Sunday, September 15, 2013

What's on my workbench?

Besides working on the new Hinckley Layout Design Element, I have been making some progress on some other projects too. Here's what's on the workbench right now. You can see the Tiller Sand silos. On the foam from left to right are 2 Twin Cities & Western GP10s, a ballast hopper (one of 4 I'm rebuilding), a DMIR SD38-2, a new ILSX (ex-BNSF) SD40-2, and a NW High Hood SD40-2. Not pictures are the 4 HCl tank cars I finished detailing and got painted last month. In the front is the Track Mobile my friend BH got for me. I cleaned it off with Bestine, I just need to get it painted up.
Here are the modern diesels in the shop. The back 2 are BNSF Dash 9's, front is a BNSF SD70ACe that is going to get a really cool rebuild done to it (thank goodness Kato retooled and made an isolated cab for me).
I also have an HO Scale SD70M I need to finish decaling, but that's another story...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

CN Jordan Spreader

The Skally carshops must have some contract work going on. ILSX 1337 was seen doing test runs with the newly refurbished CN Type J Jordan Spreader. We had better get this one back to CN pretty quick as crews are starting to talk about why we don't have one like this on the Skally Line. It sure would make snow removal and ballast spreading a lot easier.
Little do the crews know the Skally will be getting a Type A Jordan Spreader later this year. I'll keep that under my hat until it is a little closer to arriving.
This Jordan Spreader is a Train Collection 2000 kit I got from Hobby Craft Canada up in Quebec. It was a great starting point. The kit comes with a solid cab, so I cut it out and added windows, so you could see the plow operator. I modified the front so I could fit a Z Scale Micro-trains coupler. Instead of using the supplied resin handrails, I modified some gold medal brass to work. I also made the brake wheel stand using a Micro-Trains brake wheel. The wipers are BLMA and the wheels are FVM. This is not an exact model of any CN Spreader, just a cool representation.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Epic Adventure Pt. 9: Heading Home

It seems everywhere you turn in Minnesota there is another grain elevator. As we headed back toward the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul we were fortunate to stop in Walnut Grove, where we got permission to shoot a vintage ex-BNSF SW1200 waiting for the upcoming grain rush.
The Harvest Land Co-op in Springfield, MN has this beautiful ex-Conrail GP10 as its power.
Pulling into New Ulm, MN we made the mandatory stop for an authentic German lunch. The food did not disappoint, neither did the railfanning. Ex-SOO IMRL GP9's #123 and 124 were hiding downtown.
Pulling into Mankato we photographed LOCX SW10 #1237.
From Mankato we follow UP's "Spine Line" back up to Hoffman Yard in St.Paul. We grabbed some shots of the leasers there, including GMTX GP38-2 #2620.
We were now just a few miles from where we started the adventure. Three days of railfanning had worn me out. I was very happy to be sleeping in my own bed that night. I want to give a special thanks to HK for doing this trip with me. It takes a good friend to go chasing prairie skyscrapers for three days straight. I think we drove something like 1200 miles in the three days, only crossing into North Dakota for a few hours. It was fun looking through the pictures afterwords. We saw so many things in such rapid succession that it was hard to remember what we had seen in the morning by the time nightfall hit. I'd love to do another epic adventure next year, who knows what other hidden treasures are hiding out there...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Epic Adventure Pt. 8

I figure I should keep going while I'm on a roll with this trip. Closing in on the end of the second day we came to the little town of Herman, MN, there we came across a nice set of elevator critters. NREX SD40-2s 7931 and 7211 were waiting quietly to start another round of loading unit grain trains. These would be the last trains we would shoot today, as the sun set on us. We did see one more BNSF freight heading through Holloway, MN. ILSX 3109 had been on my list to photograph there, but it was bedded down for the night at the elevator. I guess I'll get it next time.
With the sun set for the evening we crashed for the night in Appleton, MN. After 14 hours of photographing, the adventure would continue on Day 3.
Morning came quick. We barely got moving from the hotel when we bumped into an ex-RRVW CF7 in Madison, MN. Don't expect to find much in the way of coffee there. The gas station has a pot they put on, but you need to beat the farmers to it.
While the sun had remained hidden behind clouds for most of two days it did show itself while we were in Clarkfield, MN. It came out just in time to illuminate this ex-PRR GP10.
Down the road in Marshall, MN, at the big ADM plant, one gen-set was switching in the yard while ADMX 1401 was refueling.
Not seeing much for trains today we rolled into Tracy, MN we found this freshly cleaned up DME Jordan Spreader. The glad handles were still shining on it!
At this point we had put down so many miles I think HK and I were both a little overloaded. My camera was having trouble with the color white, which would be a minor problem, especially for some of the engines we saw on the last leg of the trip. We turned the corner and were pointed home.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Epic Adventure Pt. 7

