Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Penn Central FP7 4348 Joins The Fleet

Greetings All,

Last month I came across a used Atlas Yellow Box undecorated FP7 at my LHS. With a 40% sale on used merchandise I couldn't pass up the deal. I brought the engine home and disassembled it for cleaning and painting. The power train was lightly lubed and tested. I was very pleased to see the engine ran very well without the need for further mechanical work. After painting and reassembly I added Kadee #37 (medium under set shank) couplers to match the Kadee height gauge. I ran it about an hour in each direction to break it in further.  

So what's an FP7 and why did EMD make them? The EMD FP7 is a variant of the famous EMD F7. Railroads looking for streamlined diesels to pull their passenger trains and needing better tractive effort on steep grades than the EMD E units could provide with their A-1-A trucks looked to EMD for a solution.. The railroads had found the F units provided better tractive effort however as a freight model the cab equipped F units did not have the space necessary to carry water and a steam boiler. Adding a B unit with such equipment worked but added to the expense of having to always use an additional diesel. Starting in 1949 EMD introduced the FP7 at the same time as the F7. The FP7 was four feet longer to house the boiler and water and used an upgraded main generator. About 325 were built. The largest order of 45 went to the L&N. The A.C.L. grabbed 44 and the Pennsy 40.

A little about the PC FP7s: The 40 FP7s spent the earlier parts of their careers fulfilling their billing as dual purpose units on the PRR. During the Penn Central era these units were strictly used in freight service and eventually had their steam generators and water tanks removed. Perhaps due to light service during their time with the PRR the 40 units arrived into PC fully intact. For the merger they were renumbered from PRR 9832A - 9871A to PC 4332 - 4371. Neatly tucked in between the E unit diesels and the E unit electrics. FP7s 4347, 4367 and 4370 were reported to be painted with the red "P" logo during April to June 1968.

About the model: The FP7 was listed as used but it seems to have never been run or removed from the box. It is Atlas yellow box engine #8300, made in Austria and equipped with horn hook couplers. Some research indicates this model was released by Atlas in 1990 making it 25 years old. But like I reported above it ran very well out of the box and improved even further after the break in period.

Atlas Undecorated FP7

The newly painted 4348 gets it's first look over by some the prominent rail fans of Empire City.

PC FP7 4348 has had it's water tank removed per Penn Central practice. The engine was protected with blue painters tape and the grills were sprayed with rattle can silver. 

A flank shot of the 4348

The 4348 leads a four unit lash up. The two F7s in the middle are non powered. 
C-424 2415 is also an Atlas Yellow Box unit released in 1989. 

A close up of the 4348

For it's next assignment the 4348 was assigned to a Mail and Express  Train

The M&E trains rolls into  Empire City Station. Looking to the left we can see a baggage car featuring the new Amtrak paint scheme

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Train Movements

Greetings All,

Recently published blog entries by myself, Ralph V (PC Ralph) and John B show some of the modeling aspects each of us use in our model train movements. For myself and Ralph we are using a Penn Central Car Card printed on card stock. Mine came courtesy of Ralph. John B is using JMRI which has some very nice features. Another friend and modeler, Neal M, who is an avid operator eschews all types of paperwork and lists for his operating sessions which can include up to 6 operators. My buddy Engineer Ed is currently making plans to alter his layout to accommodate some additional rail operations. By all accounts each modeler mentioned here is enjoying the movement of trains on their respective layouts in their own way.

Ralph V's Blog: http://kingsportdivision.blogspot.com/
John B's Blog: http://modelrrmisc.blogspot.com/
Neal's Train Layout: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu57Zbc9ljhVSnay2gBovkA
Engineer Ed's Blog: http://hoschtonrr.blogspot.com/ 

Below are some of the examples of how I am running operations on the New York Central Train Layout.

Two PC Car Movement Cards. As noted PC 77047 and BAR 5226 are heading off layout to Williams Yard on the Kings Port Division. The Kings Port Division is PC Ralph's home layout and about 1,000 miles from the N.Y.C.T.L. More on that in future posts.

A simple index card with train information written in. Gives me a lot of info at a glance.

A train card with car movement cards tucked into a simple pocket made from a folded over index card and some scotch tape. 

Index card with HOLD in the box. Car cards behind the HOLD are staying in place and will need to be re spotted if moved during a pick up or set out. 

Train cards and car cards in a simple wooden box from Hobby Lobby. Clipboard for switch list.

The Kings Port Division in my basement. This box holds the cars forwarded to the Kings Port Division via our virtual operations. Car cards and train cards are readily available so I know what went where. Note the PC and BAR boxcars from the car cards in photo #1.

