Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Friday, April 24, 2015

Penn Central 6197 makes it's debut on a Subway Series Special

Greetings Blog Followers,

The Terminal Yard Train Master is getting well deserved high praise through the rail fanning community. This morning Empire City rail fans were treated to a Subway Series Special that originated on the Kings Port & Western in Kings Port NY, stopped at West Mill NY and then connected with the Atlantic Pacific Rail Road at Rock Ridge Yard before making its trek towards the Big Apple. In the lead is none other than newly refurbished and repainted Penn Central SDP40 #6197 with assistance from NH SDP40 6502.

PC 6197 wears the orange "C" scheme formerly only worn by a small group of PC GP40s. The orange "C" is a shout out to the New Haven RR as both Blue Box units power the Subway Series Special. For the purists neither the NH or PC had SDP40s on their respective rosters. 

Side shot of the 6197 downgrade on track 1.
The orange "C" decals are courtesy of PC Ralph.
Thanks Ralph! 

The 6197 and 6502 roll past construction workers installing the Wilcox Barriers to protect the trains from the four foot drop to the concrete floor. The barriers are named after Bill Wilcox, a renowned rail photographer, who noted the unprotected edge to the abyss. Although N.Y.C.T.L. Management has been aware of the issue for sometime once it is pointed out by another party something bad is bound to happen unless the situation is corrected. N.Y.C.T.L. train crews and passengers are extremely thankful to Bill for spurring on this safety upgrade. 

Looks like the Subway Series Special has a definite NY Mets slant and a party atmosphere. A Schaefer Beer reefer (one time Official Beer of the NY Mets) is on the head end with a baggage car converted to a bar car for the special. That New Haven Coach is carrying the Gervais Industries CEO along with his friends and family. Connecticut is usually considered Yankee country and CEO Bobby G has not declared his allegiance to either team just yet.

A refurbished Penn Central diner sits about midway in the consist. The diner features oatmeal on demand as specified by avid Mets fan KP&W CEO and president PC Ralph.

A New Haven baggage car has been temporarily converted to a piano bar offering a more subdued place to start the evening and have a night cap before moving back to the two sleeper cars. Passenger are hoping PC Ralph not only sings but shows how to mimic a diesel horn on the electric organ that has been added as well. My first request. The Mets Jingle!  

A Penn Central Sleeper for the KP&W CEO is coupled with Mets fan 1/87th Scale Sir Neal's private varnish Nassau County which is bringing up the markers. The train and it's passengers will be spending the weekend in the Big Apple using the sleeper cars as their hotel accommodations. The train is slated to lay over in Sunnyside Yard in Queens but there is a concerted effort being undertaken by the passengers who chartered the train to have the train layover at Hunts Point Yard in the Bronx to be closer to Yankee Stadium. For those not in the know Hunts Point Yard is located in the confines of the NYPD's 41st Precinct. The precinct was known as "Fort Apache". Then the South Bronx burned down and it became
"Little House on the Prairie"  

The obligatory roster shot of the 6197 going through the grade crossing as it enter Empire City Station.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Penn Central Six Axle U-Boat Action

Greetings Blog Followers,

This past week I spent some time running the newly painted Penn Central U-Boat 6557 in various assignments. Let's take a look at what the 6557 and friends have been up to;

A three unit set of U-Boats enters the West Side sidings and reverse curve. 
This part of the West Side is usually reserved for four axle Geeps or switchers.  

With flanges squealing the U-Boats surprisingly make it through the West Side  

 A three unit set of custom painted Athearn BB GP35s roll towards Terminal Yard on track 2.
A trio of PC Geeps holds on track 3 awaiting clearance.

A short time later a three train meet!
The EMD Geeps are still in the hole on track 3. 
The GE U-Boats are slowly rolling towards a red signal on track 2. 
Train NY-2 lead by an ALCO FA-FB-FB-FA lash up climbs up track 1 
and a green signal towards Terminal Yard. Last time we saw the ALCOs
was on April 4th when they were headed towards Chicago with Train LS-1  

The crew of the big GE Units are gathering in the slack on track 2

Last entry I talked about the dummy U-Boats being sleds and making them rolling better. Below is a U-Boat dummy truck with a metal electrical pick up bar. If you look closely you can see that the metal axles sit in plastic sleeves. This is a sled.

