Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New year!

This year has almost 'flown' by. It seemed to go really fast.
Looking back I haven't progressed with any of my modeling projects as far as I wanted. Nevermind, there's always next year I guess. It was never meant to be a speed contest.
A couple things train related I've done over the past week or two:
- I bought a couple of books, two titles by Brian Solomon ( 'Southern Pacific Railroad', and 'Railroad Signaling'), and one by Lance Mindheim, who has just released his newest book (and which I ordered) 'How to operate a modern switching layout'.
- I've fine tuned a few DCC parameters on my sound equiped locomotives (and brought their volumes down, at home it get's a little too loud, in a club setting it can be 'crancked up' to max).
- Did a little bit of scenery work, and I do mean a little bit. :-)
- I've finally masked of my SD9, and have sprayed on the first layer of green paint. Another small step towards transforming this loco into CFNR no 203.
- I have also designed a set of module boards to use from time to time on our modular layout. These boards will be build to the newly published recommended specs by the NMRA-BR . (see:

so all in all I still managed to do a little more in the past weeks than I anticipated. I hope to keep the momentum going to a certain extend. I really want to get going with my SP woodchip gondolas, that hasn't progressed since I made the sides.

A happy and healthy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Seasons Greetings

I'd like to wish all visitors and followers of my blog a very merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.
Thanks for your visits and comments,  and I hope you will return to my little space on the world wide web often!
To stay in 'sync' with this message , here's a picture I found on the web. I found out just now, that  December's main picture on the Diesel Detailer forum is an edited version of the same (no I didn't copy them) , where I'm a member too and find lots of advice and inspiration on detailing diesel locomotives. Be sure to pay them a visit if that's what you like too. (link in the list on the right).

Saturday, December 10, 2011


What seems like a lifetime ago, I started a project on an SD9E, which was one of the first locos in service with the CFNR. they had 4, of which two ex SP units. I'm modeling one of them, CFNR 203.
I've been at a standstill with this project for a while, sometimes you just need to put things aside for a while. Today I decided I didn't like the remnants of the ladders on the hood, which i tried to remove as best as I could, and replace with new ladders from Details Associates. I tried removing them before, but bits of casting remained. I think I managed to clear the rest of them away today, and I now need to touch up the cream/white paint, before I proceed with masking the loco to be able to airbrush on the green.
Here's a picture of it's (SP) sister, no 202, back in the '90's.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happily biting of more than I can chew?

It had to happen, yet another project on my list of never getting finished ones so it seems. I'm sure I'm not the only one who get's him/her self into such situations, call it enthusiasm. :-)
So what's next? By now, you've probably guessed that I've got a weak spot for the Southern Pacific. Mostly it's Scarlet and Grey diesel years, and I'm focusing on their last years of service. Purely because this ties in with the subject of my layout, the California Northern. I'm not taking that time constraint too seriously, and allow myself a bit of 'modelers license'. In those final years, GP9's were getting thinner on the roster, perhaps even completely phased out, I still have to find some documentation about that to make sure.(UPDATED: I've found several survived, although quite a few got retired between 1994 and 1996, some were still active until the UP merged with SP)  But yes, you've guessed it my next project is to model a Southern Pacific GP9, initially a phase III version. So attached a photo of the real thing, and my chosen road number 3841.  Mainly because it has the full SP 'light show' on the nose :-) I found it was still active in 1994 at least...
Or should I try and finish off another project first (my wood chip gondola's perhaps?....)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Southern Pacific E9

While I was cleaning up the hobby'room' a little, I came across a locomotive that had been sitting in a box for quite some time. A great model of a SP E9. I hadn't used it much because it's from a railroad era I don't model , it hasn't been converted to DCC yet, and I thought it was much too big to do justice on my small layout. But then I came across this picture; here we have a once big mighty E9, hauling only two passenger cars, probably during their last days / years of service, no longer in front of a long express train, but a short and humble local. I'm now researching until which years the E9's could still be found in this service. Perhaps could I 'stretch' reality enough to do the same on my layout? (it will require a repaint of the loco as the grey is much too light, and some heavy weathering too. :-) ).  To be continued at some point....

 oh, and aparently this is my 200'th post since the start of this blog :-)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tunnel Vision

Here are a few progress pics of the tunnel I'm building in a corner of the layout, Cordelia Tunnel.
Cordelia Tunnel is a short tunnel on the CFNR, and in reality is straight. It's not going through a 'huge' mountain, just an annoying hill that got in the way of the railroad :-)  I'm going to try and capture the feel of the area so also in my case, the 'hill' isn't tall, and will be populated with some trees and part of a vin yard area. I've test fitted a portal (be it a wrong one, this one is european in shape, but I've got a couple of Woodland Scenic ones available), and part of the surface is painted with an earth tone latex paint. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Railflyer products drive progress

