Caltrain N-Scale inputs

rjsingh May 7, 2015

  1. rjsingh

    rjsingh New Member

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    Hello folks,
    I am a newbie on the board with about a couple of years of n scale experience. I am interested in building a Caltrain ( post 1997 ) layout. I have a procured a Kato F40PH and have a MP36PH backordered with Kato Kobo.
    However the passenger coaches are not available anywhere. So I am planning to use the Bi-level Metra Commuter Coaches and apply the Microscale Caltrain F40PH decals onto them. Haven't thought a lot about the Bombardier coaches - Athearn is out of stock everywhere. I would like inputs from folks who have experience with Caltrain N scale sets if I am on the right track ( no pun intended ). Additionally any advice on where I can source the passenger cars or if there is anyone who can do custom decals for Caltrain - would be helpful. I know I missed the bus ( rather train ) when Kato introduced it a few years ago.
    I would also like to meet up with n-scale modellers who are in the San Jose/Milpitas/Fremont area.
    Thanks in advance.
    Raj
     
  2. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    I don't know if you're modeling modern era, but CalTrain recently bought 16 Bombardier coaches from Los Angeles Metrolink. So if you can't find any CalTrain Bombardier coaches, you can substitute some Metrolink cars if you can find those too.
     
  3. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky N scale Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Welcome, Raj! There are a lot of us in south-east portion of the Bay. You may want to check out the Silicon Valley FreeMo-N group (see my signature), as we have a number of us with CalTrain consists. As part of the group, I have my Silicon Valley Station module, which is a fictitious CalTrain station

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Jerry M. LaBoda

    Jerry M. LaBoda TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yup...

    http://www.railcarphotos.com/PhotoDetails.php?PhotoID=84384
    http://www.railcarphotos.com/PhotoDetails.php?PhotoID=84504

    They also have been using cars leased from Midwest Transportation & Development Corp. in the past, which could be modeled using the Concor gallery cars...

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/milantram/3843612968
    http://www.cl.ais.net/~dbehr/Bilevels in Caltrain Service1.JPG

    While not offered in N the Kato Metra and Virginia Railway Express corrugated gallery cars are quite similar to the cars used by CalTrain and if a modeler were to want to do the extra work of adding the window to the one side that is lacking a really great model can be gained. Also, depending on when you are wanting to set your modeling period there is the Wheels of Time gallery cars that are offered in JPBX and SP. These are some really fine cars!!!
     
  5. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky N scale Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The Kato-Kobo CalTrain commuter cars were Metra/VRE cars repainted for CalTrain. (See my photo above)
     
  6. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

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    Those Kato cars were the absolute hardest thing for me to pass on buying, but I couldn't really justify running a CalTrain on my layout. However, this didn't seem to stop me from buying a CalTrain f40PH.....which I figure I can cut in on the occasional Amtrak train (I have photo proof that Amtrak did this at least once! ;) )
     
  7. rjsingh

    rjsingh New Member

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    Thanks all for the inputs. I am still awaiting the Kato n-scale Metra coaches. I received my decals today. I think I should be able to use the Locomotive decals on the coaches after looking at RBrodzinsky's pictures. Would need to do some thinking for the Disabled boarding sign.
    I am building a modern layout. Any ideas how I can wipe out the existing Metra blue paint as seen in the attached image.
    After addressing this I will move on to the Bombardier coaches where I think painting would be a rather daunting task.
    Another interesting idea for future is the Union Pacific Auto rack that runs between Tesla ( formerly NUUMI) and Milpitas yard. I have waited and fumed a lot for this train to go past Dixon landing. But thinking positively it may be a nice layout to model.
    Thinking of

    [​IMG]


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  8. rjsingh

    rjsingh New Member

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    So I received my Bi level Metra cars today. However upon further inspection the Microscale F40PH decals that I was intending to use are a tad too big for the coaches. Attaching a pic that shows the difference. Can someone give some recommendations on how to solve this. Or can I get the decals made/ painted from somewhere .
    Thanks Raj

    [​IMG]


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  9. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky N scale Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yeah, the problem is the signage on the locos is larger than that on the cars. At this point, you are probably better off making your own decals. There are some pretty good ink-jet printer decal kits out there.

    You also asked about removing the Metra sign and blue paint. I would suggest the best way would be to paint over it. Mask off, and use an air brush.
     
  10. Nick Lorusso

    Nick Lorusso TrainBoard Member

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    Raj,
    Welcome to Trainboard. Like Rick said check out Silicon Valley FreeMoN. Also feel free to stop by the Santa Clara Cal-Train station tuesday nights 6-9pm or Saturday's 10AM-3PM. And don't forget Cal-Train just picked up old Metrolink cars.
     
