2015 Construction Blog

December - Depressed Center flat cars

Working on two depressed center flat cars, both of these are resin kits. The first is KWUX 10 made by Concept Models. It is not a simple kit, there are over 100 pieces. This 12 axle depressed center flat car is models after QTTX 130975, it was originally CN 674200. It is a resin model and was purchased on EBay from the seller wreckmodels.

KWUX - end platforms

KWUX - deck in progress

KWUX - arms ready for sanding

QTTX - ready for brake details then paint

December - Loads

Completed building four transformer loads, they are now ready for paint. Two were Alan Curtis models, one from ebay, and the other one is from Concept Models. The Alan Curtis transformer loads are no longer available.

Four transformer loads


Alan Curtis transformer load

Parts for the ebay transformer

Completed transformer

Concept Models transformer load

November - Port module work

The goal for November is to complete the port module. This includes the painting of the concrete area, touch up around the track and overspray with with Testors Flat Gull Gray. Seawall has been glued. and the raised dock guard and bollards painted yellow and installed. Switch machine installed. And the last step is to pour the water.

I really like the way the piling seawall turned out.

Getting close

Ready for water

Piling seawall close up

October - Americanization of an European wagon

I have had this car for a long time. Someone has started the Americanization process of this Fleischmann DB Tiefladewagen by replacing the original European couplers with Kadee's. I finished the process by removing the bumpers. The hand rails fell of when the second bumper was removed, that was fixed with a little ACC.

Original car

With bumpers

without bumpers

completed car

October - Building high wide cars

I have many high wide cars that need to be assembled, painted and decaled. First in line is a resin model of the CN 670000 eight axle well hole car. I bought it on eBay three or four years ago. This is a simple kit of 12 pieces. Like most resin kits, lots of clean is up required, cutting, filing, filling hole, and sanding. Forgot to take a photo of what this kit looked like before starting, so I have included a copy of the instructions.

For more details, there is an excellent article on this car and the other CN well hole cars, by Ian Cranstone. The article was in Volume 11, Number 1 of CN Lines. I believe that the back issues is still available from the CN Historical Society.
Prototype photos


CN 670002 in progress

On trucks


The next cars that are being worked on are the Eastern Car Works 12 axle PRR type F-38 flat cars. This car type was purchase by multiple railroads: Pennsylvania, Delaware & Hudson, Louisville and Nashville Missouri Pacific, Cotton Belt, Southern, Union Pacific and Babcock and Wilcox. The cars were built with different deck sizes: 50, 45, 36, and 35 feet. The capacity ranged from 290 to 350 tons. The first car will be built, painted and decaled for the Pennsylvania Rail Road.
Prototype photo

The instructions are poor, and not much help. Not much to study, especially when doing the shorter deck version of the car. There are many parts on the spruces that I cannot figure out where they go. The first step is to cover the four slots at the middle of the car with .020 styrene strips. This will enable a little more weight to be added to the car. Then the holes are filled in with various cut lead fishing weights. Finally glue on the deck.


bottom with open slots

slots filled

fishing weights added


The second version of this car will be painted and decaled for the Southern. It is different from the PRR version in that the deck is shortened to 36 feet, 14 feet shorter than the PRR car.
Prototype photo

It was a little scary making the first cut onto the deck of this rare kit. Then the bottom frame is cut and the side frames glued. When the side frame are dry, they are cut to match the bottom frame.

after the first set of cuts

difference in deck sizes

no good way to connect the span bolsters

close to being done

September - Adding DCC in non DCC ready locomotives

I installed decoders in two non DCC ready locomotives. These two are my first locomotives where I had to do more than plug in the decoder and program. The first is a Walthers SW9, and the second locomotive is a Kato NW2.