It's been a while that I reported on the progress in regards to the new drive (traction motor) developments made my the small manufacturer Railflyer products.
Here's a YouTube video of one of their 6 axle chassis operating, with one powered axle, proving the concept. circuit board developments are on going to power all 6 axles simultaneously. Progress is steady, and as quick as can be expected from such a small company. Very promising stuff.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

SP action in HO

I managed to be attending my local club meet this Saturday, and had fun meeting the others, and seeing a lot of SP action. We had a coal drag doing 'rounds' headed by a pair of SD45's, and almost 50 coal cars in tow. In the yard, an SP GP9 was doing the switching duties, while a pair of SD9's were being readied for snow service at the service facilities.
The picture captures a little of the atmosphere. The SD9's owned by Brian Moore, the GP9 by Rob Mallet. Photo by Brian Moore.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Update on my layout

Here's a picture of another section of the layout I've recently been working on. It's the east entrance to Cordelia tunnel on my layout. Not much of the scenery is yet 'scenicked' but it has the raw forms in place. Card board strips , polystyrene foam and masking tape make the rough contours of the terain. Once this is completed, I'll paint it with an earth tone latex paint. Over this a layer of a terrain mix paste is applied (the paint serves to make the paste stick to the masking tape better). This mix is made up of portland cement, vermiculite, and crack filling plaster, mixed with water. I got this technique from Joe Fugate's scenery dvd series (10 mile Creek).
On the picture my (new) SP 7305 leads NE 1623 with a short local into the tunnel.  (the absence of a tunnel  portal still very obvious).

Thursday, October 27, 2011


The SD40 locomotive and derivatives was/is a well known locomotive on the US railroad networks, also the Southern Pacific ordered 79 of these 3000 hp strong locomotives, that were powered by the then new EMD 645 engine, in a turbo charged V16 configuration. The SP received these locos numbered 8400-8478. Later on in life, they underwent the SP rebuild program, basically an effort to extend their life and reliability (upgraded controls etc). They were then renumbered in the 7300 series and went through life with the designation SD 40R .
I've just ordered a model of this locomotive. According to it's number its a rebuild unit, namely 7305. How accurate it is I do not know yet, perhaps there will be some work needed to fully reflect changes that may have occured during the rebuild. One thing I've noted from the pictures below is that the real loco has an additional set of lights on the nose, which the Athearn RTR model lacks, a nice little project to add in due time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Layout Progress

It's been a bit quiet recently I admit. I guess I suffered from writers block a little, and I hadn't done too much, however I am pleased to report that in the last week or two, I've managed to progress a little further on my own layout. This is what's been happening:
- I've continued installing some scenery 'webbing', cardboard strips that will form the skeleton over which hills etc will be formed.
- I've bought and measured out some 3mm MDF board, which I'll be using to make the fascia, I've also bought a green paint which I'll use to paint it with.
- I've also installed an inspection pit inside the CFNR workshop but need to work a little on a few details and finishing before I'll grace this blog with a picture of it. I've used the commercial available pit from Peco as the basis.
- I've ordered a Golden West Service box car (patched for SP) and a further one I've just won on e-bay. These box cars were / are in regular service in the domain of the SP and CFNR, so I had to have a few.
- Lastly I've also won a Chevrolet Van made by Herpa, suitable for the period I'm modeling, so that the cars on the road add to the correct for the feel of the era and area.  I've not even gotten to the point of detailing roads yet, but when I come accross an item that I feel I can use , I'll buy it, so that I've got it in stock when it's needed. Particularly my era cars are hard to come by. I've mentioned before that I need to rely on second hand models mostly, as the manufacturers seem to only make transition era and modern (current ) cars, nothing much from the '80's early 90's at present.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs

I've always used Macs ever since I used personal computers, since 1991. This blog is written using one, a Mac that has been working for over 8 years, and still is almost as useful today as it was back then. I wouldn't want to use any other computer to write this blog with.(unless it's another Mac)
 On October 5th, it's 'inventor' died, Steve Jobs, due to ill health related to cancer he contracted several years ago. During his life time he told many to live like it's your last day, to do what you enjoy most, be creative, think differently. This is also true for a model railroader, being creative, and think out side the box to come up with a solution to a modeling challenge requires the same creative thinking.
Thank you Steve for your vision, your products, and your lessons. R.I.P.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Update September 2011

