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.