Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Epic Adventure Pt. 5

Originally I was thinking I'd make one post to cover this whole trip and here I am, post #5 and I'm till only on day two of the adventure! Another fun thing about Crooskton is the rolling stock. I'm a patched car addict and this town fed the addiction.
The Minnesota Northern uses many ex-BN/BNSF hoppers. MNN 424039 was a nice example.
The MNN also has a ballast loadout on the northern end of the line that uses ex-Clinchfield hoppers. They survive, patched out like BGSX 122539.
After getting a good taste of Crookston, we headed to East Grand Forks, MN. BNSF GP39E #2912 switching out the yard for American Crystal Sugar.
Crossing into Grand Fords, ND we found BNSF GP39M #2802 handling duties under radio control.
Once we got to the yard the rain decided to fall. One of the BNSF "snowdozers" BN 972501 was getting a little wash, waiting for the snow that will be back before we know it.
At the yard, BNSF C44-9W #5103 was on the point of a grain train. It is nice to see the Dash 9's getting the Swoosh!
There was plenty of action in the yard. BNSF GP39-2 #2840 was flat switching. It was cool to see so many GP39 variants in one town.
This day of the trip was to be our longest, in both hours and miles. We never sat anywhere for to long before we moved along to the next spot. Stay tuned for more!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Epic Adventure Pt. 4: Crookston

As the dawn cracked on day 2 of the Epic adventure I was frustrated. My camera was acting up and the overcast skies looked liked they might start raining at any moment. My frustration would turn to overwhelming bliss by the end of the day. This was to be possibly by greatest day of railfanning ever.  HK and I grabbed a quick bite at McDonalds, because the hotel coffee wasn't going to cut it. We wandered towards the elevator on the south end of town. It was still early, with no action yet, so we got a chance to photograph this great ex-CP GP9, now lettered ILSX 1334.
Next we stopped by the Minnesota Norther Crookston shops. The crew were just beginning to arrive for the day. Once the boss signed off on us taking pics, we grabbed our shots (I hope the crews enjoyed the cupcakes I left). Inside the shops a couple of beauties were hiding. ILSX GP7 #1381 was hiding on one end.
MNN GP9 #1383 in matching paint was on the other end. You'll notice the numbering of ILSX, MNN and SCXY all fit in the same sequence.
Outside ILSX SW1500 #928 was waiting outside the doors. She would be switching the yard in a few minutes.
Two of my favorite engines were warming up, getting ready for a run to Erskine on this fine day. Ex-CN, Ex-KCS SD40-3 ILSX #1340 (now without snow shields) and ex-GTW GP9r MNN #1356 were ilding away. 1356 has a more unusual Spartan cab, this was done by the Canadian National shops.
An oldie but a goodie. This SW1, ILSX #79 was built for the Frisco, but went to BN next. Now it hides behind the shops waiting to hopefully serve a grain elevator or two before too many more years pass.
Here were were a mere hour into day number two and we were off to such an awesome start. Who knew how good the day was going to get?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rush City Redo: Structure Update

I wanted to update everyone on the Rush City Structures. While progress has been slow for a while there are updates to be made.
The Jasper Masonic Lodge got a roof! I used RS Laser Kits shingles. they are a little stiff, but they look good installed. For the white rubber roof I used a thicker plastic grocery bag and affixed it using 2 sided tape. This turned out pretty nice.I started on the foundation, building up styrene, so I could add the front stoop. I still need to build the roof over it, but it was progress, nonetheless.
I also started the Federated Co-op buildings in Rush City. While the real spur sees little use except for car storage, I figured I could use it for fertilizer deliveries until I get around to building Peterson's Country Mill in North Branch.
That's all for now, hopefully I will make more good progress over the summer!

Monday, July 8, 2013

ILSX 1337

Another fine engine has joined the Skally fleet. ILSX SD40-2 #1337 had rolled out from the Holt Shops. 1337 started life as SOO 778, before going on the Canadian Pacific roster as CP 778.
This engine started as a Mid-Production Kato SD40-2. The long hood was spliced with a Kato Early UP Non-Dynamic hood (easier said than done). It got Trainworx lift rings and mirrors, BLMA grab irons, a MbE Winter Hatch and Firecracker antenna as well as a Sunrise Strobe Light. The cab shade, mu hoses, fans, grills and wipers are BLMA, the All Weather Window is a GMM piece.
Inspired by my visit to the Holt shops, I weathered it to look like the prototype, you can barely make out where the CP logos were still. This unit also got an MRC Sound decoder and MT couplers.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Epic Adventure Pt. 3

Turning North from TRF we stopped by the Holt, MN Independent Locomotive Service Shops. The owner wasn't in today so we grabbed a couple pics and were on our way.Pardon my pictures, my camera started to go a little crazy on the trip. Nikon was nice enough to replace the lenses and fix some other internals after I got back.
A new addition to the ILSX fleet, ILSX 1328, is an ex-NS SD38. It was in service as a CEFX unit hauling coal from Bear Run Mine to the Duke power plant in Beehunter, IN.
 MNN 910 is a former BCR TR4A.
 ILSX 180 is an ex-L&N GP38AC.
ILSX 1337 is an ex-SOO SD40-2. This would be a great engine for the Skally Line to have... Check out the dynamic grid from MILW SD45 #12. It is used for load testing engines.
Passing through Warren, MN the elevator manager at Northwest Grain was nice enough to let us shoot CHS NW2 #1009. This engine was ILSX 1009 and in WSOR colors unit it's recent rebuild. The new colors are sharp! BNSF was using the balloon track at the elevator to unload a wind turbine blade train, but there was no good angle on that one. With the sun setting rapidly on us we made our way to Crookston, MN and Epic Adventure Day #1 came to a close.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tiller Part V

Sand is moving! Even though I don't have the building built, the industry is up and running. As part of a FreemoN weekend I got to test run the new portion of the line. Here is the overview shot: A trio of ILSX SD9s had just finished dropping of a cut of 2 bay sand hoppers.
Here you can see 17 2 bay hoppers on the loadout tracks. The third track will hold the loads headed out. The long lead into the industry allows decent cuts of cars to be swtiched around without fouling the main line. You can also see the UP5 panel and a keyed DPDT switch for operating the turnouts. I love this method and will be converting Rush City to match.
Zinpro also received the first loads of HCl. I will be building more of these tank cars to keep the business well stocked.
The track all performed very well, the turnouts were flawless (I will power the frogs soon for even better handling). All in all it feels very good to have made it this far. Now that I know it runs well, I will start on painting the track in preparation for ground cover and ballasting.