Sunday, February 26, 2012

Authentic PoNY Merchandise

Most of my railroad time has been constrained to the keyboard lately (it just works out that way sometimes), so to have some fun, I created an online merchandise store (see the sidebar to the right). New products will be added, but I already have some basic items up for your amusement. You might want to do this for your own model railroad! It is a great way to create the mise en scène of your layout and augment its identity, and it is just fun creating and wearing your own herald!

I've gotten the Olive color t-shirt so far, and it turned out pretty well. The graphic could be a little more vivid, but it probably would have more contrast on a lighter color shirt. Personally I like the softer presentation that this affords so that the graphic isn't too loud since it is large. After a couple of washings, the ink is holding up well and there was only slight shrinkage. The version with the smaller logo should be really nice and sharp on a white t-shirt.

The next order will be the Stone color distressed hats for my wife and me. I'll report back on those when they come in.

Friday, February 24, 2012

That Photo of No.26 I Promised

I finally got the older photo of Erie no.26 scanned (the previous one had merger Erie-Lackawanna herald).

I like the detail of the steel tanks on the walkway. Also note the cloth flap at the front grill - I assume to keep the engine warm on bitter Northeastern nights. There also appears to be a cloth awning to provide some shade to the engineer when he hangs his head out the window. Got some detail projects now.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Norfolk Southern to Recreate Legacy Railroad Paint Schemes

Just got this heads up from friend Gerry Fitzgerald. I'm torn between really liking the idea of seeing the fallen flags as faithful reproductions and wishing it were going to be handled like the very sharp Union Pacific heritage fleet interpretative liveries. This will be lots of fun.

Norfolk Southern to debut heritage fleet
Published: February 16, 2012
NORFOLK, Va. — To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Norfolk & Western/Southern merger in 1982, Norfolk Southern plans to honor many of the railroads that make up the present day NS system. As Union Pacific did a half-decade ago, NS plans to create a fleet of heritage locomotives, though NS’s plans are bigger: 18 units honoring a wide variety of predecessor roads.

The locomotives will be 10 SD70ACes on order from EMD that are being constructed at its Muncie, Ind., plant, and eight ES44ACs from an upcoming order for 25 units from GE. While EMD will paint all 10 heritage units in-house, NS forces will paint the eight GEs. The railroad’s Altoona, Pa., shop will paint five, while the Chattanooga, Tenn., shop will handle three heritage units.

The 18 predecessor railroads selected for heritage paint are:

• Central of Georgia
• Conrail
• Erie
• Erie Lackawanna
• Lehigh Valley (red)
• New Haven (not definite yet)
• New York Central
• Nickel Plate Road
• Norfolk & Western (blue)
• Penn Central
• Pennsylvania (Tuscan Red)
• Pittsburgh & West Virginia
• Reading
• Savannah & Atlanta
• Southern
• Tennessee, Alabama & Georgia
• Virginian
• Wabash

NS plans to recreate the paint schemes as accurately as possible. By contrast, UP used the old railroads’ logos and colors, but created new interpretations on the old liveries.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Erie Radio Rules 1952

I'm very excited to have acquired a copy of the January 24, 1952 revision of the Rules and Instructions for Main Line Radiotelephone Communication for the Erie Railroad Company. It is printed, well actually typed, on a set of stapled 8-1/2x11 paper that was thumb-tacked in the top corners and middle bottom at some point. I can imagine it was in a tower or office on a bulletin board where it was never referenced because there is only one tack hole in each location. I also bet it was hung very straight since it has that bottom tack - which rendered it unusable while on the bulletin board. It is also folded into quarters - maybe it was mailed to the office since there is not enough wear for it to have been stuffed in a pocket in field use. Six pages in all numbered 1-5 with a cover page bearing title and Erie herald.

The content is, as you already can imagine, priceless. After the obligatory general conditions that describe what radio equipment is and how it should be treated, there is a very specific set of OPERATING RULES on how to use the equipment, what are appropriate conversations, how to call an emergency, etc. The meat for me kicks in with the examples of radio protocol including how to identify one's locomotive.

