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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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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
Posted on

In the beginning …

HJR was browsing ads on a popular website and a listing caught his eye. The listing was for the sale of an N scale layout complete with locomotives, cars, controller, buildings and accessories. HJR responded to the ad and made arrangements to drive the distance to take a look at the items that were for sale. Upon meeting Mr Lonsway, a deal was struck and HJR acquired the majority of Lonsway’s N scale collection.

These photos are from the ad listing:

HJR packed his vehicle with everything he could carry filling it to the top. Mr Lonsway was kind enough to deliver the layout. Initially, HJR was mostly interested in everything except the layout simply because he didn’t really have a place to put it plus he already had 3 existing N scale layouts (MoTrack, HJR DeskTrain, and Dell Box Tester). So HJR decided to put the layout itself in its received state without any buildings, controller or accessories. He first offered it to fellow members of the Metrolina Model Railroader club. Shortly after that, HJR launched this website and the Atlas Code 55 Lonsway layout was among the first items to be offered on the site. HJR set a time frame as to when he would offer the original layout at a price close to what he acquired it for. The following pictures are those taken by HJR and placed on a sales flyer for promoting the sale of the layout:

Several months passed without anyone choosing to buy the layout. HJR decided to invest some time and money into making the layout more functional and attractive to other modelers. He told club members that if they waited until after he put his time and resources into the layout, the sales price of the layout would go up drastically to reflect the value added and the costs of the materials that makeup the layout. Thus begins the HJR Lonsway Pike layout project.

In the published articles related to the HJR Lonsway Pike layout on this website, pictures, videos and storytelling will lead you on the journey from where HJR acquired the layout through its eventual completion. This journey will take years to unfold. The story and snapshots you experience here will compress that time and hopefully give you an enjoyable and entertaining insight into a few aspects of the World’s Greatest Hobby of Model Railroading and a front seat to the remodeling, enhancing and playing of the HJR Lonsway Pike. This publications will also be used towards applicable NMRA Achievement Awards to which HJR will be applying. Because of the desired format that the NMRA Evaluators prefer to see, page comments on this project and other sections of this website are not allowed. Eventually an area where comments can be left may be provided. For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the presentation. Return periodically to view updated content. In September 2019, HJR will launch a crowd funding campaign towards finding a permanent facility to house the HJR Lonsway Pike and other model railroading projects that the public can visit, view first hand and even operate. Your support and donations are greatly appreciated.

HJR feels that Mr Lonsway did a great job on the layout and therefore honors Mr Lonsway by bestowing his name as part of the official name of the N scale model railroad known as the HJR Lonsway Pike. HJR is extremely grateful for the original building and contributions that Mr Lonsway made to the layout.

HJR points out some of the wonderful features of the original layout that Lonsway contributed:

  • Construction of a light-weight Luan 7-foot x 3.5-foot layout table for the bench-work.
  • Applying a 1 inch thick Styrofoam base on top of the bench-work.
  • Building a mountainous scene using rock molds.
  • Building a mountain with very realistic scenery details.
  • Using Atlas Code 55 track and matching colored brown ballast.
  • Creating a very realistic looking lake with creek bed.

HJR thanks Mr Lonsway for selling him the layout and the majority of the rest of his N scale collection which included many buildings already assembled, scenery materials, paints, Union Pacific locomotives and passenger cars as well as freight cars. Mr Lonsway also provided extra track, the original rock molds, turnout switch machines, and a Digitrax Zephyr DCC controller. As of August 22nd, 2019 when this article was written, all of the items in the Lonsway purchase have not yet been cataloged. When they have been, that list will be made available.

The issues that HJR had with the original layout are as follows:

  • The layout contained 2 disconnected loops.
  • The combination of using Atlas Code 55 and Atlas Code 80 tracks did not account for the rail height differences causing less than acceptable train running performances.
  • Although a town was being added to the layout it wasn’t yet complete which may have dissuaded interested parties from purchasing it.

The next post will explore how HJR dealt with the issues that confronted him on the layout.

HJR Lonsway Pike

N scale 7 ft x 3.5 ft Atlas Code 55  layout called HJR Lonsway Pike.

The HJR Lonsway Pike is fully loaded.  It was originally designed and started by J Lonsway.  HJR purchased it, redesigned and remodeled it.  Pictures, videos and detailed logs showing the remodeling process will be posted here soon.

Originally, this N scale layout was made with light-weight luan plywood as the benchwork and all the scenery was on 1 level featuring 2 unconnected loops on a very mountainous rocky plane with lake and creek.  It had a tall mountain that the train passed through and used 2 different codes of Atlas N scale track (code 55 and code 80).  Mr. Lonsway told HJR that he thought he had connected the loops but forgot to include an area where he could be a town and some industry.  When he realized this, he cut into the hillside and started preparing to incorporate a town into the layout.  HJR’s redesign and remodeling of the layout kept the basic elements of Lonsway design and enhanced it by connecting the 2 loops, converting one of the spurs into a ramp to traverse over top of the 2 loops, adding a ramp to create an elevated path through the mountain, adding a removable custom built bridge, modifying 2 other spurs and adding an a spur really make for a far more entertaining and interactive layout.  HJR added a neighborhood of homes, a small shipping industry, church and an entire town with a busy main street and bypass complete with hotel, movie theater, bank, book store, passenger station, freight station, high rise apartment building, drug store, meat shop, gas station and of course, HJR SOFTWARE’s computer repair store.

The remodeled layout has it all and is using 100% Atlas premium nickel silver rails on brown ties (code 55 track), an oil pump rig, water tower, telephone poles, mailboxes, fire station, police station, penthouse restaurant on top of hotel, LED lighting, Circuitron slow motion switch machines, 2-head signal targets, operating traffic lights and even lighted automobiles.  The layout can be operated with a DC or DCC controller.  There is even a built-in toggle switch to allow one of the spurs to be used as a programming track.  The layout is being offered without a controller so that the buyer can choose and connect their own controller, or for an additional $400 plus applicable charges, a DCC Digitrax Zeyphr Command Station can be provided by HJR.

Photos, Videos, Parts List and Development Time will be posted soon.

Item Description Cash Price Plastic Price
Current HJR Lonsway Pike with 9 Tortoises Installed $4900.00 $5046.65
Above with Digitrax DCS51 command controller included $5200.00 $5355.61

The N scale Lonsway layout as purchased December 14 2017

Additional Videos

February 28, 2018. Tags: N scale layout, model railroad, Henry’s Train Collection, Henry’s N Train Collection.