The legendary Engineer Ed working Terminal Yard checks off his last move on his switch list. E.E. is building an outbound train according to the blocking instructions on the switch list.

Train cards, Car cards, switch list being used by Engineer Ed

Fast forward about one week and a Kings Port to Empire City train is heading to Terminal Yard. 

From the left Block 1 shows the five cars that were sent to the Kings Port Division returning to the N.Y.C.T.L.. Car 6 (PC 229036) and car 7 (NYC 892021) have been added into the operations and are loaded for industries in Empire City.

The above pictured cars will arrive in Terminal Yard and be handled according to the car movement cards prepared by the Williams Yard Yard Master as evidenced below.

 NYC 892021 is spotted at Wonder / Hostess with a load of flour 

PC 229036 is spotted at Drywell Inks with a load of steel drums.

 Right now I really enjoy using the car cards sent to me by Ralph V. As things move forward I may try the JMRI method which looks very interesting. Am I doing it right? Am I doing it wrong? Does it really matter? To me if you're having fun then it's the right way.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

New York Central F7A #1655 joins the fleet.

Greetings All,

The New York Central Train Layout Paint Shop has released NYC F7A #1655 for revenue service. This engine is an MRC Platinum unit that I purchased used last year. Originally in PC regalia the paint color and lettering font did not match the PC units I already had on hand. The engine featured a boiler exhaust and other passenger service protrusions from the rear top of  the engine. So the plan was to repaint the units into the NYC gray passenger car cigar band livery to team up with my other MRC Platinum engine, a gray lightning striped F7A #1650. This engine was also equipped for passenger service. Now a disclaimer. The NYC did not have F7A units in this scheme or in passenger service. So I briefly thought about repainting both units into PC units and declare them FP7As but after a few minutes of consideration there was just no way I was going to repaint the good looking NYC lightning stripe unit.

The MRC Platinum line features a heavy frame with a dual flywheel motor. Metal handrails, horns and grills. The windows are well done and the engine runs great. PC 1672 after purchase in November 2013

Close up of 1672 in December 2015. The shell is ready for paint removal. This was one of those projects I hemmed and hawed over before starting. I seem to excel in hemming and hawing by the way. The unit saw little use since being purchased as I did not like the paint job and the fact that it really did not go well with NYC F7A mentioned above. Still it was tough to actually strip the paint from it. The notes below are part of a few Paint Shop projects going on during this time.

The F7A is now NYC 1655. The gray was a little lighter than I would have liked but it will suffice.

Both MRC Platinum F7As get a workout performing freight duties. Both engines are stamped 1999 on the bottom of their respective fuel tanks making them about 15 years old. Both are like new at this point and I look forward to seeing them rack up the revenue miles. 

Working an Extra out of Terminal Yard the engines are enjoying their time out of the box

The obligatory pose on the Empire City viaduct.

Now this is what I envisioned! 
NYC F7A 1655 on the head end of a commuter train entering Empire City Station

NYC F7A 1650 is shoving on the rear. The train can then head right back out with having to be turned.

 NYC F7A 1655 with a Pacemaker Freight Service box car (track cleaner) added to the head end of the commuter train passes over the Empire City ship and sanitary canal. Looks like a policeman off to the left. 

Yup, plenty of police activity. Seem like another body has washed up on the rocks of the E.C. ship and sanitary canal. If you look closely you can see the yellow shirted body of reputed mob associate
 "Paulie the Painter".

A close up of the dearly departed. It was noted that a paint brush had been wired to his hand prior to or just after his demise. The deceased was last seen in a dispute with reputed mobsters in Kings Port NY. Sources close to the investigation revealed the dispute was over a painted sign. In this case spelling counts. 

Now back to the trains.
 The addition of 1655 has allowed me to pair it with the 1650 and opened up some nice commuter train options. These two four axle units are excellent runners and very nimble for the locomotive on each end operation. Riding and watching L.I.R.R. trains with a diesel engine on one end and a power pack FA on the other was a look I always liked.

NYC 1655 looking right at home on one end of this four car commuter train.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Low Tech, Low Cost Operations Improvements

Greetings All,

At a recent train show I attended with my buddy Engineer Ed I came across a vendor offering new in the box Bachmann Power Packs. Spotting these kick started a long dormant idea of adding some auxiliary power controls to certain parts of the layout. Having a long shelf and peninsula layout using stationary DC power controls switching certain locations on the layout was in short not very enjoyable. Walking back and forth to throw turnouts, disconnect cars, power up and change directions of engines was a turn off to using these switching areas. Instead of enjoying the operations at these location cars sat dormant for months at a time.

