Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Tender Behind...An SP 90-R-7 tender for a Bachmann HO 2-8-0

I have been forced to do very little these past few months due to medical issues. I resurrected a project started in 2022 to build an SP 90-R-7 tender on the chassis of a Bachmann 2-8-0 tender.  I am pretty satisfied with the current construction.  I used drawings from Arnold Menke published in the SPH&TS Southern Pacific 4-8-0 Locomotives.  Arnold kindly sent me a scan of his original drawing for the 90-R-7 tender based on the preserved tender in Bakersfield. From photos I gathered there was some variation in the front platform and I used other photos for a different approach that was frankly easier to model. 

This is the model as it stands on December 14, 2023. 

The next step is to add Archer rivets to the bunker.  I also need to bend the tender handrails and add a rear ladder.  I am looking for help to set up a working backup light on the tender. 

The bunker is built from plastic shapes and sheet material from Evergreen and Plastruct. The tough part was getting the rounded front end to the main body and then the water filler hatch behind the bunker. 

 These are some of the late construction photos before the Tamiya grey primer was sprayed on the tender body and bunker.  I scanned the Menke drawings so I could print working copies during the build process. 

The engine in the first two photos is a my yet mostly unmodified Bachmann 2-8-0. The number is fictitious.  I have another 2-8-0 that is being used to test bed the parts from Owl Mountain Models for conversion into a "stand in" for a Harriman Baldwin 2-8-0 of the C9 or C10 class. It is in disassembled state while I work on a more accurate version of the SP boiler running boards. 

I am looking for a third used but working Bachmann 2-8-0 DCC ready (not the latest sound version) with most parts including the tender intact to complete the SP 2-8-0 fleet for the little Port Costa layout. I have a brass 90-C-1 or 2 Vanderbilt tender to adapt and restore with either DCC or LocoFi control and re-paint and decal. I have a working factory painted Sunset C-9 with a 73-SC-1 tender. 

Owl Mountain Models has announced a 3D bunker print that will drop in to the Bachmann tender. I had already started this project and was interested in a much more accurate version requiring a slightly different approach.  And I just like to fiddle with plastic on my workbench. 

There is also a project by a couple of 3D printers to build HO 73-SC-1 tenders commonly known as Whaleback Tenders for the same 2-8-0 tender chassis. I have had early samples but the final versions do not yet seem to be available.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Status Report as of November, 2023 - Not much ado about adobe

All about nothing.  I am somewhat disabled at the moment and don't know how long it will last. Prolonged sitting or standing is painful which limits both time at the layout and workbench/desk. 

I have the following projects sort of in hiatus.

  • Rebuilding the east end of the Port Costa layout.  
    • I have revised the track plan for the east end yard turnouts to include the exit from the eastbound main, a short stretch of track that includes enough trackage for  a 2-8-0 to clear the exit from the main.
    •  a non-switchable turnout to a short siding for unloading bunker fuel oil for locomotives into the below ground storage bunker.
    • The east end turnouts are being relaid on .020 inch thick plastic sheet elevated for the last 18 inches to the height of the mainline trackage to facilitate an easy transition to the main line. The turnouts are being imbedded in 1/8 thick craft foam sheet to represent track in dirt up to the top of the tie level. 
    • The foam is being painted with acrylic raw titanium oxide paint to represent the dried very light colored adobe clay soil of Port Costa in daytime sunlight. It extends about 1 1/2 to 2 inches either side of the track end tie line.
    • Turnouts are being modified to SP standard configuration with only one long head tie on which the high stand throw is bolted. Additional turnout detail from P87 stores has been ordered to better resemble the SP throw hardware
  • While the work on the trackage has been going on all buildings and details east of the turntable have been removed to allow free access. 
  • Additional LocoFi installs are being planned. I have 3 of the DLLHB Version 3 receivers to install. At the moment I am trying to get the receiver test facility to work but it requires new leads be soldered to the tender side connection for the dismounted 2-8-0 engine block. I am having some difficulty with this as the original leads were factory soldered very close together in the tender side terminal block. 
  • I started building the yard crane that goes between the locomotive ready track (YT3) and the east turntable lead track TTA2. I have created a spreadsheet that has a code that identifies every turnout and section of track for concise reference.  I still haven't been able to draw a new track diagram for the layout.  I may resort to an annotated aerial photo instead of a drawn plan.
  • The only new piece of rolling stock since the bashed Accurail PFE R-40-26 is a new Tangent SP B-50-28 that was truly RTR. This was acquired 8-10-23 just before I started the rebuilding of the east end. 
  • I have additional SP and other RR equipment on order as Rapido continues to spoil SP addicts. Included are:
    • The SP 3/4 height Dome car in daylight for a 1955 Shasta Daylight. This stretches my timeframe a bit. Expected sometime in 2024.  Not sure how to display it or get more cars for the 1950's Shasta Daylight.  Not to mention a set of Daylight PA's probably without plows (unsure of the date they were added.)
    • A Rapido SP C-40-1 steel cupola caboose. Expected sometime in 2024.
    • I think I have a UP B-50-39 on order at Just Trains.  They are apparently arriving now so I will have to check.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Something will soon appear here...

