Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Good Enough

A common "standard" that is promoted in model railroading is "good enough." But what does that really mean?

It means whatever you'd like it to. That is, you decide when a given model is "good enough" that you're happy with it.

We all have to decide how much time, effort, and money to put into whatever we're modeling. In addition, our own skill level may be a limitation, although we always have the option of paying somebody else to do what we feel is beyond our skills. For example, hiring Pierre Oliver to build your resin kits. Many people pay to have decoders installed for them. I know a lot of folks that have paid others to finish their brass steam too.

Many modelers have different bars for different things. I've seen layouts with exquisitely detailed scenery and/or models, with sloppily applied ballast. It's not uncommon for modelers to put more effort into locomotives, cabooses, and home road cars than those or foreign roads. Although I think this often has to do with the information readily available, although the internet has changed that considerably.

For me, "good enough" is a moving target. Many of the compromises I choose today are "temporary" and I intend to address them in the future. For example, for most RTR cars I just put them on the layout as is. And for plastic kits, I often do the same with the idea that if I had purchased them RTR, they would have just gone on the layout. That doesn't mean I won't go back and make modifications, add missing parts, etc. Just that I'm not doing so now.

This also applies to things that are beyond my skill set right now. As my skills improve, I'll go back and upgrade things at a later date.

Other times, projects go on hold while I accumulate the information or parts I need. This happens because I often have more opportunities for research than hands-on modeling. Chris and I joke that the curse of prototype modeling is that once you know, you know. I'd rather not know that K-1-d #479 has Southern valve gear, and that it was the locomotive assigned to the New Hartford local. But I know. And I care...for now.

When I get to the point that I'm getting my steam ready for operation, the model very well may retain the Baker valve gear that's already on it. At least until I, or somebody I can pay, can replace it. It might never be altered.

Because the reality is, I'd rather know and choose not to make the modification, than not know.

My goal, though, is for everything to be modeled as prototypically as possible. The trains, the track, the scenery, and also things like the movement of trains, operations, and the paperwork too. I've been going over some of the operations and paperwork recently, but what is "good enough" for my physical models?

I know what my capabilities and standards are for diesels now that I've completed the RS-2s. Locomotives, cabooses, and passenger cars are the three key types of equipment that I'll need to be able to operate regularly. So those are where I'll continue to focus my equipment modeling for now. Freight cars will be primarily RTR with whatever issues they have, and I'll address that later on. But the ultimate goal is for everything to meet the standard set by those locomotives.

And I think that's ultimately what 'good enough' is - the point where your capabilities, resources, and goals meet. That doesn't mean that you're limited to your capabilities and resources today, though. Stretch yourself. Work on the things within your current skills now, and as they improve, you can grow into your goals.

An example? Stanley S-1. With some encouragement, particularly from Dick, I'm moving more toward scratchbuilding it entirely. I've got several potential chassis that I can use, but they aren't quite right. What's changed? I think that it is a combination of the few structures I've scratchbuilt so far, combined with finding creative approaches for scratchbuilding small details for the RS-2s. At this point I think that scratchbuilding steam is still beyond my current skillset, but it's growing. In the meantime, I've gotten to the point where I understand how I can go about it. What pieces will be needed, and how to fabricate them. One option is to start with a kitbash, then either upgrade that, or scratchbuild it afterwards. But if I'm going to scratchbuild it, then I might as well put the time that I would use kitbashing into something else. 

I can operate without it, using 'leased New Haven power.' But now that I've put the effort into the RS-2s, I'm not sure a kitbash for the Stanley locomotive is good enough for me anymore. In the meantime, I have a layout to complete...

Thursday, September 24, 2020


One topic I see come up frequently online is feeders. My general approach has been the same from the start - I don't want visible feeders, so to me the only option is to solder them to the bottom of the rail. Yes, I've seen people do them to the back of the rail, but that assumes you never take photos where that side of the rail is visible. You also have to be more careful not to create a problem when soldering to the inside of the rail.

As for attaching them to the bus? That's a different story.

Since I've basically re-laid the east and west sides and Berlin Line, and of course have the new Whiting St Yard and staging, I have a lot of feeders to drop again. Chris will be coming over to help with a lot of them, since this approach is tougher for tracks farther from the front of the layout, but it can be done without help.

Feeders to the Rail

First step is to drill 1/8" holes for the feeder wires. I do this so the feeder will come up behind each rail. I have a small piece of Masonite with a larger hole that I drilled that I use to protect the rail so I don't mark it with the drill chuck. I've used my Dremel or a regular drill to drill holes. Either work. In this location the benchwork is 1" foam on top of OSB.

