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N Kato Union Pacific ES44AC Diesel Engine #5400 DCCS Locomotive with factory installed LokSound Review

Kato UP5400 ES44AC Diesel Locomotive N scale

March 15, 2024 (early AM). This is a review of a locomotive purchased from MB Klein’s website. I purchased it just before they shut down under Hattons acquisition management. However, during the shutdown, I received a couple notices from requesting that I write a review of the locomotive. I don’t think I even tried to do so because previous attempts to reach their website resulted in a message that they were temporarily closed and uncertain when they would be operational again. Over time, the message actually changed from the first time I saw it. As you may be aware, as of the date of this writing, Model Train Stuff is definitely going to be returning under new ownership as a result of a fellow North Carolina Hobby Business Reseller Joe Grubba, who owns and operates Factory Direct Hobbies. Several days ago, via a comment on a Facebook notice in a group that I am a member of, I stated that I would go ahead and do this train review but that it would most likely have to appear on my website since the website is still currently inaccessible.

The Kato Union Pacific ES44AC Diesel Engine #5400 locomotive was ordered on November 27th, 2023, and received on December 11th, 2023. I mention this because as you can see, it took about 14 days (2 weeks) to arrive which is a little long for a shipment from Cockeysville, Maryland to reach Belmont, North Carolina. There is a video (that I am certain hasn’t been posted yet) where I mention the uncomfortable delay experienced regarding this shipment and the odd tracking information I received. Anyway, I opened this locomotive off camera the day it was received. I examined it and test ran it on the 11th of December 2023. However, as mentioned, I didn’t make a video or take any still photos of the locomotive the first day it was received.

The N scale Kato Union Pacific ES44AC Diesel Engine #5400 DCCS Locomotive is a DCC Sound Equipped locomotive. It comes with a pre-installed LokSound decoder. For me, this is a first! All of my other N scale Kato locomotives started out as either DC only or DCC Ready. There was a time when Kato USA had their Kobo Shop install decoders on certain units either by request or on special runs. I do not see any notices on their website today discussing or offering Kobo upgrades. However, a couple of forums suggest that there was a Kobo series of trains made. I do not remember it being a “series” but as I said, there was an American service provided via that offered DCC installs. All I know is that the locomotive was actually listed on Model Train Stuff and is listed at as having a LokSound decoder pre-installed in it.

I purchased this locomotive for several specific reasons. And those reasons have already been talked about in videos (that have not been posted yet, unfortunately). So, I will go ahead and mention the reasons now. {However, when the “Project” that this locomotive was purchased for appears on the site I will replace this sentence with a link to it.}

I have good size collection of N scale Union Pacific passenger cars. Even though I have other UP Diesel locomotives, I have a 7-piece Union Pacific Passenger Excursion set that I decided to also operate as part of a President Bush Funeral Train. I previously added the Bush #4141 locomotive to the collection. Research and videos of the train consist that made up the Bush funeral train show that the second locomotive that appeared right after the Bush #4141 engine was a Union Pacific SD70ACe Diesel Engine #8008. I looked extensively across practically every N scale provider for a UP #8008 SD70ACe locomotive in N scale. However, I did not find one. So, I settled for a locomotive that was on sale, has sound in it, and looks similar to the UP8008. The UP #5400 is what I chose to be the second locomotive in my Bush funeral train model. Plus, the locomotive can easily be used to pull any of my other UP fleet of both passenger and freight cars.

I do not remember the exact details of my initial test of the N Kato Union Pacific ES44AC Diesel Engine #5400. I just glanced at my catalog spreadsheet where I keep all the information about my train collection and there are no notes entered for the 11th of December. This doesn’t mean I didn’t take some notes. I typically try to do my best to make notes and there exist a slew of handwritten notes clipped to a clipboard that is about 1.5″ thick of notes and purchases that have not yet been entered into my spreadsheet. There may be handwritten notes for the 11th of December among the stack of papers clipped to the clipboard just waiting for me to get the time to enter them. Only time will tell. For now, all I remember is that the locomotive ran very well (otherwise, I would have remembered that it didn’t, for sure).

On December the 12th, Day 2 of ownership, I took the first video presented below. Unfortunately, this video is NOT very impressive. In fact, I didn’t get the locomotive to function well at all on that particular day. Here, you will see the mishaps that occurred.

Since Day 2, I have operated the locomotive successfully on several occasions and have taken videos of the successful runs. However, one of those videos is 98 minutes long and the other video might be 2.5 hours long. In both cases, those videos are SIDEWAYS currently. Although I did not intend to do so, those videos start out with the camera oriented vertically and shortly after the start-up the camera is rotated horizontally. However, the videos have come out oriented vertically. It will take quite some time to rotate those videos {if the software I use will even let me do it. I’m thinking there is a 10-minute limitation built into the software and therefore it might not even load either of those videos up to allow them to be rotated. I will have to look, see, and update you on this later}.

It is 4:26 AM as I write this line. The photos that I have taken thus far need to be made ready for the website and although the video has been uploaded to YouTube, I need to finish its write-up. I need to get up earlier than usual in a few hours for a busy day today, so I will have to come back and finish this later. Because of that I will attempt to pull the locomotive out again, take a few close-up photos so you can see the details of the locomotive and one more video of just the locomotive running by itself. Hopefully it will prove to be a short video. And if I can get that done before bed tonight and posted on YouTube, then by Saturday, this REVIEW will be updated and if all goes well, you will get a better take on the LOCOMOTIVE itself. You’ve already been presented with some of drama. Trust me, it’s not over with yet. Trains in my collection have personalities and this newcomer is no different. In fact, it has become a CHARACTER already, establishing its behavior, making me ADAPT to deal with its idiosyncrasies. It is intertwined with a lot of projects that I have been working on since before Christmas and while it may take a couple years before I get the website updated with what just took place over the past 3 to 4 months, just know that I am working very hard, investing numerous hours, working on train projects.

Day 2 Video involving the Kato Union Pacific ES44AC Diesel Engine #5400.

N Kato Union Pacific ES44AC #5400 with LokSound Day 2 test run
Day 2 testing of N scale Kato Union Pacific ES44AC Diesel Engine #5400 with LokSound.

March 15, 2024 @ 10:06 PM. I just finished taking some more close-up photos of the N scale Kato Union Pacific ES44AC Diesel Engine #5400 DCCS GEVO locomotive. I followed the photos by recording a video that last a little over 20 minutes. It would take nearly 3 hours 15 minutes to prepare the photos and videos for inclusion in this page. @ 1:12 AM I settled on how I wanted things to look and put together the following presentation:

I worked on putting together an N scale Train for Christmas 2023. The presentation for that is yet to be posted on the website. However, one of the tests that I conducted with the passenger cars of the Christmas train set was conducted with the Kato UP5400 Diesel pulling those Christmas passenger cars. Those tests are the first photos I took of the Kato UP5400 from Thus, the following picture gallery shows those photos and the video above was made during that testing time as well.

The pictures and video that I took on March 15th, 2024, show the N scale Kato Union Pacific ES44AC Diesel Engine #5400 Locomotive by itself with some close-up photos. The video below the gallery was made to highlight my opinions and review of the Kato Union Pacific ES44AC Diesel Engine #5400 Locomotive.

N Kato Union Pacific GEVO ES44AC Diesel Engine 5400 DCCS Locomotive train review video 2024-03-15

March 18, 2024 @ 1:00 PM. I finally clicked on the email from Model Train Stuff whereby they requested that I leave a review of the N Kato Union Pacific ES44AC Diesel Engine #5400. I filled in the review and hit submit to publish it. I do not know if that worked or not because what I received was a Blank page after hitting submit. I think this is as I suspected meaning I don’t think it is possible to get a review to publish on right now since the day they temporarily shut down their website. Nonetheless, I gave the review 4 stars. The following is exactly what I submitted via the email response:

Title Name: Kato N 1768954-S GE ES44AC Union Pacific #5400 Diesel Locomotive Review

Review: I made a very detailed full review of this locomotive on my website at the following URL: complete with close-up photos and operational videos.

In summary, the locomotive is very nice. It has moderate, molded-in details that won’t break, get smashed, or fall off. Everything looks very close to scale. The sound is rich and louder than MRC drop-in sound decoders but not as loud as BLI Paragon3 & 4 models. The locomotive comes without a printed function list. In fact, I don’t even remember seeing the standard Exploded Diagram paper. It might be underneath the foam inside the jewel case though. The locomotive runs very well, sounds good, and looks great. However, I had some issues operating it on my Atlas Code 55 tracks. It probably runs best on 11″ and greater radius curves.

It can run on 9 3/4″ radius curves but at low speeds. This is the first and only Kato locomotive that I have in my collection that came with a Decoder Pre-Installed by Kato. It’s good to see that they have caught up with what has become a normal and standard feature provided by most model train manufacturers. I give this locomotive 4 out of 5 stars with the 1 unearned star being because the locomotive will not run at all available speeds in all directions all over my Atlas Code 55 layout. It probably runs perfectly on Code 80 track. I recommend this locomotive to N scale fans and modelers of Union Pacific.

Note: After I updated this post with today’s attempt to submit the review to MTS, I clicked the BACK button on the blank page and returned to my filled-in email review. I decided to click publish again just to see what would happen. This time, I received an MTS logo and a Thank you for my review mentioning my name. So, the second time a website did accept the submission. The site named in the URL on the thank you page though was “” and not This could be normal. I do not remember submitting a previous review to MTS via email before. I may have been logged into the website the last time I did a review which was probably years ago. Well, regardless, the N Kato Union Pacific ES44AC Diesel Engine #5400 DCCS Locomotive has now definitely been thoroughly reviewed so anyone looking for a review of this locomotive should be able to search and find one located somewhere…

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Christmas 2023-24 Trains

Once upon a time in December, 2023, I was looking through a Factory Direct Hobbies‘ emailed advertisement of some Broadway Limited Trains being released for the Christmas 2023 season. In that flyer was a very cool and interesting looking N scale Paragon4 with smoke Christmas Wrapping theme painted Reading Railroad T-1 4-8-4 Steam Locomotive with “Merry Christmas” written on the side of it. Some of my viewers know that I have “stopped” collecting Steam Engines. But that locomotive looked great. And the smoke feature is something that I do not know for certain that I have on any of my other N scale items. I might have it on another one because I have found an N scale sized funnel that might be used on such a locomotive on my N scale HJR Lonsway Pike, but I do not remember to which locomotive it belongs.. Anyway, over the past 5 years, I have been getting rid of the majority of my HO & N scale steam locomotives. I still have a fair number left that I intend to keep but I didn’t feel that I would be buying any more. Well, FDH got me. They hit me up at the right time and the BLI Reading T1 lust looks incredible. And, because it has “Merry Christmas” written on it, I said to myself, “If I could find a Caboose with similar paint scheme that has ‘Happy New Year’ written on it, then I could see myself buying those 2 items as my Christmas gift to myself this year.” So, I set out to find a caboose.

I invested several days searching for a caboose that I thought would match the locomotive. I found a Merry Christmas around the World N scale Diesel train set made by MicroTrains and distributed by Con-Cor. I only found the caboose I wanted in a 5-piece set available only on Con-Cor’s website at the time. As I browsed around Con-Cor’s website hoping to find just the caboose by itself, I ran across a lot of N scale Christmas trains promoted by Con-Cor or made by them. I put over 11 different items in my cart. However, Con-Cor doesn’t keep his website well maintained. The tracks on the HJR Lonsway Pike where I would be operating these trains mostly are Atlas code 55 tracks requiring low-flange wheelsets on any rolling stock that is used on them. High flange wheels will roll but they the will hit every railroad tie they encounter. So, because of this and a lot of other unknowns about the 11 different items in my Con-Cor shopping cart, I created a long list of questions for Con-Cor. Con-Cor also has a very high restocking fee if one returns an item to them and I didn’t want to buy something uncertain of what I would get. I sent them the email. Well, long story short, the response I received was unfavorable. We went back and forth a couple times and basically, they just didn’t have the time to address ANY OF MY CONCERNS or QUESTIONS I presented them in my long and specific email. So, at whit’s end and because the number of Reading T1’s available via FDH had dwindled to 2 and I had the last 2 in my cart on their site, I needed to hurry up and make a decision on whether or not I was or I wasn’t going to get any of these items for Christmas. I settled on the 5-car Christmas Around the World set JUST to get the Caboose out of it, and 3 passenger cars from Con-Cor. I ordered the FDH/BLI T1 Merry Christmas train. My troubles were just beginning apparently.