So after agreeing a price the purchase was made and another operations related model train project was born. The following day I sprung into action. Using two DPDT toggle switches from a Radio Shack closing sale and wire from an extension cord previously cut  by my hedge trimmer the project progressed quite nicely. All wire connections were soldered for good electrical conductivity.

Let's take a look at project;

The Bachmann Power Pack sits behind a NYMX reefer car also bought at the train show.

The actual power pack and a bread box trough coil coach from the train show

The first installation was in the area of  Hudson Coal and T&R Gravel. Working these two locations is no longer a slow walking back and forth affair. From this location I can throw the turnouts at both locations while operating the motive power. HUGE improvement. 

The second installation was on the opposite side of the layout away from the peninsula DC controllers. The industries in this were basically unused and the tracks were more or less a parking lot. Not anymore! Now I can stand here and throw turnouts, work the industries and the motive power. Another HUGE improvement!

So as advertised the project was low tech and low cost. 
And it paid big dividends!


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ops Session Number 3 is in the Books!

Greetings All,

I'm pleased to report that the third ops session on the New York Central Train Layout is now in the books. With Special Guest Star Engineer Ed (later promoted to Yard Master Ed) an enjoyable afternoon of running trains was achieved.

Before the start of the session Engineer Ed was promoted to Yard Master Ed and volunteered to work Terminal Yard which is the command center for the layout and ops session. A challenging freight schedule was prepared beforehand and Y.M.E. needed to keep the nine track yard running smooth. Trains needed to get out to make room for trains needing to get in to be broken down into more trains going back out. A given later outbound might require two or more inbound trains to arrive and be broken down in order to fulfill that outbound trains freight consist. Some of the cars in the yard at the beginning of session were to be considered empties and were not on any scheduled trains. Challenging? You betcha!

I took on the role of road engineer and also worked the North Side Yard as needed. I had not done this before and found it to be quite enjoyable. In the first two sessions I worked as Terminal Yard Yard Master and Engineer Ed fulfilled the road engineer North Side Yard role.

At the conclusion of the session we both admitted to having a good time and look forward to a fourth ops session. Here are some photos of the session:

The Terminal Yard Freight Schedule for January 16th, 2016

The first hot shot train of the day to be addressed was Extra 3007. This 2 car train contains a priority shipment of Auto Parts for the local Ford Plant.  

Extra 3007 originated from Williams Yard on the Kings Port Division as part of a virtual interchange between the K.P.D. and N.Y.C.T.L. For more on that click here http://kingsportdivision.blogspot.com/
and stay tuned for upcoming blog entries here.

The stage is set. Terminal Yard is quite peaceful on the day before the session. 
Kind of like the quiet before the storm. 

A pair of Erie Lackawanna ALCO S1 switchers were assigned to shuttle mail and express cars from Empire City Station (Designated as 72nd Street Yard for the ops session)

An outbound commuter train sits at Empire City Station.

The temporary United States Post Office loading platform at Empire City Station / 72nd Street Yard

A boiler equipped New Haven GP9 is the power for the commuter train today

 Yard Master Ed working Terminal Yard.
We used switch lists and car cards to keep everything organized.

Penn Central Unit Coal Train UKP-3 is on track 3 and will be headed off to Kings Port Steel which will be lower level staging for today. But first PC empty hopper train UKP-2 must be shoved into Hudson Coal.

Penn Central Empty Hopper Train UKP-2 is on track 3 ready for the shove into Hudson Coal out of the picture to the left. 

 The shove moves are complete and PC engines 8024 and 7692
will be leaving to take UKP-3 to  Kings Port Steel 

 An outside loop on the lower level of the layout has been designated as lower level staging for the ops session. UKP-3 sit sat the tunnel entrance.

An Empire Belt Extra awaits departure from North Side Yard. The newly created Empire Belt is a short line that switches out industries on the upper level of Empire City out of North Side Yard. Transfers runs between N.S.Y. and Terminal Yard are performed by both railroads but 1/87th scale union agreements maintain that each railroad may only deliver cars to the other and must return light to their respective yards.

The Industry City skyline

 End of Session. Unit Ore Car Train ZM-1 is ready for departure on track 8. The Rock Ridge Transfer to the Atlantic Pacific Railroad consisting of a string of empty 60' Auto Parts Box Cars plus other rail cars sits on Track 1. 

Thanks for reading.