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1  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Z-Scale on: September 21, 2018, 02:18:27 PM
If you are on Facebook, BBMiroku, you might like to check out the Micro/Small Model RR Layouts group (direct link: We are a 4100+ member discussion group focused on building tiny yet "high play value" layouts in apartments, dorm rooms, and other situations were model railroading is forced to take a backseat and minimum footprint in daily life. We even have a monthly newsletter, Townhouse Model Railroader, for group members.

I think we can show you that you can build a fun layout in your one-bedroom apartment.

Alternatively, you can look at for hundreds of small layout ideas and plans.

Best of luck with your model railroading!
2  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Road numbers on E60s??? on: August 17, 2018, 12:48:27 PM
I have a photo showing some variant of an E60 and the two units are definitely numbered higher than 975, as I said the first two digits are a 9 and an 8 respectively, the third number is occluded. What is in my picture if it is not some E60 variant, what else looks like an E60?

Looking through several on-line rosters, I can comfortably state that Amtrak E60 units' numbers ended at 975. Amtrak did have two locomotives in the 990 series (X995 & X996) which were foreign units on loan for testing ahead of the AEM7 design:

AMTRAK       995  BOXCAB      ASEA/NOHAB             /76    SWEDISH STATE RAILWAY 1166--LEASED 6/76 TO 4/77
AMTRAK       996  BOXCAB      ALSTOM/FRA             /74    SNCF CC21003--LEASED FROM 1/77 TO 6/77

3  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: EZ Track with Plug n' play controller N track only goes one way on: July 07, 2018, 02:51:51 PM
Given that track is essentially just two metal bars, shaped like rails, held in gauge by a plastic base, I feel confident in saying that the problem is not the track.

I suspect that your problem is that the reversing switch has broken. It clearly is throwing all the way in one direction - the one that your trains are running it - but when thrown in the opposite direction it is either not fully connecting with the contacts or moving it in that direction is causing a short. This is suggested by your remark that "when I slide the switch over to go the other way, the engine just dies"

One other thought... the "switch" in the above quote, is that the direction switch on the controller, or are you talking about a track switch (aka turnout)? Just want to make sure you aren't shorting things out with a reversing loop. (Yep, been there, done that myself, when I was shifting from 3-rail Lionel to 2-rail HO).

If it is the reversing switch on the controller, you might be able to get it repaired.
4  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Tourist lines on: June 26, 2018, 11:25:30 AM
The Yosemite tape also has my Sacramento and Jamestown footage on it. At the beginning of the trip, I was excited because I was planning on seeing #3, the famous 4-6-0 movie loco while we were out there. This was 2001. I got to see it alright. The cab was sitting in one corner. The various stacks and headlight were sitting in other places. The boiler was gone because it had been sent out for repair. The bare frame with the drivers was sitting in there. Talk about disappointment. The one thing that I wanted to see the most was in pieces on the floor. At least the tender was still all together.

That's the problem with us actors, without the pancake makeup we fall to pieces!  Wink

But, seriously, #3 is a good example of what it takes to keep steam locomotives running nowadays. The #3 was built in 1891, so she is fast approaching her 130th birthday. The majority of operational steam locomotives (and let's further define these as standard gauge units built for major common carriers) are 70 to 100 years old. They are costly to maintain, costly to insure - IF you can get insurance at all - and are often lone performers for their operators. That we have any operating at all in 2018 is an amazing feat of devotion to the breed.

As for those diesels on tourist lines, they aren't exactly fresh from the factor themselves. The youngest cab units are nearing 60. ALCO ended production 49 years ago, so any of their switchers or hood units are 50+ years old. EMD NW2 or SW1 switchers are around 70, and the unique BL2 turns 70 this year. As you can see, it is easy to forget that the things we might take annoyance with for getting in the way of the "stars" of the show are survivors and stars in their own right.

Whether you run 1:1 scale or 1:220 scale, the latest factor-fresh unit or something that left the factory when Grandpa was a kid, running trains requires one very important thing: passion. As long as you have a passion to make it happen, it WILL happen.

Have a great day. y'all!
5  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Tourist lines on: June 25, 2018, 11:17:29 AM
Another downside is that it makes it a bit harder for the railroad to minimize uneven wheel wear when their turning facilities are limited (or nonexistent).

