Category Archives: Freight

Everything to do with freight railroading

Site Seeing – The Little Critter that could edition

It’s not often that you get to see internal (in-plant) company railway operations today. Thankfully “Saginaw Terminal Docks” (Facebook and YouTube) posted a video from Reid Machinery in Lansing, Mi showing how they use old freight cars to store valuable machinery on their site prior to sale.


Reid Machinery’s internal railroad

Reid Machinery Inc of Lansing Michigan have specialised in moving machinery, primarily in the forging industry, throughout North America since 1992. And while that may not seem like the most worthy thing to write about on the third Tuesday in July – I urge you to hang around a moment longer. You see they also hold their large (as in big – not lots of) inventory on and in their own railroad assets.

Yes – they have their own switching layout.

Thanks to Saginaw Terminal Docks we have a front row seat, and a cab ride on one of these switching moves. I asked him about connections to the rest of the world. He tells me that the in-plant line connects to the JAIL/Adrian & Blissfield on over a mile of old track through Lansing’s south side.

And this is so modellable…


YouTube video

Some of the things to watch out for in the video are:

  • The three person crew (Engineer, conductor, and digger – and yes it’s a guy with  a shovel)
  • Slow switching speeds
  • At around the 18 minute mark – opening the boxcar door with the forklift forks (we often model the result but the actual operation is rarely filmed)

So sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy the show.


Resources

Site Seeing – Sebastopol Shops RIP Track 2

It’s officially Australia Day so I thought I’d share more work done weathering the Southern Boxcar underframe and sides. It’s interesting to see how the added brake gear (see more about that here) has become just another part of the model, and no longer seems to dominate the underframe, just as I had hoped it would.


Southern Boxcar 36188

I’m relatively happy with the work so far. There is work to be done on the patches to tone them down “just” a touch.

Beyond that though the underframe weathering is what I now consider to be just right (considering that it will be hard to see). I had to add a bright white background behind the model for it to show up.  Very pleased with how this work has come out. It looks perfectly functional, and most importantly, looks the business.

I’ve weighted the model appropriate to my needs (that’s roughly the cube root of the on rail weight). This is heavy by the ‘normal’ standards, but with the Kadee sprung and equalised trucks under them my cars run like dream.


Tasks remaining

  • Rust spots need adding on the side, especially on the sliding door (right) side of the car as this area takes a real beating in service. There’ll be less on the left side. I’ll be using Ken Patterson’s oil weathering process, as outlined in the video in the resources section below. I’ve not used this particular method before so it will be interesting to see how it works for me. I’ve weathered in oils before and enjoy them very much, this will be one new technique for quick and dirty rust weathering.
  • The roof needs to be attached to the car and I’ll be weathering it to match the side weathering. I always do the sides before I do the roof because much of the run off ends up on the car sides.

Resources

Ken Patterson’s Oil Weathering method:

Sebastopol Shops Update – More Brake Mods

Work has been busy and I’ve not had much time to model, however I did get time yesterday to begin the weathering process on a couple of car underframes that have come through the brake rod upgrade program. Pictures below…


Southern 36188

An E&C Shops kit this PS-1 50′ single door boxcar has been in the shops recently for brake rodding updates. With the deeper side sills it provides a good view of what I’m trying to achieve through the upgrade program – adding ‘something‘ between the bottom of the car and rails.

From a lower point of view the rodding detail on this car disappears into the background clutter of hard angles and shadow (image taken in reflected sunlight on my workbench – late afternoon – with nice and flat tones)

Taken at normal railfan height the rodding is there and fools the eye, at least my eye, into believing that this is a super detailed car. Rolling by you’d never guess anything otherwise.


XAF10 class prototype car

Work continues on the XAF prototype car, an Athearn Blue Box kit. I’ve had my concerns throughout the upgrade that things would stick out like a sore thumb. I needn’t have worried. I like what’s emerging.

This is the car with all brake rodding work completed. I was worried that the brake rodding would be too obvious using the 20 thou brass.

After applying the base of the undercar weathering the experiment has borne sweet fruit. This looks much more like I wanted it to look. Same lighting and location showing the hard angles and shadows. Once on its wheels and with further weathering applied the rodding will disappear into the background, yet have that wow factor as it goes past.

