N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio

and My Model Railroad Hobby


This is an F-7 painted for the Santa Fe railroad, now part of the BNSF group. This older paint scheme was eye-catching in it's day. This loco is a DC version which has had its motor removed by me so it would not cause a short on my DCC system. I really bought it just for the paint scheme, it will be a static display at the museum end of the layout. 

Here is a shot of the new loading ramp and platform. It was made to cover both cars entryways at once. I will probably make another to access the excursion car once I get it in place. On Saturday I went down to my local model railroad club "Real Rail" here in Bradenton and just wandered around the shop. I found a couple of platforms that looked like they were made for an excursion train so I bought both of them home along with a neat little HO scale Ferrari to add to my layout. Mother always said "one of these days you will get your Ferrari." Well now I have two. Unfortunately both are HO scale.

The Soo GP-9 and the Pennsylvania RR GP-20 currently reside in or around the roundhouse. There just wasn't room at the museum. The excursion train will make a stop at the station on this portion of the railroad to permit the visitors to observe these locomotives as well as the ones on the museum tracks. 

       Some sad news, the locomotive I had sent to a pal for the installation of DCC and Sound came to an unhappy end. The installation went fine and everything works, lights, sound operation all OK. Unfortunately the shell simply would not fit back 0n the chassis, in spite of everything we did. Removed some of the glass in the cab to make room for the speaker, removed material from the weight under the speaker (twice) and repackaged the decoder and keep alive. Nothing worked. Then we tried a step too  far. We tried cutting away the plastic that prevented the front weight from moving further down after a bobbing of the bottom of said weight. That was when disaster struck. The cutting away of the plastic caused the front of the cocomotive to dip down and we still could not get the upper shell to close up properly. We decided to call a halt and go in a different direction. Today, I ordered an SW-900 decorated for Canadian Pacific from Ebay. It already has DCC and sound. and should be here in 3 to 4 days. It was an expensive experiment to try installing the components ourselves and not one I am likely to repeat with a locomotive that was as old as my original DC switcher from 40 to 45 years ago. The decoder, speaker and associated parts will be put up for sale and the old loco will probably wind up in the bin. I really feel bad about it because it was the only loco I saved from the original layout back in Meriden Conn. However, life goes on even in the miniature world.

        On second thought I have decided to donate the decoder from the failed install project to the Real Rail Model Railroad club that I belong to. It will help someone. There was nothing wrong with the decoder, everything it was supposed to do it did. We just could not get it to fit in the available space of the loco. I have already ordered a replacement loco that is already factory equipped with DCC and sound. The units are very similar except the new one is decorated for Canadian Pacific. 

         Today (Monday) I also received a box of HO scale figures, both standing and sitting. The open excursion car has been well populated with these figures and I even managed to put several drivers behind the wheel of cars that I received a few days ago. Tommorow I will use some of the seated figures to add to the people around the museum section of the layout.

My Model Railroad, Page 17

      Once again, I have been struck with the gremlin of buying a locomotive and having it fail on arrival. It is going back to the seller ASAP. I already have the shipping label for the return on the package and as soon as I can get out the door it will be on its way back to Georgia. I do hope they have a replacement that works otherwise I have asked for my money back. This does get frustrating. Time moves on.

       It is now Friday and I have started repairs to one of the storage tracks around the turntable in Phase 1. The entire run of flex track was replaced after the ballast was scraped down to allow proper placement and I have soldered the feeders back to the rails. Next will come reballasting of the track. The reason for the extra work was that I found that the rail ends nearest the turntable were bent up at an angle (my sloppy work) In attempting to correct a mismatch in rail height I only made it worse. Hence the redo. Locos had to be moved about to get proper room to make the repair. Now comes reballasting and relocating some figures that got displaced during the repair. The fun begins.

       It is late Friday night and I can report that the reballasting was completed this morning. I have also replaced all the figures that had to be moved or were knocked over in the process. I even added a few seated figures on the benches that had been placed on the layout previously. I tried running the excursion train today using the 4-4-0 American Locomotive but that one still has trouble with the pilot truck derailing for no apparent reason. I was advised to stretch the spring on the truck so as to provide more downforce thus keeping the truck solidly in the track. We shall try that on Saturday when I get back from the Train Club Open House.

          Today is Sunday. At the Model Railroad club yesterday I picked up a caboose to replace the one I managed to destroy while trying to make a transfer caboose. The new one is lettered for ATSF like one of my other cabooses  or is it cabeese?  Whenit comes down to the details and repairs, as it seems to have done, I find that the work goes much more slowly than it used to. Maybe I am just getting old and slower than usual. Still the fun remains as high as ever.

The latest addition to the layout is an AC voltmeter which shows the approximate track voltage. There is a switch to turn the display on and off barely visible to the right of the meter. .

The latest adfdition to the rolling stock is a ATSF Snowplow. This will be purely a museum display piece as there will be no snow where my layout is situated in plan or for real.

The classic American 4-4-0 locomotive. Just arrived and programmed to it's address number 119. This loco will head up the excursion train below.

