Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday Happenings on the N.Y.C.T.L.

Greetings All,

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy New Year!
Happy Holidays! 

One of my model railroading long standing traditions is the running of the Holiday Trains. This is the time to get a lot of the trains that my boys and I own some layout and photo time. A very enjoyable time for sure. Fellow modelers will realize that this is not as simple as it sounds. Engines and cars not in regular use tend to need a bit of TLC before they run reliably after a long layoff. A coupler adjustment her, a drop of oil there etc, etc. So without further ado let's check out the Holiday Happenings;   

Athearn Blue Box engines abound. After 15 years or more of ownership it's time to get these engines hardwired. So after a bunch of wire stripping and soldering a total of 12 engines were hard wired this day.
The N.Y.C.T.L. trainmen and tower men look on as the engines are staged for a visit to the work bench. Cleaning, lubrication and better electrical connections await.
Fresh from the work bench a trio of Athearn BB GP38-2s lead string of spine cars with trailers. The cars are from Athearn, Trailers from various manufacturers.
Bachmann Plus B23-7s lead a freight train of post NYC / PC cars
Athearn 45' trailers and BN spine cars also known as Impac Cars pass thru Bedford Station.
CR Mechanical Reefer #359020 is an Athearn BB model. The prototype was a former EL car and was the only GPS guided reefer. Prototype is at the Danbury CT railroad museum.
Former PC cars from Walthers. Class X72 and X72a the PC received 500 cars of this design from U.S. Railway. This style car was basically only used by the PC except for a few WP cars.
GP9ms from Walthers lead a coal train out of Hudson Coal
A lot of colorful engines on the layout today! The NH boxcar is a track cleaning car from Walthers.
PC aluminum hopper cars from Atlas. Fantasy paint scheme but they look great.
Conrail caboose from Roundhouse, B&O caboose from Athearn 
Terminal Yard power for this day is a Chessie GP35, Conrail calf and Chessie SW-7. All from Athearn. 
GE B32-8WH #506 rolls into Bedford Station under the scrutiny of the 1/87th scale N.Y.C.T.L. employees who are out on a holiday rail fan trip. 1/87th scale Sir Neal, a die hard Coke fan, may not be too happy about the Pepsi can invading his home rails! Engine from Walthers
Conrail EMD SD40 and SD45 lead a freight train thru Bedford NY
Both are Athearn BB models 
A trio of Conrail engines led by GP40 #3297 sporting the "Conrail Quality" slogan rolls past Bedford Station and predecessor PC boxcar. Engines from Athearn  
Conrail GE units #6062(C40-8W) and #6038(C40-8) from Bachmann Spectrum lead a stack train thru Empire City's West Side reverse curve.
Passing Hohman Ave on the West Side. North Side Yard in the background is still firmly in NYC control even if a PRR engine is on the outside mainline. 
Stack train on the reverse curve and industry tracks full. Going to be a lot of work for the 1/87th scale crews when they return from their Christmas vacations!
Stack train heading back towards Terminal Yard. Standard practice when I worked in this field was not to load a container on top of a tank car so they are (or were) prototypical loaded in this fashion.  
Later in the day the gang was spotted over at Empire City Station. Here a double stack barely fits under the signal bridge. The double stacks are relegated to the inside track and station tracks 3 and 4 as their excess height will take out the pedestrian walkways over tracks 1 and 2. Guess how I know that!
One of my favorite photos from the Holiday Happenings!
What's this! That's right the Amtrak Genesis diesels (P40DCs)are on the point of this Super Liner passenger train. These engines were built by GE to replace the F40PH units and were built 14 inches lower than the F40PH to allow these diesels to be used system wide including the low clearances of the Northeast where the F40PHs could no go.
The boys check out the Genesis units in their original special fade away paint scheme. Introduced in 1992 these were some of my earliest second time around model trains. A favorite of my oldest son who enjoyed a cab ride in one in 1996 during a visit to Sunnyside Yard. One of those cool father son days we enjoyed.
Athearn BB CR SW 1500 #9513 and calf lead a train of spine cars over the High Line 
A five car set of spine cars and containers from Walthers