Con-Cor managed to get their order to me before Christmas. However, the train set was supposed to have a Diesel engine with a DCC chip in it. It does not have a chip in it. It is DC only. I had to complain. Con-Cor said they would make it right by sending me a chip. THAT has not happened yet (as of 2/2/2024) and now their parts guy quit and they cannot being to find me a chip until after they hire a new parts guy.

Factory Direct Hobbies tried their best, but someone how my purchase of 1 of the last 2 “available” Merry Christmas T=1’s ended up being delayed at the Custom’s docks and there was no way I would be receiving the locomotive before Christmas. So, I would have to wait. It arrived on the 2nd of January. But, on Christmas Day, I decided to TRY to work diligently to finish most of the HJR Lonsway Pike layout by wiring up all of my Tortoise controlled turnouts and all the lighting on the layout. Well, a month later, and I’m much further along than I was over the past 5 years, but I still don’t have the turnouts actually working. I have a very beautiful Control Panel made though and every house and building has been outfitted with lights and the lights leads dropped through the benchwork. I will put a lot of the renovations made in another Photo Album at a later time. It would be around the 20th of January before I opened the T1 locomotive.

I tested the Christmas Around the World train set. The train cars are very well done and the scenes painted on them are exquisite. They look a little weird size-wise because of them being Hi-Cube box cars. I’m not sure how close to scale these are. And, since I’m certain that the paint scheme never existed on any real trains, one could say that their is no prototype for them to be accurate with. Other than the short, stubby look, these cars are beautiful. They would have been BETTER if MicroTrains had installed metal wheels, but they didn’t. They roll nicely though. The DC diesel engine does okay. It tends to run a little rough and a little noisy, but it’s okay. I will like it better when it has a DCC chip in it.

The 3 passenger cars are very well done too. You know me. They could be better. The only disappointing thing about these are the cellophane jewel cases they arrived in. I really don’t see those cases lasing very long, in fact, there are some imperfections in them already. I have a lot of Con-Cor N scale trains, most of which arrived in much sturdier jewel cases or boxes. I told Con-Cor about this and made mention of it on a video in this album. One thing that would make them better would be seated people inside of the cars and interior led lighting with Kato style power pick-ups. But hey! Con-Cor didn’t make any of their trains to suit me yet.

I rain the Christmas trains from Con-Cor in different configurations and there is a video showing both trains running at the same time. There are some still shots of the 2 train consists as well.

Since I video-taped the opening of the Con-Cor trains when they arrived, I decided to do the same thing with the T1. It came out of the jewel case broken. The drawbar was broke and at least 2 pieces fell out. I suspect that a 3rd piece fell into the inside of the locomotive but if it ever came out, I haven’t seen it yet. It couldn’t be fixed by me, plus, the T1 is perhaps the second or third most expensive individual locomotive that I have in my collection. For what I paid for it, it was going to have to go back and be replaced with a new one in perfect working condition. I made arrangements through FDH for BLI to send me a replacement in exchange for me sending back the broken one. Although the drawbar was broken and a piece that I still cannot identify where it came from or where it belongs fell out, it still operated on my tracks and did so very well. I was able to find a route that the locomotive could run around on consistently with the least number of issues. Then, one-by-one, I added all the trains that I bought from Con-Cor for Christmas. This included 4 of the Christmas Around the World trains (excluding only the locomotive) and the 3 passenger cars.

When the replacement T1 came, I double-headed a consist of all the Christmas trains and ran them around the tracks. The 2 T1’s look good together and sound very good. They ran together pretty well too. The newest one is always in front in all of the pictures and videos. However, it derails a lot in one particular spot on the layout. Even running solo it does that so something is slightly different between it and the first T1 which rarely derails in the same sport or elsewhere.

Although I glanced at the paperwork for the T-1 and saw that BLI suggested light-weight Marklin smoke oil, I know I don’t have any such oil. I was hoping that oil made by BLI would work and so when a tube of it came that I ordered before the trains came, I put some of the smoke oil in the new T1 locomotive only. It never produced any smoke. Later, I read that BLI smoke oil is too high in viscosity to use in the N scale T1. I found some lightweight oil by Tyco that is probably 30 years old on more, but was previously never opened. It says it is Lightweight oil, but it too would not produce any smoke, at least not after having put the BLI oil into the locomotive. So, I have sent back the first T1 as promised. Thus far, I have seen absolutely NO SMOKE from the T-1 that I am most likely going to keep. I will try to find some Marklin smoke oil and order it to try it the next time I get a chance.

I really want to finish all the lighting and get all the turnouts and signals working on the HJR Lonsway Pike. I am trying my best to do so. I need a few more parts though and I cannot order them from a particular Chinese supplier until after he returns to work from celebrating the Chinese New Year. He is supposed to be back on the 16th of February. My time will become more limited though as a need to work on other home improvement projects becomes very pressing and takes the highest priority and getting ready for upcoming train shows at the end of February too. Plus, I have another layout referred to as the Uhaul layout which needs to be readied to a state to make it sellable the last weekend of February. I’m starting to doubt that I will get anything at all done on it before then. Plus, I have to work and there are tons of jobs to be complete and the workflow usually increases during this time of the year. I also have a lot of other challenges going on and need to put serious effort towards improving my health which means getting back on a healthier time schedule, eating regimen, and workout plan, all of which take many hours in a day, something I am running very short on as it is.

Anyway, this is the Christmas 2023 N scale trains that I added to my collection this year. I included 2024 because the T1 didn’t really get here until some time in January. When Con-Cor gets me a DCC chip and I get it installed and running good, I may attempt to obtain a few more of the Christmas Around the World box cars if it looks like the diesel will pull them well in DCC mode.

I hope you enjoy the Christmas Trains. You may be able to comment or Like this Album or the page on my website where I may appear eventually. May 2024 be a wonderful year for us all, ALL AROUND THE WORLD!!!

Currently, there are over 50 photos and several hours of videos related to the Christmas 2023-24 Trains. For now, to view them, open this Google Photos link. You may comment on the items in the photo album. As long as your comments remain on topic, mostly positive, and true, I will leave commenting turn on. But abuse this commenting opportunity and I will turn off that capability. I hope to return later and insert a couple photos on this page to break-up the writing. I will also turn on Sheena so that you can listen to her read this page to you. Just be aware, some words and phrases are harder for her to read than others.

Posted: 02-02-2024.

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Model HO White Pass & Yukon Route Train Set

I have here the beginning of what will eventually become my model HO White Pass & Yukon Route train set. I am posting this as yet another HJR Train Project that is in its beginning phases.

The Impetus

I visited Skagway, Alaska in 2022 and will eventually have a Travel article up detailing that adventure. For now, just be aware that before that adventure, I didn’t know the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad was even a thing. Well, it is. And it has some significant implications and importance for and to Alaska, plus it makes for a great tourist attraction. Wait until you read about my experiences on the real passenger train. Believe me, it was awesome.

When I arrived and took my ride on the real railroad, the railroad had just received a new fleet of stunning looking Diesel locomotives (or so I thought), which I got to see from various distances. (View my onboard videos when they get posted to see exactly what I mean.) When I returned home, I was inspired by those locomotives because then and still up to now, a year later, no model manufacturer has made a replica of the new White Pass & Yukon Route Diesel locomotives. Although I contacted the manufacturer, NRE, of the real diesel locomotives many months ago, they failed to respond to me. I inquired with them to see if I could get a peek at the actual schematic diagrams of the locomotives that were delivered to Alaska because I wish to try to reproduce a 3-D printed shell of the design and try to make it fit on a similar and existing HO model diesel chassis, thereby giving me a Sound Equipped HO scale operating model of the real, newly received, WP&YR locomotives. Therefore, that is part of the goal of this project, which is to end up with an HO scale replica of the real train that I road on during my visit to Skagway, AK.

Step 1.

I will start with the 4-passenger car set that I purchased from the White Pass & Yukon Route Train Shoppe at the depot in Skagway. As soon as I stepped off the train and started a video recording, I made a bee line towards the train shoppe. I bought some post cards, which is one of my things to do on trips and vacations, and I bought the HO scale, Athearn Collector’s White Pass & Yukon Route Overton 4-piece Passenger car set, model #: RND99158. They had a steam locomotive for sale there too, but you may have heard me say in many of my videos that I have been trying to reduce my collection of Steam Era Locomotives. So, I didn’t wish to add another one. Upon buying the items, I had the train shoppe ship the items to me (find out why in the travel section when this adventure gets published).

The White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR) railroad in Skagway is not the only train that I encountered or road on in Alaska. It is also not the only train I bought in AK. I also road on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage, AK to Stewart, AK. In fact, I did that first just several hours after arriving in Alaska by airplane. As you might have guessed, I also have and am putting together some Alaska Railroad train sets (plural) to commemorate my ride on that train as well. (More on this in both the travel section and numerous posted videos of the Alaska train sets elsewhere on this site.)

My WP&YR train set will probably only have the 4 passenger cars in it, unless someone produces more cars with different road numbers, or unless I find a stealer deal on the same set again as time marches on. Maybe I will buy one more single car and number it the same number as the car I road in. Additionally, I hope to build at least one locomotive that matches the newly delivered fleet of locomotives that arrived in July of 2022 [this is corrected later in this post] at the WP&YR railroad. Right now, I’m thinking that a Kato HO scale P40 or P42 Diesel Engine would make a good base underneath the shell, but such a locomotive would have to have the sound added separately as Kato typically doesn’t produce sound-equipped models. I could use someone else’s P40 or P42 sound equipped model. I actually already own 1 of each type dressed in the Amtrak phase I or phase III paint scheme (3 thick red, white, & blue lines). However, these are much older Athearn Blue Box models that are as heavy as bricks and may not easily be converted to DCC Sound. Plus, they consume enormous amounts of power. So much so that it is almost impossible to get both locomotives to run in DC mode on my Libraryville layout. These 2 locomotives were acquired in April of 2018 from a vendor at the Hickory Train Show in NC. I have test run them, videoed them, and stored them. They have less than 30 minutes of runtime on them during their life, but I just don’t think they will make a good FIT for underneath the shell of my WPYR locomotive. First, I need to get a look at the blueprints or some similar diagram of the real locomotives with measurement details.

Step 2: Research

I took the liberty while creating this post to invest 2 more hours doing some more research. Apparently, I remembered a few things differently or incorrectly from my previous research and even though some of my notes state that I downloaded some copies of pictures and things during the previous research phase, I couldn’t find those today. Anyway, I made some more copies and some more notes. One thing I remembered differently was that the front of the 6 new NRE locomotives had a deeper slant similar to the P40’s I mentioned. It is not that steep and a lot shorter. Also, the NRE’s have C-C (3 axles per truck) arrangements instead of B-B (2 axles per truck), so the P40’s will not be a good fit for my model version. Additionally, I know I read that the newest locomotives were delivered in July of 2022. However, today’s research shows actual removal of the covering began as early as July of 2020 with the last 2, #3005 and #3006, being unloaded from a barge on October 12, 2020. Also, there are some discrepancies as to which PAINT SCHEME will be the official paint scheme used on the 6 new models. I show that at least 2, #3001 and #3002, are painted two-tone Yellow and Green with Black lettering, but the remaining 4 still appear to be Black with Red and White lines and White lettering, as they were delivered. I actually like the Black paint scheme better and I confirmed that the train I was on was at least pulled by a Black locomotive. However, I didn’t get to see the exact road number on it. I have deduced though, that the road number has to be #3004, because 3001 & 3002 were Yellow & Green, 3003 we passed on route to the summit, and 3005 & 3006, were on track sidings in my photos. I’m not sure if there was a locomotive on both ends of the train that I was on. I confirmed the number of passenger cars in my train by counting them (and apparently, I asked, or it was stated by the on-train tour narrator) in one of my videos to be a total of 14. That video shows that we parked in front of the depot, but a Yellow & Green locomotive was on the other side of a crossing that may have either previously been connected to the train I was on, or it is possible the railroad was about to connect it to the train and taxi the train closer to the onboarding area.

