freight car musings….

So, currently, I have 5 Micro-Trains cars, 2 Fox Valley boxcars, an Intermountain reefer and a BLMA hopper.

Looks wise, the BLMA hopper is an 11 out of 10. When I finally get around to weathering my cars, this might be one that I can’t touch. It looks perfect. When I run it, I would say that it is a 9, the scale wheels look great, it couples well, but if there is a piece of ballast or an issue with a ground throw, it will hit the ties. This does not happen often, but it can.

The IM reefer looks great, I would say a 8.5, runs well, couples well, no complaints. I have not had issues with the axles being warped like other people. My kid did run it off of the layout back in December and broke a stirrup, too bad IM does not make them a separate item like Micro-Trains does. So far, I just turned the car around so it is hidden, but I am leaning towards buying a BLMA stirrup kit…

Micro-Trains, the Cadillac of N Scale…these cars are a 7 to 9.5 in the looks department. Some, like my 40 ft hy-cube just sit too high, while others, like my Golden West bulkhead flatcar have their trucks and couplers painted the same color as the car! I have yet to see a real freight car with blue trucks and couplers. That being said, they couple on the first try and do not derail unless I run them through a closed switch, a total 10 in operation.

That leaves Fox Valley, a 9.5 in the looks dept….etched brass, great graphics, if they had extended coupler boxes, they would be a 10. They track well, they just have one odd issue. they don’t like to couple or uncouple from anything. to couple them, I have to make sure that the couplers are centered, and I have to put a finger on the roof to hold them still. These come factory equipt with Micro-Trains body mounted couplers, the same ones as the BLMA hopper that I love to use. But for some reason, neither one likes to couple to anything, and on both ends….a 5

Operating the layout and other thoughts….

Operating the layout was one of the main things that I wanted to do before building the layout. I really wanted something that I can operate realistically, and as a puzzle as well. The next to last plan that I drew up was basically a large Timesaver. By moving the switch that created the switchback of the Timesaver and placing it on the main, I still had the same number of sidings.

I also lengthened all sidings, so I could use the 2 sidings and the main on the East (left) end like an Inglenook puzzle. I can also set up a train with the same types of cars that are already spotted and switch them out. After I have buildings, I will be able to spot cars at the doors for more of a challange.

The south (rear) siding on the east (left) end will be a warehouse, and the north (front) siding will be a Walthers ADM grain elevator (re-lettered to a local name) to help break up the view. On the west end, there is only one siding and it will be a liquid feed plant. These plants tend to have tank cars and covered hoppers. I will need to  build an office, warehouse and tanks. I have placed a pair of Floquil spray can caps (at least those were useful) and a 35MM film canister as temporary tanks. I plan to put the tanks between the main and the siding and the other buildings on the other side of the tracks.

I only started this layout this week, and have seen a lot of progress. Until the layout and track is painted, I am stuck. After the track is painted, I can ballast the track. I am also thinking of a road on the west end with it leading into the parking lot of the grain company.

Sometimes, we just need to step back and look at the big picture….

The wife and I did some long distance railfanning today (she called it hiking). We drove till the pavement ended and started to walk up the access road.

The 2 mile hike up the mountain with the “CG” gave us a unique perspective of the Casa Grande Valley. It also shows how often the Borg runs their freights through, and how much I wish that Tunnels were pulling them. Getting up, out of the valley was a fun experience, and it shows that my compressed track plan really does not give the sense of how large this small city is…Do I continue with my 8 foot plan or stretch it out for a longer run?



Sunrise on the Sunset…

This morning, right after sunrise, I went down to the old Sunset Route. On the west end of town is a small yard used to store cars, the typical UP local was switching cars with a pair of GP40-2’s for power (I have posted pictures of the locos on here already. one is an old repainted SP unit). I went further down Cowtown Road, and found some survivors, please enjoy the pictures. I am surprised to see ex 7658 with that decent of a paint job, She was built in 1980 and has not had a paint job in over 20 years.