Friday, September 8, 2017

Quick Look Back

Over time I have come to realize how much this blog is a documentary of progress on the Onondaga Cutoff, and it is interesting to see on certain dates how much has changed, and what is still the same.

In that light, here's a photo seven years ago today of trackwork progress at CP 282:


Mainline track at that point was in place, but the yard track and turnouts were not yet finalized.  This seems a lifetime ago!  While this trackwork is still in place and obviously visible, the view is totally different with scenery, signals, and now with the M&E in the background which in September 2010 was not even yet constructed.

Several people have requested a comparison shot - here it is!  This is the same location today, from a slightly different angle since a big 4-track signal bridge stands exactly where the original image was taken from:


On occasion it is important to reflect on change, and in this case, on progress.  I hope that in the next seven years the layout can come as far as it did in the previous seven years!

~RGDave

Monday, August 21, 2017

On Overhead Bridges

The next major installation of scenery will be installed just east from CP 280, an area where the mainline curves around the big peninsula on the Onondaga Cutoff.  Seeing that there are no locations on the Chicago Line where the railroad does a 180-degree turn within one line of sight, it is visually important to break this scene up.

I began by assembling pieces of several kits and setting them in place to get a feel.


We have the Rix Products concrete viaduct piers in the foreground, and the Walthers Double Track through truss rough assembly behind.  This is a big visual change and so it's important to mock up the general idea before deciding on the exact approach and location.  I decided I'd like to handle this with an overhead highway bridge, evocative of the big through-truss spans that were common across Central New York through the 20th century  - including one that stood at the west end of Dewitt Yard in Syracuse, NY.

Such roadway bridges are not as common as I expected in HO scale, short of custom brass models - and I cannot justify spending hundreds and hundreds on a bridge that won't carry trains.  I decided to use a Walthers through-truss kit, and kitbash it to better resemble a highway bridge.  (The concrete bridge seen above will be located further east in the town of Fayetteville.)

The stock Walthers truss is a kit for a bridge to carry railroad tracks.  While similar, highway truss bridges tend to have bridge members that are somewhat smaller in size, since they carry less weight.  To capture that feel, I used the trusses and floor system from the Walthers kit but replaced most of the bracing with lighter-gauge lattice from Micro-Engineering city viaduct kits.  Some splicing was required.  Those pieces were allowed to cure overnight.



It's summertime, and that means lots of time with the kids.  I brought the kit and my tools up from the basement and worked on the kitbash while they played.  You can see the main kit on the right above, and the ME kit to the left, with a happy 6-month-old Pete behind in his bouncer (which he loves).


Later, as I enjoyed coffee and the kids ate breakfast, I brought the project to the kitchen table and continued my work.  I inserted the assembled lattice kitbashes, and glued the trusses to the floor system all at once while the kids asked questions.  Susie helped (under a watchful eye) with some of the assembly.


Here's the current status of the bridge, which will get Micro Engineering bearings and DOT green paint and weathering before a concrete-and-asphalt deck.   You can see the lacy horizontal webbing, which is much more evocative of a highway span than of a railroad span.  I also used the stock ME bracing lattice on several of the vertical members, helping too do differentiate this bridge from the stock kit.

Given its prominent location on the main line, this will be the centerpiece of the next scene.  It's fun to share some of the assembly process with the kids, and to see this scene get started.  We are setting up for a fun autumn and winter of progress on the Onondaga Cutoff!

~RGDave

P.S. - enjoy the rare total eclipse of the sun today, which will be going on when this blog entry is posted!


Monday, July 31, 2017

More Frickin' Weeds

On the Onondaga Cutoff, we strive to replicate real-world situations, and I am focused between operating sessions on adding scenery or elements that compliment that focus.  It's ironic that one of the great goals of prototype model railroading is to model those things that in 'real life' we try hard to minimize.  Weathering, industrial decay, litter, and, of course, weeds.


Now that some of the scenery behind CP 280 is set, it was finally time to scenic the narrow stretch of real estate adjacent to the interlocking.  Seen here to the left, maintenance crews have carved an access path through the vegetation but Mother Nature always finds a way.  Weeds crop up here, even some nice wildflowers, but weeds nonetheless.

In modeling and in life, sometimes the weeds are a welcome sign of reality.  Best wishes here at midsummer from the Onondaga Cutoff!

