Train Shows

SONC 2018 report

Attended the 2018 Scale O National Convention in Wash. D.C. (Rockville MD) last week. Spent a lot of time wandering the dealer tables and hit quite a few layouts on the tour.

Spent most of my money at Ted Schnepf’s Rails Unlimited tables. Picked up a CGW (PS-0) AAR 1937 box car kitbash – the RPM Chicagoland 2017 project kit – consisting of an Intermountain 1937 AAR box car shell with custom Pullman Standard CarBuilder ends, Superior doors and CGW decals. Also bought a USRA double sheath urethane body to build up, probably as B&M. Met Norm Buckhart of Protocraft (a key supplier to the Proto 48 crowd) and walked away with a set of P48 Andrews trucks and some B&M decals.

There were GE 44-tonners from every manufacturer I remember (Sunset, Custom Brass, W&R, RY Models) but no 70-tonners, which was what I was looking for. Lots of brass on the tables. Still quite a few Intermountain kits around but little bronze age stuff to be found.

Tony Koester and Jim Cantor brought their portable Proto 48 layouts — both are NKP theme. Tony’s will appear in a project series in MR next year.

The layout tours were second to none. Made it to Nick Powell’s wonderful B&O layout in Halethorpe, MD, just off the B&O Old Mainline near Thomas Viaduct. Nick was a 30 year veteran B&O engineer and part of John Armstrong’s Canandaigua operating crew back in the day. He has an outstanding roster of B&O steam and diesel locomotives. In the yard was every variation of B&O wagon top boxcar and Nick can give you a detailed account of each one. The layout is a John Armstrong design — you can tell by the aisleways! Nick himself designed the beautiful, detailed engine terminal and the long, long division yard. I loved the spotlights on the Capital Limited’s dome car roof. I met Nick at the Strasburg, PA O scale show early this year. He’s a great guy and his layout is a gem.

I got to two Western Maryland layouts. The late Wes Morganstern’s layout — also, I believe, a John Armstrong design —  was open one last time. It’s a layout built for operation and it operates flawlessly. And Pat Michael’s P48 layout that is an engineering marvel. He has a huge collection of WM big time steam and a 19′ train elevator to get complete trains up and down between levels. In addition to converting all of his steam locomotives to P48, Pat also casts his own detailed tie strips from urethane molds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There were two layouts that took my breath away. I saw his South Park On3 layout some years ago and Andrew Dodge’s new P48 Colorado Midland is just as spectacular. Even more so when you find out he scratch build eleven (or so) period steam locomotives to get himself started in P48! The scenery and backdrops are outstanding.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But my favorite layout of all was Bernard Kempinski’s U.S. Military Railroad Civil War era layout in my old hometown of Alexandria, VA. It could be picked up and moved to a museum. The scenery, the use of perspective, and the understated backdrop art was to die for. I tried to absorb everything I could to bring back to the D&NE. There were a half-dozen or so 4-4-0s and lots of period rolling stock. The couplers are, of course, link and pin. It operates as a real railroad as did the USMR with strict timetables, the only difference being that if you violate Rule G you’re put in front of a firing squad! Military encampments and soldiers are everywhere. I’ve included a few photos but they don’t begin to do this layout justice.

I spent most of the weekend at Jack Keene’s Delaware & Hudson Susquehanna Division layout helping out with what I could reach. Jack’s layout is a triple decker! I can walk clear under the upper deck without stooping! That upper most deck — the one I need a ladder to see — is well underway. This is an operations oriented layout with several yards and a long run. I’d say it’s 20% built. We worked the last DCC bug out of the seven track staging loops and Jack ran trains on the third level from Oneonta out and back through the loops. The layout is planted in the mid-70s. Lots of big time diesel lashups. Jack’s crew are mostly HOers but I bet he picks up a few converts along the way. Beware though. There is a height restriction. You must be at least 6′-2″ to enjoy this ride! Just fooling!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One thing missing was all the narrow gauge activity we used to have around the D.C. area. There was John Peterson’s SR&RL On2 railroad, Charlie Eckstein’s Colorado On3 layout, Gordon North’s pioneer On30 Denver & Western. They would have been open for the convention, but, they’re all gone now and I really miss them.

