Layout Progress - Easy DCC
One More 4x8 - Loaner DCC - And Paint!
My wife and daughter are out of town on a girl's trip so I have taken some vacation time to be home with my son. This means, of course, layout progress! I purchased another 4x8 sheet of 1/2" Birch Plywood yesterday and cut it to fit the corner piece on the northwest corner of the room. This leaves just two more pieces to go to complete the lower staging level and the first continuous loop.
Joe Scorsone and my father came over to assist which is always nice. Joe came bearing the gift of a loaner DCC system which he had purchased but not used. This is a wonderful gift that will jump-start operations on the Vicksburg Terminal! Thank you Uncle Joe!
With my wife gone for several days her car was kicked out of the garage. The space will be used over the next few days to paint the major components of the layout. Since the railroad is elevated, the underside will be painted white to improve the appearance of the room.
Hattiesburg, MS to Evanston, MS - 1995
I made a trip with Kurt Nastasi on March 11, 1995 to southern Mississippi in search of a DEGX coal train. This trip was one experience that has inspired my ProtoFreelanced Meridian Speedway concept.
During this time the Daniel Electric Generation power plant near Escatawpa, Mississippi was doing a test burn of Powder River, WY coal being delivered via the Burlington Northern to the Illinois Central at Memphis, TN. The Illinois Central handed the trains off to the Mississippi Export Railroad at Evanston, Mississippi for the final leg of the journey.
Our expedition began in Hattiesburg, Mississippi where we saw some action on both the Norfolk Southern and the Illinois Central. We chased Illinois Central train JAMO southward to Evanton. This train was running with three locomotives facing long-hood-forward because the lead unit (the only forward facing unit) derailed at Hattiesburg.
We became aware that the Mississippi Export would be delivering coal train UEVME-11 to the Illinois Central at Evanston tha evening so we set up there. Sure enough, emerging from the south Mississippi woods was an empty coal train powered by three Burlington Northern C30-7s and a Burlington Northern SD40-2!
While BN powered coal trains were common in many parts of the country, this was an oddity in southern Mississippi. The Powder River test-burn was short lived and the utility switched back to its Coloroado source with trains coming into Memphis via a DRGW/SP/UP routing.
We managed to get one more train at Evanston. All IC powered UMOKM-11 with five locomotives wearing the "Death-Star" scheme pulled into Evanston at last light.
Please enjoy this glimpse into the past on the Illinois Central Beaumont District!
Athearn Genesis GP40-2 and Intermountain LO's - 4-14-2016
I was so pleased with the model of SSW GP40-2 7265 that I decided one just wasn't enough! Athearn Genesis GP40-2 SSW 7257 arrived today. This is only the third EsPee 4-axle locomotive I have purchased for the Meridian Speedway fleet. I now have a decent 4-axle consist to race SP stack trains across the Speedway!
Also included in this equipment delivery were five InterMountain PS-4750 covered hopper cars from the latest release. They pose in the image below on what will become my Mississippi Central staging yard.
Not a bad looking consist:
For some reason a photograph I took of an NAHX covered hopper lettered for Cook Industries on the MidSouth in Vicksburg, MS over twenty years ago has stuck in my mind. The connection was made when I saw that InterMountain had released six cars decorated for Cook Industries. So....I got two of them: NAHX 478023 and NAHX 478612. I also picked up NW 177503 and NW 177564 in two different schemes as well as UP 87588 with the centered logo.
Below is the picture I took of Cook Industries NAHX 54178 on April 4, 1993 on MidSouth train MS-3 in Vicksburg, MS.
4-12-2016 - Operating Session
Yesterday I participated in an operating session at Don Murphey's house in Southlake, TX. A small group was invited over to test the railroad out in preparation for on open house event this summer.
The operators were Rich Duncan, Dean Ferris, Greg McComas, Matt Sugerman, and myself. I was able to carpool - thanks for the lift, Rich!
Don has a passion for transition-era passenger trains and has developed a story line to support the operation of a colorful fleet of passenger trains in and out of the centerpiece of his railroad--a massive model of St. Louis Passenger terminal.
The mainline is a generic east-west Kansas City to Chicago theme with double track all the way. Don's wife lent considerable assistance with the scenery over the years. Construction of this model railroad began in 1998.
