Saturday, 24 March 2012

Building Diesels to Sell?

The undec Kato locomotive I bought to model CN 5008 came all the way from England.  I decided to buy some more detail parts from the same guy as he is going back to sea and is selling off some of his stuff.  When it came down to the payment, he made me an offer: I could have them for free (there's over $150 of new parts there) and build him a CN SD40-2W. non dynamic and with a winterization hatch.  He would supply the base model, pay for the needed parts and pay me in detail parts. So that was that, I agreed to it and I'm now building my first diesel for a profit.  Just today, he asked me if I could also build him an SD40U, to which I also agreed.   I never thought I would ever be building locomotives for someone else!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Some Progress

I've made some progress on my SD40-2(W) and SD40.  I've decided to number them 5254 and 5008, respectively.  I was able to successfully swap the non-dynamic brake hatch from the Athearn with the dynamic brake assembly from the Kato.  Since a dash 2 is several feet longer than the first generation SD40, I had to trim one and add shims to the other for that perfect fit.  I added ditch lights to both engines, however, only 5008 will have lighted ones (that is if I can figure out LED wiring)  The "front porch" pilot on the dash 2 is brass and is going to be way too hard to drill tiny holes in with a pin vise. 

5008 has a fully detailed cab with the doors on both the engineman and fireman's sides open,

If you could only change one feature on a locomotive, the headlight and bell location on most Canadian units is a must

Non dynamic brake hatch from the Athearn cut to size.
Cab's painted and numbered, still need to scratchbuild some snowsheilds.

Ditchlights attached to pilot with solder.  That whole assembly is made from Miniatures by Eric brass castings.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

SD40 and SD40-2W on the Bench

Even though I already have two RS-18's, an FP9 A/B set and an M420(W) in progress, I decided to build a pair of SD40's now.  I guess they came along at the right time with a good price.  

The SD40-2(W) is from an old unpowered Athearn Blue Box kit.  Traditionally, I'm not a big fan of the Blue Box or Athearn Ready to Run lines, which in turn have steered me away from the Genesis line, but as far as kitbashing, these Blue Boxes are great.  The paint is easy to remove, they are mostly a generic design and there are many compatible detail parts available for them.  I picked this one up on ebay for $30, shipping in.  The guy told me he too was originally trying to build a -2(W) but he lost interest as it was one of his first builds.  The cab was a Detail Associates job.  I tried to salvage it but it was too far gone.  Most of the Bondo came off the shell when I stripped the paint.  Here's what it looked like the day I got it.

I plan to model 5245, class GF-30N in the zebra stripes paint.  The cab that I am using is a long out of production Canadian Prototype Replicas GMDD Wide Cab kit from a guy on the Diesel Detailer.  Last week I was also able to track down a powered frame from another member on the DD for next to nothing so this locomotive will be powered after all.

The SD40 on the other hand, is a first run undecorated Kato locomotive.  The reason I was specifically looking for a first run model, is the fact that is has the right trucks for a first generation, CN 5xxx GMDD SD40.  I haven't picked out a particular number yet, but it will be between 5008-5099.  I am leaning on painting it in the 1961 scheme, the one with the orange ends, black long/short hood and cab, and a large CN noodle on the long hood.  This one's all the way from England.  I bought it for $40, shipping in, from yet another member on the DD. He was also going to model a -2(W) (seems pretty popular eh?) but changed his mind as he's more of a Norfolk Southern guy.  I'm gonna stick to the standard cab on this one.

The nice part was that I was able to cut out the dynamic brake assembly from the Kato model and use it on the BB model, then stick the non dynamic hatch from the BB model on the Kato.  I've been fairly busy with my courses lately, so between that and waiting for my Miniatures by Eric / Cannon and Company parts to arrive I haven't made much progress.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

C630M`s 2000 & 2006 - Montreal`s Finest

When Bowser announced a run of C630M`s in HO it wasn`t long before I had my name down on the waiting list.  When these engines finally arrived in the mailbox nearly two years later I knew I was looking at my favorite engines.   Not only do they look good but they run great too!  They pull a lot, run quiet and required little change.

CN ordered 44 of the C630M`s from MLW in 1967-68.  They were numbered 2000-2043.  2000-2002 were classified as MR-30a with the remaining 42 units falling into the MR-30b designation.  In 1969 the units were switched from MR-MF, with the "R" designating a road switcher and the "F" signifying a freight locomotive.  The main difference between the two was that the first two units were equipped with dynamic brakes while the others were not.  These "Big M's" were launched under the "Century" line and were similar in design to the ALCO C630.  They rode on Canadian made Dofasco trucks, output 3000HP and featured a V-16, 251E prime mover under the hood.   (

2000 was the first C630M delivered to CN. It was built in 1967, retired in 1999 and sold for scrap.  2026 on the other hand was built in 1968 and retired sometime between 1992 and 1996.  It was also sold for scrap. (

Here are my weathered and detailed versions of these brutes:

The weathering is a custom mix of acrylic paints.  2026 is more heavily weathered that 2000.
The Bowser model, had a third class light above the numberboards, which is correct for other roads but not CN.  I had to file them off, fill the holes and paint the spots.  A little weathering hides any trace.  The horn also had to be painted black.
The only complaint I have with these models are the thin handrails and a few "bends" can be seen.
As mentioned earlier, 2026 didn't have dynamic brakes, so those had to go.  I decided to add the as delivered air filter cover to 2000.  It almost seems wrong to cover those cool square filters CN added but it had to be done to one of the two.  The parts came with the locomotives.
I decided to open 2000's cab windows and place an engineman and conductor on either side.  I guess you could say that's L.K. Main in the engineer's seat.  These happened to be one of his favorite locomotives to operate.

