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HO Lionel North Pole Central Passenger Train

February 2, 2024. Currently, an HO scale Lionel North Pole Central Passenger Train set does not exist! I’m on a mission. Care to help me out? Can WE WILL this model train set into existence?

I already wrote a letter to Lionel. I am going to include that letter here. I am also going to put up a survey form. Please cast your VOTE for or against an HO Lionel North Pole Central Passenger Train set. I mentioned to Lionel that I would re-message them again on February 1st, 2023, about possibly creating this train set. It might take them a year or two to make it, but I would really like to have one with all the features I detailed in my letter. If you cast your vote, I will make it a point to send the results to Lionel periodically to let them know that I am NOT ALONE in wanting such a train set to be created. Thank you very much for your support and assistance. Let’s get this one done…

Keep in the mind that the images displayed here either come from Trainworld or Lionel. They were sent to me by Trainworld via one of their email updates on Christmas 2023 train releases. The models displayed are O scale. WE HO scale modelers need one of these. What do you think?

I have emailed Trainworld too asking for them to encourage Lionel to produce this train in HO scale. Wouldn’t it be great if Trainworld helped distribute them as well as drum up support and interest in the idea?

The letter and pictures have been posted. I had to modify the original photos in order to create the photos displayed on this page.

March 18, 2024. Today, I am just now getting to publish the emailed letter that I wrote and sent to Lionel and Trainworld on December 13, 2023. February was a very busy month for me and March has been just a busy. I did not yet re-mail this letter to them. I will try again on the 2nd of April, in hopes that I will have some Survey responses to include with my re-mailing to them at that time.


I just received the flyer email from Trainworld that is at the bottom of this message.  I am forwarding this to Lionel, back to Trainworld, as well as to members of the Charlotte, NC based Metrolina Model Railroaders Club.

LIONEL, would you consider producing in HO scale for an upcoming seasonal release (2024 or 2025), the following:

1)  A North Pole Central E8 AA Set with Dual-Mode DCC & Sound, both locomotives powered and addressable separately, speed-matched, good heavy weight (die cast metal if you can make it happen affordably), with lots of details, and road numbers OTHER than #1225.

2) A Lighted North Pole Central 85′ Coach Passenger Car with detailed interior.

3) A Lighted North Pole Central 85′ Vista Dome Passenger Car with detailed interior.

4) A Lighted North Pole Central 85′ Dinner Passenger Car with detailed interior.

5) A Lighted North Pole Central 85′ Observation Passenger Car with detailed interior and lighted drumhead on the end that acts like a FRED (End of Train Device).

ALL OF THE ABOVE ITEMS should have Kadee Metal Knuckle Couplers, RP25 Contoured, low profile (code 70 compatible) Metal Wheels (of course) (with Kato N scale type power pick-ups on the wheels or some method that is low friction so that the cars roll exceptionally well), LED lighted interior (similar to Bachmann’s HO scale most recently released smooth side passenger cars), with actual people figures in all passenger cars, engineer and brakeman in Diesel locomotives, and be 18″ Radius Compatible right out of the box.

Could you offer all of that as a Train Set (cars and locomotives only)?

You could easily offer everything separately as well, plus offer it all packaged as a complete starter set too.

If you want to add some more bells and whistles or features, that would great, such as possibly putting a lighted & decorated Christmas Tree and other Christmas decorations inside the dining car; and adding a sound option to that car that plays a Christmas carol sung by the passengers with ambient dining noises in the background.  Or, how about a family or two in the Vista Dome car, with one or two kids looking up into the sky, again with a sound option that has them excitedly screaming “Wow!!!  There goes Santa in his sleigh with reindeers…”  You get the idea, right?  Cool!!!

