Wednesday 30 November 2011

What was once old is new again...

The refurbished drop bottom gondola back in service.
A second life...

Peter Mumby showed up the other day for our afternoon kit building session. We are working on the RailroadKITS seed house. Anyhow he had a couple 1960's vintage wooden kits with him in a small box that have seen better days. He thought I could use the bashed up cars as loads for one of my gondolas or as a RR pit site. Peter just could not throw them out. I did not need either but I said I would take a closer look at them later on.

Here is what Peter left behind last week. I had already pulled a few parts off the wooden hopper.
Well I kind of liked the black old time drop bottom gondola. It had some nice lettering on it also. This car probably will not operate on my layout as it is from the 1920-30's era. It would look good though on my HOn30 Maine Two-Footer transfer yard diorama. I was thinking limited details only needed to be added. Being a static model the car did not even have to roll well and probably would not being so light.

The wooden hopper was a mess although it had parts on it the other kit was missing. I decided I could save the gondola...but only if it did not take a lot of time. I gave myself an hour. If it was not ready for repainting and weathering it was out of here. I had some paint jobs planned for that day. I took the brake wheel, rod and chain off the hopper along with the one end panel that the gondola was missing. I cut and glued the new end on, added the chain and wheel. I used an old set of Roundhouse trucks, Kadee  mounting screws and some old Life-Like couplers that are similar to Kadee's. Did not need to waste my good couplers since the car was not going to run anywhere.  The trucks needed a Kadee washer to set the height right. The gondola sides needed some extra glue and support. I used Walther Goo to hold it together. Some stake pockets and stakes were missing, but the hopper had the exact type of pockets and stakes. These were removed and added. The last detail added were new Grandt line stirrups since not all were on the car and the ones still hanging on were tough looking and over scale. I looked at the clock and one hour had expired. I did give it the extra few minutes to get the stirrups added. The total rebuild took 1hr 15 min.

These two photos view the gondola just before painting and after 1hr. 15 mins. in the shop.

I used Floquil grimy black to paint the under body, interior and any area that had new parts added. The rest of the car got a light dusting of grimy black also...just to freshen things up. It toned down the letting a bit and would hide some of the missing areas of lettering. The car looked great by now. The last thing was some chalk weathering, white, rust and earth. I added some Woodland Scenics  mine run coal to hide some of the ugly stuff inside the car near the corners.

Finished model above and below.

On our next modelling work day I showed Peter the finished gondola. He now wants his car back...good luck!

Tuesday 29 November 2011

White River Junction Yard Office Signs

CV roundhouse view between 1963-1967.
Yard Office signs...CV and B&M yards

If your modelling the WRJ yards, you might be thinking of including the yard office buildings of the Central Vermont or Boston and Maine. The CV roundhouse housed  the yard office and posted a sign as seen to the left. This was after the old wooden two floor yard office was closed in the early 1960's. It was located beside the roundhouse and originally was a home. The operator was also stationed in the old yard office until it was closed. The operator was then transferred to the second floor of the roundhouse yard office and later moved to the ground floor.

This fall I stopped by White River Junction and took a look around inside the station. At the north end is the tourist information area. The door was open to the area that once housed the RR museum. The only artifact found inside of interest was the old WRJ yard office sign as seen below in this post. I had not seen this sign at the museum when I last visited and was still open. This was a good time to take a few photos as my record. Once I left I thought it would have been nice to know the dimensions of the sign if used on a model structure at a later date. I stopped by again on my way home and found the room locked. I was in luck, Chris McKinley, known locally as the WRJ yardmaster was track side and has a key. Chris helped me take a few measurements while we visited. I had not seen Chris since the CVRHS convention a year ago. Chris is a true Central Vermont fan...thanks again Chris for your help.