The SW9 install is a much simpler process. Remove the light board and replace it with an NCE SW9-SR decoder. Solder both the truck and the motor wires, and test. The light bulbs were replaced with warm white LED's, and then tested again. Getting the wires back in the right place for the rear light was a challenge when putting it back together. Program the locomotive number with DecoderPro and tested again. To complete the update, I replaced the horn hook coupler with Kadee 148's couplers.

The NW2 requires more work. First the some of the weight must be cut away with the Dremel to make space for the decoder and the wires. The rear light board disintegrated while I was soldering the new LED. Luckily, Kato had still has these boards in stock. Solder the TCS M-1 decoder to the motor and the brass strips that get the power from the trucks, and test. Connect the LED's and test again. Finally program the locomotive number. Then after running for a while the front LED burned out. Took the loco apart again, and found that the decoder has a problem and was putting out 13 volts on the pins to the LED. The decoder was sent back to TCS. The great folks at TCS sent me one right back.

Completed Walthers SW9

August - Port module work

The second crane track has be set and is parallel to the first one. All of the tracks are now wired and tested.

Found the paint color that I like the best for the large concrete area – Testor's Model Master light sea gray. Started to cut and paint styrene for the concrete. The styrene did not turn out as I wanted. Now, this area will be covered with light weight spackle and then painted with the light sea gray.

Starting to "concrete" the dock area

Storage track painted and ballasted

The two yard tracks were painted with Krylon camo brown from a rattle can. Then tops of the rails were quickly wiped off with a paper towel wrapped around a small piece of wood. This picked up all of the paint on the top of the rails. This is a much simpler process than air brushing or using markers. The tracks have been ballasted and the yellow painted bumpers installed at the end of the tracks.

The piling walls for the port area have been built. Over 300 Evergreen strips were glued to a 1/8" styrene. A scrap brass shape was used to keep the piling spaced evenly. They were painted with rust brown on top and camo brown on the bottom. The water area needs to be sanded and painted.

Piling seawall painted

Piling walls prior to painting

Building the piling wall

August - Neodymium magnets for uncoupling

I have never liked the looks of the between the rails Kadee magnets. In my last layout, I used one of the Kadee electromagnetic uncouplers, and did not like it either.

I have experimented with using neodymium magnets for uncoupling. Getting them aligned properly took some experimenting - North facing up on one side of the track, and South facing up on the other side. Three magnetics works great, four show no extra benefits. The trip pins must be aligned correctly for this to work. The magnets should be easy to cover with some fine ground ballast.

Kadee uncoupling magnets

Neodymium magnets

Uncoupling video

July - Barge Port Module

The wood work for the barge port module has been completed. Two of the three tracks are glued down in the recess so that the tops will be just slightly above the concrete.

Basic wiring is in place, and the motor and threaded rod are aligned and working. Micro switches have been added to stop the travel if the operator is not paying attention. The D13SR decoder has been programed to drive the motor at a constant speed. Wiring has been check at each step. The first run was completed with the trackmobile.

The motor and threaded rod

Basic structure and wiring

Wiring check

Hull for the heavy lift ship has arrived

June - Barge Port Module

Started laying out and building the barge port module. The left side will be the barge slip with the overhead crane, and the right side will have a four track yard. This has been cut down to two tracks, and the module's width will be smaller.

In the first photo, the two sets of rails are for the overhead crane and the single track is for the loaded Schnabel and flat cars. The barge slip will be where tape measure is sitting. The second photo shows after the cutting and routing for the tracks. All of the routed out areas will use girder rails instead of normal track.

Tracks laid out

After the wood working

June - Soldering Track

I completed my first segment of custom track. I am using girder rail for the track buried in the concrete. Girder rail is usually used on trolley layouts, where the track is in the street. Soldering the girder rail to the PCB ties is not as hard as I thought, but keeping the rails straight is hard.

End view

Soldered track

Girder rail profile

May - Linear motor

Never liked the wobble with the servo set up. Found a geared motor at Servocity, and the associated mounting hardware. This motor is geared to 51 RPM's, but will be able to vary the speed with DCC.

Linear Motor