California North Eastern Reborn (FINALLY!)

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by CCT70, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

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    Old Railroad gets new lease on life

    Date: Sunday, Decmber 2, 2007
    Mood: ECSTATIC!
    Music: Pink Floyd "Echoes"
    Progress: Garage (Train room) work session
    No visible progress to layout *yet*​

    Well, after about 7 years of being crated up in storage (part of it in my sisters garage where her pets pretty near destroyed the structures, scenery (save for the ballast and ground cover) and a lot of the wiring, my layout is finally in a new home and is being resurrected. It's only taken me 7 years, but, thanks to the generous offer that I couldn't refuse by my best friend and his daughter, it's now finally in a location I feel safe enough to call "HOME" for the old layout.

    My layout was featured in the September 1997 Model Railroader Magazine and was a gorgeous layout when I bought it from a local club. I saw an article in the back of the magazine stating that it was for sale, and since I was working for Amtrak at the time and had the space and money for a layout I didn't have the time to build one as I was working the extra board at the time. (Isn't it always one of the three or a combination thereof that halts layout progress??). I called the club, was offered the layout at a price I could NOT believe, and immediately jumped on it. I opted to take it sans CMRI signal system, as I had no interest in even owning a computer at the time, but it was now mine and I had a spare bedroom set up for it. After my ex and I split (Thanks Amtrak!), I moved in with my sister and we shared a 4 bedroom house and the layout had its own train room. I had my ideal train room, something I always wanted and enjoyed it for a few years. Then my infant nephew died and after trying to help her and her husband through it, it became obvious that they needed their space and privacy more than anything and so I moved into an apartment, the layout went into storage, first in their garage (where it got near ruined by their OAF of a dog) and then into a rented garage in my apartment complex here. It has sat for 7 years now and late last week David and "Nipplehead" came over in David's truck and moved it over to David's garage. I had hoped to uncrate it and get it reassembled this afternoon, but got a REALLY late start after our Gunfighter teams Christmas party last night (Yeah, I think we ALL drank a little *too* much) and then by the time I got across town to David's house, he still felt kind of crappy, and his brother had not yet had the time to wire up the 220V for the new air compressor (Yay! I finally get to build my spray booth now too! Hadn't painted models in YEARS, and looking to get back into THAT as well). He also hadn't got a chance to hang the new lights yet for the layout, so Dave and I felt it was best to just leave it crated today until Michael can get over to get the electrical done. So, instead, we took an old desk and rebuilt it into a new work bench for the trains and it came out way better than we expected for being an old recycled desk. We were originally going to cut it up since the compressor didn't fit underneath itm, but it does now!

    To say I'm very happy and grateful of David's hospitality (and the understanding of this crazy hobby invading "Man Land" as he calls his garage (You oughta see the babe posters and beer advertisements), especially since David has almost zero interest in trains. He does find model railroading pretty fascinating and he's even looking forward to learning how to make trees, paint structures, etc. Especially since I have collected alot of 1880's rolling stock over the years. He tonight exclaimed to his daughter "Hey! Look at MY new Old West train! I think it smokes too!". Hey, he's providing a free home to the layout, so I think he might just find a new 4-4-0 and a set of MDC Coaches under his tree this year. Sure beats the Coal prank I played on him and his daughter both last year.

    I'm going to use this thread to post progress pics and info, but today's day one of the new California North Eastern Railroad. Coming Next: Uncrating the old railroad and surveying the damage. :wave:

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    The Layout as I recieved it:
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    As it Appears Today (12-2-07)

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  2. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

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    Wow, that looks like it was and can still be a great layout! I'm probably guessing that this is what is going throught your mind: "I can rebuilt it, I can make it stronger, faster, more apealing, better..."sign1
  3. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

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    I've always admired this layout ever since that article was published way back when...so please keep us all informed every step of the way. Thanks for sharing!
  4. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

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    Thanks Galen, will do. I plan to go over there after work and see what else I can do to get the place ready for it. I am kind of stuck right now until Michael can get time to do wire the new plugs in the garage and hang the new lights. I do have rugs to put down and I need to finish off the work bench and move tools, trains, etc. over.

    I'll be documenting the progress in photos and posting it all here to this thread. I do have plans to replace most of the structures and have a list of ones I'd like to replace them with, and I'm also assembling the materials to make new trees and shrubbery. I also need to figure out how to make rows of vines for a vineyard up on the hill. Some big changes coming, but first things first, I need to get it uncrated and get a damage asessment done first.
  5. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

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    California North Eastern update 1-4-08

