Monday, May 28, 2012

Car Float Roster Information

From April 1957 Erie Magazine
I [re]found a site about shipbuilding while searching for car float numbers for the Erie. has an extensive listing of where and when ships were built at major yards around the United States. In particular, I found under Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and New York Shipbuilding Company listings for several car floats for the railroads serving the Port of New York and New Jersey.

In particular, the Erie had several floats built by NY Shipbuilding: 4429, 4529 in 1929(plus two other unnumbered) and 5048, 5148 in 1948 (see the numbering pattern?). The Erie had no car floats built at Federal, but several other railroads did. The Pennsylvania had numerous car floats built by both companies. I wonder if they ended up leasing some of them to other railroads, or if their volume was really so much larger than everyone else?

Also listed are barges, dredges, cargo ships, etc. -anything that floated and was built there seems to be on the record. Of note are the large number of military craft constructed during WWII. Landing craft, destroyers, cruisers, battleships and aircraft carriers are all represented. Makes for an interesting browse.Through the main page there is a huge collection of information on all types of ship building activities including current news updated very frequently.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Desk Cleaning = Project Progress?

In order to clean off my work bench, I had to finish a couple of projects. Usually one will say that other way 'round, but this week my goal is actually to clean my work area and the progress on any models is only beneficial collateral at this point.

The projects in question are two Erie paint and decal jobs. The first is an Erie scale test car kit from Walthers that is no longer available. I found this one on eBay for pretty cheap after letting several go to much higher bids than I finally got this one for. I then ordered the decals from Prime Mover Decals, and Paul sent out this plus another set of HBS 44 tonner decals for no. 700 that is already painted. The kit went together easily, and the decals went on really well. I used number 03440 which matched the style of the Walthers kit dead on (the only thing missing is a small sign board on the railing on the brake end of the car which I can easily add). I happen to have photos of two of the Erie fleet. You will notice that 03441 is of different design, and weighs only 62,000 lbs versus the 80,000 of 03440. '41 seems older, and the notes that Paul provides indicate that '03440 and '03443 were built in 1934 and were the newest for the railroad. He also notes that the wheel bearing style is different - but I can't make out what it is at this point. This can wait until it is shopped again, and I will add the signboard to the railing, too. Kadee no.5s seem to work well - I just need to weather them and paint the red around the couplers.

The Prototype

Older version? test car.
The other project is the painting and decaling of the JJLModels HH660 which is a Proto 2000 S2 epoxy resin modification kit. The only hiccup was my hood was a little bent on the end, but I've managed to almost completely straighten it out just using some heat from a soldering iron. The decals are old Champ brand, and I tore the first regular Roman "ERIE" I tried to apply - it just disintegrated - so I had to go to the alternate extended typeface which seems to match the photo I have of no. 302 at the floats at Jersey City. That was lucky.

It is a tight fit for the QSI sound decoder - 10 lbs of you know what in a 5 gallon locomotive. It is still glossy from the decal process, but the Dullcoat is on the way. The sound is great, and it is a good performer, and it is officially in the rotation for Harlem Station. Other locomotives currently in the rotation are nos.514, 529 and 417. Not all are weathered, but they are all sound equipped, which is my baseline criteria. Weathering will happen in a group sometime in the future.

None of these locomotives actually served at Harlem Station. I'm working on the ones that actually did: no.20 , a boxcab that I need to re-motor and/or just install a decoder, no.26, the now infamous Bachmann 44tonner that I can't get to play nice with either a LokSound micro or Micro Tsunami, and no.320, a Proto 2K S1 that needs to be renumbered and decoder-ized.

And situation normal, I haven't cleaned off my work bench, yet, which was my goal this week. Funny how other stuff always gets done before what is on my list. I find it hard to complain today, though, because I'm going to go fire up the HH660 and bang some cars around the harbor front at 149th St.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Brief History of NY Railroad Marine Activities

Thought I'd share a short article on the NY Harbor marine activities. Published in Block Line Vol 13, No 10, Oct 1986, this is a personal overview of the decline of marine operations. Not a lot of information in here, but there is an interesting timeline from 1941-1977 that includes a note for October 3, 1962, "Fog cancels CNJ and E-L ferry service", and other more useful items like mergers, bridge openings, etc. Click on images to enlarge.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

HBS No.500 Submitted for Printing

The SketchUp! model of the boxcab. After modeling (and correcting, and re-correcting) the file was exported to a Collada file (.DAE). I believe this option is only available in the Pro version of SketchUp! I modeled just the basic shape - I will add the details using brass, styrene, etc. after printing.

I've made the second step towards scratch building the Hoboken Shore no.500 GE/IR boxcab. I sent off the model to Shapeways for 3D printing in a flexible and strong plastic. It took a few attempts to get the model accepted because of wall thickness at a couple of spots on the model. The printer's "resolution" only allows for wall thicknesses .7mm or greater. The rounded roof was originally thinner, but hopefully the printed model won't suffer for being a few tenths of a millimeter thicker than I intended. My latest build is in for manufacturing, and I could still get errors returned from the shop when they actually try to print. If all goes well, I should receive it in a couple of weeks.

I worked off of pictures from the excellent website, the Benjamin L. Bernhart book Hoboken Shore Railroad, and Train Shed Cyclopedia No. 43.