The sign is all wood with a flat weathered black finish. The lettering when looked closely at is actually white although it has a darker dirty silver or very light gold look to it from years of weathering. The sign is two 9 inch boards that are 10ft. 2inch long. There is a 3/4" wooden trim all the way around the sign. Lettering is 6" high with 2" spacing between lines and top and bottom. The W is 6" wide, I is 1" and E is 5" wide.

The Central Vermont yard office sign used on the original wooden yard office building until the early 1960's and now housed in the WRJ station.
Bill Brigham filled me in on how the sign  found a home inside the WRJ station. "The yard office sign was saved by Dexter Cheney when he was a student at VTC in Randolph, Vermont. Dexter took the sign home to New Haven, Ct. after graduation. About three years ago with the Museum still open at the White River Jct. station it seemed appropriate to have the sign in WRJ once again." Today the sign is the only artifact remaining from the museum display.

Well when I started this post I ran into some confusion as it appeared that this sign might have been used on the roundhouse as Bill stated. When I looked at all the photos I could of the old yard office and photos of the roundhouse with an attached sign it seemed that the white sign was the only sign used on the roundhouse and the black sign with white lettering found at the station appeared to have been used only on the CV wooden yard office.

I exchanged e-mails with Jim Murphy who was a CV operator working many of the area stations. He reports never seeing this sign and suggested it may have been used on the Mountain St. B&M yard office south of the station. Well my research took me through photos and books with photos of the B&M yard office at WRJ and the only sign I found was a white one as seen in this post. I included Bill Brigham, CVRHS president in on my search and it was agreed that as far as I know this sign was a CV sign and only used on the old yard office. I do have a letter out to Dexter and if there is any changes in my findings I will let you know. If you are a CVRHS member you will find an updated feature on the yard office with sign drawings and  wooden yard office plans shorty.

B&M Mountain St. two story yard office south of the White River Jct. station. This building is still standing today but in very poor condition and is next to the NECR main line.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Central Vermont Water Columns at WRJ Coal Tower

A closer look at the Prototype...

The two photos appearing in this blog gives you a good look at what the Central Vermont water columns looked like in the 1950's. Located in the CV yard just north of the coaling tower these water columns have a little variation in their appearance. The column between the rails does not appear to have the same flexibility as the other and resembles an older style oil filler spout. I don't have any other details regarding these spouts other than the photos. To construct a model, one spout is a good match for the Tichy water column kit, but if one was to build the other spout a little kit bashing would be required.

Next post we will take a look at the White River Junction yard office signs found on the B&M and CV...George Dutka

Saturday 26 November 2011

New Water Spout at WRJ

Although no steam is present today the water column is still active at White River Junction coaling tower.

Adding a Tichy Water Column...
At the Central Vermont White River Junction coal tower there was two water columns. They were both on the north side of the tower, one between the two tracks running under the tower and one on the outside rail by the roadway. I decided to add one water column to my staging track scene. I used a Tichy Train Group  Kit #8006 which is a copy of the Fairbanks, Morse flexible spout. A commonly see structure at shops and stations.

The kit was very simple to build and cheap at $ I had it together in one evening. There are a lot of little wire rods that need to be attached. These I applied a touch of Walthers Goo which gave me the flexibility to add them all at one time. The instructions are very good and easy to follow. The only addition I made was a short length of chain which is not included. My column is painted Floquil grimy black and the base Floquil concrete. I added some chalk weathering. Rust on the column and black and brown on the base. It was attached with Walthers Goo to the scenery and a few weeds are added. A water spout is a quick and simple detail that adds extra interest to the finished scene.

I published a group of CNR data-packs back in the late 1990's. In DP No. 2 I include a bulletin order that was posted each spring during the1950's as a reminder of birds and their nest building habits. It reads:

"At this time of the year birds are liable to build nests in the water spouts at various points. If these bird nests are flushed into the tender when taking water it could block the strainers in the waterways to  the injectors or water pumps, and could cause a delay or failure.

