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Category: Locomotives and Rolling Stock

Kimberton 2016 Meet “Report”

I’ve just returned home from this year’s Mid-Atlantic Narrow Gauge Guild Module Meet (affectionately know as “Kimberton”), and thought some of you might want to know how the meet went. I enjoyed seeing many long-time friends, and shooting the breeze, both at the fairgrounds and on the porch at the French Creek Inn.

Attendance was down a little over last year, which was disappointing, and most dealers reported slow sales. As usual, since I go into a show with no expectations, I consider that I did quite well — I was able to go to the show and sell or barter off a number of items that I’ll never use, come home with a few items of higher value that I will use, and also bring home the same amount of cash I left with. Aces!

Wes White Spends Money!I didn’t take any pictures at the show — except for capturing this rare occurrence:

For those who are not sure what you’re looking at, I can understand. It’s something most people have never seen. It’s a rare sighting of Wes White spending money at a train show. Even I, The On30 Guy™, have only witnessed this three times in the past 16 years. Do notice, though, how tight a grip he still has on the cash!

2016-05-22 17.09.11In another news flash, the French Creek Inn has remodeled, and also increased the number of non-smoking rooms available in the process. The new decor borders on swank! They did, however, retain the strange, square toilets, and internet access there is still pretty bad.

I mentioned above that I picked up a couple of items at the show, both of which will find homes on the layout. First, I acquired another structure from the bench of Al Judy. This building will mostly finish out the collection of structures for a small town in a corner of the layout.

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The arrangement features three structures built by Al — a “general store”, a re-purposed sawmill structure, and this new business (I’m not quite sure what it’s going to be just yet). With all the buildings built by Al here, I’m thinking this town may get the name “AJ’s Corner”. The town still needs a structure or two between the tracks and the wall. I’m thinking that they’ll be low-relief buildings, probably the backs of one or two residences (Al, are you reading this?), and I’ll need to add a loading dock or shed to the back of the general store building.

As part of the same deal with Al, I picked up an old Madruga Model Works kit for an SR&RL flanger. It’s designed to be an On2 kit, so it will require a little modification for On30. As with a number of the kits I’ve picked up recently, it’s anything but a “shake-the-box” kit. It’s not even a laser-cut kit.2016-05-22 17.49.09 “Box of sticks” is a more apt description. But, it will make a perfect companion to the much-more-recently-released Portland Locomotive Works snow plow on the MOW track in Corinna.

One thing I’m struggling with is what to do with a couple of high end HO-scale kits. These were expensive, Micro-Scale Models craftsman kits, that build into beautiful models. I’ve got them priced very fairly, and yet I’ve been dragging them around from show to shows for at least fifteen years now. I really can’t believe that no one wants them. I’ve snapped some pictures of the box labels, which you can see below. If any of these look interesting to you, contact me. The prices are what I’ve been asking (all are discounted, some significantly), and some may be a pain to ship, but I’m sure something can be worked out.

WW&F #9 Is Running!

Boy, was I ever in the wrong place yesterday!

Yesterday, at 2:45PM, WW&F #9 made her first moves under steam since June of 1933 at the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum in Alna, Maine. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there, but a couple of other fans were, and shared some video. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Thanks to YouTube user bunky41058 for those clips!

Eric Schade put together this nice video. It’s about 20 minutes long, and is a good look at yesterday’s festivities.

Eric posted the following on his YouTube page, along with the video:

She was built in 1891 by the Portland Company in Portland Maine. She served the Sandy River Railway as #5 then Sandy River and Rangely Lakes RR as #6 until 1924 when she was purchased by the Kennebec Central wearing the number 4. when that line closed in January 1933 she was purchased by the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington RR and served for a few months before that line closed in June. She was rescued from the cutting torch by Frank Ramsdell and William Monepenny and spent the next 60 some years in a shed on the Ramsdell farm in Connecticut before heading back to Maine and the WW&F Railway Museum. Restoration work started in 2006 and is largely the result of volunteer labor.

This is very exciting, and Donna and I are thrilled to have been able to participate in the project to, as donors whenever possible. If you’re at all interested in the Maine 2-Footers, we encourage you to join the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum.

Custom Decals

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The past few weeks, since the On30 meet up in Milton, PA, I’ve been itching to get back to work on the railroad. I’ve also been working with Newell Sage on getting some custom decals made for my rolling stock. After a few days back and forth, I think we’ve got the first design ironed out.

