Merry Christmas

That time of the year again.

     Hi all just wanted to say to all to have a very Merry Christmas and a safe, happy and enjoyable new year.
     Run a train a day.
PS I think I'm getting another GP60 B unit from Santa yippee.


Progress on the GP60M sound installation

Plans change
     After reviewing several forums along with discussions with friends it was decided to go down a slightly different path with the speakers that I would use in the GP60M that I spoke about two posts ago. It seems that the use of the small rectangular Knowles Fox speakers makes a significant difference to the sound obtained from the Loksound decoders. It was also going to be difficult to machine the fuel tank to fit the two 12 mm round speakers they way we would like.
     Bill gave me one of these new speakers (thank you Bill) and so armed with this off I went to Vics house to supervise the machining of the fuel tank. Well, Vic was wanting me there so he could show me just how much material had to be removed in order to fit this speaker. What a job. Vic's milling machine did a fine job however we decided later that we should take out all of the sides of the tank as you will see in the images below. Once home I had at it with a new smallish square file that did the trick. This should leave enough room to have the speaker mounted in a speaker box which we are hoping will give us even better sound.
     The body was the next big job as the decoder will not fit sideways in the shell it's too wide so out with the 180 grit wet and dry paper wrapped around a coffee stirrer and let the sanding begin. What a job however it seems that it has worked as I can now offer the decoder to the inside and it fits nicely.
     For the fuel tank cover I laid a piece of masking tape over the exterior, marked out the location for the holes and used my Dremel to drill out the holes hopefully to let out most of the sound.

     Here's a few pics of the progress thus far.

Here you can see where the rear of the frame has been milled to fit the decoder.

A side view of the fuel tank machining to fit the rectangular speaker

And from below

and the fuel tank 
    The next step is to have the decoder installed and see how she sounds.

Thanks for coming by.


Not much done this past few weeks

Just working on a few trucks

     The weather has been kinda iffy this past few weeks so haven't felt like doing that much on the SFRSD.
     Instead of doing nothing there was several Atlas LNT 9000 cab chassis on the RR that needed to be detailed. They were still in their out of the box appearance and needed to look like they were earning their keep. I set about painting the wheel rims using Italeri Acrylic Paint Metal Flat Steel. I used a very fine OKER brand fine tipped felt brush that I purchased from an air brush supply company. This proved to be a very useful piece and made the job quite easy. The next step was to spray the chassis with dull coat and then using my new PAN PASTEL neutral soft grey went over the tyres to take off the shine. That made a huge difference. A fine tipped black marker to blacken out the grill, the top of the exhaust pipe and the number plate and it made a huge difference. The same pad that was used on the tyres was also used on the cab after I highlighted the door handles roof lights and front bumper with the metal colour. About 6 trucks received this treatment.
     The next job on the list was a trailer that was given to me by Vic. This has an exquisite brass etched chassis and sub floor including a bulk head. Dual axles and etched mud flaps were included. Vic had added a sheet of very thin styrene to the deck and I wondered how I should tackle this.
     I started by using a scalpel to scribe horizontal lines across and a few along the deck to simulate weld lines where the deck plate steel was added and welded together. Vic had already painted this flat black so I set to and brush painted all of the below deck with Model Master Chrome Yellow. The deck received a brushed on coat of the Metal Flat Steel paint as a base to the next process. Once dry the whole trailer received a coat of Dull Coat. Then the weathering started. A thin wash of oil paint Vandyke Brown for all of the underframe and the deck which also received a dab or two of raw umber and burnt sienna to simulate rust and some wear and tear. The wheels and tyres received the same treatment as the trucks metal flat for the rims and Pan Pastel for the tyres. The mud flaps received some flat black and the job was done. Next came the timbers on the deck.
The timbers are from Northeastern Scale Lumber stained with a Walnut touch pen. They scale at 4"x 4" in HO

     I neglected to take any images of the completed trucks so here they are. Not spectacular but using the three foot rule they are a lot better than before.

Thanks for stopping by.


