Monday, December 19, 2016

N Scale Magazine Jan-Feb 2017

My third and final series article was published in the Jan-Feb 2017 issue of N Scale Magazine. Hopefully this will help those attempting to set up prototypical group (or individual) operations on their layouts.

They also graciously gave me the honor of the cover shot  (3 billion photo attempts later) for the magazine. I think I had reached the limits of my 10 year old, 8 magapixel, Canon PowerShot A590. The trick is to get as small an aperture (and lots of daylight lighting) as possible to maximize the area in focus. An amateur/professional friend made a valiant but failed effort to help with his high end equipment. 

Shooting a model railroad is a distinct talent with different rules to the game. My A590 was limited to an f stop of 8. I borrowed my daughter's 12 megapixel DSLR, f stop 20 (which in reality is not a big improvement over the point and shoot's f8), and managed to get better results. I submitted what I though was the winner but they chose a different shot from one of the last photo shoots. (They are not color-blind, but I am!)

The real laugh is my layout attempts to faithfully model Westville, Woodbury, and part of Brooklawn. They chose to use a shot of Camden which is not faithfully modeled. Such is life.

The Russians are Back! 
The bulk of the recent views (183) of my blog have come from Russia. I hope Mr. Putin is enjoying the photos!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Philly Transfer Has New Power

Here is the latest edition (from the Chris Broughton Locomotive Works) to my PRSL layout. A Baldwin center-cab RT-624 arriving in Camden with the Philly transfer. A movie clip, shared (2013) by someone on the PRSL Historical Society, showed a center cab in Camden. I am assuming that was a Baldwin RT624. I traded Chris some brass cabins for this and transforming some old Model Power P70s closer to what the PRSL uses.

The RT624 is a Shapeways body on an Atlas Alco C630 chassis.

A Baldwin S12 hustles out to meet the Philly transfer headed by a Baldwin RT624

The P70s were originally cheap Model Power models. Chris added steps, replaced the 6 axle trucks with 4 axle ones, repainted, and lettered for PRSL. The decals are not as elongated as the prototype but were still an improvement. He did 3 coaches and a PBM (Passneger-Baggage-Mail). No PBMs existed on the PRSL so we numbered it with the open number (9937) between the coach and combine numbers.
PRSL P70s discharging their passengers in Woodbury

Monday, November 28, 2016

Yet Another Trip Down Memory Lane

While browsing my email I spotted a sidebar ad that caught my eye and immediately transferred me back to the 1950s. I recognized the cover of a 1950 Bantam Book put out by the staff of Lionel.

I immediately ordered the paperback and when it arrived I was vividly thrust back to images of model railroading in my youth! Each page seemed electric and alive. This was the book where I learned the basics of railroading (and why the C&NW was the only left hand running railroad [designed by British engineers]), basic construction, and constructing buildings from discarded shoe boxes.

My wife asked why I never kept the original paperback? I had to explain it was reduced to a pile of separate pages crumbling from drool and overuse.

It also contained my all time favorite track plan (definitely required Lionel's magna-traction engines to work):

Inspiration Month - November 2016

November is NMRA's Model Railroad Open House Month and a great chance to be wowed by what other model railroaders have accomplished. I put together a tour for a couple of friends who are relatively new to the hobby and visited some of my favorite layouts.

We started with the outstanding Claemont, Lewiston, and Western HO railroad by John Rahenkamp. He is a real pleasure to chat with (in spite of his ranking N Scale just above Brio trains).

We also visited HO layouts by Mike McNamara's (Northeast Kingdom Railroad),Chris Conaway, and Mert Gardner.

The highlight of the day was visiting with Konrad Richter and enjoying his outstanding N Scale layout (which include's Rick Spano's prototype operating coal dumper).

Thursday, October 20, 2016


It has been said you can never have enough staging. No truer words were ever spoken if you have operating sessions.

I started a never ending project to increase my staging in order to lengthen my coal drag, tank sweeper, and now the new Millville sand hog. It would have been nice to be able to add 2 more tracks but I can only do that by making it impossible for operators to get to Westville from Woodbury (getting past the narrowest point in the aisle). So I did the next best thing and lengthened the 3 existing staging tracks to squeeze in another 21 car capacity.

Sounds simple doesn't it? Well I did it but it required an S curve of about 5" radius. Ordered some more track rerailers and track bumpers. When they came in I suddenly realized I could dump cars off the layout on the under-layout side in the extended portion. So I cut (and painted) some thin wood to solve that problem but then had to screw them in through a tangle of under-layout track wires.

Even though the sharp radius didn't add inter-track car swiping I failed to test the closest track and found that 50' cars were swiping the corner of the aisle side track guards (1x4). Out came a jigsaw to remedy the problem and once I rerailed about every car on the 3 tracks of staging everything is now copacetic.