I love the paint scheme of the O scale North Pole Central that Trainworld informed me they are selling for Lionel with the flyer they sent me below.  It’s great.  I just DO NOT COLLECT O scale trains personally anymore and I have tried my best to get rid of all of the ones that I have and that have been consigned to  I have enough HO and N scale Steam locomotives.  I told myself I wasn’t going to buy any more, but I have ordered BLI’s latest N scale Merry Christmas 4-8-4 Steam locomotive that I am praying arrives before Christmas 2023, along with Con-Cor’s N scale Christmas Train by Micro-Trains.  I have considered buying the Lionel Polar Express HO scale train set in the past and just about picked up a set from the new Berkshire Station train store when I was there in October.  But I didn’t.  However, in November, our train club, the Metrolina Model Railroaders, presented a version of our club’s layout at the 56th annual Southern Christmas Show, and one of our members brought their HO Lionel Polar Express.  It WOULD NOT WORK!  It took me forever to reset it to factory defaults.  I tried to make it work using the LionChief throttle that came with it.  That didn’t work.  I tried our Digitrax DT500 throttles and that didn’t work.  I used my phone and the LionChief app, and was able to get it to move, but it wouldn’t go more than 5 tracks without losing signal and stopping.  I was within 3 feet of the locomotive.  At first, I thought the set belonged to the club.  So, after I was done trying to make it work, I wrote a note and left it with the set, suggesting that it be returned to Lionel for replacement.  I later discovered that it belongs to a club member, and he recently posted a video on Facebook of his polar express cars being pulled by an MTH Diesel Christmas locomotive on another one of the club’s layouts set up at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens.  I say all of this to suggest that if you do MAKE the trains I suggested above that you NOT include LionChief in them and that you adhere to NMRA DCC standards.  You can make a LionChief compatible model, if you wish, but I’m NOT GOING TO BUY THAT.  Make one that WORKS consistently using NMRA DCC standards, and I’ll put my PRE-ORDER IN THE MOMENT I RECEIVE NOTICE THAT YOU INTEND TO MAKE THEM.

That brings me to WHY I included Trainworld in this notice and our train club.  Little lowly old me asking you alone to create a model may not inspire you.  But hopefully, Trainworld gets this and likes the idea too.  And if so, perhaps they will contact you and say they would be happy to handle pre-orders for these models if you will produce them.  I’m sending this to our train club in hopes that there are a couple members that would like to see something other than the Polar Express train on our tracks next Christmas or the Christmas thereafter.  And if so, that they too will request that you look into creating the trains that I suggested above.

I know that this is the Christmas Season, and everyone is super busy trying to fulfill orders right now.  So, I am also putting a reminder on my NMRA Calendar for February 1st, 2024.  I will RESEND this request again on that date just to reinforce my interest in seeing the lovely North Pole Central Christmas Diesel Train Set in an HO scale version that I can use and operate on my train layout as well as take it to an upcoming Southern Christmas Show event and run it on the club’s layout.   And to be quite honest with you, that would be a wonderful place to launch a presentation of your new train.  Bring a film crew in, catch the crowd’s reaction, as that beautiful train goes around our French, Broad and Catawba layout.  (The local Lionel representatives should know what I’m talking about.)

More than likely, I have sent this email to mailboxes at Lionel and Trainworld, where the receiver isn’t the right person to get this message.  Please route this message to the appropriate person in your organization that handles new product development and marketing.  I apologize that I do not remember the name of the Lionel representative whom I met at Dreams Come True Railroad in Cassett, SC on June 17th, 2023.  We road on 7.5″-gauge trains and either his wife or his daughter had a wonderful time driving the trains.  I think they road on trains for longer than I did.  I also do not have Ken Bianco, Jr’s personal email address because when we met, he was scolding me for being behind the Trainworld tables at the Amherst Train Show.  Apparently, he felt I should not have been there, although I was invited to be there by Jeff of Motrak Models, and I was simply sitting out of the way waiting for Jeff to finish talking to a prospective customer.  Who knows if Ken remembers that or not.  Anyway, please route this email to someone who can seriously consider making the production of the suggested HO scale North Pole Central Christmas Trains a reality.  It would be really nice to have a set with the features that I mentioned above.  And while I don’t think there is a movie out behind such locomotives or trains, HO scale needs a new, modern era, Christmas Train that is eye-catching, runs reliably and exceptionally well, consistently, on the most available tracks around, using the most popular train standards so that everyone who has some form of HO scale train tracks can operate the trains (at Christmas time or year-round). [And yes, this is a stab at Walthers for producing models that require 24″ radius curves or larger — shame on them…]

Many thanks for the consideration.

