Sunday, December 29, 2019

2R O-scale Southern E7 by Sunset Models Review

Sunset Models/3rd Rail just shipped out their E7 (3.0) project to customers.  The 3.0 is the second run of these models. These were last made something like 7 years ago, so this run comes with improved mechanical features (motor, ball bearings, 2 speakers, etc.) and maybe some other features, but I don't remember since the ad was already pulled from their website. Both the first run and this run came with Southern Railway, though this time they added Black Tuxedo, which I ordered.

I was once again also privileged with the ability to review the artwork for Scott on these and I made several rounds of changes on these to get what you'll see below.  Quite a few items and details were fixed in the artwork, but alas it looks like one or two things fell through. Just a byproduct of dealing with China to have these models made.

I don't have the ability to run the model, but from a paint/detail perspective, this one was hit out of the park. This is the first time I believe Sunset finally produced the correct Nathan M5 horn too.  Too bad this didn't come sooner as a lot of the Southern Models could have used this more accurate horn.  I've heard the dual speakers in the E8's, so these should be equally loud.

The one item I know I instructed 3rd Rail to fix from the artwork that wasn't done was the maintenance foot board along the engineer's side of the E7 was painted black instead of the aluminum stripe color.  Should be an easy fix. Some other desired changes such as the correct fuel tanks and the correct rear light are limitations of the tooling and not an oversight on my part.

Other items I will look to do on my model as I eventually get time:
  1. Repaint the maintenance foot board.
  2. Possibly plate over the Mars Light (lower light) per prototype.
  3. Attempt to 3D Print the Cooling Pipes.
  4. Add the Rear Light per prototype.
  5. Redo the fuel tank/skirting per prototype.
I used more than just these photos, but these are quick prototype reference photos:

And here is my photo essay: (Hi-Res if you click on photos.)

A quick look at the available schemes.

 Generally how the engine is packaged. This photo was after I put it back in the box.

 Another look at the packing materials. The black strip protects the roof and there are separate custom pieces for the ends of the locomotive.

Fireman Side View - 3/4.

Fireman Side View.

Fireman Side View.

Front View.

 Engineer Side View - 3/4.

Engineer Side View.

Side View - Lettering.

Side View - Builder Plate.

 Underbody View.

Overhead View.

Overhead Side View.

Underneath the last hatch with the steam generators, is a switch for adjusting the volume and resetting the QSI Decoder (for 2R models). The roof cover is held in my magnets and comes out relatively easy.

The instruction booklet says the following out how the switch itself works:
Master Volume and Reset Function:
To adjust the master volume of this model, you will find a switch under a hatch just forward of the Steam Generator Panel. Pull up on this hatch as it is held on with magnets. When the switch is in the OFF position, this is NORMAL operation. Set the switch to the ON position with power on the track, and you will begin to hear the horn blow once / second in decreasing volume, then it will cycle to bring the volume higher. The words, “MAX” will sound when you have reached MAXIMUM volume. Once you have the desired volume setting set the switch to OFF.
To RESET the decoder, set the switch to ON-RESET with no power on the track. Apply 10 V to the track and the word “RESET” should be heard. Turn the power OFF, and move the switch to the OFF-RESET position then you can resume normal operation. Do this when you have lost control of the model or it become erratic in it’s behavior.
Rear View - Headlight should be on the left on this.

Rear View.

View of the gear on the roof and the maintenance grabs.

 3rd Rail finally uses a more correct Nathan M5 horn. The dust is courtesy of the NYC air.

 View of the coupler issue I had on the end.

There was some shipping damage it appears. A slightly bent ladder and the Kadee box had to be put back together (the coupler spring was in the box). I fixed that pretty quickly.

One small paint flaw that I will fix down the line.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Bay Ridge Model Railroad Club 2018 Visit Flashback

I mentioned back in February that I visited the club and provided video. I took a ton of photos back around November 30 2018.  Its been about a year, but I remembered I had these photos that I should share.