The bus is 14 gauge, and the feeders are 22 gauge bell wire. I would have preferred all the same color, but this was what I could find and as long as red is connected to red I'm good.

I then push lengths of the bell wire through the holes, strip a small amount (maybe 1/4") and bend the tip over. As you may have noticed in other pictures, I've been doing this step around the entire layout, then I'll go back to solder them. 

I use a no-clean non-acid flux on the wire and tin the wires with thin, silver bearing solder. Make sure you preheat your iron. I use one of the brass wire cleaning sponge to clean the tip once it's hot, and before I put the iron back in it's stand.

Once the wire is tinned, I apply flux to the tinned wire, then pull the wire down so it is under the rail. This can be a little tricky, which is why you want a very small bend at the end of the wire so you can work it under the rail (this track is already glued down).

Then you press the wire from underneath with one hand, or if you can't reach that, use tweezers to do it above the deck, and touch the iron to the joint. I usually do it on the back, where the elbow (bend) in the wire is. If needed, I'll touch the iron to the spool of solder to pick up a very small amount of extra solder. I know this isn't the proper way to do it, but it has worked for me.

After I remove the iron, I typically do a slow count to 20 before removing the pressure on the wire, then give it a good tug to see if it's a good connection.

If you felt so inclined, you could file the bottom of the rail, or even tin it before this step. While that makes the soldering super-quick, it makes the process as a whole take longer. Without prepping the bottom of the rail, other than flux, I find it just takes a few extra seconds for the solder to flow.

For feeders farther back, I'll just go under the layout and press the wires to the bottom of the rail while Chris solders them.

I have tried soldering the feeders to the rail then putting the rail down. I found that much harder to do for a variety of reasons so didn't pursue it further.

And that's it. Once ballasted, they are buried and you can't see them at all.

Connecting to the Bus

For the other end, I originally used the 3M Scotchlok 'suitcase connectors' like these:

The problem is that if you need to make changes, all you can do is cut the feeder wire. Which led to using this as a pigtail to connect to the feeders themselves using wire nuts:

While that works well enough, I found that when you start adding more than a couple of wires to a single nut, it can be a challenge to get them all to connect securely. Also, the more you add, the more difficult it is to remove just one, which means I end up cutting the wires anyway, and redoing the entire nut. There are different sizes for different numbers of wires, but that means you need to have a variety on-hand.

So I tried a different option, which are press-fit connectors that come in multiple sizes (for 2, 3, 4, 5 wires, etc.). Since I was going to cut the wires anyway if I were to remove one, this was a simple solution. You strip the wire, and push it into the connector:

Faster than wire nuts, but I was back to an option that wouldn't allow easy changes. It also requires you to have a variety on hand, or run feeders in a way to maximize their use. Although it's not a bad idea to leave an empty port for future use.

There are versions that have little levers that will let you release a wire, but they were quite a bit more expensive when I picked these up. And I didn't think I was going to change anything anymore...

You can see one wire that was clipped in that photo.

T-Tap Connectors

So today I tried another option I just found. T-Tap Connectors. I got mine on eBay, but you can get them elsewhere like Amazon. I tried some electrical warehouses nearby, but they didn't have them. However, it appears they are used primarily in the auto and boat industries, so you may be able to get them at an auto parts store.

In any event, this is what they look like:

Like the suitcase connectors, you hold it to the wire:

Fold it over:

And crimp it shut:

These are much easier to crimp than the suitcase connectors, you can just use your wire stripper. But that only taps into the bus. You then measure, cut and strip the feeder...

...and crimp on a male spade connector. You can get the ones that have protection like I did, or without.

Then it just plugs into the side of the T-Tap Connector:

This can be unplugged any time (although it's a very tight fit), and if you need to reuse it, just put a spade on the new wire. Because the spade and T-Tap Connector are separate parts, you just get the sizes of each that fit. 

I can't say it's 'better' than the other options, just different. You can still use this as a pigtail if you'd like to go to a group of feeders. But I like the fact that I can disconnect the feeder if I need to (although in theory I won't need to anymore...), and I also like that the feeder comes off perpendicular to the bus, which is a little cleaner than the suitcase connectors, and you can place them closer together if you needed.

I've got 200, so it's what I'm using now (I do really like them), and hopefully that will be the end of feeder hell.