Hi all, sorry for the 'silence' on this blog. I've had an incredible busy time at work, and DYI work around the house, so much so that I have had little time for my hobbies, and no time for this blog. I hope to be catching up a bit soon.
My previous post was about the Athearn GP9's. they are indeed shipping, and are showing up in various hobbyshops, and new roadnames etc are regularly being announced. Reviews have been mixed. Some people think they're not as well detailed or have some incorrect details, as they could have been/had. They seem to run nice, but similar quality control issues are again popping up, Athearn really needs to get a fix on this. Other than that, it seems to be nicely dimensioned, and mix well with Proto 2000 units, which for some are still the best looking Geeps ever made. I leave it to you and be your own judge.
My own layout has not progressed much. The limited time I've had to spend on it I used to glue some basic scenery foam materials down, in preparation for scenicking the area that will become inspired on Cordelia tunnel and surroundings.
My woodchip gondola project is at a standstill at present, purely due to time. Also I need to buy a good file to sand off the edges of the car ends, before glueing them together.
Lots to get on with, and with the days slowly getting shorter, and temperatures starting to decline, I should hopefully find more time to work on modelrailroad projects. :-)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Athearn Genesis GP9's shipping early?

There are some reports from US based modelers, that the announced Athearn Genesis GP9 locomotives are starting to ship. Athearn had originally scheduled these to be ready to ship in November or thereabouts. Them shipping now is a bonus for some. There are some reports of quality control issues, as in detail parts that have fallen off, but this could be rough handling in transportation. Also some critical users report the model not to be completely accurate. If that's the case, then that would be a shame, but they look pretty good to me. Here's a production model photo, courtesy of member Chad of  It looks pretty good to me. I can't wait for the bloody nose version to be available.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Woodchip gondola progress

Here's a quick shot taken from my latest project. Visible here are two pairs of car sides, which had all the vertical braces and the top brace applied today. In stead of plastic bits, they now start to resemble what they're supposed to be. As you notice I mention two, what happened to number 3? Well, that one has to wait a bit, as my usual supplier only had 2 pairs of trucks in stock (Kadee), so I decided that I'll build two for now, and will build the 3rd one at a later date.
Also just visible in the bottom of the picture is my scale ruler. If you haven't got one, I recommend getting one, it's 10 times easier using one of these when converting measurements from a drawing onto styrene or similar, without difficult calculations etc. My ruler has scales (in feet and inches) for HO, N, S, and O, and even comes with a drill conversion table from US sizes to metric, as well as a recommended guide for drills and tap sizes. Less than £10,-.  Get one! :-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Caboose again?

Perhaps I have a second change on getting a nice caboose. After the cancellation of the Exactrail C50-9 caboose, Athearn just announced a C50-7 caboose in their genesis range, available for pre-order now, and delivery in Feb 2012.
I may just order this one instead. Details on the prototype are here:
Of course I will still go ahead and scratchbuild my own at some point, I have too many parts on order etc to stop this now.

Athearn also announced a Rotary snow plow+ F7B power unit combo,in their RTR range, in several road names incl my favourite SP. However I am not that certain if these rotaries are 100% accurate for the SP version.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Too much going on

Sometimes I feel like I have too much going on at once, too many projects, locos, layout aspects, caboose, and now my newest distraction, building a SP G-100-17 woodchip gondola, 3 of them.... No wonder I never manage to complete something in the time I want. There is a bit of method to the madness though. I had plans (and already bought some parts) to build an SP C50-9 caboose, but having never scratchbuild a car before, I thought I start with something simpler, just to get used to it, and gain some skills. So a woodchip gondola, of which there were 1000's on the SP system at one point, and are still around today, would be a nice start. Here's a picture of the prototype:
And here is a picture of the 3 sets of car sides, simple styrene rectangles. Now comes the task of adding all the visible braces, at which point they will start to resemble more than just bits of plastic.... 
To be continued. :-)

Monday, July 11, 2011

New products

An airshow and new job meant I didn't have that much time to spend on rail road items. However, I do have some news. UK based model railroad retailer Model Junction, has teamed up with the renowned Pele Soeborg, to offer exclusively weathered rolling stock and locomotives under the MJweathered brand name.
Pele is of course well known through his several articles written in Model Railroader, as well as his books on various modelrailroad subjects, one being weathering and detailing called 'Done in a day'. If you don't trust yourself weathering, or it's just not for you, but like the look, this may be an option to consider. As expected the items are weathered beautifully. The only problem is, once you have one, you'll want your entire fleet weathered... Check out the Model Junction website for details.

