Sunday, June 28, 2020

Reopening Projects

Train stores in the Los Angeles area have reopened for in-store shopping, and I'm even starting to think about a railfan excursion up to Tehachapi or Cajon -- Tehachapi carries the biggest risk, since it takes a lot more gas with the possibility that there won't be many trains. Cajon is more reliable but also a little same old-same old. Maybe after July 4.

But thinking about railfanning again got me back to what I actually see when I go train watching, which around here at least means practically everything is tagged.

This reminded me that I have some contemporary "Epoch VI" cars in the queue that needed work. For instance, I'd picked up an Athearn Golden West Service boxcar that had been faded and patched for SP, but it had neither tags nor post-2010 conspicuity stripes.
My local train store had Blair Line graffiti decals in stock, so this was an easy choice for getting back to normal visits there. I also had Smokebox Graphics conspicuity stripes on hand.

Athearn did a good job matching the faded blue on these cars, plus the darker patch for the SP number, but the prototypes are graffiti magnets and pretty much all actually look like this:

The Blair Line tags are well chosen to look like what you see when you go out railfanning. Typically there's at least one on either side of the car doors. Then, usually later, the railroads added the reflective yellow conspicuity stripes:
Well, that's better. It should probably also get an overall coat of road grime.

Going through old stuff, I found a Walthers Proto car I'd forgotten about and gave it the same treatment:

I found a very similar car at Sandcut near Tehachapi several years ago and generally followed it:
LW is the Louisville and Wadleigh, a Georgia short line whose reporting marks GE Rail Services uses for some of its lease fleet.

Yesterday I ran into another car in the collection that hasn't had the proper work done:

This is an Atlas car lettered for Modesto & Empire Traction. MET cars are very common on Tehachapi carrying Gallo wine to the East Coast. Atlas here has added post-2010 conspicuity stripes, but there aren't any tags! This is very hard to imagine, so this car will have to go through the shop in coming days.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Scenery Work On The Malabar District

I've been working on detailing roads and grade crossings on the Malabar District. I decided to try Woodland Scenics Asphalt paint, which comes in a small squirt bottle like their other scenery colors. The instructions say it's supposed to be used over their Smooth It product, but it looks like you have to mix the Smooth It, and I had some spackle on hand that I think is much more convenient. The YouTube instructions with the Asphalt paint suggest aging the dark black color by sanding it with fine sandpaper, which I tried, and it worked pretty well.

I finished one grade crossing:

I'm working on a second grade crossing and scenery area at the other end of the Malabar segment.
The second shot shows the road after it's been aged with fine sandpaper. I won't add crossbucks at the grade crossing until everything else is done, to avoid damaging them.

Below is the Walthers tank car loading facility on the Paper Box segment.

The inspiration for this part of my layout has always been the San Joaquin Valley railway, and the Walthers facility can only be a small reminder of the sort of tank car industries along the SJVR:
The end loading ramp visible in the photo of the Walthers tank car loader was also inspired by a location on the SJVR:

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Illinois Central Project

I visited Chicago a number of times in my teens, and one railfan trip I always made was to ride the old Illinois Central Pullman green electrics. I've always liked the Illinois Central, and over the years I've added models to my collection. The most recent is a Walthers Mainline IC GP9 in the 1967 orange scheme.
While I now tend to get Walthers Mainline locos with the limited function ESU sound decoder installed, I had an extra ESU LokPilot Standard non-sound decoder on hand, so I ordered this one DCC ready. These locos are very quiet and run very smoothly, and they're easy to run without sound even if they have the sound decoder, so I have the option if I don't want sound to drive me up the wall. The roughly $40-50 extra for the sound version is a bargain, and it has the benefit that I don't have to fuss with removing the shell, losing screws, dislodging handrails, etc etc to install a decoder when I get it.

The orange scheme began on IC in 1967, but many IC locos remained in black well past the 1972 merger with GM&O. 30 years ago I got four Atlas/Kato GP7s lettered for IC in the original black when they came out.

I installed an NCE DA-SR decoder in this one around eight years ago. I pulled it out to see how much work I might need to do to speed match it with the new GP9, but right away I discovered it would accelerate, but it wouldn't decelerate -- par for the course for an NCE product. After quite a bit of grief, I learned the best way to keep on an even keel is to avoid NCE products. I'll need to replace this decoder now.

However, I still have three other Atlas/Kato IC GP7s that I'll need to install new decoders in, so I may as well just get on with a whole IC project.

Here's a Soho brass Illinois Central caboose I painted 30 years ago or so as well:

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Ore In The Malabar District

I posted a few weeks ago on An Atlas/Kato GM&O RS-1 that I'd had in pieces while I reassembled it with replacement parts I scrounged on eBay. Here it is completed, with DCC installed:
I assigned it to the Malabar District, the section of my layout that's made up of two connected micro layouts. It's running in quite well with its replacement pieces in the drive train:
I've been inserting ore cars into the operation in the Malabar District:
I added an ore tipple to the "industry" at the end of the district:
I kitbashed this from the rock bunker that comes with the Walthers New River Mine kit. This provides me with at least one spot for an ore car in regular operation. In the 1970s, the Chicago & North Western acquired several dozen ore cars from the Bessemer & Lake Erie. These couldn't be used on the upper Great Lakes ore docks, but they were used in all-rail service from Northern Michigan to East St Louis. The AHM ore cars are models of the B&LE cars, so they can be used for these. I relettered several with Circus City C&NW ore car decals: