Sunday, May 28, 2023

Preparing for NERPM

The 2023 New England Prototype Modelers Meet is coming up - June 16-18.

A lot of what I've been working on is in preparation for the meet.

1. Getting the layout operational. I'll be open for the Sunday layout tour for the first time in a while, and I'm also going to be hosting some casual ops sessions on Thursday just prior.

This has involved completing a lot of track work changes, completely rewiring the bus for additional circuit breakers and future signaling, and programming the locomotives for ProtoThrottles.

2. Expanding/updating a clinic covering the New Haven DL-109s (for Saturday night) - with still more new information since I presented the abbreviated version for Hindsight 2020.

Dale and Ryan ran some test ops on the tracks that are fully operational (the main line still needs power), and Alex and I tweaked 0502 and 0503 (the RS-2s) to serve as switchers for the ops sessions. The Stanley locomotive will be either the HH660 or the H16-44. 

I'm not sure which models to bring along this year. The majority of work has been on the layout itself rather than new models, which is where it has needed to be. 

I can hardly wait, though, I'm looking forward to it. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Livestock and Stock Cars

I started this post some time ago and never got around to finishing it. Something to do on a rainy/snowy March morning...

NH DERS-2c (RS-3) 517 on the Air Line at Middletown with a stock car.

Were stock cars common on the New Haven?

Looking through photos, these are the stock cars I've been able to personally verify on the New Haven. I've included the number of stock cars owned by that road, and rankings in parentheses for those roads that were in the top 15 owners of stock cars in 1950. 

  • CB&Q - 3,573 (3rd)
  • DL&W - 97
  • ERIE - 82
  • MILW - 3,690 (4th)
  • NYC - 1,675 (12th)
  • PRR - 2,315 (9th)
  • SLSX - 713 (Swift)
  • WAB - 594

The Swift cars (and Armour, below) would have been destined for their own plants, as photos of the Swift plant in New Haven have shown.

Other cars I would expect may have made it to the New Haven regularly:

  • ASEX - 200 (Armour)
  • B&O - 1,192 (14th) 
  • CGW - 150
  • CNW/CMO - 3,736 (6th)
  • IC - 1,100 (15th)
  • Mather - 1,444 (B&O, CNW, and CB&Q leased from Mather, may not be included in their totals)
  • RI - 1,207 (13th)

Of course, cars from other roads would be possible. The Santa Fe accounted for 13% of the North American stock car fleet in 1950, and of the 66 roads that owned them, only 18 roads accounted for more than 80% of that total.

But just because these cars were photographed on the NH doesn't mean they were common. How frequently did stock cars actually move on the New Haven? More often than you might think.

I touched on it briefly in an earlier post on commodities because I was surprised to find that swine (in double-deck cars) was the 17th largest group into Connecticut based on number of average annual carloads. This is calculated using the 1% waybill studies from 1950-54, and I was only looking at the statistics for Connecticut (which would also include traffic on the CV delivered to Connecticut).

Fresh Meats NOS (not otherwise specified) was the 6th largest group, averaging about 7,392 carloads annually. But Swine DD (double-deck) was 2,300, plus another 300 single-deck cars, and 250 single-deck cars of cattle/calves. No cars of sheep/goats were recorded. That's an average of almost 8 stock cars/day delivered to Connecticut.

Livestock Traffic

Where does the livestock originate? The cattle to Connecticut tends to come from a bit farther west than the hogs. Major stockyards in those states are listed below. The roads noted correspond to the cars noted above:

  • Illinois (Cattle - 100; hogs - 475)
    • Chicago - All except DL&W
    • East St. Louis - B&O, CB&Q, IC, NYC, PA, RI, SLSX, WAB
  • Indiana (Hogs - 775)
    • Indianapolis - B&O, NYC, PA
  • Iowa (Cattle - 50; hogs - 1,050)
    • Dubuque - CGW, IC, MILW
    • Sioux City - CNW, IC, MILW
  • Minnesota (Cattle - 25)
    • Austin - CGW, MILW
    • South St. Paul - CGW
  • Nebraska (Cattle - 25)
    • Omaha - CB&Q, CNW, MILW, WAB
  • New York (Cattle - 50; hogs 75)
    • Buffalo - B&O, DL&W, ERIE, NYC, PA
  • Ohio (Hogs - 225)
    • Cincinnati - B&O, ERIE, NYC, PA

Armour and Swift operated out of all of the major stockyards.

As for destinations? Middletown had a slaughterhouse, which is where the stock car in the photo is headed. Copaco in Bloomfield was another destination, as was Swift and Sperry & Barnes in New Haven. There were other industries and stock pens at Hartford, Providence, Boston, and other locations on the NH.

I have seen it mentioned several times that some of the movements were to the locations with large Jewish populations for kosher meat. That may account for the cattle, but certainly not the hogs. At least in the Bloomfield, Hartford, and New Haven areas there were a significant number of sausage companies. 


The majority of these roads can be modeled, including all but two roads that I have documented on the New Haven.

Plastic models have focused on the western roads - ATSF, SP and UP. This makes sense because they owned more than 27% of stock cars in 1950.

