Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays Blog Followers,

It's the Holiday Season and an extremely busy time on the New York Central Train Layout. Some Empire City rail customers along with our connecting railroads and friends from TrainLife have partnered with the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program.  Let's take a look and see what's going on.

As usual Neal's Lumber and Hardware is right in the middle of the action. Truck loads of toys are being delivered, unloaded  reloaded into boxcars for delivery to our interchange partners. Two workers can be seen unloading a heavy crate of donated toys from Gervais Industries.  

The Police have stopped by for traffic control as scores of trucks arrive and a New York Central RS1 blocks the street. 

 The NYC RS1 is waiting to switch out the New Haven car which is destined for Maybrook Yard where it will be picked up by a Kings Port and Western Railroad Extra. Aside from the donated crates of toys Sir Neal is still offering 10% off on the newly stocked RV Windows and Doors. 

 1/87th scale Sir Neal supervising the operation from the upper level of the lumber shed. The U.S.M.C. Toys                                                  for Tots sign is being proudly displayed. 

Boxcars loaded with donated toys destined for the H.P.V.R. J&A Junction and Atlantic Pacific Railroad
In case you are wondering Sir Neal has assured all that there will be plenty of toys everyone this year in Empire City.  

Over on the West Side Neubaum's Coffee and Tea Importers has also partnered with the U.S.M.C Toys for Tots Program.  

It seems Toys R Us found a trainload of discontinued train sets in one of their warehouses. Unsure what to do they sought to donate them to a worthy cause. When looking for a suitable person or company to handle this they were told "Give them to Steve of Neubaum's Coffee and Tea" Everybody else does and he'll know what to do with them. 
(Trust me this is not that far fetched!)

Geoffrey the Giraffe looks happy that the trains are going to one of Model Railroading's best ambassadors.

A Police Officer has been assigned to Neaubaum's for traffic control. Trucks are rolling into Neubaum's as well as the trains. Steve can be seen on the right talking with an interviewer from CNN who has been assigned to cover this story.

A NYC S12 has spotted the Toys R Us car. A portion of the load will be for children in Empire City and a portion of the donated train sets will be loaded into the Milwaukee Road boxcar for a trip out to Kenosha, WI. Rumor has it the train sets will be offered complimentary with two chili dogs and a large drink at a fine dining establishment called Trolley Dogs.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pipe Loads

Seasons Greetings to All!

I recently tried to build some pipe loads made from straws for several of my gondolas and flat cars. The project's inspiration came from scratch built pipe loads that  I saw on the HO scale Kings Port & Western Railroad. KP&W owner Ralph V. (also known as PC Ralph) crafted some excellent pipe loads using black plastic straws and some small hobby stick lumber pieces. With his excellent eye for detail he weathered the loads and the gondola so you would swear you were seeing them track side. In the past I had tried using regular drinking straws but had a lot of trouble with paint adhesion.

After speaking with Ralph he provided me with a tutorial and some more pictures to guide in the construction. There the project stalled as I could not locate the black straws needed for the pipes. Again Ralph stepped in and sent me a package of the required black straws. Looking back I should have just asked him to make me some pipe loads!

So I've gotten the glue off my fingers so they don't stick to the key board and here they are;

Below is a mock up of the intended pipe loads with wood bracing. I built the bracing with standard craft sticks and some CA. 

 The cross members are spaced to accommodate two rows of seven pipes each. Already I was altering the plans from the tutorial as Ralph's pipe loads were single rows of seven. Meaning his pipe loads required 28 pipes while mine required 42. UGH 

The pipe loads sitting in a Blue Box 50' gondola

Pipes in a P-2000 52'6" gondola

The pipe load on a 50' flat car. 

Pipe load in a 50' bulk head flat

Two pipe loads with banding and weathering are now ready for the layout.   

A third pipe load held together with banding and spacer blocks sits in a 52'6" gondola. The third pipe load required no glue as the banding holds it altogether. This pipe load requires 28 pipes. A better use of materials and more in line with the prototype.

Three completed pipe loads. The wood bracing has been weathered with a burnt umber and alcohol wash. The banding is thin strips of electrical tape. A liberal amount of Testors Dullcote has been applied to each load as well.

A New York Central FT with passenger cars adorns our Christmas Tree.
 Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rail Bridge

Greetings Blog Followers,

This week I'd like to share with you an early 1970s railroading initiative. The initiative "Remapping international trade routes with the Railroads new service". That service, Penn Central's Rail Bridge.

