Feb 262014
 

Here are the slides I used with the clinic on rewiring the early production Kato SD40-2 at the NMRA Thousand Lakes Region Convention in Sioux Falls in May of 2012.  This is meant to fix the electrical pickup problems that the unit has exhibited for so many modelers.  This makes a bulletproof runner out of this already great model.

 

Kato SD40-2

Jan 192014
 
I've removed the cab and short hood section in preparation for attaching the blank hood and high nose.

I’ve removed the cab and short hood section in preparation for attaching the blank hood and high nose.

So, this is going to be my first attempt at a B30-7A.  It has been a long time since I’ve worked on any GE power in my shop.  But GE power was still relevant in the era of BN which I model.    I’m going to do an early B30-7A, the easy version.

The later one requires building a doghouse for the dynamic brakes on the roof of the long hood.

I have started with an Atlas Silver Series B23-7 I got off ebay, which someone so kindly undecorated for me.

Here’s my start.

Jan 082014
 

So here it is…

Family/Housing:
———-
find a church
take Beth on a date at least 6 times.
observe a ‘no TV’ night every week
oversee the construction of our new house

Fitness:
———-
cycle with Beth 20-ish or more miles three or more times in 2014
run a sub-20 minute 5k
strength train at least 30 minutes 2 or 3 days every week.
take a few boxing lessons before beginning boxing related cross training workouts
get a heavy punching bag for our workout room at the new house
Look into cycle trainers  – use our own bikes on a stationary platform that provides [variable] resistance.

Diet:
———-
eat no desserts on nights Beth works.
drink no pop in January and February.

Hobby:
———-
earn 1 new NMRA AP certificate.
learn layout design software e.g. 3rd-Planit or similar
complete an HO Scale B30-7A project (BN 4009)

Comments:
———-
Dialing back my enthusiasm for structured model railroad hobby goals and marathoning.    I’m not saying I’m done with running marathons, I just want to have the time to commit to be sure I can break 4:00.  This year does not look like it will lend itself to that.  Also, treadmill boredom and a lifelong of curiosity have lead me to resolve to explore boxing.   As a late-30 something, this might well be called crazy, but so can be running 26.2 miles.

 

Jan 082014
 

Ugh.  I only did one of these things in 2013.  I knew that this list was a little aggressive when I wrote it, but then when I wrote it, we weren’t expecting twin baby daughters, either.  Not that I blame Twin A and Twin B, or The Boy 2.5 for my failure in these items.  Many of which were and are fully within my control.

So, at least my wife would have said at the in the first half of the year that I was on a great trajectory.

  • Take my wife on a date at least 6 times.   Done.
  • Run a marathon in less than 4 hours.
  • Weigh less than 200 lbs at Marathon start time.
  • Eat no desserts on nights Beth works.
  • Have a photo published in Model Railroader’s Trackside Photos section.
  • Earn at least 2 new NMRA AP certificates.
  • Observe a ‘no TV’ at least one night every week.
  • Find a church.
  • Be able to do 10 pull-ups by July 1 and 20 by Dec 31.
  • Be able to do 40 push ups at one time by Dev 31.
Jan 082014
 
Roof line detail and right side of my HO scale GP10 project.  Most of the small detail parts have been added.  Wiring is complete.  The engine is pretty much ready for decals.

Roof line detail and right side of my HO scale GP10 project. Most of the small detail parts have been added. Wiring is complete. The engine is pretty much ready for decals.

In the introductory post on my GP10 project, I noted that I’d like this project done by October 31.   I didn’t mention what year.  It is well past the date which I originally targeted for completion of this project.  However, those of you that know me know the two little reasons (Twin A and Twin B) for my lack of progress.  The twins are fine and their brother, 2 1/2, is doing fine.  Our life is getting back to the ‘new’ normal.

Any case, I took these pictures on October 6, 2013 and have made progress since then, but I wanted to let you know what has happened with this project leading up to October 6th.

I finished installing most of the detail parts that don’t interfere with masking.  Parts I left off for the time being are the lower grab irons and three pane all-weather window.  Another big task was to install the DCC decoder.   I did a hardwired installation, as this Atlas unit predates DCC ready standards by many years.  I chose a DH163 for its ability to produce rear and forward lights on F0 and a (simulated) rotary beacon on the cab top.  Street price for a Dh163 is about $30.00.

The rotary beacon is functional.  It is lit by the green wire from the Digitrax DH163 installed under the long hood.

The rotary beacon is functional. It is lit by the green wire from the Digitrax DH163 installed under the long hood.

The hardwired installation isn’t at all hard.  Just time consuming.  I removed the factory “board”.  I wired the red wire to the right pickup, black to the left.   An orange and gray wire each to the motor.  I used the white and yellow wires for forward and reverse headlights and the green wire to power the fink light.  I used the blue wire as common for all the wires.  I used Miniatronics 1.5v, 30mA bulbs in all applications here, mainly for their physical dimensions.  I’m always biased toward using LEDs, but in this case, it made sense to use these incandescent bulbs.   The main issue was making sure all those bulbs would be easy to put back into place after painting.

Then it was off to the paint shop, where I shot a coat of BN green (Polly-S) on the body and frame.  I masked using 3M blue painter’s tape and then painted Polly-S engine black on the rest of the model.

A bunch of post-paint work was needed to get the cab to fit down over the main shell and frame correctly.  Remember that this model has been modified, so things didn’t quite fit as expected.    After several permutations of assembly and disassembly and minimal cursing, I got the engine to fit together presentably and functionally.

 

Sep 042013
 

I’m working on a new project a few minutes at a time in the Dakotabranch back shop.

Like the Nose Job project I shared with you this spring, this new unit is based on an old Japan-built HO scale Atlas GP7.

The windshield is a part from DesPlaines Hobbies.

The windshield is a part from DesPlaines Hobbies.

Unlike the TCWR project which has no prototype, this one will be based as closely to BN’s GP10 fleet as is reasonable.
I’ve chosen to use an Atlas unit for this project, mainly for the reliable operation that Atlas diesels are known for.   Also, the handrail stanchions and castings resemble the originals found on the former GN and NP GP7’s that were rebuilt into GP10 units by BN in the 1970’s.

A number of shortcomings exist with the GP7 in using it for a Burlington Northern GP10.  Most notable is the high short hood.  I took my experience from the TCWR project and applied it to this one.    Using a slightly different method, I’m happy with the early results.

The air filter is a details west part, while the winterization hatch is from Cal-Scale.   I could not find a proper very square hatch with a round hole in the top for the fan.

The air filter is a details west part, while the winterization hatch is from Cal-Scale. I could not find a proper very square hatch with a round hole in the top for the fan.

Options exist for addressing this issue, listed from somewhat reasonable to insane:

  • Use Proto 2000 chassis and drive components, with a GP20 fuel tank and air reservoirs.  I’ve owned Proto geeps in the past and know how they run.   I’m not putting a bunch of time into build a GP10 shell to put on a crappy chassis.
  • Mill the Atlas GP7 frame to accept a Proto GP20 fuel tank
  • Re-cast the frame entirely, with a corrected fuel and air tank arrangement

I’ve decided not to do anything about the situation with the fuel and air tanks.   If anybody has a better idea, I’d like to hear about it.

So, as of this writing my progress:

  • Completely disassembled trucks, motor and transmission, and shell
  • Chopped the nose and assmbled or fabricated cab parts: two-piece windshield from DesPlaines Hobbies,   numberboards and headlights, cut from an Athearn Dash-2 cab, filed to profile.
  • Ground off ALL the cast-on detail on the front and rear pilots.
  • Installed 3-cluster MU hoses
  • Installed an anti-climber on the front pilot (is an anti-climber on an early geep bad-ass or what?)
  • Fit a BN GP10 specific air filter housing to the roof.
  • Shaved off grab iron and eyebolt cast-on details and replaced them with #78 holes for wire versions of the same.
  • Removed the previous owner’s decals.  (sorry, I’m a fan of western railroads)

Next steps:

I've ground off all the molded on detail on both pilots and begun replacing it with new super detail parts.

I’ve ground off all the molded on detail on both pilots and begun replacing it with new super detail parts.

  • Install more pilot detail – wire cut levers,couplers
  • Install eyebolts on roof, as appropriate
  • Wash the shell and bare frame to prepare for paint
  • Treat handrails with plastic paint adhesion promoter
  • paint the frame sidesill, handrails and most of the shell green.

All of this work is very slow right now, because I have little time to spare for this project, given my current situation.  But I hope by October 31, I’ll have a finished product.

Sep 042013
 

Those of you that know me have been following the wild ride that Mrs. Dakotabranch and I have been on this summer and early fall.  The end result of this will be very positive.  However, there is some unavoidable short term unpleasantness associated with our situation.

Due to our situation, I’ll be sitting out this year’s Sioux Falls half-marathon.    I never planned to run the whole marathon, but was looking forward to a 13.1, or Harry as some people call it.  Half the distance, twice the fun?

But not when you have the crud in your lungs during the week before the race, as I do right now.  It has been there since 8/22.

That brings me to my next point, which is the importance of keeping a running log.   I use an Excel spreadsheet.  I know some people like to use those fancy-schmancy ones from their Garmin, RunKeeper, iPhone, whatever.   I’ve found that I can enter data about how I feel, how well certain clothing works in the cold weather and info about new shoes.  This spreadsheet helps me recall how long I’ve been under the weather.

