Friday, July 31, 2015

Happy Friday

Thought I would share a few pics from Bay Yard today - happy Friday.

                CCTV view over Bay Yard / Division office. Unit grain train (U-BXTO-30) originating off the Port Belle Sub awaits a fresh crew to continue its journey to Grand Rapids and ultimately Toledo.

  View from outside the office looking at the main line. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

Late July Update - Part 1

The layout has been a beehive of activity this past weekend working on Bay Yard and another unexpected but fun project.

Bay Yard Project
Finally all of the track has been painted and cleaned making them ready for ballast and details. The terrain behind the yard has also received its base Michigan sifted dirt base layer.I hope to get ground foams down this week in conjunction with ballast since this scene will need to done front to back. Look for updated pictures in my part 2 post.

Unexpected Project
During the construction of my model railroad the thought of upper level lighting never really dawned on me, since after all I had a ceiling fan light.... Fast forward to now and well the lighting question has resurfaced. My lower level lighting is complete using LED 3000 kelvin soft white light bars. The intended effect on this level was a shadow box style, and the result matched the intention. The upper level however didn't have a top to create the shadowbox effect like the bottom so things felt "off".

Upper level lighting over Grays Lake

Leading up to this weekend were a book of napkin sketches with concepts to try out. After trial and error the first piece of second level lighting/shadowbox fascia was installed.

It is very lightweight since it's only purpose is holding the led light bars and upper fascia paneling. The core of the piece is Lauan plywood cut into the shape needed with 1x2s used as framework which then is screwed into the backdrop. The light bars are the same as the lower deck bringing consistency. Best part of all is each section will be prefabricated then installed allowing for minimal layout disruption. My goal is testing the concept this month and then building the lighting tops for the rest of the second deck by the end of August to have the layout ready for Octobers operating group day.

Enjoy a few more photos of the install:

View of Cooperative Elevator and Grays Lake.
Cooperative Elevator - Grays Lake, MI

Town of Grays Lake, MI

Thanks for stopping by. We have been averaging around 1000 views a month, so everyone's following, quick glances on updates, or bookmarking are greatly appreciated!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mid July Update Part 2

Seeings how considerable progress was made this past week and weekend on thi July's project, thought I would take a few moments and show everyone the progress.

With soldering joints and railroad tie insertion completed, it was time to finish the land contours behind the yard and paint the track.

Tools & Supplies
Tools needed - PPE most important of all!

Painting Concrete Ties Track
Concrete tie rail was painted using Floquil  paint pen (Railroad Tie Brown). The enamel paint pens allow for great control and only get paint on the rail and the top of the tie clip which makes it stand out from the concrete tie.

Adding Terrain Contours
Sculptamold filled the bill to add light but suttle terrain elevations between the track and backdrop. A service road will be located between the elevator spur and terrain.

Painting Terrain Contours
A tan latex paint from the local building store reject rack provides a nice covering over the Scultamold and blue foam.

Painting Wood Tie Track
       View from west end of yard toward mainbody and DSF.

               Main body of yard - DSF foreground

     East end of yard looking west towards main body.

    Photo focusing in on DTC sign for BAY1 block (southern most main) through the yard. Concrete track is BAY2 (nothern most main).

Painting the wood ties and rail consisted of airbrushing a 70% Polly Scale Acrylic Railroad Tie Brown / 30% isopropyl alcohol blend onto track. Once dry I used a track cleaning block to clean the railheads. When painting it was important to tape over the switch points and heels ensuring paint would not get where it impede electrical conductivity. The parts of the switch that will need to be painted will be completed using a microbrush and Polly Scale acrylic paint. In case anyone is curious the material put up to protect the backdrop during the sculptamold and painting process was simply parchment paper and painters tape. Once the painting was complete the material easily pulls out from being the terrain.

This week we will begin adding the base scenery layer on the terrain contours and ballast in the yard. It's amazing what a little paint can do, but adding ballast and other scenic elements will continue to bring more life to this scene.

Thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mid July Update

July is well underway and so to is this months layout project.

Bay Yard Scenery
This month we are focusing on bringing to life Bay Yard and the scenery that surrounds it. I know what you are thinking, "But modeling a yard is bland" and while I understand that perception we are going to make it much more than just a ton of ballast... Literally.

    A neat view looking east from main 1.

        Same location now looking west - going to need some serious ballast.

But before we can even ballast, there are several steps that must be completed. Let's look through the steps needed to bring the yard to life.

1. Solder track joints
  1a. Check track securement
2. Insert ties in gaps from track laying
3. Complete backdrop in yard
  3a. Install foam terrain around yard
4. Mask points / concrete ties
5. Paint track / wood ties
6. Paint concrete track
7. Paint contoured foam terrain
8. Add base layer scenery dirt in and around yard
9. Ballast 
10. Scenic ground foam, turfs, grasses
11. Wet/Wet securement method

So when outlined in step by step form there is actually a lot to accomplish. Once we get the basic 11 steps complete, then will come the details and items that help establish the story. As of this posting steps 1, 1a, and 2 have been completed. Goal for this week will be completing steps 3 through 7. Ultimately by the end of the month being on the detail part would be ideal, but it's a big yard so take everything in a 2 to 3 square foot pieces at a time will help avoid getting burned out or until i need a re-order from Smith & Sons.

Here are a few more photos of the task at hand. Some of the details that will be added include concrete pads at the DSF, yard office, sanding tower, yard sheds, power poles, yard lights (Details West).

West end of yard just before yard ladder

DSF - still working placement of yard office

              East yard ladder
Main body of yard with supplies in hand for terrain, masking, and backdrop.

Looking west toward the MAC Terminal, this Walthers kitbash is really taking a unique shape and character of its own.

My late July update should have some good progress to showcase and then hopefully cap the project with the Early August Update post.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Donuts & Diesels

In the past month my son and I have begun the Saturday tradition of having donuts at Krispy Kreme and then chasing diesels between Roanoke and Denton, TX. Today the skies were clear, light breeze, 85 degrees..perfect Texas summer morning.

           UP SD70M #4702 on point

Running northeast out of Fort Worth is the UP Choctaw Sub which sees at least 15-20 trains a day (conservative estimate) including automtotive, unit trains of all types, manifest, Roanoke Local, and BNSF trackage rights freights (usually a H-TULTPL or H-TPLTUL).

Today we had really good timing to catch two northbound and one southbound UP manifests after finishing up our sweet breakfast. 
              Donut deliciousness

Following trains along the US377 corridor is pretty easy since the tracks basically parallel the road from Haltom City to Denton, but to really follow along we always start out north of Roanoke since traffic is pretty light, stop lights are widely spaced, and speed limit will let you get ahead of the train running 45mph normally.
     Inspiration for weathering job using oil paints and turpentine..

   The ubiquitous general service tankcar in three different shades of black... Er grayish I mean.

 A lot of North American railroading at its finest in these 17 miles of railroad. 
  EMD leading as God intended. (Joe. A.)

As we wrapped up our follow along of the manifest we met it a grade crossing just south of Denton. A friendly wave to the crew with us distanced back safely at the crossing in our truck got us three short horn toots after the train had finished its grade crossing warning.

As it rolled by I took photos of some neat cars in the train - what great modelling opportunities as each car is unique and probably no two alike except for a brand new build.

        Coal gons now scrap gons

  Possibly new Trunity Jumbo builds coming out of Mexico.

Canadian Wheat Board cars - catch them while you can.

   Plate F - 60' Boxcar a favorite of mine

  Unique tagged car bringing up the rear.

Coming home from this chase we encountered another northbound with a "Border Sandwich" power consist leading Up-CN-UP-KCSM-UP. 