Working on a new blog...a coming attraction...

I've almost completed several projects related to the US Port Costa in HO side of things and done nothing on the English 4mm side. 

Summer heat has distracted me along with ailments that go with aging.  

Saturday, April 22, 2023

An Interesting Odyssey

Last week, my friend Dick Spotswood sent me an email asking if I wanted to join him and other members of the Sacramento Seminar political salon of which is now the past president on the private car Redwood Empire of which he is one of the owners for a move of the car from Oakland to Los Angeles where it is based. It had been hired for a trip to Denver from LA and the party who hired it was covering the costs or returning it to LA. In spite of my hand, I jumped at the chance. I had done this twice before and those trips are recorded in the 2017 messages on this blog. This however was not Amtrak and UP's finest hour or many hours.  

The Redwood Empire is now 100 years old, having been built for the Santa Fe railroad as the private business car for their Los Angeles area division superintendent (are vice president.) Unlike other Santa Fe business cars it was not gutted and modernized in the 1950's so is still wood paneled throughout. The operating part of the car has been modernized with retention toilets and all the electrical gear needed to be attached to Amtrak trains. It is rated for speeds up to 110 miles per hour however Amtrak has a 79 mph speed limit outside of the NE Washington to Boston corridor.

My trip Thursday (4/20/2023) to LA riding on Dick Spotswood's Redwood Empire private car started with a classic Amtrak timekeeping failure.  We arrived at LA Union Station shortly after 1 AM instead of the scheduled 9:10 PM. It was 2 AM by the time my head hit the pillow at the hotel

This was an hour and a half late Train #11 arriving at Oakland, Jack London Amtrak Station after the Redwood Empire car was attached at the Oakland Amtrak yard.

We were rushing to get our stuff to the car as it usually would be stopping by the garage in the previous picture.

We were 90 minutes late out of Oakland as the Amtrak switching crew seemed to have forgotten how to attach a private car.  It should take 15 minutes at most but they took over an hour.  We were scheduled to make up most of the delay but on the trackage going through Gilroy a truck driver hauling a load of 5 new truck cabs didn't realize his load was so heavy his flat bed was now too low and it grounded the flat bed trailer hung up on an ungated grade crossing. Fortunately the railroad was notified and we were stopped before our train could hit it. Unfortunately it took over 3 hours to get cranes in place to remove the truck cabs so the flat bed trailer could rise far enough to be removed from the grade crossing. Then UP had to certify the track had not been damaged. This made the southbound Coast Starlight so far out of sync with all the northbound trains it was scheduled to meet for the rest of the trip causing further delay. 

This was leaving Oakland. We can no longer ride on the observation platform while the train is moving as Amtrak has determined it would be liable for any injuries that could (unlikely) happen to private car passengers.  There is a substantial penalty against the private car owners for violations.  We had to shut the door right after this picture was taken. In 2017 it was great fun to ride outside. 

The only other picture I took was about 7 PM as we were sitting down to dinner. We were only about Paso Robles when the dinner chime was sounded for the first seating. We split into two seatings as the table could not seat all 12 of the passengers. 

After this it was nightfall and I took no more photos. 

Dick had arranged for a catering staff on the train. The main course was a very good lamb chop.  We also had a breakfast snack and lunch buffet along with an open bar that was needed as the delays lengthened the trip and darkness shrouded the best parts of the route such as the hidden coast by Vandenberg and south to Goleta State Park where we were joined again by highway 101. .  

