Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Skally Line!

After catching the CP on the Hinckley Sub., I headed south from Hinckley to catch the Skally at work. Having already dropped cars for interchange they rolled south and SCXY SD40M-2 #1326 was on point. Until the matching 1325 gets delivered, it is partnered with ILSX GP10 #1345. The big EMD looks as good as it sounds!
She's still clean from her trip. After getting repainted by the WSOR shops in Horicon, WI, she stopped by the BNSF shops at NTW for a little work.
This engine started life as an SP SD45, before getting repainted for the UP merger. You can still see the UP cues like the mu cable holders. You can also see the spare knuckle holders on the pilot.
The UP and the SP both liked to have the antenna stands up top. The UP added the GPS dome. You can see the new addition to the Skally scheme, the "Radio Equipped" logos. These are also being added to the SCXY GP's.
In real life I started with a Kato SD45, I had to modify the dynamic brake housing, add all the extra details, the fans, mu hoses and cut levers are Trainworx, the grab irons are BLMA, I also added Sunrise rear ditchlights, the front are from Shapeways. The AC unit is BLMA. The Antenna stand is a modified Kato unit with a Sandro Sinclair. The GPS dome and the mu holders are scratch built from styrene.
The paint is Signal Yellow and Engine Black. I'm glad to have this one in active service now!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

RUS v3.0 Progress!

I am building layout! I swear it is true! I was shooting photos last week from Cajon Pass to Tehachapi Loop and it got me fired up to build some more Skally Line.

I'm calling the new section Rush City v3.0. I got the birch plywood ripped and the tops cut. Tomorrow I will cut pieces to length and get the modules built. I will also be building two 90 degree corners. If I have enough lumber left over I will build a pair of N Land Pacific FreemoN modules too, but the Skally is the priority right now.
New Atlas #7 switches and tortoises are en route right now. I need to get more keyed DPDT switches to run them all. Life is good.

If the sun is out tomorrow I will get pics of SCXY 1326, fresh out of the paint shop.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

CP Photo Shoot

I got out to the Hinckley Sub today, and I caught the CP exercising trackage rights from the Twin Ports back down to Saint Paul. CP 9007 was on the point, still working hard!
"What's that? The SCXY just called the BNSF dispatch, let's head over to the Skally to see what the power is today!"

Friday, November 28, 2014

D.I.A.B (Electonics Stuff)

I'm not a wiring guru. I can wire things, but I'm not a tech genius. As I look forward to expanding the Skally Line I decided to simplify my life. I am going to copy the N-Land Pacific FreemoN groups wiring. They have come up with the "District In A Box" or DIAB for short. You can see more about it HERE. I figure if they can run large layouts by plugging these in, why wouldn't it work for the Skally? And then when I hook my modules to theirs, I have once less hurdle to overcome. I've got the box build and have started collecting the electronics. I need to get a coat of paint on it and it should be up and running by the time I lay track on the new modules.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Canadian Pacific Locos

Well, my locomotive reduction plan is behind schedule (when doesn't that happen). I have been working hard on a couple of Canadian Pacific units. Both have a slew of detail parts on them, from MbE to Sandro to things I had to make myself. I hope to get them outside for a natural light photo shoot tomorrow, but I figured I would share the progress:
CP 9007 is a Southern Alberta Rail SD40-2F kit. I mounted it on a Kato Mid-Pro SD40-2 chassis, mostly so i could get the ditch lights going. I modeled this one as it looks recently, the solid front door was replaced with one that had a window and the striping wasn't replaced afterwords.
I had fun weathering this one to match the prototype.
CP 3015 is a GP38AC, this one looks easy, but I had a bunch of time in relocating the headlights to the low short hood. The fibre optic tube just didn't want to fit in the already full nose. I also gave it the Canadian plows, sand hatches fixed the brake to be more accurate and weathered it to look more realistic.
I gave this one the small Pac-Man scheme. It was fun making the rear black stripes.
This is always one of my favorite views, looking down on the fans.
I hope to get these two up on eBay before the end of the long weekend. By then the Skally SD40M-2s should be close to done and I should have some progress made on my next fleet reduction engines (CN is next).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Railfanning Around Vegas