Friday, July 1, 2011


It's July already, time flies when you're having fun. I was able to do a little in the last week too.
I've started laying some track for the next part of the layout, and re-layed some parts where the Davis Station was going to be, but got cancelled due to lack of space. I would not be able to do it justice, so perhaps on a next layout :-)
I've installed a Tortoise turnout motor too, which is pretty easy to do with my type of roadbed. I just cut a hole in the foam to the right size and the tortoise slots right in, easy to remove etc. I'm pleased how that worked out. The next step will be to wire some of this track up and connect it to the power bus going under the layout. I put feeders on about every 2 meters of straight track, and of course where needed around turnouts and insulated rail joiners etc.
I've also changed jobs within my company, this means that my travel patterns will be more regular and I'll be home most weekends. This will increase the precious family time, and of course , gives me more opportunities to do some work on the layout too. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Railflyer Prototype Models traction motor in action

I reported previously about Railflyer Prototype Models and there attempts to get a scale traction motor assembly to market. Pretty much all components are now ready for production, with only the heatsinks being a couple of days behind. As soon as these are in, they can be assembled and mounted on the trucks to demonstrate a real working truck with traction motors. However, the video here was posted to demonstrate that it does work, a miniature electric motor driving one axle. I am very curious to see how these work once they are mounted to a truck, under a nice heavy loco frame. :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Weathering, an art within a hobby

One thing I've always liked to do is to weather models so they look more realistic. There is an enormous variety on materials and techniques available to accomplish this.  One website that is totally dedicated to this part of the hobby is (also see 'useful links' on the right).
But weathering is more than just clever paint techniques, it also involves scars and dents simulating the hard life equipment has on the railroads. A very good example can be seen in the photo of this gondola, made by 'Model Trains Weathered' member Butch. The realism is further enhanced by taking the picture outside, under natural daylight.  If weathering is your thing, you owe it to yourself to at least check out that site.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2012 Walthers Reference book

The 2012 Walthers reference books are now available to pre-order on the Walthers website, and your affiliated hobby shops. The books currently have an ETA of August 28th 2011, the HO costs just shy of $16,- at the time of this blog. These things usually go quick as they're very popular.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Snowfighter loco

A project that I want to do in the future, once I've finished a couple that I'm still working on at the moment, is to build a Southern Pacific snow fighting loco. These were originally SD9's, but were later replaced by some GP38-2 locos, these locos are still in service today, but are now painted in Union Pacific colours, as the SP merged with the UP in the  '90's. They are stationed at Roseville CA. Here's a youtube video of a build, using an Athearn RTR GP38-2, and was painted in the SP colours.

Another look at the Exeter show layout

Earlier, I posted a video from an engineers perspective. Now there is one in birds eye view of the same layout, giving you a good overview of the set up. Hope you like it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Switching layout

Inspired by (the books of) Lance Mindheim (see links on the right), UK model railroader 'Mal' set out to build his own version of a US switching layout called 'Palmetto Spur'.
Here is a video clip of his work, which shows again that bigger, doesn't mean it's better when it comes to a realistic looking layout.  Please let him know you liked it by posting a comment or two at his vid (or here).

Narrow Gauge railroading

I personally don't know much about it (yet), but I know a lot of people like it. I also must say that I have a weak spot for the DRGW K27 type locomotives, one of the prettiest narrow gauge steam locomotives I've seen.
Recently, Blackstone models produced a limited run of an excellent model of one, and are now working on a C-19 locomotive. There will be a re-run of the K27 this summer, in limited numbers and Sound+DCC only.
The Blackstone website has now been added to the useful link section on the right, and the link is here too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My latest trackplan revisions

Here's my latest track-plan revision. As mentioned previously, I couldn't fit the Davis station in without too many compromises. So I cancelled that part, and then pondered for a while what to do with the area. I've now decided that this area will be freelanced, such that I retain some operational interest and purpose, as well as keeping the general feel for the area in which the SP and the CFNR operate(d).  I've changed the right hand side such that I've brought the backdrop fwd towards the edge of the layout, and using some background warehouses (packing facilities), created multiple car spot locations. Using some scenery divide (depicted here by some trees) the main continues along the fwd edge of the layout. Behind the backdrop, there's not enough room for multiple track staging, but the single track remaining can function as such, or as an 'invisible' run around track to make the journey / return times longer.
On the left side, I've corrected my track-plan to more accurately show how the track is currently laid. Just out of view below and behind the CFNR loco-shop, is a small 3 track classification yard/visible staging, and the main continues around the room and connects on the other side, so that I have created the 'dreaded (?)' loop around. This is to be able to just sit and watch a train run, help me set up locomotive decoders (speed curves and top speeds etc) and properly run their gears in , and to please my son who wants to be able to run his train around&around, and asked me time and time again when I would go and expand the layout...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Exeter show in video

Here's a video layout tour from a loco engineer perspective, of the RS tower + branch line US outline layout. The layout won the layout operators award of the show, so it was a great weekend for all involved.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Exeter Model Railway Exhibition , a visit report.