New Locomotives hit the rails

FVM Santa Fe GP60M and B units

    For too many years I have yearned for some manufacturer to deliver to us Santa Fe modelers the GP60 M and B units that hit the Santa Fe in 1990. Many years ago I purchased a GP60 M and B unit in brass at I must admit too much money. When they first were put to work on the SFRSD they would not run across the new M E turnouts and in fact they had difficulty running at all. I said to myself, self this is dumb why keep these if you are not going to have the pleasure of seeing them operate. So in 2003 they were sold to a very happy customer and I started waiting.
     Suffice to say I was a very happy man when I heard that FVM were going to release them in the not too distant future.
     This still caused me some dilemma as my RR is set in 1986 four years before they were introduced to the Santa Fe in the Corwith Yard in Chicago. I thought well I will be firm and stick to my era.
     Time passed and still no GP60 M's from FVM until the past month when they hit the LHS, well the USA ones anyway. Boy did they look ok, the forums were raving about just how good they looked and ran. It didn't take long for the emails to be sent from yours truly to one of my favorite on line stores to place an order for one GP60 M and one GP60 B. When some of my friends and I were talking they said how are you going to turn the lead loco. Ok I had to order the second GP60 M oh and also two ESU plug in decoders along with one Loksound Micro sound decoder to get this lash-up humming.
     The first order of business was to mask up the bodies and paint out the grills with a diluted flat black with just a touch of rust added for good measure. I then gave them a very light spray along the top just to show that these puppies were meant to be working from the get go.    
      Once all three were painted the next job was to install the two plug-in decoders. They went in like a snap once my friend John worked out what I had done incorrectly and now run like a dream.
     The last job to tackle is the installation of the sound decoder. John has done one of his with a lot of machining of the frame and a good amount of filing of the inside of the body to give clearance for the decoder as they are just a tad too wide to fit.
     So armed with this my GP60 M is now stripped, the frame has gone to Vic for milling not only for the decoder but also for the two 13 mm speakers that will be inserted into the fuel tank portion of the frame. As I write this I heard back from Vic that the top milling went very well but have not heard from him since. Should I be concerned. I will let you know in the next post.
     Meanwhile here is a few images of the insides of the loco.

You can just see a small portion of the painted grills along with the top.
So that's about as far as we can go at the moment. More to follow when further progress is made.
Thanks for dropping by.


The SFRSD gets full CTC

Last update to the dispatchers panels.

     Brendan kindly came over this morning to update the SFRSD dispatchers panels. We had previously been running under an ABS system knowing that as soon as Brendan had time to configure all of the software we would go to full CTC.
     There were a few things we needed to sort out about how the RR was to be controlled so after watching quite a few videos on the subject we were set in our minds about what we needed.
     On the 25th of September Brendan came over to set a few signal switches on the panel for testing. With the grateful assistance of John F and John C testing sorted out a few areas that needed to be tweaked. The signals at the Left hand end of Guthrie were playing up but that was about it.
     So the big day was today. Brendan arrived early this morning with his dad and proceeded to install all of the necessary software into the system.
     All worked very well and boy how cool to see the panel finished. It has taken just on thirteen months to get to this stage which is as planned.

This is the Left hand panel beginning with the town of Augusta. The signal switches along the bottom row are the new additions with Brendan having been able to have them operate in three positions which will give the dispatcher additional control
And the right hand panel with Flynn on the right.
And a full panel view.
       A huge thanks goes to Brendan for the countless hours he has spent putting this together. My close friends who have assisted in the wiring and testing plus a very huge thanks to the many folk who contribute to JMRI for without their dedication to this fantastic tool none of this would have ever happened.  
     Operating sessions will never be the same again.
Thanks for looking in.

Weathered some more cars last week

Additional weathered cars hit the rails.

     I have long been a fan of making my rolling stock look the part. That said I do not add any details like a lot of modellers do rather I just weather them to take off the plastic look and make them look more the part of a working railroad which lets face it that is why the Santa Fe Railway Southern Division was built.
     I have done a lot of my older cars many years ago however after reading many post in various forums I decided to try using oil paints for a different look. Boy has this been a great choice. Much more control of how much and where the oil paint wash is applied. I am certainly no expert however I am happy with the results thus far.
     This is just a snap of a few completed this last week while the weather has been well lets say not the best.

This a very old Atlas car that I removed the roof walk, added MT 1030 trucks replaced the wheels with MT medium flange 33" wheels painted with Tamiya Red/brown. The couplers and pockets have been painted with Acrylic Raw Umber. The car was first airbrushed with a very diluted flat white followed by a spray of dullcote. Then several washes of Vandyke Brown oil paint, more dullcote and more washes. It hasn't turned out too bad.
An old Roundhouse car that received similar treatment to the car above.
again similar treatment, spray of diluted flat white, dull cote and oil washes. Same treatment to trucks and wheels sets.
That's it for a while. Thanks for stopping by.


A few more images from The Saturday Run

Just a couple more Images from Saturday
     I thought as long as the guys brought along their locos and stuff I should add a few more images today.

