I took the plunge and decided to rid myself of my twenty-some year old hand-me-down Digitrax Empire Builder II starter set for something a bit more cutting edge. I really like what TCS is doing these days with their new systems and was able to finally see one in action at Springfield last winter. A new CS-105 is on hand and will be installed soon.
I also picked up a handful of LED light strips and a power supply. These will be used to illuminate the lower deck. Hope to do a full write up on this once installed. Need so cut some 1/8″ strips to mount the lights to.
My friend, Tom Matty, who models the Thomas Sub of the Western Maryland Ry, a very skilled and talented modeler, offered to do a writeup of how he re-motors an old Proto2000 GP7/GP9 with a much higher quality Kato drive. It involves milling the frame, fitting the motor, linkages and worm gears and then installing your favorite flavor of DCC/sound. (we won’t cover the DCC installation here today). Tom gave me permission to post his process on the blog so I figured I’d share it with everyone who may be interested in this fantastic upgrade.
1x Kato 956010 Motor with Flywheels and old style Motor Mount (1ea)
As you may or may not know, I have a helix to connect the upper and lower decks of my Georgetown Branch layout. I built the helix ages ago, back in 2003 for my previous layout. It was designed to fit below a set of stairs and as such is relatively tight, with 19.5″ radius curves and a 2.9% grade. (yikes!) Thankfully I mostly run small B+B locomotives! One thing that is lacking is any sort of protection for the trains as they traverse the helix from falling off the edge and cascading to the floor. I thought about cardboard or mat board strips but decided against them as I didn’t like the idea that they would crease or break if I had to reach in to re-rail a train. I have been kicking this idea around for ages and recently had the idea of using polypropylene folders. These are the flexible-yet-stiff plastic folders you find in a lot of school binders. When I was cleaning out a supply cabinet, I found a stash of old folders from my son’s grade school days. Perfect. So I got around to testing this out.
I first remove the inner folder piece (seen in the photo above as a lighter green) and then set the edge of the folder against a sheet of glass and lay my steel ruler down atop it. I then score until the sheet is cut through.
Next, lay the strips on the side of the roadbed, keeping it parallel to the bottom, and use a staple gun to fasten to the plywood.
Some of the staples will not go in all the way and I tapped them in with a hammer. Occasionally I would miss and have to remove the staple with a screwdriver and try again. I really like the way this is turning out.
I have long-wondered what type of tug boat operated at the Smoot Sand & Gravel plant in Georgetown. While searching in some old newspaper snippets I saved over the years, I came across the following image from the Washington Evening Star, April 6, 1960, of a census-taker working at the wharf by Smoot. In the background is a nice view of the tug that was working at that time.
Here’s a cropped image, a bit zoomed in:
Back in January, at the Amherst Model RR show in Springfield, MA I picked up one of these lovely 53′ Harbor Steam Tug models by Seaport Model Works:
I was gifted some shelving my Grandfather had built for his house on Cape Cod many years ago. It once sat in the laundry room and held baby food jars full of nuts and bolts as well as small jars of oil and other knick-knacks. When the house was being closed up, I had asked for it since I knew it would make a wonderful paint storage rack and currently I was just using a few odd cardboard boxes. Well, over the years I have outgrown that little set of shelves and finally decided to construct some new ones, this time using MDF.
This project took about a half day, as it took a good bit of ripping and fitting to get everything right. The back and shelves themselves are 1/4″ MDF and the sides are 3/4″ MDF. I used a dado blade set to cut grooves in the sides for shelves and to recess the back panel. In retrospect, I could have recessed it a bit more and could have fit the shelves a bit tighter, but it all worked out just fine in the end. The back was glued and tacked on with nails. Shelves are glued in place. I hand painted it two coats of semi-gloss white, some paint I had leftover in the garage. The fact that the paint is a bit “tacky” means the paint jars don’t slide around on the shelves. The whole thing sits on a rail that’s screwed to the wall, with L-brackets up top screwed into the studs. I modeled it after the shelves my Grandfather built with shelves set to accommodate the various paint bottles I have collected. Overall, I think it’s just right for what I need and it turned out well.
Al Moran kindly shared these two wonderful photos over on the CSX “Cap, Met, and OML” subs, Railfans Facebook Group of a local servicing Mason-Dixing Recycling, which occupied the old E.C. Keys property for some time. Once the Branch was abandoned, a small amount of track remained near the Junction, servicing the plant.
Thank you, Al, for allowing me to share these here on the blog! He writes: B731-08 (possibly D780-08 not sure when the change occurred) with CSX 4234/CSX caboose 904130 at Georgetown Jct after working the last remaining customer on the Georgetown Branch (a recycling place) on 09/08/93. 29 years ago today.
I picked up this print off of eBay a couple months ago. Based on comparisons with this image, my notes and Historic Aerials, I believe this dates between 1953 and 1957. I could probably narrow it a bit more with more time, but that’s pretty good for now.
Cave Ford and Bradley Shopping Center were constructed in 1953 and are visible in the photo.
The RR bridge over Bradley Blvd was still 2 lanes wide and there are no signs of construction so this is likely before 1958-9.
There are structures visible left over from the Griffith Consumer Co. fuel dealer. These were gone in the late 50s.
Between 1957-8 the Eisinger Lumber yard was demolished and converted to parking. It’s still very visible in the photo.
If you have additional information about the image, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
The last several weeks proved to be some of the busiest for me at work and as such progress has slowed. Today, however, I tackled another milestone – completing all of the assembly for the trestle structure itself. I tacked on the final bracing, stringers and girts to complete the lower section. Here’s a few photos of what it’s looking like:
This means that the to-do list is getting shorter and shorter. Here are a few highlights of what’s left:
NBW castings on the side-facing stringers and beams. This will take a good amount of time as I will have to drill and install each one. Much like what I did on the bents, but a bit fewer. I’m not going to install NBW castings on the inner facing beams due to the difficulty in placing them in such tight spaces.
Attach a brace to the bottom of the middle two bents. This will serve as support when the model is turned upright.
Build a sort of cradle to hold the bridge when upright.
Remove bridge from base and flip upright onto cradle/steps.
Build two emergency platforms on the top side.
Install the two beams that run atop the deck parallel to the track, install NBW castings.
Install bracing/walkways that run along top of bents.
Weather and install on layout.
Build and install bracing around lower center bents and cribbing for the ends.