SP in 1953, Daylight & Overnight

Onizukachan Nov 18, 2018

  1. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    36803E4E-5809-4D28-9FF7-A57F3E685DDE.jpeg Copying this over from introductions so I can carry forth and have a place to do a build log... once something gets built.

    I send greetings.

    Returning (slowly) to the hobby and N scale for the first time in almost 30 years.
    My how things have changed!
    There is far more Detail in this N Kato GS4 than there was even in HO 30 years ago, it’s amazing!
    I wish I had my 30 year younger back and eyes when I am working on things though!

    So far I have built my dcc++ system, Installed JMRI on my Mac to run my test/programming track, and borrowed my game emulator RPi 3b+ So I could set up a card for JMRI. Still need a project box or two so I can put everything securely away from my 18 month old daughter’s hands.

    I added the EM13 just so I could test everything out, got it added and pictures in my roster, coded to 4449, played with the kick/accel/decel get it to start cleanly and have at least some momentum and about 15 minutes before I planned to pack everything back up until I could mod the 1st gen Kato my little girl couldn’t contain her excitement, reached out and ZAP! Sizzle!

    So I said several non family words and went ahead and did the job I was going to put off till later.

    I stripped it down, got out the dremel and a couple of sanding drums the diameter of the wheel, and pretty much carved the wells out till they were daylighted.
    Then I sharpied them black again and did two coats of matte clear (immediately gets rid of the sharpie purple hue and also insulates for redundancy).
    And THEN I did kapton tape in the arches and backs of the wells FOR TRIPLE REDUNDANCY... And ordered another EM13.

    While I was in there I did a second better repair to fix the front coupler damage (it sheared the plastic single shear pin off during shipping to me) by using a piece of a steel sim removal tool as the coupler mounting pin instead of the fragile glued back on pin, and painted the white plastic cab floor and wall that light seafoamish mint green I had seen on videos of 4449.

    I’ve also bought a little Imex resin ranch house cheap and replaced the missing carport post with a toothpick, and installed a white led in the carport. Then I told my wife I bought her a house for 175. She was more than 1/160 happy.


    Future plans are to model a few chosen scenes of the Southern California coast that I find particularly beautiful or visually interesting, such as around Camp Cooke with the cliffs and bridge, Santa Claus beach where the tracks are tight down on the beach, etc. as I enjoy scenery, lighting, and animated art, rather than operations.
    I’m not opposed to some fun with switching, and will try to incorporate some of it, so I can run some Diesel freight, maybe some cars with 6x6s, Jeeps, and Tanks for Camp Cooke. I am thinking 1951-53 is a really good timeframe with some challenges to model, and also some flexibility as it is transition era, but prepiggyback, pre Vandenberg AFB, still lots of older rolling stock.

    Undecided on most everything layout wise except I want those cliffs and beach! And maybe Santa Barbara at my start of line. It will probably wind up being a shelf layout in my garage.

    I also would like to add that I also model/fool around with what I call “D scale” aka Disney non-scale battery operated toy monorails. It’s a load of fun and a challenge to take a toy and make it vastly more realistic. I have added passengers, lighting, announcements, upgraded motors, and have built interiors and lighting for the accessory buildings also. As they are very non-scale, it is very liberating to be able to be creative to give the “feel” of something/someplace. The monorails are sort of S and O and the buildings are probably Z scale at best! Selective Compression to the Max! I built these as a fun alternative to the traditional Round the Tree Christmas trains.

    Below: Running with on board audio announcements

    Above: Turning an empty building into a “model”

    It was the fun I had with those projects that reinterested me in railroading again.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
  2. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    Well, my replacement decoder came in from EBay yesterday, and being a responsible adult (sometimes) I waited until tonight to install it since of course all would be well once it was in.


    Dagnabbit, just my luck.

    Right now GS-4 runs fine on DC, doesn’t run with the tender weight out so I know there is no short allowing the upper and lower frames to touch. (Besides which the upper is now clear coated specifically to prevent that, except where the motor pickups and the tender rub wires make contact).
    It does the same thing as the one I HEARD sizzle, nothing, Decoderpro error 308 can’t establish connection to locomotive.
    With the dc board in, it hums on dcc, with the em13 in it does jack squaticus on dc.

    I sent Seller an eBay reply explaining the situation and asking to make right, no blame to them, I can understand how a return could have gotten mixed in with good stock or it could have been bad OOTB, and they responded at 6 am on a Sunday to say they’d ship it out Monday.
    But I also ordered a now 3rd em13 from another seller so i can have One spare.

    I really wanted to have this thing RTR by thanksgiving (because that is when the monorails come back out to go under the tree and take over the living room floor for almost 2 months).
    Ah well. It’s a bummer. I really need another DCC locomotive of some sort to play with on my little 5 foot test track.
    I need to find out what year the Black Widow paint scheme came out, as I’ve seen the occasional Kato EMD Black Widow, and I don’t think I necessarily want an AC12 right now. Yet.

