Thursday, October 30, 2014

Late October Update

With scenery once you make the jump its hard to stop... For all those out there who are timid, grab a scenery guide out there and just hop in. Practice makes perfect!

The area I am currently working on uses Pelle Soeberg's wet/wet method and the results have been awesome!

Here are a few photos of progress made this week. To compare before and after check out my earlier October updates. The only thing missing scenery basic wise is grass tufts, static grass areas, and SuperTrees. Maybe trip to hobby local shop this weekend?

  Wednesday Evening Progress


  Thursday Evening Progress

Hope to have another post sometime Sunday or Monday


Monday, October 27, 2014

Cement Hopper Fleet Attrition

One disadvantage of modeling current era 2013-2014 is equipment eventually reaches its retirement age or as traffic bases or trends change so does the equipment mix of the railroad. 

2960/70 Cu. - 2 Bay Cement Hopper Fleet
This fleet is comprised of second hand cars built in the late 70s and 80s acquired for a new cement plant, but after being in cement service for some time were beginning to show their age. Based on industry attrition of railroad owned cement cars to private or lease fleets it was decided by management to retire the fleet through sale and scraping by the end of 2014. Roughly 60% or 30 cars went to the scraper while 40% or 20 of the cars were in good condition for sale to other roads. A few captive 2000 cubic hoppers rounded out the entire fleet at 55 cars.

MCIS Cement Hopper Fleet
Size: 50 (2960/70 cubic)
           5 (2000 cubic) 
Customer: LDM Materials (fictional)

While I model 2013-14, Shannon Crabtree and his Virginia Midland represent the 90s. If you follow his posts you saw the addition of a sand facility on the Virginia Central line and needed more sand cars. The two railroads worked together and in short order 6 of the good condition hoppers and parts were on their way to Virginia. Upon arrival they will time warp to the 90s but still have a unique history from the previous railroad owner - the fun of proto-freelancing.

Cars lined up at Bay Yard awaiting pickup by the Q-PHGR-27 for interchange to the CSX at Wyoming Yard in Grand Rapids.

This segment of cars 7 total came out of storage on the Port Belle Branch last week and were mechanically inspected and in the case of the 2000 cubic cars given waivers for one time interchange movement. The one car on the flat is a parts source car to help keep the fleet rolling on its new home.

Any idea who the previous owner of this car was......?

With the cement fleet no longer on the MCIS roster, LDM Materials has struck a deal to lease 3281 cubic hoppers from Trinity Industries. (Coming soon from American Limited Models).

Hope everyone enjoyed a little MCIS history and prototypical fleet planning. Have a safe Halloween!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Mid October Update 2

Let there be ballast!

Started out this evening working the curve with Smith & Sons #50 limestone gray ballast. 

Have a little more shaping to go before going wet on wet to put down ground cover.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mid October Update

This past week I have made alot of progress toward getting scenery installed on the east side of Bay Yard. Track in this area has been painted so onto scenery we go.

Here is a quick overview of the layers that compose the scene.
- 1st layer pink extruded foam
- 2nd layer sculptamold painted lt. brown
- 3rd layer sifted Michigan dirt
- 4th layer scenic materials (coming soon)

                                                                View east towards the helix.

                                View west from highway bridge. 
The spur to the right with the boxcar is Lakes Forest Products. Customer receives inbound lumber and building materials.

The dirt comes directly from my grandparents property in the lower peninsula 80 miles or so north from where I model so it's pretty accurate. The material was sifted twice to get the size I needed.

                                           Early progress with background covered in dirt.

                                                West towards Bay City / Bay Yard.

                                            (L to R) Main #2, Main #1, East Yd Lead

Along with this work on the lower level, I have been installing backdrops on the upper level. Currently mocking the Bush corn kits against the Sceniking Corn Belt series backdrop kit.

Additionally installed the backdrop for the town of Buhler, Michigan which is at the entrance to east staging. 

So far I like the visual depth and effect but it will need more work. Opinions anyone on the initial concept? I know lighting is not very good, that will be changing soon.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Early October Update

Work on the layout for October has been steady so far. The early portion of the month required alot of work travel so time has been very limited. This past week / weekend though was incredibelby busy and I want to take a few minutes and show you.

Trackwork & Scenery
Let it be known that on October 12, 2014 the color pink no longer has a grip on the layout.... Meaning we are now diving into scenery.