It is suggested that when taking water, the fireman should, after pulling the spout around, operate the lever sufficiently to open the supply valve enough to flush out any nests that might be in the spout before the same is lowered into the tender. This applies particularly to any spout which might not be used frequently."

The water column is located off to the right of the two tracks leading through the coaling tower as on the prototype. There also was a second column between the tracks just beyond the CV locomotive at WRJ. The Montreal bound CPR passenger train is routed via the Central Vermont main today.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Dealers - Fine Scale Model Railroader Expo 2011

Checking out the Dealers...
The dealer-contest room opened at noon the day I attended the Expo. There actually were two rooms of vendors and a third small room that you could see how a kit was made. This room was called the Kit Factory. It was a rare opportunity to seen first hand how craftsman kits are manufactured. Metal spin casting, resin casting, mold making and laser cutting was demonstrated. The kit makers were busy answering questions when I walked through...not something you would normally see at a show, but it did give me a good insight to what is involved.

Almost all the dealers had finished display models. Some dealers also had part built kits which gives you a good idea what is involved during construction. Along with the structure vendors a good amount of building detail parts was available from vendors such as Northeastern Scale Lumber Co, Tichy, and Sylvan Models to name a few.

When I registered at the front desk I was given a yellow bag loaded with flyer's, booklets, videos and scale rulers. There also were coupons in the bag to get free stuff when visiting the vendors tables. Well some of the freebies had $20 price tags on them. When you finally collected all the goodies up your bag was over half full...think they wanted to leave some room for the kits you buy in the bag. I think there was at least $100 worth of modeling details and kits. I have included a photo of my stash laid out when I got home. The DVD's I received were one from FOS scale Models and the Expo layout tour video of George Sellios - Franklin and South Manchester RR. Registrants all got to visit George's layout at designated scheduled times. Visitors were not allowed to take photos, which was a good thing because that would take away from the experience.  George was at the door to greet you and welcome you in. What a great layout to visit, one of the highlight of my weekend.
HO scale Sheepscot Model Kits built up on display.
more Sheepscot Kits...
Atlantic Scale Modelers O scale boat kit.

 There were a lot of dealers, too many to remember them all. But I do recall the sponsors of this event, BEST, FOS Scale Models, RailroadKITS and Atlantic Scale Modelers. I put my pocket Canon camera to work recording some of the models that interested me. Some I have kits of already and was interested in a few detailed photos to work from. Other photos I took were of models I am considering building and some were just nice kits to look at. Well here is a small selection of what I saw...or as I should call it "the dealers kit premier".

RailroadKITS HO scale wood and plaster gas station kit. This is a very impressive kit. I  found RailroadKITS kit prices to be some of the best at the show. They also had a good selection of cast plaster detail parts.

Sea Port Model Works display module of  boat kits offered. They also have a good selection of boat detail parts. The lighthouse is a kit that will also be offered shorty.

Creative Laser Design big barn model. The prototype of this barn is from Lyndon Center, Vt. It burned down in the 1960's. These kits are  the least detailed but are very well priced and fill the needs of Northern Vermont area structures. I have this model that I plan to build as a foreground structure with a few added details and new roofing slate or tar paper. It will be used to hide the hole through the wall leading to Bellows Falls, Vermont.

BEST Bolinger Edgerly Scale Trains model of the  large green barn that was used for storage in the town of Lincoln, NH. By now you probably know I favor large barns. BEST  has a very nice selection of prototype correct structures that cover all of New England. They also have a nice selection of pewter detail parts and roofing material. I stocked up on the tar paper roofing sheets which was their deal.

Prototype photo for model below located in Massachusetts.

Winchendon Machine Co. a 14" by 6"  building offered by Laser Modeling 3. This building includes interior details such as office furniture, drafting boards and working lighting. The prototype is still standing less than 25 miles away from the show. This is a kit I am seriously thinking of building as a diorama display.

Clinics - Fine Scale Model Railroader Expo 2011

Taking in what I can...