    On another positive note, I do have a couple of Southern Pacific Lines 40 ft AeroTrailers on the way, they were too pretty to not pick up for $10, just need at least one late 40s tractor truck to “pull” them.

    Reference video here (includes Coast Daylight, AC12 or Ac 10, aerovan trailers, freight loading and unloading and warehouse, etc.)

    Do the Richmond Controls stand-alone GS4 lights work well with DCC?
    Once I get an EM13 that works again, that’s my next buy I think. The yellow LEDs really look quite terrible. And Kato could have done much much better than an on off flashing “mars” light with 50 cents more in parts.
    I really wish they’d come out with a revised light board with proper colored lights and mars light.
    I just don’t feel like going stand-alone decoder and run a bunch of wires until I want to do sound.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
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  3. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    FFE62900-E988-4457-ADD0-F98760AFAA87.jpeg I ordered the tractors almost a week after the trailers and they both arrived together today.

    And yes, these perhaps aren’t very prototypical, but I had one on my N scale layout as a kid in the 80s. I like them for passenger terminals and nostalgic reasons, but wouldn’t use them for freight (though I did back then!).
    It is very fancy but is eventually intended for the sidings holding the most beautiful train in the world.
    I did play with it a bit just for fun, and while it needs a second coat of grey and some weathering, overall I think they look much better now.

    I will justify the nostalgia as a useful track power indicator while I am using the pair of them as ends on my test/programming track

    I need to hit it with the heat gun and straighten the side out a tad, but as a proof of concept it works... for me anyway.
    Eventually I’ll notch the underside as if it was atop ties, and put some tiny drops of cyano as large bolt heads holding it down to the ties.


    It’s just a shaved down and flattened top 3mm led and 1000 ohm resistor soldered from below, and then painted the LED. Once I had some paint on it and dry, I flooded the LED with paint. When almost dry I took a toothpick and wiped the slightest line of paint away so the led is visible down the track only.

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  4. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    E4FD4616-4CAF-41EB-85E7-3DA7BFE6B010.jpeg Nothing much to report, except that we now have a 53-55 356 cabriolet in the garage.
    Could there ever be a more perfect early 50s SoCal car?
    I suppose if someone made a Milner coupe or belly tank in in N scale...
    badlandnp likes this.
  5. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

    Looks like a good start. I could use a few of those trailers when I get my layout back up
    Onizukachan likes this.
  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    That Disney monorail is absolutely cool! 50+ years ago my brother received a Kenner's Sky Rail set for Christmas as seen below. It too was a great toy.

  7. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    Kenner's, now that's a name from the past!!!!!! :)
    gjslsffan likes this.
  8. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    I’ve decided that instead of the shops on Santa Claus lane, all of which would be facing the wrong way anyway, I’m going to take a little creative license and create the start of a subdivision pushing back the Orange groves. With that in mind I got another Imex in yellow, (same house different color) and I need to find another decent looking ranch or two to put between them, alternating designs like a real 50s subdivision would have. I just want one of them to have a garage so I can have the nose of a belly tank sticking out under the garage door and “welding” going on inside. Obviously someone is building a belly tank streamliner to go run Bonneville in their garage.
    gjslsffan likes this.
  9. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    Well the new Imex arrived, and it was yellow. Brush painted yellow, not factory painted.
    It was passable in the front, but the back and sides and carport were very very very poorLy done.
    Explains why just the one pic showing the house in the packaging, huh?
    I had to break out the 91% alcohol and remove all the added paint, and a good chunk of the factory paint to get rid of it.

    Then I looked thru my paint colors to find something that would work.


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  10. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    Rumour has it that one of these model power 40 freight cars going to find its way from the North Pole into my stocking.

    If so, it will need a coupler conversion as I won’t be using rapido this time around.
    Just on the off chance someone has done one already do you know the mt conversion number you used so I can already have it on hand?
    gjslsffan likes this.
  11. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    Use the standard MT 1000 Bettendorf trucks and replace the entire wheel set. Pull out pin (might be a screw on the MP car) and insert new trucks, done.
    Onizukachan likes this.
  12. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    Thank you!
    gjslsffan likes this.
  13. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    It wasn’t quite that easy, the supplied bolster pins allowed too much play compared to the two Microtrains cars as well as the original rapido trucks, so I got creative with a file and slowly opened up the supplied washers until they fit the larger diameter of the pin. Now they don’t have excessive rocking but still turn nicely.

    I also received a Kato v6 from my wife, the two aforementioned Microtrains cars, and a Kato f3a Black Widow DC.
    That will need a b unit and dcc conversion, as well as mars light.

    Why does Kato insist on giving their locomotives French (yellow) headlights?

    Although the model power box car looks better in photos, in real life the Microtrains both look better, and work better.
    And are about the same pricing after sourcing the conversion couplers.

    I also finished the repaint on the imex, did a little weathering to the roof, and matte cleared it. Just need to install the LED for the carport light in it also.

    And I finally got to run the GS4 (though on dc) for more than 2 ft.

