Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The FRED in action on the CP Rail M & M Sub.
Since I model the mid-1990s, I can’t have cabooses at the end of trains. In the era I model, the last car in a train carries a Flashing Rear End Device, or FRED.
A FRED relays information to the locomotive about things like air brake pressure. It also carries a flashing red light to let other trains know there is a train up ahead.
I don’t have FREDs on all of my trains. This is because the consists of the trains change from session to session—I can’t always have the same FRED-equipped car at the end of every train. But that’s not the case for my doublestack train, which never varies. For that train, I installed a FRED in one car that always brings up the rear.
My FRED came from Circuitron. It is a completely self-contained unit, with battery and on-off switch.
Installing the FRED in a well car is dead easy—no drilling required. The double-sided tape makes it easy to affix to the bottom. The hardest thing was cutting a hole in the bottom of one container to cover up the FRED. And even that wasn’t difficult—a few holes made with a drill, followed by an X-acto blade, did the job.
To activate the FRED, I simply lift off the container and press the on-off switch—the process is the same to turn it off.
Now when the doublestack train rolls across the layout, it looks like it belongs in the mid-1990s.
You can see the doublestack train in action on the CP Rail Manitoba and Minnesota Sub. on YouTube, and see a bit of the FRED in action, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxQue1UGAqM&feature=related
A photo showing how easy it is
to install a FRED in a well car.
Friday, September 25, 2009
They make railfans feel welcome along
the Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Division.
In mid-September, this prairie boy got to go railfanning in southwest Pennsylvania--Horseshoe Curve, to be precise, along with places like Altoona and the Galliztin Tunnels.
A few observations: First, when you come from the prairies, where you can see trains for miles, it's a bit of a suprise to be able to see only a short bit of track while you are waiting for a train. No lights in the distance to let you know a train is coming--it just appears from around a curve.
Second, the communities in that area along the Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Division sure know how to reach out to railfans! They've created a railfan trail, with well-marked signs, to help you drive from one place to another. That, plus building comfortable overlooks and places to watch trains, makes it a very enjoyable experience.
Last, the trains are very accessible. You can easily get close for some great train-watching and photography without ever leaving public property. The tracks run right through towns, or alongside main roads.
The day I went was supposed to be fine, but it turned out to be overcast and rainy. This made photography harder but, then again, I'm not a great photographer, so who am I trying to kid? Below find a few photos from the trip; a photo diary of the Norfolk Southern portion of my visit can be found on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9TiBC1FT28
A Norfolk Southern train traverses
A freight train exits Altoona.
About to pass under the overlook at Cassandra.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Modelling the mid-1990s gives me a chance to model a varied assortment of power on the CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Subdivision. This includes three unique units of U.S. ancestry that found their way to CP Rail.
First up is SD40-2 5417, (ex-KCS 672) which was acquired by the railway in 1992. To make it, I followed the example of the prototype. I bought a KCS unit (Athearn blue box), and proceeded to remove the KCS lettering and numbers.
I then masked the area below the cab windows and gave it a patch of primer, after which I added the numbers. CP Rail lettering was also applied to the body. Photos of the prototype can be found at http://www.trainweb.org/galt-stn/cproster/locomotive/5400s/cp5417.htm
Next up is SD40-2 5422 (ex-MP 3164, ex-UP 4164). Once again, I followed the prototype by purchasing an Union Pacific unit (once again, an Athearn blue box).
I removed the Union Pacific lettering and numbers and replaced it with CP Rail lettering and numbers. Photos of the prototype can be found at http://www.trainweb.org/galt-stn/cproster/locomotive/5400s/cp5422.htm
Finally, we have SD40-2 5480. This unit was built as Southern 3249 in 1975, then became NS 3249, then GATX 3249 before being sold to CP Rail in 1992. In this case, I didn't do any of the work on this unit.
I bought it from friend Marty Weeks, who added the high nose to the unit; it was painted and decaled by another model railroad friend, David Enns. Prototype photos can be found at http://www.trainweb.org/galt-stn/cproster/locomotive/5400s/cp5480.htm
I'm nothing special when it comes to modelling. But having these three units on the roster adds a bit of variety to the layout, and often prompts visitors to ask whether there really was a prototype. Plus, they were fun to make.