  11. rjsingh

    rjsingh New Member

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    Thanks Nick and Rick. I will do some research on ink jet decal kits. I also browsed the Silicon Valley FreeMon group. Will spend some more time on the site.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  12. Cooper

    Cooper New Member

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    Tada!
     

    Attached Files:

  13. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    Nice work Cooper
     
  14. Cooper

    Cooper New Member

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    Instead of using decals, I used paper and glued it on the shell itself. The "decals" is from Google Docs, so tell me if you need one. For the windows, I colored the lower 1/4 windows to the same size as the can windows. The front end is whiteout and red thin sharpie. The ptc stuff on the front roof is bookmark paper. The red line on the side is sharpie too. The bell on the right side is removed and placed between the truck and the plow on the underside of the frame.
     
  15. Bullethead

    Bullethead New Member

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    New member here and just want to say Thank You to all that posted to this thread as it was great research. Here is the story of my "Hobo Kustoms" Caltrain set.

    Like many, I wanted to create a Caltrain set but was not into spending $700+ for a custom Kato Kobo set. I live in the Bay Area and spent several years commuting in an upstairs seat of a Nippon coach from 97-01. Since I already owned 2 Kato F40PH locos and Nippon coaches and Cab Cars are pretty easy to purchase, why not get creative.

    I picked up a Kato Metra 3-car passenger set with a bookcase at Lombard Hobbies that also included the cab car. I added 2 additional coaches to the cart and everything arrived at my home - extremely carefully wrapped I must add - in just 3 days. This gave me the 5 car set I wanted and a handy bookcase to hold everything.

    When the cars arrived, the blue Metra logo was masked off using blue painter's tape and airbrushed using Tamiya X11 chrome silver paint (couldn't locate X16 flat aluminum but it still looks great).

    After the Metra logos were covered, I masked the sides of the coach to add the required red Caltrain stripes. I used the actual photos from Kato to match the striping areas. For color, I used Testors dark red enamel paint using my airbrush. I sprayed the Tamiya silver first to seal the masking before spraying the red to ensure the color didn't bleed. I must say that just adding the stripes alone would have been enough to pass but I was greedy and wanted logos too.

    Since my original plan to use the Microscale decals for the logos was blown (thank you for showing the size issues), I needed to figure out how to get them added. The photos from Kato seem to indicate a decal or card was stuck to the side as it shows a flat area not part of the actual car shell. I don't have a color printer but I downloaded a hi-res logo off the internet and duplicated it on a large canvas to avoid shrinking the image. I determined I wanted the final logo size to be around 5 x 15 mm and was able to scale to a 3.5 x 5 photo template using an online photo editor.

    I printed the photo at my local FedEx store and confirmed the size and detail were what I wanted. The printer at the store was a little off regarding color accuracy so I printed a greyscale sheet and matched the best color to the coach. I used that color to fill the sheet background for the logos and re-printed it. Success!

    I carefully trimmed the logos out and sprayed the backs and edges with more silver and attached them to the coach sides using some Elmer's glue that was carefully brushed onto the back of each card. This would allow time to position and anything that might ooze dried clear.

    Since I was this far down the rabbit hole, I sprung for the Kato LED passenger light kit six-pack ($38 on Amazon) and an FL12 decoder for the cab car ($24) so the headlights and taillights would switch automatically on my DCC layout. I'm a tall 6' 3" gent with very large hands and had no issues with install for either. If you've been debating a lighting kit because it seems too difficult, I say give it a try and you might be surprised.

    Extremely happy with how everything looks and it's fun to watch the train in both push and pull configurations. I might get around to adding the smaller round logos and bike car signage but that's for another day. Thanks again everybody for the info and inspration! I attached my source images for others to use - enjoy!
     

    Attached Files:

    Kurt Moose, MK, BoxcabE50 and 2 others like this.
  16. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

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    Excellent results! Hard to tell this is not the actual Kato Caltrain set.(y)
     
  17. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    Join the club! So the Bombardier bi-level cars were made by Athearn and were really nice cars. Unfortunately Athearn last produced them in 2016 and on the secondary market, people think they were made of unobtainium or some other exceedingly rare material. I am looking for a set or 3 of New Mexico Rail Runners for my 2 MP36PH engines.
     
  18. Bullethead

    Bullethead New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback and I feel the pain around locating Bombardier coaches for a decent price. There's one on eBay right now for $125 :ROFLMAO:
     
    Massey likes this.
  19. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    I would pay $125... For the set of 3! Not for a single.
     

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