Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Penn Central GP30 #2228 Joins the Fleet

Greetings Blog Followers,

My apparent obsession with the EMD GP30 and the mating worms of the Penn Central continues. The latest locomotive to be released from the NYCTL paint shop is GP30 #2228. The model, a Bachmann Spectrum product, was recently purchased second hand wearing U.P. colors and lettering. While the U.P. is a fine looking paint scheme and brings thoughts of railroading success as they are still standing today it did not fit my needs to model a dip black paint scheme that would symbolize bankruptcy and ultimate failure. I admit a brace of colorful U.P. diesels can be quite pleasing to the eye as they haul long strings of freight cars from the Windy City to the West Coast. But come on now.

On the prototype the New York Central purchased 10 of the 2250 horsepower GP30s that were introduced in 1961. The Pennsylvania used the GP30 as it's first second generation diesel and purchased 52 units. On the Penn Central the GP30s were numbered 2188 - 2249. The 10 NYC units did not have dynamic brakes but the bulging brake blister shoulders looked the same with or without the dynamic brake feature. The Penn Central assigned the NYC units to Collinwood and it's flat terrain. The PRR units were scattered in small groups to eastern yards like Enola and Conway. The PC GP30s were used in both symbol and secondary freight service.

On the layout the 2228 joins Penn Central GP30 #2232 (sporting the Red "P" PC herald), three custom painted New York Central GP30s, two PRR GP30s that belong to my son and a B&O GP30 that belongs to my other son. All are from the Bachmann Spectrum line and they run extremely well singly or in multiple unit lash ups. They are very heavy and require little voltage to move long heavy trains making them ideal for the NYCTL.

The 2228 is stopped on the West Side

The 2228 is the second unit behind the 2232 on this train headed to North Side Yard. On the trip out of N.S. Yard to Terminal Yard the 2228 will be in the lead. 

The colorful 2232 in the lead.  

Two Custom Painted NYC GP30s with a GP35 round the curve heading out of North Side Yard towards the Empire City viaduct

A close up of the 2228

The PC GP30s wait for an outbound train to clear from North Side Yard. 
An outbound engine can be seen on the left .

Thursday, October 23, 2014

NYC H16-44s Need Helpers and a Reading GP40-2 at Empire City Station

Greetings Blog Followers,

This past week saw a big surge in revenue traffic as I broke out my son's Pennsylvania RR rolling stock. Long freight trains were the order of the day. Track capacity was stretched to maximum capacity. Yard masters at Terminal Yard and North Side Yard were up to the challenge and the trains rolled on. Local deliveries were made with a reasonable yard dwell time.

Due to the length and weight of the freight trains some were broken at Shelf City Industrial Area and doubled to get up the hill to Terminal Yard. In other cases a set of Helpers was dispatched to assist the crews in getting the trains into the yard.

Two New York Central H16-44s await a helper crew for assistance with the climb to Terminal Yard. The engineer has radioed Terminal Yard to let them know he is sitting on track 1 and does not believe he has the power to make it up the grade to the yard. The engineer inquires whether to break the train or are there helpers available. The Terminal Yard Master informs the engineer that a set of light engines has left North Side Yard enroute to Terminal Yard and they will act as helpers to assist him in getting the train into the yard.
NYC freight train awaits helpers

Lite Power consisting of a trio of GP30s, a GP35 and a F7A have left North Side Yard and are enroute to Terminal Yard. The engineer has been notified to assist the NYC train.

The Helpers couple up and the train is on it's way 

Reading GP40-2 leads a T.O.F.C. transfer into Empire City Station. This is an Atlas Yellow Box unit.

3672 with 20' containers on chassis running as Trailer on Flat Cars (T.O.F.C.)

The 3672 was a treat for he New York Central Train Layout rail fans as it awaits clearance to proceed

Friday, October 17, 2014

P&LE 40' Boxcar 5290 Joins The Fleet

Greetings Blog Followers,

When is a box car more than a box car? The answer; when it is a gift from a train buddy who you share the hobby with. Last week I had the good fortune to receive such a gift from 1 to 1 scale Sir Neal Himself.

The Athearn Blue Box is labelled "Produced by Athearn especially for Walthers" Item# 933-6853 P & LE 40' Box Car Kit. I have never seen this run of cars before. I am familiar with other Blue Box cars being painted by custom painters such a Bev-Bel, English, etc.

As with most vintage Athearn kits some TLC was needed to get the car layout ready. The model had been built by the prior owner and was pretty good shape with no broken parts. Since I have a large collection of Athearn BB freight cars I have developed a pretty quick series of improvements to upgrade these cars so they run and look good for many more years. Here is my easy to do list;