    Time for another update. Work has been keeping me slightly busy and the weather right now really sucks, so I am sitting here right now debating on whether or not to go across town and work on the layout. I’m kind of frustrated right now as I don’t have the dispensable cash to get started on most of the larger projects I would really like to right now anyway. This is always a rough time of year for my business, and with only one upcoming job next week in Utah, any major purchases are going to have to wait until early Spring. What that means for the CNE RR is just more planning and running some trains as well as digging out and servicing rolling stock, and adding vehicles and LPB’s to the layout as well as making some trees here soon. I think I have fixed just about anything I can on the remaining structures, and am assembling a list of structures to purchase and scratchbuild. All in all though, I am enjoying the layout right now, even if I can’t jump in whole hog with renovations just yet. :mrgreen:
    As I mentioned previously, the layout is housed in the garage of my best friend David. He also happens to be my fiance’s ex-husband. Funny how well they get along *now* many years after splitting up. They were just much better friends than they were spouses. They also have a 22 year old daughter together who lives with her Dad and David has always been considered family anyway. However, he has never really had much of an interest in trains, but Alicia, Jessica and I are starting to turn him around, as he called me several times last night while browsing E-bay for new equipment and structures. I think the Model Railroad bug is biting him and Jessica called us last week to inform us that he was actually spotted running trains for a few minutes after work. I wish I had a photo of him in his uniform and gun still on (he’s a cop) running trains because he swears Jessica was making it up. I’m more inclined to believe her than him though. :rolleyes:

    I had also decided to go with Spring of 1962 for the layouts restoration. I really liked the move “American Graffiti” and the hot rod culture of the early 60’s, and that would still allow me to run steam in its VERY last days on a California shortline. Last night though, I sat here for hours debating that decision. I have a BUNCH of very nice Malibu International and Fresh Cherries vehicles that are for the most part, modern day. I like the Walthers traffic signals and the new crossing signals they offer, and especially the crossing signals from Signalogic Systems. http://members.shaw.ca/signalogic/ Pricey, yes, but WOW!! I also went through a phase where I built several nice tractor trailer trucks and they are mostly modeled after local companies rigs, and of course, they are all modern. My steam power is a huge disappointment lately, save for my Bachmann 4-8-4. It runs and looks great, but I can tell it doesn’t much like the one 22” Radius curve I have and it has a heck of a time with the handlaid #4 switches in the yard and the code 55 rail there. It also is a plain Bachmann, not a Spectrum and while I haven’t had any problems with it, I did get it used and had to requarter and repair the drivers (it had the dreaded “Bachmann Driver Disease”) and with 3% grades, I don’t want to run it all the time for that reason alone. My Rivarossi 2-8-4’s are a HUGE disappointment as they can barely pull 5 cars up hill, and the MDC 2-6-0 I have looks great and was expensive, but runs like crap when it DOES decide to run at all. 85% or so of my rolling stock is also modern or pretty close to it, so I decided to just go with modern day short line ops. I would like to have an Atlas SD-24 and Alco S-4 as power (Alicia won’t let me paint her Proto SD-9 since it is Chessie (YUK!) and she loves her engine with the kitty on the sides…sigh…), and I can run my CCT stuff on it too. I need to go DCC and am planning to go with Digitrax unless I hear a lot of negative about it. So far, I’ve only heard good things about Digitrax. I would like to eventually have three throttles, two being radio if that is possible.
    Thanks to Miles, I learned that Busch makes a VERY NICE Vineyard kit, so I plan to get 3 of those and put them up on the hill with workers harvesting wine grapes. http://walthers.com/exec/productinfo/189-1200
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    The cannery at the south end of the railroad is being turned into “Battleview Winery” and the vineyard is going to feature a 180’ radio tower with flashing lights. I do have the passenger station, so I’m not sure what I’ll do about that. I had thought about replacing it with a brand new one (Atlas) painted up to be the local chamber of commerce building, but the one I have has a LOT of figures on it and benches, luggage, etc., so I’m undecided.
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    I’m leaving the water tanks in place as I do plan to run the big Northern in excursion service every once in a while, and the MDC 2-6-0 is going to be parked with a couple of overton cars up on the hill in the north west corner on that stub track while my gunfighter team (www.spiritsoftheoldwest.org) film a movie up there with a camera crew, production vehicles, etc. I also plan to add a few billboards, and other modern touches around town, but a friend of ours came over on Christmas and asked “Why don’t you build your town out towards the tracks and add another street? That’ll give you 3 rows of city structures”. Jimmy’s right, that is a great idea, so I am going to do that as well. The pharmacy is getting spun around and the other three buildings are being replaced.
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    The Main Street will have a Walthers Merchants Row II http://walthers.com/exec/productinfo/933-3029 since I really like those anyway, and a nice gas station. I am thinking of scratching one like Robyn’s Chevron station he did in N Scale. The other side of the block will have http://walthers.com/exec/productinfo/933-2815 lettered as a boutique type clothing store common to small towns and other similar structures to round out that block. The other side of that street against the tracks will be small town houses if I have the room to squeeze them in. Otherwise, It’ll be more commercial structures.
    Also, I need to get to work on GERN Industries Nor-Cal Div.
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    Here are the latest photos of the crap (I mean work) in progress. Not much to show right now, but as soon as business picks up, we’ll be under serious re-construction.
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  6. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

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    HEY! Extremely nice to see your layout coming to life again! :)

    I got some photos of the packing house for you!