Coming home, yesterday (Friday 4/21), I had a 1:55 PM flight scheduled from Burbank to Oakland. LA Metro was free in honor of Earth Day. I took the LA underground B line from Pershing Square (formerly the Red Line) to North Hollywood (now known as "NoHo"), caught a Burbank City Bus to the Burbank Airport (nobody calls it the Bob Hope airport anymore) area for $1.00 where the driver kindly dropped me at an airport parking lot as his bus could not actually enter the airport road to the terminals so I could take a free parking lot shuttle into Burbank Terminal A. It was 85 degrees F outside in NoHo. I wasn't taking any chances with this method of getting to Burbank Airport and wound up 2 hours ahead of my scheduled boarding time.

Anyway Southwest was over 30 minutes late.  At Oakland I took the Bart Connector to Coliseum station and then BART to Walnut Creek where I just missed the hourly Contra Costa County Connection bus to near my house. At this point I was so exhausted, I took a cab the 2 miles home. Surprise, the Antioch/Walnut Creek line had standing room only as it was about 4:30 PM but someone kindly vacated a senior seat for me. 

Anyway, it was a unique experience and one I will probably never enjoy again as my friend and his fellow owners are in a length process of selling the car.  

Sunday, April 9, 2023

An Accident at the blacksmith shop behind the Port Costa Roundhouse in 1954

An accident has been reported at the blacksmith shop behind the Port Costa Roundhouse.  No further details are available about the nature of the accident.  A local ambulance and the California Highway Patrol Car have responded. 

I was having some fun and put the new Oxford 1948 Dodge pickup truck I had just received yesterday on the. All the vehicles are Oxford products. The weird pattern of shadow from the outside daylight and desk lamp make it sort of look like the San Francisco bay fog has come up Carquinez to Port Costa and obscures Benicia and the Solano hills looking north across the waters.  Just an excuse for not having created a background. 

Judging from the age of the 1954 CHP Patrol car this would have been at least sometime in 1954 and the new (to me) Dodge truck is about 5-6 years old.  I clipped off the metal cast truck bed side rails and have put on one coat of matt varnish to tone town the factory paint gloss. As most of my Port Costa scene is focused on 1950-52 for the railroad equipment the Pontiac CHP cruiser is a small bit of a time warp but Oxford didn't make an earlier version.  I do allow for a time period extension so I can include the model of the SP Budd RDC car which was purchased in 1954 and used initially on Oakland-Sacramento passenger services.  

This shipment of Oxford HO scale vehicles from the UK included 2 red and 2 green 1948 Dodge pickup trucks. Unfortunately at this point in time the SP was only purchasing Chevy pickup trucks. The only appropriate model would be an Busch 1950 Chevy pickup but those are now collectors items and go in the minimum $25-30 dollar range. I understand the majority sold were in a hot rod version appropriate for the 1960's on.  

The other new to me vehicle is a 1942 Chrysler Town and Country woodie station wagon in South Sea Blue. I'm not sure I like the car top luggage rack but at least it is empty. Oxford likes to put these luggage racks on its models of 1940-50's US 4 door sedans. I wonder how many of these were made and sold for model year 1942 in 1941 before Pearl Harbor and the start of World War 2 for the US. Still it's a neat highly detailed model appropriate for the 1950's if weathered and showing a bit of wear.  It would have to have been bought second hand by someone working for the SP at Port Costa.  

I have subsequently found that about 900 of the woodie(woody) station wagons were built before production was halted in January 1942.  20 are known to currently survive.  Google or look up,10072/1942-chrysler-windsor-town-and-country. 

The white pipes above the roundhouse in the upper left of the picture are part of an effort to duplicate the steam supply lines to the roundhouse garden tracks using ordinary Evergreen and Plastruct styrene plastic shapes.   Not doing anything further on that until I recover from the injury described in the previous blog post. The blacksmith shop with it's high cupola for ventilation over the smithy's hearth is an early 2023 addition to the scene and is a final structure model not a stand-in.  

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

An unfortunate delay in any modeling

I have suffered an unfortunate injury which is going to set my modeling back a few weeks if not permanently. 

During the aftermath of clearing the drain on the flat roof garage for my townhouse, I was moving the HOA long ladder in front of the garage when I stepped on a fire maple tree nut that had fallen from an adjacent tree and lost my balance falling on my right side and instinctively using my right hand to break my fall. I apparently sprained my thumb.  