I correctly remembered that NRE, National Railway Equipment Company, doesn’t have a diagram, specification sheet, or any other information on their website for the EXACT model E3000CC-DC equipped with a 16-645-E3C engine. They do have diagrams for E3000C locomotives with 16-645-E3B engines. The CC-DC models are what all 6 of the new WP&YR locomotives have in them.

Also, for some reason, has dropped the “R” from the railroad’s name / reporting mark and refer to them as “WPY”. I am not sure why yet. Of course, the new locomotives simply have “White Pass” lettered on the side of them, including the quote marks.

The NRE diagrams for the E3000C show a boxy locomotive that is not a match for the slick, slanted, front cab locomotives delivered to WPYR. So, I am going to send them another email tonight again requesting a specification sheet, diagram, or possible blueprint, and maybe even some CAD files, especially if they do not intend to manufacture another of those locomotives, to see if they will allow me to try to reproduce one for my model railroad.

An Unexpected Issue

The other reason for posting this page today is that all week I have been gearing up to report my WP&YR passenger car #211 problems to Athearn. It hasn’t worked right since I opened the box in late June 2023. Car #211 keeps sporadically derailing, and the issue has to be the car as the other cars do not derail. See the Model North Carolina Piedmont Service video where I talk about the issues I have with it while pairing it with 2 Athearn RNCX locomotives.

Today, August 17th, 2023, I pulled out the Athearn WPYR Collectors set again this afternoon after lunch because I wanted to take snap shots of the trucks and wheels that are causing car #211 to malfunction. However, I couldn’t really determine which axle was the worst. So, I put the car on the tracks and hand-rolled it to see if it would come off the tracks. It did, but I couldn’t consistently make it happen or determine the real cause. So, I pulled all the cars out and Consisted them. I hand-rolled them all to see what the problem was. If was hard to tell. Sometimes #211 came off the tracks and sometimes it didn’t. So, I connected my Kato UP4301 SD40-2 Diesel Engine to them (because it was sitting on the tracks at the engine service facility and has knuckle couplers on it).

UP4301 pulled the passenger cars around the tracks with #211 right behind the locomotive. Occasionally, the car would derail. I moved the car to the end of the consist. It didn’t derail. I put it right before the end observation car. Again, it only derailed every so often but most of the time it had a good run on the top loop. I sent it downtown to the bottom loop and on the way down it derailed. It had trouble making it around the backend of the bottom loop. I tried that again and the same thing happened after car #211 derailed twice getting back around to the same spot. I took it off the tracks. I put it down on a table and noticed that it almost seems like the bottom frame is slightly warped or something is wrong with the stabilization of the trucks (maybe both trucks).

Car #211 doesn’t sit perfectly level on all 8 wheels. At least 1 and sometimes 2 wheels on 1 truck are off the flat surface when the car rest on its own. I tried forcing the car downward with pressure and rolling it on the table back and forth to see if that would flatten it out. It didn’t take when I lifted my hands off the car. It still had the same issue. I took some pictures of the entire set unopened but no pictures of the individual cars or car #211. I added these pictures to my collection of pictures of a set similar that I downloaded from the Internet whenever I originally cataloged the set into my train collection spreadsheet / workbook. The pictures I acquired from the net were taken by someone else and the packaging of that set is different / older than my set. My set is newer because pricewise, my set is $60 more than the older set (due to inflation no doubt). The older set has the Roundhouse name on it whereas my set has Athearn’s name on it. So I never did get around to taking pictures or making a video of car #211 derailing time and time again.

I estimated the time I spent examining car #211 and trying to figure out the issues again to be about 30 minutes because I forgot to track the exact start and end times. I had to stop and take a mid-day nap after that as I didn’t get much sleep last night. So, I left all but car #211 on the tracks. I will repackage them tonight and return them to their storage place. [I did put them away around 11:30 pm August 17th, 2023.]

As you can read, my project is off to a slow and jagged start. I really need Athearn to offer me some repair options so that I can get car #211 fixed. My goal for today is to submit my request via their online form before I go to bed tonight. So, if I can get the 2 communications done tonight and the set put back up, that is all I can do until I get answers back from Athearn and NRE. Meanwhile, I will have to keep looking around to see if there is a model HO scale sound-equipped 3 axles per truck diesel locomotive that is similar in shape to the real WPYR NRE E3000CC-DC locomotives. [Have to stop here. I must make dinner tonight and its 9 PM on the dot.]

Activity Log

Date / TimeActivity
11:50 PM
I made it back around 11:50 pm to review and posted this page without the pictures, videos, and links. I did not get to the 2 form submissions. Then I went to bed about 1 AM.
9:35 AM
I resumed editing and adding the pics and links. Once in place and other references tied in, I will submit forms to Athearn and NRE. All of this was completed successfully today by 7:53 PM.
7:22 PM & 7:52 PMReceived automatic response from Athearn. Then received another response from Athearn at 7:52 PM that suggested I either mail the entire set to them so they can review car #211 or contact the seller and ask them to replace it based on their normal return policies.

Also, around 7:50ish PM I submitted NRE contact form requesting E3005CC-DC specifications, CAD Files, Diagrams, or whatever assistance they could provide.
8:32 PMI forwarded Athearn’s 2nd response to the White Pass & Yukon Route Train Shoppe along with a message asking them if they still have any of the collector sets available and can they exchange my set.

Published: August 17, 2023: Last Updated: August 18, 2023.

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Model North Carolina Piedmont Service

Inspired by a train ride talked about by a previous member of the model railroad club that I am a member of, I decided that I would take a ride myself again on an American Passenger Train. I made this decision within minutes of seeing that member’s post on Facebook around 2020, if I remember correctly. One of my hobbies is traveling. I was spoiled with a ride on the London to Paris High-Speed Eurostar passenger train New Year’s Eve 2016. My previous passenger rides in the late 1990’s were interesting but they paled greatly in comparison to the luxurious ride aboard the super smooth, 186 mph Eurostar. I started giving American Trains another chance. I took a sleeper train via the Amtrak Texas Eagle from Chicago, Illinois to Dallas, TX in May/June of 2021. I rode on the Alaska Railroad and the White Pass & Yukon Rail in August of 2022. And finally, I took day rides from Charlotte to Raleigh and back again onboard the North Carolina Piedmont Service in December of 2022. I plan to put detail information up in a travel section on this site one day about all of these train rides. This article is about the HO scale model trains in my Train Collection that are commemorative of the North Carolina Piedmont Service. This article appears in the Projects section because to create a complete representative model of the Piedmont Service train that I rode on, currently, I will have to make that train set up, as no manufacturer has sold such a set thus far.

Although a consignor previously consigned 1 North Carolina locomotive for me to sell, I did sell it before I rode the Piedmont Service, and I wasn’t interested in having a Piedmont Service passenger set at that time. Since that time, I’ve ridden on the Service and I’m sort of getting into having models of the real trains that I get exposed to. So, the cost of two Athearn Sound Equipped models of the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) locomotives became reasonably affordable at one of the sellers that I like to get trains from. So, I purchased the 2 locomotives with road numbers that show-up on the actual train roster of the NCDOT as locomotives in regular operating service on a daily basis in the real world. Many people have written about the trains and the service. Here is a link over to The Diesel Shop that identifies the Motive Power real trains used in the Piedmont Service.

The 2 Athearn models that I have are in their “Ready To Roll” series. They come with Econami sound decoders. As you can see by the following photo, I obtained road# 1755 “City of Salisbury” and the road# 1797 “City of Asheville” models. The reporting mark for the railroad is RNCX. The part numbers of these 2 models are: ATH64731 and ATH64732 respectively. If you listen to the following video, you will hear me verbalize my comments, observations, and opinions about the models. These 2 locomotives will be used as the motive power for my Piedmont Service train set.

In order to complete the train set, I will need to dedicate 4 85′ Pullman smooth side Lounge/Baggage cars to this project. In order to stay true to what to what occurred in real life, I can use either Kansas City or Union Pacific passenger cars. I have a fleet of HO scale Union Pacific passenger cars already in my collection. I have several that are too large to operate on my current HO scale Libraryville layout. I haven’t made-up my mind yet as to whether or not I am going to keep those cars indefinitely or put them up for sale. Once I have the passenger cars, I will need to repaint them to match the Blue and Silver with Red pin stripe paint scheme that North Carolina passenger cars are using. I have enough photos and videos to get a great idea of where the borders of colors come together. I’ll do my best to match the colors with the colors found on the 2 Athearn locomotives.

I have seen videos of the Piedmont Service train taken by others. NCDOT or Amtrak seem to change up the number of passenger cars in the consist from time to time. In videos I have seen as few as 3 passenger cars per trainset and as many as 9 passenger cars in a set. I wasn’t able to locate any information that indicates how passenger cars are supposed to standard on a set or the methodology used NCDOT or Amtrak to determine how many cars should normally be in a trainset.

HO Athearn 2 NC DOT Locos with WP&YR Passenger Cars

In the above video, you will see that there are 3 old time Overton passenger cars between the 2 locomotives. These passenger cars are also made by Athearn and they were purchased minutes after I finished riding on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad in Skagway, Alaska. I purchased them as part of a Collector’s set directly from the White Pass & Yukon Route Train Shoppe. The Athearn Roundhouse series Collector’s set contains 4 Overton Passenger Cars. However, the 4th car in the set does not stay on the tracks. It derails quite often especially in curves. Although I bought the set in August of 2022, I just opened the set for the first time on June 30th. I’ve been on some additional trips and travels since I opened the set, and I am trying my best to get the video posted with this documentation so that I can include it when I contact Athearn to see if there is anything they can do or suggest that I do to try to repair the train car. It appears to me that the hole for one of the axles on one truck is either too deep or not properly aligned. As a result, the wheel keeps slipping out of the hole causing the car to lean which causes a derailment. I hope they can replace the wheelsets or bad truck if not the entire car. The road number of the damaged car is 211 and the model number of the set is: RND99158.

Moving forward with the project of completing a NC Piedmont Service train set, will start by me choosing the passenger cars to dedicate to this set. I recently purchased a new Bachmann Union Pacific smooth side dining car from I actually purchased the last one of those they had at the time. It had a problem very similar to what the 4th passenger car in the WP&YR Collector’s set has. I contacted ModelTrainStuff and they made arrangements with Bachmann to get me a new car. I just received word yesterday that they shipped out the replacement so it should arrive soon. I took pictures and videos of the original order and test run of the trains in that lot. I also documented what happened just as I am doing with this set of locomotives and passenger cars. In that set, were 2 other Bachmann Lighted Amtrak Full Dome passenger cars. I haven’t posted any of those pictures or videos as of this writing. I wasn’t that impressed with the Full Dome passenger cars simply because the lighting is less than optimal or representative of the real trains. It actually doesn’t look realistic at all. The Union Pacific dinner car on the other hand, is absolutely stunning in appearance and with its lighting. The matching series of Bachmann Union Pacific smooth side cars would be great as cars for this NCDOT Piedmont Service trainset. However, those cars are very expensive. So, I’m not sure if I want to put that much money into cars that I am going to have to repaint just to fit the NCDOT paint scheme. You may have noticed just like I did that up-close the actual real cars look 30 to 40 years old, have a lot of dings, scratches and imperfections in them. From a distance and while running 60 to 80 mph hour, they look pretty good. So, time will see what I do. Maybe another special will happen and the prices may be more reasonable. Otherwise, I’m going to have to find some USED passenger cars or use some of the USED passenger cars that I already have which would be the most economical thing to do. The Union Pacific passenger cars that I have that require 24″ radius curves or larger would seem to be the best option, except if I use those, I won’t be able to actually run the completed trainset on my own current layout. That wouldn’t be optimal for me. Additionally, train sales are down / practically nonexistent thus far in the 3rd quarter of 2023. If you’re viewing this and find some trains you like in the shop area, consider placing some orders to help me out. Or you can always donate via my donation page. Wouldn’t it be cool to see a model replica of the North Carolina Piedmont Service running on a model HO scale layout?

