Friday, July 17, 2015

Reality Check Friday

Railfanning in Vegas is... different. Around town there are some great spots around town. South of town there is one of the coolest spots, Sloan. The old tunnel has been abandoned in favor of the new cut through the side of the hill here. Because of the grade, the trains are easy to pace.
South of Sloan is Erie. This passing siding provides a long trailing or approach shot. Here is looking South at the departing Ringling Brothers Red Circus Train (I saw an elephant).
Looking North at Sloan is a great banked corner with desert landscape all around. I was standing on the shoulder of Las Vegas Blvd. when I took both the Erie shots.
This is Aware country. His tags are everywhere from here to L.A.. I've seen some great shots and am looking forward to more.
Arden Yard: Home of the Vegas SD40Ns. These SD40-2 rebuilds are everywhere and pull all the locals in town. Maybe someday they'll try some more creative paint schemes.
This last shot is how I often see Vegas. This shot summed it up well. It's open, airy and a little on the dirty side. One of the Locals was heading North on Monday. The crew gave a friendly shot with the airhorn, that helped.
Vegas is more than the casinos and the lights. It has many faces, and there is one that will match whatever mood you are in, you just have to know where to look.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Skally Changes

It was so nice when I was a half hour south of the Skally, but now it would take me a three hour plane ride to get there. Google finally updated the satellite maps and Rush City was as I had seen it last, just more complete. I was there as the engine house was being built. An old NP well had been found and was being capped on the day I was there last. So there wasn't much for surprises there. The Ardent Mill (new name as of last year) look the same as ever, with the new engine house and speeder shed in this picture. This picture has north to the left.
The surprise came on the south end of Rush City. My friend HK had asked me about a siding south of town and I thought he meant the tiny spur to Federated Coop. I couldn't have been more wrong. There is a new passing siding (2400 feet long I'm guessing) with a long passing siding (2000' maybe) turning West to the south end of the commercial park. There is a crossover so the siding can be accessed from the main. Interstate Energy will be building a new propane transfer station on this site. Propane will come in by rail and be shipped out by truck. This photo is orientated with North at the top.
I am planning a trip back to MN next year, but I'm not that patient to see what's going to be built.

Friday, July 10, 2015

MILW GP20s and GP40

I bet you didn't know the Milwaukee Road used to have trackage rights over the Skally Line. It is true! I can only image what it would have been like to watch MILW rebuilds slam the Hinckley diamond back in the day.
I just finished a few units for a friend and I thought I would post some pics on here for everyone to see. For the GP20's (MILW 981 and 957) I modified two Atlas GP9s by chopping the noses, adding etched grills and a whole slew of other details. The drop steps were removed and the solid handrails were built for the ends.
I have scratch built the Horst Air filters for other engines, but I chose to use some that I found on Shapeways. They aren't cheap, but they saved me some time. These GP20 took more than a little research as the great MILW had no consistency from engine to engine. I think that made these even more fun. I had fun creating the rusted fuel tank on MILW 957. It's these details that really appeal to me.
The GP40 (MILW 2058) was detailed out, getting the same handrail treatment as the GP20s and then it was weathered to look like it did in the Mid-80's. It was starting to rust and plenty faded by then. The shortened fuel tank was another MILW feature added to this unit.
I hope these serve my friend well!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Turning A Corner

I did it, I made the first 90 degree corner. This will allow my to hook all the Skally Modules together in my train room (garage). This corner has FreemoN compliant trackage, so it will also work for me at shows. This one will go between Tiller (North Branch) and Rush City. It is a 22" radius, with 4" of straight track on each end. I built the benchwork and set the landforms one day, laid and painted the track, added the fascia and applied the ground foam on day 2 and ballasted on day 3. All I have to do underneath is build the legs and add the bus line wiring. Up top I need to add static grass and trees. Life is easy when you don't have switches to worry about. 43" more mainline are good to go.
I raided the hill about 3/4" at the back of the module and lowered it 1/4" at the front. The hill will have trees and i will use a short static grass up front. This should give me a good photo backdrop for roster shots.
I will build one more 22" corner to match this one and then I will build one larger (30" or so) corner to connect to the future North Branch Peterson Mill module set I'm planning. It's not much, but it is progress. I'll post more pics once I plant trees.

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.