Sunday, April 30, 2023

Spring, and Action

 The month of April is always busy, and this year it has been that and more.  During April I have managed to visit and take photographs in 13 states on three separate trips.  Somehow since April 1 I have traveled from New Jersey and visited Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Kansas, and Missouri!  The New England states were pat of a trip including family to Massachusetts to visit a cousin and his family and watch my brother run the Boston Marathon.  It's been a month filled with wonder and with new experiences, as well as some grounding experiences with fear and with frustration - all in all, an intense and balanced experience.  

A trip with wonderful friend Jon Kayes to Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas early in the month yielded some great photo opportunities.  One of them was the Canton, NC paper mill job on a picture-perfect morning.

The South is loaded with great railroad opportunities if you know where to look, and Jon does.  I am glad to travel and be part of the trip, and excited to be able to record images like this.   One of the really neat opportunities in the coal fields is that NS still uses cabooses in some operations, thanks to long shoving moves on many of the mine runs.  Here's one of the rebuilt NS cabooses with a heritage N&W decal at Frisco, VA.

At a glance both of these photos show that even in 2023 there is a lot of interesting railroading left out there - you just need to take the trip!

The month ended with lots of model railroad activity, where auxiliary light installations continued as well as operations on a variety of railroads.  Lighting installations are adding more than I expected to the atmosphere of the Onondaga Cutoff.

And thanks to good graces with my family I have also been able to attend a few operating sessions locally, including one at Tony Koester's home on his incredible Nickel Plate Road.  Jim Leighty offered to snap a photo, and got me and Tony together with Tom Schmieder and Ed Bush in the background.  Operating sessions are a time to come together and help make the owner's railroad come to life.

As time goes on, change rolls along, and it is important to document moments in photographs and in words to ensure the long journey of life is remembered and enjoyed.  We are fortunate to be able to live in a time when so much is possible.  As April comes to a close, I wish you health and the best fortunes for May and the warmer weather coming soon!

Saturday, April 29, 2023

An Opportunity to Improve

The model railroading hobby is full of twists and turns, and as the hobby improves so too do we have the opportunity to improve our modeling.  The recent push to get locomotives wired for auxiliary lighting allowed me time to consider a closer look at those that went out for upgrades, and I decided it was a good opportunity to improve the details where needed.  

A spotting feature of modern GE diesels is the handbrake chains, which are exposed and visible hanging from the frame down towards one of the trucks on the locomotive.  They are quite fragile in HO scale, and while nicely modeled by Atlas from the factory they are routinely broken - especially over decades of moves and operations.  I took the time as the paint cured on the step lights to reinstall the chains, thanks in part to chain from Tom Schmieder.  

Here's a pair of GE B40-8 locomotives that have operated for years (more than a decade!) on the Onondaga Cutoff.  Now they have proper lighting - and repaired details!

Now these locomotives will not only look sharper during the night with their step lights but also all the time, with the correct handbrake chains re-hung.  I used phosphor-brass wire eyelets to make hooks that will ensure this installation is more durable than the factory installation.  

Other details got a hard look, too, including the air horn o n C40-8W 6155.

The stock horns on these older Atlas models are sub-park, too small and poorly detailed.  Thankfully detail parts are available and Details West has a variety of cast-brass horns like this beautiful Leslie Inc. RS-3L - an exact scale replica of the horns favored by Conrail.  

Details matter in this hobby, and it's fun to have the ability to make improvements like this!

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Running with Teddy

 Teddy is beginning to stretch his legs with operating sessions!  In addition to running trains on the Onondaga Cutoff and also last year on Jerry Dziedzic's NYS&W, in early April we had an opportunity to run at Ted Pamprin's beautiful C&O Allegheny Division railroad in northern NJ.  Ted is always a gracious host and both Teddy and I appreciated the invitation to run trains together.

Teddy's first train on the C&O was appropriately train no. 1, running westbound across the railroad.  Teddy ran while I acted as a conductor, guiding him across the route.  He had a steady hand and a quick eye, learning the layout quickly.  We arrived at Hinton where the yard would add cars to our train, and since it's a division point we also got new orders and a new clearance card there.  

Teddy was all smiles, and eager to continue.  Rich Wisneski also helped Teddy as needed and at one point, their trains passed along the New River Gorge scene.

Sharing the hobby with Teddy, Pete and Susie is a pleasure.  Whether they enjoy trains or choose another hobby going forward, showing them that we can do these things in groups and at a high level I think will be a good memory for them - and maybe, just maybe, help bring the model railroading hobby a few new lifetime members!