Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Penn Central Covered Hopper # 886759

Greetings Blog Followers,

This past week a new American Car & Foundry 3 Bay Center-Flow Covered Hopper was added to the freight car roster. I did some research on the prototype and before we get to the pictures let's take a quick look at what the car is and what it does.

ACF 3 BAY CENTER FLOW COVERED HOPPER: The car was designed and built in the mid 1960's to carry grain or grain type loads. An extremely popular car that boasts a 4,650 cubic foot capacity and ACF built over 15,000 units. These cars have a Plate C clearance. ACF also introduced a 4,600 cubic foot capacity car that was lower and longer and met the tighter Plate B restrictions.

THE MODEL: The model 3 Bay Center Flow Covered Hopper is an Accurail 2000 series kit. The kit is easy to build and includes everything needed to get the car rolling. Accurail provides dummy knuckle couplers as well as Accumate knuckle couplers and plastic wheels. Accurail has upgraded the kits by adding screws to secure the coupler lids and trucks. This eliminates the former push pin coupler boxes lids that were prone to drooping and adds better truck control.

Accurail Item # 2100 Penn Central 3 Bay Covered Hopper kit Made in the USA 
is built and ready for service. 

Note the screws holding the coupler box lids in place.
The car has been upgraded with Intermountain metal wheels and Kadee #5 Couplers 

A nice idea by Accurail is the renumbering decals for this and other models. By sending in the $4.00 you get a small sheet of numbers for this specific car and paint scheme that can be used to expand your fleet. I have used the numbering decals on some NYC equipment and they worked very well.

It didn't take long as PC 886759 is the lead hopper on this grain train. 

PC 886759 with older brother NYC 892086 on the move through Industry City

3 custom painted Athearn BB Penn Central EMD Engines lead a grain train made up of Accurail kits. 

 CB&Q,  PRR,  NYC,  PC and three growling diesels!  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Penn Central GP40 #3180 Joins The Fleet

Greetings Blog Followers,

Another Penn Central engine has joined my growing PC fleet. GP40 #3180 has just been released from the paint shop and made it's debut on the Empire Division this week. Let's take a look at the prototype and model:

GP40: A locomotive built by Electro Motive Division of General Motors (EMD) in 1965 with the new 645 engine that replaced the 567 engine. Equipped with an a.c. rectifier transmission the new GP40 won it's initial order from the New York Central and who subsequently ordered a total of 105 GP40s. The Penn Central ordered 175 GP40s from EMD through 1968 and 1969. The GP40 was produced from 1965 through 1971. The GP40-2 was produced from 1971 through 1985. All told EMD produced over 1,200 GP40s and over 1,100 GP40-2s.  The GP40s were not that different from the GP38, which was another Penn Central favorite, except that they included some newer technologies; an extra radiator fan, a turbocharger stack and an extra 1,000 horsepower (rated at 3,000 hp vs the 2,000 hp of the GP38 series)

Penn Central GP40s: Penn Central rostered a total of 280 GP40s. 105 from the NYC and 175 the PC received in 1968 and 1969. PC GP40s were numbered from 3000 to 3274. The former NYC units were numbered 3000 to 3104. 3105 to 3274 were the newer PC ordered GP40s. Of these numbers 3170 to 3186 received the rare white "P" and orange "C" PC logos. Ex NYC GP40, PC 3001 sported the more common but still rare red "P" and white "C" logo.

The model PC GP40 #3180: The model is a Bachmann blue box straight DC unit that I purchased second hand. The model has been stripped of it's prior road name paint job and painted with rattle can black. The decals are from Microscale.

Penn Central GP40 #3180 sports the rare white "P" and orange "C" paint scheme as it rolls towards Terminal Yard between two GP38s 

PC GP40 3180 in the rocking chair of the three unit consist

Close of the 3180 shows that it is missing it's horn so it's been tucked between the GP38s.
The 3180 is a custom painted Bachmann straight DC model

 PC GP38 7692 is a custom painted Athearn BB model

PC GP38 #8024 is also a custom painted Athearn BB model

The 3180 has been separated from it's GP38 brothers and sits on track 9 at Terminal Yard. The Yardmaster shows his class by coupling the 3175 with the 3180 to give the Empire Division rail fans a treat.
The 3175 is a custom painted Athearn model

Workers scurry about the 3180 as they get ready to replace the missing horn. Looks like 1/87th scale Sir Neal (blue coveralls, white shirt) has dropped by to see the newest engine in the division.
PC SD40 6282 is a custom painted Athearn BB model

A shot of the 9 track Terminal Yard. With the exception of the U-Boats on track 8 all engines were custom painted by yours truly.

