material (I had done the same with the initial I-beams around the circuit board ). So I cut a piece of .040 sheet styrene and glued them connecting the upright I-beams.

Still a little floppy, I added triangular braces to each corner. This finally had the desired effect. The sign was now straight. I then added the walkways to the top of the sides.

Walk way done on this side.

After the walkways it was time for paint. First was the mortar lines. I did this in my traditional paint and scrape method. To recap, I paint on a coat of concrete paint over the brick, let it set a bit and then scrape off the paint from the brick face leaving the paint in the recessed mortar lines . Obviously the concrete cap was painted concrete, the upright portion was painted white and the walkways were painted black to blend with the sign at the bottom of the arrow. I then added some foliage to the planter and it was ready for the layout.

The Miller Engineering road sign ready for the table.

Next up was to find its home on the layout. Not having a sign when laying out the initial drive-in layout became obvious. There really wasn’t a good spot for the sign. So I made it work as best as possible .

Once I found the signs spot I cut away the plaster to the foam. A slot was cut through the foam for the signs pigtail.

The plaster cut away and hole for the wiring harness cut through the foam.

I then dropped the sign into place.

Working on the drive in theater scene.

To finish the scene a gravel drive will be added to the end of the asphalt section. A fence will be added next to the road and drive-in service drive. The fence will hide a couple of spotlights that will illuminate the drive-in screen. A bunch of Woodland Scenics cars with lights will be added to the ticket booth and street turning in to the drive-in.

Though this will make a killer scene in the dark with everything lit, my plan is to add a sandwich board sign advertising a “Flea Market Today” so the scene makes sense in the light of day also.

And that’s it, that’s as far as I have taken this scene.

Up next…

What’s up next? I’m not sure, will look at the images I have and decide. The last several months have kind of been the squirrel in traffic approach to model railroading. Been working on several things, will see what I actually have been recording .

I promise it will not be as long to the next post. Til then,

Stay Safe and Happy Modeling…

 

 

 

 

October Update…

As I said I have been busy with the home improvement projects. The biggest being the wall shelf system for my wife. Below are pictures of what I started with and where I’m at.

What I started with.
And where I’m at now.

Since the last photo was taken I have also added a set of drawers across the front for silverware and serving pieces. All that’s left is to add the doors. And enough with the home improvement update, not why you’re here. (Although maybe it is.)

What I have been able to do is get a bunch of new/old cars onto the layout.

First…

I finished the lone Gunderson well car that was lost than found.

The missing Gunderson well car is done and ready for revenue service.
Second…

I also finished up the set of Thrall well cars. The set is now all decaled.

The last set of well cars are finished.
Ready for the rails.
The end of the well car with generator on it.

The last photo shows the end unit with the generator and fuel tank mounted on it. I used a little creative license on it. The “DO NOT HUMP’ and the info decal should have been on the end sill. However it is covered by the walkway on the end, so I moved the decals up onto the base of the generator.

For some reason this set has been a PITA as everything has been a struggle, right up to and including getting them on the rails. Having painted and then finally getting them decaled, I went to place them on the tracks. However I experienced a fit issue on the shared trucks. Though I didn’t have a problem with the first set I finished, this sets female pieces had to be filed down to fit on the truck screw that holds them in place.

Filed the ends of several units for clearence.

Of course then they had to be touched up before service. But they are now done.

And then…

I completed three TOFC flat cars from Front Range Products. These are also from the “inherited fleet”. The cars themselves are pretty basic and go together rather well. The problem is their weight. The cars themselves are very light. With adding the metal wheel sets I got their weight up to 1.2 oz. The weight needed to come from the trailer that rides on them. I added 1 oz. to each trailer, with them riding high I was reluctant to add more. This brought the flat car/trailer weight to 3.5oz. It’s a little light for a car this length but I’ll run them at the end and they should be fine. The problem is, that by adding weight up high I had to replace the push pin style truck mounting with a screw. Actually would have done it anyways, but oh so important on this setup.

The TOFC flat cars ready for service.
Alternate view of the TOFC flat cars.
And lastly…

Also part of the “inherited fleet” were a couple of Front Range Products Front Runner cars. Again, fun and interesting cars, but not without their problems. Mainly the close clearance  in the truck mounting. The single axle truck mounts into a “cutout” in the floor of the car. They are also a push pin mount (obviously Front Ranges go to), but the location of the pins was nothing but a blob on the sprue.

My solution was to drill and tap the center sill for a 2-56 screw. Nothing unusual there. But I had to modify the bogie as well. The bogie is a two piece assembly. With the two pieces stacking at the mounting location. I drilled the top piece so the it would clear the screw body, it’s pivot location. The lower piece was drilled out so that the screw head would sit down in it. This was necessary as the axle is right there also and would have rubbed on the screw head if not recessed.

