Thursday, October 29, 2020

Here are some short videos of my excursion this past week on the Harrisburg, Lincoln, & Lancaster RR. Please excuse the quality of these short videos.


Sunday, October 25, 2020

 An old turntable interview I did for my friend, Thom Radice:

Friday, October 23, 2020

 Another short video from this past year showing my (then) just completed Delaware Central Rail Road monitor roofed passenger cars and baggage car on the diorama I built for our annual convention held in conjunction with the NMRA's National Convention held in Atlanta, GA. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

A short earlier video of a test of a DCRR DCC engine and my NCE system. I built the two 24' box cars to USMRR standards.

Got to love installing drywall ceilings:


A few more slight changes:


 I have been busy these past few months finishing off the train area in the basement. This has included cutting a drainage channel (interior French drain) in the concrete floor of the front and side wall to help keep the floor dry, waterproofing the 2 exterior walls, building the wall and framing the doorway between the train area and the laundry/storage areas, running electric lines, installing 3 electric outlets (2 in the new dividing wall and reinstalling the one in the ceiling at the bottom of the basement stairs), locating and installing recessed ceiling lights for even illumination in the train area, installing a drywall ceiling, installing ceiling trim, cutting out the openings in the ceiling for the lights then cutting and installing the aluminum U channel to trim out the openings, spray painting the installed ceiling light trim with semi-gloss white Rustoleum paint, painting the ceiling flat white, painting the walls a flat autumn blue, and painting the stairwell and door trim a satin white. I still need to prepare and paint the floor of the area to give the room a more finished appearance. Proceeding on the room proper is delayed while I install drains and drain lines in my front window wells (or at least one this year). It had been a decade or so but one of the edges of one of the hurricanes that went through this past Summer ended up with the 2 front window wells becoming aquariums again. The water filled up LITERALLY to within 1" of the top of the window well. Needless to say, these 2 extemporaneous "aquariums" were not entirely waterproof and resulted in water pouring down the walls and flooding the basement. Donna used the wet/dry vacuum to suck up the water that overflowed the French drains (I lost count how many times I had to pick it up and pour the water into the utility sink I installed last year) and was running across the basement floor while I went outside the used a small bucket to bail out the one window well in the pouring rain. On a lighter note, based on my current track plan, the water coming down from the window well in the train area proper was right where I plan to model the Susquehanna River. All things considered, I decided against an active waterfall scene in this area. So, I have all the materials for the drains proper but still have to dig the trench. I called Miss Utility last week and the City of Newark came out and marked where the water line is (which I already knew) but Delmarva Power has yet to respond. Of course, knowing for sure how the gas line runs after exiting the house was the sole reason I called Miss Utility in the first place. Here is a brief video tour:

Thursday, May 14, 2020

A short video of my recently completed DCRR passenger cars I took during my February 22nd visit to Thom Radice's Layout.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Power went out last night for a little over 3 hours so went to bed early. Woke up about 1:00 AM and couldn't get back to sleep. So, here is the latest rendition of the track plan. Something quiet to do so as not to wake anyone.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Took some time this morning to touch up the hand rails and install the window glazing on these 2 new additions to the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Rail Road. Next, on to cut the grass.