Track 9 is usually the engine track and it's no exception today. 

Six axle PC Power on track 2. Both are factory painted models. 
The SD35 from Atlas and teh U-Boat from Athearn

A view from the yard lead. Penn Central GP30s on track 6 are custom painted Bachmann Spectrum units. 
The NYC H16-44s on track 4 are also custom painted Spectrum units.
The PC RS2 on track 3 is a custom painted P-1000 unit.  

A view from above. I added the buildings to the scene to obscure some of the train boxes.

Looks like the 3180 is ready to roll as it has received it's new horn.  

Time to roll out!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

FA-FB-FB-FA Project Part 3

Greeting Blog Followers,

I have to admit I'm excited about this project and the way the engines have turned out. After studying available New York Central Cigar Band FA and FB pictures upon pictures I opted for the early 1960s or original cigar band FA and FB scheme. Trust me this was not an easy decision as I went back and forth several times right up until I started cutting out the decals.

So what's the difference? The early cigar band had the NEW YORK CENTRAL about mid flank with small numbers below while the later version had a larger NEW YORK CENTRAL just above the sill with large numbers towards the rear.

My new FA-FB-FB-FA units are now numbered 1012-2305-2306-1020. These are correct NYC FA1-FB1 numbers. The project required two sets of Microscale 87-88 decals to get the proper NEW YORK CENTRAL lettering and numbers.

Let's check out the pictures...

The ALCO FA-FB-FB-FA lash up has been painted gloss black. For those spray can Picasso's out there save the rattle can caps as they make excellent painting stands

The FA-FB-FB-FA Lash Up in flat black. Notice how the gloss black really gives the units a blacker black appearance. I have gloss coated the flat black and lettered some diesels in the past but find it much better to paint the units gloss black and then letter them.

A close up and the decals used for this project, Microscale 87-88 New York Central Diesels 1960-1968.

Newly released from the New York Central Train Layout Paint Shop the ALCO FA-FB-FB-FA units head towards Terminal Yard for final inspection and hopefully their first assignment.

The units have left Terminal Yard and are running light towards Empire City's North Side Yard.
The hand rails are from a Walther's F Unit Diesel Dress Up kit.
The original plastic ones could not be salvaged  

The closely coupled ALCOs hit the curve leading to North Side Yard.
The original mars light has been removed and the bottom hole filled. 

The FA-FB-FB-FA units are on their maiden revenue service voyage with a transfer freight from North Side Yard and are heading back to Terminal Yard with a freight train made up of cars on their way to the Atlantic Pacific Rail Road and the Kings Port & Western Rail Road.   

The newly painted ALCO'S rumble through Industry City 

The following day the FA-FB-FB-FA lash up is on the point of a train from 
Terminal Yard to North Side Yard  

The four unit lash up has plenty of power to handle this steel and auto parts train.
Note the KP&W clam shell rebuilds from Kings Port Steel and further back the coil covered loads from A.P.R.R. on line customer Shapeless Steel   

Friday, March 6, 2015

FA-FB-FB-FA Project Part 2

Greetings Blog Followers,

The FA-FB-FB-FA Project has finally hit phase 2. After receiving some sunshine and temperatures above 50 degrees so I could open the outdoor painting studio called the patio the sounds of rattle can spray paint could finally be heard. Truck side frames, coupler boxes and engine shells each received a coat of flat black. After letting the paint dry I was able to reassemble the truck side frames and install the new knuckle couplers in the newly painted coupler boxes.