A Couple of my Geeps sitting over the underpass at the R/H/end of Augusta. The SP unit is highly weathered as it should be right! 

John brought along his new GP60 M and B units. All have ESU decoders with the lead M unit fitted with a loksound micro sound decoder. Here they are heading towards Red Rock passing by Perry.
Here we see a line up of 4 of Noels Locos posing with one of my GP40's that I painted in the Kodachrome scheme some time back sitting beside the GM plant at Flynn.

And last but certainly not least Vics magnificent scratch built car carrier. The only parts Vic has not modeled are the wheels and fuel tanks even the cab and grill is etched. I'm hoping this will be a permanent addition to the SFRSD in the not too distant future.
     That's it for today so thanks again for stopping by and have fun running a train.


Ninteen years and going strong

The 19th Anniversary of the SFRSD
     Wow, has time certainly flown by since I dismantled my last layout and commenced the SFRSD. in the smaller shed than it is in now.
     To celebrate the occasion I decided to have the crew and a few other friends over for an operating session, dinner (well pizza and chocolate coated ice creams can be dinner) then let the guys run their own road loco's and rolling stock on a Saturday just for something a bit different. One could not make the day, and two guys called in sick it so we hope they are on the mend.
     We kicked of at about 3.00pm with a cuppa and a lot of chit chat which is always good and then got down to some serious operations. We ran the normal timetable that I use on a Friday night session and that ended at about 6.15pm short of a couple of trains running otherwise we would not finish till midnight if we didn't stop for beans somewhere.
     I kicked off being the dispatcher for the first few trains then handed the panel over to Darren. He's a signalling guru on the big stuff here in Victoria so he was in his element.
     John C operated Augusta with Vic, Noel and Rob took charge of Flynn and the rest of the guys either took a train or waited until their train was called.
     I became chief cook and bottle washer, well wash the mugs, top up the urn, bring out more food and along with my good wife kept up the supply of goodies.
     I did get a chance to take a few images of the sessions. Unfortunately with my layout lighting as it is it is difficult to get a really sharp image without room lighting so here goes with what I got anyway.

Here is Dennis waiting for his train on the left with John and Vic working Augusta.

Noel on the left with Rob in the foreground working Flynn Yard

Darren trying not to smile. What a happy little dispatcher.
John F operating the Aug / Hac / Aug sweeper at Hackney
Charlie concentrating at Ponca City with the Flynn / Ponca / Flynn sweeper
Noels Heavily modified West Coast Mine locos passing through Hackney. The cabs are brass etched by Vic installed by Noel and I have been fortunate enough to help by painting these neat Locos. The cabs follow the style of the Pilbra cabs of Western Australia
The Amtrak F40PH sitting at the Augusta station belongs to Dennis
Two of Noels Hamersley Iron Alco's heading towards Udall with a string of iron ore cars.

Ron on the left with Bill working at Guthrie
Two of the new FVM GP60M & B units first run on the SFRSD
John Collivers new UP steam loco passing through Udall.

Rob Mc brought along one of his beautifully painted and decaled F.N.M locos from his Pacifico RR
John Colliver also had his D.R.G. pass. Here it holds at the R H signal at Red Rock.
Here we see one of Dennis Hares SP Geeps at Red Rock
And Darren French brought along his etched brass Victorian Y Class loco seen here at Guthrie. Yes there is a decoder and operating lights.
     I am fortunate enough to know many fine modelers with great layouts that were happy to bring some of their favorite locos and rolling stock for a run on the SFRSD.  After a few of the crew had headed home after dinner to attend to home duties etc the rest of us stopped at about 10.30pm for another cuppa, supper and a chat to reflect on another great day.
     With plenty of food, lots of tea and coffee and a lot of trains run a good day and night was had by all
Thanks for sharing guys.


The GM plant at Flynn

Renamed plant at Flynn
     I made the plant at Flynn quite a few years back long before the extension of the RR room using 12 mm thick MDF as a box on which to laminate the Evergreen Board and Batten siding. There are three boxes per-say with another for the roof portion that has the stacks fitted. All building have various coatings along their base to have each one slightly different to the next. I wanted it to be the GM plant that the SF served at Flynn however in the days I made the building I could not find a GM logo and as I had an abundance of Atlas LNT 9000 cab chassis to sit out front I just called it a Ford factory. That bugged me for years so mid way through this year I finally found a decent GM sign levered the Ford sign off and replaced it with the new GM logo.
     Needless to say the LNT9000's had to go so they are now scattered around the RR serving their keep hauling SF trailers to some worthy customer.
     This group of buildings measures approximately 42 inches overall and fit in well along the backdrop at Flynn. I put some of the Walther's roof top details on the roof along with other roof details from Greenmax (Japanese Kits).
     I choose not to run any auto racks as to me they being 89 feet long tend to make my layout mainline look shorter than it is so the plant only receives box car loads from Winfield and Ponca.