March 26, 2024. Yesterday, March 25th, 2024, Trainworld sent me a Lionel HO New Products Announcement. In that announcement, for the first time ever, it appears that Lionel is offering 3 different HO scale North Pole Central passenger cars. However, guess what? The cars are nothing like their O scale North Pole Central passenger cars and they are missing MANY of the features that I suggested and requested they include in their HO North Pole Central passenger cars. Trainworld is taking PRE-ORDERS for these passenger cars. I am a little bit on the fence over them and almost put my pre-order in. Then, I checked the features, and apparently, these new-to-be-released passenger cars are simply North Pole Central paint scheme applications to their existing Polar Express passenger cars. I specifically mentioned in my letter to them that I would not be buying their TOY-LIKE productions with Frosted Windows in them. I’m looking for a realistic, fine detail, high-quality Christmas Themed passenger car in HO scale. Go back and take a look at what I would like to see in those passenger cars and/or look further down as I expand on exactly what I would like to see in them (pulled from the Survey questions I made a couple weeks ago). Also, because I have not yet seen a notice that the E8 North Pole Central HO scale passenger locomotives that I really want will be produced, there is no need for me to pre-order the passenger cars without a locomotive to pull it. I know. There is a Lionel HO scale North Pole Central steam Train Set that offers a steam locomotive. I do not want any more old steam era locomotives in my collection. I have enough of them. Although I do not have a UP Big-Boy, I’m oaky unless and until a great manufacturer has one for a steal of a price that runs on my 18″ Radius curves (not likely to happen again even though I sold a consignor’s AHM Big-Boy that ran successfully around my 18″ radius curves a couple years ago. It was manufactured a long time ago though and was DC only. Sound could probably be placed in the tender, but I just wasn’t interested in it at all.)

To date, the only email I have received from Lionel is their automated Talk To Us response message when I sent them my Product Suggestion request on December 13th, 2023.

Below is a listing of the features that are on these 3 HO Lionel North Pole Central passenger cares compared to my list of features as well as HO-Like features from their O scale version. As you can see, these cars are nothing like the passenger cars I am looking for.

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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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HJR Customized Lionel O Gauge Conrail Trackside MOW Gantry Crane

December 31, 2022

Here is a very interesting project for the O scalers out there. As some of you may know, ShowMyHobby has had a consigned Gantry Crane up for sale for about four years now. What makes this crane so unique is that the state I received it in was never previously made by Lionel. Yes, Lionel makes Gantry Cranes. They make some that are very similar to this one and some might even say they make better ones than this one. But, they did not make this particular combination. What I received on consignment appears to be a combination of 2 different items available from Lionel. Item #1 is the trackside gantry platform base which is part of Lionel’s Command Control Trackside Crane. Gantries are structures built typically to straddle over a track or other workspace. Item #2 is the Crane from a Conrail Command Control Crane Car by Lionel. Apparently, someone removed the crane from the car and placed it on top of one of the gantry platforms. I received the gantry crane as 2 detachable pieces: the crane and the gantry. Until about the middle of December, 2022, I only displayed this crane for sale at train shows. Quite a few people have looked at it over the years, inquired about it, and even shown a little bit of interest in it. But, thus far, no one has purchased it. So, to increase the exposure and let even more people know about this interesting gantry crane combination, I decided to list the item for sale on around the middle of December, 2022, which also listed it on eBay.

Here are some pictures taken of the gantry crane combo before I started upgrading it and making it work:

I took pictures of the Gantry Crane combo practically the first week it was consigned over 4 years ago. I have taken other pictures of it over the years too. Finally, wanting to sale all of the big Lionel O scale train items in my inventory, I put it up for sale online as a 5-day auction using some of the pictures I have taken. I think 2 people added it to their watch list on eBay. I’m not certain how many people looked at it. The listing was very lengthy full of my observations and some of my history of the item plus a little bit of the information that I could piece together about it from Lionel and the internet. As the item didn’t come with any type of power source or control methods, I didn’t have an easy and convenient way to test the item. Additionally, in the previous 4 years, I just had not invested the time to dig really deep into this item. To me, the crane looked attractive, and I felt as if it could probably be made to work. I promised in the write-up of the first listing to take the time to pull out my multimeter and a 9-volt battery and check whether or not the motors inside the crane actually work.

Finally, early morning on 12/21/2022, I pulled this item out of storage, weighed it, and took the time to try to test the crane electrically using my digital multimeter. I wasn’t able to get any readings or feedback at all from the 4 contact strips located underneath the round base of the crane. I unscrewed the diecast metal shell from the frame via 4 screws underneath it. As I looked around inside, I saw 4 horizontally positioned motors.  I could also see why I couldn’t get any readings using the multimeter.  There appears to be a missing PC Board or DCC decoder as I could see several plugin connectors that must plug into something that should be inside the cab shell.  I also could see an on-off switch that is accessible via one of the sliding doors. I originally thought this might be an On-Off power switch or a switch that turns on the lights. I would learn later the true purpose of this switch. There were no connections between the contacts on the bottom of the crane’s base and the motors inside. The missing board would provide those connections. Hence the reason my meter returned no feedback.