Close up of the SW 1500. This is one of my favorite engines. It has given me trouble over the years though. Another dismantling and thorough cleaning seems to have it running well right now.
Another Big Blue consist from Athearn BB. SD40, GP40-2 and GP40-2 in 'Conrail Quality' lettering lead a freight train over the Empire City Viaduct.
Incentive Per Diem boxcars? Four Railbox cars in the consist. Three from Accurail one from Athearn. All four have recently visited the weathering station.
CR GP35 has been added to the SW1500 and calf for more power. The calf unit is a dummy but I have an idea on how to better utilize it going forward.
North Side Yard is turning True Blue!! Conrail is dominant today. A Chessie System train sits on track 1
Two of the earliest diesels I bought for my boys are the motive power on this Chessie System train.
Another set of early motive power purchases for my boys are these Conrail units. Both are from Mantua and have been great runners thru the years. The younger guy got the F units so he wouldn't be tempted to break off the hand rails. He was about 3years old then.
A colorful Terminal Yard! Conrail C40-8 #6044 and SD45 #6127 make an unlikely lash up. The 6044 is from Bachmann Spectrum and the SD45 is from Athearn. In DC they run well together and have enjoyed some Holiday layout time.  
My older son's Athearn SD40-2s in BN paint are a family favorite. The 6773 is lettered for HLCX. 
My younger son's Chessie System lash up sits on track 8. SD40-2, GP35 and SW7 all from Athearn. His EL bicentennial SD45 can be spotted on track 7. 
Mopac B23-7s from Bachmann Plus are out of the box and lashed up with two similar CR units. The Mopac units are from a project gone awry and the Mopac units have had limited usage. In all honesty they sound like coffee grinders but if I oil and lube them anymore they'll leave puddles! 
The B23-7s come around the West Side. This is one loud lash up! On the positive they maintain the slow crawl speed without overheating the power pack and look good doing it.
Some T.O.F.C. action on the lower level passing the City View Apartments. This train is comprised of 5 comple sets of 5 Athearn BB Impac car sets for a total of 25 cars plus one track cleaning car. Sharp eyes will note that Ralph's Grocery is the official grocery store of football tailgating.   
Spine cars on the lower level. Trailers mostly from Athearn with some Walthers and ConCor units as well.
ATSF 10 Pack Fuel Foiler with trailers from Walthers and ConCor are on the lower level under North Side Yard. Prior to adding North Side Yard this area was open. These cars work great and are an excellent way to get T.O.F.C. service on a layout with tight radius curves. 
Last but not least is this quartet of ATSF Warbonnets. A crowd favorite every year.  
I think that's it for this Holiday Season. The boys(men) and I kicked the layout up a decade or more and are having a good bit of fun running these trains. We have not gotten to the steam engine fleet yet this year. Time permitting that may happen.

Thanks For Reading!  

Happy Holidays!


  1. From your occasional remarks, it sounds as if your boys turned out well, and the hobby was probably very good for them!

    1. The boys did turn into fine young men and I am a very proud of both of them. You are right about the hobby being good for them. At a young age they cared for their trains more than any other gift and never broke one even though I started them in the hobby at a very early age. All three of us really enjoy the model train traditions of the Holidays.

  2. Its great that your sons are still interested in running trains on the N.Y.C.T.L! Nice work servicing the seldom used equipment for the family Holiday Run that features a wide variety of trains! The lower level under North Side looks like a good place for a hobo encampment! I can sure see why the ATSF Warbonnets were favorite!

    1. Thanks Ralph! A Hobo encampment! Great idea! Glad to report everything is still running well!

  3. What a great way to wrap up the year! I'm sure you're very happy when your boys come home and still enjoy the railroad with you. I don't know of any other way to have the family together for the holidays! I'm amazed at the CR lash-ups you have rolled out for this time of the year. Very enjoyable to read your blog. Looking forward to more in 2017!!

  4. Thank you 1:1 Sir Neal! We've had a good time running Big Blue and friends on the layout.