I began working on these cars back in the early 1990s. Back then it was a modeling step up for me from just repainting and lettering ready-to-run equipment. I had shaved off the cast on body grab irons and replaced them with grab bars I bent from brass wire. I also removed the Tyco/Mantua trucks and replaced them with MDC/Roundhouse old time passenger trucks. I also installed AHM instamatic knuckle couplers. I had removed the roof detail, then sanded the roofs and covered the roofs with 600 grit sandpaper. I was never happy with the look of the roofs so removed the paper. This car project was then supplanted by  family, work, and graduate school. The cars were put in a box and forgotten until as few weeks ago when I began the hunt to find them again. After a very diligent and thorough search I found the box with the 2 cars. I replaced the truss rods with nylon monofilament left over from a couple of BTS car kits. Bill over at BTS always supplies more than I need in his kits. I also used Tichy Train turnbuckles on the truss rods. I replaced the Mantua brake wheels with Kemtron brake wheels on 0.020 brass wire. I used parts I modified from Tichy brake wheels for the ratchet mechanisms. Then I installed grab bars for the combine's freight doors and added n/b/w castings from Grandt Line and Tichy Train. The roof vents are from old Grandt Line passenger car roof details sets. The smoke stacks were scratch built. I replaced the the AHM couplers with Grandt Line On3 link and pin style couplers. The new wheels are Reboxx 1.020 double insulated sets. The car bodies, under carriages and trucks were primed with Tamiya primer. The undercarriages and trucks were then sprayed with Tamiya matt black. The car bodies were sprayed with Model Masters dark brown for the sides and Tamiya gunship gray for the roofs. The roof details and grab irons were painted with Poly Scale Engine Black. For the car numbers, I used decals from Microscale USMRR freight and passenger car sets. The road heralds are from old Champ P&WV decal sets. I was going to use Champ bronze gold alphabet sets for the decals but it was so much easier just to use the P&WV sets rather than apply each letter individually. The end window glazing is glass microscope side covers. The sides are glazed with Evergreen Styrene clear glazing. I used Canopy glue to attach all the glazing.
Happy Mother's Day. I let Donna sleep in today. She has been a great help in the reroofing of the shed this past week. I would still be running up and down the ladder if it wasn't for her. So far it has been a quiet morning working on the track plan. I have added a double ended siding in each of the hidden reversing loops as well as imported all of the structures from this half of the original track plan. I intend to make numbered keys for the structures in each of the three towns (La Gare/Joppatowne, Avella, and Newport/Delaware Point) as I did on the original track plan. I am still not sure whether to name the town La Gare or Joppatowne. I will have to eliminate one and at this point I am leaning to eliminate Joppatowne. I would then name the road leading off into the background the Joppatowne Road. I am still VERY much undecided as to what to name the port on the Delaware River. The inner siding in the hidden section of the upper reversing loop is for Pooterville and the mine there. Just click on the image to get a larger view of the track plan.

Fun aside, the water looks pale blue on my lap top computer screen (and is in fact the color selected from the AnyRails program) but violet on my desk top computer screen. I wonder how this has affected all the images I have captured for all of these years.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

This morning I went out and bought groceries for the rest month and then finished the ridge cap on my 1:1 shed out back. That shed roof project is now complete. This afternoon I took a shower and then have been involved in tweaking the plan a little more. Any track you see in a green area in the following plan is hidden track. Of course, the blue areas are water. AnyRail software allows me to add trees and the like but I have not done that yet. Trees are very useful in breaking apart scenes and hiding where track goes into hills and roads disappear into the backdrop.

Friday, May 8, 2020

So, a few more tweaks to the track plan. I have imported a few of the structures from the original plan as well as made some changes to the Delaware River scene.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

I have once again revised the track plan. I was unhappy with 2 things. First, the ability to switch the warehouses in the riverfront scene. As I was working on that, I realized that, though prototypically correct for City Point, VA, during the War, the turntable was not as appreciable nor maintainable where it was located. So..., here are the latest revisions. I am hoping the warehouses are more workable even though I am not happing about losing the dock space. On the other hand, this configuration now allows me to add some livestock pens for all of my stock cars.

Feedback and suggestions appreciated.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

More cleaning & organizing this morning. Worked in the yard as well. This afternoon spent pondering the proposed track plan, A few revisions developed


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

As brother Thom indicated, I have been messing around with track plan options for the Delaware Central. The original proposed 4'x12' stage one plan was going to take up so much space that I began to rethink just doing the 1st of the 2 rooms. Here is the latest revision. NCE produces an AR10 reverser and circut breaker. This plan would entail using 2 of them. This plan has changed almost every hour for the past 2 days, Will probably change again. Comments or suggestions? Please let me know.

Monday, April 27, 2020

My friend, Thom Radice, wanted me to post some images of the rolling stock that I have been building the past year or so. Here are just a few of them. Hope you enjoy.

I have been playing around with track plans the last few days. I wanted to see what a 30 degree crossing might look like. The following image does not have the level of detail as the previous track plan I posted because now that I am getting the layout space cleared, I am rethinking the entire layout. I have opened the can and the worms are getting everywhere.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Been spending a lot of time in the basement moving the mess around, reorganizing, cleaning, installing an electric line and ceiling lights in preparation for the layout. As I have been doing so, I discovered a Mantua 1860s passenger car and combine that I was detailing a couple of decades ago. While waiting for the stimulus check to arrive so that I can begin finishing the walls, I am finishing up these 2 cars and revamping the track plan. More on the track pan later.