How Many Feeders?

Which leads me to another point, which is asked frequently online - how many do you need?

The answer is...enough that you don't have significant voltage drop anyplace on your layout. I am using the tried-and-true adage of a feeder to (almost) every piece of rail.

The real answer is that a feeder every three feet or so is overkill. But you're also building in redundancy, so if one feeder fails, you won't have to worry about it. You're also trying to compensate for the poorer connectivity of rail joiners, especially over time and after scenicking.

What if you solder your joints? Then you need fewer feeders, but you're also relying on that soldered joint to not fail. In addition, you have to adjust for expansion/contraction differently than if you don't solder joints. Lastly, as I've found out, you may decide to make changes in the future, and that's harder to do if you solder your joints.

Having said that, if I were laying track now, I probably would solder the joints, but not use rail joiners at all, instead using KV Models joint bars to keep the rail aligned when doing so. That would ensure the alignment is consistent, then cut expansion gaps where needed.

What it really comes down to is how much you hate adding feeders vs how hard it is for you to fix future potential issues. I find that it's really not that difficult to fix or add a feeder even after the track has been ballasted. But it is more challenging if your operating crew is waiting for you to do it.

Especially with help, Chris and I have found that we can do a whole lot of feeders in one work session. And doing it now greatly reduces the number of times we have to deal with feeder issues in the future. Now that both of our layouts have been operating in some capacity for a decade or so, I think we'd both say we're happy with our decision to err on the side of too many feeders.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Don't be afraid to change...

 Although this isn't a new subject on this blog, it's prompted by many questions I see online in forums and on Facebook. Something along the lines of, "I'm not sure I like something on my layout, should I change it?" Sometimes it's asking if they should start a new layout altogether.

The answer, of course, is one that can only be answered by that modeler, and it will also depend on what sort of modeler you are. My intention, of course, is to model something specific and as accurately as possible. When asked if I had double the space, what would I model then? The answer is, "New Britain, but better." So of any layout, you'd be reasonable in thinking that it is a pretty fixed and unchangeable thing.

Well, that was the idea, but it hasn't really turned out that way. Here's a picture to illustrate:

This is a box/pile of track that I just gave to Dale. It's all used Microengineering track, 99% Code 70, and much of it painted and even weathered. He'll only use the rail, for handlaying. I have at least 20 turnouts to go with it.

What is this track?

It's all track that I removed when making changes to the layout over the last few years. It doesn't flex well after it's been painted, and of course it was also cut and fit to specific locations, so I ended up just picking up new track here and there as I was making the modifications. It was going to be in the way during the recent work on the layout, so I decided to give it to Dale.

I've figured out recently that I've rebuilt probably 90% of the layout at least twice, and in some cases (like Stanley Works) 3 or even 4 times. Why?

In the case of New Britain Yard it was due to the ground cover drying with a white coating over everything. That hasn't otherwise changed.

Stanley Works was designed, and redesigned, several times to try to ensure that all of the tracks are there, and that they'll operate correctly, despite not being able to model it accurately in that space. So there were issues with the runaround placement initially. Then I found some more information and wanted to add some additional tracks. After operating we discovered a few challenges and rearranged the track to address those issues. Then I decided I needed more room for the background buildings and removed the backdrop, and make the opening for the helix smaller. Since I had found more information on the west side of town, and wanted to correct some other problems around Fafnir, I decided to pull up everything and redesign it. In the end, Stanley is much more accurately designed, and works much better.

And yesterday, I decided to rearrange one of the tracks, and remove another because I had learned it wasn't actually there in my era. (It's been surprisingly difficult to nail down the track arrangement here, since every map has been different).

On the east side of town, the modifications were to realign the mainline better, and after removing some backdrops I realized I could fit more of the industries. As it stands, there are only 2-3 industries that I wasn't able to include on the layout on that side of town now (including one I just learned about a couple of weeks ago). Far more than I originally fit.

In the end it comes down to one thing. What will make you happy? Will you be annoyed that some track arrangement isn't 'correct' in a few years? Is the track arrangement inhibiting operations? It could be an issue with scenery, really anything.

The point is, while we may have intentions to model something specific, that doesn't mean it's static. It's OK to change things if you feel they are necessary. Think it through, and then go with what makes the most sense. We change lots of other things in our lives (cars, homes, clothes, furniture, rearrange rooms, etc.), but sometimes we seem to get hung up on making changes on the layout. Yes, we've spent time and money getting it to where it is now. But that's OK. We've operated the layout and it worked well. Now it will work even better. I've improved my skills, learned new things, and the goals have grown/changed slightly. And this is a learn on the job type hobby.

