Thursday, June 29, 2017

Late June Update

Just like that the month of June is coming to a close. While I did not get any work done on the Grays Lake scene this month, I have plenty to show for other projects that did get completed this month along with new equipment additions to the St. Clair Sub so lets take a look.

MAC Rail (Car Shop)
I had a friend sometime ago that he would like a model of wind blades on railcars similar to what you can find operating on the prototype.  Luckily American Model Builders created a fantastic kit that is easy to build and in a few days you create a very nice model of a wind blade railcar setup. While in California I ran across the blades in a 3 pack at Railmaster Hobbies, so sure enough I picked them up for his display.

The blades represent a 102' model. Current prototype wind blades are 150' to 200' in length, but in our selectively compressed hobby these are the perfect size with plenty in/out swing. As for the rail car a combination of Athearn Genesis and BLMA 89' flats fit the bill. The blades and root end assembly are resin castings while the tip sling fixture is laser cut wood with a literally plastic swing. In the near future the Michigan Interstate will be moving wind blades, however to make "More with Less" I will be using the Atlas Trainman 68' flat which will compress the empty car space and operate better on my 28 degree curves. More to come on wind energy service on the MCIS in another post. 

MAC RAIL (Locomotive Shop)
There was no shortage of work being done in June, it just was not on the layout. Over the month MAC Rail released four locomotives that had undergone various sorts of work. 

Overview of the "High Bay" with BN2627, MCIS4005, and a bowl of cake getting worked on....

MCIS 4005 showing off its new Econami decoder and Railmaster DS1240-Box speaker. In this install i actually cut the top off the rear weight and then point the speaker downward over the trucks. The rear LED mounts right on top of the speaker. The front weight over the trucks is added back once the decoder is wired up. 

MCIS 4005 (GP40-2)
Internal: Soundtraxx Econami & Currentkeeper / Railmaster DS1240-Box Speaker / 3mm LED
External: Replaced broken cab sunshade and added BLMA air conditioners

MCIS 4571 (SD40M-2)
Internal: SBS4DCC Athearn LEDs / Truck & Gear Rebuild
External: Replaced handrails / Added all weather windows and non-op ditch lights

Following many online tutorials for Athearn engines I took apart each truck, filed off rough flash on each gear, cleaned with warm soapy water, re-assembled, lubricated with Labelle, and tested. The grinding sound did reduce tremendously and will get better the more running I can get on the engine. While apart I also checked gauge of the wheels and hard wired the track pickup wires to the brass tab on the truck tower. This work improved the reliability to the point where it can be run well with other engines that are sound equipped.

All Athearns are the same.... 

BNSF 3136 (GP50 for customer)
Internal: Soundtraxx Econami & Currentkeeper / Railmaster DS1425-8 Speaker / SBS4DCC Athearn LEDs 
External: Replaced ditch light bulbs with SBS4DCC 0402 LED

BN 2627 (GP40 for customer)
Internal: Soundtraxx Econami & Currentkeeper / Railmaster DS1240-Box Speaker / 3mm LED
External: Added Monster LEDs Stratrolite Beacon

That wraps up MAC Rail work for June, the rest of the summer looks to be steady with probably one sound install upgrade per month supplemented with existing fleet lighting upgrades on Athearn models. I strongly recommend Streamlined Backshops Athearn LED upgrade kits as it really makes putting LEDs in a snap. Basically each individual light has its own surface mount LED so it is very bright, and they can be wired into series so connecting them to whatever decoder is simple. 

Layout Car Fleet Additions
In my last update post I had touched on a new Athearn 60' TOBX purchased. Wanted to provide a up close look at the car in its pre-weathered from factory look and also showcase a few other purchases and Freelance Model Railroad trades that added to the overall layout roster. 

 TOBX 889088 (60' Plate F Double Door Boxcar) 
As part of the TTX national pool, we will see this car in overhead and online service carrying building products.While already weathered I do expect to do a little more to bring out its character. 

 DVE 6005 (50' Plate F Single Door Boxcar)
This car belongs to Jamie Isett's Delaware Valley Eastern. It seems Fort Mackinac Paper has secured business on the east coast so this boxcar will be busy hauling paper rolls from the mill at Cheboygan, MI. 

 DELC 90105 (5161 Cubic Foot Covered Hopper)
Owned by Matt Curll's Delmarva Central, this car loads out corn on the Michigan Interstate at either Cooperative Elevator or Michigan Agricultural Commodities for use as chicken feed out east. 

 QTTX131003 and QTTX131004 (66' Heavy Duty FM Flat)
Cars were recently came purchased and will find themselves hauling HIWIs of either the wind turbine or power gen. nature. As Michigan Interstate gets into hauling wind energy these will critical cars for the heavier wind turbine nacelles. 

DODX41089 and DODX41089
While marked up for DOD use, these cars will be re-purposed into wind energy service flats hauling the American Model Builders 102' wind blade. Using two 68' versus 89' flat will greatly reduce the overall size of the train and for my layout size better "Selectively Compress" the intended wind blade on flatcar. During this conversion an additional 8 flats will be purchased to allow for a train to carry 5 blades. 

That about sums it up for my end of June post. In just a few days from now we will be in July getting ready to celebrate the Fourth. With MAC Rail work tapering off some I do plan to get back on the Grays Lake scene. Until my next update, have a safe Holiday. 


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