I also noticed the gears that engage with the motor that rotates the crane 360 degrees has 1 gear that is spring loaded.  It looks like that gear is designed to engage and disengage with the main drive that rotates the crane. When disengaged, the motor runs but no rotation occurs, plus the crane can be manually turned by hand in this mode. By default, the gear is disengaged.  When the gear is engaged, the crane can rotate 360 degrees when the rotation motor is turning and the crane cannot be rotated freely by hand in this mode.  Whatever causes the sprung gear to engage/disengage was not present inside the cab of the crane. Apparently, this is something else that is missing. I could push the sprung gear into place with my hand but of course, it didn’t stay in place when I took my fingers off of it.

In the process of turning the crane upside down and removing the shell, some of the strings that represent wire cables slipped off a couple of the pulleys and at some point, the large hook fell off the pulley assembly that shuttles the hook up and down. Eventually, I would also notice that there is a set of metal cross braces missing from the boom. Additionally, both lights are missing. I can also see 2 trigger switches that appear to activate at the maximum extents of the boom. My guess is those trigger switches are supposed to stop the boom from electrically moving too far and causing harm to the motor when it is in operation (provided the PC / Decoder board is present). I updated the listing with some of these details including suggestions on how I felt someone buying the crane might be able to get it working.

After the auction expired without receiving any bids, I decided to delve deeper into the suggestions that I made within the listing regarding ways a buyer might get the crane operating.

Here are the suggestions that I made (slightly updated into numbered steps with part numbers and links):

A couple days went by after the auction ended. Christmas arrived. I wanted to get this Lionel Gantry Crane combo working. relisted, and sold (as quickly as possible). So, I did some more research and followed some of my own suggestions. I visited Lionel’s parts website to see if they have parts available for either the crane car or the gantry crane. The first time I did this, I found a crane car, but not the Conrail Crane car. When I looked at the list of parts for the crane that I thought was similar, I didn’t see any available parts that were needed. I mostly saw large sub-assemblies. It could be that I was looking at the wrong item. Who knows?

On the day (12/30/2022) I started writing this article, I searched again (to obtain links) and found the actual Conrail Command Control car. Lionel does have some necessary parts available that I suggested might exist. They did not appear to have all the necessary parts available to make this crane combo work, especially the way I felt would be the quickest and easiest way to get it up and running via TMCC. Additionally, the parts are somewhat expensive. There may come a day when they have all the necessary parts available again. I have already spent a good amount of money replacing parts and upgrading other items consigned by the same consignor of this gantry crane. Most of the repaired or upgraded items have been sold. However, an S scale Lionel American Flyer Minneapolis & St. Louis Baldwin Diesel Switcher locomotive that now runs absolutely great using the newly replaced parts from Lionel also has not sold yet. It too has been listed online for at least 2 to 3 years. So, feeling a little bit discouraged with the switcher’s selling results, I am unwilling to put hundreds of dollars into this crane to purchase the Lionel replacement parts that I suggest would work. {Little did I realize that I would invest thousands of dollars of my time in getting this crane to work and relisted.}

I located examples of Lionel’s trackside crane. They have made many different crane models over the years. I have seen some of their older models with their own wired controls. The gantry Command Control Trackside Cranes Lionel is selling now have decoders in them and work with their Legacy Control Systems. I found a video of someone at Lionel demonstrating the operation of the Command Control Crane Car with the use of a TMCC Cab-1 remote and command base. The model being demonstrated is the Burlington Northern crane car and includes the RailSounds Boom Car as well. The boom car has a sound module in it. I have searched for parts for both the trackside crane and the crane car. Seeing the video and reading the online manuals for all of the aforementioned items explained exactly how the original Conrail Command Control Crane car should work. The instructions for the crane car include details about how the pulley strings should be arranged and about the lever inside the car that prevents the crane from rotating. Lionel states that the crane should be in free-rotation mode during transport such as shipping the item probably to prevent the rotation drive gears from getting damaged. Research also revealed that the switch inside the cab is used to switch between Run and Program modes of the decoder that is supposed to be inside the crane and/or to allow the car to operate on standard AC track powered layouts or Command Control layouts. Armed with this updated knowledge, I reexamined the Gantry Crane combination that I am selling by taking apart the rotating disc underneath it. There I discovered that it is not possible to run any wires up through the rotating base of the crane to make it operate. Only with the Decoder board installed can communications through 3 wires that can be attached to the rails allow for remote control or any physically disconnected control of the crane. This would make my previous suggestions of someone creating their own trackside motor drive practically impossible to implement.