1. If car has already been put together separate body and frame. Remove trucks, coupler retaining clips and metal weight. Wash all plastic parts with a mild soap and water. Rinse well. Allow to air dry. A shot of dullcote can be applied when dry.
2. Look at metal coupler retaining clips, metal axles and metal weight. If rust is noted on weight and coupler clips I wire brush and /or sand it off. The next step is to spray paint both with rattle can black. This will prevent the rust from returning. If the metal axles are rusty I usually discard them since I will be adding metal wheel sets.  
3. Spray paint car under body / frame and trucks rattle can flat black. You can keep the old axles in the trucks so you do not get paint into the axle journals.
4. Install Kadee under set shank couplers like the 27 or 37. Do not use the ol reliable #5 on these cars. The couplers will be way to low. There is a new trend to secure the coupler clips with a screw by drilling out the coupler post. I have been securing my coupler clips with needle nose pliers for twenty years and have had absolutely no problems running trains of 40 plus cars.  
5. Next step is metal wheel sets. I prefer the P-2000 or Intermountain metal wheels for these cars.
6. Attach trucks to frame. I usually add new 2-56 screws but if the orginal screws ae in good shape they can be reused. Check coupler height against Kadee Coupler height gauge. Adjust as necessary.
7. Test run the car. I have found on many of the BB cars that the bolsters are a bit tight and do not allow the truck to have the right amount of "play" required to keep the car running smooth over track variations like switch frogs. Some of the bolsters appear to have a mushroom effect. This is easily corrected by filing down the bolster's diameter. Do not remove the bolster, just make it slightly thinner. The truck should slide onto the bolster and fall off the bolster easily.        
8. Add car to your revenue fleet and enjoy!

P&LE 5290 at North Side Yard. I sprayed the car floor a rattle can tan. 
That's 1/87th scale me giving the wave. 

 The car is in service. I will dry brush the truck burnt umber to enhance their flat black. The metal wheels were brush painted with a burnt umber acrylic  

No rust, new screws, red washers to raise the car height to get the couplers spot on to the Kadee Height Gauge, new free rolling P-2000 metal wheel sets equals no worries. Note even with the under set shank coupler the car body still needed to be raised slightly to meet the Kadee Height Gauge. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Fences at Empire City

Greetings Blog Followers,

A recent project of adding some fencing to a few spots around Empire City has been pretty much completed. The fencing itself is nothing to complicated or expensive. Just a few strips of wood and left over fiberglass screen.

New fence and shrubbery added adjacent Interstate Freight.
A billboard sign has been added to the building as well

New fascia has been added to the front of the layout along with the fence, shrubs and sign.

Some trucks and figures add some life to the scene

New signals have been added as well

A before look

New fencing has been added along main street. Originally planned to be a wall the Mayor of Empire City agreed to the chain link style fence at the request of area rail fans. The trees have been placed to see how they look. I plan on adding trunk surrounds with some foliage and then plating the trees 

A few benches and some trees make for a nice place to sit and enjoy the action.

Four GP9s lead a freight train past the new rail fan hangout 

GP9s in action with freight train

Thursday, October 2, 2014

NYC / PC Porter Hustlers

Greetings Blog Followers,

I was recently looking through my train boxes in search of a few cars and an engine (or two) that could be repainted and used as a maintenance train for my Empire City Subway System. Track cleaning the tunnel tracks was the top priority. So I scrounged around for a bit and found a Model Power Amtrak Porter Hustler that I've owned for about twenty years and have not used in at least ten years. Interestingly at one time I converted it to knuckle couplers but do not remember doing so. Looking at the Port Hustler it is a short squat 4 wheel industrial locomotive that would be perfect for the Empire City Subway System. So off to the paint shop it went. After stripping the Amtrak paint I painted the locomotive black and yellow with rattle can spray paint. The locomotive was lettered and numbered NYC 363. While this project was going on my LHS was having a sale and I happened to see a Porter Hustler in A.T.S.F. livery. Hmm... Adding a second unit would greatly enhance the operation as the Porter Hustler is not known to be a smooth running engine with plenty of pulling power. So the second Hustler went into the shopping basket and soon became PC #304.

While working on these engines I came across an old Bachmann gondola that I had repainted in brown prime. Another twenty year old piece of rolling stock sitting in a box year after year. I had already added EZ mate couplers to the truck mounted coupler boxes and decided to leave them as is figuring with the tight radius of the subway tracks this might actually be beneficial. This gondola is now known as PC 10020. It has received a gravel load and is now in service.

Porter Hustlers NYC 363 and PC 304 idle away at the Empire City Subway Station. The short wheelbase is perfect for the tight radius of the subway tracks but will cause the engine to stall on a #6 or greater turnout. No turnouts in the subway so no problems!

 The short squat look of the Porter Hustlers fits right in with the Subway System

The 6 train is on the inside track as the Hustlers occupy the outside track

PC 10020 has been rescued from the seldom / never used box and given a new lease on life

The gravel load on PC 10020 is plastic and was spray painted with gray primer. Looking at the picture it may be time to repaint the trucks black. A track cleaning pad may be installed on the gondola or a caboose that has yet to be painted.  

NYC Track Cleaner 8938. Looks good in subway service. Was an IHC NYC liquid track cleaning caboose but one platform broke off after servicing it one time too many. Has been modified with a hard board masonite type pad. 

An old MDC / Roundhouse track cleaning box cab diesel. One of, if not the worst running locomotives I ever purchased. Finally just removed the motor and gears and now it just rolls freely.

Porter Hustlers with cars for subway maintenance service. 

The cleaning discs on the box cad and the hard board slider clean easily with an alcohol wipe. No more liquids for me. I have been very pleased using the hard board track sliders for about one year now and will be adding some more as time permits.