Sunday, December 9, 2012

New Project

While I'm on the road I thought I would share a pic of one of my current projects. I'm pretty excited about this one. I won't unveil what it is going to be quite yet (though a few of you will be able to figure it out). I'm modifying a Mid-Production Kato SD40-2. The big step was flaring the radiator fans. Once I get home next, I will detail the shell out. Once I get the appropriate cab, I will be into paint. I can't wait. There will be a specific freight car to go with this engine. I may even do the CN version after I finish this set...
I have the shell drilled out for the BLMA fans now, but I need to order enough parts for 10 or so engines right before I hit the Holiday blitz!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Look Back

The Skally Line has a fun past. Just a few years ago when I started following it, it was much different than it is today. I stumbled upon some shots I took just shy of 4 years ago. How things have changed since the beginning of 2009...
SCXY 1363 "City of Rush City" was still in the Nobles Rock paint scheme. The colors grew on me in a hurry. She didn't look as nice as she does today, but she still looked good.
January 13th of that year my friend Brian and I chased the Skally to Hinckley. The temperature was a crisp -26 F that morning. We got out to take shots of the SCXY crossing the BNSF Hinckley Sub. and the Conductor looked at us and said "Really?!?, Today?". I laughed and commented that you have to chase when you can. This shot captures some of the oddness of the day.The MRS boxcar should have been dropped by the Hinckley Local in Coon Rapids, MN. Why it made it to the SCXY I will never know. This odd move also had the 1363 sandwiched between cars crossing Hwy 61 on the BNSF Main. It was so cold the crossing gate on the North side of the tracks didn't raise back up, even 20 minutes after the train had passed. The tank car was for Lakes Gas in Hinckley.
MNN 901 was the backup power on the line, with its Thief River Falls Championship Hockey logos. This engine never returned after the

Fall of that year the bridge over the Snake River had a pier break. The equipment was moved off the line until the bridge was repaired. Thanks to a nice Government stimulus check for $650,000 the bridge was fixed and Horizon Mill was able to bring its employees back to work. 1363 returned in the NP paint and MNN 901 was replaced by SCXY 1352 in the new colors. Zinpro in North Branch started built a new tank car unloading platform soon after and started receiving loads by rail car. 2010 was a wild year on the Skally.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Skally Hoppers

While not as flashy as the SCXY 50001, more SCXY hoppers are making their way onto the line. I've started recreating some of the Ex-SOO hoppers in service right now. I started with SCXY 50662. I used a MTL SOO Hopper, added ACI plates, patched it, weathered it with a light grey wash and a roof brown wash on the underside and walkways. I hit the sides with a light dusting of Tamiya chalks before sealing with Dullcoat. I painted some FVM metal wheels roof brown in my Minuteman Jig, installed and checked them for proper width. Check it out...
I did omit the graffiti for now. I may put a more PG version of the sill graffiti on at some point

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Something to be thankful for...

I was out this morning shooting just North of Rush City and I heard the telltale signs of Geeps in the distance. I tracked the sound to SCXY GP8 #1352 and ILSX GP10 #1345. The duo were hard at work running a cut of Durum Wheat cars towards the Horizon Mill. I chased the duo down for some shots.
I honestly don't remember when I started this build. I know it became a mental block for me because I wanted the engine to be "just right". The Skally Geeps are the centerpoint of the Skally Line after all. Last week my friend HK offered up some motivational help in the way of a build day. We sit down, shoot the breeze and get stuff done on our engines. Knowing the build day was coming, I spent a few hours finalizing details and reshooting paint (my first try at the yellow wasn't bright enough). I used a JnJ Horst air filter, I built my own spark arrestors, BLMA wipers, cut levers, grab irons, lift rings, mu cables, a MbE airhorn, a Sandro Sincair antenna, the plows and bell are Atlas. The plow grabs are bent .010" wire. The decals are custom.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rush City Redo: W 1st St.

My Rush City modules have finally made it home after travel to a few train shows around the Midwest. I figured this homecoming was a good reason to start working on finishing the scenes.

