Monday, October 19, 2020

Wagons and More Wagons

Two Buffalo Brewing Company wagons are loaded for delivery to the brewery in Sacramento. The lettering and buffalo logo was made from photos of  the prototype wagons. The flat car is a 30-foot scratchbuilt flat with 3D printed trucks.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me to print some decals for him for a structure he was building. He wanted a sign for the building plus a sign to fit a Jordan wagon. I did it for him but it got me thinking about some wagons I wanted to build. In the down times waiting for paint to dry on the San Andreas (, I worked up the artwork for a few wagons for the Stockton area. Of the six wagons, four were lettered for the Buffalo Brewery, a Sacramento establishment popular in my era. In addition, I made up art for two Stockton-based companies.
The Stockton Home Bakery was a going concern at the turn of the century and will continue to be on my railroad.

All of the wagons were built from Jordan Delivery Wagons, both the Light and Standard versions. Two of the finished wagons were destined as loads from the Henderson Wagon Factory in Stockton and went on a flat. The others will occupy the streets of Stockton when I get to the point where there are streets in Stockton.
Another Buffalo wagon, this one delivers ice cut from the high Sierras and store in insulated warehouses for summer use. Crown flour was a common brand in the 1800s and its factory will fit into a small area in Stockton.

 Like all projects, it expanded with more paint-drying time involved in two-tone paint schemes but I like the results and that is the best measure in my mind. Jordan kits are getting scarce and prices are high but, fortunately, there are other companies picking up the slack with laser-cut or 3D printed kits. Berkshire Valley Models have several horse-drawn vehicles in both HO and O scale including drivers and horses.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Another New Locomotive for the S&C


The new locomotive San Andreas sits on the Duck Creek Trestle shortly after arrival.

The past couple of months have been somewhat hectic around the house with little time to work on railroad projects. I have, however, (finally) completed a new locomotive. It is a brass import of unknown manufacture and represents the early class of moguls purchased by the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. Manufactured by Baldwin between 1870 and 1873, the V&T received six identical engines each named for a county or city in the Comstock area. This engine specifically is a model of the first of the run of moguls, the Virginia
     I maintained the look of the prototype including the paint colors but lettered it for the Stockton & Copperopolis as its Number 20, the San Andreas. San Andreas is a small town in the Mother Lode country of California and its citizens would naturally take the S&C for their travels. I installed a Tsunami2-Steam 2 decoder and it makes the engine perform very nicely. What it will be doing I have not yet decided but it will undoubtedly be pulling freight of some sort.
     There may be some who question the shiny newness of my locos. In fact, in my period, when specific engineers were assigned to specific locos, they took a great deal of care of them. This not only applied to passenger engines but freight as well. The following clip from a period newspaper shows what I am talking about.

May 22, 1873 - Gold Hill News

A Handsome Locomotive- The locomotive Esmeralda, attached to a heavy freight train en route for Virginia, to-day halted for a breathing spell at the railroad depot, Gold Hill. With her brasses well burnished and her head lights decorated with wild flowers, she looked as handsome as could be. We don't wonder that Engineer Johnny Elkins is proud of her.

The Esmeralda was one of the sister engines to my engine and was assigned to pull freight trains. My engines, however, don't have the wild flowers. Maybe there's room for more detail?

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

New Motors and a New Buggy

One of my 2-6-0s with the new Minebea motor fitted. The shaft size was even the same as the old Sagami (lower right) so everything pretty much slipped into place. The 15mm square x 18mm long Minebea is at the center. It has a 2.0mm shaft (one-sided only).

The past couple of weeks or so have been a little frustrating for me. To start with, one of my locomotives lost most of its oomph. It could still pull cars but not at the same speed it had previously. After some thinking about the problem, I decided that the old Soundtraxx DSD 090 decoder which had been installed in 1998 had finally reached its lifespan and needed to be changed. It was duly replaced with a new Tsunami2 Steam-2 decoder which did absolutely nothing to cure the problem. More thought and some testing went on and I finally discovered that the motor was getting extraordinarily hot. I removed it and ran a test and it was drawing about .5 amps at 4 volts (normal is about .15 amps and 10 volts. Unfortunately, my stock of Sagami 16x20 motors was depleted. Fortunately, the Repower and Regear group have been talking about some Minebea motors which measured out to be about the same size with similar characteristics. Best of all, they were only about $3.50 each. I ordered a couple and installed it with great results. I haven't run it very much yet (no one to operate with) but I have high hopes.
     I no sooner had gotten that engine done when another similar engine exhibited the same symptoms. I changed both motor and decoder and now have two locos back in service and will probably order a few more of these. 
The new buggy sits on a road in Farmington. Both the horse and driver are figures made by Berkshire Valley. The horse seems to be carrying more heavy-duty harness than would be needed for a small buggy, though.