I explored a little around Vegas today with my lovely wife. I found a few interesting items. I am thinking about building a couple of FreemoN modules to use with the N Land Pacific Freemo group and I think I may have found my muse.
I started the day at the Olin Chlor Alkali plant. This place is huge. It has a couple of swithcers and I was lucky enough to photograph one today. Savage (SVGX) GP9 #8607. This looks like an ex-CP unit. I would love to know its heritage.
North of Vegas is a great spot called Apex. The UP interchanges with the Nevada Industrial Switch there. So far the short line has eluded me, but I did catch a trio of SD40Ns, led by UP 1837 sitting idle between jobs.
One of the industries at Apex in a Portland loadout, right next to the main line. This may end up being a winter modeling project for me (Freemo style of course). Don't worry, my main focus will still be the Skally Line.
One of the cool things is that the UP service road bridges are all made from flatcars in this stretch. Here you can see the one right at the switch to the portland loadout.
All in all it was a nice day. I also got to see a B25 Mitchell, some B-1Bs, A10 Warthogs and a C5A Galaxy getting loaded over at Nellis Air Force Base. There is more to Vegas than the Casinos...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Time To Refocus

With my cross country move done and some other projects cleared off the bench, I started to unpack some other projects. After that I unpacked a few more projects. In the box under that I found more projects yet. I believe I have too many projects right now...
I counted over 20 engines in queue right now. Most of them are just thing I wanted to build. For the Skally I have some details to fix on ILSX 1345 and then the SCXY SD40M-2s and some BNSF C44-9Ws to finish. Everything else is just... taking up space I guess.

I decided I am going to thin the project herd down. Between now and New Years I am planning on finishing and moving 12 of those engines. I have some vacation time coming up that I plan on using up to get through all these projects. You can see some of the future dispositions in the photo above:
CP SD40-2F #9007
CP GP38AC #3015
DMIR SD38-2 #213
CN Track Inspection Car #1501
and the list goes on...
It always feels good to clean house, so away I go! Wish me luck...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

SOU SD45s Part IV

The SD45s are done and they have all made it to their proper home in North Dakota! I got a little excited when I finished the second engine, so I didn't get pictures of it before I shipped it away. I tried to capture the look of the engines as best I could. I found a shot that showed that SOU 3114 had a different grill on one of it's fans, so it has one oddball, just like the prototype. I like to add warning labels on where they go, I think it is a nice detail.
SOU 3114 has white number boards so crews know it is equipped with Locotrol, and early Southern method of using radio control to run mid-train helper engines.
I also want to say thanks to Donnie Dixon and Allen Stanley, I used a copy of the 1983 SOU Locomotive Description & Equipment guide they put together as a reference for some of the details on the engines.

Monday, September 29, 2014

SOU SD45s Part III

SOU 3167 rolled out of the Skally Shops today. The Shapeways cabs were a little difficult to work with (I wish Mark 4 Design was still up and running), but the results are pretty good. All the details came together for a nice finished product.
I painted the class lights, mu glad handles and fuel caps. I also added the wind deflectors and the wipers. I used fibre optic tubing to get the lights working on the new short hood.

 I had to modify the coupler openings a bit to get smooth operation from the MT 1015 couplers. These engines are good pullers, so it is important the couplers are up to the task.
One down, three to go!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rush City Redo: Version 3.0

Hopefully I will be dragging some new plywood home in the next couple of days to start the third version of Rush City that I previously mentioned HERE back in Febuary. I will call this version Rush City 3.0. In the previous post, I forgot (or didn't know about yet) one important item that is driving the new build: the Rush City Engine House:
The big difference from the previous plan is the new trackage for the 270 foot long engine house. This will give me plenty of room for prototype car volumes. I will need to up the number of flour cars I have, but that is a story for another post. Here is a pic of the new plan next to the satellite shot (old pic, missing some buildings).

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Rusty Hoppers

I met up recently with another N Scaler in Vegas named Mike. Besides being another FreemoN guy, he is also pretty good at weathering. I have also been taking inventory of all of my rolling stock while I am waiting to get into the new home of the Skally Line. I had started to experiment with some new weathering techniques, which I will probably combine with some that Mike showed me.
Here are a couple of the cars I did back in MN:
Nothing too fancy, just a simple wet sanding to soften up the logo, some blotted on rust spots, a cote of Dullcote, some Pan Pastels and another coat of Dullcoat to seal it all in. I will come back later and airbrush the trucks and wheels to give them a used look too.