W 1st St. in Rush City ran through once upon a time, but not these days. I figured adding this element would break up one end of the modules without having to go through all the work of building a grade crossing.

I started with the grade built up a little with some thin cork sheeting.
 Next I sprayed up some styrene sheeting. I start with black and then weather it with some grey.
 I add shoulders made from WS brown ballast, a Blair Lines "Road Closed" sign and the start of the shrubs.
I added trees to frame the scene. I will continue the tree line both directions later. A quick 20 trees was enough for today. Next time I have the modules out in the garage I will shoot them with another coat of grey. This makes the blacktop look older and blends the shoulder gravel in.

A fortunate railfan catches ILSX 1344 running south into town...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cool Tool

I haven't too often commented on a particular tool or whatnot that I really liked but this one I thought was worth it. Recently I purchased an N Scale 33" Wheel Weathering Jig made by Minuteman Scale Models. It came and I just had to tighten a couple of screws and it was good to go. I did use a couple of rubber bands just to make sure the wheels were held in place snugly (anyone who has ever chased an N Scale wheelset across the floor will understand this precaution). I loaded the jig full of axles an sprayed away with the PollyScale Roof Brown.
I like to photograph my trains from a low angle. The wheels are often visible. I used to use a micro brush and paint each wheel face individually. I like this jig because it allows me to paint the backs of the wheels and the axles as well. I think this will help the overall image I am going for with my models and my photography. The jig was an inexpensive tool that I think will be a huge time saver in the long run. I hope to post more weathered rolling stock photos soon...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Patched ICE

How many patch jobs can one engine take? This one has suffered an identity crisis for years, going from CP to NREX to ICE, the ICE stencil had started to fade, so it looks like the Pigs Eye shops applied a new tag of their own...
I love the CP for its flavor!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Spare time has been non-existent lately, so modeling has been a little difficult. I was able to widdle a little time the last couple of days to get going on my next engine, ILSX 1337. This is an ex-SOO, ex-CP 778 unit that is up in Holt, MN at the ILS shops right now.

To get the model closer to correct I started with a Kato Mid-Production SD40-2, I chopped the rear off and transplanted part of a Kato Early SD40-2 long hood. This eliminates the dynamics and gives the correct radiator grills all in one step.

I modified the nose by adding the brake ratchet off of a GP9 in place of the Mid-Prod. brake wheel. The winter hatch is a Miniatures by Eric piece. Now on to grab irons! I will post more pics before I paint this one up.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

So you want to be a Supermodel?

No, but it is nice to be on the cover of my favorite magazine.
I hope everyone enjoys the article!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Ford Yard

While my camera is off getting looked at by the manufacturer I figured I would take a look back at photos from days gone by. I decided to take a look today at shots from the Ford Yard in St.Paul. This CP yard used to serve the Ford Ranger plant until its closing last year. Now CP uses it for storage and crew training. CP has their own parking lot and two story office at the East end of the yard.
In May of 2009, CP SD40-2 6061 made the run up the hill. There would often be two GP's switching the yard and 2 SD40-2s or GP38s delivering more cars daily. The caboose was almost always in the yard.
Here is what the yard looked like in September of 2011 under a normal work load. Flatcars of Ranger frames and boxcar loads of parts would arrive daily, they would go into the plant via the southern side of the yard (right in this photo). Outgoing loads of Ford Rangers would leave in Autoracks on the North side of the yard. You can see the caboose hiding in the back of the yard by a flatcar load of frames.
In December of 2011 the end was near, but the yard still was in motion. Typical of the power assigned to the yard SOO GP38-2 4409 and another SOO GP38-2 paused for a short break.
 In July of this year CP GP9u 8275 was the training vehicle of choice.
And recently CP GP39-2 4599 and SOO GP39-2 4598 were helping a crew of new hired learn the ropes.
It's nice to know the yard is still seeing use, it's to bad it is not for its intended purpose. Maybe someday there will be new life in those buildings, but it won't be anytime soon. I used the little map gizmo on this post, so if any of you ever want to take a look at the yard, you'll know just where to find it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pigs Eye

