Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The November Break

In November I have to start making sure I take days off, before New Years hits. I took advantage of the time to make some Skally progress.
I've been working one end of the line to the other... in Rush City I added the roof to the engine house. I need to add some details and then paint it up. I also weathered all the new flour cars, so they don't look so... new.
 I added some sidewalks to 4th St. Now I need to fill in the park and add an artillery piece.
I forgot to mention I also started the electrical substation that sits just North of the Ardent Mill.
 I added the newest customer on the line, Interstate Energy. The LPG cars are already off-loading.
 I scratch built the unloading racks. I'll go back an spruce the scene up later, but it works for now.
 I finally made it back to the Rock Creek bridge. Sorry for the bad exposure on the shot. I hope to get some track permanently set soon on this one.
Tiller, or should I say "Titan-Lansing" now has started to materialize. I mocked up the sand sorting and cleaning tower (to scale) out of foamcore and I built the loadout shed (out of styrene). The construction trailer is there to remind me to finish the scene...
Lots of progress, but nothing done, so it goes.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! A couple of weeks ago I was in North Carolina shooting the Blue Ridge Southern (BLU) and the NS. While photographing the NS near the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, I got a shot of the infamous Pumpkin Car TCMX 20821.
I almost missed the shot on the pumpkin car because I was so focused on the power for the train, it was 4 C44-9Ws, 2 SD40-2s (one of which was NS 1625, one of the last High Hoods) and a GP38-2.
The BLU was one of the highlights of the trip. We caught the T31 in Asheville, interchanging with the NS. They picked up about 30 loaded woodchip cars. My friend Hunter was conductor and gave a friendly wave as he passed us. The train had 3 SD45 bodied SD40M-2s. It reminded me of the Skally with the BLU's knock-off paint scheme.
Here we caught the T31 closing in on Canton, NC. 
Canton is home to a large paper mill. We got to watch the crews switch the plant out, and I got this nice scenic shot of the plant.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Engine Update

Not a lot to report. I made some progress on the LNG facility. On a good note, after an extended hiatus, I've finally gotten back to locomotive building. I scratched one more of the list with the completion of NP 3617. This was a fun build using a 3D printed cab.
Finishing this engine leaves me one SD45 left to do, GN 400. That will probably wait until after I finish some BNSF power.

Friday, September 2, 2016

August Update... In September

I've decided to hard mount some of the modules to the wall in the garage. Which prompted me to think about height. I like the FreemoN 50", but I really like having the layout higher, so I picked up some heavy duty brackets from Rockler and played around with elevation. I settled on 52". Before finalizing, I painted the walls a nice shade of blue, to act as a simple backdrop. Now that I know I like the height, I ordered more brackets for the next wall.
 I'll be moving some of the corners around. I had a wooded corner between Rush City and Tiller. I'm going to modify one of my existing corners and turn it into Interstate Energy, the LPG loadout on the south end of Rush City. This will add a little something to ops session, without causing me to build a massive straight module set, to accomplish the long spur at a 90 degree angle to the main. I will have to hand lay the southern turnout, but what the heck, you only live once.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ardent Flour Mill

A recent arrival got me to make some progress on the permanent Ardent Flour Mill for Rush City. I had a foam core mock up in place for the last year. It was time to start the upgrade. A couple pounds of styrene later, it's starting to come together. I need to detail it and paint it, but it already looks better than the stand in. Next I have to add all the concrete floors inside, the scale on track 6 and the floor grate on track 4. One thing at a time.
In this area I will add the fall protection system over the tracks. It will also get the weather sealing around the loading lock doors and small roofs above each door. In this shot you can see part of the reason for all the progress: the new BLMA PD hoppers (more info below on those).

Inside the north end doors there will be a scale house (yes it's inside, between tracks 5 and 6) as well as a bunch of other mechanical stuff.

The BLMA (now Atlas) hoppers. Wow. I have been in N Scale for 30 years and these take the cake. I got them in three reporting marks, CITX, GACX and TILX. I need to weather them all, but that will be a little ways out.
The cars are fabulous. Body mounted couplers, metal wheels, air hoses, reporting marks stenciled on the trucks, the blue bearing caps.
The trucks are mounted with screws instead of pins. Check out the rear profile on the wheels. You don't see that on FVM.
 The cut lever, etched metal walkways and crossover platforms.
The underbody piping runs to both sides of the car (something Walthers never tried). The pnuematic lines are even painted!
A side shot to show off some of the fine printing. In full disclosure I did have some flash I had to trim inside of one of the couplers to get it to couple just right , but if that is the worst thing that happens, I am one happy camper. 
I'll get all of the ones I bought out of the boxes soon. I picked up 15 total. That helps my layout out pretty well. I'm hoping they rerun the TILX cars so I can add more of those to the fleet, but this set gets me a great flour hauling start.

