Thursday, January 30, 2014

Final Preparations

Yesterday's action on the model railroad:

The signal crews on the Onondaga Cutoff have been busy doing the preparation work for the final cut-in on the territory, which will be CP-282, the interlocking controlling the main line at the west end of Onondaga Yard.  The signal bridges themselves are under construction and have yet to be delivered, but the dwarf signals and masts are on-site and the crews are working to install all the boards and connections underground ahead of the cut-in.

Foreman Anshant is seen here with his crew on the South Runner, waiting for foul time on Track 1 to finalize an insulated joint.

Once the new signals are in place, the manual signals pictured here will be removed.  Local railfans are doing what they can to document the last of these, as they will all be gone here within the next few months.

And - in the same light - a small group of guys went to the prototype Chicago Line in Syracuse, NY, a few weeks back to document the last of the former NYC signals before they, too, are replaced this year.  Here's my image of CSX train Q384 about to knock down a medium approach aspect at CP-286 in East Syracuse, NY, as the snow falls heavily around us, with another eastbound train lined up on Track 2:

The remaining photos will be in my flickr account, some of which you can see now at this location.   More are added as time permits.  Stay tuned for photos of the final cut-in later this winter!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Weathering Track

On a model railroad, as on the prototype, track is a critical component.  Track on the Onondaga Cutoff was very carefully installed and requires regular maintenance in order to stay smooth.  For me, it follows that I treat track as a separate model, which means - like everything else on my layout - it must be appropriately weathered to better represent what we see on the prototype.

A few quick photos from the iPhone will help illustrate.  Here's a shot of CP282, an area that has yet to receive its final installation of signals, and as such it's an area that has yet to be fully weathered.  As a result, while the installation of track is sound and operates smoothly, the appearance is distracting and disjointed.

My procedure for weathering track involves masking all switch points and joints, as well as lineside details that I don't want to cover with paint at this point.  Once the masking is in place, I set up fans for ventilation, and apply an overspray of rail brown from Floquil.  I immediately wipe down each rail head with a rag soaked with paint thinner, and then remove the masking.  Once the overspray cures for a few minutes, I can go back with a BrightBoy abrasive cleaning block to polish the rail heads.  Finally, I go back and hand-paint some of the ties different shades of brown to suggest ties of different ages.  Here's the result, recently completed at CP277.  Ballast will tone down the uniform look of the roadbed, but the ties and rail will remain.

I think it's a dramatic improvement, and it's even more evident in person, seeing the change all at once.  CP277 will receive ballast soon too, which will again improve the appearance dramatically.  

Finally, a shot of some light power coming west through CP277, to give you a sense of how the new weathered track looks with clean Conrail blue:

Thanks as always for your viewing and comments!  Upcoming projects include several new additions to the locomotive fleet, and also the big conclusion of the signal system installation:  an intermediate bridge at MP 278, and all the signals at CP282.  It's a total of 30 heads, which is a lot of work, but the finish line draws closer and closer!