Corrina & Searsport 28' box car mock-up
Corrina & Searsport 28′ box car mock-up

This design is based on Wiscasset & Quebec practice, and I think it’s a great representative “look” for my Corinna & Searsport. I’ll be mocking up some more car designs over the coming weeks.

At the same time, I’m working with Rich Brungard to get some custom underframes made that will be generic for use on flat cars, low-side gondolas, and boxcars. The next trick there is getting appropriate roof blanks made up, and I can start making some appropriate rolling stock!

Return of Ol’ No. 5

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Corinna &Searsport 0-4-4 Forney #5 was returned to service today, and is shown here already back at work shifting cars in Corinna.

I went to Steve Sherrill’s annual mini-meet today, and picked up #5 from Les Davis. Once again, Les has done a superb job of painting and weathering. Also shown here is a quickie composite of part of a background from Trackside Scenery. I got to see one of these backgrounds installed on Steve Sherrill’s layout to day, and they’re fabulous. Joey at Trackside Scenery can do a fair amount of customization of his backgrounds, and I’m thinking that they could be just the right thing for some or all of the layout.

Radio Control v. DCC/Sound for the Corrina & Searsport

This is going to come a a shock, and I almost can’t believe that I’m actually contemplating this: the removal of most, if not all, of the electrical wiring from my layout, and switching to battery-operated radio control. I’d probably also lose the servo-controlled turnouts in favor of hand-throws.

Deltang Tx21 Transmitter
Deltang Tx21 Transmitter

I’m contemplating this after seeing first-hand the performance of the radio throttles and receivers from Deltang at an operating session on Steve Fisher’s layout this past weekend. A few locos had been stripped of most of the electronics supplied by the manufacturer to make room for the receiver and batteries. With the exception of one transmitter battery going dead, they ran all day! No stopping for shorts or mystery DCC problems (which did occur).

Deltang Rx41D-8 receiveer
Deltang Rx41D-8 receiveer

The receivers are as small as 3/8″ square, and each 3.7V battery is about 1″ x 3/4″ x 1/8″ (one or two are required for each engine, depending on its size). Transmitters are about the size of a cigarette pack, and run on a standard 9V battery. The cost per loco is about $125 for a transmitter, receiver, batteries, and a power switch and charging plug — about the same as adding DCC and sound to a new loco!

The trade-off is that I’d have to give up sound and the dubious advantages of DCC. In return, no finicky decoder programming, reverse loop and frog wiring. In fact, no layout wiring at all.

Prior to about 5 years ago I didn’t own any sound-equipped locos, and very few of my friends had sound. I wasn’t originally going to have sound on my layout — I didn’t consider it to be worth the cost. At the time, one of my favorite layouts to operation on didn’t even have DCC — it still used DC cab control. And I was having more fun running trains than I do today.

Hmm… this is actually beginning to look rather attractive….

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C&S Acquires Two Additional Locomotives and Shop Projects

New Locomotives

Based on some information received this past weekend, management decided to IF_FORNEY_CROPacquire two additional locomotives. A pair of inside-frame Forney type locomotives were financed, and the railroad has taken delivery of the two new locos. As delivered, the two locomotives are of the 2-4-4 wheel arrangement and have wood cabs, as shown in the “builders photo” to the right. Both locomotives will receive new cabs, pilots and other modifications prior to being placed into regular service. The new locos will be numbered 7 and 8.

In the Shop

Work continues slowly on #17, the outside-frame 4-4-0. The new cab is ready, and once some of the “plumbing” and running boards are relocated, it can be installed. A new boiler was also recently acquired that, along with some other parts on hand, stands ready to be worked into a shop-built 2-6-0.

That’s about it for now. As soon as I get a chance, I’ll relate the stories of this past weekend at the Spring Mid-Hudson On30 Meet.

Passenger Car Length for WW&F

I was looking through some books, and discovered that WW&F passenger cars were much shorter than I thought — only about 36 feet. Many of the other Maine 2-footers had much longer cars. The upshot is that Bachmann On30 passenger cars are suddenly just the right length, and need only be narrowed to be “right” for Maine. Very cool that what I was going to just accept is actually prototypically correct.

Various Updates

Again, it’s been some time since I last posted. It’s been busy, and there’s not been a huge amount of time for actually working on the layout or playing with model trains. Which is a bummer.

With that said, I’ve been busy with a couple of projects.