~RGDave

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ballasting the Engine Yard

As we have discussed over the years, I feel that scenery is best accomplished in layers.  While the Onondaga Cutoff operation continues, scenery can grow in organically, spreading across the layout in layers that allow your mind's eye to grow along with the scenery itself.   Industrial scenes, just like rural scenes, require some vision of where we want to get to, but that vision changes once the base layer is in.  


For Onondaga Engine Terminal (ONET), I began by adding a 'concrete' apron across the front of the engine house. The kit was built and installed early in the process since the rails run through the drop-floor casting, and so a hole was cut in the subroadbed to fit the enginehouse.  I refereed to prototype photos of Conrail engine houses at Dewitt and Selkirk for guidance on the dimensions of the concrete slabs and how the track was located through the troughs. Composite hardboard made a good choice for the appearance of weathered concrete.


Dark gray grout was then spread across the yard and engine house trackage, with a hefty addition of 'Black Cinders' from Arizona Rock & Mineral.  All of that was soaked with isopropl alcohol and diluted matte medium, and allowed to dry for 24 hours.


Weathering is a critical aspect of any prototype layout, and track is no exception.  Engine house tracks are gritty, greasy, oily, and grimy, with oil- and grease-soaked locomotive sand and ballast. Even when well-maintained, these tracks are filthy!  Arizona Rock & Mineral sells an 'Asphalt Paving Powder' that is a dead ringer for oil-soaked sand when piled about the center of the track, and the same firm's 'Gray Base Powder' is a nice stand-in for fresh locomotive sand that has been spilled here and there, adding nice highlights to the dark grit of the base.


After the engine yard was curing, it was time to tackle the maintenance yard, used to store maintenance equipment, snow-removal plows and spreaders, and the fuel delivery track.  Here, I again used dark gray grout and black cinders, and added some 'Yard Mix' from Arizona Rock & Mineral as well to suggest track less soaked with oil.  Some fresher gray ballast was added where the cabooses are stored as this would be a spot with more personnel about.


Once the area cured for 24 hours, I added some miscellaneous weeds for contrast, and then lined up all the MOW equipment once again.


What a difference some ballast and ground cover makes!  While more subtle than some other recent scenery additions, it's satisfying to get this scene to a more final look.   This sets up the stage for progress further east where some major scenery installations are coming soon.

As the hot, humid summer days pass once again, I am thankful for the time I can spend in the cool basement at the end of each day making some progress and sharing it with all of you.  Enjoy the summer and check back soon for more updates!

~RGDave

Friday, June 30, 2017

Old, and New (well...rebuilt, anyway)

In the late 1970's Conrail took delivery of a fleet of General Electric B23-7 locomotives. These dominated the Albany Division in yard and local service during the later 1980's and into the era set on the Onondaga Cutoff - the 1990's. By this time, the B23's were becoming a ratty bunch, and so Conrail started to rebuild and then repaint them at its massive Juniata Shops in Altoona, PA.

On the Onondaga Cutoff, I work to model locomotives at different stages of weathering, reflecting photos from the era. Here, Onondaga Yard on a warm fall evening in 1995 finds 1987 and 1989 working side by side, classifying cars for outbound blocks:

Below is a closer view of 1989, with the Conrail specific details like the cab signal box and Leslie RS-3L horn, deck-mounted ditch lights, and a lack of sunshades:


And finally an image to communicate some of the tiny work that goes into detailing an HO scale locomotive, showing the metal casting ditch lights that I drilled out using #70 drill bits to accept the LEDs and their wires.


Conrail in the 1990's was a proud company that had come through a tough 15 years of demoralizing rationalization. But, part of that tough period was rebuilding the physical plant, and refurbishing a fleet of equipment - which developed a generation of railroad managers that defined the next 20 years of railroading in the Northeast.

And so it follows that some of the most ratty of the B23-7s were working next to freshly rebuilt B23-7's, and I have modeled that with Conrail 1987 wearing its 1979 paint, and with Conrail 1989 wearing its new ditch lights and 1995 paint. I enjoy weathering rolling stock and infrastructure, but when your era allows contrast, sometimes it provides as much interest as the weathering does.

Best wishes as the summer arrives!


~RGDave

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Modeling Maintenance Of Way

A critical part of prototype rail operations on any railroad is 'maintenance of way' (MOW) - the employees that work to keep the track, signals, bridges, buildings, and electrical services in a state of good repair.  Railroaders don't just run trains, or man the towers and dispatcher desk.  My whole railroad career has in fact been on the maintenance side of the railroad, so I am familiar with the equipment and people that do this critical work.