Two weeks later it was not healing and I went to the minor injury clinic at my local Kaiser Permanente medical center. After an x-ray and evaluation I was diagnosed with de Quervains Tenosynovitis and now have a splint for the right hand thumb that I am supposed to wear most of the time to immobilize the thumb and related hand bones and muscles. 

Needless to say this makes the highly detailed projects such as the PFE R-40-26 rebuild from an Accurail kit rather difficult. 

 I am trying to continue some work on the PFE car project during the hopefully 4-6 week predicted recovery time. I can remove the splint at times for washing my hand and hand strengthening exercises. 

Needless to say typing is not the easiest task. 

I am not happy with the color I had to paint the sides using a mix of Vallejo 70.911 Light Orange with a drop of 70.910 Orange Red and two drops of Orange Ochre. This was an eyeball match to Star Brand Daylight Orange #27.  I originally planned to airbrush standard colors but my airbrush wouldn't spray paint (but would spray water and solvent) so the TruColor 107 could not be used. Usually I get a good level color with Vallejo, but this time not. 

I am at the decaling stage but also need to make better sill steps as the Yarmouth #213 double bend steps (Pierre still calls them stirrups) are etched in too thin a brass material for any robustness and don't look right. I have also tried rebending Plano Type C steps.  But doing this is awkward without a right thumb.  Ted Culotta may be offering an accurate sill step for the R-40-26 in the near future. 

I may just finish the decaling and let the rest of the details wait for another date. 

I have a second Accurail kit in storage in case this doesn't work out. 

Enough typing for now...

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Time Marches On in March

I leave a lot of threads unfinished....and I am now 79 years old so many will probably never get done. 

Just the same I have started two new rolling stock projects without finishing any of the previous projects. 

One project starts to stall and another arrives in the mail...
I have been working this past week on converting an HO Accurail plug door refrigerator car into an fairly accurate PFE R-40-26.  A lot of the time has been building a photo library of prototype R-40-26 cars and digging deep into my copy of Tony Thompson PFE  book along with articles by Ted Culotta and others that have specific information about this class. A recent Hindsight 2020 clinic by Ted that included his etching for correct side ladders for this specific PFE class also spurred my interest.  

Now I am faced with the dilemma of waiting for those etchings to become available  or plowing ahead with a "good enough" model . Thus the stall on one project.  Note that I found the Moloco TRK3 50t Ride Control FB trucks are an excellent match to the prototype trucks shown in prototype photos of the car. I have added Tangent Code 88 wheelsets as shown in the photo.  Kadee #158 couplers (or are they now #178) are also used.  I would have to scratch build a new  underframe to correctly match the prototype but have not yet committed to that level of unseen detail. 
In the mail Friday (3/17/2023) was a throwback kit from LaBelle Woodworks (I can remember LaBelle wood kits from the 1960's) for a 1901 Day Coach that will be added to my little SP Port Costa 1950's layout as the grounded Barney and Smith 1886 SP (Central Pacific) coach that was used  behind the  round house as an  employees locker and wash up facility.  

This is a fine milled wood kit that is going to require me to reach back into my very long ago wood kit building skills (If I ever had them.)  I had originally planned to just splice some old MDC Overton Coaches but would still have had to add vestibules as by the mid- 1880's the SP had moved on to closed platform passenger cars.  I can only imagine that the 19th century long skirts women wore would make it difficult to go between cars on open platforms of moving trains.  Closed vestibules were certainly a marketing advantage in getting ladies to take the train.  Anyway this Labelle kit is now on my workbench along with the 1951 built PFE R-40-26 plug door refrigerator car. At least no trucks or couplers will be required for this car.  

Most of the above is in a post earlier today on MRH as a a What's New on Your Workbench topic under my old English railway modeling forum name  "Autocoach". 

I have found a storage spot for the LaBelle kit in the new 10 drawer/tray rolling stock projects storage cart. 

This is now full of kits except for the top drawer which has the SP 2-8-0 from Bachmann Baldwin 2-8-0 engines and their tenders project. 

My work environment has been upgraded as well. The other new additions to my modeling environment are a new work bench illumination source in the form of a tri light source LED bench lamp which replaces a rather broken down floor lamp on the right of the workbench and a Pine64 Pinecil Smart soldering iron.

I still have to add a rechargeable battery pack for the Pinecil soldering iron which when fully operationable replaces an unmendable 15 year old ISO-TIP iron.  