There were a lot of clinics at the Fine Scale Expo and I took in as many of them as I could. I found it hard to choose since there was two going on at all times across the lobby from each other. Once I decide on sitting in on clinics by Dave Frary and Lou Sassi I just got a front row seat in the Lynnfield - Peabody room and spent the morning. Beginning the day was a very interesting backdrop painting clinic by Chris Lyon. He uses only black and yellow which when combined makes some great looking greens. At the end he gave away the backdrop to one luck guy...hope he was not flying home though.

Dave Frary HOn30 Maine two foot modeling I have followed and loved for years. I also have his scenery books which is very helpful. I had to watch his waterways clinic and meet him. He also has a blog that you can check out by looking in my profile for the link. He is way behind blogging but anything he writes is well worth reading. His clinic was very interesting and I learned a new trick for building waterfalls.

Lou Sassi did his clinic on his most recent book which covers modeling businesses and a working farm scene. He brought along one of the modules he used in his book. I had seen this module when I visited Lou when he still lived in New York state. Don Janes who is a good friend with Lou would always plan a visit with Lou when we travel together. So is was nice to catch up with him since he now lives down south.

Lou Sassi module of a working farm.

I missed a lot of good clinics that I would have loved to see but I wanted to check out the contest models, the dealers and George Sellios layout. I actually skipped lunch to get the whole day in and had a very late supper. I got back to the clinics half way through Hal Reynolds photo shop backgrounds. I am not that good with the computer yet but was impressed to see what he has done.
Once again I had a front seat to see the Hayden and Frary Evolution of Maine Narrow Gauge RRing. As a part time Maine Two Footer this was the highlight clinic for me. Two of my favorite authors telling their story. It can't get any better than that. The slide show presentation was great. Was disappointed to hear the C&DR which lived in Dave's basement for years was washed out by a flood that filled his basement to the rafters some years ago. He did mention saving what he could.

Dave Frary is working the computer while  Bob Hayden is looking on at the right of the photo.

This is the original drawing used for the Elk River Ry. that was modeled as a Maine short line in HOn30. Dave mentioned that after years of trying to find a model of an elk to use on the layout...he found out there are no Elk in Maine.

I did take in most of Doug Foscale Waterfront at low tide but by 530 I was starving and off I went. I learned a lot from Doug about the water affects on stone and piers.

That was all I could get in during a busy day. That was only a quarter of the clinics that would run over two days. Maybe at Expo 2012 they will run a few of the same clinics so one can see what one missed this year. Oh well, a great show that was well worth the visit even when I had one day to do it all. Expo 2012 is already in the planning stage and will be in Pennsylvania near the rail museum.

After an hour this is what Chris Lyon has accomplished. He made it look easy.

This is the paint type that is used for the backdrop.
And the winner of the backdrop is....

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Contest Dioramas - Fine Scale Model Railroader Expo 2011

My Favorite Contest Dioramas...

I spent one day (Friday) at the Fine Scale Model Railroader Expo 2011 at Peabody, Mass. and had a great time. This expo was all about structures and the scenes they are used in. Being a Sailor and loving the waterfront I really enjoyed all the Diorama's displayed on the contest table. There clearly was a waterfront theme going on. The boats modeled on the displays were impressive also. I really am not sure why I am not modeling a seaside railroad myself.

I had my pocket Canon A590 (a cheap $120 camera ) with me and got some acceptable  shots considering the lighting was terrible. I think they have the contest room and lighting figured out for next year. While I worked on getting a few shots there were a lot of other guys trying to do the same. With all the flashes going you would have thought a Hollywood star was in that corner. The area was small so I  photographed what I could...some of these I would call my favorites.  All registrants had a chance to vote for their favorites, and the prizes made it well worth entering. Well lets look at my photo.

In this compact waterfront scene there is a lot to view. Oct. 2011

Love the looks of the fishing shacks at different elevations. Oct. 2011
This model was constructed from prototype photos. He did a great job.