And another good point is that you can realistically model a tourist line without having to come up with the space for a turning facility.
6  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Brick & Mortar on: June 06, 2018, 01:10:12 AM
Hm.... From the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, growing up in Brooklyn, NY, my "hobby shops" were Toys'R'Us and Kay-Bee Toys at Kings Plaza, Walt's Hobby Shop in Bay Ridge, Train World (at their old Avenue M location), and Hobby King on Avenue U. The latter was the only one to carry things like styrene and detail parts. I spent enough money on their stuff that today, 25+/- years later I'm still using up what I bought there!

Today I live in Missouri, there are at least a half-dozen stores within easy driving distance (up to 1 hour each way), ranging from the slim pickings of Hobby Lobby and Menards, to the Micro Engineering factory / office where you can actually show up at their door an buy directly from them. In between you have a mixed bag of shops, including possibly the last place on Earth where you can buy a Varney model off the shelf in new condition.

Alas, there is also one store that is selling off it's model train items and dropping the hobby from its offerings. I was in there on Monday, and talking with the owners it seems their decision was two-fold: internet sales dominate the hobby and they are in no position to compete. The second is a perceived graying of the hobby based on who they are selling to. Ultimately, however, I think it comes down to the sound decision of making ends meet. They are focusing on RC racers and static model kits because that is what moves off the shelves. Meeting the rent, paying the bills, and still having something left over to put black ink on the books, is the bottom line for them - or any business, for that matter.
7  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: I wish Bachmann would make............How about you?? on: May 30, 2018, 11:45:03 AM
A retooled and mechanically upgraded BQ23-7 would be nice.

Beyond that niche model, it gets difficult to find new territory that hasn't / isn't / might soon be flooded by other companies. Early steam locomotives (1820s - 1850s) is one area, as someone else mentioned. Another is large industrial locomotives from GE, Baldwin, and Lima (to name three) such as the one below. These are 100+ tonners and would look right switching at steel mills, major coal breakers, and big industry. The one below is a 132-ton GE unit that was part of an order built for the US automaker Ford.

8  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Track bed washed away. on: May 23, 2018, 09:34:35 PM
First, for the curious, there is a map of the M-I included below.

Second... best as I have been able to figure out, current UP service on the old M-I is Riverside (Jct.) to about Howe (to use old station names), Bismarck to Ste. Genevieve / Thomure, and Derby (Jct.) to south of Bonne Terre. I'm not sure about the Illinois trackage, and from Bonne Terre to Howe the track is completely gone. There is freight service to the Doe Run complex in Herculaneum, a scrap metal dealer on the north side of Festus, and a chemical / pharmaceutical company on the south side of Festus were the tracks end. Mississippi Lime traffic comes down from Riverside and switches to the Crystal City branch just south of Herculaneum. At Crystal City, UP connects with BNSF where the old Pittsburgh Plate Glass plant was, and they run on trackage rights to just north of Ste. Genevieve. In what I presume is the old ferry yard --- yep, that red line on the map was a car ferry, they never had a bridge to connect the Missouri and Illinois trackage --- at the old ferry yard UP sorts its loads and empties for Mississippi Lime complex, which is alongside the M-I proper.

As far as I know, those four are the only active industries on the Missouri side of the system today. There is a company that railroad MofW equipment in Crystal City (near Mercy Jefferson hospital), but I don't know if they actually use UP to ship / receive. Probably not. There might also be something along the Derby - Bonne Terre line, but there aren't any obvious major shippers. Alas, the lead belt has turned to the rust and dust belt. :-(

9  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Track bed washed away. on: May 23, 2018, 01:36:53 PM
They are covered hoppers so I don't what's in them.

Hm... could be bad order cars being shunted from Mississippi Lime to the car shop in DeSoto.
10  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Track bed washed away. on: May 23, 2018, 02:29:15 AM
Comparing the news report to Google Street View, the washout is in the vicinity of East Main Street and View Street in Park Hills, MO:,-90.5156897,18.75z, so it's definitely on the M-I (and actually part of the part of the M-I I'm modeling).

The "electric plant" appears to be the local utility's base of operations. They don't generate electricity there, but rather take the power from the high voltage grid and step it down for the local transmission lines. The street view from 2013 shows the spur into the plant to be disconnected from the mainline, but that doesn't mean that they cannot be taking delivery right on the main. Power poles and bulky machinery are logical items for delivery. Coal? Coal hoppers? Not so much so, BUT, maybe they take delivery of gravel, or ship out woodchips from branch trimmings. 