This stuff doesn’t plot on a graph well, but it sure is nice to have.  The process of updating it doesn’t become a burden because I’m motivated to see how many miles I’ve got left this month.   So I’m never more than a day or two late putting in run data.

All this in addition to having the benefit of motivating me to run the miles I want to.   Last year was the first year I recorded every run.   I almost made 1,300 miles in 2012.   We’ll see what The Twins have to say about 1,200 in 2013 when they are born.  Right now I’m on pace to easily make that number by new year’s eve.

 

 

May 142013
 

Yes, I did it.   I finished the Brookings Marathon in 4:24:00.   I did not join the DNF list.   I’m not particularly happy with the time, but all things considered, I’m satisfied.   Perhaps best of all, the shirt this year, a technical shirt again, is kind of a pale royal blue with

By the 20th mile or so, I was off pace and busy making up excuses why I didn’t finish in less than 4 hours.

So here goes a couple that I can think of

  • I didn’t sleep well in the week or two leading up to the race.   I’ve been preoccupied with other subjects that have kept me from good sleep.  Nothing that are huge worries, just general pre-occupations
  • I was unable to train as vigorously as with the last two marathons.  My circumstances last year allowed me to do two-a-days.   But that is no longer the case.
  • It was very windy in Brookings on marathon Saturday.    Some of the course is protected from the wind, but other places are not.
  • I don’t pay enough attention to my diet.   I’ve said in the past that I like to eat, so I must run.  It is true that I have a healthier diet now than 10 years ago, but I could do better.  But I will never give up spaghetti with made with hot Italian sausage.
  • I have an almost two-year-old in the house.  He’s the Prince of Cuteness right now and Mrs. Dakotabranch and I agree that the more time we put into him now, the better he’ll turn out later.   Having him around makes finding time for long runs a little more difficult.

I guess I’m proud to say I am now a three time marathon finisher.

Happy rails.

May 062013
 
I used white glue to attach my cork roadbed to the 2 inch extruded foam insulation.

I used white glue to attach my cork roadbed to the 2 inch extruded foam insulation.

My wife Beth models beside the newly completed cork roadbed.

My wife Beth models beside the newly completed cork roadbed.

The first bridge that I installed in this place was a Walthers wooden trestle.   Knowing how to fill in around the bents was above my scenery skill level at the time, so I switched to an Atlas steel span without any supports.  This was a good long term choice, but was a temporary setback at the time.  I re-used the Walthers trestle in another part of the layout a few years later.

The first bridge that I installed in this place was a Walthers wooden trestle. Knowing how to fill in around the bents was above my scenery skill level at the time, so I switched to an Atlas steel span without any supports. This was a good long term choice, but was a temporary setback at the time. I re-used the Walthers trestle in another part of the layout a few years later.

A staging yard is one of the best ways I can think of to expand an otherwise boring 4x8 HO scale layout.    I divided this yard and called the left side Corson, SD and the left I referred to as Morefield South Dakota.   This extension has since been demolished and rebuilt.  I neglected to use cork roadbed here and paid for it in hearing loud trains running over it.

A staging yard is one of the best ways I can think of to expand an otherwise boring 4×8 HO scale layout. I divided this yard and called the left side Corson, SD and the left I referred to as Morefield South Dakota. This extension has since been demolished and rebuilt. I neglected to use cork roadbed here and paid for it in hearing loud trains running over it.

I've installed the Pikestuff ramp kit and will move on to painting the surfaces that will be covered with ground foam and gravel soon.

I’ve installed the Pikestuff ramp kit and will move on to painting the surfaces that will be covered with ground foam and gravel soon.

This is the Walthers  Red X Cement Plant.   The tooling is the same as the Medusa Cement Plant, but comes with some added rooftop details.

This is the Walthers Red X Cement Plant. The tooling is the same as the Medusa Cement Plant, but comes with some added rooftop details.

Here I'm working on a cut into a hillside.  I represented this by building up the hillside with shaped scrap foam insulation, wadded newspapers, masking tape and plaster cloth.

Here I’m working on a cut into a hillside. I represented this by building up the hillside with shaped scrap foam insulation, wadded newspapers, masking tape and plaster cloth.

One reason i chose foam is that it is easy to work with and represent changes in elevation of the surrounding terrain around the right-of-way.  The long gently curving line is where my backdrop will be placed.

One reason i chose foam is that it is easy to work with and represent changes in elevation of the surrounding terrain around the right-of-way. The long gently curving line is where my backdrop will be placed.

I also made heavy use of a Sharpie marker to lay out my ideas of where stuff would be placed on the layout.

I also made heavy use of a Sharpie marker to lay out my ideas of where stuff would be placed on the layout.

It is always important to test your tracklaying before you get too far into the scenery process.   It also keeps you interested in running trains.

It is always important to test your tracklaying before you get too far into the scenery process. It also keeps you interested in running trains.