My assignment for the evening was a manifest train that would traverse the entire length of the railroad to Kansas City. I built the train per the work orders handed me and then was assigned a Union Pacific Challenger steam locomotive for power. There was an on-line set out and pick up at Jefferson City as well as a set out at St. Louis. The train was a bit over powered from there with only two cars and a caboose into Chicago.
It was a great evening in good company. The run was very enjoyable.
Support Framing for Lower Staging Complete
Monday 4-11-2016 was a milestone for the first Meridian Speedway Layout. The wall framing for the lower staging level has been completed and two 4x8 sheets of plywood have been cut. Thanks to Joe Scorsone who assisted with the work!
Roll of Film Scanned - New Orleans Trains - May 1996
Not being really sure how to tackle the huge amount of photographs I have taken in the pre-digital era, I have decided to try what I will call the "Random Roll" approach. I have literally hundreds of rolls of developed film, both prints and slides, taken in the 80's, 90's and early 2000's, which have not seen the light of day more than once or twice...ever!
So...I have decided to start a "Random Roll" Blog Category. Exactly as it sounds, I will indiscriminately grab a roll of film and scan it in its entirety. Larger files will be posted on rrpicturearchives as usual. These images will be linked from smaller images in the "Random Roll" blog post.
I feel that this will at least start me on the track of getting some of this material out of boxes, envelopes, and drawers so that they can be searched for and found on the internet! Working with drug-store developed prints does give me great appreciation for the digital era we are now in. Often the images are poorly cropped during developing. I still have not found a suitable scanner for color 35-mm negatives, so I will be working with the prints for now.
Once upon a time, our photography was limited to a 24 or 36 exposure roll of film. There was cost involved both in film price and developing. Sometimes a roll of film was in the camera for several weeks. With digital it is now cost effective to take several hundred images in a matter of hours. This blog category will give a glimpse into the mindset of film photography.
Without further ado, lets take a look at May 1996 starting with a 36-exposure roll of Kodak Gold 100-Speed color print film. The images were taken in the New Orleans area between May 10 and May 20, 1996. The film was developed by Eckerd Drugs in the last week of May, 1996.
Frames 1A-5A - SP Train HOCXM - 5-10-1996
Louisa Street was a popular place to photograph trains. This is on the CSX between Gentilly Yard and N.E. Tower. Generally the grass was cut here, allowing for clean shots of equipment. This roll of film begins with five images of Southern Pacific Houston, TX to New Orlenans, LA (CSX) train HOCXM. At 9:52 AM, four SP motors lead the way here: B30-7 7782, B30-7 7856, B36-7 7759, and SD40M-2 8644.
Frames 6A & 7A - CSX Train M-720-10 - 5-10-1996
Just seven minutes later, at 9:59 AM on 5-10-1996, I was at the North end of CSX Gentilly Yard where I took these two images of local train M-720-10, the "Bay Turn", departing with lone CSXT GP38-2 2689 and a handful of cars. The Bay Turn usually worked industries at Michoud and interchanged at Port Bienville. Occasionally this train went as far as Bay St. Louis, MS.
Frames 8A-11A - UP Train AVLICX-14 - 5-14-1996
The next images on this roll of film were taken four days later, on May 14, 1996. My records indicate that I saw quite a few trains between the 10th and the 14th, but no pictures I guess. Frames 8A-11A were taken at Central Avenue, another popular New Orleans area location to watch trains. Here we find the CSX connection of Union Pacific Avondale, LA to Livonia, LA train AVLICX-14 with three Union Pacific motors running "elephant-style" C41-8W 9422 leads C30-7 2449 and SD40-2 4152. According to my notes the train stopped at 12:40 PM and started rolling nine minutes later, beginning ascent of the Huey P. Long bridge.
Frames 12A-16A - CSX Train Q-605-12 - 5-14-1996
Back at Louisa Street on the other side of town, I took five images of a colorful locomotive consist leading CSX train Q-605-12: UP SD40-2 3328, MKCX SD40M-2 9012, and CR C30-7 526. The only freight car image on the entire roll of film was CSXT 291355 on this trian. Unlike today, where I can shoot an entire train digitally, I had to be very selective in the film era. This may have been one of the first, if not the first, grey CSX car with the yellow numbers I has seen and is likely why I took the picture.
