Tuesday, January 21, 2020

McKeen Motor Car Arrives on the Copperopolis Road

McKeen Number 99 stops at Milton to discharge passengers for the waiting stage to Church's Mineral Springs. The Stanley Mountain Wagon is by Mokelumne River Models.
A new 55-foot McKeen motor car has been seen putting along the tracks east of Stockton. It appears that the railroad's management has seen fit to experiment with yet another motor car. It is anticipated that this car will be used in lieu of a comfortable coach pulled by a reliable steam locomotive. Time will see if the public will accept this new mode of transportation.
   
This view shows the boat-like design of the motor car with a sharp "bow" and rounded "stern."
 In reality, the car is an old Ken Kidder model from the '50s-'60s. I had purchased this car back in the 1990s but the motor/transmission had played out and so the car had been side-tracked  on the shelf until recently. The delay has mostly been due to getting the proper sound from the car. Nobody makes an off-the-shelf McKeen motor car sound so I had to devise one myself. The decoder used was a Loksound model modifed for the new car. I used a Galloping Goose as the basic motor sound. The whistle was recorded by me a couple of years ago in Carson City where the only running McKeen car is kept. The whistle is original as well.
     
The big trouble with the Goose sound is that starting of the Goose is by an electric starter where the McKeen was an air-starting engine, a completely different sound. I solved that problem by splicing out the electric starter and splicing in the air-start sound from an Alco locomotive. The same thing was done with the whistle and the bell. Learning the Loksound programming method was a project but it turns out that it is straight-forward once you learn the program's arrangement.
      Powering of the car is by a Stanton drive which is a very slick way to do the job. The unit has the motor and gearing in one unit with 4-wheel pickup. The wiring is such that the drive can be used for DC or easily rearranged for DCC. Wipers on all of the front truck wheels added to the pickup.The car was painted after the original paint scheme as reproduced by the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
     The motor vehicle shown in one of the photos is a 3D printed model of a Stanley 12-passenger Mountain
The underside of the Stanton Drive showing the electrical 
pickups and gearing. The truck sideframes are glued on
spacers attached to the drive.
Wagon of the same vintage as the McKeen. It is made by Mokelumne River Models (www.mokrivermodels.com) and is a very good reproduction. I highly recommend their products. Lastly, this style of motor car was not made until about 1910. They were used on the Stockton & Copperopolis from that time until around 1920 but, by then, the line was a part of the Southern Pacific. Why have the car on an 1895 railroad? I like McKeens and plan to have a couple or so more eventually. Model Railroading is Fun!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Two Steps Forward and One Back

The new Stanton drive is in and supported by a styrene mount. Behind it is the old open-frame power truck which seemed to be causing the problem. The gear train between the wheels can be seen on the old truck
It has been over two months since my last posting but it has been a busy one for the family this year. Most of October and November was spent out of town on one trip or another (several railroad related). Right after Thanksgiving, I came down with a fairly bad cold or, perhaps, a flu strain. Of course, the normal holiday chaos was thrown in, too. In any case, I have been out of commission until recently.
     In my posting in May (http://sandcrr.blogspot.com/search/label/motor%20car), I described the new Hall-Scott motor car. It ran well until my first operating session, then it locked up and wouldn't move. It turned out the gear train on the power truck had gotten a few grains of ballast in it which locked up the works. That was cleaned out and a small shield made to prevent a future problem. The next operating session showed the car running all right then it started not to. A friend of mine, Keith Robinson, who specializes in decoder installations and I looked at it and determined that the old open-frame motor was emitting some kind of electromagnetic interference which affected the decoder. It was time to change the motor.
     A Stanton drive was ordered from Northwest Short Line and installed in the car. This required a new motor support bracket and some trimming of the drive unit. Now it is back on the road and running well, at least until the next operating session.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Threshing the Wheat

A turn-of-the-century post card advertising Case products gave inspiration to the project
As has been mentioned before in this blog, wheat is the major item shipped by the Stockton & Copperopolis. The prototype ran through huge fields of wheat, all of which had to be harvested and then threshed to separate the grain from the chaff. To be true to the prototype the model S&C had to have at least one threshing scene. 
     