I also recently bought 5 or more used Athearn Bluebox Union Pacific passenger cars (mostly 3-axles per truck Corrugated cars) from eBay. These have turned out to be a huge disappointment. I talk a little about this in the consigned Denver & Rio Grande Diesel 7 car set that is up for sale. I do so because Athearn made that set too, and the offset bolster hole for those cars just doesn’t seem to work reliably on my 18″ and 22″ radius curves. The ones in the DRGW set manage to allow trains to run around my tracks. But the older Bluebox ones consistently derail, especially at the locations where I have “S-curve” like features. The cars are smaller than 85′ at somewhere around 65′ to 72′ long and you would think they would be able to handle 18″ and 22″ radius curves very well, but they just don’t. Also, because they are corrugated, I definitely cannot use them as UP repaints to NCDOT for this project. I’m holding on to them to see how they perform on the MMRR’s club layout next Spring.

Activity Log

Date / TimeActivity delivered the replacement Bachmann Union Pacific 85′ Diner Passenger Car today. I’m eager to check it out. I may pull out one or both of the RNCX locomotives and test pull that car and maybe 3 other 85′ Union Pacific cars to see how well they look and run on my layout, which would give me a reason to aim at getting 3 more of those Bachmann 85′ smooth side or streamlined passenger cars to be used for this project.
2023-08-19 2:30ish AMOpened newly received RMA replacement Bachmann Union Pacific 85′ Smooth-side Diner Passenger Car #3610 {UP3610}. Quickly examined car and its axles. Saw power pickup swipers against inside of all wheels. I don’t think those were there on the car I sent back. If they were, they should have prevented the skewed axle on the first one. (Tired & sleepy so went to bed without testing with power.)
7:08 PM-7:30 PM
I unpacked the 2 RNCX NC Locomotives and put them on the Libraryville layout tracks with the newly received replacement UP3610 Diner Passenger Car. I expected to do a test run, however, the coupler heights looked to me like they were going to be a problem. So, I took some photos of them with my coupler height tool, the 2 NCDOT locomotives and UP3401 Diesel engine. Then, I opened a package of Kadee couplers that I previously bought with the knuckle above the shank and installed 2 of them inside the new passenger car. I took more photos.
7:31 PM-7:53 PMI tested the new UP3610 Passenger Car between my 2 NCDOT F59PHI locomotives. It ran well with the new couplers on it, and it didn’t derail or come a loose. I also looked at it and the LED lighting is as good as the one I had replaced. I’m still not sure if the one I originally received had power swipers on the wheels.

I made a video of the trains running but I paused it in the middle to look for additional cars to match with the diner car. However, I discovered that I don’t have any that will match with this car. I also made the decision that I would buy 3 of the Bachmann 85′ Smooth-side Coach cars and paint all 4 of these cars in the RNCX paint scheme. When I ended the video, I prepared the other UP passenger cars for storage again. I had to stop and take a nap.

Later, while entering updates to the spreadsheet, I did some research to try to get a picture of the interior of the real RNCX Cafe car. I found and read a government report filed in November of 2013 that stated NCDOT converted the Cafe Cars on the Piedmont Service from a full cafe car with a fulltime attendant and hot meal service to being half vending car and half baggage car. There are 2 vending machines and 2 coke machines, plus sink, and trash receptacles, and coffee machines inside what used to be the Cafe cars now. This converted car which is more like a “Vending Machine Car” has been a success for NCDOT, so they plan to leave it that way. I’m not sure if the newly converted car was part of the consist that I rode on, but my guess is that it might have been especially since I CHECKED a bag which had to be stored somewhere. Furthermore, I am not going to replace the interior inside of the diner car that I have to try to match what NCDOT currently has. I didn’t find anyone’s photo(s) of what the Cafe/Vending car now looks like inside, and I personally didn’t try to access it on either trip that I took in December 2022.
2023-08-20 4:01 PM-7:15 PMMade 2 online train purchases today. I didn’t want to but felt like I needed to or would miss out on some items. One was 6 items to add to the HO Amtrak fleet and the other were the 3 Bachmann Union Pacific 85′ Passenger Cars that I wish to use with this project. I bought 3 of the last 4 that Trainworld had so these are getting scarce which was what I was afraid of. I didn’t want to pay as much as I did for them. I prefer to sell some trains online myself first and then buy what I can with my profits. I had to buy first this time though since online sales have been flat the past 2 months. Then I cataloged today’s purchases. I also verified that the passenger cars on the real Piedmont Service are shorter than the heights of the locomotives, which answers a question that I discussed in yesterday’s video.

Published: August 16th, 2023. Last Updated: August 21st, 2023.

My Libraryville HO Scale Layout

HO scale Libraryville layout

Today, May 4th, 2023, a Veteran on eBay asked me for some pictures of my layout so he could get some ideas about making his own layout one day soon. I realized that I haven’t shared the documentation behind my personal HO scale layout. While I really do not have the time at the moment to get into this, there is a lot that can be learned from my layout if I were to share all that I have learned while making it. I can tell you that as far as it has come, it is still a long way from being finished. But that seems to be on par with the layouts of most model railroaders. They remain a work in progress most of the times. That being said, check out the HJR Lonsway Pike, which is an N scale layout I bought and then enhanced. Originally, I was going to sell it since I didn’t need it, but I have grown so fond of it, I’ve decided to keep it. Plus, I believe it is now priced out of most people’s willingness to buy range. There is a third layout under construction that I REALLY am convincing myself that I am going to sell. It is currently called that U-Haul Box layout. I am documenting it but haven’t begun putting that documentation online yet. It too has a lot of great things in it, including a reverse loop. But alas, let me stop telling you about other things and try to quickly share a little bit about my Libraryville HO scale layout.


I could go on and on about my interest in model trains including when it first began, how I got into them as a youngster, my first couple of layouts, and when I put them away. I could also spend hours talking about when I returned to the hobby, why, and what led up to the creation of the Libraryville layout. And I truly should share a lot of that with you, but I am going to have to come back another day and give you all the nitty-gritty details. For now, I’m going to share a little with you about me so that you can get an understanding of WHY the Libraryville layout is what it is. This information may be useful to understand the creation of the Libraryville layout and the materials used in it.

I stopped playing with my trains around 1981, as I entered Highschool. I had an N scale layout that I removed in order to make room for my first home computer, a Commodore 64. This is a legendary pivoting point in my life. That change would put me on a path towards a great future with computers. However, it is my experience with the trains, wiring them up, and adding to my own layout as a youngster that served as very useful steppingstones to make my world of computers work for me.

I try to be a very FRUGAL person. I take good care of the things I buy. I always have. Growing up, I had many hobbies. After electric trains were given to me as Christmas gifts for 3 consecutive years, I took things from there and worked hard raising the money to support all of my hobbies. So, from the 5th grade forward when I acquired train items, I did so using my own money. I had to find ways to stretch a dollar as far as possible. Many fellow model railroaders have heard me talk about the days when I would wait until the day after Christmas, visit K&K Toy’s in the Eastland Mall in Gastonia, and buy trains for 50% off the regular price because they would mark them down the day after Christmas. I still have most of those trains and 95% of them are still in their original boxes which are also still in great shape. Sure, there are few trains that I destroyed as a child and teenager that are long gone, but most of them are still in my personal collection. In fact, the very first Steam Locomotive I received during the Christmas when I was 7 years old, I still have it. It doesn’t run. Somewhere between age 10 and 12, I custom painted it. To this day, I feel I did such a great job on painting it, that I have kept it around simply because the paint job to me looks totally awesome. I should tell you that I have a plastic model tank that I also built and painted about the same time that I still have as well simply because again, to me, I really put a great custom paint job on it too. The locomotive has been stored in tissue paper inside its original case all this time, while the tank car (a much larger scale than N scale) has been on display on shelves in various locations in my room for over 40 years. So, when I tell you that I try to take good care of the things I buy, I mean it. Being frugal has its advantages.

Now, let me fast forward and skip about 40 years of history. Along the way, I’ve developed some great negotiating skills. Don’t play me in monopoly, I almost always win, no matter who I play. So, it’s safe to say, I like a good deal and have learned how to negotiate my way into some excellent buys. The year 2010 arrived and I pulled my trains back out to create an N scale layout inside of a desk in my room. There are additional reasons for this which are another great story to share. It’s best if I tell it to you later, though. That layout also has not been displayed or documented on this site yet.

Skipping past several N scale layouts that I haven’t shared online yet, I discovered that a lot of things related to model trains changed during the 30+ years that my collection was stored in a military trunk in a closet. Inflation and technology increased tremendously. With HO, N, and most O scale trains as a youngster, if I wanted sound effects, I had to make those with my mouth. Sure, O and HO scales had some sound accessories available, mostly for blowing a whistle hidden in a structure somewhere. I had an O scale crossing gate that if I remember correctly, may have made bell sounds and flashed some lights when a train crossed over its pressure sensitive trigger. But that was about the extent of the Bells and Whistles that came with trains back in those days. The O scale trains disappeared (not on their own though) while I was away in college, along with my first original N scale layout. (The tale of how that happened is a tragic story, but another lesson learned about dealing with relatives.)

In 2010, I began looking for deals on tracks on Craigslist and eBay. I found them. And one lucky day, wanting my very first Sound enabled HO scale locomotive, I found someone selling a complete set of tracks and 1 Atlas Master Gold Series Norfolk Southern “Horse Head” DCC Dash 8-40C Diesel Engine Locomotive on Craigslist. Although the seller was interested in selling it all, I went primarily for the locomotive. Upon arriving, he explained his situation to me and we struck up an incredible deal for me and a fortunate opportunity for him. I left his place that day with everything I needed to build a very good layout and I had my first DCC Sound Equipped locomotive that makes all sorts of Sounds. I also received a new Digitrax Empire Builder DCC Command Station in that lot. If I told you how much I paid for all of that, it would make you cry. It was a fraction of the retail price, and it was practically all brand new. Many thanks to CW of Charlotte for letting me buy his train collection. However, this was not my first collection purchase. By this time, I had bought at least 3 other collections from hobbyists getting out of the hobby. If I can share any wisdom with you at all, finding a motivated seller of anything is the right person to buy something you want from.

I am extremely appreciative to the motivated model railroad sellers I have come across over the past 13 years. Thanks to them, I have grown my train collection immensely. The collection now needs a good permanent residence of its own and I am looking for motivated sellers of large storage buildings, craftsmen services, and building materials such as bricks, cement, steel, aluminum siding, roof tiles, and wood (2×4’s, plywood, sheetrock, etc.). If you have any of these items or services to offer at irresistibly low prices, please use my contact us page and let me know. Donations are also welcomed, including HO and N scale train donations.


I have a room in my home referred to as the Library because it is full of wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling books, and memorabilia as well as file cabinets full of everything. After building the N scale Desk Layout, I decided to redesign the space in the Library. I used Google Sketch-up and digitized the interior of the room and then digitally recreated the room maximizing the space to take full advantage of an L-Shaped layout while still using practically all the wall space for books and train storage. The file cabinets have their space as well. This room is located upstairs in my house and the steps to it are extremely steep. They are so steep, there is no way to turn or twist a 4’x8′ piece of plywood to get it up the stairs in one piece. However, I can tilt a 4’x4′ piece of plywood and angle it to get it up the stairway. So, I set out to design a modular layout that could be built in my living room and then transported up the stairs and reassembled in the Library there. Hence the name, the Libraryville layout.

I then used train modelling software (that I would normally mention, however I’m trying to come up with a deal between me and the manufacturer that if I recommend their software, they pay me for doing so or at least send me a referral bonus or affiliate commission if my mentioning it results in the sale of it. Google Sketch-up is or was free so I mention it by name without such ambitions. I’ll see what I can do about getting commissions from their paid versions later, except I think a different company is handling that. I like version 8. Everything after that has been useless to me.) to design the Libraryville layout. I made over 10 different designs for the layout. All of the designs are based on the first HO scale layout that I bought from someone else off of Craigslist. His layout was “L”-shaped, but I quickly learned what motivated him to sell it or at least what frustrated him into selling it. And this is a lesson I will pass on to you.