     From Top Left 2-6-0 (Mogul) steam engine, Alco S-4 diesel switcher, Next Row NW-2 diesel switcher, 2-6-0 (Mogul) steam engine, Third Row 0-6-0 steam switcher, Fourth Row GP -20, GP-9 phase 2, Bottom Row GE 44-tonner, Alco/GE/ Box Cab diesel, 80 ton 3-Truck Shay logging locomotive All are DCC equipped, most also have sound decoders.

The other day I received a package that I have long wanted. A 1943 edition of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Rule Book. It even had a qualification certificate signed by the same man that the rule book was issued to. I have also several empployee timetables from the 70's and 80's for other railroads. Myu memorabilia stash is growing.

         Last night I got into a project that kept me up well past my normal bedtime. I have mentioned before that I wascreating an excursion train as part of the "short line plus railroad museum" concept of my layout. I decided rather late in the day that I should create some way to allow passengers to board the train. Thus a loading structure consisting of a platform and ramp was built from coffee stirrers and basswood sticks. Some of the coffee stirrers were split in order to create railings around the platform and ramp. The whole thing was painted and placed beside the storage track for the train.Because I moved the team track ramp I also had to repaint the parking lot around it. My next delivery of HO scale cars will mean that I can park some of them there as well. I also ordered an open excursion car on Ebay at a rather good price compared to some of it's compatriots which were going for sometimes double what I paid. I also discovered that one of the couplers on the caboose that I had assigned to the excursion train had lost it's spring so I will have to replace that today as well.   

I am most anxious today, Monday, for the postman to make his delivery. I am expecting two locomotives and one excursion car today and I cannot wait. The excursion car and the 4-4-0 locomotive will complete my museum excursion train. The other locomotive is an F-7 diesel loco that I hope to convert to DCC and sound. If that is feasible I will do it myself. If not I will convert it to a dummy loco and just place it on display in the museum section of the layout. 

       This was my latest project. I looked on Ebay and the prices for a transfer caboose were outrageous. So I decided to build my own. The chassis of a caboose that I had which had beed destroyed by a ham handed cutting job on my first attempt at a transfer caboose was combined with a 20 foot cargo container that I had drilled and filed 4 windows into the box as well as sanding and filing all of the details off the ends of the box. The rsailings came from a walthers turntable kit gone wonkyand the diamondplate on the open decks I printed out on my ink jet printer. I also used the printer to make the signs wor the sides of the car. I am going to paint the end steps a bright yellow just as soon as I can get the paint from Michaels or Hobby Lobby. The cabin was painted with my choice of "boxcar red" and the railings were painted white. THe smoke jack came from a Walthers rooftop details kit. All in all, I don't think it came out too bad for a first completed attempt.

      I just could not resist. I bought another locomotive. This time an RS-3 to add to the museum roster although it may see use on the short line as well. On another note, a few days ago I had started a project to build a "bobber" caboose. That project went no where but I had atached a wood floor to a spare 4 wheel truck and added couplers to the project. Today I came across a "scale test car" which basically is a certified weight with a 4 wheel truck and couplers. You can see where this is going, can't you. A new project is afoot.

      On another note, I picked up a hand held scanner radio today from Walmart. The price was right and an analog scanner is all I need to listen for any railroad activity in my area. Don't forget, Bradenton is the home of Tropicana so the Tropicana Juice train runs almost every day. I already had a suitable antenna for the car. Right now it is runniong on alkaline batteries but it also has the capability to use lithium batteries and the charging circuit for those is built right into the scanner.

Having been on a number of real excursion trains in the past both in Illinois and Connecticut and Florida, this is pretty much the standard approach. A passenger car from back in the day, suitably upgraded with modern underpinnings, a combine car which sometimes doubles as a gift shop or a seller of drinks and snacks, and what is generally refered to as an excursion car, usually open to the air, sometimes with a roof like this one, sometimes not. As soon as I get my next shipment of HO scale figures (people) the excursion car will get populated as will the end platforms of the other cars.

        With the latest addition to the locomotive roster added to Page 16, it became necessary to move on to Page 17. I have been adding significant numbers of people figures to the layout and it is truly amazing to see the difference it makes. A couple more locos are are on the way as well, an American 4-4-0 for the excursion train and an F-7 to replace the malfunctioning F-3 that I gave 2 tries at getting a good one. The F-7 will need a fair amount of work as it is an older DC model so at the very least it will need rewiring and a DCC + sound decoder. All of that can happen in good time, for now it will be enough to occupy a track by the engine house as a display unit. I am trying to create the kind of roster that a railroad museum would have. So far I have a 3 truck Shay, a Box Cab, a 2-6-0 steamer, an NW-2, an NW-1, a GP-9 Phase ii and a GE 44-tonner and coming an American 4-4-0, and a EMD F-7. I think that will be enough for now. I still have to build an open car for the excursion train and a walk up ramp to load passengers into the train. Work, work work.

This is a view of the current museum collection. THe GP-9 and the GP-20 have been moved to the roundhouse on the other side of the layout. I may bring the SOO line GP-9 back over to this side later but I have not decided yet.