A couple of issues popped up with engine shells. The first was that the diaphragms were yellow plastic and did not take the rattle can flat black too well leaving some visible yellow in and around the diaphragms.  I fixed this by brush painting the diaphragms with flat black acrylic paint. After that dried I dropped the shells onto the chassis' and tried to couple the units together in A-B-B-A fashion. A second issue them came to light. The Kadee #5s that were to be used for the project were too short to span the distance between the units as the diaphragms took up the space and would not allow the #5s to couple to each other. To remedy this I remembered and old trick my buddy Neal M of the Atlantic Pacific Rail Road shared with me. Use one long and one short coupler to increase distance slightly so the space between units does not look unrealistic but will allow the units to couple and operate reliably. (we did this with full length passenger cars that had similar diaphragm and some radius issues)

There is a way to do this so that only 3 engines need a swap of a long coupler, Kadee #36 or 26, for the #5. Looking right to left at the FA-FB-FB-FA consist the rear coupler on the A unit received a #36. The rear coupler on the B unit coupled to the A unit to the right received a #36 and the B unit coupled to the B unit to the right received a #36 for the front coupler where it couples to the A unit which retains it's #5 coupler. By doing it this way the units can now run in A-B-B-A, A-B-A, A-B-B or A-A fashion while retaining a nice looking close coupled appearance.

The FA-FB-FB-FA lash up reminding rail fans of the ALCO Black Marias
 lead a freight train out of North Side Yard. 

The units stop on the Empire City Viaduct

A publicity shot on the E.C.viaduct

After initial testing the next stop is the paint shop for final painting and lettering.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Running The Brick

Greetings Blow Followers,

This past week I broke out and ran the brick. That's right the brick. Better known to rail fans as an E33 Electric Locomotive. But the NYCTL does haven't catenary! True. But this is my model railroad and every now then I just have to say No Catenary! No Problem! so I can run the few electric locomotives (I know they're all electric) on the roster.

So what's an E-33? An electric locomotive that had five owners is the short answer. The long answer is this;

In the early 1950's coal hauling Virginian Railway ordered a dozen 3300 hp ignitron rectifier electric locomotives from General Electric to replace some antiquated side rod units that had been on their roster since early in the 20th century. The locomotives were powered by an overhead electrict wire called a catenary. The locomotives were classified as EL3Cs. In 1959 the Virginian was merged into the Norfolk and Western. The new N&W only routed eastbound traffic on the Virginian rails with westbound traffic travelling over N&W rails. Due to this the Virginian electrification and locomotives became surplus and the electrification was shut down. Soon thereafter the locomotives were sold at bargain basement prices to the perpetually cash strapped New Haven. The NH classified the locomotives as EF-4s. In the 1969 merger of the NH into the Penn Central 10 of the original 12 came over to the PC. Both the VGN and NH wrecked one of these locomotives during their ownership.

The units were classified as E33s and numbered 4601-4610 by the Penn Central. All 10 of the PC E33s were conveyed to Conrail in 1976 and all served until Conrail's end of electric operations in 1981. Two are reportedly preserved. One at the Railroad Museum of New England and the other at the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The rest were scrapped.

The Penn Central E33s seem to have been assigned to freight duties in what is now called the Northeast Corridor. (As part of the Amtrak takeover of passenger train operations the PC was to move their freight traffic off the NE corridor although that took awhile.) At the time of the PC and Conrail the E33s could run under wire from New Haven CT through NY into NJ and PA and onto DC or Harrisburg PA where the electric lines ended.

So why is it called a brick? Apparently railroaders from either the NH or PC nicknamed the engines as "bricks" due to their boxy appearance.

1 to 1 scale Penn Central E33 4605 takes a freight through Morrisville PA, January 1971

Bachmann Spectrum HO scale Penn Central 4605 rumbles through Empire City. No catenary...No problem. Admit it! It looks like a brick doesn't it 

E33 4605 with a similar freight consist as in the prototype photo

The 4605 is running well with a 12 car consist. It's maiden voyage several years ago was not so good. It ran 6 linear feet and then the motor seized and died. Sent back to Bachmann a replacement was received. 
This unit has since run OK in the limited run time it has enjoyed. 

PC 4605 rolls through North Side Yard with a Pennsylvania icon,
 a Strasburg Rail Road 40' Boxcar in the background.

PC 4605 passes Cargill with a custom painted PC boxcar sitting on the inner track.
 I think that 1/87th scale figure wants me to stop taking pictures.

The consist and the brick

The rest of the consist. 

Stay tuned the next episode of the FA-FB-FB-FA Project which will be up next!