Monday, February 24, 2020

I had a great time visiting my friend, Thom Radice, and his fabulous Western & Atlantic HO scale railroad last Wednesday through Sunday. Andy was down from New York City and we had an all too rare visit from Dr. Lebron Matthews. We also had a great operating session. I was stoked...

That is Lebron behind me in the photo. I was able to discuss my revised stage 1 track plan with both Lebron and Thom. They offered some good suggestions: the major one was to lengthen the overall dimensions to get a  4' x 12' layout. Here is the newest plan.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

At looking at the blog just now, I realized I should explain the image at the top of the home page. It was photographed by me on my 2' x 4' diorama. The building you see is a kitbash from 2 Walthers engine houses, a Model Power Averill Gold refinery kit, and a tall chimney of origin which I can't remember. I scratchbuilt the roof water tower and made my roofs for the boiler house addition using Evergreen Styrene standing seam roofing. This building is the Crow Car & Foundry's building #1 you see on the track plans. The 10 ton iron pot hoppers are 3D prints from Panamint Models. Eric offers 2 styles of pot hoppers and you can see both in this shot. They replicate B&O RR prototypes used during the Civil War era and later. A later prototype version is viewable at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD. The wheelsets used in the pot hoppers are from Reboxx.

Monday, February 10, 2020

As I mentioned in my previous post, this past year and a half to two years has been spent building rolling stock for the Delaware Central Rail Road and Navigation Company. I am just about finished with my 1st class passenger train. I am expecting translucent yellow Evergreen Styrene to arrive this Thursday so I can glaze the windows in the clerestories of the 4 cars. However, I couldn't resist taking a short video of the cars with a Bachmann (as yet unmodified) Jupiter in the lead. I hope you enjoy it.

The cars themselves are from AHM, Aristocraft, Bachmann, and a baggage car of unkown origins. The Aristocraft car, number 85, is a converted Lincoln Funeral car. I substituted the original under carriage with one from a Pocher car. In fact, the under carriages of all 4 cars were canabalized from Pocher combine basket cases I purchased cheap either at the Timonium Train Show or through eBay. If you want to make similar cars, be aware that there are 2 different types of undercarriages. One has and the other does not have, brake cylinders. I, of course, chose ones lacking the brakes cylinders for my 1863 time period. In addition, I figured I already had enough detail to remove without adding additional work. I made the following modifications to these undercarriages. First, I daylighted all the steps by carefully drilling out the backs and then using an Xacto saw with the finest bade I had, a #11 Xacto knife, and files to clear out the backs of all steps. Next I removed and reconstructed the truss rods. Then shaved off the cast on handrails. I followed this by rebuilding the ends: new floors, end beams, handrails, and brakes. I am using Grandt Line 8 ton Porter link and pin couplers in scratch built coupler mounts. All my couplers have a base coat of Polyscale grimy back with washes of rust. The cars were spay painted with Badger B&O Royal Blue. The under carriages were primed and sprayed with Tamiya TS-6 flat black. I know, I should have primed the car bodies as well. The letters were individually applied using Champ LZ-5 bronze gold 5/64" decal alphabet sets and Champ bronze gold passenger car scrolls and stripes. It takes one complete set for me to do one car. I fould myself short of "As" and "Rs" because of my mistakes. The ovals on 82 (of AHM origins) and 85 were hand painted using Folkart Brushed Metal Bronze craft paint. I also used this paint to highlight the detail on the trucks. All trucks are from either the Lincoln Funeral Car I canabalized or old AHM/Pocher cars. Some AHM/Pocher cars have matching truck side frames and some do not. My brake wheels are by Precision Scale, my brake pawls are modified from Tichy Train, my queenposts are 5" ones from Grandt Line, my wheels are Reboxx 1.015s, and my truss rods are 0.020 nylon monofiliment. This monofiliment happens to be left overs from some BTS cars I built this past year but you can also buy correctly sized monofilament at your favorite sports store. Here is number 85...