Drilled and tapped for mounting screw.
Enlarged hole for screw clearance.
Hole enlarged for screw head.

Though these cars did have weight to add to the center sills, still came out the same as the TOFC cars. Again, added the weight to the trailers to bring them close to weight. Ended up around 3.5 oz.

But they’re pretty cool when done and are fun to have as they are different than what you usually see.

The Front Runners done and ready.
Front Runners done and ready for layout.

One other thing, on the car in the back I had to make a new diagonal strut as the kit one was missing. The original was square. I had no square tubing, so the replacement is several round tubing pieces that telescope. The ends are .080 x.100 cut to size and filed to shape.

Next up…

My goal is to return to the layout and start adding more scenery. Moving south from Addison towards Jackson. This means the Drive In theater is next. I have picked an animated sign from Miller Engineering for it. And that’s my next work bench project.

Next project up, Drive In theater sign form Miller Engineering.

Till next time, stay safe and Happy Modeling…

 

 

 

Freight Car Friday #9…

Well it’s been a bit and I apologize, it’s not for lack of trying. Several things happened on the way to this post.

First…

I got the last set of well cars painted, cut out all the decals and had them sorted per my routine for this type of car. Went to start applying them and because of their age they absolutely would not release from the backing. Got a couple softened up enough that I literally pealed the decal off, but it wouldn’t stick. I checked the PPW/A-line/Arrow hobby website and they still had them available, In fact they are a updated set. They arrived yesterday.

The last set of well cars awaiting decals.
Second…

I then decided to try my hand at containers. There are  approximately 18 from Proto Power West that I had bought at the same time as the well cars. I had also picked up decals for them at that time. Painted the containers and went to apply the decals starting with a set of American President lines decals. Guess I liked the big red eagles on the sides. Applied the smaller informational decals first, when I tried to apply the eagles, they disintegrated.

The decal for the APL containers were old and fell apart on application.

I will strip off the decals from the APL containers and try something else. In the meantime I tried a set of Sea Land decals that I had with much better luck.

Completed Sea-Land containers ready for revenue service.

There were enough for eight so I still have another ten or so to go. In addition to the decals for the red well cars I also ordered a set of decals for the stray Gunderson car that I found. I was looking at what I had left from that decal session and found I had used a couple of decals that had not gone on well on the first attempt. Also I picked up some 20 foot containers for variety.

And lastly…

After being stuck in the house for the last six months my wife decided that after 23 years it was time to do a little upgrading around the house. Much like the rest of America. Turns out this means most of our main floor. Most of the rooms will get new paint. A redo of the kitchen (appliances and counter tops as well paint) and a full wall, floor to ceiling shelf system for her dishes (she likes to collect dishes, her hobby). A lot of this will be my doing, obviously not the counter tops. Just everything else.

And that has been what has been consuming my time. No complaints. It’s been awhile since I have had a major project to do and I like doing them. Just like completing something on the layout, finishing these projects is extremely satisfying. And no, that was not put in there in case she reads this.

There will be time in between to get small projects done and as I do I will update you. Looking forward to finishing the well cars and getting back to focusing on the actual layout. Also there are still a bunch of freight cars to be done.

Till later and hopefully not as long as it has been, Happy hobbying…

 

Wiring for Lights…

The quest for lights in the buildings took a multi prong approach. I have some buildings with regular 12/14 volt lights in them. The 14 volt lights are a preference as they glow a little dimmer and last longer, but I have more 12 volt bulbs. It tends to be whatever is on hand as I do them. Also, I have started to use LED’s that I have scrounged from Christmas tree strings. In addition to these traditional routes I have been buying the Woodland Scenics  Just Plug Lighting System.

The Woodland Scenics System

Here is the collection of Just Plug lighting products I have collected.

Getting all the electrical supplies together for lighting for the Addison scene.
Lighted cars and billboards.
More of the lighting supplies.
Lighting supplies, wire, LED lights, cables, etc.
A couple of cars near the farm scene.

The cars, billboards and street lights make it very easy to get up and running. Although the wire size is extremely small. It does try ones patience when working with them. Also the controllers make adjusting the light levels to a realistic level easy.

The 12 volt supplies

Up until now I have been using 12 volt wall warts as power supplies for everything not track power. Though they work you start ending up with a large hodge podge of different power supplies that really gets confusing as to whats doing what.

My solution was a couple of regulated 12 volt power supplies that will get rid of all the wall warts. The ones I bought are from Micro Mark and are used for LED string light.