I was originally trying to write up an article for O Scale Trains to document the club, which was perhaps the first (and perhaps the last) outside 3R club to exist. Below is a draft I was going to use in the article (modified slightly at the end), and then a photo essay of just a few photos of the club.  The article was not accepted since the photos would have shown how hard age and lack of membership had affected the layout.  I never got a chance to go back, help them clean up the layout, and get published.

Well, the club was evicted by the building to be taken down for building renovation sometime around May 2019 and thanks to donations from GoFundMe and the METCA division of the TCA, was transported to the Trolley Museum of NY in Kingston, NY.  The club's Facebook page said work to put it back together would begin Fall 2019, but I don't see any updates.  The equipment survives, as it looks like it was displayed at a few local shows.

Several news outlets got stories in.  One was up above and here is another one and another one. No idea when they may take these down.

Since there is no more club, I think its worth sharing at least a few of the photos to capture this unique layout.  Some photos may show chipped ceiling paint and other deterioration. Well, just keep in mind that only three members remained and they were keeping a 72 year old layout alive. Here's a photo of the guys. I did not take it. Author in the caption.

Adam was the club president and lived in Staten Island.  He was the one who arranged for my visit.

Hank was the newest member, who came from somewhere in Long Island to help out with the club.  He got the trolley line working again.

Arthur lived down the street and used to come down to the club as a child. He became a member and was one of the caretakers over the years.

The original rough draft of an article...might as well put it with this:

While prototypical for modeling the New York City Subway, outside third rail was an early attempt to more realistically model railroads using existing understanding of early 20th century wiring.  Similar to the original Lionel 3-rail track, the middle rail was instead moved to the outside, keeping it easy to build reversing loops and incorporate signaling systems. This also allowed an easy conversion of Lionel 3-rail trains using special pickup shoes, which Lionel even supplied with their scale “700E” NYC Hudson locomotive they sold between 1937 and 1942.

Hidden only minutes away from the Belt Parkway and the Verrazano Bridge, the Bay Ridge Model Railroad Club is a throwback to decades of history and is the oldest and last outside third rail club layout in the US.  Other clubs, such as the Stamford Model Railroad Club in Stamford, CT and the New York Society of Model Engineers in Carlstadt, NJ, also once used outside third rail on their club layouts up until the 1980’s before rebuilding their layouts with more modern 2-rail DC wiring implementations. Other famous outside third rail layouts that were built by individuals rather than clubs, included Frank Ellison’s Delta Lines and John Armstrong’s Canandaigua Southern.
Bob Kretzschmar created the BRMRR Club in 1934 and at that time, they had a shelf layout that was originally located in the basement of Bob’s father’s home. WWII forced the club to abandon operations and in early part of 1947, Bob and Tom Brecht reorganized the club and brought together eight model railroaders.

The club transformed what used to be an apartment gym at an apartment building in Bay Ridge, NY, into a 30’ x 60’ train room around 1947.  The club continues till this day with several dedicated members.  The club had its first annual show in 1949 and even produced a flier specifically for the show, detailing the layout plan, a brief history, and quite a few advertisements of both O and HO model railroad companies long gone. 

The show flier outlined the layout construction method and is a little different from today’s standard methods.  Wood in their day apparently had a lot of warpage issues or was too costly.  They built the majority of the framework using ½”metal pipe along with ¾” angle. The top was 5/8” plywood. For roadbed, they cut up 4’x 8’ sheets into 3.5” strips of beaver board because it was a fraction of the cost of white pine. They cut slots into the strips when they needed to make curves. They used .158 oxidized brass for the rail. The members strived for perfection and to make the railroad run as realistic as possible. 

The club was especially proud that they built their layout with automatic train control (ATC) in that the signaling system automatically controls the trains on the track.  If there is a train 2 blocks ahead, the train will slow 2 blocks prior and then stop at a red signal if it approaches the block prior to the active block ahead.  It will then hold until the block ahead is clear and then given a yellow signal to proceed slowly. The trains can never collide. It is amazing to see this exact same system still in operation today in 2019, 70 years later. It says a lot for how well these men constructed the layout to last.