I have noticed that many people trying to build layouts believe they can cut the costs of tracks by using Flex Track. While the concept is sound, one needs to be careful in the design phase of planning their layout. I have come across and have purchased several entire train collections because the sellers TRIED to make a layout using Flex Track and failed to properly account for the minimum radius concerns. In the case of the first HO scale layout I bought, the seller did a great job of following a plan that he found for making his layout benchwork. He even used screws instead of nails which made it easy to take apart and transport to my place. But when I asked him and later confirmed how he came up with the design for his layout, he said, he just started laying track and it all came together. Well, the Lip part of the L is where he completely messed up. Even the shortest of HO scale trains could not navigate the tight radius curves he had made to try to get the trains to turn around in that area of the layout which was part of his mainline. Therefore, he could have never operated a train or even 1 locomotive on his layout and get it to successfully run around his entire mainline. Although I purchased his layout intact with all the track and roadbed glued down to it, I disassembled the entire thing and salvaged what I could, except for the lumber. For over 10 years his board stood outside my home leaned against the wall. Some of it still remains. But I recently cut a piece off of it and used it for an outdoor project. He hand-laid about 1″ thick pink Styrofoam on top of his particle board. I have kept his Styrofoam which I had to cut a large mountain out of portions of it. I claimed the mountain plaster molding too. These items have been stored should a day come that I may need them. The N scale U-Haul layout is going to make use of some of the pink Styrofoam for a mountain base that will have homes under construction on top of it. I haven’t used the plaster mountain pieces yet. I have stored most of the flex track that he used and may have only used 1 full piece that I cut parts from to make one of the versions of the Libraryville layout.

After about the 4th design of the Layout, I made a mock-up floor model of the layout. This means I put down snap track pieces of the layout on the carpet in the living room to get an idea of how the digitally represented model actually looked when put together. In the earliest versions of the layout, I wanted to incorporate 2 major industries for which I had acquired buildings and other accessory parts to support. Those industries were a cement plant and a logging company. The cement plant would be a siding off the outer mainline and the logging plant was on a slanted and elevated curve that would be going through a mountain region. I created my own set of cardboard raisers to temporarily get the elevations of the track to points where I could test the layout. However, when I put that very long Norfolk Southern Dash 8-40C DCC Sound Equipped locomotive on the tracks to test it, it always had trouble navigating the sharp slanted curves near the logging facility. To make matters worse, the tracks were crossing the areas where my modular boards would have come together at 20 to 40 degrees and there was something like 5+ tracks connecting on 2 different levels across all 3 boards. The tracks crossing at the base would have been hard enough. The tracks crossing in the air at slanted elevations and curves would have been a nightmare to put back together after having built the modules. So, back to the train modeling software I went.

Version 6 was nice, and I left the floor design up for several months and played with that, but soon tired of the issues it introduced as well. Finally, I abandoned the idea of including the cement plant and a large wood processing company including a play-action log dump track and finished lumber company. Instead, I reduced the industries to a finished lumber facility, dry goods warehousing, passenger service, and freight distribution transportation services. I also added the round table and roundhouse acquired with the collection that the NS Dash 8-40C was in. I added an engine service facility. And I feel that when it comes to having good realistic elements in a layout, the following are necessities for me:

  • Major industries for the trains to service (which pay for the services offered by the railroad).
  • Passenger service (if possible) so that the average citizen can make use of the railroad.
  • One or more towns or cities and where possible a city should have at least the following buildings: A church, A City office Building, Homes and/or Apartments, A Restaurant, A Gas Station, and/or Convenience Store.
  • Homes indicating that people live near the railroads and in the towns.
  • Railroad facilities, including places to store trains that are not being used.
  • If possible, train maintenance or service facilities.
  • Roadways interconnecting the homes, businesses, industries, and railroad facilities.
  • As part of train storage there should be a train yard where trains are assembled (by the operator).
  • Industry spurs where trains pull next to the industry they service.
  • While point to point railroads are fare more realistic, I enjoy letting trains run on their own a lot of times instead of having to control and monitor them nearly every second, so for me, it is important to have a loop so a train can go around on its own. I’m a big fan of having multiple loops so that more than one train can be operating at the same time.
  • Trees, Lights, Telephone & Electrical Wires, and various elevations in the landscapes topography.

I eventually joined a train club (more on this elsewhere and later). Among the club members is a guy we call Chuck. Chuck says that a good layout should also include a Bridge somewhere. Thankfully, I included one without knowing this as I like to show areas of waterways and I like bridges too. The Libraryville layout has 3 that are easy to recognize, but it also has tunnels, mountains, and overpasses, which actually create 5 more bridges in reality.

I needed the Libraryville layout to have an “L” shape because of where it was going to go inside the library room. I can maximize the use of the room and the size of the layout as long as it is L-shaped. (Trust me, I played with several other designs including the possible use of a helix, but that was a waste of space for me and unrealistic for my modelling taste.). Because it would be L-Shaped, I like the idea of being able to have 2 trains run on separate loops at the same time. Of course, I also wanted to be able to traverse between the 2 loops any time I wanted and in whatever direction I wanted.

I felt I needed a mountain to hide my ups and downs from one loop to the next since those loops would have to be situated so that 1 loop was over top of the other loop at some point. The concept of the mountain also made it possible to have a tunnel. The Libraryville layout actually has a tunnel with FULL SCENERY inside of it. The Mountain can be lifted up and removed from the layout and the scenery with a smaller mountain inside of it reveals itself in the left rear corner of the layout. Although the layout is not yet completely finished, the idea is that the flat, slanted, Styrofoam platform that can be seen in most of the layout videos covered with a lot of track parts and papers, is to be the top of the mountain with a neighborhood community and a street running through the neighborhood. To tie it all together, the backdrop scenery that is to be painted (by me or a willing artist), is to show a scene that connects the road that goes up the bridge by the Passenger Station, out the back of the layout, around a drawn lake that shows under the bridge, and curves the road into the front entrance into the neighborhood. It is a beautiful scene in my mind, and I think I ruff-drafted (not to scale) and filed that draft away somewhere in my paper notes. The backdrop to the right will show more hillside and another city in the distance that the road going out the right-side rear corner alludes to going to. The scene to be painted on the side-drop on the right is to be mountain and sky, thus putting the entire layout in a valley. In the library room, the left-side of the layout butts up against a cloths rack so the mountain top will have a slight paper-thin painting to integrate that part into the environment. But all of the surrounding scenery is yet to come and has to be perfected once the layout is moved, that is, if it can ever be moved.


As I already mentioned, I laid test tracks down on my living room carpet of the several different versions of the Libraryville layout. I used my own home-made piers in some places, and I also used parts of Atlas and Bachmann pier sets at one point in time. Some versions I left up for a day or two and others for months. One Christmas came around and I extended that layout that I already had on the floor consisting mostly of Atlas tracks and then connected an entirely new oval of tracks with a spur, all of which I laid down on a large flat piece of cardboard, put my Christmas Tree up in the middle of it, and this was a major hit for my youngest niece. At the time, I had recently bought a Train Set that came with its own Sound Equipped transformer. It is a Walthers train set. (I should look up the name of it, but it’s getting pretty late as I write this line and I need to go to bed soon so I can get up early and meet with guys in our Metrolina Railroader’s club for breakfast and then spend the day manning the club’s layout in Spencer, NC (on May 6th, 2023). So, I’ll provide that name in a later revision.) Anyway, my young niece came over that Christmas and ran my trains and she had a wonderful time doing so. She loved pressing the sound effects buttons on the transformer which made appropriate noises on demand. After that Christmas, it would be the following Christmas when I took a couple days between Christmas Day and New Year Eve, visited Lowe’s, bought all the lumber and hardware that I felt I needed, returned home, and built the benchwork for my layout inside my living room. I cut all the boards that needed to be cut outside, but I assembled them inside. I may have even drilled a couple holes in the boards while inside. I know I installed the rolling casters on the 2’x4’s inside the house. But let me slow down a little bit and give you some details.

Again, I used Google Sketchup many months before to design every aspect of my benchwork. I created digital replicas of 2’x4’s. I had some that are 8′ long but most of them were 4′ long. Inside of Google Sketchup, I designed replicas of scrap pieces of wood that I obtained from a local cabinet maker. I can’t tell you what the actual scraps are made of because I really do not know the names of those pieces of wood. I simply measured what I had on hand and input the measurements into Sketchup to make pieces the lengths that I needed. I also designed my control panels, which are removable. However, digitally, I don’t think I represented the aluminum tubes and rods that I used to attach the control panels to the layout. I also do not remember if I digitally created the drawers inside of Sketch-up. I may have. I will have to look. Maybe I did, because I think I found the slides for the drawers in the Online Objects Warehouse for Google Sketch-up. I remember the drawer slides had to be 24″ long so I had scouted these out at Lowe’s prior to buying them.

All of this brings me to the point that I am trying to make. The benchwork for the Libraryville layout didn’t get designed or built in 1 night. It took many months of planning, visiting Lowe’s to scout out available material, deciding on exactly what material to use, refining the design, and then combining the 2 separate Google Sketchup files so that I ended up with a file that had the digitized drawing of my library room to which I inserted the drawing of benchwork. In Sketchup, I am able to use their 3-D views to examine how the benchwork is to fit inside the room completely. I was able to measure the heights of my window ledges, space out where I wish to put a 42″ TV which was to be used to display a surveillance system of 7 cameras, 1 train cam above the layout, and video from a radio-broadcasting camera mounted on a train car. I designed exactly where to put that TV. I incorporated where the outlets are in my library room so that I had a plan for how to power up the layout. Nothing was left to chance. I worked on how I would access stuck or problem trains in the far, right corner of the layout and every other place on the layout if a derailment should happen.

You see the layout was to be placed against the walls with 3 of its sides being inaccessible by walking around it or standing behind it. The library room is small. Once the layout is in place, I would have very little room to move it and absolutely no way to physically get behind the layout if a serious problem occurs. It should be noted that after years of operating the layout downstairs in my living room, I have concluded that the Libraryville layout will most likely never be placed in the library room. Why? Because I have experienced numerous occasions when I have had to go to the far, right corner of the layout or go behind it while it is downstairs to address issues that could only be addressed by me physically getting into those positions. It would be an impossible nightmare to address those issues if the layout were ever put in its designated place by design. Even though I came up with methods to reach parts of the layout by getting underneath it and leaving only enough room to stick my arm up between the layout and the wall, my arm isn’t long enough to bend the way it would need to bend to try to address some issues. I have since designed a storage building where I wish to one day put the Libraryville layout along with other designed track plans and layouts. I dreamingly referring to that building as my Train Museum. The Libraryville layout will be accessible on all sides in my much larger Train Museum building alleviating the problems related to accessing it from all sides. I have also vowed to never design another layout that will get trapped by being designed to fit into places too small to accommodate necessary and appropriate access to all parts of the layout.

PLANNING how you are going to build a layout, or anything (really), is an absolute must. TESTING your planned design is even MORE important, because you may find that the completely finished railroad layout may not fit or work out as great as you envisioned.

Here is another HUGE lesson to learn: If you choose to collect model trains with the interest and intent of operating those trains on a layout, you need to get some track down (even if it is a temporary circle), put some trains on the tracks, and get them running on that basic layout as soon as possible. Additionally, as you are building your great model railroading empire, MAKE CERTAIN that you are able to operate trains on that layout as quickly as possible and all throughout the development cycle! Try not to have a section out of operating capability for too long and always have some tracks that you can run trains on. Why? I am here to tell you that the number 1 reason I have been able to get such great deals on entire train collections, is because previous train owners have set out to do great things by building incredible model railroads, bought all the things they needed upfront, but either never laid 1 single piece of track, or never got the layout to a point where they could enjoy seeing their collected trains running on even a simple portion of their master planned layout. They became frustrated or distracted. And they gave up long before their dream was realized. Life sets in. They get interested in something else, and before you know it, they have hundreds or thousands of dollars invested in a hobby of trains that they never or rarely get to enjoy. The next thing you know, they are up for sale to whomever will come get them and they’ll almost pay someone to come take them away or they’ll accept much less than they paid for them just to get them out of their way and out of their lives. Many people do not like to be reminded of their failed endeavors and when they get frustrated like this, that’s the reality of it. Sometimes they have help being reminded. Their spouse, siblings, or friends keep bringing it up and nagging them about “What are you going to do with all those trains you bought? Don’t you see now that you wasted a lot of money? You need to get rid of those trains! They are just taking up too much space and you aren’t doing anything with them.” Try not to get yourself into this situation. Build and expand as often as you must. Keep some operational tracks available all the time. BUT if you do get frustrated, tired, or are ready to get out of the model railroading hobby, don’t throw your trains away. Contact me and I’ll be happy to find a new home for your trains. You can either donate them to me or consign them with me/, and I will help get your trains to someone who will do their best to appreciate them and use them (for a while anyway. Their day may come too when their spouse comes home and asks, “Honey, what are you going to do with those trains?”)