We headed to the large Cargill Elevator in Breckenridge It is right next to the RRVW yard and seemed to be a busy place. ILSX GP39-2 #1389 and RRVW GP38-2 #2628 were working cuts of cars the yard.
Next door at the elevator RRVW SW1200RS #1276 was getting ready to pull a cut of cars through the loadout. The engineer eased the throttle up to where we were photographing from. He opened the window and asked if I wanted to ride with!
HK gets credit for photographing the moment. The engineer thought we were with a group from corporate who had come out to tour the facility. I rode through until the first car was spotted for loading. Luckily HK found me as I was now 1/2 mile from where we had parked. This really tipped the day to epic!
Here are the elevator switchers. They are owned by the elevator, but leased to RRVW when they are not in use (at least that's what the engineer told me). The second unit is RRVW SW1200RS #1213.
Heading south from town we caught another earthworm, this one let by BNSF Dash 9 #5447. It was kicking up pheasants as it cruised the countryside at track speed.
By the time we hit Norcross, MN we were catching grain trains 2 at a time. Here BNSF AC44CW #5707 overtakes BNSF ES44C4 #6688 which was sitting idle on the siding. This isn't quite the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Epic Adventure Pt. 6

Wow, I really need to get caught up on posting Epic Adventure pics. After rolling south out of Grand Forks, we headed south to Fargo, ND. This started a stretch of earthworms like I have never seen before. The first was being loaded at the rural elevator in Thompson, ND by ILSX TR4a #916. This ex-BRC unit still sounds like it's running strong!
The next unit grain train was led by BNSF Dash 9's 4793 and 4743.
From Fargo we made a quick run West, to Casselton, ND, at the Ethanol Plant there we found this little jem, NIWX NW2 #9251. The Northern Illinois & Wisconsin is a leasing company based far south of here.
After cheching out the Ethanol plant we headed back East to Dilworth, MN and the awesome BNSF yard there. BNSF ES44DC #7343 was leading an auto train just east of town.
At a crossing on the east side of the yard we caught a nice 5 engine lashup on an oil train with some CSX run through power in the mix.
 After Dilworth we turned south again. Next stop: Breckenridge, MN. The first engine we found in town was RRVW GP10 #404, this one is sublettered for MOW and was hooked to the ditch sprayer.
 By the elevator in town we found a pair of forlorn CF7's RRVW 309 and 303 have been sitting a while.
Looking at the front of 303 behind the Jordan Spreader you can see the damage from a vehicle collision that side lined the unit years ago. The spreader has probably seen more action the last couple of years that the engine.
There was unit power for another grain train sitting by the elevators, but they wouldn't be the most interesting item of note while we were in Breckenridge...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hinckley Part 3

More progress, and BAMM! I'm stuck. Let me explain, I got the BNSF main line through Hinckley laid, 3 #10 LH turnouts. This shot is looking "North" on the BNSF side. The first switch is for the boneyard by the Hinckley depot and Lakes Gas, I'll model those someday later. It will get code 40 when I lay the curve, just for good looks. The second switch is the NSS Hinckley, the third is the switch to go south on the Skally Line.
The Skally turns through the swamp (static grass is down. This is a 36" radius corner. I got all the track I had laid painted up and even got some ballast down.
I put a couple engines and a car on the curve to give it a little scale. In the background you can see the old NP main.
Here is where I ran dry. The North End Skally interchange switch. I cannot find a #10 right hand switch to save my life right now and Atlas doesn't have any due for months. I don't feel like investing in a track making jig for one switch. Do I spend the time and build one freehand from scratch or hunt on for a pre-made switch. I have a couple weeks to mull it over. I'm open to suggestions...