Sunday, July 23, 2017

Japanese to Generic

Before and After on a $1 Matchbox truck from Dollar General. The Japanese writing really didn't fit my layout ... a little white paint turned it into a generic box truck.

Blue Conrail box cars

Vindicated at last! I had painted and letter four blue Conrail boxcars before finding out Conrail didn't really have any blue boxcars - just one that was painted blue for a trial. Now Ray Grossman came up with a photo of the blue Conrail boxcar! Turns out I wasn't too far off, after all. Here's the prototype, and one of mine.

Propane Tanks Arrive

Marge, Office Manager at Glen Cove Fuels, just happened to be on the loading dock enjoying her 9 AM cup of coffee when the local freight began nosing down their siding with a tank car and a flat full of brand new - very large - propane tanks. FIFTEEN of them. She had a bad feeling about this.

She ran to her desk to look at her purchase orders. Sure enough, Mr. Jacobs had told her to order 15 100-gallon propane tanks … and when she typed the order, she had inadvertently added a zero, making them 1000 gallon tanks!

How the propane tanks were made - I had a quantity of plastic protective caps from old Macbook laptop chargers. Pairs of caps were glued together using CA to form the tank body. Since my flatcar was underweight, a few BB shot were concealed inside each one prior to gluing. Tanks were stuck on some masking tape and spray painted flat white. The 5-packs of tanks were then hot-glued together. 

The valve collar is a glass E-bead, size 6/0, from the craft dept. at Walmart. 
The beads were glued in place (the middle bottom tank does not have one, it cannot be seen). The collar is then painted with red acrylic paint which also fills the hole in the bead. 

The load is banded together with 1/8” black auto pinstripe tape, cut in half lengthwise to about 1/16”. This banding is cosmetic only, it does not really hold them together. The ends of the banding were secured on the underside with a drop of CA. 

The 5-packs can just be set in place as needed, or glued to the flat if desired.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

HDMI Lineside Relay Enclosures

A followup to my post about using VGA cable dust caps for cattle watering troughs … Alan Jones asked what could be done with HDMI cable caps? I use them for lineside relay enclosures next to block signals and grade crossings. The “doors” are just drawn on with a fine tip Sharpie. You may also notice the scratch built block signals resting on bases made from keys popped off a scrap computer keyboard. See the article.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

VGA Cattle Watering Troughs

Save your VGA cable dust caps - they are handy to give your HO livestock some water. A squirt of clear 5-minute epoxy fills it right up.

Monday, July 17, 2017

New Fast Clock in Operation

I love my new fast clock! It makes the layout seem so much larger, with trains taking realistic time to get places, instead of minutes. 

Here is a pic of my new fast clock all set up, along with a screen shot of the interface.

This is a HTML/Javascript clock written by Wesley Steiner. You can run it direct from the web page ( ) and once you have run it in your browser, a further internet connection is not required. If you download the HTML you can save it as a local file too.

The clock is running on the old laptop visible at the bottom, and displayed on an external monitor.

You select the compression, but not as a direct ratio.
Compress 24 hours into …
8 hours gives you 3:1
6 hours yields 4:1
5 hours yields 5:1 (approx).
4 hours yields 6:1
3 hours yields 8:1
and you can tweak it for in-between ratios.

You can also set the hours/minutes to anything desired at any time, or pause/resume the clock. It runs in 24-hour mode as default, but if you like 12-hour mode better, just click the reset button when you creep past noon. That’s all the controls, but that’s all you need!

This is free but is a shareware model. The site gives a button for thanks, in which he suggests emailing a Starbucks gift card if you find it useful. I sent him off a $10 card. Well worth it!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Mini Tank Farm

A couple of Tyco tank cars get their trucks removed, then painted, rusted, and set up to become part of this little trackside tank farm. Pipes are pieces of plastic sprue leftover from a kit.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Wesley Steiner's Fast Clock

Oh my, this FAST CLOCK is perfect. It runs inside a web browser page, even offline. I saved the web page as an HTML file and run it at the layout where there is no internet. It has any fast ratio, easy time set and reset, and GIANT NUMBERS. He makes it available free and has a link for donations if you are so inclined - nice shareware. Try it here >>

Friday, July 7, 2017

Kenton departure board

Kenton Station is the busiest station on the railroad with six passenger departures daily. This is the new departure board installed for the benefit of the passengers. Device can be programmed with up to 10 lines of text. Mounting brackets are 16” on center - very convenient for floor joist installation as shown. Device is a Roadmaster Model RRDS100 display marketed for the rear shelf of passenger cars to display tasteless messages to the car behind (of questionable wisdom and legality). This is a much more civilized application than going out and asking to be a road rage victim. Video >>

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Leased muscle arrives

Business is up and more motive power is needed - especially shoving on the end of through freights heading up the 3% grade to Cascade - so the Cape Ann brings in two leased GE U36-B's from Locomotive Leasing Partners (LLPX).

LLPX 6002 (front) was obtained working on eBay for 99 cents - no other bidders.
LLPX 2806 (rear) was obtained "dead" on eBay, and repaired in the Cape Ann shops with drive train parts from a junked Bachmann F7.
New traction tires, LED lighting, drive train clean and lube, paint and decals - and these two units are back in revenue service again.

Monday, July 3, 2017

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Rockland's new full dome

The Rockland Line is getting into the passenger business. They have an agreement with connecting Cape Ann to bring their new full dome coach down from Rockland every morning to connect with Cape Ann's Acadian to continue south for an Amtrak connection to Boston. The passengers can't wait to get coupled to The Acadian which has full meal service.
This is a reworked Life-Like coach, shown in before condition and after.