It’s after 1 AM. I’ll have to resume this another day. All additional updates will be provided as posts to this main article.

Started: May 4, 2023. 1st Published: August 12th, 2023. Tags: Libraryville layout, HO scale model railroad, Henry’s Train Collection, Henry’s HO Train Collection.

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Athearn John Deere N scale Train Set 2004 Collector’s Edition

In December 2021 a rare opportunity presented itself and I happen to be at the right place at the right time to seize it. Some could say the stars aligned just right that afternoon. Others may call it something else. But on the 18th of December in the 2021st year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I acquired the 2004 Limited Collector’s Edition of the Athearn John Deere N scale Train Set from a fellow Metrolina Model Railroaders club (MMRR) member. I am very grateful to him for selling me this very beautiful set to add to my model train collection. I had no idea that it existed. Below are some of the features of the train set along with lots of pictures and videos of the trains running on one of my N scale model railroad layouts known as the HJR Lonsway Pike.

Athearn released the John Deere N Scale (1/160TH) train set some time in 2004. It was NEW and SEALED in its original box with plastic wrap around it when it was first introduced to me. My fellow MMRR member mostly models HO scale items. He had just purchased a nice size lot of items in an online auction and among them was this handsome train set. He intended to sell it from the start. I just happen to be there when he opened up his big box of goodies and pulled this out. I asked him if he would be willing to part with it. He said yes. We struck a deal and now it has been added to my personal collection.

The box indicates the following preassembled contents as follows:

1 – John Deere F59 PHI DC Diesel Locomotive
2 – John Deere 85′ Bombardier Coach Cars
1 – John Deere 85′ Bombardier Control Car
1 – John Deere 53′ Flat Car With 2 7820 Tractors
1 – UL Listed Trainpak Power Supply
14-Piece Oval of Easy to Assemble Roadbed Track

After the MMRR member and I struck a deal we decided to open the train set at that time. I tore off the plastic wrap and in doing so accidentally ripped the golden 2004 collector’s medallion sticker that was affixed on top of it. I found one of the stickers still affixed in a photo of an eBay listing. I copied it and affixed it to my photo of the box in my pictures below. However, I had to find another listing on WorthPoint to be able to ascertain exactly what the sticker said. It says “1ST IN THE N GAUGE SERIES”. I would have kept the sticker that was on the one that I have if I had not ripped it into pieces when I removed the plastic. The sticker was affixed to the outside of the plastic. Both me and the seller thoroughly examined the train cars in the Athearn John Deere train set. There are a lot of minute details on each one of the train cars. The painting is very elaborate too.

I doubt that John Deere operated their own Passenger Train service. According to this Wikipedia article, the F59PHI locomotive in this train set was built for commuter service mostly in California sometime between the years 1994 and 2001 by General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD). Bombardier has made passenger cars and other trains in this country for quite some time and it is their line of commuter Passenger Cars represented in this model train set. In 1966 the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CBQ) railroad did pull a three-quarter (3/4) mile long train of John Deere tractors and equipment as part of a Deere company marketing campaign. However, I doubt that the John Deere company paid CBQ, Bombardier, or any other railway company to have their locomotive and passenger cars painted the way these model trains are painted. I believe this train set to be yet another John Deere marketing campaign . The campaign is all about the promotion of the John Deere 7820 tractor, a 185-HP (net), 20-speed, row-crop tractor manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa between 2003 and 2006. You can see it highlighted on the model 7820 Bombardier BiLevel Coach Control passenger car as well as see two N (1/160th) scale miniatures strapped to the 53′ N scale Flat car. I believe I have other N scale 7820 tractor models in my collection [need to find and confirm] and I know I have a fleet of 8 John Deere HO scale tractors as well, 7 of which are 6420 models.

Side Note: While writing this page, I searched the Internet and found some very interesting articles about the John Deer company which appears to be called Deere & Company now or just plain Deere (click links to visit I also ran across the Bombardier company and really enjoyed reading about the trains, plains, and other items the Bombardier company manufacturers or manufactured in the past (Alstrom acquired Bombardier’s transportation services a year prior to me writing this article.). [My links go to different places.] As fate would have it, later that same day, I booked a flight to Massachusetts via American Airlines to attend the annual Amherst Train Show and for the first time I noticed that I will be traveling on a Bombardier manufactured commercial passenger jet airplane soon. Had I not paid attention to the type of passenger cars included in this Athearn model train set, I am absolutely certain that I wouldn’t have paid any attention whatsoever to the manufacturer of the airplane I will be flying on very soon. I’m also sure that if I happen to get on one of Bombardier’s (or Alstrom’s) manufactured trains in the future, I will be more aware of it because of this John Deere model train set.

The HJR Lonsway Pike employs the use of some very steep grades. I modified the layout to include those grades in order to enhance the fun and appeal of that layout. My modifications were designed for trains to mostly run on the layout in a clockwise direction. This John Deere train set must be run in the counterclockwise direction on my layout in order for the John Deere F59 PHI locomotive to successfully pull the entire load successfully around my train layout and make it up the grades. You will see this in both videos. In the first video, you will see the locomotive struggle to make it up the steepest grade to go through the top of the mountain. In the second video you will watch it successfully go through the mountain and come out the other side while traveling in the counterclockwise direction. I don’t think I will even attempt to put this train set on my DeskTrain layout because I am pretty sure it will not make the grades on that layout in either direction.

Many thanks to D.O. for selling me the Athearn N scale John Deere train set.

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Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) N scale Collection featuring the Kato California Zephyr and Silver Streak Zephyr

On this page, I am sharing with you the history of the compilation of my N scale California Zephyr Chicago, Quincy & Burlington Collection. It is mostly comprised of Kato locomotives and passenger cars. However, to complete the Kato suggested possible consists of train sets, the last 4 locomotives to be added to the set are manufactured by Broadway Limited Imports. As a result, I have renamed this page and this portion of my overall model railroad collection and have settled on its final name.

It has taken quite a few years to assemble this particular collection. The first pieces were acquired while on vacation one year. As new editions to the fleet are acquired I will provide updates. In the first quarter of 2022, what I think will be the final pieces of the motive power for this collection are being acquired. The last 4 locomotives will be Broadway Limited Paragon4 locomotives instead of Kato’s. Nonetheless, thus far, everything else is all Kato equipment.

At the end of a vacation on November 21st, 2014, I decided to see if anyone had any good deals to add to my model railroad hobby — the Greatest Hobby in the World. I found what sounded to me like a great deal. A retired gentleman named Harry living in Seminole, FL was selling his N scale Kato CB&Q EMD E5A & Silver Streak Zephyr 6 Unit set (item #106-090). The friend I was visiting on vacation was kind enough to drive me about 45 minutes out of his way to pick-up that set from Harry. It was the coolest looking train set I had seen thus far in my model railroading experience at that time. It came inside of a very nice case designed to easily be stored on a bookshelf. I don’t know of any other model railroad manufacturer that sells their rolling stock train sets in such cool and convenient storage cases. See the pictures below to see exactly what I mean.

As you may notice, the above Kato set features the CB&Q SILVER STREAK ZEPHYR which is not a California Zephyr train set. Hence the reason I renamed this collection to just my “Chicago, Burlington & Quincy N scale Collection featuring the Kato California Zephyr and Silver Streak Zephyr”. I also have a lot of CB&Q freight cars but none of those are displayed on this page.

There are a lot of write-ups about the Silver Streak Zephyr. This Wikipedia article is short and sweet and very quickly provides some insights into how the Silver Streak Zephyr was actually named after the movie that proceeded it. The Silver Streak Zephyr train was in operation from 1940 through 1959 and consist of non-articulated passenger cars, something that CB&Q did away with just about the time the Silver Streak Zephyr was created.

Amtrak P42 pulls 12 Superliner Passenger cars while CBQ pulls 5 on HJR Lonsway Pike P2 April 15 2018
There are 2 train sets running in this video. The Silver Streak Zephyr is the one running on the inside loop and the S-curve overpass. It is the one you see at the start of this video. The train set is an Amtrak train set by Kato.
Kato CB&Q EMD E5A Silver Streak Zephyr 6 Unit train running on HJR Lonsway Pike April 15 2018
Kato CB&Q EMD E5-A Silver Streak Zephyr 6 Unit train running on HJR Lonsway Pike

I have some additional pictures and videos of the Silver Streak Zephyr running on the HJR Lonsway Pike prior to 2021 which I will incorporate into this page eventually. I also have close-up still shots of each car in the Silver Streak Zephyr line which I will post here as well. For now, the next paragraph quickly skips ahead from 2014 to 2021.

On June 1st, 2021 a huge addition to my Chicago, Burlington and Quincy N scale collection was added by a friend and client. Here is where I will start to introduce TRAVELING as a hobby on and provide a segue between these two great hobbies of mine. You may have already noticed a slight combination of the two. I will be more specific in the travel section but for now, notice that while on vacation in 2014, I didn’t leave Florida before checking to see if I could find something interesting to add to my model railroad hobby. I pretty much do this all the time now. In June of 2021, the entire theme of the vacation was all around REAL trains (Wait until you read the travel story — you’ll see what I mean.). The adventure was spectacular for me. And on June 1st, 2021, after getting off of the Amtrak Texas Eagle, picking up a rental car, and heading to my hotel, I had about 3 hours before I could check into the hotel. So, I asked Google Maps to route me to the nearest Train Store. Google found Model Train Crossing located at 1113 W Pipeline Rd Ste 125, Hurst, TX 76053. There website address is: While I was specifically looking for something in that store, I saw a ton of great items. Among them was this fascinating 11-piece Kato California Zephyr train set. Although I looked at it briefly in a glass case that had 2 Kato BNSF locomotives that I was really checking out very hard, the store owner and salesman walked up to me and asked me what I was interested in. We talked a little bit about the diesel engines and then I asked him about the California Zephyr set. All he could remember about it is that it had been purchased at an estate sale. I asked him if I could examine it closer. He went and grabbed the keys to the display case. He retrieved the set from the bottom of the case and handed it to me. At that very moment, my friend/client called me from Boston, MA. He asked me what I was doing. I quickly told him I had arrived safely in the Dallas, Texas area and was then at a train store somewhere near Arlington, TX, killing time before I checked into my hotel. I told him that I was opening up a very beautiful 11-piece train set that I was probably going to buy. I talked with him as I walked to the counter, placed the set on it, reviewed the outside of the box, and then opened it up and slid out the tray holding the passenger cars. He asked me what I thought. As I examined the cars closer looking to see if everything was intact, I told him, “Yes, I was going to buy it because it appeared to be practically new, opened, but none of the cars showed any signs of use or damage.” He asked me to hand my phone to the cashier. I did. When the cashier handed the phone back to me, he asked me if I wanted the receipt printed or emailed. My friend said, “Happy Birthday!” And the set was then all mine. The travel story will provide more details, but for now the story is told in the video. I previously said that I would write more down about this, and I just did. In the videos, I might say a little bit more or a little bit less. Regardless, I appreciate my friend and client very much for the gift. It was a huge gesture. It has served as inspiration and of course has led to me striving to complete the suggested train sets mentioned on the back of the California Zephyr 11-piece box.