The real truth is, I'll be able to tell you the best way to build a layout as soon as I've finished one. Until then, don't be surprised if there are more changes...

Sunday, September 20, 2020

DER-1 (DL-109) Locomotives

 OK, I won't be getting to finishing these yet, but in response to a recent Facebook post and to help a modeling buddy, here's some detailed info on these locomotives and what I'm doing to model them.

DER-1 (DL-109) 0703 on train 136 at New Britain Station. Kent Cochrane c.1945.

The DER-1 locomotives were built for the NH starting in 1941. While there were 74 closely related locomotives built by Alco between 1939 and 1945 of the models DL-103b, 105, 107, and 109 (along with B-unit models DL-108 and 110), only 62 of model DL-109 were built, and 60 of those were for the New Haven Railroad.

I've been compiling information and documenting photos for an eventual Shoreliner article (by me, or anybody who would like help writing it). The information I've been able to glean is a little different from what's been published to date.

The New Haven simply called them by their road numbers (the 0700s) until 1944 when a new classification system was introduced at which point the DL-109s were designated DER-1 locomotives with the following sub classifications in the 1945 Description of Locomotives:

  • DER-1 - 0700-0709
  • DER-1a - 0710-0719
  • DER-1b - 0720-0729
  • DER-1c - 0730-0759

Between the 3/30 and 6/30 1949 Summary of Equipment documents the classifications changed:

  • DER-1a 0700-0709
  • DER-1b 0710-0749
  • DER-1c 0750-0759

However, the 1949-1951 engine assignments differ and list them as:

  • DER-1 - 0700-0709
  • DER-1a - 0710-0719
  • DER-1b - 0720-0759

But the Summary of Equipment documents classify them as:

  • DER-1a - 0700-0709
  • DER-1b - 0710-0749
  • DER-1c - 0750-0759

So what is different between the classes? That I don't know. I have seen one drawing that identifies the clearance below the frame to be different between the DER-1 and other classes. The weight differs between some of the classes too.

Most of the differences are probably mechanical and not evident to modelers. What has me the most curious is that there were still 3 classes after they were all rebuilt, so obviously some differences remain (although the fact that the post-rebuild classifications are inconsistent between the engine assignments and equipment summaries is curious).

So I'll identify the locomotives by road number, rather than class to keep things simple here. I'm primarily focusing on how I'm modifying the Proto shells, but I'll point out a few issues with the Overland brass models as well. I don't have the Hallmark brass model, but the nose contour was so incorrect it's not one I would use as a base.

I'm not covering converting the Proto model to the rebuilt configuration. Dave Messer wrote an excellent article for Railroad Model Craftsman in the January 2006 issue. Joe Smith has a post about his conversion, which also includes modeling the new nose of 0727 as a B-unit.  Of course, the easier option is to use the Overland Brass model, which is what I'm doing.  


The original roofline has a series of vents that are mostly, but not quite, captured by the Proto 1000 model. Good photos that show the roof in detail are rare, unfortunately, so this is what I've been able to figure out. The original 10 locomotives did not have winterization hatches, but they were all added well before my era. Mike Redden updated his excellent Shapeways parts at my request so they now fit over the round fan housing on the model.

Version 1: 0700-0719

Some minor modifications are needed for this class of locomotives. I have not added the winterization hatches yet to these models, the first ten were delivered without them, but all received them long before my era:

There are four small raised vents/intakes (I don't know what they are) in front of each fan housing. Remove the first two by carefully scraping them off with a blade. You want to keep them intact because you'll need one of them. Cover the hole with .005" styrene.

Go easy on the solvent, I used a little too much and the cover deformed a bit.

On the rear of the roof you need to remove the two round protrusions, then add another cover the same width as the existing one with .005" styrene:

I could have sworn I took a picture cutting off the round parts, but I can't find it right now. On the lower picture, I tried embossing rivets (a Joe Smith technique) by putting the .005" styrene over a line of rivets somewhere else on the model, but it didn't work very well for me. You'll also see that I removed the small vent/intake, and used some .005" styrene to create a base to remount one of them a little father forward. On one shell I added styrene underneath the hole, the other shell I've left open.

You'll notice on one of the shells I removed the fan housings. I was using Mike's older winterization hatches which required that. I may drill them out because the new ones are see-through.