The basic idea is simple. If a manufacturer in Japan wants to ship their product to England the standard procedure was to put the shipment on a ship which would sail southward through the Pacific, through the Panama Canal and across the Atlantic to England. The Rail Bridge idea is that the same shipment ships out across the Pacific to a California port where the shipment is offloaded and placed on a rail car. The train then travels from California to New York where the load is once again placed on a ship for the trip across the Atlantic to England. Thereby using the United States as a Rail Bridge in the international trade routes.

The Rail Bridge initiative is also favorable for shipments to and from the United States as it can speed up transit time by anywhere from 4-7 days and reduce the mileage by about 3,000 miles.

So why would shippers use Rail Bridge instead of the traditional all water routes? Why would the Penn Central seek to enter into this type of service? The answer money and time, which equals more money. A Rail Bridge Train can haul the shipments faster and cheaper across the U.S. shaving a week more from transit times and thousands of miles in ship transit. The railroads make money, the shippers save money and the products get their faster. Sounds like a win-win-win.

So what was the one item that made this a possibility? The container system. First used on the New York Central in their Flexi Van trains but fell out of favor as few other railroads chose to participate. The Flexi Van system appears to have been slightly ahead of it's time. Basically we start out with a locked box that can be quickly dropped into a ship, onto a train or onto a truck.  Using standard 20-40 containers this was intermodal before anyone else used the phrase. As for the railroads the containers mostly traveled in pairs on 89' flat cars.

So how did the Penn Central get to the West Coast? Enter the Santa Fe. The Penn Central and Santa Fe switch crews at Streator, Illinois. The road power stays on and the crew change is swift. PC engines are now seen in L.A and A.T.S.F. engines in NY. On occasion you will find mixed power of both roads. In addition to the Santa Fe the Penn Central operates Rail Bridge Trains with the Milwaukee Road and Burlington Northern.

Modeling opportunities from Rail Bridge Trains: Container traffic in single height. Double Stacks have not yet been introduced and the clearances in the N.E. would not accept them at this point. Layout too tight for 89' flats then use modelers license and use 20' containers on 50' flats. Add variety to your engine fleet. How did that Milwaukee Road engine get to New York? Why is that Santa Fe GP40 in that PC consist?  They were part of a Rail Bridge Train engine consist. That's how!

For more Rail Bridge reading check out this link

Here are some pictures from my initial attempts to include some Rail Bridge traffic on my layout.

The newest engine in the Fleet, ATSF GP40-2 #3502 leads some PC units through the West Side 

A six unit brace of PC and Santa Fe Geeps head towards Terminal Yard

ATSF 3502 is on point 

Using some 50' flats with containers a Rail Bridge Train is born

The 3502 stops to pose in front of Wonder Bread. This is a shout out to my fellow modelers on TrainLife.com. Bobby G of Connecticut who sold me the Santa Fe GP40 and Sir Neal of New Jersey who inspired the Wonder Bread Facility. Thanks fellas!

Getting ready to assault the hill to Terminal Yard

Rail Bridge traffic. Quite a bit of modelers license but the Sea Land containers are accurate.

And bringing up the markers on this first run is this beautiful New Haven caboose sent to me by Bobby G who included it as a surprise Christmas gift in the shipping box with the GP40. 
Thank You Bobby! 

   So there it is. Intermodal before intermodal. For a railroad that lasted only 8 years, and was mostly bankrupt, they did come up with and participate in some unique railroading enterprises. Nice work Penn Central!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Odd and Ends

Greetings Blog Followers,

Conrail diesels along with the Chessie System and New York Central continue racking up the miles this week on the layout. Some of these units have not been out of the box for well over a year, possibly two. Anyway we're limbering them up, stretching their legs and giving them some layout time.

Conrail B23-7s lead a freight train with run through Chessie System power that 
originated on the J&A Junction Railroad. 

A colorful lash up of Conrail and Chessie System units contrasts with the more somber  New York Central GP30s sitting at North Side Yard.

Looks like General Electric is the dominant diesel for today's action. 
A pair of NYC U33Bs enter North Side Yard

Meanwhile over at Neal's Lumber and Hardware Sir Neal supervises the off loading of his first shipment of R.V. Windows and Doors from Minnesota. 

A big banner advertising the newest addition to Neal's Lumber and Hardware's product line. If you are wondering what happened to the Christmas Trees received last week they are sold out. 
All trees were pre-ordered just like the new model train business model. This also eliminates wasteful  tree cutting in our forests. 

Speaking of signs Lionel Trains has scored an advertising coup. With all the railroad activity in and out of Neal's on a daily basis the Lionel Electric Trains sign was a no brainer 

 Speaking of Lionel and electric trains nothing says the holidays like an A-B-A set of Santa Fe Warbonnets. 
The Warbonnets holds the record for the biggest selling electric train paint scheme of all time.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Big Blue Comes to Empire City!