As operations on the Onondaga Cutoff have matured we have added some MOW activity, taking tracks out of service for maintenance.  This adds variety and challenge to the sessions as well as providing a job for one or two guys.  Here is a photo essay of recent track maintenance at an operation session.


Early in the morning of Friday June 10, 1994, Track Supervisor Jacob is on his hi-rail pickup ahead of the ballast tamper, rolling east from Onondaga Yard into CP 280.   He has copied a 'Form D' - essentially a track warrant under the NORAC (Northeast Operating Rules Advisory Committee), authorizing him to be in charge of that track so that he can move the equipment to the work site.


Once the equipment is moved to the work site, it is joined by a fleet of other vehicles adjacent to the track that work together to repair the track structure, in this case by replacing ties and tamping the ballast to level the rails.  While the work occurs on Track 2, Track 1 is busy handling trains in both directions.  Here ML-403 comes upgrade around a boom truck and the ballast tamper doing their thing.


We turn to watch ML-403's locomotives blast past another boom truck laying out ties for spotting.


TV-13 works west later in the day behind three big GE's based out of Selkirk.  The engineer sounds the horn and rings the bell, following the rules, as he passes various maintenance vehicles and approaching CP 277.


After the work is complete, by late afternoon, the track gang has cleared up.  They give the track back to the dispatcher for use with a speed restriction for the first few trains over the freshly tamped area, then remove the restriction once the track has settled under the weight of revenue trains.   The gang ties up all their equipment back at Onondaga Yard and heads for a well-earned few beers at a local tavern!

Modeling the maintenance of the railroad is something we can all do at operating sessions to add variety and give some credit to the railroaders that few enthusiasts pay much attention to.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Take the Highway

We all do it quite a bit:  driving on the interstate is a very 'plain Jane' experience in America.  So, it needed to look right on the layout.  As this scene came together it was important to get some of the accents right.  Here's a few images of the nearly-finished I-481 scene along the Onondaga Cutoff!

Traffic, including my 1989 Dodge Caravan (correct circa 1994) heading north towards Dewitt.


Now that things are stabilized there, I am working to complete some of the background as well to make for a seamless, front-to-back view from this angle.  That means deciding finally on industrial ground cover for the Iroquois Paperboard plant in the background.

Work and usual springtime activity have dominated my thoughts lately, along with family life and even squeezing a trip in to see N&W 611 do its thing on home rails.   As always, though, a few minutes here and there lead to progress on the layout, and every little bit counts!

~RGDave

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Blending Progress Together


One of the reasons there is continuous progress on the Onondaga Cutoff is the generous donation of time and effort from several talented modelers.  While the operating sessions require hours of preparation and then the participation of 12-16 people to make the railroad run, I also have several guys that have been a big help with scenery.

Jason W., who built the I-481 Interstate highway scene for me, is one of those guys.  He's been instrumental in helping with backdrops and he built the highway scene off site and once it was completed, he helped me install it.  The edges were left without ground cover, and now I am working to blend in the edges with the adjacent layout surfaces in order to create a seamless scene.


To the left here we see the double-track main line, with I-481 to the right.  The crescent-shaped gap is what needed to be addressed.   I cut cardboard strip to fit the gap, using trial and error to get it close.  Hot glue is a great way to fasten cardboard strip to the plywood subroadbed.   I worked carefully to minimize damage to the surrounding details.


Using a small hot glue gun helps in tight areas like this.  Jason's work in the foreground is really going to 'pop' to the viewer's eye once the scene is blended in to the surrounding territory.


 Here is a view from the other direction, showing the crescent-shaped embankment formed by the cardboard.  This is the rough fit, with some gaps above that are best covered with plaster gauze.


Once the glue cooled down, I used plaster and gauze to overlay the rougher edges on the cardboard.  This will cure overnight, after which I can paint it black, and add the gravel and stone edges with appropriate weeds and ground cover.

Receiving top-notch help from excellent modelers like Jason is a huge benefit to the Onondaga Cutoff and it is a pleasure to showcase his talent along the route on my main line.  Without Jason's assistance, the railroad wouldn't be anywhere near as far along as it is.  Thanks Jason!   And, thank you to all the viewers that take an interest in progress here.  More scenery progress coming soon!