N Kato California Zephyr 11-Piece set (still shots)
N Kato California Zephyr 11 Piece Passenger Car Set Unveiling 2021-06-19
Pulling 11, then 16 California Zephyr passenger cars with 1 Kato DCC-Equipped EMD  E6-A locomotive.
Operating 2 long Passenger Trains on my layout

While trying to locate and gather the locomotives suggested by Kato that pulled the California Zephyr from Chicago to California and back, I found, bought, and received 2 E5-A locomotives that were supposed to be in great shape and very good running condition. At first, they did not run at all for me. So this post started on my website as a means to document my first attempts to operate the 2 consisted locomotives on my HJR Lonsway Pike layout and to provide an easy method for the seller to see what was happening when I tried to run the locomotives he sold me. The next 2 videos show the seller what I experienced the first and second times I tied to get the locomotives to run.

N Kato CBQ 2 Used DCCe Locos NotWorking 20210623 234116

N Kato CBQ 2 Used DCCe Locos Still Not Working 20210624 000842

The seller called me back and provided me contact information to the person that programmed his locomotives. That person was able to give me the correct code programmed into these 2 locomotives. I was able to operate the locomotives as seen in the following video.

2 New to me DCC Equipped CBQ Locomotives now running great 2021-06-24

After getting the 2 new-to-me DCC Equipped Kato CB&Q locomotives working using the information provided by the seller’s friend, the seller also shared with me some videos of the 2 locomotives in operation on his layout. For several months those videos were posted here. However, as of February, 2022, I noticed those videos are no longer available. I unembedded them from this page.

In January, 2022, I stumbled across a Kato 4-piece add-on set of passenger cars. While doing research to identify the history of the newly received 4-pack of passenger cars, I ran across numerous webpages by Fred Klein, who apparently has been updating some of his pages for over 20 years with information about the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy California Zephyr train cars and train sets with lots of focus on the Kato N scale models. I wanted to take this time to include links to his very informative and very helpful web pages. I may be excerpting, quoting and/or paraphrasing some of his content in the future. If you wish to read about the real prototypes of the Kato N scale corrugated passenger cars, then Fred Klein’s documentation appears to me to be a very good place to start. He covers models by other brands as well.

Security Notes: Mr. Klein has not yet made his website use Secure Socket Layer protocols. I may have to remove the following links as they may cause my website’s SSL protection to appear to be vulnerable. As mentioned, I visited his site, read all the content a couple times on all of the following linked pages, and found nothing harmful there. Upon clicking these links, your browser may provide you with a warning message indicating that Mr. Klein’s site is not secure. Proceed at your own risk. I feel his pages are safe. However, you agree to hold me and mine harmless should your experience differ from mine.

On January, 26th, 2022, four (4) simulated stainless steel corrugated passenger cars arrived. These cars are supposed to be Kato’s 106-1606 Corrugated Passenger Car Set B of Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. I opened those on February 17th, 2022 and cataloged them. To my surprise, the 4 cars received are not exactly the 4 cars that are supposed to be in the set. I ordered the set on eBay and I have concluded that the seller must have had multiple Kato CB&Q sets and mixed up the cars that he put in the set that he sold me. I’m not that bothered by this because thus far only 1 of the cars he included duplicated a car that I previously have already. One day I think I will actually list every car in my CB&Q roster. For now, as you can see on the side of the box in the following picture and at the beginning of one of the videos below, there is supposed to be a Baggage car, Coach car, Dome car, and Sleeper Car in the Kato 106-1606 set. I received 1 Baggage, 2 Dome, and 1 Sleeper cars.

Before the Kato 106-1606 set arrived, I placed a pre-order with Factory Direct Hobbies for a combination pack of 2 Broadway Limited locomotives, item #BLI-6862. This combination pack consist of 1 powered A-unit locomotive and 1 dummy B-unit locomotive pair. I previously mentioned that once these arrive, I would take more photos and videos of them running. I would also turn on my Broadway Limited Rolling Thunder so that I can share with you the enormous sound that it pretends to give to model railroad locomotives.

Well, the Broadway Limited Imports BLI-6862 Denver and Rio Grande Western F7-A and F7-B Paragon4 equipped locomotives arrived near the end of February, 2022. The following videos demonstrate my experience with this duo and its operation on my HJR Lonsway Pike layout.

N Broadway Limited Imports Denver & Rio Grande Western (DRGW) F7A&B Diesel Locomotive Review part 1
N scale Broadway Limited Imports Denver & Rio Grande Western (DRGW) #BLI-6862 Paragon4 DCC-Sound Equipped F7-A and Dummy F7-B set
N BLI-6862 DRGW F7-A&B 5641 & 5642 and Kato CB&Q 4-pcs passenger car set 106-1606 Review
Attempts to get the brand new BLI-6862 DRGW locomotive set to pull the Kato 106-1606 4-piece passenger car set.

As mentioned in the above video, my thoughts were to see if I could get away with just buying 1 Broadway Limited Imports #6862 F7-A&B locomotive set. If that set ran successfully on my layout and was able to pull all 19 passenger cars or even half of them, like 10 or 11 of the passenger cars, then I would have been satisfied. Perhaps I would have bought another A&B set just to complete the collection and feel as if I had accomplished compiling the suggested array of train sets on the back of the Kato 106-055B 11-piece passenger car set box. But the BLI locomotive pair couldn’t even pull 4 Kato passenger cars up any of the grades on my layout. So, I managed to pull off getting an order in over at for 2 individually packaged Paragon4 powered Broadway Limited Imports D&RGW F7-A & F7-B units on special before they ran out.

On March 8th, 2022, the 2 individually boxed and powered BLI DRGW F7-A and F7-B arrived. They both look similar to the F3 units suggested on the back of the Kato 106-055B 11-piece passenger car set box. There is very little difference between an F7 and an F3 unit. This now gives me the suggested 4 locomotives which I can put on the tracks in an A-B-B-A arrangement as suggested on the box. One of the F7-B units is unpowered.

In the video that follows [after 3 paragraphs], I test the 2 newly received BLI F7-A & F7-B units, BLI-6873 #5644 and BLI -6874 #5643, respectively. After testing them I add them to the F7-A and F7-B pair (item number BLI-6862) road numbers: #5641 and #5642, respectively. I run the 4-unit locomotive consist as 5641 (pf) + 5642 (df) + 5643 (pr) + 5644 (pr), where pf = powered running forward, df = dummy running forward, and pr = powered running in reverse, to create the desired F7 ABBA arrangement. These 4 locomotives consisted together are very handsome, highly detailed, and very loud compared to the average N scale locomotive with an add-on sound decoder. They definitely have bigger sound than the other Sound Equipped Kato locomotives that I have in the CB&Q collection. They run very smooth over most of my Atlas code 55 tracks. But the true test would be to see “could this 4-locomotive Broadway Limited Imports consist with 3 powered units pull my 19 Kato Chicago, Burlington & Quincy passenger car set?” I endeavored to find out.

Originally, this video was about 53 minutes long. However, when I uploaded it to my YouTube channel there was a 1.5 to 2 minute segment where I sat my phone down without pausing the recording while I put more passenger cars on the tracks, and in the background music by Depeche Mode was playing on my TV which could faintly be heard. Even though the music could hardly be heard at all in the video, Google/YouTube felt it was loud enough to warrant flagging my video for copyright infringement. So, I edited the video and had Google cut-out that segment where the music could be heard plus additional time where only a blurry view of foliage could be seen for a total of about 13 minutes removed. I mention this because the BLI locomotives only begin to pull all 19 cars successfully near the end of this video and then right when I was just about to give up trying to get the trains to all stay together, they finally make at least 2 full loops around my layout and then something happens.

At first, it appears to be a short-circuit which typically means that one of the train cars with metal wheels derailed on the tracks and bridged a connection between the 2 rails thus causing the short. You will see that I ended the video to turn the power to the trains off, resolve the short-circuit issue, and then go to bed. After I ended the video and investigated, I wasn’t able to go to bed because I wanted to get to the heart of the problem. I discovered that nothing was wrong on the tracks or with any of the passenger cars. The problem turned out to be something went wrong with the 4th locomotive, #5644 (BLI-6873). Apparently that locomotive shorted inside of itself. Every attempt to get it to operate after the video ends results in an immediate short-circuit indication from my MRC Prodigy Advance command station. I took each powered locomotive off the tracks and then put them back on individually, powered up the transformer and immediately received a short only when DRGW #5644 was on the tracks. So, this resulted in me returning that locomotive for replacement. I mailed it on Friday, March 11th. MB Klein, owners and operators of asked me to describe what happened. In that description, I let them know that I also happen to be filming the locomotives when the problem occurred and I gave them a reference point within the video that they can watch on this page if they choose to. However, since I wrote that, the video has been cut short by at least 13 minutes so the timestamp I gave them to look at is not present in the video. [For the technicians, the best way to see the problem as it occurs is to skip to the last 3 minutes of the video.]

N Broadway Limited Imports DRGW All 4 F7 Locomotives ABBA Test Pulling 19 Kato CBQ Passenger  Cars
Getting 4 BLI DRGW Locomotives to pull 19 Kato CB&Q Passenger Cars

On March 13th, I took the following still shots of all four Denver and Rio Grande Western locomotives on my tracks.

When locomotive DRGW #5644 returns, I will make another video of the 4 BLI locomotives pulling the 19 train passenger cars that I have and during that video I will turn on the Rolling Thunder to see if it will work. It should be noted that the BLI F7 ABB consist headed-up by locomotives: 5641+5642+5643 do not have enough power to pull the 19 passenger cars 1 millimeter on my HJR Lonsway Pike layout. The following picture shows this portion of my CB&Q train collection waiting for DRGW #5644 to return. I know that I could add 1 Kato E5-A to the front of this consist and it would pull all of it. The BLI locomotives look great and sound great but they are much less powerful than the Kato locomotives.

CB&Q N scale Collection - 2 Kato E5-A's pull 19 passenger cars plus BLI DRGW ABB run on 2022-03-17

In the meantime while we are waiting for the BLI DRGW #5644 locomotive to return, I will attempt to catch up on a few other videos as well as speed match the 3 Kato Western Pacific locomotives. I may even attempt to get them to pull the 19 train cars. One question is where do I have enough room to speed-test the 3 Kato WP locomotives? Will I have enough room on the HJR Lonsway Pike or will I have to use another layout that I am making specifically for resale once it is finished and has been evaluated for NMRA Achievement Award points?


March 3rd, 2022

On March 18th, 2022, the replacement BLI DRGW #5644 locomotive arrived. I took it out of the box and discovered that the front coupler operating hinge pin on the Micro-Trains coupler was bent out of position and there seemed to be a little bit of a gap between the 2 horizontal halves of the coupler. I turned the coupler pin back to its normal position, but this looked as if it might pose a problem later. Additionally, I wanted to see if this particular F7-A unit was going to clear my tracks. The previous A-Unit that was returned apparently didn’t always clear my track. So, I put the locomotive on my tracks and hand pushed it to see if the nose grill would hit the top of my code 55 rails while coming off of the steepest grade on my HJR Lonsway Pike layout. Sure enough, the bottom of the nose did hit the top of the Points on the tracks. At first, I thought I might have to trim some of the plastic from underneath the nose to keep it from hitting. But when I lifted the locomotive off the track, I noticed that there was about 1/16th or 3/32nd of an inch play in the way the shell fits on the locomotive. If the shell was lifted to the highest point of that play, then the bottom of the shell wouldn’t hit my track. So before attempting to run the locomotive, I removed the shell to see what could be done.

I ended up putting 2 layers of Gorilla tape on top of the interior nose piece that the shell almost rests on when it is on the locomotive. I took some pictures and maybe even a video to document that. After some trials and additional test fittings, this worked out. However, in the end, the coupler hinge pin came out of the Micro-Trains front coupler. I had already snipped the couplers length a little bit because it looked as if it might cause a short or derailment if it were to hit the top of my rails while the locomotive was traveling at a decent rate of speed. In the past, I have noticed that Micro-Trains couplers do not work very reliably without the coupler hinge pin installed so because it slipped completely out, I turned it upside down and just laid it inside the hole made for it. That would work sufficiently without allowing the coupler pin to slip completely through the hole while the train was running until such time that I can look and see if I already have a Micro-Trains coupler that I can use or if I have to order some.

BLI N scale Paragon4 D&RGW F7-A (The 2nd one in 2 weeks) gets a shell lift 2022-03-18 upon return
Second Broadway Limited Imports Denver & Rio Grande Western gets a Shell Lift. Also, test Rolling Thunder with Paragon4 and it fails.