    Dimensions are: (L W H) 9-1/8 x 8-3/8 x 4-3/4"

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    Should fit that space you have alocated for it on the siding there! Make sure to use the ruins of the previous packing house as an office for the mine on the other side of the layout! :)
  7. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

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    Oh! BTW, if you ever decide to update the texture on those painted (eww) hills, THIS MATERIAL IS A MUST!!!

    Decomposed Granite (golden yellow in color, it's what 90% of our hills are made from out here!)

    You can buy it at a lanscaping supply place, or a rockery. Home Despot and Lowes don't carry it as it's a regional product.
  8. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

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    I remember that issue. It's interesting to see a connection between this (or any) forum and the physical model railroad press. I think of them as separate worlds.

    The layout seems very 50s-ish. Not in terms of prototype, but in terms of resembling modelling in the 1950s. I still like the plan.
    If I may intrude... I don't think there are any SD24s left operating. An SD9 would be more realistic.
  9. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

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    The SD24's were designed and sold to railroads in mid-1959.
  10. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

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    Well, CCT70 could just make it up that an SD24 survived and is still in service.
  11. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

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    Actually, the hills aren't painted, they are covered in Woodland Scenics ground cover. They were very dusty and dirty in the pics here due to being in storage in the garage for so many years. That begs a question though: Can I re-cover over the current ground cover on the hills with new Woodland Scenics ground cover, or do I need to try to strip the old off? It is cleaner now that I have dusted it off and cleaned it up as best as I could, but it really needs to be re-done.
  12. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

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    If it's attached to the hill snugly, you can put a layer over it. If it's not completely snug, stip the hills with a spatula. and start over, but try out the decomposed granite in the hills first, you'll be suprised how goo it'll look, especially because dirt is below ground cover. ;) That extra added touch of realism and variation.
  13. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

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    Actually, the SD24 was built from 1958 up until 1963. I think Wisconsin Central still has a few. I foudn a photo dated 1999 of one, so there are probably some out there still somewhere.
  14. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

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    Pan-Am (Former Maine Central) has a few SD-24's that ATSF rebuilt into SD-26's still on their roster in daily service.

    I agree with CNWMan though, Mine would just be one that survived and is well taken care of. I can't stand a shortline that lets their engines look like crap. I worked for one that had the most rag tag fleet of Alco's and when I asked (new hire) the boss about why they don't repaint them, his reply was "paint doesn't pull trains". But the other shortline across town IS very image conscious and keeps theirs in NICE shape (I also designed their switcher paint scheme for them). Guess which one keeps atrracting new customers? And I am sure their company image plays a small part in it.
  15. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

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    Here's another seven quick photos of layout progress. I have been working on getting rolling stock tuned for reliable operation and rebuilding locomotives that have been sitting in storage. I'm getting ready to fire up an airbrush for the first time in MANY years and paint that brass WP GP20.

    I have populated the layout with a bunch of Malibu and Fresh Cherries vehicles and adding more figures.

    I placed some temporary telephone poles (Bachmann I think) to get a feel for how I want to lay them out, I have real wooden poles soaking in a solution of black dye and alcohol and bought some Rix armatures to add to them and need to order some Berkshire Junction EZ-line to them once completed. Any ideas what kind of adhesive to use to glue the plastic armatures to the wooden poles? CA isn't cutting it.

    I have started getting my vineyard supplies ready and will start adding those here soon as soon as it all gets here.

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  16. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

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    In photo number 4 above, you can see where the new town will be laid out. Immediately after crossing the tracks, before the gas station, the road will split right and follow the curvature of the tracks and re-connect with the main street near Gern. This will allow me to move the diner to that street (basically flipping it around and moving it to the opposite end of the street) and replacing the general store, hardware store structure (the 3 story brown one) and the gas station with a Walthers Merchant’s Row II (I always LOVED that building), a Boley Fire Station, and a scratchbuilt modern Chevron station on Main street, with a few new Walthers buildings on the street behind, and of course, my diner.
    To make sure everything fit (and I *think* it will), I have made poster board templates for the new structures and will start that here this Spring. The vineyard will come first though, and then making new signs for the cannery (that will become “Sandalwood Cellars” winery) and re-working the quarry into Gern Industries.
  17. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

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    A lot can change in nine years. That SD24, as far as I know, was withdrawn in 2000, the last of her kind.

    But enough of this...
  18. NSSD80MAC

    NSSD80MAC Member

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    When this Layout first appeared in MRR, I always wanted the same layout! This is a Great layout, well Thought, and planned! I loved it since day one, keep us posted!

    Dan T.