As mentioned in my previous post, I visited the Exeter Model Railway Exhibition today. Being in the UK, of course the vast majority of layouts and traders showed/stocked models to a British prototype, in a variety of scales and gauges. Nevertheless, there was some high standard of modeling displayed among these, of these, I particularly enjoyed the fine scale modelers, and a narrow gauge railway modeling the RhB (Rhatische Bahn)  of Switzerland. At one point in my past I wanted to model this same railway, and actually bought (and still own) one locomotive model (The so called Rhatische Krokodil), however my model runs on 9mm track, while it should be 12mm. (Bemo, the main manufacturer of RhB models, produced their models in two track width for a while, but now only produces '100% correct models).
Of course, my main interest is US railroading, and this was represented by the largest layout on display here: RS Tower plus branchline, totaling up to 120 feet of layout, set up in an S shape. These modules, based on the FREEMO concept (not to be confused with the european FREMO), showed an interested public the charm of US railroading, and went a step further by showing the operations aspect of the hobby, using car cards, trackwarrants, and dispatching via radio etc. This is something that is rarely seen in the UK but is gaining popularity, as it adds a dimension to 'playing with trains' and gives everything a sense of purpose. Members of my local NMRA club (Western Union) helped the crew of RS tower, and operated the branchline. There were a few technical glitches (problems with a few turnouts, causing trains to stop etc) , but in all I got the impression that people enjoyed themselves,  and the public appeared interested in seeing US/Canadian modeling, with it's long, multiple headed trains, and operations.  Let these few pictures speak for themselves. Of course, full view pictures can be seen by clicking on them.

My son's first

Today I visited the Exeter modelrailroad show, more on that in a separate blog soon. However, I was able to 'corrupt' my son to buy a train. :-) Actually, I didn't need to do much, he just enjoyed watching all the layouts and trains running, and then said he wanted one of his own. Now most items for sale were british outline, but one vendor had some US HO scale locomotives too. So all I needed to do was to convince him to go American too, so that he could run his train on daddy's layout. :-) And so it happened that we left the show with a Bachman Spectrum  GP30, of the Nickle Plate road. We couldn't afford buying any of the more modern power that would have suited the layout better, but hey, it's a small concession to make.
I've also donated all my older rolling stock to him, so he now has a complete train, fitting the engine nicely.
It is DC only at the moment, so I'll have to convert it to DCC at some point so that he can run it together with mine, but it was fun. Here is a quick pic, made with my mobile phone to show you his pride, pulling his string of older freight cars. :-)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sweet home Alabama

UK based modeler Jon Grant is a master in creating realistic scenes/scenery. Here's a picture of his latest project, called 'Sweet home Alabama'. The scene is not even finished yet apparently, but already comes across as incredibly realistic. One of the keys to realistic scenery is using a blend of colours and textures, and not using too much of the same in one area. Great work Jon!
 (picture (c) Jon Grant).

Friday, June 3, 2011


For those that can't make it to the Exeter show, the following weekend on Saturday the 11th of June, sees the Trent Valley show, also including a lot of US/Canadian modeling in various gauges. Here is the link to the show website with all further info. June sees shows both in the North and in the Southwest of the UK this way!

A modeler's nightmare

This made me smile, and just had to post it when I saw it.
I guess the picture says it all....

Photo (c) Jon Grant.
Model railroad, and cat, owned by Jon Grant.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Sorry to post this so late, but I didn't have the full details until now.
For those of you having nothing to do this weekend, live in the UK, and fancy to see a fantastic modelrailroad show, On the above dates, the Exeter modelrailroad show will be held, and it includes a huge American railroad, by my friends from RS Tower, and assisted by the crew of my NMRA group 'Western Union'.
The show is organised by the EXE Model Railway Society .

Some additional info:

Matford Livestock Centre, Matford Park Road, Exeter, Devon EX2 8FD
OPENING TIMES:  SAT 10am-5.30pm, SUN 10am-4.30pm.
ADMISSION:  Adults £6.00  (Children go free)
Concessions £5.00      

The annual exhibition held by the Exe MRS since moving to our new venue, the Matford Centre 3 years ago is fast gaining a reputation as one of the premier shows in the South West. This venue gives us the space to accomodate 30+ layouts, demonstrations and trade stands in one large ground floor hall with plenty of room to view our exhibits. We try to cater for all interests, with layouts in all popular scales including British, continental and American.

The following layouts and traders are in attendance.

