Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Maine Central 564 - Good and Bad

I wrapped up the majority of the work on my 1970s version of Maine Central EMD GP7 #564. This unit was painted in a simplified green scheme used on a few locomotives starting in the late 1960s. It contrasts nicely with the harvest gold units that comprised the bulk of the MEC locomotive fleet of the day.

MEC 564 leads a short ballast extra through the White Mountains of New Hampshire in 1973. NERAIL photo by Jim Wright. 

Ted Houghton's image from provides a well lit side view of 564.
My model uses an Atlas GP7. I actually painted and decaled it (Microscale) a few years ago, but it has sat waiting for completion as other projects took priority. I found a need to get another MEC loco on the layout, so I pulled this unit out for finishing.

Added details include the front hood mount bell, the side mounted air horn and a winterization hatch. There are a few other details I can add, including a speed recorder and the correct MU stands, bt not having these on hand, they will have to wait.

The Microscale set is not the best representation of this paint scheme however, as it is a little too yellowish, and it also lacks the ring around the Pine Tree herald.

MEC 564 idles in St. Johnsbury

One thing that stands out nice on this unit is the Harvest Gold painted pilots.

I used mainly powders for weathering providing a good covering of rust, dust and soot.
However, not all was good unfortunately. I previously posted a picture of this unit showing the iPhone 4 speaker situated above the Tsunami decoder. The sound is great and after a little programming and adjusting the EQ, it sounds really nice.

That is until it stops making sound, or starts playing random horn sounds. Seems something is not right with the decoder. I tried a factory reset, and get the same results. It runs fine for a while, but sooner or later the sound cuts out, or the whole decoder cuts out and the loco stops. It is possible I damaged something doing the install, although this would be the first bad install after a couple dozen.

So it seems the remedy will be to carefully pop the shell back off and replace the decoder. It is ashame as I had it nicely speed matched with the Atlas factory-painted Harvest Gold GP7 565 shown above. As this was the last of the sound decoders I had on hand, the question now will be whether to go to Tsunami 2, to LokSound, as I would like to give them a try. Guess I'll have something to pick up next weekend at the Springfield show!

Monday, January 09, 2017

Morrisville Turnout Work

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am adding a turnout in Morrisville at the suggestion of my operating crew. It will provide a second (and longer) runaround/passing track, as well as give access to the south side of the mainline from the eastern approach. In watching operations and trying some moves my self, I agreed the suggestion had merit.

My main concern with making this change though was how long would this take to get completed, and how long until I could schedule the next Op Session? One thing was certain though, nothing would get done unless I actually started the work!

With the required curved turnout in hand, I found I had a little time to get started with this the other night. I knew I would not finish this up in one session, but it seemed best to get started and chip away at the overall work.

I cut the rail with a Dremel tool, then pulled up the flex track. I cleaned up the surface of the Homasote roadbed. As there was no good subroadbed under the area that the new turnout would lead to, I cut out a section of scenery. This was only a piece of foam with some scenic material on top, so it wasn't too tough to remove.

Track on the LVRC mainline as well as the parallel grain siding has been removed, and a new hole  opened up to add subroadbed. Luckily a cross piece was right under this are to help support new subroadbed.
Using a scrap of 3/4" plywood, I traced out a subroadbed piece using the newly opened up hole. I clamped a support up from the cross piece below, and then leveled out the new piece. On the yard side, I had a small piece of support for the existing roadbed to tie into.

With a solid base I can now add sections of Homa-bed (2 pieces here were used to make sure the height was correct). this will support the new track off the curved turnout, as well as the track going back in for the grain elevator.
This took about 1 hour to get done, but was a crucial first step. Next time I can drop in the Homa-bed and get the turnout locations situated. Holes will be drilled for the Tortoise switch machines and I can cut new flex track pieces to tie it all together. After soldering the rail in and adding the track power feeder wires, I'll have done enough to support testing trains and restoring operations. This will be without turnout controls of course. Another session to get the Tortoise machines installed, wired and a control throw installed, and I'll be ready to schedule the next Op session. I wait until after a trial run with the next Op Session before starting repairs to the scenery.

I think the takeaway form this is to break down work that might seem daunting and time consuming into smaller sub projects that can be accomplished in smaller segments of time. It was unlikely I would find the multiple consecutive hours do this work completely in one shot. But tackling it in 3-4 sessions was very do-able.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Groveton NH Video

Happy New Year! Thanks to all those who take the time to check out my blog and see the latest on my layout. I enjoy putting information and pictures up here, and I hope it is useful and entertaining for most!

A week ago I used my iPhone to capture a few video clips of train action in Groveton NH. It doesn't encompass the full scope of operations that train 4301 performs, but I thought it would be neat to see some of the action up close as well as see the overall area and how it has progressed to date. I think it turned out to be a neat little operation within the overall scope of the layout.

While heading up to Boston on the Acela, I had fun editing the video and also adding some audio over top the video action. Using some audio clips from various sources as well as some of my own railfan video, I merged together a finished video which I think is more fun than just plain video. The Kato RS2, custom painted for BM #1501, does not have sound of its own at this point.

The video is up on YouTube, and you can view it below. If for some reason you can't see or play it, here is a direct link:

I would suggest viewing it larger than the small window below however. There is a Full Screen button at the lower right of the video.

I hope you enjoy!