Thursday, July 2, 2015

Silicon Valley FreemoN at NSE

I had the great pleasure at NSE of hanging out with and running trains with the Silicon Valley FreemoN and Sacramento FreemoN groups. I had been planning on brining a couple of modules, but the space they were given at the show was pretty limited, so I will take the Skally Line to NorCal next time. A special thanks to Steve, Ryan, Rick, Spuds, Eric, Lawrence and the rest of the crew. A fantastic group all around.
 From Lockhart, Texas with it's cool operating crossing gates to Wye Knot, the layout looked great.
My eldest sister should get a kick out of the construction site by the CalTrans Station. Cool mirrored buildings!
 Passenger trains ruled the day, but there was a fair amount of freight traffic too.
The scenes varied from scenic to urban and they all flowed well together.
 I wish my photos did the layout justice.
Again: thanks to the FreemoN guys for the great hospitality. I'm looking forward to meeting with them all next time. Check them out at or search for them on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Anything you can do I can do better.

Well, not me, but Trainworx sure is on fire with some new releases. I just got back from the National N Scale Enthusiast Convention in Sacramento, California, where I got to meet up with the Silicon Valley FreemoN group (great bunch of guys, more on them in my next post), as well as a host of other people I have been in communication with for a while, among the notable mentions: Rick and Marshall from Modutrak, Kirk Reddie and Sandy Smith from N Scale Railroading, Mike Fifer of Fifer Hobby and Matt G. from FVM. I could go on and on, the people made the event worthwhile.

I did make sure to stop and visit Pat Sanders from Trainworx at the show. Pat makes some of my favorite detail parts and I had to get one of his new semis before he sold out. I also picked up some more parts. Pat is raising the bar. When I got home I actually tore a plow off of a GP40 I am working on, just so I could replace it with the new Trainworx 179-1 weed cutter. Here is why:
You can see the Sunrise weedcutter I had on there. It is huge compared to the more accurate Trainwork version. Score one for Trainworx!
Now my semi comparison: There hasn't been a whole lot as far as modern trucks go in N Scale. Trainworx is changing that in a hurry. I picked up the most generic of the first run trucks. I wanted to use it as a wheat hauler on my layout. I'm glad I did. I'm going to compare it to a couple of trucks I had already. Here it is with a Shapeways semi:
You can see the Trainworx is far superior in every way. First off, it comes finished. The grey truck I picked up finished, and it was ok, you can see the details on the new truck make it look like a toy. The Trainworx truck even has lenses on the front lights and a steering wheel.
The paint on the Trainworx semi is crisp and sharp, even the mudflaps came decorated.
This was a detail I was not expecting, the TW Kenworth W900 has a detailed engine compartment. This makes it useful for a variety of scene options: maintenance at the shop, broken down on the side of the road, or just getting checked over by the driver pre-trip.
Here you see the W900 next to my Kato semi, which I upgraded with some decals. The Swift truck seems lacking now, I'll have to go back and upgrade it.
I posted on Facebook some of the trucks that are coming out soon. The next truck is a Peterbilt 379 with a livestock trailer: I am looking forward to it. These trucks will add to the scene and really help set the location for the Skally in farm country.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

More Skally Progress

I've been focusing my time on some engine builds. I've almost wrapped up the SD60F, I'm just waiting to get the decoder back from MRC (small headlight issue). While I was waiting I did add another detail to it, you may get to see that in an upcoming N Scale Railroading Article. I have also been working on some MILW GP20's that I am hoping to post pictures of when I get my next weekend.

Thinking I was going to be taking my Hinckley modules to Sacramento for the N Scale Enthusiast Convention, I have been spending a little time on them every day. As it turns out, there wasn't room for me, which may be a good thing for my time management right now.