List of Layouts Attending :List of Traders Attending :
Rheingauz, (Z)
Midsomer Norton, (N)
Grovedale, (N Modern Image)
Mallingford Central, (N 1980's)
Brigstow, (N BRW)
Exeter N Society, (N 3 Layouts)
Yeoton Wharf, (3mm Mixed)
009 Society, (009 9 Layouts)
Andeer, (Swiss Modern Image, DCC Via PC)
Four Lanes, (00)
Lulworth Military Railway, (00 1944 Wartime))
Trevellyn Bridge, (00 BR 63)
Wiveliscombe, (00 1950/60 BR)
Orchard Road, (00 Modern Image)
Chinehurst, (00 1950/60)
Southurst, (00 BR/SR 1950/60)
Exeford, (Modern Image)
Oswestry Road, (00 BR/WR 1950/60)
Leigh Road, (00 1950s BR)
Rolvendon, (P4 1920s)
Tiverton, (EM)
Rock Springs ( HO American)
BW Dugelshaven, ( HO Continental)
Godshill, (O GWR)
Halsdon Road, (O Modern Image)
Stapely, (O BR 1950s S&D)
Tinkers Green Sidings, (S7 1946/55)
Haven Hill Junction, (On30 1940s Usa)
Trains in Your Garden, (G Area Group)
Model Bus Federation (Display)
Mike Doherty, (0 Gauge Demo)
Scaleseven Group, (Scale 7 Track Demo)
The Weatherman, (Weathering Demo)
DCC Demo,
Engram, (Demo)

Railroom Electronics,
Titfield Thunderbolt,
Rural Railways,
Rob Doidge Railwayana,
Richards Spares,
Model Express,
Finnishing Touches,
Eric Walford Models,
Dartmoor Railway Association,
The Model Shop Exeter,
Lynton & Barnstable Association,
ZTC Controls,
Wessex Wagons,
Daves Videos,
Exe MRS Sales.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Great modeling

One of my favorite railroads is the Southern Pacific. One of my interests in the modeling hobby is to detail diesel locomotives , including paint and weather them etc. So if the two can be combined, all the better. Now I am under no illusions. There are many modelers that are much more skilled than I am, and one of the best I've seen so far (if not THE BEST) is US based modeler Elizabeth Allen. I like to not only admire their (and her) handy work, but also to learn from them, and in such a way increase my own skills.
What she can do to turn a model train, into a miniature replica of the real thing is amazing. Here a picture of a real loco, with one of her models next to it for comparison. The level of detail and weathering is incredibly realistic. The longer I look, the more details I find, particularly under the frame!
 Hats of and a deep bow of respect to Elizabeth Allen!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No more Davis?

I've done a bit more work in regards to my layout, and made a floor plan template of the Davis CA station.
I've now come to the conclusion that were I wanted to place it , it doesn't fit, with out making too many compromises.
So I am currently redesigning part of my track plan, to see if I can get something else interesting instead. I may resort to a few industries found within the CFNR operating areas, and freelance the area somewhat, put a few things in the 'wrong' order etc to make it operationally interesting, and retaining the feel of the area where the CFNR operates. I've also made a decision to make the era a few years earlier, so that I can run trains with leased SP power and CFNR power, so we're looking around 1994 now.
I'll keep you updated on my progress.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Product review: Walthers HO 'drop side' gondola

Hi all,

Recently I received two Walthers 'drop side' gondolas, which I ordered about 6 months ago when they became available to pre-order. The prototype of these gondolas was introduced in the 1940's and could be found in service with many railroads all across the USA, up into the 1980's. This time span makes them suitable to be used on many model railroads from late steam all the way into the more modern days of second generation EMD power and would still have been around during the rise of the dash series GE machines :-).
When this model was first announced, they were promoted as a good addition to Walthers' Cornerstone 'Scrapyard' series structures etc. The Walthers Platinum range , of which these gondolas are part, represents their top of the range HO car series, with fine detailing and factory installed grab irons etc.
I ordered 2 Union Pacific gondolas, with different road numbers of course, and I received them a few weeks ago.  My first impression is that these gondolas are indeed nicely detailed, with sharp lettering and good paint work. Also the under frame detail is good, with some of the brake riggings nicely modeled. I would have preferred a little more detail in the trucks, the suspension springs appear a bit flat, but I think this could also be due to the generous application of paint on my samples.
Their empty weight appears correct too,  so pushing these in a longer freight (on well laid track) should not cause any problems or derailments etc.  They are very smooth rolling which should also aid in problem free operations.
If I had a final 'comment' then I would have liked to have 'scale' knuckle couplers , like the Kadee no 58 factory installed. The more I use these, the more it is obvious that the standard HO scale couplers are indeed a little bit large.