Friday, September 5, 2014

SOU SD45s Part II

More progress on the SD45 (SCXY and SOU). I got most of the details done on SOU 3130 and 3114. 3114 comes from a slightly different line in the SOU SD45 roster. It will be the only one of the four I'm doing with white number boards and it also has more antenna than the other 3. UPDATE: I got an email explaining that the white numberboards indicated a Locotrol Unit. These engines could control midtrain pushers via radio signals to a mu'd boxcar. Pretty cool stuff for the time period. Thanks for the info Tyler!
You can see the conduit on the roof as well as some of the other details I added (like the T Vent between the front (long hood forward, remember) firecracker antenna. A also found one shot where I could see the one oddball radiator grill. I had to model that too.
SOU 3130 is a little more mainstream. You can see the new electrical cabinet behind the engineers side of the cab. I have to add that to the two units I already ran through the paint shop.
More progress coming soon!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hinckley Watertower

In preparation for my upcoming ops session (third week of December is my plan). I have decided to make things a little easier on the operators. Both the operators know the prototype line, one knows it almost as well as I do, but I want to make it easy for any operator. I have decided to mark the north and south ends with the respective water towers of the towns that sit there. Lucky for me, both towers are close to the tracks, so it will add to the scene.
The first tower I make will be the Hinckley, MN tower. This sits just north of the junction of the SCXY and the BNSF.
I picked up a Walthers Modern Water Tower and was I ever let down. DOn't get me wrong, I can make it work. This is a prepainted model, I had to sand off the horribly done seam on the side.I will probably remove the cast on light at the top in favor of some more appropriate details. Here are the pics after I finished the sanding. By the time this post goes public, I should probably have my compressor back up and running and will start painting this to look a little more like the real thing.
I think it will be nice to be able to tell operators that Hinckley is North and North Branch is South. They will be able to glance to that end of the layout and see the water tower rising above the rest of the scenery. I hope it helps!

Monday, September 1, 2014

BNSF 616 Intro

Happy Labor Day everyone! I started work on my latest article, so I figured I'd give you a little sneak peek. This will be a Frankenstein type engine. BNSF 616 is a C44-9W that BNSF had rebuilt to ES44C4 standards. It will probably be designated as an AC44C4M. I'm using a Kato shell, with the electrical cabinet section off a FVM ES44AC. It is going to be fun.
There will be plenty more to come on this one...

Sunday, August 31, 2014


These are two of a four engine set I am building for an N Scaler up north. I am actually heading back to work on them as soon as I finish writing this post. I took today (I'm writing this on Friday) off to get a bunch done on these. I will have to run to pick up a temporary compressor to finish painting parts and the other two shells as I can't wire my big compressor in at my current location. I'll get better shots once I get the next round of decals on.
These are cool engines. The toughest part of this project was getting off the GN Big Sky Blue. That stuff does not dissolve easily.

Friday, August 29, 2014

I'm not fast, but I am Swift

Only two more weeks and I make the final part of my move into my house in Las Vegas. Most of my projects are in a holding pattern because they are in boxes or certain parts are hiding on me. I did manage to get some things onto the workbench. My priority project right now is some Southern high hood SD45s. I'll get some pics of those up later this weekend. While everything else was buried, I pulled a quick project out and modified a new Con-Cor Swift intermodal container to fit on a Kato trailer. I had already used the Deluxe Innovations decals on the Volvo tractor. It still needs some more details, but this will provide some nice traffic in Rush City.
I'll add more decals to the trailer later as I find them. A small project, but progress none the less. I think it makes for a nice set.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Long Move Complete

Sorry I've been a little slow in getting posts up.

The Skally Line is in a moving truck somewhere between Minnesota and Nevada. I have some current projects and my camera with me, but most of my trains at the mercy of Mayflower right now.

My family and I completed the 1650 mile drive in just under 48 hours. The rail fanning was great, but I didn't stop for pictures. This was all about getting the miles down as quickly and safely as possible.

It will be another month and a half until we get into our permanent residence, for now we are renting a house in the same neighborhood. I'm looking forward to expanding the Skally in our new home. I am also thinking about joining up with the regional FreemoN club. They strictly model the southwest, so the Skally Line won't quite match up. I guess it might be a decent reason to build a couple of traveling modules, and then the Skally could stay together as my home layout.

We'll see how I feel when we get settled in.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Day On The Skally Line

I want to thank the hard working crew of the Skally Line: Tavis, Bill, Justin and Dave. These guys are great people who also happen to be really good at running a railroad. They were good enough to let me tag along for a day and watch them work. The day was busy and long, but I got to see the Skally work from it's North end to the South end.
The day started on the south end of Hinckley where the NB train was waiting with outbound cars.
A quick interchange with the BNSF swapped cars heading out with ones heading to Rush City. The PRLX trio of GPs are still working the Hinckley Local.
 SCXY 1363 and 1352 were waiting in Rush and after switching out the yard, the twins were split up.
SCXY 1326 and ILSX 1345 would be doing the heavy pulling on the south end as well today.
SCXY 1363 ran ahead to facilitate the moves on the facing point switches.
What a great day, thanks again to my hosts! I owe you big time.