Frame 17A - CSX Train M-720-14 - 5-14-1996
Frame 17A is a lone image of the day's CSX Bay Turn returning to Gentilly at North Gentilly behind GP38-2 2558. It is interesting to note that none of the Maintenance-of-Way employees near the rear of the train are wearing high-visibility clothing. It was a very different culture on the railroad back then!
Frames 18A & 19A - UP Train LINONB - 5-14-1996
Union Pacific Livonia, LA to New Orleans, LA train LINONB was the last train I recorded on May 14, 1996. Having just crossed the Mississippi River, this train was stopped at Central Avenue when I spotted it. Being somewhat back-lit, I probably would not normally have bothered to photograph it. The third engine, CNW C44-9W 8614, was a locomotive of interest; however, so I did get a couple of shots. Ahead of the CNW 8614 were UP SD40-2 3963 and UP SD60M 6226.
Frames 20A-25A - NS Oliver Yard - 5-20-1996
The next images were taken at NS Oliver Yard on Monday, May 20, 1996. This yard was the most risky to visit in the Big Easy as a large percentage of the city's homicides occurred in this area. Montegut Street parallels the east end of the yard and Galvez Street crosses over the yard where the locomotive servicing area is located. It is difficult to photograph power here from Montegut Street because of a fence. One can park under Galvez Street where there is a stairway up to street level for a good vantage point.
On this day there were four locomotive consists idling away at the Oliver Yard diesel facility so I decided to walk up the bridge and get a few photos. On hand were:
UP SD40-2 4161, UP SD40-2 3408, UP SD40-2 3916
SP B30-7 7872, SP B30-7 7853, SP B30-7 7873, SP B36-7759
NS GP38-2 5020, NS SD40-2 3219
NS SD60 6575, NS C40-9W 8945, NS GP38AC 4114, NS GP38AC 4124, NS GP38AC 4132
Frames 26A-29A - CSX Train Q-605-18 - 5-20-1996
The four frames following the visit to Oliver Yard were taken of CSX train Q-605-18 while it was switching the south end of Gentilly Yard. It was 9:57 AM and the sun was not in a very good position to photograph this west-facing train. The rear two locomotives were of interest to me so I shot them. The consist was west-facing UP SD40-2 3741 leading east-facing UP SD40-2 B4294 and LMS C40-8W 710. At the time Union Pacific stopped maintaining a number of former Missouri Pacific SD40-2s to "lead qualified" standards and designated them by putting a letter "B" in front of the road number. The middle locomotive in this consist was one of these units.
Trailing unit LMS 710 is one of 40 locomotives (LMS 700-739) belonging to Conrail-General Electric subsidiaty Locomotive Management Services. These units were leased under a unique agreement whereby they would operate for 6-months-per-year on Conrail and then they would operate for the remainder of the year on other railroads. Built to Conrail specifications, they look just like Conrail locomotives, but have block "LMS" markings instead of the Conrail name and logo. Pretty cool I thought. It looks like Atlas will have three of these in their next release - LMS 702, LMS 711, and LMS 713. I may have to add one of these to the Meridian Speedway fleet!
Frames 30A-32A - SP Train LANOF - 5-20-2016
This roll of film concludes with three eastbound Southern Pacific trains making their way across New Orleans in less than an hour! First up is Los Angeles, CA to New Orleans, LA (CSX) intermodal train LANOF. At 10:28 AM I was set up at N.E. Tower, where the CSX crosses the NS about a mile north of Oliver Yard, to get the shot. Power for this train was SP B30-7 7779 and CSXT C40-8W 7892. The propped open front door on the SP 7779 probably means that the air conditioner was not working.
I do remember this event. As the train was coming into view someone fired several shots from a weapon nearby, scaring pigeons which took flight and got in the way! Mr. Earl Hampton who worked at N.E. Tower for many years likely heard gunfire here more than once!
Frames 33A-35A - SP Train LBCXT - 5-20-1996
The second train in this EsPee fleet was Long Beach, CA to New Orleans, LA (CSX) train LBCXT. This train had a wonder consist of matched SP SD40M-2s in Speed Lettering, both with flared radiators having been rebuild from SD45's! I think this may be the best catch of the roll! Lead unit SP SD40M-2 8622 began life as BN SD45 6491 and trailing unit SP SD40M-2 8665 was built as CNW SD45 957.