    Here’s a few pictures and videos.


    (Tender shell is off since I converted it to run on DC again and don’t like taking it off and on unnecessarily)
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  14. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    I thought I’d take a few pictures of how I added carport lighting to the resin Imex houses, since I was completing the Orange stucco ranch, for anyone who is interested.

    I started by drilling a hole near the peak of the carport roof with a small diameter bit, and getting larger until my 3mm warm white LED would easily slide thru it. (No pics, it’s a two hand job!)

    I then applied a coat of dark paint along the inner edge of the resulting hole from the inside, making sure it was completely covered and the edge of the hole from the outside appears uniformly “ringed”. This blocks light and provides some ornamentation for our “glass dome light”.



    After soldering the LED to the wiring (I’m using a 1.25 jst connector), I trim the leads off and insulate the LED positive lead with a piece of kapton tape. You can use electrical tape or even paint them with cyano if needed.
    Remember! Long lead is positive!
    I also then paint the LED with a white Testors paint marker. Make sure it is well coated.
    2 coats if you feel it is needed.


    After painting the inside of the hole with dark paint, and the outside of the LED with white paint, and allowing both to dry, what was a loose fit will now be a tight pressure fit. Push the LED in until the tip of the dome is just clearing the structure wall. Looks like the ever common, ever present, glass dome light to me!

    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
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  15. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    PART deux:

    At no point above did I glue the LED in. There is no need to, but now we do need to keep it from getting yanked out of the building.
    I really like this brand of cyano for this type of work. The brush allows you to apply it to the wires easily and a slight amount to the roof, and the wires are now secured and the led won’t be coming out.
    Here I am testing the LED one final time before glueing anything.


    I use a 2x AA battery pack with a 1.25 jst on it for testing.


    Here the wires are glued down and my ultra high tech reinforcement composite material is ready to be applied as a strain relief. (This method really works, I use it to repair broken interior retaining tabs on plastic interior parts, my wife’s ashtray lid has 3 years and 60k miles of use on it, and still going strong with a repaired latch pin on the X3, while my 325iT hatch trim piece has two years on it and has been removed and reinstalled repeatedly, as well as getting banged by strollers constantly.)
    The best material for max strength repairs is a couple layers of tissue paper/Kleenex, I don’t want ultra strength so I am using thicker paper towel here.


    Apply paper over where the wires are glued in and dab with the brush until the tissue is soaked thru.
    Allow to dry.

    This will provide enough strength that if someone “helpfully” picks up the building, especially a spouse, neighbor, friend or children, the JST will unplug itself before the wires get pulled off the roof and the LED jerked out.


    Finally, enjoy the fruits of your labor.


    Just because it is resin, doesn’t mean you can’t have a carport light!


    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
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  16. Espeeman

    Espeeman TrainBoard Member

    Nice work! Good to see that GS4 running. She sure is beautiful, huh!
  17. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    Absolutely! And runs so quiet you can hear the “chuffing” of the rods if you listen carefully enough.

    Now I have to decide between digitrax and TCS for the f3a. Only thing giving me pause on the TCS is that all the black widow Bs I can find for sale are already converted to digitrax.
    I missed out by 12 hours (waiting for paycheck) on the matching DC b unit from the same seller.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2018
  18. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    I finally tried my hand at weathering.
    I got a MTL caboose as it is prototypical for the SP, and is the right time frame. But it was an old caboose in 53, not new.
    The repaint wouldn’t occur until 54-55 when the safety Orange was added.

    Here’s a picture from the ad, and yeah, that’s how new and plastic it looked.

    I used cheap acrylic $1 Walmart paints, colors were pavement (black grey) and red berry (burgundy ish), A cheapie brush, some paper towels, and water.



    Once I was happy, I took it outside and sprayed it with krylon matte clear.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
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  19. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    596C03C8-6A57-4668-B603-5FD096DBC36A.jpeg I also weathered the brown box car seen in above pictures, and the two overnights got a slight anount of dirt/dust.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
  20. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    I got a nostalgia piece from my childhood, which will become a new-stalgia piece with updated technology in the next week or two.

    I also got some wired 402 smd LEDs, amazing!
    They are small enough I was able to glue it to the gs4 rear light and pass it thru the existing hole. They are so small you could use them to illuminate individual numberboards in n scale, or use them as a rear marker lantern on a caboose?
    Now how I will power it so it turns on in reverse, I have no idea. FL 11 or 12 perhaps?
    Some type of solid state micro relay so I can detect reverse right off the motor board and switch track power to it?


    On the not so great news, one of the numberboards on the f3a wound up missing, after a certain person under age 2 knocked the shell to the ground from my work bench when I was going the decoder install on the chassis.
    Since Kato doesn’t sell them anymore, does anyone have suggestions for finding one or replacing it somehow so I don’t have to retire it?
    Ive spend 4 plus hours on the ground looking for it at this point and I think I am going to have to either find a replacement or buy a new locomotive. Ugh.

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