11  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Track bed washed away. on: May 22, 2018, 10:25:00 AM
I believe that is part of the old Missouri-Illinois Railroad. It links UP's ex-Missouri Pacific line through DeSoto with the BNSF just north of Ste. Genevieve, passing through Mississippi Lime, which UP serves via trackage rights on the BNSF. It's usually out of service and only used when the BNSF's St. Louis - Memphis line is flooded by the Mississippi.
12  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: 4-4-0 HO Jupiter overall length on: May 17, 2018, 02:48:37 PM
And so begins the slippery slope. Today it's Promontory Summit, next month it gets extended to Salt Lake City, and before you know it you'll be modeling the whole railroad!  Wink

13  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: New York City elevated train motive power in HO? on: February 13, 2018, 07:49:54 PM
I went through my files this afternoon and located the diagram book from the ERA. For the curious.....

The passenger cars were 12'3" to 12'6" above the rail, 8'9.5" at their widest, and 46'5.5" long over the coupling pockets - the couplers were link & pin type. The end platforms were 3'5" deep, and the enclosed carbody was 39'3.5". Carbody and end platforms are measured over the frame ends, so there is a 4" difference (assuming I am doing the math right). Wheels are 30", axles are on 5'0" spacing, trucks are on 32'3.5" spacing, and kingpins are 7'1" from the face of the coupling pocket or 6'11" from the end of the frame. The floors of the coaches are 38 and 1/8th inches above the rail, while the baggage car's floor is 39" even. The window glazing is 20"x12" in the upper sash and 20"x24" in the lower, but I am not sure if I trust that. The lowers look significantly taller than they are wide. I'm inclined to say that they were actually 20"x30" - 42" of glass fits with the flat-side height of 7'0".

MofW equipment included a 40'0" flatcar for hauling rail, and a 20'0" gondola ash car (34" high sides) with a drop hatch between the trucks.

As for the locomotives, there are 10 classes in these diagrams: Class A thru J. A & J were 0-4-2 tank engines with 38" and 39" drivers respectively. B thru I were 0-4-4 tank engines with 38" (B&C) or 42" (D to I) drivers. They were 92, 93, or 101 inches wide, and 10'6" to 12'9" tall at the stack. Weight fully loaded ranged from 33,000 lb. to 47,000 lb. / 16.5 to 23.5 tons. Length ranged from 22'7" to 26'9".
14  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: New York City elevated train motive power in HO? on: February 13, 2018, 04:21:38 PM
Why is there no "love" button on these forums?!

J3a-614's post has probably let the genie out of the bottle / opened up a rabbit hole / set the drool factor to 11.

There is a certain beauty to many of these early railroads. They weren't ubiquitous, they weren't being mass produced to fuel booming expansion, they were unique and their builders and operators took pride in craftsmanship and presentation. It's what piques my imagination when it comes to pre-electrification ELs and antebellum (1820s to 1850s) railroads. And it doesn't hurt that the trains were pike-sized, both in terms of overall dimensions and in train length. Heck, you could even model them in 2-rail O-scale (or larger) and still fit the layout in a modest sized space.
15  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: New York City elevated train motive power in HO? on: February 13, 2018, 04:18:43 AM
Scout, the size of car you are looking for are about 50' in length - the first IRT cars with enclosed ends were 51' and change (51'8", IIRC). The open platform cars were built to a stock Manhattan Elevated Railway design with electrical gear added. Quite probably, some or all of them might have been retrofitted steam-service cars.

The Bachmann 1860-1880 open platform coach would be a good starting point for the body.

As for powering it... the Brill trolley might work as a donor mechanism. You could also borrow a page from Athearn's RDCs and rig up a rubber band drive.

If I were to tackle this project myself, I'd go with the brill chassis and scratch build a carbody to match its wheelbase. The most difficult part is the roof, and that could be sourced from any passenger car with the right contours and just shorten it to fit.

Regrettably, pre-1904 NYC elevated lines models are an ignored breed.

For more information, you can try the railfan sites NYC (source of the photos below) and the Electric Railroaders' Association -- many moons ago the ERA published a plan book of Manhattan Elevated rolling stock diagrams with all the measurements.

I hope all of this is of some help to you. Modeling them won't be easy, but then again, all the hard work will result in a unique model of pioneering rapid transit equipment.

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