There are at least four lift rings yet to be added, on the large panels near the fan housings. I'm still trying to determine if there were more. There are some other details (mushroom-shaped vents on the roof just behind the side doors, as well as some sort of vent that angles toward the back near each fan housing. I'm still looking for better photos of those. I'm also not 100% clear about the arrangement of the final roof panels behind the second fan housing.

This roofline is correct for the first 20 units (0700-0719). Much of what has been published indicates the second group (0710-0719) had a simplified roof line, but pictures verify they were the same.

Overland 6312 labeled for 0700-0709 is appropriate for all 20 of these locomotives.
Overland 1993 is labeled as a DER-1b for 0710-0749, but is actually appropriate at least for 0750-0759, and potentially for 0739-0759. 

Version 2: 0720-0729(?)
I haven't attempted to model any of these locomotives, but they require more extensive roof modifications.

First, not only are all four of the vents/intakes in front of the radiator fans not present, it is just the two large panels, with no indication they were there. So instead of covering up the location of two of them, you'll need to remove all four in each section, then fill and file the whole panel so it is smooth (except for the rivets around the outside of course).

The two scoops next to this panel also need to be removed, as does the mushroom vent above the fireman's and engineer's windows.

Next to each radiator fan there are two vents molded into roof. Those need to be filed away and replaced with a drop grab.

Version 3: 0730(?)-0759
The earliest road number I've documented with these modifications is 0735. The major difference is the two globe vents in each of those large panels in front of the fan housings/winterization hatches. It appears some of the units had the globe vents removed at some point.


There are louvres on the side under the first and last windows on the right side, and in the same location on the left side, ignoring the extra window behind the radiator shutters. 

Version 1 (0700-0719)
There is a pair of louvres. 

Version 2 (0720-0759)
On later units there are three louvres, but...
A photo of 0720 in New Haven Diesel Locomotives Volume 2, it has only a pair of louvres in the delivery scheme. (There is a photo on pg 16 that says it is 0735 that also has two louvres, but the caption is wrong. It has to be 0700-0719 based on the roofline). So I'm not sure how many of this class had two, rather than three louvres.

The other variation is how visible the two vertical lines of rivets between side panels are. In some photos they are very evident, others they seem to be non-existent.

There are two variations of the trucks, with noticeable flanges along the equalizers on one variation. There really isn't much option other than modifying the model trucks. But photos also show that the trucks seem to have been switched among locomotives, with the same road number being photographed with either, and in some cases, one of each. I will look closer at these details when I get to that point.

Pilot Details

The cut out for the coupler is oversized. I addressed this by first gluing a piece of thin styrene behind it, covering the entire hole. I then filled the actual hole with several strips of styrene and filed to shape before cutting out a new hole.

I still need to add the small steps at the corners of the pilot, along with the grab irons. This will be 0703 so it doesn't need the air intakes (see below).

There were also two different types of number boards, the original cast ones, and (starting with 0730?) later 'built-up' ones. I haven't determined if/how I will address this.

Air Intakes
0700-0719 lacked the small square air intakes on the nose that are on the later locomotives.

Decorative Flair
The nose of most of the locomotives had a curved flair that lead into the original striping on the nose. However, like so many things with these locomotives, there are some oddities. Initially, I thought it was the last ten (0750-0759) that lacked this decorative touch. Then I find a photo of 0750 with it after the rebuild. Also after the rebuild, 0739 is clearly lacking it, although 0738 and 0740 both have it.

Paint Schemes

In the post-war era, the DL-109s were repainted in several different schemes. I've been working to document each road number that wore each scheme based primarily on photos, but also what little documentation we've been able to find. I've noted the date of the documented photo where known.

Delivery Scheme
There are a couple of locomotives that appear to have retained their delivery scheme possibly until they were rebuilt. For a stretch, though, they didn't apply a road number to the nose so in many photos you can't determine the road number.

These are locomotives that I haven't documented in another paint scheme, or the latest year noted that I have seen a photo in the delivery scheme, to give some context for a later scheme:
0717 (1946 - although see below for the Hunter Green and Warm Orange scheme)
0723 (1947)
0727 (1948) 
0730 (1947)
0735 (1946)
0738 (1946)

Hunter Green with Wide Silver Gray Stripes
This was an early pinstripe variation c1944. Only a few have been documented in this scheme, with a color photo of two unknown road numbers in New Haven in Color Volume 1 (Doughty):
0704 (1945)
0705 (1945)
0706 (1944)
0714 (Nov 1945)

Hunter Green with Pinstripes
There are two variations of this scheme, one with Dulux Gold pinstripes, and the other with silver gray pinstripes. The pinstripe scheme itself was first applied c1945, but which one? It is unclear as to when each variation was applied, and the published material is inconsistent. 

The photo of 0748 in the centerfold of Shoreliner 18.1 looks a lot like Pullman Green with Dulux Gold pinstripes. This would be consistent with the other schemes utilizing Dulux Gold, but some of the other color photos look more like Hunter Green.

The photos don't really clarify things, though. All of the photos with Dulux Gold are 0749 or lower, and the majority of color photos of the silver gray are 0752 or higher. This might lead one to believe that the Dulux Gold was the earlier scheme applied to the earliest locomotives built in 1945 (0739-0749), and silver gray to the final 10.

But we have an undated photo also found in Doughty's book of 0747 in the silver gray pinstripes (we also have one of 0745 in silver gray), and a 1949 photo by John Wallace of the same locomotive in Dulux gold. It wouldn't have been repainted later in '49 without being rebuilt, so the silver gray must have been the earlier one on this locomotive. I know John personally, so I don't doubt the veracity of his date. So the mystery remains.

The only thing I can say is that no color photo of a DL-109 higher than 0749 has surfaced with Dulux Gold pinstripes, and I think it's clear based on the Alco builder's photos that the locomotives built in 1945 were delivered in pinstripes, although I haven't found a photo of 0739 yet. 

Suffice to say, I would rely on photos for this scheme in particular. For my model of 0703 based on a 1946 black & white photo, assuming it was repainted c1945 (since the CT Hat Company in the photo is gone by 1946). I'm going with the silver gray because I think it was more common, and I like it better. But it very well may have been gold...

Verified with Dulux Gold pinstripes
0701 (c1947) 
0747 (1949)

Verified with Silver Gray pinstripes 

0719 (and most probably 0718)
0745-0759 delivered in this scheme

Pinstripes, but color unknown
These are locomotives that have been documented with pinstripes, but only in black & white photos so I don't know which color:
0703 (1946, 1947)
0704 (1946)
0706 (1946)
0744 (1949)

Hunter Green and Warm Orange
A signature scheme, and the delivery scheme of the first delivery of PA-1s along with the FA-1/FB-1 locomotives. Presumably this became the standard at the same time as the FA-1s c1947. Fortunately it's easy enough to pick these out, even in black & white photos.

You may note that most of the first 20 DL-109s were repainted in either pinstripes or the Warm Orange scheme. At least one was repainted in both schemes (0718). This makes sense as they were the earliest DL-109s built and had already logged a lot of miles during WWII. Why some of the later locomotives, including some built in 1945 would have been repainted in this scheme is unknown. 

Minor Rebuilds?
What has not been mentioned in any publication that I've seen is that any of the first 20 locomotives (0700-0719) that received this scheme were also modified. When they received this scheme they also received the simplified roofline (version 2) and additional louvres and the nose air intake that were on 0720 and later, although no globe vents. 

The earliest locomotives rebuilt with steel sides and screens instead of windows also wore this scheme. I've notated those that have been verified below. This should have included 0740, the first locomotive rebuilt, although it retained its original appearance with windows rather than the screens of all of the other locomotives.

Question marks in the list below denote those that should have received this scheme based on records on when they were repainted, but have yet to be verified by photos. Nearly a third of the DL-109s received this scheme.
0707 (may be 0717, poor scan of photo)

 Naturally I would recommend that you model from photos, particularly if you can find one from the era you are modeling. 1949-50 provides the most variations, where all of the following can be found:

  • Delivery Scheme
  • Hunter Green with Dulux Gold pinstripes
  • Hunter Green with Silver Gray pinstripes
  • Hunter Green and Warm Orange
  • Hunter Green and Warm Orange with rebuilt sides
  • Modified Delivery Scheme with rebuilt sides
  • Modified Delivery Scheme with road number on nose and windows
  • 0722 with rebuilt sides in the Cranberry scheme (after May 18, 1949)
The only schemes not in use during these two years are the wide pinstripes, and the McGinnis scheme that was only applied to 0759 c1955, plus the PP0716.

If you're really ambitious, 0727 received its unfortunate nose-job in 1949, along with 0725 without the drastic modification, to be used as a middle unit on the Merchants Limited and Yankee Clipper. Joe Smith did a fantastic job of modeling 0727.