Interestingly, in a 1952 show flier, the club committee mentions that they have over 12,000 feet of wire under the layout to support not only power, but turnout and signal relays.  A lot of the scenery was made with screening and plaster.  They used the traditional method of painting plaster and adding flocking with glue to complete the scenery.  In an attempt to gain membership, they shared the occupations of the club.  Their club consisted of and I quote “a Wall St. clerk, an elevator repair man, a lathe hand, a NYC Fire man, a NYC Police man, a railroad high-tension man, a printer, an instrument maker, an engineer, and a student.”  They used to meet every second Friday at 8pm for operating night.

One of the newest additions to the layout is the stretch of elevated track from above the main station down and around Oliver Terminal and ends at Shore Road Station.  Several different types of subway cars are modeled, all RTR models made by MTH, and requires a member to bring his MTH DCS command station to run that electrically-isolated section of the layout. 

The club was always looking for new members. The club members used to meet on most Fridays from 1 – 5pm.


82-Photo Essay: (I took like 376.)

 The front entrance of 28 Marine Ave, Brooklyn NY.

The door to the layout in the basement.

 The first thing you'd see when you walked in through the door.

The mountain draws you in with the paperwork.

The sign they used to use to let visitors and the neighborhood know about their trainshows. The irony is, when I first showed up to the layout, I asked a building tenant about the layout to make sure I was in the right place and they had no idea this even existed, lol.

View to the right. The operator booth is in the top right of the picture.

This board was used for the main layout to show train location. This also worked flawlessly. Its a shame not more was known about the creators of this layout other than some show fliers I took photos of and have at the end of this essay. They built some really bulletproof trackwork and electrical systems.

Here's the operators stand.

Looking to the left, where visitors were allowed to go. There would normally be glass in place to keep the layout protected from visitors, which I've seen done at other layouts open to the public as well.

Walking further down to the left, you can see the expansion that club built that some point to extend the layout even further.

Turning the corner, you can see Oliver Terminal, which I imagine is named after the street next to the building. There is a trolley line that goes around the terminal and the elevated subway has its final stop at Shore Rd in the upper left corner.  Technically there is a track that ramps down and connects it to the rest of the Central Connecting Railroad.

This is one of several power boards around the layout.  Unfortunately or fortunately, power was distributed to several panels around the layout. The only way to have gotten the layout up was to turn on power throughout the room and then the operator can run the trains. 

Another power district board.

And another.

And another.

To get around the layout, one would get a dolly and use the layout posts to push/pull around the layout.  Worked relatively well. The layout posts were extremely sturdy.  Another product of the era.

A view from under the layout.  There were clear ways to roller around to get to the various openings and control panels.

Busy folks of the local town station seen past the ramp between the subway and the rest of the CCR.

Road work in the parking lot of the local town station.

The CCR has working automatic block and signaling that still works from the time it was put back in around the late 1940's.  Once all of the power districts were turned on and the operator turns up the throttle, multiple trains could run on the track independently.  The trains would automatically stop at the signals, based on the block in front of them.  If the block in front of them was occupied, they would stop.  Then if two blocks ahead was occupied, the train would run at reduced speed, and then the trains would run full speed if nothing was in front of them.  The lights in the signals would change to match this as well. 

All of this was done with robust relays. There were banks of these all over the place under the layout.  There had to have been miles of wiring too.  You could hear clicking often around the layout if you listened for it. It was the most interesting aspect of the layout and an amazement that they all still worked with little or no maintenance.

A shot of the mountain one saw when they first came in.  4 various tunnel portals.  The one on the right is labeled 1947 on the portal.

 They had narrow gauge on this railroad too.  One industry was logging.

 A view of the cut down forest.

 Another narrow gauge industry in the foreground is a coal trestle.

 A view of the mainline wye that branched off to the layout extension in the background.

 A view of the icing facility, yard, diesel facility, and roundhouse.

 A view towards the layout extension from the diesel facility.

 A view into the diesel facility. I think the dust added some prototypical weathering.

The bottom of one of the many outside third rail engines. You can see the outside third rail pickup shoes on either end of the model along with an insanely large motor.  The background also shows some of the trackwork.