I brought the 3 modules (yes, Hinckley grew by one module) out into the fresh air to check to see how they fit together.
The new South HIN module (old North end of Rush City) is re-ballasted and both tracks line right up to the Center HIN module.
Here is the Hwy 61 bridge over the Skally. I was primering some engines so I shot it with the same paint. Piers and bridge abutments are coming soon.
The fitment issue I ended up with was the joint between the Center and North HIN modules. It looks like I will have to do some work on the left side near rail. It broke loose from the PCB ties. The humidity and temperature differences between Nevada and MN took their toll. I don't think the movers were very gentle along the way either.
Looking down from above the old NP main line you can see the completed Skally Main Line and Interchange Track. Now that I know they fit I will finish the ballasting on the Center module. Then I will redo the ground cover and plant about 400 trees.
On the North Side of the North module I made the track that runs to the small BNSF MOW yard and to Federated Gas, which is served by the Skally. I was thinking of modeling the yard and Hinckley Depot that direction, but I am probably just going to run the track to the module edge and drop LPG cars behind the section house.
It's not much, but it's progress. I'll get the newly discovered problems fixed and be back to new stuff soon. Maybe next time I'll have one of my corners ready to show you!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

CN 5560

I managed to get a little work done on CN 5560, a Southern Alberta Rail SD60F kit. It took a little more work than the SD40-2F I did last year. Oh well! I went modern on this one, just because I haven't seen anyone else do it that way.
I used BLMA grab irons, fans and wipers, Trainworx mu hoses, sinclairs and cut levers. The oddball grab irons I bent out of .010" brass wire. The bell is a Miniatures by Eric piece. The lift rings are a mix and the plow is a Details Associates piece.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Layout Progress

I've been bouncing between projects, try to get a little done across the board. I'm getting Rush City v3.2 ready for track. I gave it a coat of paint to seal the cork. Then I glues down all the PCB ties for the module ends. Next up is drilling all the holed for feeders, throwbars and so on. This 12 feet of modules will hold over 1 scale mile of track, the SCXY Corp. HQ, SCXY engine house, two grade crossings and the Ardent Flour Mill when they are done.
Up in Hinckley I'm getting ready to install the crossing gates. I picked these up from Azatrax for a good price.
Here is the north end of Rush City v2 getting ready for re-purposing. I pulled out my #10 crossover for use in v3.2. I saved as much track as possible for the new destination.
A short while later the track was pulled and this module became the South end of Hinckley. I grabbed some foam to rough up for the new Hinckley Hwy 61 overpass. I will be installing a #10 switch for the South Hinckley Switch. Then the SCXY interchange track will be in business.
Over on the old South Rush City module (now Rock Creek) I got the cork in and smoothed out the land forms. I need to build the bridge piers, but I am short one #10 RH switch for this module, so it will probably be placed on the back burner until Atlas gets more switches in the U.S..
Well, that's all for now, I'll be posting more layout and locomotive progress soon!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Citizens of Hinckley Rejoice!

After a year of not being able to get across the tracks, the Hwy. 61 grade crossing over the BNSF Hinckley Sub. is in use! On another good note that means more customs for Slims Service, the BP station that sits on the south side of the crossing. It sounds like the crossing gates and signals are enroute and will be in place soon, ensuring a safe crossing for motorists.
A truck driver heads to cross the tracks:
The old dead end is a favorite spot for railfans to watch the interchange action in Hinckley. I still need to get a nice grove of trees planted here and the "Welcome to our town" sign.
An overview of the scene: Slims in the lower right corner and the BNSF section house up top. I will be using NJI crossing gates and signals to finish the crossing. The color differences in the rocks and ballast are due to them still being wet. I just glued them down a half hour ago, but I couldn't wait to photograph it. Once I finish the scene I will repaint the facia.
 A close up of the gas station. Prices are still high in Hinckley.
This station started as a Tomix kit. I tore it apart, resized everything and turned it into a BP station to match the real Slim's. I still have a lot of work to do, but it is a step in the right direction.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

SOO SD60's

I just finished a pair of Soo SD60s. Soo 6000 and Soo 6021. I built them as they would have looked in 2007. These were a fun build, that I'm glad be wrapping up. I'll let you be the judges of the final product.
I like how the 6000 has mis-matched front number boards, I think it adds some character.
These got the normal run of details, plus a good coat of weathering.
Now I just need to get them safely to Chicago!