I didn't take any photos of the conductors side for some reason, but handbrake chains were added on the front trucks along with a pair of rerailers behind the cab on the walkway.

All in all I really like these units.  They really added to my existing MLW and GMDD fleet.

Derailment in St John, NB

Sticking with my "Atlantic" theme I'd like to share any relevant railway news with my readers.  

My first new item however, is not on good terms.  Is seems a small CN potash train derailed on an New Brunswick Southern Railway (NBSR) spur on Tuesday.  

Four cars rolled over and a eight other cars went on the ground.  No one was hurt.

Here's the CBC article:

Monday, 5 March 2012

My Layout at a Glance

Five years ago I was visiting my grandparents in Quebec.  My grandfather and one of my uncles had built a small layout in their basement back in the late 70's or early 80's.  After they tore it down (long before my time) my grandfather built an oak display case that mostly had a few engines and some rolling stock in it.  It had hung on the wall for years but this time I decided to ask him about them.  Long story short I winded up with plenty of rolling stock and engines, mostly by Life Like and Bachmann, but even some old Britsh OO Triang-Hornby stuff too.  I also got a dozen buildings and that was about it.  When I got it home I decided to build a layout, which was basically a circle on a 4'x8' sheet of plywood.  As time went on, I constantly changed everything until there were no rements of the original layout left.  I had no knowledge at the time and I eyeballed everything, from grades to turns, and I paid for it.  Most of the mainline corners were either 15" radius sectional track or eyeballed flex track.  As for the grades I really have no idea as they are changed now, but they were certainly more than 5%. 

I had done little planning but there were a few things I knew I wanted for sure.  I wanted several bridges, a bit of a yard, some sort of industry for switching.  Most of all however, I wanted to loosely model Atlantic Canada, particurally the Gaspe region.  We have always had two or three hobby shops on the Island, but by this time they had long since stopped carrying anything related to model railroading.  I quickly learned two things: 1) scratchbuild what I can or use what is available locally and 2) mail order for the rest.  The idea of scratchbuilding has stuck with me ever since and my skills have come a long way.

Hard to see in this shot but the CN F7's and Life Like Amtrak cars are actually sitting in my old yard, a three siding type of deal on a big slope.

Looking north down what was Main Street.  The hand painted lines and cars that are no more than a crudely painted body on wheels certainly add to this shot.
Here's an example of my early scratchbuilding and using what was available.  The ballast was sand with gray primer or small rocks added.  The hopper car loads were made from sand glued to stiff paper painted gray.

I worked on the scenery on and off for a few years, thinking that it would make up for the poor track standards...and boy was I wrong.  Overtime, I began to upgrade my locomotives and old cars and eventually, I ended up retiring all of them.  I now have quite a fleet of CN power, from the smoking MLW's to the old reliable GMDD's. 

Late last summer I decided that I was going  bite the bullet and relay all the track.  I can now say that I am nearly finished, except for the yard leads and the track connecting the tall bridge to the rest of the mainline.  It runs much better now and I am beginning to see my work pay off.

As of tonight, it looks like this:
Forest Lumber Company
Engine Shops, fueling area and yard.  The weathering on the CP cylindrical hopper was one of my first attempts, and its to be touched up eventually.
Overview of the yard, shops and station.  The hole in the middle is so I can reach all areas and is usually covered.
Head on meet at Bedfore Station between two pairs of GMDD GP40-2(W)'s and MLW C630M's.
To sum it all up, it certainly isn't big, and I really wish it was a shelf/walkaround type layout but this is what came out of the limited space and student budget I have.  As I post more, I'll talk about the locomotives, weathering, scratchbuilding and especially lessons I've learned!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Just Another New Blog

I have been interested in railroading for as long as I can remember.  My family's railway history spans three generations on Quebec's Gaspe Peninsula.  I remember many warm summer nights, where my grandfather and I would rush out onto his deck at the first sound of a train horn, just to watch the M420W's, Geeps or even a VIA train polish the rails.  He was a engineman with CN for thirty-nine years.  I only wish the days where the railway was a way of life on the Gaspe had lasted a little longer.  As most of you know, the railway that once saw PEI join Confederation was abandoned in 1989 so I don't get to watch trains very often.

I decided to start this blog, The Mighty Diesel Whine, mostly about model railroading with an Atlantic Canadian flavour. After a bit of thinking I decided on the name, which is actually a line from one of my favorite songs, Southern Pacific, by Neil Young.  I'm good at ranting and rambling, so I hope to talk about HO scale model railroads, with a bit of prototype and miscellaneous information thrown in for good measure.  I call Canada's smallest province, Prince Edward Island my home, for now. 

The odd person may know me as "tjmfishing" from Youtube or The Diesel Detailer.  Anyways, I've rambled on long enough for now.  I hope you enjoy this blog and I look foreword to the adventure,
Highball - Taylor