The Proto 2000 Mather stock car plays a big part in modeling stock cars east of Chicago/St. Louis. Otherwise, for accurate stock car models, you'll have to look to resin kits.

  • ASEX - none
  • DL&W - none
  • ERIE - none
  • IC - none
  • Mather - Proto 2000; Sunshine. Owned 1,444 cars, many leased to the following roads:
    • B&O - all Mather cars in 1950 (495 single-deck; 438 double-deck)
    • CB&Q (1948 - 60 double-deck)
    • CNW (1948 - 300 single-deck)
    • GSX (Mather reporting marks)(1948 - 4 single-deck; 19 double-deck)
    • MSCX. (Mather reporting marks)(1948 - 46 single-deck; 16 double-deck)
  • MILW - Sunshine; Westerfield
  • NYC - Westerfield
  • PRR - Broadway Limited; F&C
  • RI - Westerfield (kitbash)
  • SLSX - none
  • WAB - Yarmouth


The blocking information in the Arranged Freight Symbol Books includes some regular livestock movements. For example, SN-3 has a block of New Haven perishable & livestock. But it does not have a block that specified Hartford livestock. Nor does any other train, but cars for Copaco in Bloomfield would have been delivered by the Griffins local, originating out of Hartford.

Also, while many photos on the New Haven have stock cars behind the locomotives, the New Haven livestock block is the second block in the train. 

I think it's most likely that stock cars for trains originating in Hartford would have come via Springfield. But it's possible that they could come via Maybrook, and run through New Britain. So the few stock cars I might run would be on a Maybrook freight. Obviously the Mather and Broadway PRR K-7 are the easiest ones to model. But I'll probably build Westerfield MILW and NYC cars eventually, since I think those were among the most common.

There are no industries receiving stock cars (of which I'm aware) west of New Britain on the Highland or Canal Lines. So that's the only train that would potentially have any stock cars on my layout. When the Maybrook-Hartford freights aren't running at all, I won't need any at all.

NH DERS-2c (RS-3) with a Milwaukee stock car.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Feeder Frenzy


In the past couple of weeks I have added more than 100' of new feeders. Where?

Stanley Works is a new track arrangement, the whole section needed new feeders.

Fafnir, Corbin, and Russell & Erwin off of Track 5, all new track arrangement, all of it needed feeders.

New Britain Yard, completely relaid with new track. Everything needed feeders...

You can see where this is going. Pretty much the entire Highland portion of the layout has been redone, and the feeders needed to be done too.

In addition, I'm adding more blocks, and decided to redesign the bus so each block is easily identifiable and uses a different color. This was needed for Track 1 and Track 2 for the new signal blocks anyway. I did the wiring (and track) a decade ago and can do much better than my initial design and installation.

Moving along...

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

No Rail Joiners

These are KV Models compromise joint bars. On the left is Microengineering Code 55 track, and the right is a Peco Code 83 curved turnout. The KV Models joint bars can be soldered to the rail, so I figured I could go a step further and eliminate the rail joiners at the same time.

You can also see one of the reasons I personally don't care for Peco track and turnouts - their tie plates and spikes are significantly larger (out-of-scale) than Microengineering. I'll be able to reduce this with painting and weathering and, of course, it would be less noticeable on a layout that is all Peco track.

Although I'm not doing this everywhere, I am using the approach throughout New Britain Yard and other newly replaced track that will be close to the fascia. Especially in cases like this where the rail code is different.

The basic process I'm using now:

  1. Use a Dremel with a wire brush to polish the backs of the joint bars while still on the fret.
  2. Tin the backs of the joint bars while still on the fret.
  3. Clean/use a Dremel with a brush to polish the rail.
  4. Apply flux to both sides of the rail.
  5. Apply solder paste to both sides of the rail.
  6. Apply solder paste to the back of the joint bars while still on the fret.
  7. Cut the joint bars from the fret and apply to both sides of the rail.
  8. I lightly squeeze the joint bars with a pair of tweezers in place, then touch the iron to the top of the rail.

I polished and tinned the entire fret at one time. I apply the solder paste only to joint bar just prior to cutting off the fret to install. The flux/solder paste is sufficient to hold the joint bar in place in the web of the rail, I squeeze them just to ensure they are securely soldered to the rail web. The extra tie in the photo above was to raise the Code 55 rail into the correct position. In addition to the shorter rail, Microengineering ties are shorter than Peco.

This is the only Peco turnout on the layout, and I have four Walthers turnouts too. Despite the enormous flexibility in modifying Microengineering turnouts, they can't be used for everything. The track geometry here needed a 28" radius diverging track, which is a close match for the Peco turnout. The Walthers ones are also on this track around the top of the helix for similar reasons.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

DL-109 clinic on March 4 Hindsight 20/20

 I'll be presenting a clinic on the details and paint schemes of the NH DL-109s on the Hindsight 20/20 virtual meet on March 4.

I've been unearthing additional information even as I finish preparing the clinic, so I'm excited to bring some new clarity to the pre-rebuild DL-109s and their many variations and paint schemes.

It's free to attend, sign up here.