Monday, December 28, 2015

Late December Update

Earlier this month I had commented how the month was going to fly by leading up to Christmas. Well Christmas is behind us and New Years is on the doorstep. Time on the layout has come in waves between family, work, and friend obligations and events that pick up with this time of year. None the less a lot of great projects are in the works which we will discuss and even take a glance at what Santa Clause delivered to the St. Clair Sub.

(No monetary compensation was provided for this blog post. All comments are my own and reflect no one else's opinions)

The past month I took inventory of power that was out of service on the "dead line" and figured the opportunity was right to get some of the motors back in service. Of the eight motors, four were repaired or upgraded back into service. Four still in the shop are outlined below with work planned for 2016.

2016 Projects

- MCIS 3830 (GP38-2) awaiting parts to arrive for Soundtraxx sound install. 
- MCIS 4005 (GP40-2) awaiting parts for sound install - Summer 2016.
- MCIS 4571 and 4570 (SD40-2M) awaiting sound install Spring 2016.

While returning engines to service, I take the opportunity to add any new detail parts or repair broken / missing pieces from the locomotive. 

    MCIS 4035 (GP40X) above and 4056 (SD40-2) below showing off their new ditch lights
Silver sharpies do a great job coloring the light housing which are the attached with CA glue on the end of a toothpick.

Sound Install (L.H.T. Mini #2.5)
One Christmas present I received this year was a TCS WOW101-KA diesel and MRC speaker.

Admitting my excitement to get started on the install, I simply used a JST to NMRA 8 pin plug from TCS to install decoder in a non-hard wired Kato SD40-2. Long story short the bad pickup of the engine I believe caused the decoders power supply to go out. Luckily TCS offers a great hassle free warranty for its products. I followed their instructions on the web, shipped on a Tuesday and by the following Wednesday it was repaired and on its way back. Instead of worrying where your repair is, TCS sends you an email update when they receive, repair, and ship your warranty work. Manufacturers like Soundtraxx and TCS to name a few have figured out great product support = brand loyalty and return business. 

Back to the install. There are great model railrading resources on the web... Like reading this blog, but truly Duford Model Works is a great online resource for hard wiring an early Kato SD40-2. If you google "Kato SD40-2 hardwire" it should be one of the top results. I must give credit to Kelley Duford as his page offers up a much more detailed step by step than I can provide in this post. None the less here are in progress shots of the project, enjoy!!


Frame with front truck wire guides cut out with Dremel Multimax.

     Reassembled with new hard wiring

Overview of component install. Speaker and keep alive are tucked up in she'll around the plastic light tube. Besides the hard wiring the decoder requires only soldering of the two speaker wires.

Finished model ready for assignment

The audio programming guide that TCS has on these decoders is very easy to use. We will touch on this in another post, but it's as easy as they advertise. There are some great videos on their site additionally which are good to watch giving you a product primer.

(No monetary compensation was provided for this blog post. All comments are my own and reflect no one else's opinions)

In addition to the TCS WOW Sound decoder and speaker, I also received the large summer corn field kit from Bluford Shops and static wild grass from Heki. Anyone who reads Model Railroader will remember this current issue Cody shows how to make a scene with this product. I guess you can say great minds think alike. My corn field back drop kit from Sceniking has been installed for around a year, so it's now time to add foreground corn scenery.

Lastly i will give a sneak peak of another model that arrived with Christmas cheer...    It is from Bachmann Spectrum and has two dozen wheels....

Stay tuned for further posts on this railcar.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and will have a safe enjoyable New Year. I will be back on January 1st to reflect on the accomplishments of 2015 and what's on the books for 2016.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wordless Wednesday #42

Photo Courtesy of Rich Duncan

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

Early December Update

December is here and with it has come some progress on the layout and in particular the Bay City River Industrial Spur. I am blessed and glad to be making progress on the layout, especially during the hectic holidays. Just around the corner is a early January ops session with a regular operating crew.

   Does it look a little different than before?

Layout Work
During the FWLOD back in October I received a lot of good feedback and one takeaway that needed follow up on was the River Industrial Spur and its track layout. This spur is sandwiched west of Bay Yard before reaching the Saginaw River swing bridge.

As you can see from the photo above showing the previous layout diagram there was no run around for handling facing or trailing point moves. This caused the Y-BA04 to run back to Bay Yard to use Main 2 to run around its cars. Not only did this cause congestion, it was very inefficient and wasteful. Additionally there was room for an additional customer to be added tactfully but the track layout didn't sustain it.

Over the Thanksgiving Holliday and the past week I worked up a track layout that  would better serve the customers on the spur, but also add a effective run around track and room for one additional customer.

                     View east

                      View west
Trackwork was completed for the primary spur track and run around with switches cut in. This week the actual customer tracks with be installed to their respective switches and the switches will receive manual ground throws.

Customers on this spur include:
GEM BAKERIES - Inbound: Flour, Sugar, Corn Syrup
  Now on a single three carspot track.

AMCAN MATERIALS - Inbound: Bitumen, Asphalt binders
  Will have piping, 2 or 3 three relief tanks, unloading racks, and berms when complete.

The spur allows for modeling of some great backdrop / relief type buildings and modeling of a building interior which will be of the Corrugated plant rail / truck dock. Originally the corrugated plant had two tracks but with the changes it has been reduced to a single track with three carspots.

   The open door with no track will be replaced with a truck door panel from the Walthers Kit.

By the end of this week, service will be restored and I know the operators in January will appreciate having the run around to make working the Y-BA04 a little more prototypical.

I hope this quick update brought you some Christmas Cheer in regards to model railroading. The Mid month post will have photos of the finished product and a few more project milestones to showcase before Christmas gets here.

Stay Safe



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mid November Update

Seems like yesterday we were just at Halloween and now Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Before you know it I will be making the comments about Christmas and New Years. Well back to model railroading and what's been happening on the "Clair".

As with most engines there comes a time when they are struck from the roster replaced by newer equipment or due to mechanical failure. As the case with SW9 #463 the locomotive had been purchased from Illinois Central and used primarily for yard and customer switching around the east end of the railroad. When newer road locomotives were acquired the cascading effect took place with 567 powered engines being stored or sold. This particular engine had been in great condition stored drained and inside at Mt. Pleasant. Fast forward to this past week with R.Duncan Rail making an offer to purchase the engine. In short order the shop forces had it prepped for dead-in-tow transit to Texas via CN-Bellevue-NS--EStLouis-BNSF

Third in consist dead in tow (DIT) on M-BAPH-19 departing Bay Yard.

Side view showing its Illinois Central "green diamond" heritage. 

This past week spent some evenings diving into the kitbashing and construction of the Sugar Beet / Cogen Plant at Upper Huron. So far its comprised of seven Walthers kits, foam board, and styrene strucural shapes for strucure support. Now that the facility is in progress I can talk to the rail traffic we will see come in and out in a upcoming post. Until then enjoy some initial photos of week 1 of work.

View west towards Upper Huron eye. From back to front sugar loadout, sugar / beet pulp silos, processing building. Foreground will consist of 3 track yard and molasses loadout rack with tanks.

View over top of molasses tank.

View east from wye with sugar loadout building center with rest of complex behind it.

Earlier in the week I caught Y-BA06-17 returning from Lake State Railway interchange. Behind the Genset were three freshly painted schemes commissioned by MCIS and completed by Fogelsinger Rail (Fred Fogelsinger).

MCIS 3830 in MCIS 30th Anniversary Scheme
Y-BA06-17 passing through Chessie Jct.

     Side Shot

Closeup of 30th Anniversary decals. 

Sitting at Bay Yard DSF. This weekend the M-BAMC will take it to Mt. Pleasant where shop forces will complete finishing items before going into service.

Special scheme honoring my daughter

Special scheme honoring my son

As you can see this past week has been pretty busy on the Clair. Have a great weekend and stay tuned via following the blog or bookmarking to stay up to date on the posts.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Musings

With our families busy weekend I did not get anyrhing done on the layout, and that's ok. But while sitting with my daughter in our office this evening I noticed a few neat photo angles. Enjoy the pictures. I hope to rearrange some of the lower deck lighting to get it more "even".

Yard appears full from this view. The yard will clear out once train on yard 1 (BN green hopper) departs.

Looking through two different types of centerbeams.

Plug door framed between two cars in foreground.

Looking at cars from photos above from different angle.

This older sentinel has seen a lot of action. Started with Boston Maine, went to a few lessors before coming to Michigan Interstate. Originally for salt service (hence the rusted body) this car now sees use in granulated product service.

Cars that were photographed in Virginia a few weeks ago have returned to home rails. These 4600 cubics are heading for Gerhard, Michigan to load out at Huron Malting. Boxcar in background will join the corrugated board / paper service pool.

Boxcars and covered hoppers reign king on the MCIS.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Early November Update

November is here and with it has come the Texas version of fall. Traveling and family events have kept me busy, but did fine some time to acquire a few EBay listings and while traveling made a visit to BLMA Models. 

Layout Roster Additions

There are plenty of times when you can find really good deals on EBay for your layout. This past week I found four cars that would be good for the layout, all for $15 or less per car.

Walthers 16,000 gal. Funnel Flow Tank marked for Occident

Two Atlas Trainman 62' Bulkhead flats. These cars will be lettered for Essar Steel (ESAX).

Atlas ACF Pressuraide marked for ADM.

BLMA Models Visit
Traveling out west in the Inland Empire this past week I had a few hours between training classes, so I decided to check out BLMA Models in Fullerton, CA. 

Craig Martyn (Owner BLMA Models) and yours truly.

BLMA is located in Fullerton, CA. which is just north of Anaheim. Additionally their office is located right across from the BNSF San Bernardino Sub and Fullerton Depot (modeling and railfanning). Arriving I was greeted by Craig who then proceeded to give a tour of the office, introduce his staff, and show a behind the scenes look. It's pretty awesome to meet individuals like Craig who continue to bring innovative products to contemporary modelers and the model railroading industry. The chance to get his perspective on the industry, product lines, and future developments was a great takeaway. Before heading out, I decided to pickup a modern sectional concrete bridge (future layout how to post) and recently released ATSF BX-166 beer car (non-logo scheme). If you are in the Anaheim area taking the time to meet Craig and the BLMA team is a good way to get in touch with the manufacturers that bring our hobby to life. Give them a call or email ahead of time to make sure they are expecting your visit.

Few more photos from around the office:
Product display case - Craig and Jay Leno in the photo on the case.

Articles about Craig and BLMA accomplishments.

Pre-production model of Trinity 5660 PD. I am excited about this release!

HO Scale signal display..... If only I needed CTC on the Clair.

Detail parts.... You bet

Craig and I talking shop and admiring the N and HO scale stock.

Upon returning from my trip the beer car came online.
Would love to see this in BNSF schemes, but ATSF is still great. This car is well done with great detail and runs well. Considering this car is 40+ years old on my layout, it will substantial weathering.

Enjoy the pictures and have a great week.