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…

14 thoughts on “Doodlebug :: The Movie

  1. While I never saw one of these in actual operation ( I lived on the Hagersville sub until 1957) I sure appreciate the sounds and action

    • Thanks John.
      I don’t believe these ever ran on my line. But this model will make for a nice change of pace on my layout – and as a “whole train in one unit”, it’ll be a great piece to take along when I participate in the S Scale Workshop exhibition layout.
      Cheers!

  2. Great video. It makes all the work you did on the doodlebug come alive. What with the motion and sound, all that is missing is the smell of spring with all the wildflowers along the right of way and maybe a whiff of gasoline fumes from the doodlebug! Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  3. I would hesitate to post this in most places, but I feel safe here because this is a site where thinking outside the box is encouraged, even if it’s YOUR box!

    I loved following your thinking on the doodlebug and your modifications to it. I enjoyed the video, too.

    But I had to turn the sound off because I couldn’t stand listening to that damn bell for one more second.

    The Grand Panjundrums tell me that I am not a model railroader if I don’t have a fleet of sound-equipped locomotives, but frankly, I don’t want to listen to all that sound all the time. Maybe never, but, okay, maybe on one or two units that get run infrequently like your doodlebug. Perhaps on a mainline run, the prime mover would dominate, but in a switching setting the bell is going to be a lot more prominent than I want to hear. Everyone else’s mileage is probably different and justly so.

    This doesn’t just apply only to your video, of course. I don’t watch a lot of YouTube videos, but many of those I do watch have the same issue. What I find interesting is that this may be an area where prototype practice doesn’t scale.

    I spend a fair bit of the year in a place where I am between a major yard and a mainline. The yard is a mile or is away as the crow flies, and I do hear diesel horns but nothing less. The main line, the C&O eastbound coal line along the James River, is a quarter mile away and very heavily traveled. We hear at the top of the bluff some occasional engine working, but we mostly get the sound of hoppers rattling and wheels hitting the joints in the rails. No bells and no horns because there are no level crossings.

    Perhaps this kind of background railroad sound would please me. But because we Modelers
    do have crossings and stations at distances that are minuscule by prototype standards, prototype sound it’s just too obtrusive for my taste. So far.

    By the way, you do not qualify as a Grand Panjundrum. I don’t think Canadians do Panjundrumism very well.

    • Hi Marshall:
      Interesting comment – and yes, such insights are always welcome here!
      I should add a couple of bits of information, though.
      The run over my layout takes about twice as long as what I presented in my video – and the parts I did not include are locations where no bell or horn work is required. So while it may have felt like a lot of bell-ringing, during an operating session (with only one train on the line at a time), using the bell properly does not feel as excessive as it might have on the video.
      On purpose, I included segments of the run in the video that allowed me to use the bell. These include the level crossing in St. Williams, and while approaching or moving past the station platforms at St. Williams and Port Rowan. The horn is also used at the level crossing, and to alert people on the platform at Port Rowan that the train is approaching (it’s not much of a platform and people can wander too close to the tracks). And my CNR rulebook tells me a single blast of the horn should be sounded when approaching bridges in case there are people on them (I guess they make for tempting perches while fishing).
      I should add that Charlottesville Street is the only level crossing on my layout. Given that I have a mainline of 60-something feet, I don’t think I’ve added too many level crossings – and given that there’s only one train on the line at a time, that means only two occasions during a 75 minute operating session in which one needs to blow for a crossing. Operators actually look forward to their two opportunities to do so.
      I included these segments specifically because the purpose of the video was to show off the newly-finished model, in action: That includes the performance of the drive train and the sound quality of the decoder.
      Finally, in every scene the camera was positioned much closer to the track than an operator’s head would be – and of course the microphone on the camera is automatically adjusting its levels to capture a good recording – so the sound from the decoder is much louder in the video than it is in person. I think you would not be annoyed by the sounds if you visited the layout in person.
      Again, a fair observation and I’m certainly not trying to sell you on any perceived benefits of sound. I think there are many, but I’m happy to agree to disagree on this.
      Cheers!

  4. Hi Trevor,

    Back when I was modeling the EBT I was looking for a sound unit that was close to what a gas electric would sound like. I had found a site that had various steam, diesel and one gas electric sound file which just happened to be from the EBT’s very own Brill unit. I played that clip as I played samples from Sountraxx and found the GE 44 tonner was almost spot on in sound. I picked up a Soundtraxx 44 tonner Tsunami for that unit. Since changing prototypes to the Ma & Pa I’m in the process of installing that Tsunami in my Gem MPA #62 Gas electric. I think you made the right choice. 🙂

    Ted DiIorio

  5. I was a bit amused by the bell comment as I almost complemented you about using restraint on the bell!

    I understand that there are times where the prototype used the bell for various reasons, but I get so tired of fan trip engines (mostly steamers) who are running down the track, bell ringing for NO reason. I really like sound equipped models, but feel that too many people feel that they have to do the Lionel thing and have the sounds going full blast so that a horn sounded in Detroit could be heard in Toronto! Like most good things, they are only good (IMHO) in moderation. I felt your sounds are perfect, at least on the video.

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