~RGDave

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Step Forward, Then Back, Then Forward Again

I've written here before of my ongoing focus on doing things once - not having to re-do projects due to mistakes or less-than-stellar work.   In a cumulative hobby like model railroading, progress of any sort adds up to great results, but having 'do-overs' sets us back.  Well, you win some, and you loose some.


Here's an image of ML-482 rolling downgrade in the morning through CP 277.  This past week I had to 're-do' the ditch light installation on the lead locomotive, Conrail SD50 6712.  One of the ditch lights had burned out.  Frustrating!  I opened the unit up and found that one of the wire leads had become entangled in the drive shaft, which had sheared it right off.  A simple fix, and a good reminder to tape wires out of the way of moving parts.

However, several hours later, the other light went out.  Now I'm getting really frustrated.  I decided to look at the manual, and thanks to Alex Lang's advice, learned that the resistors on LED lights will only support one LED.  I had wired both bright surface mount LEDs to the same resistor, and burned out the channel in the decoder.  No good!

Thankfully, JMRI's DecoderPro easily allows us to re-map functions to different buttons.  Since there were other light function channels that had not been affected by my mistake, I remapped the ditch lights to that function, and wired each LED to its own resistor.  A test showed we were good to go.

Here too are shots of ON14's power in Onondaga Yard:


And, a shot of the maintainer's view of the CP282 westbound signals, from the cat walk:


Sometimes, even our best intentions can still lead to mistakes, and in those cases we need to take a breath, learn from the mistake, and move on.  Lessons learned can be worth the cost of a mistake, and in this case there is no doubt.  As more ditch lights come to the fleet, this lesson will save me plenty of mistakes to come!

~RGDave

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Moving Trains on the Onondaga Cutoff

Here are a few videos for you all of the last operating session.  These are minimally processed, taken straight off the iPhone I had available, but I think they give a good sense of what we do each month, when we model the operations of a certain day and night in 1994 or 1995.  

First, we have Conrail TV-9, a westbound piggyback train from Boston, coming upgrade through the approach-lit 275 intermediate signals as he approaches CP 277:

video


And, here is TV-556 coming downgrade at CP 277 later that day, with an all-SP (and D&RGW) consist up front as was typical for that train in this era:

video

The operating sessions remain some of my favorite ways to enjoy this hobby, combining modeling with operation and personalities.  We are able to re-create the atmosphere of the railroad on a model of it, and the experience is quite reminiscent of Conrail.  That will only improve as scenery grows more complete and as the crews get more familiar with the operation.   As we say often on the OC, the best is yet to come!

~RGDave

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Seeing the Light


Recently, a few regular operators referred to the area west of CP282 as a 'tunnel.'  I started to think about that a while back, and have long planned to make some changes there to better illuminate the area to suggest the main line curves into the woods.  This image shows the issue - trains disappear into a dark cavern even with the lights fully lit.

This is a challenge given that there are no tunnels anywhere near Syracuse on the Conrail main line.  New York Central called this the Water Level Route, and the only tunnels on the main line are east of Albany!



Based on a few ideas I'd read in Model Railroader in articles written by well-known author Paul Dolkos, the right combination of scenery and lighting behind the backdrop can effectively trick the eye so that it hardly notices the backdrop at all.  The main line looks to continue out of view, but on the far side of the backdrop.   The trick for me was to do that with some sort of dimmable light that was evenly spread through the visible area behind the backdrop, allowing this lighting to compliment the room lighting for my overnight operations.

The Internet revealed a number of dimmable LED light strips - a perfect solution.  Some even came with a kit for quick installation, and remote control operation.   I settled on one commonly available at Home Depot.  After installing a tree canopy on the far wall, and installing the LED lighting in a back-and-forth manner to increase the lumens in an even manner, I turned on the remote and the results really were remarkable.


It is hard to imagine I did without this for so long!

~RGDave


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Finalized Fascia

A few images for you of the final fascia installation, now painted, and awaiting scenery construction.  The railroad has come a long way in the last few months and it's exciting to see it come together! Completing the facia is a dramatic upgrade.

First, an overview of the areas near Iroquois Paper, and across the aisle to the open running areas between Onondaga and Fayetteville:



Now an image showing the Blue Circle Cement plant and Fayetteville up behind:


Next up, a closer view at Iroquois, showing the steps immediately following fascia installation.  I use hot glue to secure a web of cardboard strips, which will form the rough support for the terrain above.


