Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mid December Update

Well it has been a "few" weeks since my last post. No doubt this time of the year 
is the busiest with the holidays and when you add in a vacation, time speeds up 
very quickly. Getting the layout prepared for the operating weekend can take a toll 
on you, especially when there is a big project in progress that requires completion 
for the session. Case in point the ABS Signal system install which began planning in June and ultimately wrapped up the week prior to the Interchange. It is always good to take a break, step back from your work, celebrate the accomplishments, and refocus for the next project. There is no need to get burned out on something that is a hobby... 

Anyways my break is over and I want to share some inspiring photos from my vacation and show what I have been up to the past few weeks with the St. Clair Sub. 

One of the most enjoyable things about Walt Disney World besides the fantastic 
family time is how the Disney Company has done a great job capturing Walt Disney's love of trains and how it is reflected around the property. Any modeler who needs inspiration should have no trouble getting a jolt from visiting the Parks and Resorts. 

Magic Kingdom:

Main Street USA Station @ The Magic Kingdom in full Christmas decor

Roger E. Broggie @ Fantasyland Station (Daytime)

Roger E. Broggie @ Fantasyland Station (Nighttime)

Roy O. Disney @ Fantasyland Station (Nighttime)

Absolutely the best themed bathrooms on property are in Fantasyland adjacent to the Station. They are themed like a three stall roundhouse in reference to the Casey Jr. train from Dumbo. 


My little boy absolutely loves the G scale garden railroad at the Germany Pavilion. 

I have posted many photos of this setup before, but it never gets old as there is 
always change / updates happening to the trains running, scenery, and structures. 

Hollywood Studios:
While there is not alot of railroad or train related items at Hollywood Studios I did want to focus on inspiration and ways to help immerse our visitors and operators more into the scenes we strive so hard to create. Case in point this photo of a large soundstage at this years Jingle Bell - Jingle Bam celebration. 

What I want you to notice is projections being cast onto the building.... It is falling snow that occasionally will blow around when the wind blows in live person. Additionally you can see the snow is beginning to pile up on building ledges. Remember this is a projection, but Disney does a great job immersing us and tricks our senses to think it is snowing in Central Florida. Obviously they have a large budget and cutting edge technology but this makes me think about the new Lightning / Thunder effect system released by Broadway Limited. Another example was while we rode "Living With The Land" boat ride at Epcot's The Land Pavilion. During the ride there is a scene with lighting and thunder. I told my wife - "yea we can do that on the layout" and it really peaked her interest. Immersing our guests / operators even deeper in the scene whether it be night operations with blue rope lights or lightning/thunder effects is another layer to our story. I believe we have just dipped our toe into deeper scene immersion. Not to mention the projector technology used for Christmas lights on homes and the show at Hollywood Studios could usher in really neat concepts like stars, fireworks, or weather effects on our backdrops and even trees / buildings in the scene. 

Just some thoughts from a guy re-inspired..... Anyone with me on this?

Working with Kevin Klettke (Washington Northern Railroad - and Dean Ferris we resurrected the logo of Graystone Cement out of Grays Harbor, WA. In doing so a new backstory was created for the company. Long story short Kevin did a fantastic job creating the logo and printing on adhesive film for use on buildings, equipment, and railcars. While it is not water slide decal thin, the setup is perfect for intended uses. 

Graystone recently established a terminal at Bay City for water/rail/truck operations. This terminal will allow the company to expand their footprint in the Great Lakes region. For this growth, new Trinity 3281 cubic hoppers were setup on lease from GE Capital. MAC Rail Services recently installed the newly printed logo plates onsite at Bay City. Decals for the NRLX marks are still on order at time of press.  

Over the weekend I completed install of a TCS WOW121 kit in a friends Atlas GP40.

Replacing the factory board with the motherboard and soldering all wires to it really makes sound install a snap. If only all of the manufacturers created their 21 pin decoders and boards to allow interchangeability.... Along with using all TCS sound products I also gave their SME LED's a try with good success

Photo above shows the motherboard installed in place of the factory board. Once the 
power pickup, motor, speaker, and lights are soldered to this board it is a matter or re-assembly and testing. TCS has a very well done website with install photos step by step and information/support for their products. Not to mention that for $129.95 MSRP getting a motherboard/keep-alive, decoder, and speaker as a kit is a very good deal. One vendor I use often for DCC supplies (Mountain SubdivisonHobbies), offered the kit fior $98.95, so even more savings for you the modeler. Shop around with competition in the sound market we have great choices and competitive prices.

Had a railfan send me photos of MCIS ortner and greenville hoppers on the Virginia Midland Railroad. 

This set of cars had been shopped at VMS for the upcoming aggregate season. We expect 2017 to be a big year for rock trains on the MCIS and we are preparing the fleet to meet our customers demand. Not only will webe handling rock for construction projects, but also handling rock for new power plant emission scrubbers. The cars got new doors, grab irons, FRA reflectors, and re-patched markings as necessary. Great work by the VMS team! The cars should be on home rails to make a nice homecoming in the Late December Update. 

The ortner fleet (100 cars) is mostly second hand with just a small fraction of the 
fleet actually in MCIS paint. Most of the cars are patched up from their 
former owners Wisconsin Central, CSXT, and Florida East Coast. 

Our greenville fleet (50 cars) is roughly half new builds in MCIS grey and half 
secondhand purchased from Wisconsin Central.

So as you can see a little vacation from the layout was needed and now back in the 
modeling groove.  On my list to Santa I had asked for the Tsunami2 PNP EMD Diesel 
decoder for my SD45-2 repower to SD40-3 installs. We will have to see if I get my wish or a lump of coal.... But even if its coal, I can crush it up for hopper loads.

I hope everyone has the opportunity to spend time with family and friends this holiday season. Don't forget to spend some time at the workbench or on the layout. 

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! 



  1. Greg- Mammoth update here- most informative and very interesting. Wishing you and your Family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from KEV. (Australia).

  2. Nice update, good photos. Neat to see the hoppers on your blog as well as the VMS blog - cool! Merry Christmas Greg!