Thursday, July 23, 2015

Modeling Modern Details

Model railroading is not a 'new' hobby - in some form it has been around for more than 100 years, and the hobby - like the industry - has changed over the years.  In the 1940's and 1950's, route-mileage peaked on the prototype, with spurs and branches into almost every town in America.  I can see where this would be a great era to model.

However, much of America's manufacturing base moved away from railroads before 1990, and that is what my generation grew up with.  We know very well that modern railroads have as many abandoned spurs as they do active ones, and a plausible eastern model railroad set in 1994 needs some abandoned spurs.

Details available to us today are remarkable and make the hobby very rewarding.  Here is a recent detail project that I completed on the M&E, replacing a frog on an 'abandoned' turnout with a section of jointed rail.  Frogs are high-maintenance items, and if there is no use of a side track, railroads can reduce track maintenance costs by removing the frog even if some of the rest of the turnout remains.  I used Details West rail joiner bar models to 'bolt' the new rail in place of the frog on this Shinohara #6 switch, and with the addition of some ballast and some grit, grime, and weeds, we have a nice mini-scene that helps illustrate the era of the railroad.

More details like these will follow as time passes - always plenty to keep us busy on the Onondaga Cutoff.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Marking the Rear End

A project that has been on the back burner for a while has been adding working marker lights to the rear end of my Amtrak train consist, in accordance with NORAC rules.  Amtrak is a tenant on the Onondaga Cutoff.  Conrail maintains the track, and Amtrak uses the Conrail main line for their Empire Service.  Any passenger train needs to have red marker lights displayed on the hind end, and while the new Walthers Amfleet cars come with the lenses installed, there is no provision for the distinctive red lights themselves.

These cars come beautifully detailed, but lighting was not included.  Walthers does sell a nice LED light board designed for these models specifically, and the cars include trucks and pick-up contacts installed from the factory.  Adding to the frustration is the tab system they include does not hold up to the installation process.  I therefore hard-wire the contacts between the frame and the board, which has proven to be much more reliable.  

For the hind end, though, lighting wasn't the only thing required.  Marker lights were still needed.  I therefore purchased a set of Miniatronics red surface-mount LED's pre-wired with leads, and included resistors to get the light to the correct intensity.  The results are worth it!

Lining this up was more work than it should have been, compounded by the fragility of the contacts and hiding wiring from view through the side windows.  But, in the end, now Amtrak 273 & 276 running via the Onondaga Cutoff will have the hind end properly defined!