Monday, May 16, 2016

What Happened To Spring?

The last couple of months flew by faster than expected. I figured I'd fill everyone in on the layout progress.
I have been ballasting Rush City. I need to get going on the Ardent Mill. My new BLMA PD Hoppers have been delayed until June. I'll try to have the scene ready for their arrival.

 Next door to the Mill I've added the electrical substation. I still have a lot of details to add, but it a start.

Over at Zinpro, buildings are starting to appear, the spur is ballasted and wheel stops have been added.

I've also added derails in a few spots. Zinpro, Tiller and the North end of the flour tracks at Ardent. I still have to put in the south Ardent derail, but I'll get to that when I ballast that area.

I wish I had more to report, but that's it on the layout for now.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

March Madness

I've only had a couple of days off this month, so progress has been slow. After working a crazy stretch, I'm finally turning my eyes back to the modeling.

I made some progress on the new corner, in fact it is wired and in place. I haven't contoured the foam yet as I don't know what I want it to look like. It may end up being some very simple farm fields. Maybe wheat or some good old pasture land.
 Over in Rush City I am working on adding the blacktop. After I get these glued down, sidewalks will come next.
I also made some progress on some engines. I have a couple of SD50s and and SD45 I'm working on. Molded details are off, time to start putting the new ones on. The SD45 cab is going to get replaced with a Shapeways one that Reese Martin designed. It has the correct 4 side windows for an NP unit.

The SD50s will be getting LokSound Decoders. I had to chop the frame a fair amount, but I got the first one in and tested. It sounds really nice. They aren't loud, but the sound quality is very good. I need to get a couple capacitors wired in and also the 0402 LEDs.
Maybe this week I can get some more done. Next week I hope to get some more pics of the real Skally. Let's hope for a nice sunny week!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Where did January go?

It seems like we just started this year off and here we are rapidly closing in on the end of February. Skally progress has been happening, slowly, but surely. I've had another ops session, made progress on benchwork, wiring, scenery and have been working on locomotives as well.

I upgraded SCXY 1326 with a LokSound Micro decoder and a sugarcube speaker. The sound quality is very good. I'll be upgrading SCXY 1325 next.

I built another corner this week, I hope to get some track laid on it soon. This will help with switching out Zinpro, as the end of the current trackage makes things difficult. I have designed a plan for the Peterson Mill, we'll see if I can make it fit.
In Hinckley, I've begun planting trees. 36 down, 240 to go. 
 In Rush City I continued the ground cover, adding ballast and greenery.
The second ops session was a success. I didn't get the track as clean as I should have, so I got a little frustrated cleaning as we went, but I think my dad (CEO of the HO Scale Wolf River Railroad) had fun. You can also see the new skirting I have on 1/2 the layout in this shot.
Progress, some fast, some slow. Ok, mostly slow, but any progress is good progress.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fun with the camera

I was playing around with my Nikon today and I shot a series of 322 photos to see how that function worked. I stitched them together and you can see me playing around, switching in Rush City. No serious work, it was just a fun day. This was 1 photo every 3 seconds. Next time I'll try one every 2 seconds.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

U-NBREFV9-05 Part 2

Once all the loaded sand cars are coupled together, air lines are hooked up and the brakes tested, the train is ready to head north. BNSF will call this one U-NBREFV9-05. That is a unit train from North Branch, MN to East Fairview, North Dakota. It is a low priority to BNSF, so this one will be in the hole a lot as Z Trains slide by.
 I caught up with the train heading through the Beroun cut. Its easy to photograph when the leaves aren't on the trees (trees are coming).
 As we pull into Hinckley we can see under the Hwy 61 bridge (MNDOT needs to finish that one up one of these days). The other Skally crew has finished the interchange and is waiting for us to clear so they can head south back to Rush City.
 The unit train pulls under Hwy 61.
 The Skally SD40M-2s wait patiently.
 You can see the old NP roadbed, from when Hinckley was an NP/GN diamond.
The BNSF crew relieves the Skally Crew and gets a track warrant to head north on the BNSF Hinckley Sub. This train will be routed up through Superior, WI (SUP) on it's way to North Dakota. The Skally crew was happy to be out of the -9. They think BNSF forgot to clean the toilet before the engine was delivered.
As the back end of the train clears the South End Skally switch, the other train pulls out.
The BNSF crew has their warrant and pulls out onto BNSF tarckage. Here we see the BNSF Hinckley Section shack. There are a few MOW crew members stationed here.
The crew notches up and pulls out of town, crossing Hwy 61 at the BP station. When are those gates going to be installed? Soon we hope.
And so the unit sand train departs. It should only be a week or two and another will be going again. The sand train definitely adds to the operations of the line.