All and all a welcome addition to my layout and that of many others too. I bought mine from Model Junction in Slough, for under £20,- each. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

A busy month

May has been a busy month, in the sense that I had little time for model railroading and even posting news.
It also has to be said that there isn't that much news from manufacturers to mention at this time. Things could change again soon of course. I'm traveling for work at present which doesn't make it any easier, still I've done a little bit.
I have taken a small project along, making some preparations for my GP35 project. I've taken along some Cannon&Company diesel detail parts and a loco shell. I plan on replacing the cab on this loco (made by Bachmann) , as the original has front windows that are too big, they are a bit too tall and it's very obvious when viewed next to similar models from other manufacturers.
Lastly, I've been researching DCC systems once again, as I still want to replace my current DCC set up with one made by the leading manufacturers.
Again, I've come to the conclusion that a system made by Lenz would be most suitable. A: due to it's reasonably small physical size, B: due to the fact that my local club uses Lenz too, so I could bring along a throttle to the meets, and C: the fact that I could get a system to a discounted price as an NMRA member. I do not have the finances together just yet, but I'm working on that :-)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A rethink UPDATED

I may have mentioned before, that among my long list of projects, hides a GP35, that I have been planning to detail and paint at some stage, into a Union Pacific loco, marked and numbered as yard switcher, but recently, I've seen a couple of GP35 pictures, in Southern Pacific scarlet and grey, and considering the era I'm roughly placing my layout in, I've been thinking perhaps I should reconsider and make this an SP unit instead. Besides, SP units usually have a lot more details to add, stuff on the cab roofs etc which makes for a more interesting model/project, so I'm leaning towards that.
Anyone care to vote UP or SP? :-)
Update: To make it a bit easier, here are some pics of a UP unit, and an SP unit, to make the vote easier :-)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Railflyer drive prototype

A while back I reported on Railflyer Model Prototypes, and their efforts to develop a new drive mechanism for their upcoming HO locomotive kits, a drive which will be housed inside the truck, leaving the entire shell and hood free for other things (many more details will be possible ).
Here's a picture of the latest test set up, showing the tiny motor along side an axle and wheel, to test the gearing set up. This looks great to me!

Friday, April 29, 2011

A paint disaster

It wasn't my day yesterday. I had masked off both the front and rear of the hood on my CF7, as I wanted to simulate 'warning' stripes on both of them. I had previously painted it white, let dry , masked off the areas to remain white, and then painted on the blue. When I removed the masking tape, there were several areas where the blue paint had leaked under the masking tape, ever so little but enough. I should note that I had forgotten to add another layer of white paint over the mask first, this will seal the edges of the masking tape and any bleed will be in the same colour, so can't be noticed, and after that , follow on with the next paint colour, I won't make that mistake again any time soon...
 I decided to try and touch it up with a brush and some paint, but while doing that the dog came in and 'greeted' me, with the result that my stripes turned into a white blob.....
I now have think on how to rescue this project, I may have to just paint the nose white for now, and use a stripe decal at some point... to be continued...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Athearn Genesis GP9 pre-production model

Here's a picture of the upcoming Athearn Genesis GP9 , it involves a pre-production sample here, but it looks very promising indeed.  Thanks to SP Aussie for providing a picture. I will have to have one of these at some point :-)

Some more info and pictures here!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

C44-9W progress

It's been a while that I did some work on my UP C44-9W. While I've not done much, I've managed to install the ditchlights, and have programmed them accordingly. The UP does not use flashing ditch lights, so mine are only able to switch on/off as per prototype. I need to continue adding some more details and then I can paint the loco and do some weathering.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A few progress pics

As promised here's a few pictures of the shells of my two locomotive projects that I have underway currently.
The SD9E is showing a primer grey base coat, and the CF7 is showing CSX blue.
Obviously these two are still far from ready, but they're a small step closer to that goal. :-)
Again apologies for the picture quality, they were made with my blackberry, under relatively poor lighting conditions. I moved them near the layout to have a better light, but it's not great. The blackberry camera is the biggest culprit though, as it's of very poor quality indeed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

1950's Southern Pacific

My friend Brian has been busy lately, and added several new movies on his layout. Here's one of them for your viewing pleasure.

