Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Late September Update

September is coming to a close so let's take a look at some new equipment additions, work completed on the layout, and a great hobby shop visit.

Fleet Additions
EMD GP60 #6051 returned this past week from VMS having been in for prime mover work. (AKA - Soundtraxx Tsunami AT-1000 EMD 710 install, Railmaster Speaker, LED lighting, and weathering)

6051 captured at Grays Lake on headend of M-PHBA-30.

While traveling for work in Colorado last week, I had a chance to stop by Caboose Hobbies in Denver. Two new acquistions from this visit can now be seen running the St. Clair Sub.

     BNSF 480376 - Trinity 5161 Cubic Covered Hopper

 GATX 8435 -Trinity 14,000 gallon Molten Sulfur Tankcar

Layout Progress
Working on odds n ends before this weekends Fort Worth Layout Operations Day sessions brought the completion of minor trackwork adjustments at Grays Lake.

Looking down "Grays Spur" we see the 3M plant which has a chemical track for tankcar unloading and pellet track for unloading plastic granule / pellet hoppers. The local road switcher (R-GEGL) held by MCIS 4008 is in the foreground.

Closer view of the 3M plant. Until I can kitbash the actual plant, a foam board mockup with printed siding attached will make due. 

View west towards the town of Grays Lake, we see Cooperative Elevator and their multiple tracks for loading dry beans and grains into covered hoppers and boxcars. The tracks have been installed since this photo was taken.

Hobby Shop Visit - Caboose Hobbies Denver, Colorado

Last week while traveling as I had mentioned above I had the opportunity to stop by Caboose Hobbies in Denver. I have been to a lot of shops in my travels but this place is the definition of "Fully stocked Model Train Store". They have very helpful staff and great website, but if your in Denver take an hour and give this place a visit, you will not be dissapointed. Not only could I find some great items to purchase for my model railroad but also Thomas The Tank Wooden Trains for my son.

Have a great week - next weeks post will talk about this FWLOD taking place this weekend.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Upper Huron Wye

After a lot of trial and error the Upper Huron Wye was finally completed correctly. 

Former right of way removed - ready for new cork roadbed. The new track is a flex track book ended with 22 radius Atlas sectional curves. This combo allows for smoother track curvature. Adding to prototype operations 6 axle locomotives and 89' cars are restricted from operating on the west leg but can operate with the east leg. Any large equipment move out of Bay City (Bay Yard) would require runing east past Upper Huron to Grays Lake, making a run around move with power, then procede back west to utilize the east leg heading towards Port Belle. The reverse would be required on the return trip.

New roadbed and track installed. MCIS 3823 (EMD GP38-2) idles on the new west leg that curves north towards Port Belle.

Overall View of both levels in this layout area. These two signatures layout elements help tell the story of the St. Clair Sub (Crossing Saginaw River) and (Branch to fictitious town of Port Belle)

Not only does the wye provide access to the Port Belle Sub, but it also provides a way to turn power or railcars if necessary. This feature will be put to good use by the weekly coal train that visits the Thumb Electric Cooperative Co-gen plant at Upper Huron. (Train seen crossing Saginaw River in photo above).


Friday, September 18, 2015

Mid September Update

September is flying by with the October 3rd Fort Worth Layout Operstions Day quickly approaching. A lot of small projects on-going that will be completed for operations in the next week, but in this post I wanted to showcase some fantastic products that I have purchased / added on the St. Clair Sub.

Disclaimer - the opinions on this post are my own solely after purchasing the following products described below

Remote Control Locomotive Operations
Some time ago I had googled HO scale RCL operator figure and came across a photo of just that. Further investigation revealed a company on Facebook called MeDo Miniatures. After sending a FB message to the seller, I received a quick response from Melissa noting the cost and options like shoulder radio or none. For the customization and detail $9.00 is a great bargain per figure, and in short order two figures were on their way. 

There was fantastic communication with the seller setting expectations on order status and providing a completion preview before payment and shipping.

Completion preview before shipping. Courtesy Medo Miniatures.

Figures were packed well and arrived in great condition. They look even better in person, and the detail is superb.

With operators on site, MCIS implemented RCL operations within Bay Yard for handling classification of traffic. Being i model contemporary operations we are following the prototype practice of other regionals such Wisconsin Central, Wheeling & Lake Erie, and Montana Rail Link. The RCL MP15DC is captive within the yard and is worked together by two operators. 

Operators on east end of Bay Yard. Future work will see a more extensive antennae array and RCL decals on 153.

With RCL operations established, homemade warning signs have been added around the yard perimeter. 

These figures are a great add enhancing the modern day feel. If your not on Facebook here is the email contact to reach Melissa:

Coal & Coke Loads
In my never ending search for cost effective and realistic hopper loads, I recently came across a seller on eBay that makes a great product fitting my requirements. Kevin (EBay seller: kevintvdshop) has a great product that is very cost effective, easy to handle, and realistic. His EBay page offers different loads sizes and types. My suggestion would be send him a message on EBay making sure you get the right size loads. On my first set I got the wrong ones but working with him, got the right coal loads for my Walthers Bethlehem hoppers. I now have 14 coal loads for the  Bethlehem cars and 4 coke loads that fit in Bowser 100 ton hoppers. The loads are around $1.50 to $2 each so you can fill your fleet up and not break the bank. Having these loads will bring grester realism for my operators delivering coal to the Saginaw Valley Co-gen and coke to Michigan Sugar.

                   COKE LOADS
 These loads originated off the CWE (Tom Patterson) / WLE at Mountain State Carbon in Follansbee, West Virginia. Next stop is Michigan Sugar at Upper Huron, MI riding the R-BAPB-21.

                     COAL LOADS
This coal train originates on the Indiana Southern and hands off to the MCIS via NS at Fort Wayne, IN. becoming the C-FWUH-17. Sometimes foreign power such as NS, NTO, or GWI properties can be found in consist.

Hope everyone enjoyed the product reviews. Great offerings just ask to see what the sellers can do you for you. Have a great weekend.


Disclaimer - the opinions on this post are my own solely after purchasing the following products described above

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015


Between all of the projects going on, it's nice to sometimes just take a train out of staging and enjoy running it on the "Clair" with my son. Last night we decided to run C-FWUH-01 (Coal Train - Fort Wayne, IN (ISRR/NS) to Upper Huron, MI (Saginaw Valley Co-gen). 

Behind GP38-2s (3833/3827) were twelve loaded coal cars followed by shoving platform 31. 
My little conductor giving a role by as we came off Bay 2 back onto the mainline.

Conductor now being the AEI reader to verify our car count. Who knew this part could be so much fun.

Finishing up the role by with shoving platform in tow. I ask him "what color is this train?" And the response is "Wred".

I hope everyone has a great Labor Day Weekend. Enjoy the time with your family and your hobby, I know we will.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015