Cool Controls for Turnouts

First, I’ve been working with Kevin at Berrett Hill on a new system for turnout control. The goal was to replace the toggle switch with something easy to install, wire and configure. It’s very cool, and the first phase of products is available now, for folks using Tortoise and other 12V stall-motor switch motors. Next up will be a control board for people like me who use servo motors. Also on the way are versions for twin-coil switch motors. Keep an eye on the Berrett Hill web site for information.

The Bridge at Mount Harris — Common Hill

I finally got around to ordering a bridge for the end of the peninsula. Hunter Line sell an 81′ trestle, and while the kit is for a straight trestle, I have been assured that it can also be built on a curve. The S-scale version is appropriately sized for On30 (or On2 or On3, for that matter). I should get it some time next week, and will start on construction pretty quickly.

Modules and DCC

After the last couple of train shows, I came to the conclusion that if I never setup another modular layout, it would be too soon. I think it’s mostly because of late, there have only been two of us around for setup and tear down. Really, it’s just too much. Subsequently, I no longer have a “portable” DCC/programming system. My NCE Powerhouse Pro system is now permanently installed over my loco and rolling stock bench, along with a nicer Dell computer system for decoder setups and programming. I’ll have a programming/test track there as well.

For the layout itself, I have a pair of Digitrax DB150 boosters that, in “dumb booster” mode work fine with the NCE command station. And, while I’ll certainly be running a throttle buss out for NCE cabs, I’ll also be taking full advantage of the capabilities of J/MRI to allow people with smartphones to operate the layout. There are two ways to accomplish this — there are Android and iOS apps available for free or cheap. For those who don’t wish to install the apps, I can define custom web-based throttles for each locomotive. Slick.

More DCC — Sound Decision

I also decided that, going forward, all new locomotive sound installations are going to use ESU/LokSound decoders. There are several reasons behind this move, which include great sound quality, excellent pricing and a great feature set.

Some of the key benefits to the LokSound decoders are that the sound set can be changed. For instance, today I ordered two of their Select Micro decoders. One is a generic small steam loco set, and the other is for a diesel using an Alco 6-cylinder prime mover. The steam sounds will be fine as-is, but I know that I’ll probably want to use a “Galloping Goose” sound set in the other one when it becomes available for the new series of decoders. When the time comes, I’ll buy their programmer (or borrow a friend’s) and download the sound file.

In addition to changing out sounds, I can “roll my own,” if I want to. That includes things like changing out the whistles for recordings of the exact whistle from a prototype engine, if I want. I know full well that’s not exactly trivial, but having done that kind of work for several years, I got pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.

Another advantage is that there is no modification required if I want to add “keep alive” electronics. A keep alive will keep the engine moving and making sound over dirty track and dead switch frogs. Unlike Soundtraxx, ESU provide handy solder pads on the decoder circuit board to ease the task.

New Passenger Equipment

At the recent Mid-Hudson On30 Meet, I picked up a new passenger car shell kit for the railroad. The Mount Blue Model Company has issued a few new kits recently, including this really nice RPO designed to fit on a Bachmann coach chassis. They also have a “private” parlor car kit that I wish I had picked up, but I thought I was running a little short of cash. I’ll probably order the parlor car in the next couple of months.

“New” Addition to the C&S Locomotive Fleet

I’ve been waffling about adding one more locomotive to the C&S roster, and after a little more soul-searching (and a little drooling) at the Bunker Hill Model Train Club show last weekend, I finally decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on that project.

I have had sitting around a Bachmann outside-frame 4-4-0 for some time. It’s a Mexican prototype, and as such, has an overly-tall cab profile. It’s a neat loco, but I have no idea why I bought the thing (except that it’s a neat loco). Anyway, some time ago, I saw pictures on the web of a model modified by Don Mason (I think it was) that had much more of a “Maine look.” The gist of the conversion was moving the cab back about 1/2″ and lowering it by a bit over 1/4″. Since then, Alan Carroll has been making similar models for sale through John Weigel’s Peterboro Railroad. John had one at the recent shows, and I had a good chance to look at it (and also, to talk to Alan at the Mid-Hudson meet). I decided that this would be a pretty easy conversion. I already have many of the parts on hand, so it’s mostly a matter making the time to do it.

So, that’s about it for now. As we settle into late fall and winter, I’m hoping that there will be more time for modeling — and more regular updates here.

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