Focusing right now on the section between Bay Yard and the helix entrance as this is the most prominent point when you enter the room. My last post discussed replacing a Walthers curved turnout with a Peco Code 83, well to complete the project the east yard lead was connected back to the mainline.

Completed east yard lead to the left - mainline center - passing siding right
A large bag of Sculptamold has been hanging around the house for a few months and I am finally glad to tear into it and begin the scenery process. Initial thoughts so far - easy to work with, cleans up easy, and lets you get hands on literally when putting it in place. Working the material I started from the helix entrance and worked back to the yard where I will need to continue working on later this week. Enjoy the photos of the progress. My hope is to get down a base layer of earth colored latex paint this week.

New Peco switch where the lead and main diverge.
Sweeping curve into helix with slight super-elevation.
Same curve looking west now towards switch.

1st Annual Texas Western Train Show
This past weekend the Texas Western Model Railroad Club held their first annual train show at the Forest Hill Convention Center southeast of Fort Worth, TX. I felt it was a great success and focused on getting back to the roots of model railroading as the show was not overwhelming, but right sized and a win for the Fort Worth side of the town having a show in early October versus later towards the holidays.

Grandpa, Tug, and I went down to the show and all three of us had a great time spending around three hours there. The mix of vendors selling new and consignment items was plenty and just about anything HO or N scale wise in the stores now you could find. As the flyer says there was not an ounce of open space but getting around was very manageable even with a stroller.
Flyer from the show - it did not disappoint. 
Free parking. $6 admission, and help to find the local layouts - Helpful and Friendly staff.
Tug and I bringing up the rear on the Choo-Choo Express - yes that is a Michigan Interstate polo.
Nice setup by the North Texas Garden Railway Club - G Scale club in the Metroplex, definitely a hit with Tug. 
Layout additions from the show - 4 Walthers Ortners (WC-SSAM scheme) and 1 Athearn LPG tankcar with all 5 having kadee #5's and light weathering.
Anyone more interested in the club, I have provided a link to their site:

**Disclaimer Opinion on this train show is solely my own and not persuaded by any monetary gift**

Everyone have a great month - stay tuned for next weeks "Mid October Update"


Sunday, October 5, 2014


A few weeks ago my family and I traveled to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu for vacation at Disney's Aulani Resort. I don't normally think railroads when someone says Hawaii but I was pleasantly surprised to find a set of narrow gauge (active) tracks crossing the main drive coming into Ko Olina, HI.

While we didn't have any time to check out the station or ride the train (Sundays only) I did want to briefly talk about some of the railroads on Hawaii and things you can explore if ever on these islands.

Island of Oahu

Hawaiian Railway Society / Hawaiian Railway
Formed in 1970 and operates 6.5 miles of preserved narrow gauge track on the leeward side of Oahu. These were the tracks that I came upon in Ko Olina.

View west
View east toward Ewa / Barbers Point

Further reading please check out their website:

Waialua Sugar Mill 
Sugar production via beet or cane has always fascinated me. While Hawaii is not known for sugar beets it is known for sugar cane production. There is no longer any sugar growing on Oahu, but plenty of history for exploring. On the North Shore the Waialua Sugar Mill was the last mill operating on the island before it closed in 1996. While exploring the grounds of the mill now turned soap factory I came across photos of the facility during its active years and evidence of it being served by a narrow gauge railway.

Smoke stack at the mill with support structures.
Mill storage silo and smoke stack (Iconic symbols of the mill)
Warehouse and more of the old factory.
Inside the old storage silo - now sides the North Shore Soap Factory (chalked full of historic items)
Below are images that were displayed inside the silo - what a great way to capture the feel of this facility.

Interesting enough the #6 engine above was transferred to the HRS and restored back in 1972.

Island of Maui

Lahaina, Kaanapali, and Pacific Railroad

Back in 1994 I had the first opportunity to ride this neat train. Most recently though the railroad ceased operation on August 1, 2014.

Railroad operated 6 miles of narrow gauge that at one was part of larger network bringing sugar cane from the plantations to mill. One of the great sights on the beautiful tourist line is the 325' trestle it crosses. The sights of the mountains, water, and other islands made this trip alot of fun. My parents had been on Maui prior to us arriving so they took a few photos of the operation.

Check out their website and further Wikipedia reading:,_Kaanapali_and_Pacific_Railroad

Everyone has a great October - should have a layout post up early this week.