Once the strips are secured, I use plaster-soaked gauze and newspaper laid across the webbing to represent the ground surface.  A second layer firms this up and once dry, can be painted a dark earthy color before installation of static grass or other scenery.



Now that all the plaster is in, the next step is paint and some base scenery - which will be part of another post!  :-)


What a wild and crazy month it has been.  It's a good thing to see that the layout construction has continued despite the many changes that have come lately!  I'm hopeful that I will fit a few more good improvements in before the yardwork season starts.

~RGDave

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A New Addition!

I'm excited again to report some wonderful news - a new baby boy has joined the Abeles ranks, as Peter Auden Abeles was born on February 26!   Mom and baby are doing very well!


As we had hoped, Lil' Pete was quickly adopted by his sister and brother, both of whom are thrilled.  It is a busy, busy time, but we have lots of love and support.


Susie and Teddy both spend a lot of time helping with the new little one, and it's adorable, although Pete could sometimes maybe use a bit of space.


In all seriousness, Susie is a great helper and loves her little-little baby brother!


Darker news, poorly timed, is that I need disc replacement surgery.  I have an acute herniation of the C5/C6 disc which had been causing significant back and shoulder pain on my right side, and recently led to weakness in my hand and numbness in my right thumb.  Scary stuff.  Surgery was urgently scheduled for 3/9, and I am so thankful for the fact that it could not have gone better.  I feel much better already!

More OC progress coming soon!
~RGDave

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fascia and the Creative Process


Long winter evenings - despite many having temperatures akin to April - are good times to make progress on the layout as they allow longer work sessions with the kids going to bed early.  Some of the work sessions recently involved me standing in front of the layout, staring at the areas pictured below, and trying to visualize how the finished product would look given the constraints.

The two levels here are different scenes on the railroad, at different locations - so, while I want the area to look organized, I wanted the fascia to continue to provide a visual cue that the top scene is indeed independent.  Further, since crews need to lean over the bottom level to throw turnouts at Iroquois Paper on the top level, this fascia needed to be extra sturdy as well.

Here's how it turned out:

I use 1/8" tempered hardboard for backdrop and fascia construction.  It is hard and smooth, but flexible so that it can be adapted to the benchwork behind it.  As purchased it is a brown color, seen here after cutting and installation but before paint. 

Layout construction - and all of model railroading - is an interesting juxtaposition of creative processes.  On one side it is very linear and organized.  Mechanical repairs, track laying, wiring, decoder installation - these are all activities that have a defined start and finish, more of a linear approach.  On another side, though, we have a totally different creative process when we are visualizing the layout edge, designing and installing scenery, or applying weathering.  These are much more subjective and decidedly NOT linear, with no definite 'finish' line.  


The shot above does a good job showing the variety of sight lines that come together here, which is a big reason why it took me such a long time to see in my mind.

I decided on a thin strip of fascia on the top level, with a larger one on the bottom, using gentle curves to blend into the larger fascia on the layout edge under the interstate highway scene.  Here's a closer view looking down on the new construction. The image below shows some of the supporting benchwork and bracing - I used a 2x3 stud across the main span, and a smaller 1x2 to the left where less strength was needed, and more clearance helped.


With this fascia installed, the next step is to finish fascia on the last stretch of the layout that remains without it - the new branch line and associated benchwork out of view to the right.  I am hoping to install much of that today and be ready to paint all the new fascia this weekend.   It will be a major visual upgrade and help to inspire scenery construction through the rest of the winter.

All of this is also happening in concert with my family expecting the arrival of our third child any day now.  We will be family of five - a whole new level of chaos!  That promises to stretch layout time, but on the other hand, painting fascia sounds like a fun project for my older two kids.

Never a dull moment here!

~RGDave


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Constructive Criticism: Upgrading An SD50

Feedback from viewers is a critical part of improving a model.  While constructive criticism is never 'fun' to hear, it is an opportunity to tap the knowledge of others and take advantage of what is essentially free research, with the final goal of a better model.

