Saturday, February 16, 2013

Layout Construction - Update #5

Geraldine Handcar Shed
Just a short post this time. After completing the Denton station, I decided that a smaller project was in order. I had purchased the Pikestuff Handcar Shed (Stock No. 541-0006) more then a year ago. It had ended up in the box of "Future Projects". I HATE this box, but every modeler seems to end up with one. For some modelers it may not be a box, it maybe a shelf, a cabinet or some other storage device. You all know what I'm talking about. The "I'll buy it now and finish it later" box. My real concern is that I buy something with good intentions, but never seem to get around to building or using what I purchased. Oh well, if it were not for these boxes there would be fewer tables and less bargains at swap meets or train shows. Enough with the soap box (pun intended).

Construction is very straight forward and would be a great kit for first-time builders. A styrene based kit that requires only a few tools and glue. I followed the basic construction of the kit. I painted the shed the same primer gray that I used n the Denton station. The only difference is the lack of the darker gray lower color that the Milwaukee Road used on their stations. I surmise that a utility building did not deserve the extra cost for additional paint. I added shingles from Wild West Models and gave them the same green color as the Denton station. I feel it is very important to keep all the everyday railroad owns building a corporate look. A small bit of weathering, including a touch of rust to the door hinges and you have a nice structure with very little work or time required.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Layout Construction - Update #4

Denton Station
The Milwaukee Road had a large variety of depot styles for their different locations. This variety was reflected on the Northern Montana Division. For this update I will focus on the depot at Denton, Montana. The Denton depot was considered a class "D-3" depot by the Milwaukee's Engineering Department. The depot was constructed in 1913 as the Milwaukee Road continued it branch line to Great Falls.

The construction of the Denton depot model was something that was already taken care of for me. Depots by John had created the model I needed for the depot. Unfortunately, the kit is now out of production. The kit is a simple resin construction with added details from other companies. Building the kit was really nothing more then about a four or five evening project. I added shake shingles from Wild West Models for an extra detail. The Milwaukee Road used a variety of colors for their depot, in the west region of the railroad they settle on a two tone gray scheme. The roofs were usually a green asphalt or shake shingle depending on the age of the depot. I stained the shake shingles from Wild West Models by using an olive green color art marker. Additional details will be added along with window glass. With the right amount of weathering you can turn a good kit into a great model!

Here are a few views of the depot in its natural setting.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Layout Construction - Update #3

RDC-3 Budd Car - Great Northern #2350
When I was a child I participated in most things that young people do. Cub Scouts was a great adventure for a young man. One of the events of Cub Scouts that seemed to have an effect on my future as a model railroader was the day we took a ride on a train. That ride went from Great Falls to Havre, Montana. It was on Great Northern's RDC-3 #2350, a combination baggage and passenger car. The RDC-3 was built by the Budd Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pictured below on the left is #2350 sitting at the Great Northern depot in Great Falls. The photo on the right is the #2350 after being retired it was spotted sitting at the Reading Shops in Reading, Pennsylvania during May of 1974. Left Photo Credit: Unkown - Right Photo Credit: TC Caughman,

I knew that Proto 1000 had produced a Budd RDC-3 in Great Northern scheme, but I did not purchase it when it first came out. It was one of those things that you want but have to decide if you really need it. When I designed the current layout, passenger operations were something that never occurred to me. Then one night while searching eBay, I came across the #2350 up for bid. I knew I had to have it this time. With a little luck it was mine. I finally got around to adding a DCC decoder and LED lighting to the unit.

Here is a video on YouTube which shows the #2350 traveling from Helena to Butte, Montana.

Let the good times roll!

Layout Construction – Update #2

Falls Yard Update
Additional turnouts have been constructed to complete the mainline, passing and grain elevator siding along with the first yard track. I installed an additional crossover before the staging tracks to facilitate longer trains coming from or going into staging. In the last photo on the bottom right you can see the staging tracks have been placed on a removable section. While this section is not required to be removed to gain access to the crawl space, it will make it easier to move boxes in and out.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Layout Construction – Update #1

Falls Yard Construction
With the roadbed in place, it is now time to build switches. The best system I have found for constructing switches is from Fast Tracks. Their jig makes switch construction fast and reliable. The more you build, the faster you complete one and better they turn out.

Pictured below is the small work bench that I use to construct  the switches. Nothing fancy, just a comfortable place to work.  On the right photo you can see the jigs from Fast Tracks and the start of a new switch. These are a number six jig.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.


Below you can see the results from several hours of work. All that is left to do is cut gaps for the frog and some clean-up of the soldering joints.


The cross-over from the mainline to the passing track and yard lead have been installed in the left photo. In the right photo, the turnout to the GTA grain elevator is being tested fitted for correct placement.


With the grain elevator switch and the additional switch to the yard tracks in place, the main line and passing tracks have now been installed. You maybe wondering why there is the jog in the tracks for the siding, mainline and passing tracks. At the far end of the layout I need to deal with a water pipe that can not be moved without a great deal of expense. My answer was to jog everything slightly to the outside and cover it up with the grain elevator complex.


Back from the dead – February 2013

Where Have I Been for Almost the Last Year?
My how time seems to slip away so easily. I’m not sure why I stopped posting to this blog. In an effort to redeem myself, I will try to catch everything up to the current state of the railroad.

Keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times and enjoy your stay at the Northern Montana Line Blog.

Here we go!