Friday, November 29, 2013

Two Train Day on the Skally!

On Monday I made a run up and down the Skally, I was a little pressed for time, but I had a couple shots I wanted to get. I waited for a bit in Hinckley, but the BNSF Hinckley Local was running behind schedule thanks to a bunch of slow orders on the subdivision. I had enough time to catch the St. Croix Valley bringing todays interchange cars up and putting them on the siding. The clouds broke as ILSX 1345 and 180 came under the Hwy. 61 overpass. These are the higher HP engines on the line and the larger car counts are certainly letting them flex their muscle.
I headed South and got to see a wonderful thing. It was a 2 train day on the Skally! SCXY 1352 and 1363 were switching out Tiller and Zinpro on the south end of the line.It looked like they would have the cut ready to run to Rush City shortly, but I couldn't hang out any longer. I am happy business is going so well on the line.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hinckley Part 4

It has been almost 3 months since I posted any real layout updates. With a little time to spare over the holidays, I'm getting the modules ready for a big show in St.Paul the last weekend in December. I got Hinckley set up in the garage and I went to work. I finished the facia, wired the track (I still have the frogs to wire up, but you know how that goes), got the switch machines in and wired to the keyed switches. I laid a little more track, got some ground cover down and ballasted a little more track.
Here is a shot looking South. The BNSF Hinckley Sub is in the foreground, the Skally is away from the camera. You can see the keyed switches in the not-painted-all-the-way facia. All the ground cover on the closer module went on today.
Here is a little BNSF section house I made. I did paint it after I took this shot. Hopefully tonight I can find my BLMA A/C units and get those installed. I'm also working on some awesome Showcase Miniatures MOW trucks that will be stationed here. Keep an eye out for those in the next week or so.
This is looking North (NE by compass) on the BNSF line. The ballast is still wet in this shot. The track behind the section house is the north end of the Skally Line. I transitioned that to Micro Engineering Code 40 track. That line will terminate at the facia for now. Other than a bone yard, there is a LPG dealer that can take one car. For now I will spot that LPG car toward the edge of the layout.
Here is another shot North. The un-green area will get a road with grade crossing and a gas station. I hope to have more of the smaller details ready by the big show. So you can see progress was made. For the show the Skally Line will be set up as a branch line to the main FreemoN layout. That will let me test out the operations and help me decide what I want to build next.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday at the Bluff

I finally had a little sunshine on a day off, so of course I ran down to Daytons Bluff. Any day at Pigs Eye is a good day. I followed a BNSF Oil Can down the hill. I got set up in time for the DPU, it was BNSF C44-9W #4955.
Waiting to come into the Pigs Eye was CP SD30C-ECO #5005 with DME SD40-3. The look of the new ECOs is growing on me.
I've noticed DME 6095 has some interesting modifications. The blower intakes are patched over and there are some extra louvers at the rear of the long hood. I like it, a lot.
 The BN-UP Transfer came down the hill with some good looking power on it. BNSF SD40-2s #1832 and #1922. These two are still flashing the Cascade Green.
 CP ES44AC #8863 was getting a little tune-up at the shops.
And a special surprise hidden on the BNSF side of Pigs Eye, BNSF GP35u #2639 was working the auto unloading facility. There were 6 tracks full of autoracks in the yard, it looked like it was going to take a little time to sort it all out!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feeling Depressed?

I'm not, but I caught a couple of big depressed center cars recently. The smaller car (only a 12 axle) was hauling a transformer through St. Paul, MN.
The larger 16 axle car, KRL 16801, is a pretty new car, designed to haul up to 810,000 lbs! It was waiting at the Rice's Point Yard in Duluth. I'm guessing a large load is inbound by ship to the Port of Duluth.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Little Oversized Work

Recently I was asked to build an HO scale SD70M for a UP engineer. I will say this scale is very different to work in than my usual N Scale. The project was a challenge, but I think it turned out well.
This was the engine that the engineer had certified in, I started with an Athearn unit, redid the roof details, added cab shades and mirrors, renumbered the engine and weathered it to look like the prototype.
It was fun, but I won't be switching scales any time soon.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Little Buffer Zone

The Skally Line brings HCl to one of its customers. These tank cars are hazmat and need to be handled carefully, which involves using a "buffer car" to separate the cars from the engine. Today out on the Skally I found SCXY 1363 making a run south to Zinpro with a single tank car to drop off. The buffer car of choice was one of the new BNSF "Heritage Hoppers", this one with the BN logo.
The BNSF Trinity hopper is an Intermountain hopper I stripped, repainted and decaled using a couple different Micro Scale decal sets. I have an undecorated Trinity hopper on it's way. I plan on making that into one of the BNSF NP Heritage hoppers (If anyone knows what their road #'s are that would be a huge help, thanks!).
The tank car was an undecorated body I picked up off ebay. I used a Gold Medal Modals detailing set for all the etched metal parts you see attached to the car. I replaced the brake cylinder with one from a Red Caboose covered hopper. Then I painted the car Polly Scale Reefer white and decaled with a few different sets from MS again.
I needed several of these cars to fill out the amount I need to switch out Zinpro in North Branch. To get the Athearn version of this car was costing more than $30 a car. I was able to build this one for about $10. The detail level is better and I can say I made it myself. I have 3 more of these I need to finish painting and decaling, but I wanted to get one done to see how it would look.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Welcome ILSX 180!

The Skally Line is booming, so another engine was in order. I heard ILSX 180 was in transit from the ILS shops in Holt about a month ago. I waited patiently and then estimated an arrival in Rush City I figured the 29th of October would be a safe bet. As I passed the stored cars in North Branch I noticed some movement. SCXY 1352 and 1363 with ILSX 1345 sandwiched were pushing a large cut of cars south. It was nice to see the three amigos working together.
Once in Rush City, ILSX GP38AC #180 was waiting. The weather was overcast with snow flurries. I grabbed a bunch of detail photos (you know I have to build it in N Scale now, I already have all the parts, I just need the paint). An ILS mechanic was prepping the engine and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, thanks Terry! But my scenic shots would have to wait.
Flash forward to today. Heading south from Rock Creek, I caught up with ILSX 1345 and 180 heading north to interchange with BNSF in Hinckley.
I ran ahead to Rock Creek and grabbed some shots in one of my favorite spots.
The lighting was much better today as the two approached the bridge.
SCXY 1363 was sitting idle today in Rush City. This well worked engine has earned a little break.
SCXY 1352 was sitting down at Tiller, waiting to pull sand North. Eventually there will be two engines stationed here for sand power and two in Rush City for flour power. It's a good time to be a Skally fan.

Friday, November 1, 2013


With the changing of the leaves, I figured the Skally Line was due for a color change as well. The Geeps of the Skally have been bumped for the day by the GP10s of the Twin Cities and Western Railroad. These two were a project for an N Scaler in Wisconsin. I thought I would share the results.
 These started as Atlas GP9s, the bodies were reworked with appropriate exhausts, intakes, roof details, chopped noses, grab irons, lift rings, plows, wipers, battery boxes, mu cables, cut levers and so on.
The decals were Micro Scale and the paints were Polly Scale. I hope they are what the new owner was looking for!