The moveable parts and supplies storage racks on the far right are a series of 5 wheeled storage carts that I added to my environment after the early 2019 water damage disaster that forced me to build the new Port Costa layout.  There is a lot of scenic construction "stuff" under the layout right now but it was built high enough that each all of the 5 carts can eventually be rolled under the layout. The project storage cart in the photo above will fit under the 3 foot layout fiddle yard extension. Again, scenery construction stuff must be moved to roll it into its intended location. 

Ultimately I plan to extend the un-prototypic lead behind the roundhouse structures above the workbench through a narrow shelf to mount the house wifi routers and making an 90 degree turn onto a pair of 18 inch wide modules topped with a truncated Walnut Creek station diorama.  The modules will be on cart wheels and removable for access to the built in bookshelves drawers and cabinets of my train room. Right now it is all still in the dream stage.  

So much has been inspired by Kevin Phair's English GWR layout "Little Muddle" built in an 8 foot by 8 foot English home 3rd bedroom. Google "Little Muddle Layout" to see what can be done in a tiny layout space.
Something's got to keep me going through my 80's. 

That's all for now folks...

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

UN-Blogging of the lazy mind

Oh do I restart...

There are unfulfilled promises of further comments on the HO nickel silver caboose ladders.  Unfortunately these remain unfulfilled.  They are now available from Leadville Designs. 

More on the SP tenders for the Bachmann 2-8-0 project will be on the site.  I now have 4 tender options. 

  • A 100-C-1 Sunset Brass Vanderbilt tender which I finally managed to open and check that it can be modified to have a small decoder or the LocoFi receiver.  I have some more body repairs to do and repaint and decal the tender
  • A 100-C-? Bachmann Vanderbilt tender which needs re-assembly and decision whether it will house a DCC decoder or another LocoFi receiver I will need to buy. The tender is actually a UP not SP prototype but is close enough with the oil bunker top for the "stand-in" C-? SP Consolidation.
  • A 90-R-7  Heavily modified rectangular tender with high narrow oil bunker. I am still working on the modifications using styrene shapes. When I finally get the shape right, I will use Archer rivet decals to model the surface correctly.  I have been working with Arnold Menke and obtained his drawings for the 90-R-7 preserved in Bakersfield 
  • A 73-SC-1 3D printed shell that I have working with Ken Harstine to develop to fit over the Bachmann rectangular tender underframe. I am also working on a version that is lower to match the height of the Sunset whaleback tender that came with my Sunset C-9 Consolidation. 
On the Port Costa layout there have been a few baby steps.  I have been working on the ground cover for the area south and east of the roundhouse and am starting on details for this area. 

The area was almost completely bare of vegetation being hardened adobe clay and still is as a parking lot. The steam pipes and servicing supplies about the garden tracks are a modeling challenge. 

The SP tender development has re-awakened my interest in the LocoFi Wifi Control system and  I have been playing with using the new LocoFi version 3 receivers I plan to use in Bachmann 2-8-0's and Mehano 2-6-0 M-4's. I already have one of the earlier receivers installed in a Stewart/Kato SP F-7 and plan to experiment with batteries to be mounted in B units.

I have recently built a Wifi locomotive receiver/controller test facility for the LocoFi units. I have an ESU tester for DCC decoders.   the design wasn't original but I have plans to expand it to cover testing planned configurations with commercial Keep Alive/Stay Alive devices without having to mount them in a locomotive. 

The lever connectors are used to easily change LocoFi receivers on the test stand. The fan has since been removed as it burned out not being rated for high enough amperage. I need to work on setting up one of the 12 volt motors seen in the background as the normal test load and adding a LED light stand for testing forward and reverse lighting.  

I have already successfully tested the receiver with the motor block from a dismantled Bachman 2-8-0 that is awaiting the parts to model the Harriman style angled cylinder block and Stephenson style simple running gear. 

The light from the blinds created a reflection on the Fire tablet which I am using for the LocoFi Android app. I visibly checked the belt and mechanism under the block to see the power was turning the motor. The LocoFi equipped Stewart/Kato F unit can also be seen on my workbench. LocoFi is still working on changes to the Android app for steam engine functions as opposed to diesel.  

This LocoFi test stand project being successful, it will now go back into hibernation until the rest of the Owl Mountain Harriman 2-8-0 Stand-In conversion parts become available.  

The turntable and the water tank are constantly in my thoughts. The mainline trackage is the other very big project.