However, all this research brought about the following additional suggestions:

On Christmas Day, I decide to binge-watch the 4 Home Alone movies. While doing so, I pulled out the Gantry Crane combo. I updated the listing on my site again but didn’t have my site relist the item on eBay. As I wrote more and more about how to get the crane car working, I realized that the reason this item probably isn’t selling is because no one wants to buy it and then have to do what is necessary to make it work. So, I made the decision to MAKE THIS TRACKSIDE GANTRY CRANE Combo operational. Why did I do that? Well, I feel like this: If the crane car works and I can show people that it is working, then perhaps people will have more interest in it and I can soon give it a new home. Little did I know that making the crane work would take up nearly 40 hours of my holiday time.

Pictures of some of the odd items that I used to get the Gantry Crane combo to work:

Starting Christmas Day, 2022, late afternoon, I committed myself to a new TRAIN PROJECT with Getting this Gantry Crane combo working as my goal. The steps I took are as follows:

1. I thoroughly examined both pieces. The gantry platform is in great shape with no discernable issues. The crane, on the other hand, has a few issues. My overall assessment of the Gantry Crane on Christmas Day is as follows:

2. To make the crane work, I wanted to use materials and items that I had on hand since ordering anything would delay my progress. The materials I felt I would need are identified below:

3. The first thing to fix was the missing lever that controls the rotation of the crane across 360 degrees:

4. I decided to create a control box for the crane:

5. The next objective was to come up with a way to deal with the missing work lights at the front of the crane:

6. The next obstacle to overcome is something that I have been concerned about from the moment I discovered that the 9-volt battery would actually sit inside the shell on the frame in the area where the Decoder board probably typically sits. In this step I needed to make a decision on how to get that battery to stay inside the shell:

7. In my head, I had already formed the idea that I would label the control box so that one can easily look down at the labels and know which switch controls which crane function:

8. Time to button everything up and put the shell back on.

9. I then TESTED all the controls. And to my dismay, 1 of the LED lights did not come on. I was shocked. I had tested things along the way during and after each step. So, I wondered what went wrong:

10. Time to take photos and videos:

Below is a video made of the finished Lionel Conrail MOW Gantry Crane combo. The video demonstrates that the crane is now working. It is up for sale here: O Lionel MOW Conrail Gantry Crane combo –

Battery Operated O scale Lionel Conrail MOW Gantry Crane for sale
The completed and working battery operated O scale Lionel Conrail Maintenance of Way Gantry Crane

Although I finished working on the crane pretty much on New Year’s Day, it is now the 15th of January 2023, at 2:17 AM in the morning and I am just now getting to this point in this documentation of what I did to the crane combo. Keep in mind that over the past 20 days or so, I have made many updates, edits, and revisions to the listing of the crane for sale as well as to this documentation. Sometime around 10:30 PM yesterday, I finally told my website to publish the auction listing on eBay which caused the listing on this site to refer viewers of the listing to eBay to make a bid. So, officially, the crane is now up for sale as a 5-day auction. You can view the listing here on my site and participate until it is sold: Lionel O Gantry Crane Combo for sale.

Here are some more photos of the crane that were taken during the construction of this project.

Listing as of 10:30ish pm, January 14th, 2023. Starting bid $250. Buy It now price: $500.

If this Battery-operated O gauge Lionel Maintenance-of-Way Conrail Trackside Gantry Crane combo interest you, visit the listing for this crane and make a bid on it or buy it now (before it is sold to someone else): Lionel O Gantry Crane Combo for sale.

Last Updated: 01/15/2023 @ 5:22 AM

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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 Seaboard Air Lines

Being a model railroader from Belmont, North Carolina, it would be neglectful of me to not collect and operate one of the main lines that used to run through even my hometown. Seaboard Air Line’s main line ran from Richmond via Raleigh, North Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida, a major interchange point for passenger trains bringing travelers to the Sunshine State. From Jacksonville, Seaboard rails continued to Tampa, St. Petersburg, West Palm Beach and Miami according to Wikipedia (you can read more via this link).

I recently acquired 2 InterMountain Railway Company FT-A and FT-B Seaboard Air Line units, model number 49228 as a set with road numbers 4021 and 4121 included. These are DCC equipped units. I paired them with 2 previously purchased unpowered dummy Life-Like Proto 2000 FB-2 Units. The detailing on all these locomotives is extremely good.

