Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back from vacation

We just got back from a vacation at Dad's in South Carolina. I do have some updates that I plan to post tomorrow.

In the meantime, I do have a train story. I usually see quite a few down at Dad's (Norfolk Southern), but I only saw one this year since we spent most of our time in the lake and on the boat.

But on the way home we stayed at the Staunton, VA Comfort Inn. I didn't notice that there was a cut just past the end of the parking lot. So I was having trouble sleeping, and at 3:30 am I was half-asleep and startled awake by the noise of a train outside. It was LOUD! We were on the 5th floor and I checked out the train, but by that time had missed the locomotives.

This morning we were just about to take off, when another one came by. Two CSX locomotives with a hundred empty coal hoppers. Very cool, and just as loud. We had the perfect vantage point since we were parked looking straight at the tracks.

Anyway, we had a great time, and I'm ready to get back to some modeling.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The track gang has been hard at work

Well, if two is a 'gang.'

Chris came by this afternoon to start laying track in staging. In the picture is half of the staging. The other half is a mirror image. The longest track is about 17 cars and, as we found out today, the passing siding is about 20 cars.
Basically all of the turnouts (Microengineering) are in place. Half of them are glued down, and they are all prepped (tinned) for feeders.
I'm not sure how much time I'll have to continue over the next week or two, but the next steps are to complete gluing the track in this half of the staging, then lay the remaining track for the other half of staging.
After that's all in place and glued, I'll just have to add the connecting track to the west helix (seen curving to the left in the picture), and determine the configuration of the wye to the east helix. That will complete the staging level.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The mystery of W-833

Well, this is turning out to be a very interesting car. Why? Because I can't figure out where it came from...
I know of two pictures, taken moments apart, by Tom McNamara in New Britain, 1956. One is in Trackside with Thomas J. McNamara, pg 98, the second is in New Haven Railroad: The Final Decades, pg 132.

The second picture is just the end of the car from the side, but the first picture is a nice 3/4 view with only a section of the end hidden by 0802. The end sill matches the Westerfield kits, not the NHRHTA/F&C kits. The end is still a double-sheathed end, but with a horizontal steel strap across the entire end. It does not have the corner bracing that is found on the Westerfield kit. It appears to have received a new steel roof (I'm guessing a Hutchins Dry Lading roof, with the small 'riblets'). It also has an Ajax power hand brake.

The ends have ladders, the sides - drop grabs. It has double sill steps like the Westerfield kit, not the rebuilds represented by the NHRHTA/F&C kits.

But it has a straight side sill, and from what I can tell, a straight center sill. This matches the NHRHTA/F&C kit. The position of the poling pocket is like that of the single sheathed end rebuilds in the Mainline Modeler articles (July and September 1988). But these cars did not have the steel strap across the end before rebuilding, and they received single sheathed or dreadnaught ends.

From the prototype information in the Westerfield kit, I'm guessing it was converted to work service in 1945. The double sill step under the door was probably added at the time it was converted. But it does not seem to match any of the documented cars. I'd like to find the 1945 Equipment Purchased, Converted, Destroyed or Condemned documents. If it was converted then, it should have the original car number.

In the meantime, I'll need to shave off a few more details from the Westerfield body. The F&C underframe is too small to fit the Westerfield kit. So I'll file down the fishbelly understill instead. The fishbelly side sills are separate parts, so I won't need to use those. I'll keep looking for an appropriate roof, and see if I can dig up more pictures/information.

I decapitated a Westerfield kit

Well, de-roofed it anyway. It was a bit of a challenge because the New Haven double-sheathed box car is a one piece body so I was cutting through a large chunk of resin. It's so thick at that point that it now has a flat 'roof.'

I had an extra steel sheathed roof from an F&C kit, but I found it's too narrow. I cut it down the middle, because I figured I can fill in the middle easier (since it's under the running board), but it may be too much space. We'll see. Some other F&C kits look like they've got roofs that will work, I'll see if I can get one of them.

In the meantime, I'll keep modifying and detailing the rest of the kit while I work on the NH single-sheathed box car as well. I really don't have enough New Haven rolling stock built, although these wouldn't have been the most common...

Saturday, July 16, 2011


T-2-b at Whiting Street Yard

OK, it's been about a week since the last update. Jessica is in Florida with her grandparents, so we've been reorganizing the house and painting the downstairs. We also took a quick 2-day trip to Newport, RI to ride the dinner (lunch) train, as well as visit the mansions of Edward Julius Berwind of Berwind-White Coal (The Elms), Alva Vanderbilt (Marble House), and Cornelius Vanderbilt II (The Breakers).