I recently replaced the incandescent bulb headlights with LEDs, and added LED ditch lights to my model of Conrail SD50 #6712.  At the same time I added sound and primed & painted the handrails to better match the color of the body.  I was happy how this turned out, and posted this photo to one of the Conrail modeler groups over on Facebook:


Initial feedback was great!  People liked the work I had put into the stock Athearn model.  It had been released painted in several Conrail paint schemes several years ago.  On the prototype, 6712 was the thirteenth unit delivered, and its original Conrail blue paint was very beaten up by the early 1990's. The SD50's were built around the EMD 645F diesel prime mover, a later version of the tried-and-true 645E in the 3000 horsepower 40-series locomotives.  The 645F ran extra hard, and hot, to develop the additional 600 horsepower over the 40-series.    The paint burned and blistered over the engine block and so many of the 6700's were repainted into Conrail's "Quality" paint job by 1994.

While not a big fan of 'Conrail Quality' lettering, these units were a part of the railroad in 1994 and so I elected to have a few proper units in the fleet.  6712 had been painted in late 1993 or early 1994, allowing me an excuse to run it in new and shiny paint.  I had already added some Conrail-specific details to this one - the correct 'bug-eye' marker lights, the cab signal box, lift rings, etc.  Now, with the ditch light project, I installed the deck-mounted MU cable and plugs.  (Yes, that's the Senior Road Foreman running, I figure he'd like to have had the first run of a freshly rebuilt SD50.)


I decided at this time to also add the brake piping to the trucks:


After a few hours, I quickly got the constructive criticism to which I refer above.  A fellow CR fan commented that the model looked great but that 6712 in this era had a modified snow plow, with edges cut away to avoid obstructions on a rotary dumper at Strawberry Ridge Power Plant in PA.  Whether that is the reason or not, I don't know; but in checking photos online, I learned that I had some more work to do.   Using the photos as a guide I hand-cut the distinctive edges into the stock Athearn plow, finishing the cuts with a jeweler's file set.


The result is just one more thing that makes the model distinctive!  A little feedback can go a long way towards more accurate models if we are open to suggestions.

~RGDave

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

BRSE-1, and a typical scene

Many model railroaders model the past and there are some who say that model railroading is one of the better time machines invented, especially when it comes to operations.

Here's a typical scene on the Onondaga Cutoff, with train BRSE-1 (Belt Railway of Chicago to Selkirk, NY, leaving on the 11th of the month) topping the grade at CP282 south of Syracuse, NY.  This models the daily passage of the prototype BRSE, with locomotives and cars that represent what actually happened.


video

You can hear and see the lively conversation that surrounds the activity, and it is much like that on the prototype as well.  Operations brings a layout to life, and keeps the interest high.

Enjoy!

~RGDave

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Waste Not, Want Not

My father used to say it regularly:  "Waste Not, Want Not!"  A self-described 'child of the depression', he was one to eat all the food on the plate, to welcome hand-me-down clothes, purchase used cars, etc.   "Everything costs money, David.  We have to make sure we save where we can and use what we buy.  That way we have money when we need it."

I am taking his advice with the remnants of the photo backdrop that we recently installed around the top level of the layout.   To make those top views fit, we trimmed off several inches at the top and bottom, measuring carefully to keep the horizons level and the backdrops flat.  The bottom cuts were about 5-7 inches high, and thanks to suggestions from other layout owners, I realized I could install some of the leftovers in my staging areas, suggesting a world behind the trains.


Here we see a broad overview of the area around CP282, the west end of Onondaga Yard, beneath which is CP274, the eastern end of the model railroad.   CP274 is the interlocking where the double-track main line spreads out into 5 tracks used for staging.  Prior to this weekend, looking through that area allowed a viewer to see the studs supporting the layout, all the wiring above the tracks, and the tracks over at CP295, at the far end of the staging yard.   Very ugly!  A backdrop and a quick coat of flat black paint on the plywood changes the view for the better.


By installing leftover backdrop pieces along those studs, suddenly the trains seem to be starting somewhere 'on the railroad' as opposed to the always-gray and decidedly not prototypical 'staging yard'.  CP274 is out east of Syracuse, between Chittenengo and Canasota, NY.  Dwarf signals direct westward movements through the interlocking and up the hill towards the rest of the railroad.

After a few ties and some ballast, this will be a neat little scene for crews starting west across the Onondaga Cutoff.  Dad would be proud!  In a way, it is fitting that this project happened on the one year anniversary, as a token of just how much his guidance and vision have meant to me.   Amen, Dad!  Thank you!

~RGDave