I found an area to add a staging track on the other end of the line. It will be a difficult (inaccessible) install. But it needs to wait for a new last minute project. I got an offer to do a magazine cover shot IF I could improve on the quality of a few shots I submitted. Unfortunately I may have reached the limits of what I can do with my 8 meg point and shoot camera so I enlisted a friend, who although an amateur photographer, has a good SLR and a lot of lenses. He has never taken model train pictures before so I am waiting with bated breath to see the results. (He must have taken 200-300 shots!) Stay tuned!

Friday, October 14, 2016

N Scale Magazine - The PRSL - the Millville & Penns Grove Branches

My second article (in a series of 3) was published in the Nov/Dec issue of N Scale Magazine.

This article covers my home layout and it's attempt to cover the section of the Pennsylvania - Reading Seashore Lines from Camden to Woodbury and its off-layout extensions to both Millville/Vineland and Penns Grove/Deepwater.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Birthday Vacation - Sight & Sound Theater and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Since I was passing into my next decade of life, my wife and I took a birthday trip out to Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster to see the Sampson production. And since it was my birthday, I got a major say on the trip itinerary:
.          Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (PRR T-shirt),
.          Strasburg Railroad,
.          3 railroad gift stores, 
.          and a hobby shop (X-Acto blades)!

We will start with the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum, one of my favorite places.

Tons of engines:

Some rusting away in the yard:

N5C Cabin 477947:

Found out the Reading had 2 round end observation cars and that they ran their premier passenger train with one on each end so the train did not need to be turned at the terminal:

They also had 2 great model railroads and I got to have a friendly chat with Bill, one of the model railroad volunteers:

Moving to the Strasburg Railroad: They were running a 2-10-0 decapod they got from the Great Western RR in Colorado:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Operating Session #7 (September 17, 2016)

The 7th Operating Session is in the books. We forgot everything we knew over the summer and stumbled into the roundhouse at the end. Great friends make great times and it was a joy to see everyone again. 
(Curly, Larry & Moe) Larry, Mario, Niel, Gene, and Bob hard at work. 
Tim couldn’t make it so Larry filled in for him. We also had a guest observer, Niel, who wanted to learn about operations. Most of the session went very well but this time around we seemed to have periods where one crew (Mario/Larry) or the other (Bob/Gene) went un-busy. I’ll have to work on that (but it can be difficult due to the unknown requirements of freight orders generated for the day’s runs).

Gene looking for an engine.
Mario & Larry trying to uncouple cars behind the refinery.
Who says yard work can't be fun? This is the smaller South Woodbury Yard.
Larry watching WY33, the Millville local, heading south out of Woodbury.
Post Mortem: The Red Oak tower crew did well with the waybills. The only discrepancy I could find with them was 4 waybills in the Westville card holder instead of the cardholder in North Woodbury.
The Brown crew (Camden Pavonia Yard) left me totally baffled. Only one string of cars was left on the correct track and I can’t tell if the cars on the Millville local track belong there or on the Millville terminal track. They are fortunate that I have run out of demerits to give them.  :-)

My Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines layout is based in the early 1950s but we have been running a 1974 freight schedule because that was all I had found at the time. Recently I became aware of a 1954 freight schedule and was puzzled by an extra freight to Millville (now there were 3) which I didn’t understand.

The old heads on the PRSL Historical Society informed me the train was referred to as the “sand hog” and did no local switching since it was about 100 cars long. So now I have to add another train to my schedule. As a kid, I was always about a block away the tracks and remembered all the 50’ gons loaded with sand. I could never figure out why anyone needed sand and why you would want to move it (and what kept it from blowing out of the cars?). But this was the post WWII era and construction was booming with all the returning servicemen starting families and building homes. Concrete (sand+) was also needed in the massive road constructions following the war and the glass industry was booming. So off to eBay to add to my available gondolas (the front 4 are recent additions).

Larry came bearing gifts. The 5 leftmost sand loads are the work of his hands (the 2 rightmost were Hay Brothers loads I already had). The model “sand hog” is well underway.

Monday, September 5, 2016

PRSLHS III North Woodbury Signal

For a reason beyond my comprehension the multi tracks from both Woodbury and Westville reduce to a single track for a short distance in North Woodbury. At least it gave the tower operators something to do!

Climbing again - the signal in north Woodbury:

View from the signal (I have no idea what the shack is for):
After Woodbury the Millville branch dropped from two tracks to one sometime in the later part of the 1950s. The boring view in Woodbury Heights:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

PRSLHS II - South Westville & North Woodbury Industries

Some of the industries along the line, but first we start with friend Bruce measuring what I think is some kind of railroad communications box. The spur to the left leads into the Texaco refining complex.

Mid Atlantic lumber company just off Olive Street in the southern part of Westville:

Woodbury Fuel and Oil in the northern part of Woodbury: