One of the oddball combinations I'm working in is 1/2"n2. To assist with tracklaying efforts, I made up a set of brass roller gauges and a small, 3' wheelbase bogie frame.

The roller gauges were set up for code 100 track and .080" flangeways. In practice, the .080" flangeways are too wide. Despite the fact the scale is relatively large, the wheels that will be employed are bigger HO or medium diameter S scale with an RP25 contour. The gauges will have to be modified for a narrower flangeway.

The wheelsets on the test bogie are Jaybee 36" diameter (HO) with pointed axles. The axles were cut in half and a section of brass tubing was slipped over the stubs to widen the gauge to 1". The frame consists to two flat plate sides with a solid rod spacer at each end fastened with 2-56 screws. The sides are fitted with Markits (Romford) needle bearings for the axles.

The sides were ACC'd together and milled to length. Then the bearing locations were marked, centre drilled, and drilled 5/32". The bearings are held in place with Loctite 242. They slipped into the holes without passing completely through the plate frame. The frame will free-roll down less than a 1% grade.

Motive power for this project will be a 4-wheeled electric trolley with a (non-functioning) pantograph. The chassis will require a 3-point suspension to ensure electrical pickup from the rails.


hunter/gatherer efforts

Smoky Bottom does have the jeep-o-motive conversion kit. One should be on its way from overseas in short order. The Australian War Memorial Collections Database has a search for information which returns several interesting photos of the prototype using the terms "railway jeep".

Jerry Wilson has produced several S scale resin cab, stack, and dome sets for various 2' gauge locomotives. These are designed to adapt MDC HOn3 2-8-0 kits to represent
either Mogul or Prairie wheel configurations. I've ordered a set for 2-6-2 #15 and am looking forward to receiving these parts next week. Expect a construction article from Jerry in one of the major MRR publications shortly.

Mike Brown Solutions has drawings for 1 and 3hp single and dual cylinder steam engines capable of doing some serious work. They also have informative (if "quaint") videos showing boiler construction and co-generation basics. Their "Steam Package" video and drawing set is reasonably priced and delivery was rapid.


I've got no strings...

I've finally had a chance to hook up the UR90 InfraRed receiver panel from Tony's Train Exchange (excellent service) and test the UR4 utility throttle I picked up at the Credit Valley Railway (terrific local hobby shop).

I noted a slight delay in some of the command transmissions, but nothing to worry about so far. My test setup emulates a fascia mount with the UR90 at hip level. This is not an optimal arrangement for picking up line-of-sight signals. Ideally the panel should be higher up and father away, nearer to a theorectical backdrop plane in order to receive signals from a wider arc.

The setup requires a 12VAC wall-wart for the UR90 panel and a 9V battery installed in the throttle itself. It's a simple and inexpensive way to go wireless now that the basic Digitrax throttles come with IR functionality included. For an around-the-wall layout, you'll likely need more than one of these receivers to provide adequate coverage for all throttles.

Mogul cab

Well sir, I don't like it. The Rosewood stain just isn't "taking" the way I would like it to on the laser-cut wood.

a) I missed sanding a couple of the edges of the parts to remove the thin layer of blackened wood. This carburised surface doesn't accept stain or glue very well.

b) The grain is a bit too coarse, and the wood doesn't seem to be very porous. The stain likes to sit on the top surface. Perhaps the stain in the bottle has lost its effectivity...

The cab is simply going to get a couple of coats of E/L Maroon to match the future passenger equipment.

fabulous On30 loco

If you like industrial operations, you owe it to yourself to check out Rich Yoder Models 25T GE end cab.

This little critter runs extremely well, is nicely weighted, and is priced right. There seems to be plenty of room for an audio decoder and speaker.

I just received mine in the post and I'm very glad I elected to buy one.


Mogul progress

Despite being away from the workshop for several days, a small amount of progress (both good and bad) can be said to have been made.

1st - Don't try to remove the smokebox number plate without a big piece of tape hanging off it to keep track of it's inevitable movement. I still haven't found it since it popped off the front and bounced off the ceiling and several dozen bits of furniture. Now I'll have to turn a new one on the lathe.

2nd - It's a shame that Floquil's stains are no longer available. I have a bottle each of Rosewood and Pine that I'm hoarding until I find a good substitute. The Banta cab has received several washes of the Rosewood and, if it looks OK, will get several layers of gloss applied. Otherwise it will get the Polly Scale E/L Maroon and Glosscote finish.


MRC sound + Bachmann Mogul

After hearing a demo of the MRC synchro sound decoder, I decided I had to have one. The size of the decoder and speaker renders it nearly impossible to install in either of the On30 Porters. The Mogul, however, has a huge tender and is relatively easy to disassemble.

The Mogul is getting a facelift in the proceess of the installation.
- Cal Scale brass smoke stack
- Tomalco brass tender hatch
- Banta laser-cut wooden cab
- new paint job

All of the piping and accessories have been stripped from the boiler and it has been primed Polly-Scale MOW Gray and then Engine Black. A layer of Testors Glosscote will cover the black to represent the spit-and-polish expended when a road is still new (and solvent). Due to excessively rough handling by Canada Post during the Mogul's trip from BC to Ontario, a number of details must be repaired/replaced on the loco and tender. Luckily, none of the damage affected the running qualities.

As usual, the camera doesn't lie and shows off the flaws in the finish. Still more work to do on the boiler and stack. The smokebox also needs several touchups as the masking tape unexpectedly pulled off some of the factory graphite finish.

It's also obvious that I require some seriously improved lighting capabilities if I'm going to take decent construction photos.

simple kit modification

Dad has been keen on getting an MDC 4-4-0 kit since it was announced some time ago. He has quite a few Roundhouse engines including 3-truck Shays that he's built over the years. Luckily he was able to recently obtain one of the kits from a dealer in Seattle. Only a few of them ever made it to Canada before Hroizon bought MDC and kit availability dried up overnight.

The kit, as designed, seemed to be a representation of an American built under license somewhere in the US. As he was looking for a more original 1882 appearance, we had to at least modify the most visible feature; the running boards.

The boards were split on the engineer's side to allow for a large air reservoir and on the fireman's side to make room for a twin cylinder air compressor. Engines like the GTW examples built in Düb, Scotland were equipped with continuous boards. The elevated centre section on the engineer's side had to be carved off the boiler without destroying the two boiler bands that passed right through the piece. Mounting pins for both the air compressors and the reservoir had to be shaved off as well. The resultant gaps in both running boards were filled with .040" styrene plates filed to match the edge profile.

The simple alteration of the running boards and the removal of the mullions in the forward cab windows make for a big change in the appearance of the engine. A single lung pump will be added to the fireman's side above the running board, very close to the cab front. Short air reservoirs are mounted outboard under the floor on both sides of the cab.

The typical practice of building a kit precisely as the instructions dictate should be discouraged. In its place, the premise of building a model of a particular prototype using the kit as the starting point should be embraced. This simple change would alleviate much of the "sameness" that exhibition layouts are falling victim to.


DCC out of storage

The GenesisII DCC system I purchased a number of years ago is up and running again. This discontinued Digitrax starter set had all of the features I was after at the time, and is still compatible with all of their current product line.

I downloaded the latest Windows software for the optional PR-1 decoder programmer, and quickly had my old Sn42 diesel running with directional headlights & acceleration factors in just a few mouse clicks.

I am aware that the new, JAVA based DecoderPro software coupled with the LocoBufferII is a popular choice for decoder programming via the PC and Mac using serial or USB ports.

Given the interfaces on most digital throttles, I cannot see using them to program more than a few basic CV values to get up and running. A computer offers a point-and-click interface that allows you to save & load profiles for fleets of motive power and draw speed curves directly on-screen.


I've found several references to an interesting jeep conversion done by the US Army in certain theatres of operation to provide basic locomotion for rail equipment.

They took a basic 1/4 ton Willys GPW and replaced the rubber tyres with a suitable set of wheels for steel rail. Traction was apparently assisted using dry sand from sand boxes mounted fore and aft. I have found no mention of added ballast for traction, but it is expected that this was required.

Some related photos are available at Jeeps on the rails. Buzz indicates that once you lose traction, you have to bring the jeep to a complete halt in order to start it moving again.

Braking must have been accomplished using the manual train brake wheels on the rolling stock itself, as the jeep would lack the braking capacity to stop 10 or 20 tons of cars once they were rolling.

Word has it that Smoky Bottom Lumber Co. in the UK is offering a static plastic conversion in 1:35 scale for the Tamiya jeep kit. I am waiting to hear back from the company on price and availability. If I can obtain this product, a powered jeep and at least one piece of rolling stock will be built and a suitable diorama created to display it.