Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Thursday, January 30, 2014

B&O and Chessie System Consist

Greetings Blog Followers,

With the recent success of the New York Central FT A-B-B-A draw bar conversion The New York Central Train Layout Mechanical Shop was given the directive to convert an Athearn BB Baltimore and Ohio F7A & F7B from Kadee couplers to draw bars.  The A unit is powered and the B unit is not.

The B&O F7A & B now draw bar equipped.

Spacing is much closer and much more realistic

A Bachmann F7A and Athearn BB GP35 make a good looking 4 unit consist. The Bachmann unit has the old pancake motor which has been disconnected and had a few gears removed so it is free rolling. The GP35 is powered.

The F7 A-B-A-GP35 in Action

Sunday, January 26, 2014

New York Central FT A-B-B-A Conversion

Greetings Blog Followers,

The shop forces of the New York Central Train Layout recently were directed by management to remove the Kadee Close Coupling kits from the Bachmann New York Central A-B-B-A FTs that are on the roster. The units have been stored serviceable for over a year. The issue was the amount of space between the units was so great, even with the close coupler kit, that they just did not look right.

Background: The units are between 3 and 5 years old. They are Bachmann DC blue box releases. Run a bit noisy and do not have flywheels. Together the 4 units are very capable pullers but they just did not look good while in service. 

History: The FT was built in 1939 by EMD and the New York Central purchased four A units and four B units. The A-B units were coupled by draw bar. For more information check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMD_FT
For a photo check New York Central A-B-B-A lash up   http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/nyc/nyc1601s.jpg
Note the differing paint schemes in 1949.

Work Performed: After removing the Kadee close coupling kits the original coupler box assemblies were re-installed. The long shank of an IHC passenger car coupler minus the coupler head and the truck attachment end was used for the draw bar. Holes slightly larger that a 2-56 screw were drilled in the shank. Holes for a 2-56 screw were drilled into the coupler assemblies. A 2-56 screw is used to attach one end of the draw bar to the locomotive. A 2-56 screw is then used as a post in the next locomotive. Simply putting the post in the hole attaches the units and also allows for easy separation.

Testing: After completing the installation the four units were coupled up and tested. They ran well with no issues to report on the new draw bar system. However they were still a bit noisy so the shop forces opened up the truck gear boxes and noted they were dry. All four units received new grease and oil at the other moving parts. Engines were re-tested and now run a lot smoother and quieter. They now make an impressive sight on the head of a train. 
 A "Before Shot" of the FT A-B-B-A lash up

Close up of the space between the A and B units.

"After" photo of the A-B-B-A lash up. Note the New Haven GP9 working the subway system with a Walther's track cleaning car. 

The NYC FT A-B-B-A lash up with a guest appearance by a NYC RF16 A-B-A consist.

Aerial view of the FTs and Sharks

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Box car Blast / Track Cleaning Fun

Greetings Blog Followers,

Yes, you read the title correctly, "Track Cleaning Fun". As any model railroader can attest track cleaning is normally not fun but in fact a drudge that needs to be done. Having made some tracks cleaning cars last year to supplement my 4 factory built track cleaning cars I decided to put them all to good use and have a boxcar blast. What exactly is a boxcar blast on the New York Central Layout? Well, I'll tell you. Having a bit of Lightning Stripe fever I exchanged the Penn Central worms for the New York Central lightning stripes. I then pulled out a bunch of pre-Penn Central era 40' and 50' boxcars including the famed NYC Pacemaker fleet.Car body diesels were then assigned as the motive power.

An A-B-A school of Sharks (Baldwin RF16s) leads the pacemaker on the lower level of Empire City.

New York Central Sharks swim into Empire City Station with the Pacemaker freight cleaning the tracks as the y go. Track cleaning car is first Pacemaker box car. Looks like some hobos have boarded the train as well.

An A-B-A F7 consist of New York Central diesels leads a string of 40' boxcars through the West Side industrial area. The track cleainng car is the first Lehigh Valley car.

Alco FA-FB-FA units on point of a freight train featuring 50' boxcars and a single 40' Chessie System boxcar which is cleaning the tracks. Disclaimer; the Chessie System car is of a later era than the New York Central. Apologies to the purists and rivet counters.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Passenger Train Parade Part 7

Greetings Blog Followers,

The next installment of the Passenger Train Parade featuring the Pennsylvania Railroad's "Fleet of Modernism". Simply put the "Fleet of Modernism" was a marketing ploy by the Pennsy for it's brand new stream liners that debuted in 1930. This was a way for the PRR to distinguish itself from rival New York Central's "Great Steel Fleet" and let it's loyal riders know of the PRR passenger train improvements. The original stream lined 52 cars from Pullman Standard completely stream lined the the Pennsy's premier passenger train the "Broadway Limited". The remaining cars were added to other name long distance trains.

On the New York Central Train Layout we have taken the liberty to use the "Fleet of Modernism" as a named train.

The Pennsylvania Rail Roads "Fleet of Modernism"rolls towards Empire City behind an EMD E8A.

The PRR "Fleet of Modernism"  pulls into Empire City

PRR "Fleet of Modernism" Departs Empire City Station

GG1 #4910 Leads the Senator into Empire City Station

As passenger ridership and service declined the NYC, PRR and NH lost staggering amounts of money providing this service. These monetary losses ultimately contributed to the merger of the NYC and PRR in 1968 creating the Penn Central. The PC was then forced to absorb the bankrupt New Haven. Unable to get out of the passenger train business the PC soldiered on until the creation of Amtrak.