Number 82 began as an AHM passenger car. It turns out that the car body is the same as that used on AHM/Aristocraft's Lincoln Funeral Car. The same modifications/additions as done on car 85 were made. The major difference is the roof, which is a 3D print made by Eric Cox of Panamint models. You can find some of Eric's great offerings through his Shapeways shop. The roofs are all spray painted with Tamiya TS-66 IJN Gray and brush painted Badger B&O Royal Blue. The vents are brush painted from my small, carefully hoarded, reserve of Pollyscale grimy black. Here is car number 82...

Number 79 is a modified (as above) Bachmann old time coach with a different style 3D roof printed, again, by Panamint models. Unlike the AHM/Aristocraft/Pocher cars, it does not come with a raised oval that needs to be painted, I prefer using this style oval from the Champ decal set rather than tediously painting the ovals on the AHM/Pocher cars.

Number 77 is a modified baggage car from an unknown (by me) manufacturer. The first thing I did was sand off all of the cast on roof detail. Since the roof was originally intended to represent a riveted metal roof, sanding took a long, long time. Once the detail was sanded off, I then cut off the duckbill portions of the car's roof and scratch built the ends of the clearstory to match, as best I could, the ends of Eric's 3D prints.  All other modifications were as previously noted for the other cars. 

On a personal note, I married my wife in 1977, our oldest son was born in 1979, our middle son was born in 1982, and our daughter was born in 1985. Hence, the numbers chosen for the Delaware Central's 1st class cars. Also, I worked on my PhD (piled higher and deeper) at the University of Delaware whose school colors are blue and gold.

Friday, February 7, 2020


My scratch built fire station, coral, and shed on my friend Thom Radice's W&A RR (North Branch) layout. The photo of the prototype on which this model is based was much, much longer and somewhat taller but, as you can see, the model has been truncated to fit between the road and the tracks in back. There is an approximately 3" wide road in front of the station and then more tracks. The structure is more impressive when viewed from track level by a scale human. I am finishing up the Gould fire engine to go inside and I have not "set" the station into the scenery as yet. By the way, this is me, warts and all.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

1st Stage Revision

For the past year or so I have been building freight and passenger cars for the Delaware Central, Pittsburg & West Virginia, New Castle & Frenchtown, and U.S. Military Rail Roads. It has gotten to the point where not only my display case...

but also my small diorama...

were completely filled and over flowing. In fact there are 96 cars completed at this point and six more box cars on the way. I shared the above cell picture of the "yard" with my friend, Thom Radice, as a joke. Thom subsequently called to chastise me that I needed to get started on my layout so I'd have some place to store and run my trains. Of course, Thom was right. However, my basement is still too cluttered to build the entire empire so I began looking at my original grand scheme and thinking where I might get started on a MUCH smaller scale so as to get something up and running. I already have the engine house at City Point built but I wanted to have a place where I could not only do switching but also just watch trains run. I settled on the Avella section. As you can see in the following image, I have revised the original Avella track plan. Some buildings have gone, some are relocated, and some added.

By adding the 15" radius curve in the upper right hand corner, I am able to have a simple oval on which trains can run. In the future, I can remove this curved section of track and incorporate this "Stage 1" layout into the grand plan. The tight 15" radius curves are hidden from view either in staging or by the woods in the upper righthand corner of the image. My 4 longest pieces of rolling stock are 45' passenger cars and can handle these sharp curves. There are a few shorty barrel cars as well, but my rolling stock is generally in the 24' to 28' range. 

I have also lengthened the plan to make a 4' x 10' layout. This lengthened the layout by 3". I have also moved the turntable to the hidden staging area (Avella Yard). I plan on using a simple Atlas turntable in this area and was able to pick one up at the Great Scale Train Show in Timonium, Maryland, for $1.00 [sic]. I wanted to pack as many rail served industries into Avella as I could, and moving the turntable helps in this regard. It also makes setting up and switching trains in the staging area more interesting. You will probably note a few other changes in the track work.

If you look closely, you will see a pink line that divides the layout in two. The top section in the image is the 3' x 10' viewing section while the lower 1' x 10' section is the hidden staging area. A 1/8" Masonite backdrop will dived the two sections. The two sections will initially be bolted together but in the future I can cut the track and the scenicked section will be in the train room proper while the staging section will be in the storage area of the basement. Of course, I will have to insert two small sections to bridge the gap where the track goes through the wall.