Thanks for stopping by. Comments? Questions? Let me know.

Site Seeing – Last mile switching on the Florida Central

Danny Harmon spends a day out following a railfan friendly switch crew of the Florida Central as they switch customers around Orlando, Florida.


First Mile / Last Mile

This is where I believe that real railroading happens. It is where the customer meets the railroad. It’s also where modellers with small spaces, budgets and time allocation get the most bang for the buck when designing and building a layout. There’s a lot of great locations and close up detail shots of the crew working and the locations for inspiration.

Sit back, put on your headphones and enjoy the sights and sounds of a couple of vintage locomotives as the train crew prepare their train, run out to, and then switch, the customers spurs. (Clickable video below)



Make sure to like and subscribe to Danny’s channel. Recently he’s been doing a lot of switching videos. I hope he does a lot more to come. Supporting him might just get him to do more too.

Site Update – RailBox XAF10 Modelling pages updated

The modelling article on the RailBox XAF10 class cars have been updated. There is new content and the third step of the rebuild article promised some time ago. There’s more information below.


What’s happened

My last update on this project covered the addition of a short history of the class. This time we’re getting into the meat of the project.

This new page covers the dangly bits between the frame and the rails – brake rigging. This is a task focused modelling article on how to simulate the brake rigging on the model without going over the top. Thanks go out to Tony Thompson whose original post on his blog got me started on this particularly enjoyable journey. (There’s a link from the new page to Tony’s original blog post.)

Throughout the series I’ll be aiming to complete the entire project section within an hour (between getting home and dinner for example) and at the end of it have a model that you can be proud of. Here’s what I mean using before and after photos:

Image 1: The basic Athearn BB kit sans brake rigging

Image 2: Same kit (undec) with brake rigging – a subtle difference but well worth the effort

You can head direct to the page by clicking this link, or head over to the project home page clicking this link. I hope that you enjoy this new part of the project. Like, subscribe and follow to keep up to date with all the new content here on Andrew’s Trains.

Sebastopol Shops – Adding brake gear

There was movement at the station, (to partially quote A. B. ‘Banjo’ Patterson), and I’m working to update a fair proportion of the model fleet with basic brake gear. More below…


Low hanging fruit

I mentioned a couple of posts ago I wrote about simplifying my modelling, without compromising my vision of what I want to achieve with my modelling. I believe that by simplifying my modelling style that should not mean accepting less. I tend to overthink everything, over detail (hyper detail) and in the end never finish anything to the standard I want to – think contest models of everything. But no more however. In that spirit I’ve been working toward cost-effective updates to my Athearn BB and other boxcars that I’ve collected over the years. To that end last week I found (for the second time at least) the post by Tony Thompson on his blog about providing partial yet effective brake rigging. This week I’ve gotten that done on several cars, and what a difference I feel it makes.

There’ll be a full article coming later this week on how I achieved my version over on the project page for the RailBox XAF10 cars. The page updates appearing there will be out-of-order but I’ll be filling in the blanks over the next couple of weeks as I get images completed. In addition there’ve been some cars in for repairs and one specifically coming closer to completion. More on these last two tomorrow.


Images from the RIP track

The production line; and while the cars have good general representations of the AB brake system, you can make a better looking version with a little time, staples, some fine brass rod and a little super glue (in this case super thick).

Above: the prototype for all the brake gear, RBOX XAF10 (the car at the back with all brass) with the other three cars using staples for the protective hangers.

Below: Bringing it all together. Staples and brass rod for the actuating rods. Absolutely prototypical? Nope, but they look the goods and make a total difference to the side on view of the cars. Well worth the time and effort to do.

50 Boxcars NW 52900 & Southern 36188 showing the difference between steps:

Above: the car with the beginnings of the brake rigging in place.

Below: shows the difference between one day and the next. Talk about a difference. I really like the look, busy, but simple and cheap to do.

I’ll post more images next time as I work through the rest of the cars on the RIP track.

Thanks for reading and dropping by.

Site seeing – Op till you drop – Blue flag “Video” edition – August 26, 2018

In my August 18 post we looked at modelling and using Blue Flags for your operating sessions. Thanks to Charles Malinowski’s timely reminder, there’s an additional video for context.