Well, after all that I headed south to Fredericksburg, VA to visit with family and then back to New Hampshire with two of my mother’s zuchini breads. A great time was had by all. Congratulations to the SONC 2018 crew!






Ruminations · Train Shows

SONC 2018

Off to the Scale O National Convention (SONC 2018) in Rockville MD tomorrow morning! Should be a great time. Lots of great layouts on the tour including a number of P48 pikes much more substantial than mine! On Saturday and Sunday I’ll be helping Jack Keene show his Delaware & Hudson Susquehanna Division. He has a 7 track staging loop in operation up near the ceiling so they’ll be a steady flow of traffic past SW cabin at Niveneh Jct.

I still remember when Jack and I brought our On2 layout to SONC 1981 also in Wash D.C. We were running a couple of John Peterson’s PFM sound equipped SR&RL locos. All the old farts thought it was HO, or maybe S scale. What was it doing at SONC anyway? And what’s this green stuff all over the layout? Now Jack and I are the old farts!

This delightful little teakettle ran on Wayne Slaughter and Jack Keene’s portable narrow gauge railway during SONC’81, Wash D.C.

If you happen to bump in to me please say hello.


GE 44 tonner · Ruminations

Summer days

July has been a busy month for non-railroad pursuits. And work is still consuming a lot of energy. What time I’ve had has remained focused on the GE 44-tonner. I just finished painting the parts of the power trucks that will be visible. I repaired the hood with the detached top and front. After scratch building a pair of MU receptacles I discovered that Bowser carries something very similar so I ordered a set to see if they’re better than mine. Next I’ll be reassembling the power trucks and trying them out. Cleaning the frame and body to the point where I can paint them has been frustrating. My cheap Amazon grit blaster isn’t much good. Twinkle has helped but I’m not happy yet.

Designed vector artwork for decals using “Inkscape”. I layed out enough to letter this 44-tonner, two 70-tonners, a Whitcome 65-tonner (future scratch build project) and a couple of boxcars. Sent it off to Shawmut Car Shops for custom decals but haven’t heard back yet. My herald is based on the W&OD inverted triangle although the 44-tonner doesn’t get one.

Also started rehabing the NYC drop bottom gondola I built from a West Shore Lines kit years ago. Converted the trucks to P48 with a NWSL wheel set, replaced the couplers with Protocraft Gould-Symington “E” type and upgraded a few details. Still a little work to do. Need to change the reweigh dates for the 1953 period and touch up paint and weathering.

This will be the first “completed” car on the D&NE. I think I’ll do a couple of Intermountain boxcars next and maybe an Atlas hopper or two just to have some cars to switch. These cars need trucks converted, new Protocraft couplers, a few detail upgrades and correct reweigh dates. Then I’ll dig into the CN Howe truss box car and get that done. I did get in a beautiful set of Protocraft ‘s Dalman Two-Level trucks for this car.

Spent some time today arranging our trip to the D.C. area late August to attend the SONC 2018 convention and visit some friends and family. Hope to see a couple of Proto48 layouts and spend Saturday helping Jack Keene with his layout tour open house. Jack’s D&H Susquehanna Division takes up an entire expanded basement! Yes, he expanded his basement! A bit of contrast to my humble shortline.

Back to that darn 44-tonner…




MetaBlog (A blog about the blog)

I hope this isn’t too boring but I thought I’d share the blog’s progress so far. Work has been very consuming these last 6 months or so and the blog entries haven’t been as frequent as I would like …  mostly because I haven’t finished that many projects! I’ve been making a career out of the GE 44-tonner overhaul and conversion refusing to start on much else until it’s done.

But despite all of that, the blog has grown nicely and I thank everyone who follows it. I started the blog in May of 2017 and attracted a whooping 5 visitors. It grew steadily to 6, 8, 9, 10 by September. (A special shout out to my close friends and family.)

In October – BLAM – 455 visitors. What happened? That was the month Gene Deimling gave the blog a mention on his popular blog MyP48. Thank-you Gene from the bottom of my heart. And around the same time, Trevor Marshall mentioned the D&NE and added a referral link to the “Achievable Layouts” section of his very popular Port Rowan blog. These happen to be my very favorite blogs and I follow them religiously. I’m honored they saw fit to pass this blog along.

