Why haven’t you modelled electrics before?

That’s another good question. As I’ve already noted, traction railroading is in my blood. But I’ve never tried my hand at a traction layout.

I’ve owned a fair number of traction models over the years.

Back in the early 1980s, I attempted to scratch-build an O scale freight motor following an article by Bob Hegge. I got the basic frame built, but other priorities in life put the project on the back burner and I eventually disposed of the parts.

Hegge - Box Motor
(Hegge scratchbuilds a box motor: Marshall tries, but doesn’t)

In the late 1980s, I owned a Suydam (HO scale) model of an Illinois Terminal Class C.

Suydam ITS Class C
(I loved watching this model snake through crossovers, and with all-wheel-drive it could pull the plaster off the walls. But the spring belt drive meant it sounded like a coffee grinder.)

Today, I have a collection of Suydam (HO) Pacific Electric equipment, as well as various brass models in O scale. Unfortunately, The HO equipment generally runs really poorly. I know people who have remotored Suydam models with some success, but that’s never been a priority for me – in part because I don’t have an emotional connection to the PE. (Sometimes, when it’s all that’s available, you go with it…)

Some of the O scale equipment came motorized, and runs better. Other pieces were imported without drive trains: It’s up to the modeller to fit a power truck. All of the O scale equipment is huge. Regardless of scale, the equipment I’ve collected spoke to me strongly as pieces but never strongly as the subject for a layout.

The notable exception is a pair of O scale Sacramento Northern GE steeple cabs:
SN Steeple Cabs in O
(I think these are wonderful)

However, whenever I tried designing a suitable Sacramento Northern layout that fit my space, I was never satisfied with the plans I developed. Curves in O scale are just such space eaters. This is even the case with O scale traction – because remember, the SN was a freight-hauling line so a layout would need to accommodate entire trains, not just passenger equipment with radial couplers.

I had never considered 1:64 as a scale for modelling traction – much less for modelling the NS&T. I have known for years that my friend William Flatt had produced S scale kits for some NS&T equipment.

I acquired my first example from William back in 2012 – a kit for a GE steeple cab with parts to build NS&T #20.

A couple of years later, I acquired a Model Railroad Warehouse kit for a Baldwin-Westinghouse Class D motor. This came from a friend who was downsizing – and again, William was implicated: He’d supplied all of the parts to build the kit as NS&T #18.

But these are flat, etched kits – and at the time I didn’t feel my soldering skills were up to the task. So, I acquired them as “someday” models.

More recently, a couple of things have happened that suggest “someday” might be sooner than I thought:

First, my friend Andy Malette and I have been working for more than a year now to brass-bash a pair of Overland brass USRA Light Mikados into CNR S-3-a class 2-8-2s:
CNR 3737
(CNR 3737 – in progress. Pushing my limits and learning new skills)

In the process, I’ve done more milling, turning, and resistance soldering in the past year than I’d done in a lifetime in the hobby before starting this project. I still have a lot to learn – that’s what the Mikado project is really about – but my skills are much better than before, and I feel I can finally tackle my etched traction kits with confidence.

Second, William had decided to downsize his collection of hobby material – including a number of NS&T kits and partially-built models. Earlier this month, I was able to acquire several examples – including freight motors 8, 15, 17, and 19 and passenger car 620.
Freight motors 15 and 19
(Partially-built models of NS&T freight motors)

Willam’s generosity has suddenly made my long-time interest in the NS&T a viable modelling option.

In future posts, I’ll look at each of the models in more detail – including what’s needed to finish them.

3 thoughts on “Why haven’t you modelled electrics before?”

  1. Trevor,

    Your plans to model the NS&T are getting exciting and I’d like to see you dive in and get started in earnest.

    Bob Hegge’s Crooked Mountain fascinated me. Model Railroader would tease us with a few images of Bob’s modeling, but they never featured his entire layout. It was disappointing that they never featured his full layout.

    I’ve always been curious about resistive soldering. Is this where you can isolate a specific area for soldering and control the temperature using different melting points? I’d be interested to know some of the key things you’re learning.

    1. Hi Scott:
      Hegge’s layout – with a track plan – was featured in the October 1977 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine.
      As for the soldering question, the proper term is “resistance soldering”, and it is a system that uses the natural resistance of the metal to an electric current to generate heat. With this type of unit, a grounding clip is attached to the model somewhere, and then a probe is applied to the part to be soldered. The current travels from the probe to the clip, and near the probe it gets hot enough to melt solder.
      Such units generate a lot more heat than a soldering iron or gun, and the heat doesn’t bleed away as quickly into the metal, allowing you to do things like attach a bell to a boiler, for example. It’s also great for sweat-soldering sheets together.
      For really big jobs – for example, for attaching a solid brass air tank – a butane micro-torch is required.

  2. Trevor,

    Your foray into traction, and the deeply rooted desire to model it, nearly parallels mine. Bob Hegge was an influence, as well as some of the other noted traction modelers.

    So here I am at a crossroads, with yet another new layout room, and Marty McGuirk’s mantra from MRP 2000 of “site, scale, subject” still fresh in my thinking. HO, of course, with repowered Suydam models.

    Scott clued me in to what you recently began musing about aloud, and I will be interested to see what develops. Looks as if you a real gem of a prototype to draw from.


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