MRR Video Series – Taking Care of Business

Model Railroader magazine has a series of videos (most are pay to play). However some of the best of them are free for you to watch. One of these focuses on the SMS Rail Lines industrial park in New Jersey.

I did try to embed their video (as they offer this as an option – like YouTube) however, it didn’t work. Instead you’ll find below the link for the video. THis will take you straight to the page and then play away.

The video is narrated and professionally shot and edited. It is really well done and shows the operations in the Industrial Park and the blue flag in action. Thanks to Charles for reminding me of the video. I hope that you all enjoy watching and learning.

Don’t forget to comment on and share this post with your friends.


Resources

Taking Care of Business: SMS Rail Lines

Site Seeing – the Switching small customers edition

There was an interesting video posted by Danny Harmon (who goes by the handle of Distant Signal on YouTube).

He focuses on the increasingly rare small switching customer. Once upon a time it was the core of railroading. And while it is harder to find, in some places it can still be found as Danny presents in this video.

Enjoy the video! And if you like Danny’s videos as much as I love his voice then like the video and subscribe to his channel. I have no affiliation with Danny other than as a happy viewer of his content.

Site Seeing – 29 June – A new series from Model Railroader – Taking Care of Business

I’ve been quite hard on model railroader over the years. They’ve been very predatory in their behaviour over the years. I even got a cease and desist letter from them at one point because they thought I’d copied part of their intellectual property when I published a corner layout of my design. After to-ing and fro-ing and a level of “kiss my A##” from me since I was in the right, we’ve gotten along well ever since.

However, I may, and I stress only may, change my point of view if they keep up their new free to watch video venture – Taking Care of business. The basis of the idea is to ride along with a crew (in this video SMS Lines switching the Pureland Industrial Park in Bridgeport, New Jersey) as they go about their day-to-day work. The video was entertaining and informative. My concern is that if it doesn’t stay free I certainly won’t be putting up my money to pay for it. Lots of content providers share similar videos on YouTube and other sharing sites that help me understand as much.

Free is good as in beer, and speech. Hopefully MR keeps this series going as free to watch. There is some really interesting content, good production values and I enjoyed the narrative of the story showing the crew going about all of their tasks during their day.

Resources:

  • Video: To watch the video (while it is still free) head over to Taking Care of Business: SMS Rail Lines | ModelRailroaderVideoPlus.com
  • SMS Rail Lines: SMS Rail Lines restores, maintains and operates many historic Baldwin diesel locomotives (in fact I believe they have the largest fleet of Classic Baldwin’s in North America). It’s a labor of love to keep these rare and historic units in-service for future generations to witness. For more just search “SMS Baldwin” on YouTube.

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Site seeing – February 11 – The load of scrap edition

Update and explanation

There has been  a shortage of posts on Andrew’s Trains during February, due to a couple of factors. First and most importantly my eldest is moving to another city and beginning at University. Mum and I have put in a lot of work to get her ready for the transition during January and so far in February. This has included multiple trips back and forth looking for accommodation, signing of leases, paying rent, bond and the government related tasks that need to be done to get your adult life underway. The second reason in my output has been extreme heat events we’ve suffered in regional Victoria over the last couple of weeks. Most homes in town don’t have air conditioning. Ballarat’s climate (being nearly 1500 feet above sea level with usually low humidity) means that apart from a few days each year we don’t need it. However, when the air temperature gets over 35 degrees Celsius (this week over the 40 degree Celsius mark) there is simply nowhere to hide from the heat. February is Victoria’s hottest month and the most dangerous. Enough of all of that for now – on to the modelling.

Site 1: The Design Build Op Blog – Scrap Steel Loads

Image courtesy of designbuildop.hansmanns.org

Mike Weiss, one of the Wheeling Freight Terminal crew members has a very clever method of creating scrap steel loads for gondolas. His approach takes on industry standards, rather than the usual articles in model railroad magazines about making scrap steel loads. Often these articles don’t provide an easy way to remove the loads without a wire loop or hidden magnet. In this article Mike addresses both issues. There is a lot of great information on the blog beyond this post. Take the time to look around. Very well worth the effort.