Greetings Blog Followers,

I fired up the Delorean, hit 88 mph, let the flux capacitor do it's job and voila! Big Blue comes to Empire City! And we're not talking the NY Giants. The Conrail Fleet was feeling a bit rejected as it had not graced the blog in a few years so we got em out of the box and onto the layout.

A little history first. With the major Northeast Railroads in bankruptcy and with no relief in sight President Gerald Ford signed into law the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976. Consolidated Rail Corporation aka Conrail came into being on April 1, 1976. The Conrail components were the Erie Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, Central of New Jersey, Reading, Lehigh and Hudson River and the Penn Central. With some help from the government Conrail soon became profitable and lasted until 1999 when it was bought out by the Norfolk Southern and CSX with the exception of the Conrail Shared Assets Area in New Jersey.

Conrail SW1500 9513 and slug are working the Empire City Intermodal Yard, 
formerly the Empire City Passenger Station. A Conrail 45' Trailvan is entering the yard  

Some empty well cars on track 3 while a blue Conrail set of Impac Cars
 and orange set of Itel Impac Cars are on track 2. A freight train has stopped on the upper level. Subway service has continued unabated.

A rail fans dream! Motive Power by the bunch stacked one on top of the other!
Upper level has a still pure Penn Central GP30 GP30 GP38-2 GP38-2 consist. Lower level outside track has a Conrail SD40-2, PC SD40, CR SD45 and a camera shy EL SD45 still in the tunnel. Inside track consist is EL GP35, PC GP35, CR GP35 and a PRR GP35.  Now that's a lot of power!

A fan favorite is this lash up: Conrail SD40-2, Penn Central SD40, 
Conrail SD45 and an Erie Lackawanna SD45 in Bicentennial paint

Here is a history making mechanical reefer, CR 359020. The only GPS guided reefer. This unit is on display at the Danbury Railroad Museum in Danbury CT. For more photos google CR 359020

A Conrail Paint out. Former jade green PC box cars

One of my favorites in the Conrail Rainbow. Four GP35s in four paint schemes lead a freight train into Empire City. The once bustling train station and parking lot are no more. Trailer parking has taken over for passenger parking and if you want to travel jump on the Greyhound. 

A second generation EMD showcase! Four factory painted and four custom painted. That PC consist seems to have outlawed on the viaduct leading to North Side Yard. The lead unit with the red P is stopped just short of the street crossing. 

My Conrail Fleet circa October 2012

A big blue showcase!

Looks like Neal's Lumber and Hardware has continued to prosper. Here we see Neal getting a boxcar of Christmas trees forwarded from the Hidden Prairie Valley Railway which is based in British Columbia. The HPVR is owned by Sir Graham Stokes, a Canadian Royal and founder of O.T.D.

Sir Neal and his faithful staff watch as the newest diesel power switches in the boxcar. Whether it be New York Central, Penn Central or Conrail Neal's Lumber and Hardware remains a valued customer.

Three KP&W Rebuilds sit at North Side Yard. They may be a bit dirty but they are still racking up the revenue miles for the KP&W. As part of the Conrail legislation both the KP&W and A.P.R.R. gained trackage rights into Empire City. 

Three empty Tropicana cars sit in front of Neal's Lumber and Hardware. The cars have been routed from the A.P.R.R. in N.J. and are on there way back to Bradenton FL.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Projects Project

Greetings Blog Followers,

The newly formed Empire City Housing Authority has completed construction on Empire City's first public housing project. Reflecting a trend of the late 1960s and the 1970s the E.C.H.A. has stacked the city's poor on top of each other in a very undesirable area. Talk about the wrong side of the tracks! I hope the new inhabitants are rail fans.

Initial mock up with two men running.  

10 stories tall the building awaits windows. 
Accusations of Mafia bid rigging and kick backs have stalled the process

A pedestrian bridge has been installed to assist the residents entering and leaving the projects 

From the upper level the building has that sleek public institution look 

The window contract was finally awarded to RV Windows and Grids of New Brighton MN. 

A standard issue E.C.H.A. lobby door is in place. The overhang above the door slants back to protect people entering or exiting the building from falling / thrown debris. Note the two guys running for the pedestrian bridge. A harbinger of things to come? 

A B&O GP30 F7A F7B led freight train cautiously approaches

The B&O GP30 eases past the building.

Not a bad building if you are a rail fan. 

The next area to be upgraded on the layout. Plans call for some more more flora and fauna, fencing, retaining walls, bridging and working on the other side of the pedestrian bridge.