Loco projects

Today I had time to move two of my current loco projects a step further towards completion.
My CF7 finally received a new coat of paint, after the first two didn't work out well. I've now used a different brand of paint (Testors' Polly Scale ) , and have 'shot' the base coat of what is close to CSX blue. This seems to have covered much better than the previously used Tamiya paints, and tomorrow I'll be able to see if it has set as well as I hope it has, so I can put a second coat on for a smooth coverage. I've resisted the urge to put too much paint on at once.
The other project is the CFNR SD9E, this one had sun shades installed, and has received a primer coat of light grey paint all over. Once this is dry, I will attempt a coat of 'cream white' for the background area on which the 'California Northern' lettering and logos are placed. They will then be masked off, and then the green will be added.
I will try to post pictures of both locos in the next few days, once the second coat of paint has been added.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

An operating session at my local club

The video below shows my friends in action at their monthly meeting, showing an operating session using track warrants. We use wireless handheld radio's with headsets to enhance realism, and reducing the need to 'shout' across the layout room.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Exactrail Trinity reefers now available

These highly detailed modern reefer cars are at your dealer starting now.
They feature all usual Exactrail refinements, and then some. They look fantastic, too bad the era they're intended for is a bit too modern for my own layout use. :-)

The promo video is here, in HD.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The latest project

Here's a quick update on my latest project, my SD9E. Below are a few pics of both the front and the rear of the loco, with the new details mounted. The coupler lift bar, MU hoses, plows and light clusters have now been fitted on both rear and front pilots You may also notice grey cirles, they are the old shell mounting holes that hold the shell to the frame, I've filled them in with putty, and plan to attach the shell to the frame with screws on the couplers instead. There's still several things to do before she goes to the paintshop. These are new ladders, sunshades, roof fans, and fuel tank vent lines. Hopefully I can show that in a next installment of this project :-)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Over 5000 visits!

Just a quick thank you to all visitors to my blog, over 5000 visits within it's first year, so thank you all!
I hope it serves it's purpose, is entertaining and helpful. If there's other things you like to see and read about, please let me know and I'll try to accommodate your requests/questions.


Friday, April 8, 2011

California Northern SD9 no 203

Sometimes I wish I stayed with my old scale N. I used to have a model railroad in N scale in the past, but the nicer detailing option in HO was one of the reasons to switch about 15 years ago. Today I discovered that Atlas makes a CFNR SD9 in N scale, and exactly the SD9 I'm currently building in HO! It is still available from Atlas direct, and probably from your dealer too. Both DCC and DC versions are available.
It looks pretty good, although I'm not sure about the green, it seems to have a slightly blueish tint. The correct colour is  made by Polyscale, sold as Reading Green. There's a few more things wrong with the model. The original is a SD9E, ex sp, it has the full light show, plows, roof beacon and other details that are very noticable for an SD9E compared to an SD9. Therefore, also this Atlas model would need some work done, but it's not a bad starting point at all. :-)

Photo time

Here's a few pictures taken of the area I recently worked on. Base scenery done, as well as track painted.
The roof on the locoshop has been given a primer coat, so I thought I'd test the results through a camera.
It is always good to take pictures, it will show details you may miss when just looking, and I can see from these pictures that I still have some work to do. :-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

CFNR locoshop progress

Here are some pictures of my locoshop build. I've constructed some basic steel frames with styrene profile, and painted them a matt black colour. They still need a second coat, but I've test fitted them inside the building. They will act as roof supports, which I've placed on top of it in the other picture, to see how it fits.
There's a little bit of trimming and sanding needed to get it all to sit properly, but so far so good.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


As promised, here are two pictures of the base scenery in the same area, after applying a layer of brown latex paint, followed by a sprinkle of a mix of sand and reptile substrate, and some ballast. There are still some small areas to touch up, particularly the ballast along the edge of the roadbed, but I'm showing this so you have a step by step view of how this progresses.

Stripping Paint

For my SD9E project, I've had to strip the paint of the shell. There are various commercial products available that do this , but their effectiveness depends on the kind of paint used, be it acrylic or oil based etc.
Of course, if you painted something yourselves, then you know the brand and type of paint, and in such a case, it's best to use the paint remover that is recommended by the manufacturer of that paint. However sometimes you may want to strip the factory paint of a model, as is the case for me. Many commercial paint strippers don't seem to work with the paint found on older Athearn models, the old 'blue box' series in particular. A bit of research on the net shows that people have varying results with using products like 90% alcohol, or brake-fluid. As I could not find any 90% alcohol , I went for brake-fluid. Brake fluid comes in a few ratings, DOT3 or DOT4, it does not matter which one you use for our paint strip purpose.
Wear gloves when working with it, as if it strips paint, it can also strip your skin/or penetrate it causing health problems in the future. I've submerged my loco shell in the fluid overnight, about 16 hours in total, and then using a toothbrush (use the hardest you can find) scrubbing off the paint. I found it comes off relatively easy.  I used an old cloth to dab off the remaining fluid, and washed the shell in soapy water, while scrubbing some more, and dried it. Below is the result after 5 minutes of scrubbing and washing.
I'm happy with this, and will now proceed to add the details I want to add, before painting it.