The threshing machine assembled from the Shapeways kit. The wagon is a Jordan farm wagon kit. Decals are custom based on early photos.
This project started by assembling a 3D-printed thresher offered by Desert Canyon Miniatures on the Shapeways website. This kit is fairly complex with numerous small parts. The result, though, is a pretty impressive machine. I painted mine to resemble a Case machine of 1890s vintage. 
   
A Keystone boiler was used with steam cylinder and flywheels taken from parts from the scrapbox.
 The second part of the scene was the portable steam engine which powered the thresher. I adapted a Keystone portable boiler and added a cylinder and flywheel from parts I found in the scrap box. This unit was connected to the thresher by a long leather (brown paper) belt. The reason for the distance from the thresher is the fire hazard. The engine, of course, has a fire and any potential conflagration had to be kept away from the more expensive threshing machine.
     
The complete scene showing both threshing machine and portable engine.
Figures are from Faller.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Last Bridges Are In!


Duck Creek near Farmington Surrounded by wheat fields, this dry wash is spanned by the S&C.
After postponing building them for several years, I finally got busy and finished the last two bridges on the railroad. The first location was the trestle over Duck Creek which was just west of Farmington. Normally, Duck Creek was a dry wash which could be become a rapid stream in the spring rains. Since the S&C is set in the summer, it's mainly a dry wash which is how I modeled it. The trestle was built like the other trestles on the railroad.
No. 204 crosses Mormon Creek just east of Holden. The water is by Magic Water, an excellent two-part epoxy I recommend highly.
     The second location was the bridge/trestle over Mormon Creek. This stream usually has some water in it year around so I wanted to represent that. Most of it is dry, however, and so a long approach trestle was provided over the stream bed. There was a truss bridge over the actual stream bed. Fortunately for me, the truss bridge was 50 feet long which was exactly the size of a bridge I had built years ago for my last railroad in California. When I dismantled that railroad, I kept the bridges and so a 25-year-old bridge now spans the creek on the S&C. As is typical in the this geographic area, plants near a water source tend to be a lot greener than the rest of the surrounding foliage which is the effect I tried to present here.
     Tomorrow is my first operating session following the lightning strike back in June. Everything seems to be working. Tomorrow we will find out.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Lightning Repair and Miscellany


The finished scale test car. These cars were used to calibrate track scales and were moved from place to place by train. They were usually placed as the last car in the train just ahead of the caboose.
Most of the damage done by the lightning strike back in June has now been repaired and it looks like the Copperopolis Road is ready for operation. Last week, though, I found out that both of my staging yards had taken damage by the lightning. One of the yards was easily repaired but the other is still awaiting some new circuit boards which should take care of the problem. If they don't, there are other ways to fix the yard. In any case, I'm having an operating session in a couple of weeks which may end up more of a shakedown.
   
Scale car parts awaiting assembly. Two tungsten weights were installed in the
car to keep it on the track.
While I've been waiting on components and so on, I've managed to do a couple of little projects. My first one was a scale test car. Several weeks ago, I asked the folks on the Early Rail IO Group if anyone had plans and/or photos of nineteenth century scale test cars. One person did and, before I could start a model, my friend, Craig Bisgeier, 3D printed a car from the drawings. Craig was nice enough to furnish me with his parts so I could build my own car. Now I have to build a scale track, scale or scale house and maybe get one of those nifty Boulder Creek Engineering scales.
   