Since these heads-up went out to the blogosphere the D&NE has maintained a 300-400 visitor pace every month. Those two blogs continue to send the most referrals with a blog in the UK ( and search engines in general right behind. The visitors come from all over: the USA, Canada, the UK, Oz (Australia), New Zealand, Germany, The Netherlands, France, Sweden and Russia.

Don’t get too many comments. I have published all that have been submitted. They might pick up when I get into more interesting modeling topics in the future. I love questions and suggestions and look forward to attracting more interaction.

So, thanks again to everyone who visits. I hope I can maintain your interest in the days and months to come. Lots to do on the D&NE!

Wayne Slaughter




Layout Construction

Shorty Builds a Pop Out

In Access I had come to the realization that the immediate front of St. George needed a pop out section for access to the deep areas of the yard. The crossover and station area needed much better access than was possible with solid benchwork. So I went about constructing a small section of removeable benchwork to provide that access with only a little nusisance. In any case, the pop out won’t be removed all that often.

First, I determined the exact location of the pop out and repositioned the joists on either side to be exactly perpendicular to the L-girders. (Have I mentioned that I love L-girder benchwork?) The space between the joists was set at 32″. The joist between those two was cut back to the L-girder.

Next, I added bottom slides by attaching 1x3s to the bottom of the joists. Some bumper stops and cleat supports were attached to the L-girder to help position and support the insert.

The insert (32″ by 15″) was constructed from the same 1×3 lumber as the joists. It slides right in and is nicely supported on 3 sides.

The joists have been repositioned and the guides and bumpers constructed.
Pop out partially inserted.
Pop out firmly in place.
The pop out is 32″ by 15″

The front industrial siding will cross the pop out requiring two track joints. It’ll snake around to serve a creamery, a run down storage shed for bagged animal feed and a coal trestle. I’m going for a busy lower village setting with a gaggle of buildings lining the tracks. We’ll have to see how it turns out. Maybe a few more building mockups will help.

Model Building · Proto48

Smoky Mountain AAR Flat


Exciting day at the mailbox! My Smoky Mountain Model Works AAR 70-ton flat car kit arrived and it’s a beaut! Gene Deimling reviewed it a few weeks back so I’ll just say thank-you Jim King for producing such a wonderful kit in O scale. Debating on whether to letter mine for Pere Marquette (they might have been relettered C&O by my era, 1953) or maybe B&O. Protocraft has trucks, couplers and decals for these cars. Weight being a concern with my heavy roster I’ll see if tungsten cylinders from Maximum Velocity will fit inside the center sill. Can’t wait to start on it. Got to get that 44-tonner finished first!


Layout Construction · Track Plan


When planning St. George, I went a little overboard on the depth. It’s just over 4′. I needed this much depth — could have used more — to get the scene I was after. In the original plan it was even worse. The industrial siding now at the front of the scene was in the back! Totally unreachable!  I addressed that in Changes to St. George. But still, the scene is just as deep and I need to get back there to build and scenic things. So I left the front benchwork incomplete so I could build the crossover. But the station platform was a pain to reach.

This consumed much deep navel contemplation over many months. The front couldn’t be filled in until the back area was completed. But then what? Finally, the idea came to make a section of the front scene removable! By pulling out the removable section I’ll be able to reach all the important stuff at the back of the scene.



First step was to cut the existing plywood surface to clear the way. After taping the rail, I grabbed the circular saw and cut right along the freight house track and removed the wedge of plywood. Next, a piece of pink foam board was cut to size to fill in the entire scene. The front industrial track will be on this foam along with a decent sized creamery, a run down shed for storing bagged animal feed and a coal trestle. The freight house is sited at the back and faces the existing siding. To get things right, the plan was drawn full size on the foam board.


The benchwork was modified to provide support for the foam board but give generous access when removed. Every other joist was cut back to the L-girder to be replaced by partial joists attached to the foam board that slide in between the plywood and the L-girder.

Homasote roadbed from Cascade Rail Supply will be glued down with Liquid Nails for foam. It’ll snake around a bit as these sidings often do to give the scene a little extra interest. Like the freight house siding, this siding will be code 83 (55#) rail on ties mostly buried in ground. The turnout on the freight house spur is already complete.