It is nice to get out and enjoy prototype railroading. While this is my hobby, sharing the experience with my wife and kids is important and something I would recommend to anyone. After all railroading American style is one of the unique things that makes our Country great and keeps our economy strong.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Soundtraxx Announcement!

Some of us Soundtraxx fans have been wondering with 2015 being their 25th anniversary, if new neat things were coming around the corner for us in the hobby.

Well thumbing through Facebook I came across a post from Soundtraxx announcing their Econami line of value sound decoders. I do not know much about them, but seems pretty awesome. This would bring together the high quality sound and lighting we have come to expect with Tsunami Decoders but at a price that is even more affordable in the model railroad industry. More to come I imagine in media, but what a exciting offering.

Following link will take you to the Soundtraxx Econami page:

Happy Friday!


Not endorsed by Soundtraxx, literally saw it on Facebook and thought I would share being a big user of their product.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Early July Update

Well June and its significant rainfall is now gone, but the scorching heat and humidity of a Texas July is in full swing. Back earlier this summer I outlined what projects I had planned for June, July, and August in hopes to complete them. I am happy to report that June's sound install project (LHT #02) is complete and both P2K GP38-2s (MCIS 3827 and MCIS 3833) are operating and sounding fantastic. Being able to complete this and have our second child was quite a feat. Thanks to my wife for giving me time in the evenings while the kids were asleep to complete the project. This post we are going to focus on the recent motive power and rolling stock additions, while the Mid-July post will dive into the July project which entails adding scenery to Bay Yard.

MCIS 4052 and CN 6256 lead the M-PHBA-07 through Upper Huron, MI.
Motive Power
Earlier this spring three MCIS motors and one CN motor were sent to VMS in Virginia for sound installation, and other wok. VMS otherwise known as Virginia Midland Shops is work that my friend and fellow modeler Shannon Crabtree completes for me. Just prior to the July 4th holiday VMS completed work on two MCIS EMD SD40-2s and one CN EMD SD40-3 arriving back on property just before the holiday. I happened to be at the right place at the right time to capture two of the motors heading up the M-PHBA-07 through Upper Huron yesterday.

MCIS 4052 (EMD SD40-2) closeup.
CN 6256 (EMD SD40-3) trailing. Last I checked the prototype motor was operating up on CN''s DMIR property.

MCIS 4056 at Bay Yard receiving inspection, ditch light, and air conditioner installation.
Rolling Stock
Trailing behind the power on the M-PHBA-07 were three railcars that are new to the St. Clair Subdivision and also represent new business for the railroad.

Pipe load for Alaska
TR874111 is carrying banded pipe out of Wolverine Steel Products at Marine City heading to the Fairbanks, Alaska via ARR barge at Seattle, WA.

Railcar is Atlas 73' model with custom pipe load created by a local friend and fellow modeler in the Fort Worth area.

A future post will showcase many of the unique and awesome open top loads that his modeler has created.
Closeup of load - meticulous detail with each bundle wrapped individually.

Coke for Sugar Beet Production
CWE 125379 and CWE 125360 from Tom Patterson's Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie are carrying coke destined to Michigan Sugar at Upper Huron. Once these cars reach Bay Yard at the terminus of the M-PHBA-06 they will then return to Upper Huron on the Port Belle Turn (R-BAPB). This is a great win for the railroad as in the past the coke was being trucked out of Detroit, but with a pooled supply of cars from CWE and MCIS a product pipeline will be in place to deliver anywhere from 2 to 6 cars a week depending on the sugar production needs.

Both railcars are Bowser 100 ton models. 
These modernized 100 ton hoppers were painted, decaled, and weathered by Shannon Crabtree's Virginia Midland Shops before heading to the CWE for loadout. More to follow on these cars in my next foreign railroad equipment post.

Later on this weekend I will be posting my Mid-July update focusing on this months project at Bay Yard.


Wordless Wednesday #22

Wednesday, July 1, 2015