At the beginning of this post you see a new aquisition, one of two T-2-b switchers that were assigned to New Britain until around 1947. It will need a little work, but runs very well. I haven't been able to verify when the 44-tonners replaced the T-2-b's in New Britain, but I have photos of these in 1947, and the earliest photo of a 44-tonner I have is 1949. Here's another shot looking down the tracks:

And this is an overview of the Whiting Street Yard:

All of the trackwork is in. The frogs haven't been powered yet, and I have not ordered the supplies to actuate the turnouts with servos yet. Right now they can be manually switched (and there's on Blue Point I used for testing that you can see in the last picture.

It's not anywhere close to prototypical in design. I'll build a brick freight house flat for the two tracks next to the wall. The third track is storage, and the two tracks in the other direction represent team tracks. With the 44-tonner or the T-2-b you can fit two cars on the switchback. So far it's been an interesting module to operate.

Chris stopped by last week to run a train and help cut the last piece needed for the helix. It's an odd shaped piece to connect the second level to the Berlin Branch.

The turnouts have arrived at the hobby shop, so I'll be picking them up today. We still have at least two days of work around the house, but hopefully I'll get to them later in the week. The plan is to complete laying track in staging as well as the second helix.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Model

Well, progress on the layout continues. I've completed cutting off the remaining corners on the helix that still needed to go. I've also laid another course of helix.

Chris stopped by last week to check out the progress and help cut the track for the lift-out. We had a few minor issues, but it's working very well. I had originally installed some alignment pins (basically just small metal rods, originally shelf holders from an Ikea bookcase), but I found that they aren't necessary.
 There will be pictures by the end of the week of the progress.

The other day I also stopped by RR Model and Hobby supply to have Roger order some Microengineering turnouts for staging. I'll also get Frog Juicers ( to power the frogs. I'm hoping to have the staging level completed by the time Jessica gets back from vacation with her grandparents in two weeks.

Anyway, Roger has a binder of a New Haven model collection that he's just taken on consignment. Most of it I've got or it's older models not up to current standards. But he did have the Westerfield NH XM7 Single Sheathed Box Car, a model that I needed. So I'm working on this in the evenings that there's something both Laura and I watch on TV. Otherwise I'm down in the basement working on the layout. I'm hoping Chris will work on his at the same time, we both need to get moving on some of these kits. I'll be lettering it for MOW service, there's a picture of W-1316 in Rolling Stock of New England Volume 1: New Haven Railroad Work Equipment from 1951. It was converted to work service in March 1947, so it will work for all except my earliest sessions. Eventually I wouldn't mind getting another one to letter for interchange as about a dozen of the cars remained in service until 1951.
Update: Based on the Work Equipment assignments, I'm going to model this as in service instead. It doesn't appear these cars moved around a lot once they were converted. Instead, I have Westerfield 10513, the earlier double-sheathed version that I didn't think I could use. But there's a picture on page 98 of Trackside with Thomas J. McNamara that shos W-833 in New Britain in 1956. It looks very similar to this model. I'll have to add the metal strap across the end, remove the middle door guide, and I won't add the fishbelly side sill. I can't tell if it's a fishbelly center sill. Also, it appears to have been re-roofed with a metal roof. I'm not sure if I'll change that since it's a one-piece body.
Update to the update: And wouldn't you know it? The 5-15-56 Caboose & Work Equipment Assignment lists W-833 as stored in New Britain. How did I miss that one? Prior to that it was a rubbish car in Pawtucket (at least in 1951 and 1953), but it will be sitting in New Britain regardless.

More to come on that project too...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Poling pockets

I've been continuing work on the layout. I'm moving along on the second helix which has sat at about 75% done for a while. I've got to get to the point where it will connect to the Berlin branch and then have to figure out how to make that connection. After working out my particular process for soldering feeders on the Whiting Street Yard, it took more time to warm up the iron than it did to actually solder feeders to the helix track tonight.
So in the process of moving things around, I had knocked the (empty) box for the NHRHTA/Atlas HH660 on the floor. When I was picking up the exploded view of the locomotives I was looking at the parts and noticed that part #994229 was a 4-pack of poling pockets. They are well done, and on a simple square plate. So I promptly ordered a bunch to add to the Athearn RS-3s that are missing them. They are $0.75 per four pack and there was no additional cost for shipping, so I ordered extras. I'll have to go through the various freight car projects I've got to see if I'll need more.

It's a model

Well, I can finally update this again. Earlier this week our phone and internet connection was lost. Completely. They finally fixed it today...
Anyway, on Thursday, Jessica was doing some switching and accidentally cranked up the speed. She likes to keep things moving really slowly. She said that she's afraid she'll break something.

I told her, "It's OK, it's only a toy after all."

To which she replied, "It's not a toy, Dad, it's a model."