In my case, I'll be starting with:
  • 0700 - assigned to 131/136 post '49, and I know it was rebuilt/repainted in May of '49.
  • 0703 - photographed on 131/136 in 1945, I'll use it through '48 in the silver gray pinstripes.
If I get to others, I could use:
  • 0707 - also assigned to 131/136 post '49, rebuilt September '49
  • 0730 - assigned to 157 in 1949, rebuilt in June '48 so it should be the Hunter Green and Warm Orange.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Progress on the layout

Now that I've finished the DERS-2b locomotives, what's next?

My plan was to work on the cabooses needed for the NY/YN freights, and that is underway, as is work on the other locomotives I'll need for operations. But as Chris reported, he came by to help on the layout. The original plan was for him to come help me do feeders, but then Pete said he was available to come help as well. At the same time, I called Dick back to get caught up, and in the end the three of them came to help with a few projects.

Dick was there all day and helped me hang the door to the utility room, then he and Pete constructed the wall around the agent's desk so I could finish that space. In the meantime, Chris and I worked on a number of smaller projects (he injured his thumb at Bill's, making feeders more complicated), and putting together a plan of action to finish the room where Whiting Street Yard is.

That all got me in the position to move forward on these projects that have taken me far too long to finish.

So the room for Whiting Street yard has a door and sheetrock now. I also built the deck for the bulk tracks and I'm working on how best to build a swing/lift out to connect it to the yard:

I need to tape it, and there's one piece of backdrop left to do. After that, Chris (and probably the others) will help with the drop ceiling. I suppose it should be painted too.

With Dick's help the door (courtesy of Dennis) is hung much better than if I were to do it myself. Not only does he know how to do it properly, but he's also good at actually doing it.

The wiring bus is in place for Whiting St Yard through staging and the bulk tracks. You'll see that I've already pulled feeders as well. I need to do the east and west side of town too (and glue down the track there), so it will be ready for Chris and I to do on another day.

Another dramatic change is the installation of lights (available at Amazon) that Bill found and are fantastic. You can connect up to eight of them, and I've got five across staging, plus one on either end:

I need to tack up the wiring in a couple of places, but lighting is one of the projects that has been a sticking point for a long time and is really going to finish off the room. I'm working out the details as to how I'll install them on the upper deck.

The other dramatic change is the agent's desk. Unfortunately the desk I want is temporarily out of stock, but the 'office' is complete thanks to Dick and Pete:

It's a 'simple' plywood wall (not so simple to build it around my benchwork...), with cheap wainscot that I spray painted. Dennis gave me a box of really nice wainscot (not quite enough for this location, plus most of it will be hidden by the desk) and I have a couple of possibilities of where that will end up.

The rolling cart is similar to one Chris has, and I'll need at least one more. It's full of freight cars and will eventually live under Whiting St Yard which is where I'll prepare trains for ops sessions.

These projects, along with the locomotives, cabooses, and also passenger cars, are all part of the push to get the layout not only ready for ops sessions (again), but to finalize the construction of the layout itself so I can focus on fine-tuning ops and build structures and scenery. I think I've spent enough time tweaking the layout.

So this is all time consuming, especially for me, but is making it feel like a new layout. It's also getting to the point where I can do a virtual layout tour soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

What else? Smoke Stacks

One day Chris mentioned that if I were to build the tall smoke stack to scale, it would go to the ceiling. I hadn't gotten around to checking and just had a Walthers smoke stack as a stand in.

So, what are we looking at? There are three smoke stacks that will be on the layout. Two at Russell & Erwin, and one at Stanley Works.

These are the two at Russell & Erwin. The Sanborn maps give the heights, but not the width which I estimated using the scale on the map. Despite the appearance at this angle, the star-shaped one is taller. These are 10' x 150' on the left, and 15' x 175' on the right.

What about the Stanley Works one? In one of my clinics I pointed out the really long ladder, which is what I think might have inspired Chris to point out I'd have to build the things.

I took this photo in 2015. It was demolished on March 18, 2018, so I now know it was built in the '20s, it was made of steel (I thought it might be iron), and was 12' wide and 196' tall. It's also separated from the power house by a bit, which is good since it's all that will fit on the layout.

So, how do those compare with the Walthers model? The Walthers one is 1.25" x 10.5" or a scale 9' x 76' or a bit short. 

To scale, the Russell & Erwin ones should be 1.3" x 21" and 2" x 24" tall.