This photo and the one below are of the same diorama...a great looking diorama.

Next time I will show you some of the structures the dealers had on display and the clinics I attended....cheers...George Dutka

Saturday 19 November 2011

A Day Railfanning the White River Division

A Railfan's Diary...
This is how your day railfanning on the White River Division might unfold if you were to follow the rails around my layout. A typical day in 1958 would begin in White River Junction around the coal tower checking out what power is around before heading to the station. Today as you arrive you note B&M #1264 has just uncoupling from CV #4928 under the tower and is now running back to the station on the next track over. You watch as the B&M engineer notches the throttle and almost instantly the Alco blows a cloud of smoke out of the exhaust stack as it motors away. The B&M does the shuffling of power as need be. Leaving the engine facility you note the string of milk cars waiting to be picked up off to your right. In the background you can hear that distinctive sound once again and you can see another plume of  smoke which spells more Alco's in town.
Early morning action at the Central Vermont coal tower.
 At White River Junction station you arrive and find Central Vermont RS-3, #3901 almost out of sight lifting the milk cars you saw near the coal tower. These are empties destined for St. Albans. A short time later #3901 arrives with the milk car it had lift along with a CNR baggage car which is spotted for loading at the station platform on the B&M trackage. The CV milk train is put together while you watch and snap a few photos of the train and the station crew loading the baggage car. Your time at the station is cut short as you realize at the other end of the yard the through CV freight is leaving and your plans for the day is to catch it as many times as you can along the line. This can be difficult as the track speed is fast, so you hope it will be making a few stops en route. Off you go trying to beat it to the crossing at West Barre, Vermont.

The CNR baggage car is being loaded on the B&M trackage for lifting later in the day.

Looks like the milk  train is all set to go. Central Vermont RS-3 #3901 is handling the milk traffic to St. Albans today.
West Barre depot is in the Connecticut River valley and not that far down the line from White River Junction. You arrive at the station as most of the train has already passing by. But your in luck as the train slows down for the conductor to picking up the paper work for the lift and set off at Bellows Crossing. You quickly bail out of your car and snap a few photos looking down the track from the crossing at the caboose and station activities. A CNR caboose is being used on the through job today. CV switching at Bellows Crossing is done before arriving in town. This means lists have to be forwarded to West Barre for picking up by train crews. The operator-agent is thankful for this chore as it keeps his job on. There is no siding in town any more but a section crew is still stationed here in the shanty across the track from the station. There are still  a few passengers arriving and departing West Barre with one train each way stopping daily.

Action at West Barre, Vermont can at times seem very busy. But if you don't arrive early enough you will miss it all. It normally all happens in a matter of a few action packed  minutes.
 Bellows Crossing can be a busy railroad town. In years gone by trains would do a little dance, interchanging cars and switching industries in town, all the while trying to stay out of each others way.You can see the Central Vermont, Rutland Ry. and Boston and Maine Ry. in town and on occasion all at the same time.  Today you arrive just as the B&M Montreal bound passenger train is pulling up to the station. On the lead is a pair of F2's wearing that boldly different  blue and white McGinnis scheme. You look down the track and see the CV is doing it's work. You have time to cross the diamond and get a great shot of the passenger train as it departs town. A Kodachrome moment for sure. You head back to the station to get a shot of the Central Vermont regular freight. This is the first time you have gotten a look at the head end and find today leading is Canadian National power. Alco power again, and for the third time today. CNR has send down  a pair of FA-1's, #9403-9407 for use on the regular freight.