On two of the building I installed a concrete base wall with board and batten above to simulate colour bond cladding. On another section as seen above I used a portion of brick from Slaters an English product.
The stacks are made by using various diameters of thin wall brass tube
I made the roll up doors from Slaters corrugated siding. The down pipes are just a strip of square styrene to cover the joins in the siding.
 This was a very quick and inexpensive building to build and makes a nice difference to having kits that are well recognized.
I have a few more building built in a similar fashion that I will add to my pages.


Weathering some Hoppers

Weathering Hoppers
     I have been a fan of weathering my Locomotives and rolling stock for some time however after viewing several new web pages I decided I wanted to try my hand at using oil paints.
    Two new hoppers were purchased at the last train show here in Melbourne as my first attempt at this medium.
    Based on these new weathering to me web sites four primary colours are used to get the overall effect of aging and rusting on roofs and along the sides of cars.
     Vandyke Brown,  Raw Sienna,  Burnt Sienna,  Burnt Umber all oil paint.
    To thin these I used odourless solvent (thinners) this made it acceptable to do most of the work in the study.
     The first step was to give the cars a spray of Dull Coat. This acts like a key for the next phase to have some key (grip).
     I also masked off the car number so my operating crew could read them during an ops session. So a quick very light wash of Vandyke Brown followed by another spray of Dull Coat, another wash another spray and so on. I painted the wheels with Tamiya Red /Brown and gave the couplers a coat of paint to get away from their shinny black finish.
     This is the process as I went through the steps.

A spray of Dull Coat with a dash of rust added to the mix.
Wash with Vandyke Brown and some streaking.
Another coat of Dull Coat, trucks couplers and wheels.
     Depending on the available light the cars look lighter in person. So two cars were completed with pleasing results well to me anyway.
I was happy with my results and will definitely weather more of my cars using this method.
So not much else happening on the SFRSD the past month so thanks again for stopping by.


Last Friday's operating sesion.

Another ops session on the SFRSD
     I have been holding operating sessions on the last Friday of almost every month of the year on the Santa Fe Railway Southern Division with exceptions for Christmas. These have been going on for many years however for some reason I have very rarely documented any of them. Some of my operators have taken shots during these nights with their own cameras but I do not seem to have thought of doing it for some reason or another. Maybe it is because in the past before moving to DCC and my car card system it used to take up to 4 hours to re stage the RR ready for the nights session.
     This past session held on the 30th of August I decided that the night needed to be recorded. A few of our friends were not well on the night so we only had eight of us to enjoy the evening instead of the usual 11 and sometimes 12.
     In moments of mirth if an incident like a derailment has occurred images would be taken and I would set about doing a newspaper article the next day to ensue that the culprit or culprits were given the amount of publicity as warranted.
     Since having my CTC panels installed and operating since January this year I have sat in the dispatchers chair, however I never get to run one of my own trains. For a change I asked Greg to sit in the hot seat ( he grabbed it for a while last time anyway) so he jumped at the chance. This gave me a chance to take some images run a train and just take a different approach to the night.
      So here are a few images taken during the evening.

This is a showcase miniatures kit. The cantilever is in process of being removed (it was never there in the first place)

I have just replaced all of the original turnout motors with these ones from J L innovative and added relay boxes where they should be
New to the roster is the N Scale Enthusiasts special run SF Track Geometry car
John C working the Augusta Yard

Ron Looking for cars at Winfield for the cement train

A very happy dispatcher. Greg is enjoying the night in the hot seat. Rumors are that he played solitaire between trains, Hmm
Dennis running through Hackney on his way to Winfield

Noel with his FLN / PON / FLN train heading past Perry. Noel got to run 5 trains on the night, well done Noel.
Brendan our young software master of all things signalling is in charge of Flynn Yard. You can see the fast clock we use in the background. Greg obtained permission to alter the face so it shows Santa Fe Southern Division. Thanks Greg.

And Charlie pondering his moves at Hackney with a grain sweeper.
    So a good night was had by all. The layout is running pretty well except for the odd ME turnout that still gives me an issue however we are getting on top of that pretty well. The new medium flange M/T wheels I added to all of my cars has made a huge difference to the performance of RR.

Enjoy your day.