Monday, January 2, 2017

Early January Update

It is amazing at how fast the Holiday Season goes by. Seems like yesterday was Thanksgiving and now are here in 2017! Since my last post the St. Clair Sub has seen different types of activity. One great point of our hobby is variety. For example I do not feeling like working on scenery, so I can instead install a decoder, assemble a building, or just run trains. Lets take a look at happenings from the back end of December.

Christmas Acquisitions

I have to give my family credit, they do a great job staying in tune to what I like. It also helps when online retailers like Walthers and Mountain Subdivision Hobbies have wishlists that you can create and folks then reference. At any rate I was very fortunate to receive great model train gifts for Christmas

 From the wife and kids: Blair Line Fertilizer Supply Kit, 2017 Walthers Catalog, and resale DPM buildings from Ebay. 

From parents and grandparents - 30ga wire, Soundtraxx Tsunami2s, Currentkeepers, and Railmaster 28mm speakers.

Very grateful and blessed for fantastic model train items. If your family or significant other doesn't know what you want and especially if it is model train items, use those wishlists to help them find the right gift. Not to mention an easy way to help them dial into what you model.

Both the DPM buildings and Blair Line Kit will be located in Grays Lake, Michigan. The sound decoder items were installed into Athearn Genesis SD45-2s that have been de-rated into SD40M-2s.

New buildings on the corner of Main and Harrison Streets in downtown Grays Lake. 

As I begin to "rough in" the Graystone Cement Terminal at Bay City I wanted to find a way to give the facility a modern expansion look to an existing facility that had been there for some time. Searching Google for Cement storage silos led to alot of different types of facilities. But this one below in Arkansas caught my eye as a great opportunity to model. 

Photo courtesy of Penta Industrial 

Finding my prototype I then setout to find commercially available items to help scratchbuild this storage dome. An quick visit to Hobby Lobby provided discovery of 12" smoothfoam halves. 

 This foam halve should fit the bill nicely. 

Using a bendable straight edge and pencil I traced the center where I would cut the halve. Once traced a sharp foam knife made quick work of the cut. 

 Mocking up the storage dome adjacent to the primary silos of the Graystone Cement terminal.

Planning my next move on the dome will require the top cap of a Kroger Whipped Cream canister, Walthers conveyors, and Pikestuff Walls to build the drive in access noted in the prototype picture. This entire cement terminal should make for a fun scratch-bash. It has been some time since I worked on buildings in detail, looking forward to the work.

In addition to the dome I will be purchasing a Walthers Medusa Cement kit as the base with additional silos added from what I have on hand. A two track load out shed put together from Pikestuff components and a set of those new Alkem Scale Models security fence kits will wrap up the industry nicely. 

Like prototype railroads, the business, mechanical, and regulatiory necessity need requires locomotives to be maintained, rebuilt, upgraded, or retired. In the case of the Michigan Interstate our locomotive and car shop are co-located at Mount Pleasant, Michigan. MAC stands for "Motivepower And Car". Our team there was quite busier than Santa's helpers releasing three locomotives back into service before the end of 2017. 

MCIS 4570 and 4571 (EMD SD45-2) derating to (EMD SD40M-2)

Wanting to align fleet similarity for parts and maintenance the mechanical team took the opportunity to de-rate the only two 20-645 units to 16-645s. Both of the units had issues with their original motors and had been sidelined at Mt. Pleasant. With 16-645 motors installed the locomotives have been re-classified as SD40M-2s. At current time the locomotives we keep their original numbers 4570 and 4571, in the future they will be renumbered into the 4050-4069 series. 

Components Installed
Soundtraxx Tsunami2 PNP EMD Diesel (EMD 645 Turbo)
Soundtraxx Currentkeeper
Railmaster Hobbies 28mm round speaker
Soundtraxx Sunny White 3mm LEDs

3825, 4570, and 4571 in "High Bay" at MAC Shop

MCIS 3825 (EMD GP38-2) Electronic Upgrade
With completion of this motor there are now eight modelled GP38-2s of the total twenty five in the fleet. This unit was painted early in 2016 by Fogelsinger Rail into special paint honoring University of Mary Hardin Baylor. The CEO must know someone who graduated from UMHB... 

Components installed:
Soundtraxx TSU-1000 (EMD 645 non-turbo)
Soundtraxx Currentkeeper
Railmaster Hobbies DS1425-8 speaker
TCS Sunny White SME LEDs 

MKT 175 (EMD GP40) Sound Install
In addition to work for Michigan Interstate and its subsidiaries, MAC shops also does contract work. Earlier in December we installed a TCS Wowsound decoder with motherboard discussed in my last post. 

Prior to return customer delivery, locomotive was tested and calibrated in rock train service. This photo could be somewhere in Texas during the "Katy" days.

L.H.T. - Layout How To (Railcar Deck Rebuild & Base Weather)
During a visit to the train store last week I came upon the Laserkit wook deck replacement kits for various railcars. . Selecting kit #325 for Model Die Casting / Athearn RTR 60' Flatcar I knew that the only 60' HTTX flat on my layout could really use this upgrade.

Kit and Athearn RTR HTTX flatcar in need of a better deck...... 

 Chisel blade made quick work of removing the plastic tractor holders. These had been glued on a factory.

Plastic holders removed, use the chisel blade to ensure the clean is clean. 

 Before installing the self adhesive wood deck, I wiped down the plastic deck with alcohol.

Following the kits instructions, use the stake pockets to line up the wood deck and car. Looks great but too new.  

Wash of india ink / alcohol helped tone down the car and deck. 

The india ink wash helped give the car a nice base weathering. Using other techniques I will continue to weather to represent a 30 year old car operating in machinery service out of Midwest factories. This car will allow me to test out the Smokebox Graphics FRA224 reflective stripes. The deck replacement kit from American Model Builders is a great value, simple to install, and helps transform a plastic kit into a flatcar model. 

Quick update for a Quick holiday season. Now that we are in the new year its time to see where we are going in 2017 and where we went in 2016. My next post we will look at the goals I had at the beginning of 2016 and see where I landed in actually completing them. We will also discuss "State Of The Railroad" and how I plan to manage scenery on the layout. 

Thank you for stopping by to read my Early January Update. 

Happy New Year!



  1. Good amount of progress considering the holiday activity. It will be good read your state of the RR. I was thinking of doing something as well. I did not set any goals at the start of 2016, but was thinking to set some for this year. My wife keeps reminding me that by the time the layout is "finished", we'll be moving out of the house! Her way of asking why more is not completed yet after 14 years of building!

  2. Thanks Mike - I have not forgotten about a modern NEKR boxcar. The car is in hand.