I had moved up to East City Tower for these shots. The LBCXT made its appearance here at 10:43 AM. The white vehicle parked in the field to the left belonged to the Norfolk Southern Special Agent who was keeping an eye on things.
Frame 36A - SP Train HOSOM - 5-20-1996
The final frame was also taken at East City. Southern Pacific Houston, TX to New Orleans, LA (NS) train HOSOM was running about 30 minutes behind the LBCXT, passing East City Tower at 11:14 AM. Also sporting an all-EsPee consist, this train was a great catch as well! Three "B-Boats" running elephant style were in charge: SP B30-7 7790, SP B30-7 7832, and SP B36-7 7764 were gliding this train across the NS New Orleans Terminal with ease.
Had this not been the final frame of the roll, I certainly would have taken a few more images of this train. Hopefully the pictures in this Random Roll No. 1 will be useful to those who come across the images. All are posted and tagged in rrpicturearchives.net.
Layout Progress 4-4-2016
Layout Supports Added to Two Walls
Many thanks to my uncle Joe Scorsone who assisted today with some layout progress. Before today, only the North Wall of the Man Cave had a support brace installed. This brace is at the main level of the VIcksburg Terminal, just high enough to allow continuous operation around the room, clearing the height of two doors.
The other three walls will have a lower level that will house two staging yards, one holding trains from Greenville and Memphis on my Mississippi Central Railroad and the other holding trains from Natchez, Hattiesburg, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans on my Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad.
Today's trip to the Home Depot yielded two 12-foot lengths of 1x3.5 wood and 10 more shelf brackets.
UPRR Business Cars at Argyle
4-3-2016 - Photographing UPRR PCBSF2-02
Long-time friend and fellow New Orleans native Kurt Hampton gave me a heads-up that he would be in DFW this weekend for WrestleMania. He carved some time into his schedule to visit on the morning of Sunday, April 3. A quick check with the local railfan network revealed that the Union Pacific would be running a business car train into Fort Worth from McAlester, OK this morning. We had something to do!
Kurt picked up my brother, Steven, on the way to the house. My uncle, Joe Scorsone, and my son Jacob also joined us for the outing.
We decided on a spot in Argyle to get the shot of Council Bluffs, IA to Spofford, TX business car train PCBSF2-02. En-route from Council Bluffs, IA to Spofford, TX this train would have a pair of clean ES44AC-H locomotives and twelve passenger cars all adorned in the UP yellow and grey paint scheme.
(Note: Images are linked to larger files posted on rrpicturearchives.net)
I handed Jacob my Canon 20D camera with a 23-135mm lens, gave him a few ideas, and let him pick his shot. The third shot in the above slideshow is what he came up with! Not bad at all...
Below is a photo-consist of this train:
ES44AC-H Locomotives UP 2527 and UP 8112
Power Car UPP 2066
Crew Sleeper UPP 202 Willie James
Crew Sleeper UPP 314 Columbia River
Business Car UPP 102 St. Louis
Baggage Recreation Car UPP 5779
Deluxe Sleeper UPP 1602 Green River
Deluxe Sleeper UPP 1605 Powder River
Deluxe Sleeper UPP 412 Lake Forest
Deluxe Sleeper UPP 315 Little Rock
Dome Lounge UPP 9005 Walter Dean
Diner UPP 302 Overland
Theater Inspection Car UPP 420 Fox River
The Union Pacific business car fleet is impressive. Being able to see one of these trains in motion is a great experience! Union Pacific also has indexed their active business car fleet on their corporate website. The button below will take you to this index. Most of the cars have unique .pdf write-ups, many with interior photographs and floor plan drawings.
Merger & Acquisiton
As seen on the Michigan Interstate Blog!
Rumor has it Michigan Interstate parent company Lakes Interstate Transportation Group has placed a takeover bid of the Natchez Trace & Orient parent railroad and its subsidiaries. Officials were quoted "These guys are a good fit in helping us create the Great Lakes, Gulf, & Orient Railroad, their current leadership team will help bring together two great railroads and create an competitor to rival current class 1s". When asked how they would connect between Indiana and the southeast an official was quoted "We will just buy someone else to fit the mileage gap".
Check out Greg McComas' Michigan Interstate early April update via the button above!