 A visitor's viewpoint into the main portion of the layout. There were a bunch of trolleys lined up.

 Tunnel portal showing 1947 from the other end of the mountain.

The diesel facility, currently blocked by actual projects, that consist mostly of broken GGD passenger cars. (The cars couldnt handle the train jerkiness caused by the block system on the layout.)

Perhaps the must run down part of the layout. The roundhouse.  Clearly I wouldn't have put that in the article, but wanted to capture what was left of the roundhouse and how it was also used as a spot to hold tools to fix things on the layout.

 Nicely done coaling tower and water towers.

A view of the back corner of the layout. For some reason that building was off its foundation, but it shows you the club's system for putting buildings back precisely where they were designed to go.

 A view any visitor could see of the elevator subway and next to one of the main stations on the CCR.

A bit of the town, with the subway going through it in the back. The closed off tunnel I think is supposed to model where the SBK meets the D line on the NYC subway, but I could be mistaken, since the resemblance is not there.

 A view of Oliver Terminal.

 Misc view of the layout from above the mountain.

An interesting view of the double crossover that was over my one of the main stations. I am not sure what this was based upon, but these crossover do exist between most stations on the subway, at least below ground and probably above ground too. Helps bypass trains in distress for whatever reason.

 View towards the main portion of the layout from by the station above.

 Maybe I found the inspiration for the Polar Express color scheme?

A view of the junction from a train proceeding to leave from Oliver Terminal stub station.
Ye Olde Bridge is in the distance.

 Some nice building work, a working signal, and a good view of the craftsmanship of the track.

One of many handbuilt cars, this one lettered for the home road - Bay Shore Central.

A closeup of how a diamond was handbuilt for outside third rail and still in pristine condition some many decades later.

A view looking at a train backing into Oliver Terminal.  The Shore Rd elevated stop (named after a road in Bay Ridge) can be seen in the upper left as well.

A really neat sight to see - a brass steamer (I thought it looked like an NYC H10, but I am not a steam fanatic) strolling through, converted for O3R.

 The express pulling through the station.

A view from Shore Rd subway stop looking out over Oliver Terminal.

 Shore Rd elevated subway stop near Oliver Terminal.

A local freight and an express met under Ye olde bridge. 

Moving back toward the operator's panel, we'll explore some more shots.  I was graced by the operation of three trains.  Here, two of them met.

The image I would have wanted to use on the cover or as the primary article lead in photo.

The Bay Shore Central Local Freight.

 A view back toward the roundhouse.

 One of many Bay Shore Central marked rolling stock.

 A view of the station closest to the operator stand. Very interesting design.

Treasures abound under the layout.  All sorts of interesting, albeit, older doorstop type models.  This brass set of electrics were probably the nicest models I saw that should have been hard at work pulling trains above the tabletops.

Some other interesting locomotives under the tables.

 More piles of rolling stock needing TLC.

I found a copy of the club laws and bylaws. I didn't look into it, but I found it interesting that this was easily found on top of a pile of stuff. Maybe this will give idea to other clubs.

The club was all about showing off their work. Their first show was in 1949. Luckily they had saved their show fliers for history's sake.

 The diagram of the initial layout, which doesn't show the existing extension to Oliver Terminal.

 This was neat. Photos of some of the original club members.

 Interesting ads.

 They also had a 1952 show flier.

 Even more interesting ads.

I recognize some of these old o-scale companies too.  I only wonder if they had sponsored the club in some way or another.

 And one last page of ads.

Here's a shot of the subway entrance closest to the Bay Ridge. I was there for about 4 or so hours and also went to pay a quick visit to see the Verrazano Bridge, which was about a 15 minute walk from the Subway portal.  Winter time means it gets dark early.

Since 95th street is the last stop, they have extra signage (just like at Coney Island) to tell you which train is departing next.  They also have cleaning crews that do some light cleaning in between runs.

The R42's signage inside and the direction this train is headed in Queens. It leave Bay Ridge, heads into Manhattan, and east into Queens.

And I leave this article with a sight I currently see weekly, an R42 interior. I get to see this weekly on R, W, and sometimes even the rare Q train.