Next on the agenda is to build the frame for the removeable section. It’ll need to be keyed in some way for good alignment. It’ll need a plug and socket for the feeders. And I think I’ll round the front edge of the fascia a little for a more pleasing viewing experience.

So there you have it. Procastination pays off as usual. If I hadn’t made that section removable I would have really regretted it down the road. Though Micro-Mark does have this crazy contraption for hovering over your layout…


GE 44 tonner · Locomotive · Nostalgia · Research

Where has April gone!

I just noticed I haven’t posted anything this month! Work has been all consuming, I guess.


Trucks are converted to P48 but more work is needed.



The 44-tonner, No. 48, is still in pieces on the workbench. After test running the converted power trucks it was obvious the pickups were less than adequate. I’m fashioning new ones from phosphor-bronze wire. While I’m at it I’ll disassemble the trucks one more time and give them a thorough going over. It wouldn’t hurt to recheck the gauge on the converted wheelsets. I noticed one wheel was wobbling a bit. It will get a new insulated bushing. The trucks frames are painted with a coat of nasty black gloss I’d like to strip. It doesn’t make sense to leave any problems as performance depends on these trucks being first class.


CS boxcar
SONC 2018 convention car


A week or so ago my SONC 2018 convention car arrived. It’s an Atlas X-29 lettered for the Canandaigua Southern, the late John Armstrong’s famous O scale railroad. It’s a beauty. All I’ll do is convert the trucks to P48, replace the couplers and give it some light weathering. It’ll join the Delta Lines box car as my only novelty stock. No Olde Frothingslosh reefers on this railroad!

After dithering for some weeks I finally placed an order for a Smoky Mountain AAR 70 ton flat car kit. The critics are raving! Protocraft has the trucks and decals for these cars. I’d like to letter mine for an upper Midwest line, likely Pere Marquette or maybe NKP – they both had them. It will bring in a load of farm tractors now and then and maybe haul out rough lumber that’s heading westward. Biggest issue I see is getting it weighted up enough to operate with my relatively heavy fleet.

Also, just received a copy of the B&M Bulletin, Fall 1974 with a comprehensive article on Elmwood Jct. that was located not too far from Bennington, NH. It’s where the lines from Manchester to Keene and Peterborough to Contoocook crossed before the floods of 1937. After the floods, these branches were severed with no through routes. On my journeys along the Hillsboro branch I tried to pin down just where Elwood was and I did identify the location along Rte. 202. Alas, there’s nothing left. Oh, well.

So, I’m bearing down on the 44-tonner until it’s done. Then maybe on to the French river bridges and some more trackwork.



Layout Construction

Salad Days


A little ground cover at St. George. Station platform has timber sides filled with plaster. Finish will be cinders. The station mockup is not long for this world. The tracks end at macadam Depot St. crossing. Still lots to do! Can’t wait for static grass!

There is so much to do on the Dominion & New England. I’ve been working a lot these days and time has been a little hard to find. Still I make some progress even if it’s only 20 minutes after a late dinner. Finished with benchwork on the opposite wall and set the roadbed for the turn back curve but this area will likely lay fallow for some time as I focus on St. George proper.

It’s that golden time with the layout in its salad days. Lucky for me, this will be the case for years to come as the D&NE grows organically around the room. Everything is going on at once — trackwork, wiring, scenery, model building  — and the room looks it! Once St. George has enough trackage to operate, progress will likely slow as attention shifts to building rolling stock and switching out St. George!

I tend to get lost in too many projects at once. I’m in a bit of a rush to get some portion of the layout presentable with a little operating equipment on the track. Remembering that adage, finish what you start, I’m setting some priorities for the next few months. Here is what I’m focusing on right now:

  1. Initial scenery. I want to get some shape and color going on the north end of St. George to see how things will look. It’s also nice to have some area a little finished so visitors can get an idea of where you’re headed. Have a nice start on that. Needed to get some ground cover at the rear area behind the station so I can add the front siding. Reaching back there is going to be tough once that siding is in.
  2. Get the 44 tonner on the track! I went off on a tangent with the idea of converting to a micromotor/crossbox drive but since have come to my senses. So it’s back to finishing the P48 conversion with the original can motor/worm drive. I’ll wire the motors in series to slow things down and join the pickup leads from both trucks so it has full eight wheel pickup. Might as well get the sound decoder and speaker installed while I’m at it. The only thing needed on the body is to fashion MU connectors for the end platforms so it can run in tandem with the 70 tonner. The body needs a good cleaning, an etching bath in white vinegar and gray etch primer. For paint, I’m leaning toward a dark blue color with a cream hood top and red dividing stripe. (Shades of the L&N?) Lettering will be sparse until I get artwork done for custom decals. Oh, and glass in the windows.
  3. Scratch build the St. George station in styrene. Based largely on the B&M Peterborough, NH depot, this building will be a little worn but not down and out. Styrene is a great material to work with for structures of this type if care is taken to knock down the sheen. Siding will be New England clapboards laid up board by board in 0.015″ styrene. The windows and doors are mostly Tichy but many with extensive modification. Color scheme for D&NE railroad structures is deep yellow, dark green windows, doors and wainscoting with white trim boards.
  4. With the 44 tonner in operation I’ll need to get the DCC buses strung and connect the drops.
  5. Final touch ups on the trackwork with oil washes and pan pastels.
  6. Finally, add roadbed and trackwork for the front siding and attach the first bit of fascia.

With this work done, the layout will have a small area in something closer to a finished state and I can run some trains. Then it will be on to the French River crossings.


Model Building · Proto48

New Power for the D&NE!

D&NE 57, a RY Models GE 70 Tonner, Phase 2

New power in the form of an RY Models GE 70 Tonner, Phase 2, has arrived in St.George. The boys in the shop have a little work to do. The locomotive is gauged for standard O scale (Ow5) and will need it’s axles machined and wheels replaced for P48. The couplers will be replaced with new “E” face couplers.

It needs a few minor details. The end platforms will get MU connectors as I plan to get another unit one day. I could just do the cab end as they’ll always MU cab to cab. Actually, I’ll MU it with the 44 tonner too. (Did you know some 44 tonners were MU equipped? W&OD 58, Aroostook Valley 11 and 12 come to mind.) Maybe that’s all I’ll do.

After a thorough cleaning, it will get a coat of etch primer then black Scalecoat, lightened somewhat and with a dash of blue. White stripes on the end of the hood and white handrails. Lettering, once I get off my duff and do the artwork for the decals, will be yellow (imitation gold?) and much in the style of W&OD 57. I plan to hijack my herald design from the inverted triangle used by the W&OD.

My other GE unit, RY Models 44 tonner number 48, has been languishing on the workbench. After converting it to P48, I had started to repower it with Faulhaber 59:1 micromotors and 2:1 climax gearboxes which I had on hand. It works but I’m not sure the delrin gears and crossbox will hold up. And thinking ahead, I’ll want to MU it with the 70 tonner so the speeds should match. So I’m going to go back to the original drive on the truck I converted which means machining a replacement axle since I machined the original for the crossbox. Oh well. That’s the way the story goes. First your money and then your clothes.

The slower running I was after can be had by wiring the motors in series and I’ll do that on both units. They’ll both get DCC sound decoders and LED headlights.

Number 48 will need an MU connector on one end. It will be painted in the style of W&OD 48, black with a gray hood top and a thin red stripe separating the colors. I always wondered if it was dark blue and gray (you know, civil war, blue and gray) but the color photos I’ve seen show black and gray. I’ve also toyed with the idea of painting the hood top cream. We’ll see.

I have thought about more colorful paint but in this period I don’t think it wasn’t all that common on shortline switchers. I just need to back off the black a bit with a little blue so they don’t appear as dark blobs.


As a side story, I bought this unit from a fellow modeler over ebay. When he shipped it from Colorado, the P.O. clerk mistyped my Zip code (08109 instead of 03109) and then picked a house in Merchantville, New Jersey that was number 170 on a street that started with “P”. I watched the in transit details for over a week as it bounced between the sorting center in Nashua NH (20 miles from here) and Merchantville NJ. I stopped at our local P.O. and got them to bring up the package label scan and saw what had happened. After some encouragement from the seller, the P.O. quickly redirected the package and I got it the next day. Talk about Charlie on the MTA. I would have never seen that package. And thank goodness the resident at 170 Prospect St. in Merchantville NJ 08109 wasn’t an O scale modeler (I hear they’re in N scale).