The Case thresher just waits in the field for the harvester to mow down some wheat to thresh. It will eventually be part of a larger threshing scene.
I find that I have a lot of time waiting for glue or paint to dry and building the scale car was no exception. I started on a threshing machine which was a kit on Shapeways. It had a lot of parts but it was a fun project to assemble. I decide that it would be a J.I. Case thresher and lettered it accordingly. It will eventually be part of a threshing scene in one of my wheat fields.
     One other thing which just occurred this weekend was a surprise gift from Tom Teeple. You might remember his Liberty Street module which was featured in the 2012 issue of Great Model Railroads. Tom has moved but he had several wagons which he had assembled over the years which he thought might have a good home on the S&C. Tom is an excellent modeler and these wagons are exquisite. Even a horse-powered thresher was included. Thanks, Tom. They certainly will be used and appreciated.
Most of these wagons started out as a Jordan kit of some sort and were modified into the kind of vehicle Tom wanted.
The odd item at the upper left is the treadmill upon which the horse walks to power the thresher at its right.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Joy of Antique Hunting

A couple of weeks ago, some friends were in town and we went antique hunting in the nearby town of Greenwood. In one of the antique malls, I found a like-new modern reproduction of a wall clock complete with pendulum and "Regulator" lettered across the glass door. I had always entertained the idea of having a fast clock like this in the room adjacent to the railroad so the off-duty crews could easily see the time. The clocks, however, seemed a bit too expensive for me. Since the antique store clock was priced right, I bought it.
      The battery-operated movement  was not the sort to work with my Mike Dodd (mdodd.com) fast clock but I did have an extra one that would. That movement, however, did not have a way to activate the pendulum. Fortunately for me, one was available at Klockit.com which worked directly with my fast clock movement. The new mechanism was mounted inside the clock and connected to an output of the clock controller. Surprisingly, the whole thing ran. Now my crews will be able to tell time in style.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Express Train is Coming!

The complete train of express cars stands at Oakdale awaiting a locomotive.
In the nineteenth century, the U.S. Post Office did not handle parcels, only letters. If you wanted to ship something, your choices were freight (wagon or railroad) or by express. The express companies were many (Wells Fargo, American, Southern, Adams, etc.) and each pretty much handled its own territories. Shipping by express was a little more expensive but your item was insured and did receive better handling than shipping freight. It usually arrived sooner than regular freight service hence the name express. UPS or FedEx would be the equivalent today.
     In the West, Wells Fargo was predominant and either leased space on railroad-owned cars or used its own cars. Railroads pooled express cars over their respective tracks to facilitate the movement of the merchandise. In the string of cars pictured above, four separate railroads are represented, each with its own car representing such a pooling operation.
     The Stockton & Copperopolis car is a brass import of unknown origin. I suspect that it was once part of a Golden Spike set as the car's prototype appears to be very much like the Central Pacific's supply car at Promontory in 1869. I painted it to match my other S&C cars.
The Santa Fe car was scratchbuilt while the Central Pacific car was kitbashed from a Labelle kit.
         The Santa Fe car is modeled after AT&SF drawings depicted in one of the Santa Fe Historical Society's books and also in Model Railroader. Styrene makes up the body while the doors were laser cut. A Model Die Casting passenger car floor is also used. The roof was 3D printed by Eightwheeler Models, a shop in Shapeways.com. It was designed to represent the broken bullnose end roof popular in the 1880s and to fit on an MDC passenger car. The end railings of the car are etched brass from eightwheelermodels.com. They are designed to fit on the MDC floor and include the uncoupling handle for Miller hooks. Central Valley trucks are used.
     The Central Pacific car was based on a CP drawing in the California State Railroad Museum files. The basis of the car is a Labelle baggage car. I relocated the doors to match the CP car and used an MDC roof. While I suspect the car body was more likely painted a Pullman brown, I wanted the contrast of the different railroads and so used green.
Both of these cars were constructed from Westwood parts and Evergreen styrene passenger car siding.
    The MSN Wells Fargo car was built around 20+ years ago used Westwood windows and doors with styrene sides. The MDC roofs and floors were used being modified to fit the sides of the car. The rear car is of similar age and construction and is the rider car for those hearty souls who needed to get somewhere fast and were willing to ride at odd hours to get there.