The Stanley one is 1.65" x 27" and as it turns out, the outer diameter of 1 1/4" PVC pipe is 1.65" so here's a mockup:

I left the Comet and caboose projects in place to help with the scale. To give an idea of how undersized the Walthers model would be for these specific industries, here it is next to the scale sized one:

The question is, of course, do I build them to scale? I think I'll try. If I decide to scale it down, how much would I reduce it? I'm not sure. The two Russell & Erwin ones, of course, are very obvious in the Cochrane photo I cropped above and tower well above the train.

I'll need to put a bit of a taper on this one for Stanley Works, and then either carve or make a wrapper for the steel plates, along with Archer rivets. And a lot of (Tichy?) ladders. For the shorter of the Russell & Erwin ones, the same approach with either a styrene or paper brick wrapper should work. As always, the challenge will be the star-shaped brick Russell & Erwin one. I've pretty much decided the best way is to 3D print it. It's just a question of seeing if any of my 3D printing buddies can do a 2-foot tall smoke stack in one piece.

Glad I'm not modeling O-scale!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Modeling NY/YN Freights - DERS-2b (RS-2) 0502 and 0503 - Part VIII


The fine details were basically done. I added a crew from a Proto S-2 and painted the interior in an attempt to get 'Boat Enamel Green' which is one of the colors that was specified for the interior of the NE-5 cabooses and I assumed is sort of a gray-green that I've seen inside some locomotives. I think it came out a bit too mint-green, but it's good enough. I covered the wires that go through the cab with a piece of styrene, and also capped off the top half of the ends of the shell to make the front and back cab walls. This was simple since the long and short hood are separate parts.

Weathering Attempt #1

So with the last few details added, it was time to weather the shell itself. And while I was quite happy with the way the walkway and underframe weathering went, the rest was a different matter.

I followed the same process as the underframe, which was basically just a dusting of Pan Pastels. Unfortunately, it was too heavy in some areas, and non-existent in others. One of the problem areas was that anyplace I had touched up paint, or parts I had added and painted, weathered completely differently than the rest of the shell. 

Since I wasn't happy with the results, and not sure how to proceed I set them aside while working on other things. In the end, I washed the weathering off. It's odd how they seem to disappear on the chassis, but were so hard to clean off the shell... In the end, a fingertip worked better than a toothbrush.

Weathering Attempt #2

This time I did a wash using Vallejo paints, basically a reddish brown to highlight the crevices, around the doors, the louvres, etc.

I then dusted it with Vallejo pigments, using a light beige to simulate a light coating of dust. In and around the stack and the radiator fan housing I used black Pan Pastels, and also in the radiator shutters.

I didn't like how heavy it was in the shutters, though, so I washed most of that off.

I found weathering the cab more difficult. The wash puddled in weird patterns on the broad, flat areas so I wiped it off. But it also was not very visible on the dark green. It's a bit early in their life for a heavy covering of soot and dirt on the roof, so I didn't want to overdo it. So the light dusting seems to be good for now.

Finished...for now

While overall I'm happy with the weathering, it's not quite what I was going for. It's heavier than I'd like, although at this stage much more difficult to alter. I think it looks more appropriate for their appearance in 1960 than 1950.

But here's what the finished locomotive looks like. 

The small pipe right next to the radiator shutters (on both sides) is simply a piece of styrene rod, painted and weathered before gluing it in place. I made it long, then cut/filed to be flush with the bottom of the shell.

Based on the photos, I cut the hose off of the signal line leaving just the angle cock, since it looks like they removed it sometimes when using the locomotives in freight service. I've left the hose on 0502 for a different variation.

I had removed the wheels and masked off the axle holes when I sprayed the entire chassis with Rustoleum black primer. While they were out, I weathered the wheels using my usual approach of a paint pen then applying Pan Pastels to the wet paint.

There are a few minor details I might add, and I need to get my Microscale decals back from a friend to add the, 'Observe Rule 92,' lettering to the pilots. I find the picking up the locomotives by the shell works best to preserve the weathering, but ultimately I intend to leave them on the track. 

The weathering from the walkway down is easy, and I actually like the idea that I'll touch that up every once in a while, so it will change over time. For 0502 I think I'll glue the shell to the walkway. I'll eventually do this one too, but I'm not ready to take it apart right now. But there are a few spots that aren't as tight as I'd like.

I need to finish up 0502, but the Thursday project this week is a bit more substantial. More on that next time!