I live a short hop from the Pigs Eye Yard in St. Paul Minnesota. The yard is named for the landfill the railroad built on top of. [Useless Fact Alert!] When the CP built their new office here they had to run pile 160 feet down through garbage to hold the structure up. It is always a hot spot and there are plenty of great things to see. Last Saturday was no exception.
CP 6243 was one of two freshly painted SD60s on the property today.
There was a lineup of MP15ACs, notice all three are in different paint schemes. There are also still SOO white and some bandit MP15s working the yard here as well.
 UP 3236 was pulling the UP-TCWR transfer uphill toward downtown. The TCWR power was chasing behind running light.
 TCWR 40155 is one of the best patch jobs I've seen in a while, I just had to share...
On the left is the CP-UP transfer in UP's Hoffman Yard which runs right next to Pigs Eye Yard. The TCWR GP30C #4302 is getting ready to head back to Hopkins.
 A BNSF manifest (with a UP engine) approaches Pigs Eye on the BNSF mainline, pulling some wind turbine nacelles. These loads are cool in that they are bolted to the cars at their base, notice there are no straps or cables over the top.
 DME 6050 was one of the ICE/DME SD40-3s at Pigs Eye, this one just happened to be passing through.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BLMA Reefer

Somehow a reefer bound for Newport Cold Storage off the CP line in Newport, MN ended up on the BNSF Hinckley Local. The Skally crews noticed the oddball and ran it south as an "express extra" with the ILSX 202.
While this car is oddly out of place on the Skally it is an amazingly nice car. Craig over at BLMA nailed it on this one. The lettered trucks, metal wheels and body mounted couplers are awesome. The separately applied details are really beyond what I am used to in N Scale.
If you need modern reefers, don't hesitate to pick some of these up. They are worth every penny of the asking price. The only complaint I have is that darn UP logo on the side....
Another shot of the ILSX SD9 #202... just because I can.

Monday, September 10, 2012

ILSX 1338

ILSX SD40-2 1338 is out of the shop and is helping ILSX SD40-2 1344 on the Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad while E&LS 400 is in the Bethel Shops for repairs.
This engine started as a Kato SD40-2. The real 1338 sits on a SD40 chassis, but I like the Kato -2s for ease of adding DCC and parts availability.  I added the usual details (BLMA, MbE, Atlas), MbE snow shields, Trainworx grills, moved the brake wheel out back, put rear MbE lights (note they are vertical, not horizontal).
I want to thank Jim Elbe for catching some great shots of the duo around Lena, WI on the E&LS. They were very helpful in making this project happen. One of Jim's shots:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

ILSX 202

When I heard the NREX SD9 is Hills, MN might be up for sale I figured it would go well with the rest of the Skally fleet. This ex-CB&Q unit is a good workhorse and would be a nice compliment to the other SD9s on our roster. We numbered it 202 to fill the roster gap left when we renumbered the 1344. It is running solo on the Skally right now, but it looks like all 4 SD9s may end up together pulling some unit sand trains from Tiller Corp. in North Branch next month. It will be a fun day of railfanning when it happens!
This engine started out as an Atlas Conrail SD9. I used an Atlas GP38 cab and a Kato SD40-2 short hood. It has BLMA cut levers, ditch lights, wipers, air hoses, mu cables, class light covers, grab irons, MLE all-weather windows, a Sunrise strobe, a MbE antenna and air horn, Trainworx lift rings, an Atlas MU cable and an Atlas sand hatch on the front. The rear sand hatch is the base off a JnJ blat air horn. The battery boxes had to be chopped off both fronts, so the front handrails are soldered wire and GMM stanchions. The paints are Floquil BNSF Heritage Green, GN Orange and reefer white on the handrails. The couplers are Micro Trains 905 Z scale couplers. The decals are a mix of Micro Scale sets.