Sunday, February 27, 2011

A bit of inspiration

A great shot, by Pele Soeeborg, made on the new version of his Daneville layout. Modern western CA railroading captured very well, the scene and colors etc are brilliantly executed. Pele is a master at that sort of thing, he's written books, and regular articles in ModelRailroader magazine, and gives clinics from time to time. Pictures like this just invite me to go and do some more work on my own layout.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tracks inside streets/scenery etc

The tracks inside the locoshop, and partly outside of it, are 'sunk' into the terain/floor. In such circumstances, a smooth running train free of derailments or contact problems can be tricky, but there are various ways to get this right.
I opted to use styrene strips, cut to the right width, and glue these on the ties, between the rails, and also along the sides. Before I glue them, I tested it with a few locomotives, and some cars to make sure I don't get derailments or contact problems, and then used a few drops of CA glue (super glue) to stick them down.
After this has dried I will proceed to blend them into the landscape by applying a very thin layer of plaster (hydrocal) on the top of them and the surrounding areas. This way I don't have to use too much plaster and build up thick layers, and it gets a nice coarse surface. Of course to apply this between the rails, I'll use thin strips of styrene to put in the gap that is to remain, and and then apply the plaster. After it has set, I'll remove the strips, and don't have to resort to scraping plaster away from the rails etc.
Above is a picture of the shop and track just outside, with a test loco running through checking the clearances.
The shop also has a base coat of 'off white' painted on. It still needs several more coats before the right shade is achieved. Laying in front is one of the service doors, which will get a silver grey paint coat.
The picture below shows the original building, with a CFNR GP15-1 parked outside.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Those familiar with North American model railroads, will no doubt know the Walthers firm. For many years, they've been one of the biggest model railroading retailers in the US, and they are famous for their catalog, which for HO alone, is the size of a decent yellow pages book. They also produce their own trains, and structures etc, and today announced that they have entered in a Partnership with Soundtraxx, to use their Tsunami decoders in their upcoming locomotives, the first being the PRR E8 locomotive in their Proto 2000 line. (Proto 2000 was formerly by Life Like, and marketed by Brawa in Europe, when Life Like went bankrupt, Walthers took over the rights etc and has since been producing Proto 2000 models).
Also they announced a partnership with Brekina, a german manufacturer of scale model cars and it will mark the first time that they are available in the US on a wider schale. Hopefully, this will result in more US based car models available to us modelers.

CFNR engine shop

I've got a little further with my engine shop. The walls from my mockup, have been used to strengthen the 'real' walls of this structure, and now have the 4 walls standing. I'm now working on the roof construction, and looking into making the doors.
In this picture, another project can be seen, a Southern Pacific SD9 is parked outside the shop, ready to go in and be painted in CFNR colors. The real CFNR also had 2 ex SP SD9 locomotives on their roster in their first 4 years of operation, which were repainted in CFNR colors.. After they acquired sufficient GP15-1s the SD9's left the system. (they had 4 in total). Oh and as for the tracks on my layout, I was able to move them slightly closer to the front edge so that the structure fits (I also replaced one right hand no 4 turnout with a Wye, making the track work flow much smoother).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Athearn announces new commuter trains

Both in HO and N scale, Athearn today announced they'll be producing new commuter trainsets, consisting of a F59PHi loco, 2 bombardier coach cars and one cab car, in several road names. They'll be available later in the year.
Pic shows some of the (HO) paint schemes.

An update on my hobby:

Sometimes I lose track of all the things I want to do in regards to my model railroading hobby.
It is such a varied hobby, and several things can become a hobby in itself. You've probably figured out, if you've been reading my blog for a while (and perhaps have read back the older posts), that I'm working on a layout, based on the California Northern RR (although it didn't start out that way). Layout progress is very slow, due to the fact that I have a traveling job. My time away from home I try to spend as productive as possible, by gathering info, doing research on my subject, looking for articles / pictures etc on the net, or I take a book on a certain subject along. Another thing I do is to try and take along some small hobby projects. One of the things I sometimes do is to take a locomotive along, with detail parts and some tools, and do some detailing work on these. Taking a couple of sheets of styrene along is another, and do some prep work on scratch building structures etc. That way I can still make some progress, while I'm not near the layout. However, in my enthusiasm, I do sometimes veer of course, and now I've ended up with a list of 'to do' in regards to loco builds, the projects I am still to start/finish are:
- Finish super detailing & painting two UP C44-9W locomotives
- Finish painting my freelance North Eastern RR CF7
- Paint a UP GP35 yard switcher
- Paint a SP GP40R
- strip, repaint and super detail a SP SD9 and turn it into CFNR 203
- weather all rolling stock and locomotives

On the layout itself I still have the following to do:
- finish track work (on the parts of the layout where I've expanded it)
- install turnout controls (either manual or motorised)
- paint and ballast all track
- virtually all scenery
- scratch build several key structures to 'set the scene'.
- upgrade the DCC system to a Lenz system

On top of this, are several things I'm hoping to do but have not purchased, or made concrete plans for, (I'm hoping to be able to buy a couple of Athearn Genesis GP15-1 locomotives to turn into CFNR locomotives, as this paint scheme is currently not available, apart from a few incorrect and very basic Walthers Trainman units).