 Being somewhat tired of locomotive work, I noticed that Berkshire Valley Models ( had a new kit for an HO scale buggy. Since the Jordan buggy has pretty much gone away, I thought I would check this one out. The kit is all laser cut and is easy to assemble. It took me less than two hours to get it all assembled and painted. While I was at it, I purchased one of Berkshire Valley's harnessed horses along with a driver. I was pleased with the results and recommend the kit to any who need a horse-drawn buggy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Union Copper Gets a Shay

The Keystone in its shiny paint a few days after delivery. Let's hope the mining company continues to maintain this finish. Note the construction number of the engine on the sand box.

A long, steep grade leads from the main line down to the Union Copper Company mine in Copperopolis. For some time now, normal locomotives have struggled hauling loaded ore cars up the grade and lowering supply cars down. Now, the mining company has purchased a Shay locomotive fresh from the factory. It will now take over all duties on the mining company spur. Ore destined for the smelter in Stockton will be hauled by the new engine and then Stockton & Copperopolis locomotives will take over and carry the cars down the main line. 

In reality, the new Shay named Keystone for the nearby ravine of that name started out as the pieces to a Model Die Casting Shay kit purchased around 20 years ago. I finally decided to get the thing built. Using a Walker back-dating kit, I installed a new straight boiler with accompanying domes. Northwest Short Line gears were used to upgrade the ones which came with the kit. A Sagami motor completed the drive train. Assembling the Shay mechanism was not particularly difficult but care had to be taken so that the parts will all rotate smoothly. A Soundtraxx Tsunami2 decoder was installed along with a sugar cube speaker.

The painting and lettering scheme was based on builder's photos of various Shays of the 1800's. The number on the sand box is not the engine number but Lima's construction number. Looking at the prototype photos and checking the builder's lists seemed to confirm this supposition. Striping was also based on the prototype photos as was the lettering styles. It was an interesting project and, if you can locate an MDC kit, all the gears and the backdating kit are still available. You'll have to come up with your own motor as the Sagamis are no longer produced.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A Moving Picture Made on the S&C

From the Oakdale Ledger:

The moving picture crew noted in town last week was identified as being from the Edison Motion Picture Studios. They have produced a several-minute long film made entirely on the railroad in the form of a journey from Oakdale to Copperopolis. The Ledger was able to borrow a copy of the film and it is shown below.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Seen at Milton

Special train found on Milton siding which included a photographer specializing in "moving pictures" along with a special car for his team.
From the Stockton Daily Independent

The photographer with his "camera."
Recently, one of the Independent's correspondents was passing through Milton and noticed a special train sitting on a siding. On the pilot of  the locomotive was strange-looking device mounted on a tripod. The mechanic tending the device said that it made pictures which moved. He declined to answer further questions concerned his plans or his employer's name. While this reporter has heard of experiments in such things being conducted in the East, it is unlikely that this questionable endeavor has spread to California.
     Although no more is known, this emblem was found on a several pieces of paper noted in the possession of this crew. More will follow later.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Farmington is Finally Complete

Finally, the town of Farmington is fairly complete. I say fairly because I still need to add figures and more vehicles but the basic structures and scenery are complete enough that I could clean things up run trains again. I started the scenicking about the middle of April and gradually added dirt, grass and the all the other things which make layouts look realistic. Most of the month of May was lost due to some knee problems but other structures and so on were built do it wasn't a loss.
     Here are some photos of the finished scene.

Entering Farmington from the west, the tracks cross the Stockton and Sonora Road. The bulk of the town as to the east of the tracks while warehouses are on the west. The track at the extreme left serves the depot and the team track.
Looking east on the Sonora Road, the news, tobacco and laundry building is at the left while the town store and hotel and straight over the tracks.
Laundry is done outdoors in California due to a lack of rain. This particular laundry is a franchise run by some of the Chinese citizens. Services include washing, ironing and mending.
The Oakdale Road leads south along more businesses running into the residential area at the far right.
Beyond the Corner Saloon is the small residential area followed by the Long and Owen Agricultural store and a wheat warehouse at the far right.
Long and Owen are at the far left while the Farmers' Co-op Warehouse is in the center. The San Joaquin fruit packing company is at the right with the Farmington Winery behind.