Sunday, January 29, 2012

More GP38-2 details

Hi all, I've taken the plunge and pre-ordered two examples of the SP version, due for delivery end 2012, so it gives me 12 months to save money :-) The only two items that I'm hoping they will change before release is what seems a slightly to high inertial filter hatch , and replace the mentioned micro bulbs with LED's.They'll last a lot longer, will look better, and won't get hot. This is 2012 after all....

More details are known now, here's a run down of the details of the SP version, taken from the website of the shop I have ordered these:

Key Features
  • All-new tooling
  • DCC ready using Quick Plug technology
  • EMD “notched” stepwells
  • Round flush “shotgun” exhaust stacks
  • SP light package
  • Dual Gyralight operates in both directions using DCC
  • SP “L” window
  • SP four-hole jacking pads
  • Late extended-range dynamic brakes with resistor grid details, and square PAF box
  • SP-style tall snowplow
  • SP-style walkway toolbox w/ additional tall handrail stanchion
  • 88” nose w/ brakewheel
  • New Single-Speed 48” “Q”-Fans
  • Cab roof A/C unit
  • Radio antenna with ground plane and conduit
  • Late corrugated radiator intakes
  • Front anticlimber, drop step on rear
  • Dual “Prime” air filters w/ piping
  • Late looped coupler lift bars
  • Late ECAFB (welded)
  • Brake wheel
  • All-new Nathan P-3 horn on bracket w/ “staggered” chimes
  • 3600 gallon fuel tank
  • Single-end sanding lines
  • Lift-off type under-cab access door
  • Late battery box door with long louvers
  • McHenry scale knuckle spring couplers
  • Separately applied wire grab irons
  • Etched radiator fan grills
  • Window glazing
  • Operating headlights utilizing microbulbs

Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's a GP38-2!

What I secretly was hoping for and guessed, here's a video of the new Athearn Genesis release, a GP38-2, but the tooling they developed will enable them to manufacture many different geeps (GP40 etc) in the future. This is a great start however! Delivery expected late 2012, prices are not yet announced but going by their earlier GP9, I don't expect them to be cheap... (I'll be starting to put some funds aside starting now..)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

eleven thousand one hundred and eleven

Thanks to all who visit this blog, let's see if we can double this! :-)

New Athearn announcement

This Saturday, Athearn will announce an all-new Genesis® model at the Railroad Hobby Show in West Springfield, MA.  If you plan to attend the show, we invite you to join us at 10:00am EST in the Better Living Center – Section 127 for the unveiling.  If you can’t make the show,  check out the Athearn®Facebook® page (no need to join Facebook to view) Saturday morning for details including an in-depth video.  Additional information including detailed product pictures along with the regularly scheduled January announcements will be available this Sunday at  We’ll also be sending a special AthearnNews.

I wonder what this could be, I've been trying to figure out what it is, and all I can make out from this picture is that it appears to be a 4 axle loco, could it be an all new GP38? I hope so :-)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book review

About a week ago I received my recently ordered book by Lance Mindheim: 'How to operate a modern era switching layout'. Lance is a very talented model railroader and besides owning a layout building company, has written several articles in the model railroading press, and several books.
His layouts have inspired many to build a similar layout, often set in the same area and era, to a similar theme, as the one he currently owns himself.
His books and subjects are all about simplicity, and realism. None of his track plans in previous books have a zillion tracks and switches, nor are they huge in size, but they are well designed and should be fun to operate. But how do you operate something in a realistic manner?
This is precisely what his newest book aims to explain, and it does.
As in previous books, I find it well written, clear and concise, and in an enjoyable manner. If there's one lesson that stands out in this books (and by his own admission), it is to slooooww down, take time for every move, don't run at high speeds, and think about what would happen in the real world.  I would thoroughly recommend it. If there's only one criticism (if you can call it that, and it also goes for his previous books) is that I would prefer the pages on the inside to be of a different quality, perhaps glossy, as opposed to the laser printed look and feel they have now.  You get it at Amazon, among others, and for the UK there's even a bookstore that has imported several copies of it for ordering. The link to all the info is found here , on Lance's own site. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Many probably think about couplers when reading the Kadee name. You'd be right, but they make a lot more, among which freight car trucks. I had ordered a couple of sets to try and use for my woodchip gondola cars.
Well, I am very , very impressed with the quality of those trucks. They're suspended, and extremely smooth rolling, I can't recommend them enough. I've mounted a set under my first woodchip gondola and it runs better than many other cars I have, fantastic! Once again proof that you get what you pay for, as they're not the cheapest trucks out there.
Same of course goes for their couplers, the patent of their coupler has expired for several years now, which meant there's a flood of 'clones' on the market. One positive thing that came out of that is that we've got rid of that horrible hornhook coupler, but there's several pretty bad knuckle couplers out there too now. Again, replace them with Kadee (or Sergent, but they're not compatible with knuckle couplers mostly, but very prototypical). couplers, you'll not only get a strong coupler, but one that is very reliable and couples effortlessly even in curves etc. Forget about the clones,they're just not worth it in my opinion. (I've still got several to exchange).

Atlas trainman Genset

Hi all,
Recently I received an Atlas newsletter, and among others, it announces the release of a Genset in California Northern colours. As you know I like that shortline, and would consider modeling it in the present (change era's from time to time).

Unfortunately, it's just a paint scheme release, they haven't looked at the differences between NRE gensets. The CFNR owns the dynamic brake versions type: 3GS21B-DE.
So I'm looking at a possible kitbash opportunity. There's lot's on the Atlas model that needs updating, the handrails are much too coarse etc, headlight placement is different, but the cab and nose are good, as are the overal dimensions.
Here two pictures for comparison: First the real thing (pic courtesy of Mike Arnold).
Second the Atlas model which is a 3GS21B , no dynamic brakes, hence the lower long hood, longer exhaust stacks, and generally different louvres etc.:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SP Woodchip gondola

Finally, after some time, I managed to continue a little bit with my wood-chip gondola project.
I'm scratch building this car from styrene.  A while back I had made the sides and ends, but never got much further with it. This week, I spend a little time to make the floor, and have now glued the sides , ends and floor together. It now actually starts to look like a railroad car. :-) Best of all, it's straight!
Here's a few pictures of the car as it is at this moment, and one of the real thing. Check back regularly for more updates :-)

Monday, January 9, 2012

SD9 progress

As mentioned in my update, my CFNR SD9 is a step further towards completion.

I've now spray painted the green, and also painted the trucks silver as the prototype.
For reasons initially unknown however, I ended up having quite a bit of (very small) bleed along the top edges of the masking tape. Since then, I realised my mistakes and I share them here for your info:
- Always first paint on another layer of the colour you mask (in this case cream), this will seal of the edges and any bleed will be invisible. The next layer (green) then cannot 'bleed' as the likely locations would have been sealed in previous steps. I now need to carefully use a brush to tidy up these areas which will be difficult.
- I have (probably) sprayed the paint slightly from above, which increases the risk of paint running behind the masking tape. Always hold the airbrush straight along the masked areas!

Anyway, here are some pictures of the unit as she is today.
A lot of work (besides the above) still needs doing, among others: The fuel tank needs to be painted green, decals need adding, the numberboards and lights to be added (headlights to be drilled through and lenses added), and of course all the handrails, but we're getting there.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Layout progress, the loco shop.

Hi all, here's a little progress on the layout. 
This time it's the CFNR locomotive servicing building located at American Canyon/Napa Junction , CA, an old SP location, and I'm modelling the first years of the CFNR, when SP equipment was still abound.
My model is slightly compressed 'length wise' to fit in the scene. The track at the foreground doesn't exist in real life either, it leads to a scrap dealer, that in reality is located on the other (southwest) side of the yard, but I put it here for added interest and space constraints (you can see that my backdrop is my roof and slopes, leaving little roon towards the rear). I also have to admit that to my knowledge the actual locoshop didn't exist in the first few years, I'm not actually sure when it did get constructed, but I like it, so that's why I model it, and bend reality a bit more. :-)
Also visible is a tiny bit of 'bleed' on the green accent stripe, but I will patch that up soon.

Napa Jct CFNR loco shop.jpg

The shop still needs detailing, roof lighters and exhausts vent pipes, drain pipes, spot lights on outside walls, elec meter boxes etc.
I've also just assembled a Walthers kit of an EMD 567 engine, which is just visible outside of the shop. I thought it's a nice detail. I am not sure if I leave it there, or that I will open up an old engine and put it inside that, with plenty of oil leaking , and other weathering. We'll see. Plenty other things to do first.

CFNR loco shop banner paint..jpg

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Tuning your locomotive decoders

You might have read in an earlier post that I have been tuning some sound equiped locomotive decoders as I wasn't satisfied with some of their performance.
The decoder in question was a Soundtraxx Tsunami decoder. This decoder is one of the better sounding on the market (keep in mind that good quality sound is greatly influenced by correct use of speakers, positioning inside the loco etc, issues that often have some form of compromise involved). It also is one of the harder ones to set up, particularly in the low speed areas (In my experience the decoders made by ESU (Loksound) are far superior), but can be tamed when given some time.
Rather than repeating everything I've done to get it to run better, I'd like to provide a link here to a PDF document on the Australian NMRA website, clicking on will start a download of this document, that goes in great depth for setting up a Tsunami decoder (and also other brands) for both steam and diesel locomotives. I hope this is useful for some of you. It largely describes it by using the free software 'decoder pro', but individual CV numbers are also given which will enable you to do the same from any other DCC system.


Hi all, on this first day of 2012, I've added a few more model railroad related links in the 'useful link' section on the right.
I've added:
- Graphicair, a supplier of airbrushes and accessories
- Canyoncreekscenics, a supplier of arguably the best (foreground) trees you're likely to see, specialising in conifer trees.
- Loco Weathering, if you want a realistic weathered loco, but don't trust yourself, this could be an option.

Feel free to suggest others, and please report broken links when you find one.

As always, I do not endorse any of these, don't receive any money for adding their links etc.
I do this as a service to give you a list of possible companies to find everything you might need building a North American model railroad. I therefore take no responsibilities, and will have no part in any disputes between you and any of these. (I do have to write this unfortunately, it's common sense to me, but there are people out there that conveniently like to forget that if there's a dispute..)

The picture is a scene on Charlie Comstock's Bear Creek and South Jackson HO scale layout, taken by Charlie Comstock, and showing some examples of the trees supplied by Canyon Creek Scenics.