Sunday, July 25, 2021

(Still) In The Diesel Shop

Just over halfway into 2021 and, as usual, not as much model work as desired was accomplished for all the usual life reasons.  Nevertheless, the diesel shop crew did find some time to make progress on rebuilding the MP15DC.

I decided to re-truck and re-motor it, the latter with Faulhaber gearhead motors.  The goal is to provide super slow-speed control and remain extremely efficient with as little draw on the battery as possible.

As of July, the new trucks are re-gauged to P:48 and are installed -- albeit currently backwards.  One can clearly see the difference in wheel profile from the original P&D Hobby Truck Kit and the replacements for P:48 from Right-O-Way.

The brass truck kits are nice, but are mechanically very delicate with working leaf and bearing springs that make assembly a good challenge.   More work is needed to accommodate what seems to be longer axle endpoints on the Right-O-Way wheelsets to ensure reliable operation.

Adapting the underframe for mounting of the new trucks was the next item to tackle.   The original high mounting plates for the Atlas gearboxes were removed and new ones fashioned out of 0.064 brass bar stock with a second layer as a spacer off the underframe.   This resulted in a scale deck height off the rail of 66" -- real close to the prototype's 64 1/2".   Minor adjustments may be made later when the pilots are updated and new coupler boxes installed.

The trucks are currently installed backwards during the bolster rebuild phase shown here as more frame milling is needed to allow for the gear tower to swing and then they'll get turned around to the correct orientation. 

Following that, the motors will likely be installed on new custom-mounts extending up from the outside edges of the fuel tank area so that the motors mount above the inside axles of the trucks.  This will leave the center largely free to accommodate the battery and electronics.

I'm also contemplating a neat feature to add a battery charging plug where the fuel filler would go to avoid having to remove the battery each time.  Look for that update when it moves over to the electrical shop for final outfitting.

Monday, December 21, 2020

In the Diesel Shop

 What a year 2020 has been!   Despite, or maybe because of, being home more, very little, if any, railroad modeling took place.

Some key things came together this year and I was able to start on a key project underpinning many of the aspects of the design I've had in mind for a while now.

First up, Blue Ridge Engineering developed and released electronics that enable direct xBee interaction with Iowa Scaled Engineering's ProtoThrottle, so no separate DCC system is needed.  DeadRailInstalls makes battery power kits to provide power for the whole shebang.

The entire setup then looks like this:

(image courtesy of BlueRidge Engineering)

In my world, the electronics then all go inside the cavernous body of a mid-naughts-era Atlas MP15DC:

(mine's currently undecorated, but will look like a grimy version of this)

Currently, it's disassembled and I'm waiting on parts and track from Right-O-Way to re-gauge it to Proto:48 standards.

To be determined is selection of a decoder -- I'm thinking LokSound V5, mainly because of their standalone programmer that will keep me DCC-system free -- and sound components that fit in the fuel tank.

I might also remotor it as well depending on the amp draw and / or noise of the Atlas motor; we'll see as the project comes together.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Plan -- Version #1

Dear -- all two -- Readers!     A wave of inspiration came over me and after a couple hours with 3rdPlanIt, I present to the world Version 1 of an O-scale plan that fits in (a future state of) my basement.

Long term, the edges of the whole basement will accommodate the southern 2/3rds of the line with almost no compression.   I have room for a run of about 70 ft which equates to ~3400 real ft and this covers from the southern tip of the line up north to 31st on the south side of Schutte Lumber.

The first phase shown below covers the southern most ~1700ft with just a touch of compression to represent from the southern tip up just past the south-facing switch for Safeway Bakery.   A temporary shelf containing an eight-foot run-around and a spare track for storage fills the remainder of the south wall.

All-in-all, it's a pretty faithful representation of the Hill Track, though I've yet to work out all of the grades as this level of detailed editing takes much longer in 3rdPlanIt.   Preliminary work indicates that I'll be able to reasonably replicate the signature east-west elevation change of 34th St and the requisite north-south railroad grades in between and level out for the spots.

The unique nature of the spread between Roanoke Rd (front edge, left side) and Terrace St (upper right side) meant that the whole works was pulled away from the wall and a duckunder included under Fred Wolferman's driveway.  Duckunders aren't great, but since I was already planning to have the base elevation up close to (my) eye-level, it shouldn't require much ducking.  A two-plus-ish foot aisle along the right (west) wall allows one to access the spots along Terrace St as well as view the scene from a different vantage point, so no backdrop.

Anyway, here's the plan (click on it for a larger version):

Monday, February 3, 2020

Roster Update

Added a page to the blog with the full roster of equipment.  It needs some formatting work to be more presentable, but it'll do for now.   Click in the top bar to find it or visit:

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Just (re-) joined the LDSIG and looking forward to upcoming articles, especially those focused on specific prototype recreations.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

O Scale Shoutout

Who knows if anyone reads this thing, but I'll do my part in this small corner of the internet to promote some additional 2 rail O scale resources.

I've found good articles and other reference information via all of these resources at some point in the recent past and continue to follow them myself, so I recommend that you check them out as well.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Long time no...gee, anything

Whew!  Nearly two years since a post on this blog.   2019 might see more opportunities to dabble in model trains again now that kids are more self-sufficient and home remodeling has quieted down.

Anyway, I return today with a product announcement of sorts and a (soon-to-be-) addition to the roster.

Smoky Mountain Model Works recently (April 2018) released their "return to O scale" kit for an AAR 53' 6" 70t flat car.   I heard many good things about their kits in general and from those who built this kit since its release.

Alas, I wasn't fully sold on it until finally (!) completing enough research to prove that this car type would've been active in my target era of mid-1970s to early-1980s.  Using a recently-re-discovered digital release of Vintage Freight Cars from Morning Sun Books, I found a 1973 picture of Penn Central 751355 as shown below:

I was then able to track the car series through my hardcopies of the Official Railway Equipment Registers like so:


WhenWhoHow Many
UnknownNew York CentralUnknown
Apr 1973Penn Central1+
Jul 1975Penn Central30
Oct 1977Conrail (PC)9
Jul 1978Conrail (CR)7
Apr 1979Conrail (CR)6
Oct 1982Conrail (CR)3

So, armed with this new information and previous research on customers and commodities showing that U. S. Engineering could be a customer of coiled steel, I ordered one of the car kits.   Stay tuned for future updates when (?) I get around to building either it or anywhere to operate it.