Custom Painted P-2000 units

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lehigh Valley 50' Boxcars Finally Layout Ready

Greetings Blog Followers,

Ever have one of those projects on your modeling to do list that never quite gets completed? Here is the story of one such rolling stock project. In the 1990s I visited a huge model railroad display in Flemington New Jersey called Northlandz ( ). One of the things I liked was a train consisting of a Lehigh Valley locomotive a several white and black Lehigh Valley 50' boxcars. Probably the first "unit train" I ever saw. I already had two Lehigh Valley locomotives, A Proto 2000 SW8 and a Walther's Trainline FA so I kept my eyes open for a few similar Lehigh Valley boxcars. As luck would have it International Hobby Corp in Philadelphia was having a freight car sale and I bought six of their Lehigh Valley 50' white and black boxcars.

Upon arrival on the old layout the cars ran terribly. At this time much of the HO Scale rolling stock came with horn hook talgo mounted couplers and plastic wheels. After wobbling around the layout for awhile the cars were relegated to a siding and then a shelf seldom seeing any action. Upon moving and starting a new layout the cars remained in the bottom of the box. As I started upgrading my fleet the cars eventually received body mounted knuckle couplers and additional weight however they still rolled terribly and saw infrequent track time.

Around 2011 I started to upgrade my locomotive fleet with number boards and the freight car fleet by eliminating duplicate numbers. The LV cars received six new road numbers ran a bit and then back into the box. All the while new cars have been added to the fleet and upgraded with metal Kadee couplers and metal wheels. In late 2012 three of six LV 50' boxcars received Intermountain metal wheels. The difference was amazing. The car rolled straight and true! They could now become layout regulars. The next fleet upgrade in 2013 saw the remaining 3 cars receive Intermountain metal set and voila! the six LV cars were running great.

Now finally after almost 15 years the six Lehigh Valley Boxcars are in the regular revenue freight rotation. Why the long delay in getting these cars upgraded? Looking back it seems like they suffered from an out of sight out of mind situation. When new metal wheels arrived and I picked the cars to upgrade they were always overlooked. As new cars were purchased and fleet upgrades continued these cars just could not crack the starting rotation. Now I'm glad to finally utilize them.  

Here are the last three cars toward the rear of a fleet upgrade train heading to Terminal Yard 

A close up of NIRX #41002 and NIRX #41005 The reporting marks belong to General Electric who owned and leased the cars to the Lehigh Valley. The prototype had a total of four of these NIRX cars.

The Six LV cars behind a Proto 2000 SW8 

The Lehigh Valley cars on the upper level

The six cars together at last on the upper level viaduct

Friday, July 19, 2013

New E Units For The Layout

Greetings Blog Followers,

The New York Central Train Layout is pleased to announce that two new E units have arrived and been put into service on the layout. Both units are from the Life Like (pre Walther's) Proto 2000 line and are an E7A and E8A. The units were acquired used but are in excellent shape. The units were stripped of their original Southern paint and repainted black and lettered for the Penn Central using Microscale Decals.

Penn Central on the New York Central ? Yes, the fact is I grew up in New York and 1969 was a great year for me and the city as a whole. The Jets won Super Bowl III, the Mets won the World series, The Knicks won the NBA Championship in the 1969-70 Season. Muscle cars abounded. The railroad that was there for it all was the Penn Central. The PC was the talk of the town, although the talk wasn't necessarily good. I remember more about the PC then the NYC and that is why I include it on the layout. Additionally the Penn Central is the perfect bridge to use my NYC equipment and Conrail equipment. The PC was in the middle of it all.

 Southern Railroad E8A and E7A run lite to Terminal Yard for forwarding to paint shop

The E7A brings up the rear

The units are now known as PC E8A #4317 and PC E7A #4210

The Es pull a passenger train towards Empire City Station. The E8A has received new Farr Air Grills from Plano.

The Es have been separated and are in revenue service. The E7A leads a PC (ex PRR) B60 baggage car and a consist of NYC and PC passenger cars into Empire City Station. The E8A has a NYC Flexi-Van flat and a consist of NYC, PRR and NH passenger cars out of the station 

PC E8A 4317 with a Flexi-Van plus in tow

The new Es coming, going and earning their keep

 Close up of the E8A. The unit has had it's paint touched up as it had a very weathered look after it received a shot of Testor's dullcote. This is possibly due to the outside humidity when the dullcote was applied.   

Close up of the E7A


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Train Transfers

Greetings Blog Followers,

This past weekend I caught some freight transfers running into and out of Terminal Yard.

A Penn Central  Alco RS2 unit leads a three car consist of heavyweight passenger cars recently acquired from the A.T.S.F. The cars will be forwarded to the Repair Shop and Paint Shop for refurbishment.  

A B&O GP30 leads a two car transfer freight to Terminal Yard


The B&O GP30 plus caboose returns light to B&O rails

Alco RS units lead a small transfer run from Terminal Yard to the Empire City REA Building. Note the cars in the consist that were received earlier at Terminal Yard.

A pair of RS Units lead a freight back from the REA building to Terminal Yard with cars to be sorted and blocked into outgoing road trains.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fleet Upgrades on the Move

Greeting Blog Followers,

Two New York Central  SW8 switchers haul the latest fleet upgrades to Terminal Yard.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fleet Upgrades / Metal Wheel Sets

Greetings Blog Followers,

This past rainy weekend has allowed me to focus on some long over due fleet upgrades in the form of metal wheel sets. When I started model railroading most H.O. Scale ready to run rolling stock and kits came with horn hook couplers and plastic wheels. In many cases the horn hook couplers were truck mounted. Over the past 20 years I have accumulated much and have been busy getting my fleet up to snuff so to speak. A slow but steady effort of converting truck mounted horn hook couplers to body mounted knuckle couplers has been ongoing. Another slow and steady program has been the retrofitting of these cars with metal wheel sets. Here is a look at some of the progress made this past rainy weekend;

Athearn BB SCL 40' Hi-Cube, Athearn BB 50 Gondola, two custom painted Mantua 40' boxcars aand an IHC covered hopper are now layout ready with knuckle couplers and metal wheels. Some of these cars have been awaiting a metal wheel upgrade for 15 years.

IHC covered hoppers, Athearn BB flat car, IHC covered hopper showcase their newly installed metal wheels

A 5 car set of Athearn BB Gundersen Husky Stack cars have received new Intermountain metal wheels. Another job 10+ years in the making

Two IHC covered hoppers and two Athearn BB Pennsylvania Railroad cars recently upgraded with metal wheels

Athearn BB PRR Coach with 3 IHC 50' insulated boxcars now ready for service with upgraded wheels

IHC Lehigh Valley NIRX Boxcars, Athearn BB 85' trailer flat and two IHC covered hoppers round out this portion of fleet upgrades. 
 Two IHC Covered Hoppers equipped with body mounted knuckle couplers and metal wheels.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

An SCL 40' Hi Cube Boxcar Ready for Service

Greetings Blog Followers,

Another recent addition to the freight car fleet is an old Athearn Blue Box (BB) 40' Hi-Cube boxcar decorated in the Seaboard Coast Line livery. The car has been built and put into service but still needs a shot of Testor's Dullcote, which it will get as soon as it stops raining around here.

The 40' Hi Cube boxcar has long been a favorite of mine. Combining modern looks and tight curve reliability I found it to be an excellent model train layout car. A string of a dozen or so cars give the appearance of a unit train of auto parts, appliances etc that does not dwarf a a layout.

The building of the car is pretty straight forward with a few easy techniques to improve the cars appearance and operation. This car is from a standard old Athearn blue box kit. The parts include the painted shell, an underframe, center sill with coupler boxes, horn hook couplers, a metal weight, one pair of trucks with delrin wheels and metal axles and two 2-56 screws for attaching the trucks, center sill and frame together.

The 40' Hi Cube boxcar is a low rider (cue the music) out of the box. The car requires an under set shank coupler like the Kadee #27 or #37 to meet the Kadee height gauge requirements. The car has also received metal wheels that have had there faces weathered with burnt umber acrylic paint. The trucks received the same weathering to lose the plastic shine. A downside to the BB shake the box kit is that the metal weight was prone to rusting as were the supplied metal axles for the plastic wheels and some of teh metal coupler covers. An easy fix for the weight is too wire brush or sand off any visible rust and spray paint it with a rattle can flat black. A 99cents can works fine. My practice is to spray both sides of the weight, the under frame, the sill, trucks and coupler covers. When dry put it all together, check the car to the height gauge, make sure it rolls well' Spray the shell with a shot of dullcote (optional) and attach the shell to the under frame. The car is now ready for service.

SCL #19878 awaits pick up for it's first trip to Terminal Yard

The graphics and lettering on the car are good. This was not always the case with some Athearn BB cars. Depending when the car went through the paint pad the lettering could be very heavy or very faded.

SCL #19878  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New B&O Freight Cars

Greetings Blog Followers,

Several new pieces of rolling stock and diesel power arrived at the New York Central Layout this past week. Today we'll look at two B&O 40' Boxcars that have just been put into revenue service. The first car,  B&O Railway Express Agency boxcar #1900, is an older Roundhouse kit. The car came in bright an attractive blue and gold paint scheme. The car was built as per manufacturer's instructions with Kadee #5 couplers and Intermountain metal wheels. The car is now extremely free rolling.

The next car up is a B&O Sentinel Service 40' boxcar from the Athearn Ready to Run product line. The car is an attractive silver and blue with nice graphics the the sides. The car comes with knuckle couplers and metal wheels. Out of the box the car performed poorly with excessive wobble and very poor free rolling capabilities. In addition the factory installed coupler were too low and had excessive vertical play. After tuning the truck the car still rolled poorly and had the shakes. I removed the factory wheels and substituted Intermountain metal wheels which cure both problems. No more wobble and good free rolling. For the couplers I added a Kadee gray washer and bent the metal coupler cover up slightly to raise the height and eliminate the vertical play.

Here is a photo of the car out of the box.

For those unfamiliar with B&O's Sentinel Fast Freight Service this started on March 3, 1947 and was aimed at capturing the car load shipping market with expedited siding to siding service. The B&O also featured Time Saver Service aimed at the Less than Car Load shipper which began in 1950.

B&O GP30 6954 leads our two new boxcars to Terminal Yard

The cars have been dullcoted and are now in service

The small B&O transfer freight includes an Athearn BB caboose

Sunday, July 7, 2013

4th of July Celebration Part III

Greetings Blog Followers,

Photos of the 4th of July Celebration at Empire City Station continue to be sent in by many of the attendees. Here is the latest batch....

A US Army Alco C-628 heads into Empire City Station. The C-628 is an AHM shell on top of an IHC Premier power chassis.  

A US Army GP9m at the crossing. The GP9m is from Walther's Trainline

Some US rocket power on flatcars (RPFC) enter Empire City Station in the middle of an Army train.

A US Army tank on an Army flatcar. Both are from AHM

A US Army rail gun. This car drew the most stares from onlookers. Car by AHM

A modern US Army Caboose. Caboose is from Walther's Trainline

US Army Anti Aircraft Boxcar. Car has two Anti Aircraft guns inside. An AHM Product

A 40' US Army boxcar. Unknown manufacturer. Custom painted.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

4th of the July Videos from Empire City Station

Greetings Blog Followers,

An enterprising rail fan has sent in some videos of the 4th of July Celebration at Empire City Station.

Note Mr & Mrs Neal M standing next to the flatcar in their rain gear. They just got in from another  rainy vacation up North.

Friday, July 5, 2013

4th of July Celebration Honoring Our Troops

Greetings Blog Followers,

The Mayor of Empire City rolled out the welcome wagon to our local military base and together with the New York Central Railroad they put on quite a show. Billed by the Empire City Tourism Bureau as a 4th of July Celebration Honoring Our Troops folks from far and wide poured into Empire City for a day of festivities. The Commanding General authorized a display of some of the current equipment used by his forces. The Army Transportation Corps worked hand in hand with the New York Central Railroad to facilitate train movements into and out of Empire City Station. The Empire City Police Department and the Empire City Sheriff's  Department provided security and a great day was had by all. Here are some photos sent in by visitors to the event.

US Army Searchlight Car and Spirit of 76 Caboose sit on track 2 at Empire City Station

Tanks on Flatcars and CNN News Van at Empire City Station while a beer truck makes it way into Empire City above

Tanks on Flatcars sit on track 2 while a passenger train sits on track 4 at Empire City Station

US Army vehicles on display in the Empire City Station parking lot while an Army C-628 awaits clearance into the station.

Tanks on display under the watchful eye of the Police and Sheriff's Departments 

Visitors stop and admire the tanks on display while E.C.P.D. Captain Miller calls out the next DODX train coming into the station.

Close up of US Army tanks

The Empire City Police and Sheriff's Departments are handling crowd control and security,

Police Officer and Sheriff's Deputy keep watchful on local priest reviewing the Army vehicles on display 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Protecting the Shove"

Greetings Blog Followers,

In the prior post we saw Clinchfield Railroad caboose #1064 hooked up to eight custom painted freight cars. As you may recall the CRR 1064 is a replica of the caboose used at the Southeastern Railway Museum that was built and given to me by long time SRM engineer Sam R. The 1064's two main purposes are to accommodate passengers and "Protect the Shove".

The train ride at the SRM is point to point which means that on half the ride the 1064 is the front of the train and the locomotive is shoving the train. In order to safely accomplish this the 1064 is specially fitted with a horn and brake reduction valves on the rear platform. From his perch on the rear platform the conductor "protects the shove" by communicating with the engineer via radio and providing verbal distance clearance that  the locomotive can safely travel. Using it's whistle the 1064 can warn people and cars that the train is coming. By safely following the SRM rules of operation and best railroad practices the train crew safely operates the vintage equipment on the Museum's right of way.

On my layout the 1064 is often called to service to protect the shove as it is the only caboose that I have that is so uniquely equipped, I like the way it looks, it provides good memories and was a very nice gesture for Sam R to present me with it. Even though I mostly model the New York Central and Penn Central Railroads I use some license that the 1064 is on loan from the nearby museum.

Clinchfield 1064 coupled up and ready to go. Note the horn on top of the cupola and the big headlight at the front and rear.

Long view of the 1064

Today's conductor's borrowed from the SRM are Sam and Jordan. Both are qualified as engineers and conductors.

The 1064 in action protecting the shove.