The Montreal bound Boston and Maine passenger train arrives at Bellows Crossing slowing down for a station stop.
Bellows Crossing has some great locations one can  position themselves to capture a Kodachrome moment. Having left Boston earlier in the morning, the freshly painted McGinnis scheme F-2's haul a long consist of express, Pullmans and coaches out of town. The  passengers will be having dinner tonight in Montreal.
CNR 9403-9407 handles the regular freight today. This is not a normal stop for a through train but today cars need to be set off. The reefers are always handled on the head end. When switching the reefers are held while doing the work.
Summit station is near by so you decide that on the way to Westminster Center to make a stop. The water tank had not been used since steam was retired. The section shanty is still in use. You get out and take a couple of photos from each side of the structures. The station has been gone for years and no side tracks are in use any more. Well you decide it is time to boot don't want to miss the action at Westminster Center. The Central Vermont local should be there by now.

A quick stop at Summit to photograph the unused water tower. Its days are numbered.
The local mixed train still makes a stop daily at Summit, but not to take on water. One of the local farmers has an arrangement to have his milk picked up at the crossing. There once was a milk platform here  across from the water tank, but after it burned it never was replaced.

Westminster Center is a junction location guarded by a ball signal. The location is out of the way with no station but a make shift sectionman-operator shanty. The only industry is the Borden's creamery and the spur to the marble quarry that is serviced by the Rutland Ry. Your in luck as you arrive, the CV regular freight is held up at the ball signal while the Central Vermont local does it's moves to the creamery. Geeps are normally used on the local and today #4549 is the power. The creamery is pulled and spotted while the freight looks on. It does not take long and the local departs. Once the ball signal is reset the regular freight is on the move again. You decide to give up on chasing the freight and take a look at the Rutland Ry. marble operations not far away. The Rutland use Alcos also and why not watch the display of smoke and noise once again.

At Westminster Center the CV local is about to clear the regular freight and spot a milk car at the Borden's creamery on the spur.
Now that the local is clear the operator sets the ball signal for the through freight to continue. It's not very often that the local holds up the regular freight, but with milk being time sensitive and a connection has to be made at White River Junction with the B&M train to Boston there is no time to spare.

The Marble Spur is not all that long. The Rutland Ry has already cut off the caboose near the section shanty at the end of the causeway. RS-1 #405 has run up to the switch and is backing down the spur to pickup the loaded flats and gondolas of marble blocks and chips. This is good business for the spur since the only other customer these days is the Borden's creamery but it is switched by the CV. It is a lengthy operation so you get your photos and head off for supper.

You arrive at the far side of the causeway and catch this shot with your telephoto lens. The reflection is kind of neat and the fisherman are in just the right spot to include them in your shot. The Rutland caboose is cut off back at the section mans shanty and at the end of the causeway. The RS-1 is running up to the spur switch to lift the loaded marble cars. The quarry is actually just behind the trees in this scene but the creamery is also on the spur making for a long run up and back to service this industry.
Rutland #405 has coupled to the marble loaded flats as you look down the spur.

Once supper is over it is dark but you decide to swing by Westminster Center one more time and check things out. To your surprise there is a B&M freight with a pair of F7's on the head end sitting at the order board You see a headlights in the clear on the other side of the ball signal. The operator is setting the ball so the B&M can proceed towards Boston. You decide to leave your headlights on and see if you can get a shot of the F units. It might just work with the other engines headlight still on and shining down the track. The F's headlight is on also. Click you have your shot and it will be a couple of weeks before they are developed. Boy are you amazed with what you caught on film that night when the slides do arrive...the best Kodak moment of the day.

You have arrived back at Westminster Center after dinner to find the chanting of EMD 567's idling away. Your headlights help to light up the scene as do the B&M F7's headlight and lights from another set of power by the ball signal. You are quick to setup your tripod and snap the last shot of the day.
 When you get home you pull out your slides from a similar trip taken a few years earlier...that would have been in 1952. You think about how thing have changed in a few years. On your last railfan trip you caught mainly steam at the sites you visited today. There seems to be a lot more trackage in the old  slides plus a better choice of  trains to view and chase at the junction points....a slide show from that old trip will have to wait for another day or at least till you get your slide projector bulb replaced...George Dutka