This is a corrected U-Boat dummy truck. The metal electrical pick up bars have been bent away from the wheels. The plastic sleeves that house the axles have been filed with an emery board to loosen their grip on the axles The axles and sleeves were oiled slightly. This was a huge improvement.

This is also a U-Boat dummy truck. No metal strap. No sleeves on the axles. The axles fit into the side frames much like an Athearn freight or passenger car. This unit rolled pretty well out of the box.

A five unit set of U-Boats roll across the Empire City Viaduct. The two end units are powered. The middle three are non powered / dummy units. All are Athearn BB.
Keeping with the six axle theme two SD35s lead a manifest freight through Empire City Station 
on the lower level behind a wall of covered hoppers.

The five U-Boats measuring four feet in length lug a coal train through Empire City.
Note the new PC covered hopper from the March 28th entry at the lower right.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Penn Central U-Boat Make Over

Greetings Blog Followers,

I recently had the opportunity to give one of my three Athearn Blue Box Penn Central U28Cs a make over thanks to fellow modeler and Penn Central fan known here as PC Ralph. Here's the story of the make over and some PC six axle U-Boat tidbits.

PROTOTYPE PENN CENTRAL SIX AXLE U BOATS: Built by General Electric starting in 1963.

U23C  6700-6718 Delivered new to PC in 1970 for hump yard service. U30C body with 12 cylinder FDL engine. Saw occasional road work to clear out accumulated carbon deposits.

U25C  6500-6519 Delivered new to PRR in 1964-65  Featured a one piece windshield.

U28C  6520-6534 Delivered new to PRR in 1966. Featured two piece windshield and new style trucks.

U30C  6535-6539 Delivered new to PRR in 1967. Featured FDL-16 3,000 hp prime mover.

U33C  6540-6563 Delivered new to PC in early 1968. Ordered by PRR. Featured large wings on long hood. Missed being PRR power by only a few weeks.

THE ATHEARN BLUE BOX MODELS: Three U28C models purchased new from Caboose Hobbies in Denver in late 1990s. Order was for one powered unit and two dummy units. Typical Athearn powered product from that time period with metal handrails, sintered wheels, all wheel drive, dual flywheel motor and horn hook couplers. All units in road number 6533.

ON THE LAYOUT: At time of purchase my train layout was much smaller and tighter than today and featured 18" and 15" radius curves. These units were not well suited for that set up and consequently spent much of their first years in the box.

Fast forward to 2002 and a new layout with larger radius curves. The units saw some action and I renumbered two of them from 6533 to 6538 and 6583 with a fine brush and white paint. Were only PC engines in the stable at that time and their usage was light. So light that I discovered that I had never hard wired the unit in all the years I had it when I began this project.

The lone powered U28C in the fleet of three proved to be not powerful enough to pull the two dummies which were like sleds at first and a decent sized train. Often the engines were longer that the rest of the train. After I got the dummies to be free rolling I added one powered and one dummy BB U28C in P.R.R. livery to my son's growing engine fleet. This allowed me(and him) to swap out the power chassis and pull trains worthy of this amount of visual power. So now a three unit consist has two powered units.

Fast forward to 2015 I came across a BB PC U Boat featuring the red "P" logo for sale on ebay. It looked good and I forwarded the ebay link to PC Ralph. After an exchange of e-mails where I told Ralph I was thinking of painting one of my units with the red "P" if I had the decals in stock. Ralph generously offered to provide the red "P" decals for the project. Being even more generous Ralph sent me an envelope of numerous PC logos featuring the red "P", orange "C" and some others from the Micro Scale PC Esoterica decal set. Thank you Ralph!

With the red "P" decals now at hand I selected U28C 6583 to be stripped, painted and lettered as PC 6557 which actually wore the red "P". PC 6557 was a U33C but I didn't let that stop or bother me for this project.

