CNR 1 : First revenue run

Here’s one for Chris Mears, who is a big fan of CNR’s 44 Tonners:


(You can also watch this directly on YouTube, where you may be able to enjoy it in larger formats)

As I’ve noted in previous postings about CNR 1, I installed a Soundtraxx TSU-750 decoder and Current Keeper module – and the video demonstrates just how smoothly this combination controls the motor in this unit. I think it sounds pretty impressive, too.

Enjoy if you watch!

Fighting Dirty Rails

The May, 2015 issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine is now online and ready for reading – including an article I submitted on how I use graphite on the rails to improve electrical performance.

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While I certainly didn’t come up with this solution, I’ve been using it for many years and am an enthusiastic advocate. It’s made a huge difference to how well my layout runs.

Click on the image, above to start reading the feature online. To complement this feature, I also produced a short video* to show how I apply the graphite to the rails. Enjoy if you watch!

(*I’m not sure I would’ve called this solution a “miracle”: It’s science, really…)

Don’t get stuck behind the Burro

Reader Ian Maynard asked for a video of the River Raisin Models Model 40 Burro crane in action, now that I’ve added a TCS M1-KA decoder plus KA2 Keep Alive module.

I realized I haven’t posted any videos of the Burro to date – probably because it didn’t run as well as I wanted it to. Since I’ve now improved the performance, it’s time:


(This video may also be watched directly on YouTube, where you may be able to view it in larger formats)

Enjoy if you watch – but be advised: the video runs 2:49, but it’s not what I’d call “action packed”. But then again, neither is conducting maintenance along an almost-gone branch line.

Just be glad you’re not stuck behind the Burro…

Extra 3640 West :: St. Williams


(This video may also be watched directly on YouTube, where you may be able to view it in larger formats)

I’ve written a lot about my RS18 project to describe the modifications, the painting, and the installation of DCC, sound and lighting. This short video pulls it all together, to provide an idea of how this beast performs and sounds on the layout.

Enjoy if you watch it…

Laying track on The Roadshow

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I’ve written many posts on this blog about how I hand-lay track. But if a picture is worth a thousand words than a 38-minute video must be worth about 68,400,000 (at 30 frames per second).

On the latest episode of The Roadshow – which documents the construction of two Free-mo style modules for use with The S Scale Workshop – I demonstrate my track-laying techniques. These are the same techniques I used for my Port Rowan layout.

Click on the image, above, to watch the episode. You need to be a subscriber to TrainMasters TV to see it, but membership is quite reasonable.

Thanks as always to Barry Silverthorn at TrainMasters TV for letting me be a part of his show!

Doodlebug :: The Movie

By popular demand (well – one or two requests), here’s a video of CNR 15815 – my recently-completed gas electric – running as M233 to Port Rowan:


(You may also view this movie directly on YouTube, where you may be able to watch it in larger formats)

The decoder is an ESU/Loksound Select board, loaded with an early GE diesel prime mover – the kind used in the 44-Tonner. While I’m sure a gas-electric sounds different – in the same way that a gasoline-powered automobile sounds different from a diesel automobile – I’m happy with this unit’s “voice”. It burbles appropriately to my ear – and it should be noted that most of the CNR’s self-propelled passenger carriers were diesel-electrics (or “oil-electrics” as the railway called them).

If ESU ever produces a gas-electric sound file, I can simply reload it. Or I can swap out this decoder for one from QSI, which does offer a gas-electric.

The sound escapes from the model primarily through the windows in the baggage doors, which do not have glass installed for this reason.

I’ve reduced the maximum voltage (CV 5) to about half of the available range, with a suitable adjustment to the mid-range voltage (CV 6). I’ve also added a fair bit of momentum to both acceleration (CV 3) and deceleration (CV 4). This unit runs very smoothly at realistic speeds.

Enjoy if you watch the movie, which will take less time than it did to pop the corn in the microwave…

TMTV :: Pierre and I build benchwork

Yep – there’s me again, with Pierre Oliver at the TrainMasters TV studios…

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… and that means the second episode of The Roadshow is now online and available to TrainMasters TV subscribers.

In this episode, Pierre and I build benchwork for my two S scale modules. Okay – truth be told, Pierre does his famous “Benchwork in a Day” magic trick, and I do the Tool-Time equivalent of Vanna White.

Click on the image, above, to find out more – and enjoy if you watch!

Heading for home


(You may also view this directly on YouTube, where you may be able to watch in larger formats)

My friends Pierre Oliver and Jeff Young visited on Thursday night for an operating session and dinner.

The layout had not been run since my last operating session – with Jeff Smith at the end of July – so I was worried that there might be a lot of problems. But fortunately, the problems were relatively few.

Our freight extra had fairly light duties, which was just fine at the end of a summer’s day. CNR mogul Number 80 left Port Rowan with just two cars and a van and looked smart as it rolled sedately through the southern Ontario countryside.

I had a great time – not spoiled by a couple of derailments on the team track switch in Port Rowan (what is it about team track switches?) and a couple of sticky couplers. I will investigate both.

Afterwards, the three of us headed to Harbord House (now with a revamped website) for pints, a meal and a chance to solve the world’s problems – in several scales.

It was interesting to put Pierre (HO scale, freight car enthusiast, operations enthusiast) and Jeff (live steam enthusiast, large scale builder) in the same room and look for common ground. I think we all learned interesting things from each other’s unique perspectives on the hobby.

I need to bring together people from different facets of the hobby more often.

Great to see you both!

While Pierre was here, we took the opportunity to create a fresh drawing of his layout. It’s the first digital version of his layout design, and he’s now posted the plan to his blog.

I’m glad I could help with that. Each of us brings strengths to this hobby and Pierre has certainly helped me on many occasions.