And of course try to report on all of it here for your entertainment, info, and hopefully, you'll learn a few things along the way (particularly how things shouldn't be done :-) ) including myself.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My club layout in action

Although I couldn't make it myself this month, my regional NMRA region division had its monthly meet in Plymouth on Saturday. One of the members took this footage. We try to run our trains with proper operations on part of the layout (one loop is usually available for those who just want to 'run' their trains), complete with dispatcher, yardmaster , track warrants etc. Some of the operation can be seen and heard in this footage.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Testing the engine shop

My partly build mock up of the CFNR locoshop was test fitted on the layout today. I immediately found I grossly underestimated the size of it, and how it would fit on the layout. Part of my problem is the sloped roof I'm dealing with, so I can't move the track at the rear further otherwise the trains will hit the sloping sky back drop.
So, I'm now looking how I can make some small changes, to fit the shop properly. Another lesson learned, don't start scenery until you know how everything will fit. (Lucky I hadn't applied any scenery on this section yet. )

Monday, February 14, 2011


A layout based in California, particularly mine, which is partly set in and near Napa Jct, can't escape the need of having to model a vineyard. There are a few manufacturers that offer grape vines etc, but I found the ones from Busch to be the most realistic so far. While I'm not ready to start adding them to the layout yet, I'm slowly gathering all the materials needed.
Busch kit 1200 comes with 20 vines, and material to model the leaves and grapes etc. I've ordered mine from The Hobby Shop from Faversham in Kent, UK. They're one of the few that seem to stock Busch scenery products in the UK. I'm not sure what that is, but several german top brands are poorly under represented in the UK, hopefully that will change over time.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Athearn announces the DD40X locomotive UPDATED

In a surprise move (well, there was some speculation on a few railroad forums), Athearn today announced they are going to produce a Genesis series model of the DD40X. No pictures of the samples yet, and pricing is yet to be announced too, but it is going to be a big loco, it's due to be available towards the end of the year.
The DD40X in the past has been produced by Bachmann, and even Athearn had one for a while, but this should be the first highly detailed, non-brass model in HO scale ever. The locomotive was a 98ft monster and had two EMD 645 engines producing a total of 6600HP, back in the late 60's.

A picture of the real thing here:

image copyright (c) David Anderson

UPDATE: Here's picture of the pre-production sample at the model trainshow in Atlanta feb 12th 2011, photographer name unknown.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The next step in model railroad realism?

With the ever increasing realism of today's model railroad equipment, I sometimes wonder what's next. Well, the answer is ' Railflyer models' . A small Canadian company, who've set as a goal to produce the most accurate model railroad models (locomotives) on the market yet. So far they have several detail parts, cabs and other parts in production for your superdetailing efforts, but these parts will be part of complete kits  in the not so distant future, to build entire locomotives from scratch. They are even planning to go as far as offering trucks that have build in traction motors, saying goodbye to can motors with wormshafts and gear towers, but instead having the whole drive in the trucks, leaving the entire hood empty to fill with, well, perhaps even scale engines and generators, or loads of ballast weight, speakers, DCC decoders etc etc. visit: for more information.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Davis CA in HO part 2

Well, the internet can sometimes be a great tool! One thing led to another and the owner of the layout of the previous post, kindly sent me some info on his station building, how he built it etc. I won't go into detail right now on how etc. but here's another picture of his station building, sent to me by him.
Thank you Roy for your pictures, and your explanation. Now all that remains for me to do is to build it myself , but not before I've finished my CFNR engine shop first. :-)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Davis CA in HO

It seems I'm not the only one that is modeling(planning to model) the Davis CA station building and CFNR   action. :-)
Here's footage of another UK based modeler, doing exactly that, and on a bigger scale than I have space for...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Updated useful links

I don't know why I didn't include it before, but that's a gross oversight on my part. In the list of links, you'll now find 'The Gauge' , a model railroad forum with a North American bias (most members are from there so far), I've been a member there for a long time, and could have sworn I had included this forum in my links list, but apparently not. That's now corrected, have a look, perhaps it's something for you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

CFNR loco shop

The loco shop/ maintenance facility of my favorite (and part subject of my layout) California Northern, is located in Napa Junction (now known as American Canyon, somehow, I like the old name better..).
I've started with a mock up of the building, which, if all goes well, may be used as supporting walls for the final structure. Here are the front and rear (North and South) walls cut out of styrene. The dimensions are approximate, as I have no drawings, I have to 'guesstimate' most dimensions by using pictures from Google Earth and Bing, and use the measuring tools to get some rough dimensions, the rest is just trial and error with a sheet of paper. I think they look fairly decent so far. ;-)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine

The February issue of the free Model Railroad Hobbyist  Magazine is now available for download.
I've been reading this magazine for a while now and I have to say the quality is great. There are quite a few adds in it, that sometimes are a bit in your face, but they are there to keep this otherwise great magazine totally free, and the rest of the content is of very high quality, so I can live with it for now.
The magazine was started by Joe Fugate, a well known Model Railroader, who's produced many articles, howto video's etc etc over the years, and his layout is the well known Siskiyou Line .
Check it out, after all, it's free so you've got nothing to loose! :-)

Lost a part?

If you're like me, you may no longer have the parts sheet or drawing that came with a loco you've had for many years, and then the inevitable happens, something breaks, and you need a replacement. How do you know what to get?
Fear not, HO Seeker will help you find the parts for your HO locomotives, or at least make it a lot easier. The parts sheets and drawings , as well as loads of other reference material, old catalogs etc etc are all here, organized per manufacturer.  Go to for more.