A Penn Central E7 leads a passenger train into Empire City Station

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New York Central SW8s, Lehigh Valley SW9, New Haven GP9

Greeting Blog Followers,

Two New York Central SW8s and a Lehigh Valley SW9 both were pulled from service this week and sent off to the repair shop for what turned out be a minor overhaul. The units were running in a 3 unit lash up when they started to become increasingly noisy. Not good.

Once at the shop it was quickly determined that nothing more than a cleaning and some new oil and grease were needed much to the relief of New York Central Train Layout management.

My sole New Haven GP9 was also pulled from service and sent to the shop this week after crews reported noisy operation and a probable broken axle gear. Fortunately a new axle gear was in stock and this wa taken care of without too much delay. A cleaning with some new oil and grease cured the noises. All units are now running fine.

All four units are pre Walther's Proto 2000 products. Their average age is about 15 years. It's nice to see them back running well and earning model railroad revenue.

 New York Central SW8s and a Lehigh Valley SW9 back in service and heading for Terminal Yard

New Haven GP9 on point of a two unit RDC lash up.

 During snowy weather the RDC's had a tendency to ride up and over the snow and derail at railroad crossings due to their light weight. To eliminate this a diesel locomotive was assigned to pull the RDCs. While it's not snowing in my basement on the date of the photo much of the country was suffering from blizzard conditions.

Switchers are back in Empire City doing what they were built to do

The three units have this single boxcar well in hand

The 3 units will take this boxcar to North Side Yard where it will be placed into a west bound train. The switchers will then be assigned to a three car high and wide load that needs to move to Terminal Yard.  

A close up of LV 292

Headed out of siding for North Side Yard


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Penn Central Trains NE-97 and NE-74

Greetings Blog Followers,

With the cold weather I have had some quality train time which includes reading some new materials and making a few repairs. First I came across Penn Central Trains NE97 and NE 74 on page 164 in the book Penn Central Power by Robert J. Yanosey. An excellent book that I have read and referenced constantly.

In summary in 1973 the Penn Central wanted to eliminate much of their Maybrook Yard operations that they inherited when the New Haven Railroad was merged into PC in 1969. The New Haven and Erie Lackawanna interchanged a large amount of New England traffic at Maybrook. As traffic shrunk the EL sought relief and PC came up with a plan which eliminated Maybrook's terminal facilities by establishing a pair of run through trains, NE-97 and NE-74. The trains ran to and from the EL yard at Port Jervis, New York and the PC yard at Cedar Hill, New Haven CT. The trains appear to be powered by GE units.

Wanting to replicate this train on the New York Central Train Layout I checked the train rosters and found that the only Erie Lackawanna units my son has are EMDs and one F7A-F7B set in need of repairs and upgrades. So.... some modelers license and repairs and PC trains NE-97 and NE-74 are running on the layout.

 PC Train NE-97 pauses at Empire City's North Side Yard. Power today is an EMD lash up of GP35s.

 Erie Lackawanna F7A and F7B back in service for NE-74. The B unit had been damaged in a fall and out of service for many years. Units are Bachmann Plus and are coupled by draw bar. Kadee close coupler conversion kit has been added to the rear of the B unit and the A unit has a #5 on the front 

PC Train NE-97 has received an additional GP35 making this a 10,000 horse power lash up while a PC GP38-2 and LIRR FA2 watch 

NE-74 with a four unit covered wagon lash up heads over the famous Empire City viaduct

Lots happening in this picture. NE-74 makes it's way across the viaduct. Empire City Fire Department fights a stubborn building fire. Two flatcars of lumber await a switch to Neal's Lumber and Hardware. The Police have cornered the elusive cat burglar. 

 Penn Central NE-74 makes it's way through the North Side of Empire City.

Penn Central NE-97 makes it's way through the North Side of Empire City

A previous day's NE-97 storms through the North Side behind 3 EMD GP35s

A leased pair of Long Island Rail Road Alco FA2s power a commuter train in push pull mode as NE-97 heads out of town

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Industrial Area Now Officially Open

Greetings Blog Followers,
Let's take a break from the Passenger Train Parade for a few entries. Seems that the Empire City Police Department was busy watching the parade of passenger trains as car thieves dumped and stripped this car on a dead end street in the Industrial Area of the layout. 

 A car sits forlornly missing it's wheels and pretty much everything else of value. A local tow company has been monitoring the police radio and responds. The tow company has a contract with the city to remove these cars as soon as possible.

The Police have arrived and the officers get busy noting the vin# and confirming the car is stolen.

The tow operator requests that he be authorized for a "double tow" since he will have to lift the car twice. Once to put wheels on the front and the second to haul it away.

The officers watch as the car is is getting ready to be removed. The "double tow" has been authorized and the car now has front wheels 

The stolen car heads for the tow operator's lot.

The Police head back to the station house to prepare a motor vehicle invoice and notify the owner of the car's recovery and current location.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Passenger Train Parade Part 6

Greetings Blow Followers,

Happy New Year to All. The first post of 2014 will be the sixth installment of the Holiday Season Passenger Train Parade.

An Alco PA-PB lash up leads a stream liner Pennslyvania Railroad train into Empire City Station

The mighty Alco PA-PB accelerate out of Empire City Station with their stream liner in tow

A trio of F7A units are the power for this PRR passenger train. The lead F7s will later be sent to the shop to have their rear couplers removed and be attached via a draw bar.

A New York Central Empire Service train departs Empire City Station with an E8A providing the power, 4 ACF 44 seat coaches and a 4-4-2 Sleeper

A Pennsy E8A departs Empire City Station with another stream liner in tow

The PRR E8A shows off it's power as it pulls an eight car passenger train up the grade out of the lower level
Empire City Station access track. The train will pass through Terminal Yard on it's way to Harrisburg PA.