Monday, December 28, 2020

Video Layout Update 09

Hope all had a Merry Christmas - and wish all nothing but the best for 2021!
Just prior to the holidays I posted a layout update video on YouTube. 

Here’s the link:

I’m afraid there’s not a lot of visually exciting things to share - I’ve been spending virtually all my hobby time in the last month or so working on electrical and mechanical items - but I’m happy to report the seemingly never-ending Tortoise install project is almost completed!
I also got an early Christmas present this year in the form of a couple of Athearn CV GP9s. 

It’s likely impossible for folks who model things like the Santa Fe, Conrail, BNSF etc,,, to appreciate how much of a thrill it is to get a complete factory painted locomotive that I don’t have paint/decal etc.. myself!
While I do get to use factory painted CN locomotives from time to time, CV factory painted engines are a comparative rarity. 
It’s happened exactly three times with diesels that I can think of in the past - an Atlas RS-11 (two paint schemes) and an S-2!
Apparently there are some “issues” with the details on the Athearn GP9s - I’m hardly a diesel locomotive expert so you’ll have to ask someone who knows more than I do for a run down on the issues. 
To me, they look like CV GP9s and sound nice - and all I had to do was figure out how to get them out of the packaging! 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

10th Anniversary of this Blog!!!

December 17th (Thursday) marked the 10th anniversary of this blog. In keeping with what has become a blog anniversary tradition, here are a few numbers, going back to December 2012* (first month I actually took notice of these statistics!).

I started this blog to create a diary of sorts that would document the building, rebuilding and operating my home layout. As of today, there's a total of 812,581 unique page views! That's an increase of about 100,000 since last year's anniversary post. It's not as many new views over the course of the 2020 as in prior years.  

While it could be that I'm not as interesting as I think I am, I think there's something else going on. I've noticed a slight decrease in readership/page views in this (and other) model railroad blogs. While there are some model railroad blogs that are quite active, it's telling that they all seem to be blogs that were started 5+ years ago. That tells me those folks started blogging, liked doing it, and have stuck with it. I've also noted the same phenomenon with various message boards, email list and groups.  

But overall, I think a lot of model railroaders who wish to share their efforts with the wider community have shifted towards other platforms - especially Facebook. Although I have a Facebook account, I don't particularly like the Facebook interface. Facebook's very nature means individual posts seem very fleeting - quickly dropping out of sight. Considering one of the main reasons I have maintained this blog is to keep a diary of hobby thoughts and progress of sorts, don't look for a wholesale shift to Facebook anytime soon. 

But even more archaic than blogs are email lists. I do own and maintain a email list that's really geared towards my proto-freelance Southern New England Railway. I actually started that list almost 20 years ago, and once I started this blog a lot of the traffic on that list dried up. Ironically, I started the blog since posting and sharing photos on the yahoo group had become such a pain. That group is still around - there is less traffic than I'd like, but since a few friends whom I like to keep in touch with seem to prefer to stay in touch through the group I keep it going. Actually, the neatest part about that group is the archive of photos of the earlier SNE layouts! (If you're interested in signing up for the email list you can subscribe by sending an email to :

But one area where I plan to continue placing emphasis is on my YouTube channel. You can find my channel by searching YouTube for "CVSNE" or simply clicking the link HERE. I even tried adding a how-to video to the channel - and have plans to do a few more this coming year. 

In what's become somewhat of an anniversary post tradition, here are the top ten all time posts:

Of course, by including the list of Top Ten posts and associated links here all I've done is guaranteed people will click on them, increasing their total views more!! You can find these by entering the title of the post in the search box.

I'm continually surprised, thrilled, and more than a little humbled at how many people follow (and I hope enjoy!)  my various corners of the model railroad internet. 

* There are no stats available for the first year since I didn't include them in the first anniversary post! I also didn't do a "End of 2018" Anniversary post for some reason. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Shifting Priorities


I've been making steady progress on the layout.  As you can see in the lead photo scenery is well along in one area. I was about to dig out the static grass when a shift in priorities has meant the latest progress, while important, is not quite photogenic. 

When I first planned the layout, my goal was to complete major construction  - essentially all track in place and operating, and a base coat of scenery everywhere - in three years. 

In my mind that meant manually thrown turnouts (for example) were acceptable for "Phase 1" - and I may or may not at some point after that magic three year deadline go back and add switch motors, or replace some initial kit buildings with scratchbuilt ones, or replace the stand in Bachmann steamers with finished, sound equipped models. 

But the overriding goal was to get things looking "complete" to the casual visitor in three years. (For the record, the third year anniversary is August 2021, so this isn't a matter of missing a deadline and copping out!). 

Why three years? Because two years seemed like it would be too much effort, and five years sounded too long. You can find more discussion in previous posts "The Design Questions We SHOULD be Asking" and "Think Layout's Lifetime, Not Lifetime Layout."

Since I figured I would power the turnouts, and more importantly, the frogs, at some point as I laid the track I  cut a slot under the points for the throw wire. I also soldered a wire to the underside of each frog. 

Then Covid hit, and the plan to maybe have some initial operating sessions was scrapped. And it became obvious a couple of months ago that our annual Christmas open house for friends and neighbors was also not going to happen. 

Perhaps I should shift gears and focus on getting the planned future "electrical improvements" done now instead of later? Besides, getting the frogs powered would also move the brass engines up on the "to do" list. 

I burned through my initial supply of Tortoises equipping the mainline "loop". I managed to replenish my supply of switch motors, meaning yesterday's layout work session was spent pre-wiring a bunch of Tortoises and the associated toggle switches. These are destined for the paper mill peninsula.  

I also added a DCC circuit breaker (visible in the photo with the pile of pre-wired toggles!) to the paper mill peninsula. And during my lunch break this afternoon I got the Walthers turntable (re)programmed. 

I might even dig the Diamond Scale turntable and NYRS controller out - after all, it's going to be months before anyone comes over!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Richford Branch Extra - Coming and Going - and notes on a side trip to Maine

This pair of Stan Bolton images, that I am sharing courtesy of Stan's good friend George Corey, show a pair of Central Vermont Consolidations (#s 465 and 466) working the daily local through Sheldon Junction, Vt., on an obviously "chilly" February 23, 1957. 

A few of the cars are fairly easy to identify (click on the image to enlarge). 

I'll go first - the lead car in the second image is a Central Vermont 40,000-series boxcar. Typically one of these cars was used to handle LCL on the Richford job. 

A side note:

Almost exactly two years to the day before this image was taken, no. 466 and her sister no. 471 were both sent to the Grand Trunk (NEL). No. 466 made exactly one trip - actually less than one trip - when she experienced mechanical problems on an Island Pond to Portland, ME extra and was promptly returned to the CV.  

No 471 faired much better than her sister on her assignment to Maine. She remained on the GT (NEL) through the end of August 1955 where she made 24 mainline trips, primarily on wayfreights. She even made a half dozen or so trips hauling passenger train no. 16, and spent 36 days as the Lewiston branch engine. 

Obviously the St. Albans shop crew fixed whatever ailed no. 466 and she's steaming pretty well in these shots.