From Benjamin L. Bernhart's excellent reference book Hoboken Shore Railroad, 2006

For the details, I plan to model in AutoCad and print on a Makerbot Industries Thing-o-Matic 3D printer. I might need to use Shapeways again if the detail doesn't come out as well as I want with the Makerbot, as Shapeways offers finer grade plastics as well as metal laser sintering in stainless steel or alumide which may yield better results in some cases. I've seen N scale side frames 3D printed to good results, but I'll check if there are any ready-mades that are close. Railings and such will be wire, and I'm thinking the Archer rail car rivet decals for, well, the rivets.

The model after being uploaded to Shapeways.
The plan is to use Northwest Short Lines Stanton drive(s?) to power this 300 h.p. baby boxcab. Choosing a decoder will be interesting, as no one has recorded sounds from a prototype, yet. There is some discussion about which sounds that are available are closest, but it boils down to a normally aspirated 1st generation engine: a Baldwin 608 Na, although I will have some Baldwin switchers in the Erie yards already, or maybe a Galloping Goose is more in the appropriate horsepower range? :)

Any ideas are welcome, as always.

Friday, May 11, 2012

More Collateral Railroading Activities

The 2012 Port of New York Railroad Mug

In honor of the 1000th page read here at the PoNYRR blog (yea! and thanks for the interest!), I have created a 2012 Port of New York Railroad mug in my Zazzle store. Featuring logos from the railroads I intend to model in some form or fashion on the layout as well as one of the photos from my collection of Erie no.26 44-tonner. I've got a couple of mugs on the way, and I will let you know how they turn out.

On related news, it is summer and there may actually be some modeling that happens over the course of the next few months. I am finishing up a scale test car and locomotive decal projects, as well as some experiments with the Stanton Drive. Please give a shout out if you are working with a Stanton already - there isn't much written on it, yet. I will either re-power a 44-tonner or a Roundhouse boxcab. I might even scratch build a boxcab from the 3D model I have been working on.

My hope is that the Stantons draw less than .5 amp so that I can use my Micro Tsunami and mini LokSound decoders, which so far haven't worked in anything I've installed them in. The irony could be that with the Stanton motors under the chassis, I could use regular size decoders and wouldn't need the micros in those units. Oh, well.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Builder's Card no.520

"BUILT FOR THE ERIE" Builder's card photo of Erie no.520 hot off the assembly line in June of 1949.

I just received my latest photo find, a builder's card photo of Erie no.520. While I originally got this to add to my photo collection, this rekindled an idea about creating a photo roster inventory system for the layout.

Reverse side of 8" x 3" builder's card. Great information about the locomotive.

This idea is far from original. I have seen similar ideas for car cards as a means of visual identification, and even one of my favored vendors, Centerpiece Rolling Stock ships a small builder's photo with each finely weathered and detailed item they sell. It is a nice touch, and the idea could be extended to a maintenance card system.

Approximately 3-1/4" x 2-1/2" builder's photo from Centerpiece Rolling Stock. On the back is handwritten, "Custom built for Riley Triggs by Centerpiece Rolling stock".

Several people have inventory applications or even simple spreadsheets that catalog and provide some measure of recording work, origin, price, etc. for locomotives and rolling stock. I use Yard Office at the moment, and it provides the feature to add a photo of your inventory item. By the way, I do like Yard Office, but I am ready for an iPhone app version that I can access while at the hobby shop, local train show, or just surfing for eBay bargains away from my computer. This would allow a quick check to see if I already had one of something (how many times do I wonder if I have that particular road number, or do I already own that unusual flatcar load?) so that my buying is as efficient as possible.

Screen shot of my Yard Office entry for a repainted Bachmann 44 tonner for the Hoboken Shore. Sharp readers will notice that the lower body section (where words "Hoboken Shore Railroad" appear) is mistakenly painted green instead of the prototypical black. This is a hazard of working with distractions around. I've already purchased another set of decals from Paul at Prime Mover Decals, but I'm not going to repaint it until I get the sound decoder working properly!

So yes, there are electronic versions of the builders photo which are very useful, but I wonder if I might prefer a printed version to have at my workbench. The back, instead of the specifications of the prototype item would have space for noting coupler type, wheelsets, trucks, accessories, light bulb, decoder, etc. while leaving room for a maintenance log with date and work performed spaces to fill in.

So why this old school physical form from such a tech guy? During the day I think a lot about the difference between virtual and actual environments and how information is handled in each. I'm very much of a computer and electronic user/proponent, but I am really concerned with appropriate use of virtual information systems, and I spend some effort to think of ways that the gap between our virtual existence and our physical being is made as small as possible. So what about the physical nature of a builder's card makes it desirable over a purely electronic record keeping method? 

The tactility of it is what appeals to me. Scratching a few notes on a piece of card stock with a no.2 pencil just seems like the right thing to do for a hobby that ultimately is all about physical objects and sensations. It may also be more "prototypical" for a 1950s railroad shop to have a file or note card system of keeping track of the essential information on capital investments, but there is just something more engaging about touching a photo card and interacting with it physically that makes the experience more than just the act of keeping a record - it is more real because it involves touching an object and not a keyboard. It may even be more convenient, since it would be in the place where maintenance happens and not at my computer desk a few steps away.

So back to my original find - the AMERICAN LOCOMOTIVE COMPANY S-2 builder's card. The best thing about it is that it is physical. And even more so than a regular photograph, the card stock it is printed on and the information on the back begs for this artifact to be held, explored, used and appreciated. Certainly different than having an image on a computer screen, and that difference is one worth thinking about.