No. 8 in the rule list states,

8. In making calls, employees will sufficiently identify the station from which they are calling and the station they desire to communicate with, for example

"BQ calling Caboose Train NY 98"
"Erie Diesel Train 99 calling Caboose 234"
"Walkie-Talkie Train 100 calling Diesel"

When identifying Diesels by number[,] the unit letter, if any, should be given also; for example, "Diesel 707-A", or, "707-D". Multi-unit diesels are frequently operated in two independent sections and there is a possibility of confusion if "Diesel 707" only is used.

How great is that? This establishes radio protocol for the layout in a few sentences and adds to the flavor of the railroad tremendously. While this is similar to procedures employed on other layouts I operate on, it is different enough that people will be in a different headspace while here just because of the difference in language usage. Modeling this aspect has the advantage of not only clear communication between operators, but it establishes the character of the railroad as much as any locomotive paint job or trackside feature could ever do, and maybe more so because the act of speaking embodies the railroad's character in the person while they are speaking and thinking in this language structure!

In addition there is a set of instructions for how the radiotelephone actually works. The references to "Band A" and "Band B" are important, as well as the fact that when hanging up the handset, it automatically returns to Band A. If I get to the point of creating a radiotelephone system, this sort of information is very valuable - much more so than the purchase price of $3.

Photo of No.19 at New Harlem Freight Station

I recently found a copy of Erie Railfan (vol 1, no. 3, pp 8-9, Summer 1973) that has the second part of an excellent Larry DeYoung article on first generation diesels. Included is this photo (Ed Kelsey) of no.19 at the Harlem Station (149th Street). The building behind it is the office and freight house located on the Exterior Street side of the yard looking E-SE. No.19 was actually the fourth boxcab Erie acquired in 1928 (no.20 was the first in 1926 and nos. 21-22 in 1927).

The photo and article provide some interesting and relevant data for my layout. I now know that no.19 was at Harlem on June 12th, 1949, and that it had its end tiger striping. Cross referencing another photo from the Railroads of New York Harbor 2010 Calendar by George J. Abere, Jr. in April of 1955 shows that the striping is still there, and since it is a color photo, I know the striping is yellow as is the lettering and herald on the sides.

I also have a good reference for the building windows, awning and configuration in '49. I haven't researched this fully, yet, but the building changed over the years, so this adds a piece for nailing down what it looked like if I want to choose a specific year to model it (or perhaps multiple models for different years?)


Also of note is that it looks like the ground is paved with concrete, which is previously unknown information to me. So, I go to and search for "Exterior St and 149th, New York", and I find aerials from 1954 (above) showing the concrete paving. The tracks are also uncovered at this point, and I know from a 1957 photo that the two tracks, along with others) are enclosed by a building. There is also a neat feature that allows you to compare photos side by side with a slider to reveal one or the other photo. I choose 1966 and 1954 to compare (the oldest available), and notice not only the new building, but also maybe some new tracks by the centrally located crane and an elevated I-87 over Exterior St. (below)

So a really good find leads me through a slew of resources to have a better idea of the evolution of the yard. I think I prefer the smaller building without the covered tracks, which means pre-'57 at some point. I may go to 1959 and simply construct the walls of the building with a removable roof for operation, or, better yet, just say it is '59 and not have the building. (Don't tell anyone if I end up doing that.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

MFSE-15 (aka GP-7)

No.1230 was one of 52 EMD GP-7s built by General Motors for Erie, and it rolled off the assembly line in February of 1952 along with 1228 and 1229. (Erie Power, Westing and Staufer, p440, 1970). Sporting 1500 hp and a great 'utility fielder' of the iron road, the GP-7 (or "Geep" 7) could run at speed for months on end, but it could not "lug-it" like the Baldwins could. The twin headlight was found on all of the Erie GP-7s after the first two, 1200 and 1201, which both had one big headlight.