The U Boat has been stripped and painted gloss black and the decals are ready to go

I kept the cab separated for the numbering process. This way I could dull coat it
 and then add the windshield. This way I only had to attach the cab once and 
reduce the chance of scratching it with the metal handrails.   

Decals have been cut and are ready to go. 

Newly lettered PC 6557  

Engineers side of PC 6557

PC 6557 and 6533 go nose to nose

Typical 1990s Athearn BB engine set up. This is my NH SDP40 power chassis

Note the metal sliding bar used for electrical contact

Removing the metal bar and "hard wiring" the unit

Hard wired and ready to go

PC 6557 with 6538 and a U Boat still in PRR paint lead a train into Empire City Station

The 6557 showcases it's eye catching red "P" courtesy of PC Ralph.
The 6557 was the only six axle U Boat to wear the elusive red "P".  

Three U Boats invade Empire City Station while a coal train crosses the Empire City Viaduct

The U Boats shake the glass of the control tower 

The 6557 gets a passing glance from some EC Station passengers.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

2 Penn Central K-9 Stock Cars Added to the Fleet

Greetings Blog Followers,

Two seemingly unrelated events transpired for me recently and the end result was two Penn Central K-9 Stock Cars being added to the fleet. First while watching Volume 2 Part 1 of the Greenfrog New York Central Odyssey video I noted at or about the 17:40 mark two unique looking 50' stock cars as part of New York Central Train NY-2. The second event was my L.H.S. having a 40% sale on used merchandise. I remembered seeing the Bowser boxes for these cars on a used shelf so I hurried on over and made the purchase.

PROTOTYPE K-9 STOCK CARS: Built by the P.R.R. from 50' X-32 double door automobile boxcars. The P.R.R. cut out ventilation holes in the car body and added new doors. Some interior modifications were made and it appears that there was a class K-9, K-9A and K-9B. The cars had either single or double level decking.  The P.R.R. had about 329 of these cars on the roster into 1968, the year of the merger with the NYC.

MODEL K-9 STOCK CARS: The models are from the Bowser Executive Line and come fully assembled with EZ mate knuckle couplers and metal wheels. Testing the cars I found that the couplers were too low but it was an easy fix. A gray Kadee washer in the coupler box below the coupler eliminated the vertical play and coupler sag. A red Kadee washer placed on the bolster raised the car to the proper height. The car felt a little light to me but it looks to have the shell and frame glued together. Instead of prying the model apart I placed them both on the front of a long freight train and they tracked fine.

NEW YORK CENTRAL TRAINS NY-2 and NY-4: Were daily high priority meat product trains from Chicago to New York City. They often ran in multiple sections with over 100 cars in each section.. The empties back to Chicago were handled by NYC Train LS-1. In 1974 Penn Central NY-2 and NY-4 ran from Blue Island Chicago to Selkirk NY. Train LS-1 from Selkirk NY to Blue Island. This seems to indicate the declining rail traffic and increased trucking of products into NYC.

ON THE LAYOUT: NY-2, NY-4 and LS-1 are a layout staple. Although not to the 100 plus car consist! Adding the two K-9 Stock Cars gives the trains a little more prototypical variety.

Two new K-9 Stock Cars on a test run.

The K-9 lineage of being former X-32 round roof double door boxcars is readily apparent 

The under frame "Bowser made in USA" . 
Note the red Kadee washers on the bolster to raise the car up slightly 

A quartet of PC power is on point today leading NY-2 to Terminal Yard
The engines, GP38s and GP35s  are custom painted Athearn BB models.

The new K9 cars are working fine on the front of a long NY-2 meat products train.
Not sure if the engineer is enjoying the barn yard smell though. 
 The jade green PC reefer car to the right is a custom painted Model Power car.

On the New York Central NY-2, NY-4 and LS-1 were mainly powered by ALCO units and today is no exception. An ALCO FA-FB-FB-FA lash up has the LS-1 well in hand as it heads back towards North Side Yard and ultimately Chicago.