The only problem is that I believe they are intended as an internal power supply and the connections for 120 volt power are rather exposed.

Wiring up the power supply. The 120v connections are rather unprotected.
The power supply wired up with the protective cover in place.

As you can see there is a plastic strip that “covers” the wire connections but it would still be easy to accidentally touch the connections. My solution was to make a larger cover out of styrene to cover the whole end.

The covers for the power supplies.
Showing the cover in place.

With the covers made and before installing in the electrical cabinet I checked the output voltage.  Both were a little over 12 volts. They are adjustable, so I hooked up a multi meter and dialed them in to 12 volts.

The power supply dialed into 12 volts.

From there it was time to reinstall them in the cabinet.

The power supplies and block installed. waiting for the second distribution block to arrive.
The fused distribution block.

I also had found a power distribution block on Amazon that was fused for each feed. On the one cover you can see that I labeled it with the information about the power supply so that it was readily available should I need the info. The upper supply is for lighting , while the other will be used for accessories. With these in place I ran a buss wire for the lighting and also a wire from the Woodland Scenics power supply to Addison.

Woodland Scenics light hubs on the left, Standard 12V DC on the right.

Then it was just a matter of pulling all the different wires to the blocks.

Wires all connected.

With these in place it’s easy to add more lights as I add to the town. I still have the background buildings to place and wire. I will also be doing the same for the lights in Jackson.

And the final results…
End of the day at the farm.
Two cars passing in the night.
“Why no officer, I wasn’t aware I was going that fast.”
Downtown Addison at night.
Gas station and depot, the Northbound just pulled into town.
Overall shot of Addison.
The depot scene, the order board is showing green.

And there you have it. It’s nice to have this much done. Obviously the next thing here is to add more scenery as only the basics are in. Also, I am starting to work on the background buildings, which will be a whole new bunch of lights to wire up. Also looking at the photos I need to get the rest of the backdrop panels in and close up that really ugly hole. And in case you are wondering if you missed something, the answer is no, I have yet to finish up the town of Jackson on the other side of the peninsula. I just wanted to get the scene you see on entering finished.

That’s what I’ve got for now, till later…

 

 

 

Freight Car Friday #8…

This week I wasn’t able to complete any cars for the layout but I was able to complete some loads for the intermodal cars. I came across four American Limited Models Bulktainers that I had sitting around.

These were 20 ft. tanks used for shipping liquids on intermodal cars. A search on the web will show a variety of such tanks. These make a great addition to the container fleet.

The kits themselves are pretty simple, with a piece count that is relatively low. There is the tank, two ends, a walkway for the top of the car, and an accessory sprue that has a ladder, placards and valves. In addition there is a piece to help align the ends so that the finished tank sits flat. And a decal sheet.

The first step is the ends. They go on with very little clean up and attach easily. The next step is the decals as they need to go on before the upper walkway.

Bulktainers awaiting decals.

One other thing I did before starting the decals was to paint the raised edges on the ends of the tank. As you can see in the photo the end decals are white with a silver border. I didn’t want to try and get these to snug down properly with the raised edge.

Decals for the Bulktainers.
Painted the raised rivets sections silver.
Alternate end of container with paint applied. Yes, I cleaned up the over painted areas.

So I carefully trimmed them down to just the white portion of the decal so they would properly sit within the raised portion.

End decals. Will remove the silver border sections to make application easier.
One decal trimmed of the silver section.

As you will note in the first photo are the black bands for the tank. There is a placement gauge in the instructions for there location on the tank. This is the most time consuming part of the build. Keeping them straight and in alignment is a bit tedious and I know other modelers that have just left them off. With them in place you then add the “BulkTainer” decals over them. The other dimensional/capacity decals then go on.

After the decals are in place and dry (I used solveset to set them, then waited overnight) it’s just a matter of adding the end ladder, placards and valve to the ends.

And BOOM!, just like that they are done..

Like I said they make a great addition and add variety to a container train. Though these are no longer available from American Limited, I have seen them readily available in the hobby stores and may pick up a couple more.

The prodigal well unit returns.

Additionally while searching for unbuilt/unfinished kits on the shelves I came across a Athearn BB diesel engine box in the middle of freight car boxes. Thinking it odd I popped it open and low and behold there it was. One of the reasons I probably missed it before was because as well as the car there were a couple of containers and a bunch of stick on weights. The heft of the box would lead one to believe that there was an engine in the box.

The missing well car unit.
Missing well car unit and it’s company in the wrong box.

With it located I can now finish it off and complete the five unit set.

That’s it for this week, as promised up next is running the wiring for the lights in Addison. And all the drama that was involved.

Stay safe and we’ll see you next week…

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