Now, with the coupler operational and the nose of the newly replaced BLI DRGW #5644 sitting up high enough to make it all the way around my track without causing any issues, I put the locomotive back on the track and started testing it. I ran it around the tracks solo a couple of times. Then, I wanted to see if this locomotive alone would work with my BLI Rolling Thunder. So, I turned on the Rolling Thunder module. NOTHING. Not a thing. The receiver didn’t recognize the locomotive. So to be sure that my Rolling Thunder was working okay, I pulled out an HO scale BLI Paragon3 locomotive and put it on my HO scale Libraryville layout which is about 2 feet from the N scale HJR Lonsway Pike layout. The Rolling Thunder recognized the locomotive and started providing sound for it. I managed to catch this as part of the above video. [My apologies for my really horrible camera views. I am holding a cell phone while trying to work on or operate the trains so I am rarely looking at the phone to be sure what I am talking about is actually in view. Additionally, in the above video I mention that I think the coupler was screwed to the shell in the first DRGW #5644 that I received. That may not be true. I also removed the shells on several of the Kato locomotives within the 10 days that the locomotive was being exchanged. The Kato’s due have the front coupler attached to the shell and not the frame so I may have remembered incorrectly about the BLI shell and coupler.]

To further determine if there is something wrong with the Paragon4 or N scale not being compatible with my Rolling Thunder, I retrieved a brand new, in the box, Paragon3 N scale locomotive from its storage location and put it on my N scale layout. That locomotive is an undecorated ES44AC that I will eventually paint to match the scheme of one of my companies. It was purchased on March 22, 2020 and has never been operated. I put it on the tracks closest 2 my Rolling Thunder receiver (about 2 feet away) and turned it on. To my dismay, Rolling Thunder did not pick it up. But even worse, the locomotive would not run. It provided a good light show as the cab light-up completely and all the sounds operated, but the locomotive didn’t move 1 millimeter when I turned the throttle. Here again Broadway Limited Imports has let me down by providing expensive crap that doesn’t work as expected when it comes time for it to do so. You can see this occurring in the following video.

BLI N scale 3553 Paragon3 Undecorated GE ES44AC Fails To Run or Work with Rolling Thunder 2022-03-18
When Paragon4 fails to connect to Rolling Thunder, I test it with a NEW Paragon3 locomotive. It fails to connect as well and fails to move!

As if the new Paragon4 and Paragon3 locomotives right out of the box not working with Roller Thunder wasn’t devastating enough, you won’t believe what happens next. After getting all 4 of the BLI DRGW locomotives working together again, I wanted to get a picture and some video of all of my N scale Chicago, Burlington & Quincy passenger car collection on the HJR Lonsway Pike layout at the same time and if at all possible, have all of the locomotives running at the same time too. As I positioned additional locomotives on the tracks while the 4 DRGW locomotives were idling on the tracks, the A-Unit that was part of the A&B unit dual locomotive set #6862 shorted, and stopped working. THIS pissed me off. However, that action occurred while a video recording was on hold so it didn’t happen on camera. I decided to mention what happened in a video so I could present it to the seller or Broadway Limited Imports, and low and behold, the newly received A-Unit shorted while the trains were just sitting there idling and now it too doesn’t work anymore either. That is 2 of the 3 powered Broadway Limited Imports F7 Diesels with Paragon4 are not working with less than 2 hours of runtime. SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT! The expensive Broadway Limited Imports CRAP is JUNK — Pretty, Handsome, Beautifully Sounding Electronic Waste! That is a kind way of calling them SHIT! You can see the replacement A-Unit stop working in the following video.

2 BLI N scale F7-A Units STOP WORKING and Short Out while just sitting on the tracks on 3-19-2022
2 Broadway Limited Imports N scale Paragon4 Denver & Rio Grande Western F7-A diesel locomotives STOP WORKING by shorting themselves out.

(Preparing to return all 4 BLI locos)

March 24, 2022 at 3:50 PM. I called Broadway Limited Imports to see what can be done about these failing locomotives. I managed to get a technician on the line. I explained to him what is happening and what is going on. I ask him is this is a known problem and if other people are experiencing these issues. He doesn’t seem to have received a report from anyone else that this is occurring, but he neither confirmed or denied it. He said that they could take a look at them. I mentioned to him that the almost 2-year old locomotive always failed. He said that one seemed like the motor crapped out on it. I mentioned to him that I cannot keep buying faulting locomotives or locomotives that keep failing after being on the shelf for 1 or 2 years. I let him know that yesterday (March 23, 2022), their billing department sent me an invoice for $99.00 for an HO scale Paragon3 that was acting exactly like the almost 2-year old undecorated new-in-the-box never-before-run ES44AC. He told me that he felt he might be able to get the 4 DRGW locomotives looked at by expediating a return to them. I asked him if they were going to charge me for that. He said he felt they could do it, but he would run it by his manager to be sure. Then asked about the 2-year old and before he could say anything, the line went dead. I looked at the time as I quickly called back. It was exactly 4:01 PM. I believe this has happened before and I believe that BLI’s phone system terminates all calls exactly at 4 PM. When I called back, I only received a message indicating that I need to call between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. So, it is 4:14 PM as I write this line. One of my concerns is that if I send the 4 DRGW to BLI, the companies I bought them from won’t be able to refund my money if BLI replaces them or send them back modified. So, I think I’m done with Broadway Limited Imports. This is just too many failures occurring with their products. So, I’m going to call and and see if I can return these and get my money back. I just don’t have any confidence in Broadway Limited Import’s ability to produce consistent quality products that work reliably over long periods of time.

Okay, I calmed down a little bit. I called Broadway Limited Back the next morning and was able to speak with the same technician that was helping me when were disconnected the afternoon before. He had spoken with his manager and transferred me to him. We spoke at length about what has happened and about my concerns. Arrangements were made to send the 5 locomotives to Broadway Limited Imports for repair. That has been done. They will evaluate the locomotives and see if they can repair them. We discussed options in case they cannot be repaired or replaced as I won’t be able to returned them to the sellers and get my money back since I sent them to the manufacturer instead. I have a lot of BLI locomotives and I would like for them to run good and reliably. Hopefully this can be achieved.

In the correspondence, as per my conversation with the BLI Tech Manager, this page was provided along with a lot of information regarding how the locomotives ran, my layout, and MRC command station. I stated I would upload a lot of the videos that I took showing the performance and failures of the BLI locomotives. It has taken me much longer to do so than I anticipated. As I write this line it is 3:43 AM on April 1st, 2022. The locomotives were delivered to BLI on March 29th around 4:30 pm according to tracking. So they have had them for a couple of days now. I just invested the past 4 hours updating this page and tried to get as many of the videos and photos posted as I could. There are others not embedded in this page yet. That might be okay though because it may take several weeks for BLI to get to my locomotives. I didn’t check yet to see if the support website shows that they received them yet. I haven’t received an email indicating that they have.

Meanwhile, the HO Paragon3 locomotive that was in their shop was delivered on March 31st. I haven’t opened it yet. I need to get up in 5 hours and have a full day planned for today followed by a Train Club meeting tomorrow so it may be 16 hours to 3 days before I get a chance to resume updating this page or unpacking and of the returned HO Paragon3 locomotive.

Here is an interesting video that didn’t go as planned with just the Kato locomotives and passenger cars.

Done with BLI Locos.  Attempt to run 5 Kato E5-A's, 3 WP F3's, and 19 CB&Q passenger cars

On March 26, 2022 just before completing the packaging of sending DRGW locomotives to Broadway Limited Imports, I decided to try to test the last working locomotive, an F7-B unit to see if it would connect with my Rolling Thunder module. It would not.

N BLI DRGW F7-B #5643 Rolling Thunder Test

Having removed the DRGWs from my layout and prepared them to be sent to BLI, I split the 20 passenger cars up. I think I had most of them on the tracks, about 10 or 11 cars were pulled by 2 sound-equipped CB&Q E5-A’s while 3 WP F3’s pulled 7 to 9 cars around the tracks in the opposite direction. This worked good for the most part. However, I discovered that something was happening in the tunnel underneath my mountain. The tracks there were not very secure and may have had a small flexible hump in them. As the 2 heavy E5-A units went over the tracks, the tracks lowered and then raised again causing occasional derailments. Discovering this caused me to glue down the roadbed and track a little more and just before doing that I decided to clean all the track that I could reach with a brite-boy. I haven’t removed the pins holding down the tracks yet so I haven’t taken any other videos since or test run the trains again after gluing them down.

N Kato 2 CBQ E5-As and 3 WP F3s pull CB&Q Passenger Cars Okay
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HO Sperry Rail Car Doodlebug

I found this Sperry Rail Car Doodlebug at a local antique store. To my surprise, it runs very well. It was made from a kit by someone else. I had some Christmas trains as well as some Metaltrain cars on my layout so I hooked it up to those while testing it. It struggled a little bit but it managed to pull 6 cars around my lower mainline loop on the my HO scale Libraryville layout. Pulling that load or just 3 of the Christmas cars it couldn’t make it up a 3 or 4 percent grade. No matter. Because I was surprised it ran at all, I grabbed my phone and took a video of it running around the track.

It would be 13 months before I finally finished posting the video to YouTube and my website.

HO Sperry Rail Car Doodlebug running on Libraryville 20201206 005805
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HO Athearn UP1943 Out of box Review

Well model railroad fans, this is a cruel review of a brand new, just received, right out of the box, HO scale Athearn Genesis Union Pacifc Heritage DCC-Sound Equipped SD-70ACe Diesel Engine Locomotive #1943. It was delivered on December 3rd, 2020, I opened it shortly after midnight on the 4th of December. I took it out of the box and placed it on my tracks. I grabbed my cell phone and started recording a video. I went over some brief details about the locomotive and I mentioned some new updates to my layout. Actually, the video was supposed to be about the new updates to my layout. I spoke to a friend and he wanted to see a video of the changes I made. Since the new locomotive came in, I decided I would film it as well as show the updates to the layout. My friend would get to see both at the same time.

What I didn’t expect was the locomotive not to move right out of the box. I had to push it to get it to start moving. Once I did that, it moved half-way around my layout. I stopped it. Then I turned the throttle up again and it wouldn’t move. This time, even giving it a push it would not move. I had to end the video the examine the locomotive further. I sat down and read the paperwork from front to back. In it, it has some troubleshooting tips. One of those is what to do if the sound works but the locomotive doesn’t move. It is recommended that I reset the locomotive to factory settings. So, I did that. It was successfully reset to factory and upon turning the transformer back on, after about 10 seconds, the lights blinked 16 times. This is an indication of a successful reset.

However, the locomotive still would not move. I took the shell off and tried to get it to move. It would not. I pressed down on the locomotive while it was on the tracks and the throttle was engaged. Finally, it moved. I let it run for 30 minutes at various speed-steps, but didn’t push it above 14 (using 28 speed steps). Then I ran it in reverse. I let it run until I became too sleepy to deal with it any more. I went to bed.

After a long day, I returned and with a little difficulty, I was able to get the locomotive to run again. This time, I let it run several laps around on speed-step 1. Then I did the same thing in reverse. I eventually after more than hour, increased the speed and ran it at speed-step 4 for a while. I lubricated the places indicated in the manual as points of lubrication. I did this by apply oil onto a toothpick and then placing the toothpick and the many points illustrated in the guidebook. I ran the locomotive both forward and in reverse for another 30 to 45 minutes. Eventually, I put the shell back on it and let it run for several more minutes in both directions. I had to push start it several times. So you can imagine my frustration. Eventually, it did perform better, but still, the locomotive should work flawlessly instead of picking and choosing when it wants to move and when it doesn’t.

HO Athearn Union Pacific UP1943 DCC-Sound Diesel Locomotive review -won't move right out of the box
HO Athearn Genesis Union Pacific Heritage SD-70ACe Diesel Engine #1943 running on Libraryville

Sadly, folks, after a day of resting, I tried to operate the beautiful UP #1943 again, and it wouldn’t move. I tried pressing down on it, giving it a push forward and backwards. It would not move in response to throttle commands. I reached out to the seller and the manufacturer. I will update you as to the outcome of this locomotive once the issues has been addressed by one of them. 12/7/2020 – Henry