I have an interest in putting sound in at least one of the units if not all of them over time. Therefore, these locomotives are being considered as yet another HJR project. Today, October 31st, 2019, I just want to get some of the pictures online and maybe even a short video so that InterMountain can see the units I’ve written to them about. I will return later, add more pictures and videos, along with an Atlas SAL switcher that I have, and update this page on the progress of getting a full SAL train running.

March 12, 2024. I noticed a couple weeks or months ago that somehow the Seaboard Coast Line passenger cars started showing back up for sale. They are NOT for sale anymore as I purchased them from the consignor. I have ordered and received a lot of upgrades for the SCL passenger car set plus added some additional cars. It may take me a while to bring you up to speed. For now, though, I want to delete the active listing for the sale of the items and move the content of that product listing to this page, because it lists the original 9 passenger cars and provides some individual pictures of the cars. It also has an early video of the trains running on my Libraryville layout.

Here we have a Used Athearn Seaboard 9-piece Passenger set.  The cars are equipped with truck-mounted sprung Kadee couplers and Seaboard Coast Line’s Silver with Black lettering paint scheme. This set also comes with 1 bonus Silver and Brown Seaboard Coast Line boxcar (actually making it a 10-piece set)

The passenger cars are made of sturdy injection molded plastic.  They come with low-profile wheelsets that have 2 metal wheels on one side of the truck and 2 plastic wheels on the other side of the truck.  (This is done to accommodate acquiring power from the track should one wish to upgrade these cars with lighting kits.  Additional customization will be needed to do that as well.)

This set is used and ran very well on the MMRR layout during the Asheville Train Show in March 2018 as well as on my Libraryville layout (featured in the video).  Some of the cars in this H O scale passenger set were also run for about 30 minutes during the Gastonia Train Show in July 1st, 2018.

Note:  There is some visible glue on some of the cars especially where the windows were glued into place when the kits were assembled. This doesn’t affect the performance of the cars. They still look good rolling on the track (as you can see in the video)

Below is a list of the cars included in the set.  Bev-Bel painted these cars using Athearn stock passenger cars.

ManufacturerItem No.Car Type, Name or Road#
Bev-Bel Corp Streamline Coach Passenger Car #6005
Bev-Bel Corp5910Baggage Car #6050
Bev-Bel Corp5911Baggage Car #6203
Bev-Bel Corp5912Streamline Coach Passenger Car “Seabring”
Bev-Bel Corp5913Tapered-End Observation Coach Passenger Car #6401
Bev-Bel Corp Vista Dome Coach Passenger Car “Atlanta”
Bev-Bel Corp Streamline Coach Passenger Car “Miami”
Bev-Bel Corp5916Streamline Coach Passenger Car “Ocala”
Bev-Bel Corp Streamline Coach Passenger Car “Tampa”

The Bonus Car, SCL 50-ft Box car #821600  by Bev-Bel from RoundHouse Kit #1207 with .039″ wheelsets, is not one that I purchased from the Consignor, so that car is not part of MY SCL Passenger Train Set.

NOTE: This set includes 9 passenger cars. A locomotive did not come with this set. As mentioned above, I acquired my locomotives separately.

Athearn EMD GP38-2 Seaboard System (SCL) Diesel Engine HO scale pulling 9 Passenger Cars

Original Photo Gallery of the 9 Seaboard Coast Line Passenger Cars:

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HJR SOFTWARE (HJRS) is a small computer-business in Belmont, North Carolina. The HO 50′ CSD Boxcar will be an advertising piece for that business. In the real world, HJRS doesn’t have any need to have a real locomotive or any other real train car. As a model railroader, I create layouts that represent fictitious locations. As a hobbyist, I operate model trains. I’m a member of a the Metrolina Model Railroader’s club. Since I spend a good bit of my non-working hours operating model trains, I feel it would be a good way to continue promoting my computer business by placing the company’s name, phone number, contact information, etc. on a complete set of trains. When I joined the train club, I mentioned it might be a good way to help supplement the train club by allowing local businesses to advertise on the club’s layout like sponsors. For many reasons, the club doesn’t like this idea and so it hasn’t been implemented. However, for my own layouts, I choose to incorporate the names of things that are dear to me and HJRS is just one of those things. On one layout I have streets named after family members, business buildings with my own family name on them, etc. In 2018, I decided to make an entire HO scale train set consisting of a locomotive and 7+ cars. The Plus is growing. Some of the train cars were already made cars that were not in the best of shape representing whatever road names were originally on them or they needed a lot of repair. I decided to paint those cars a unique way. Other train cars I built from kits and painted them to be part of the HJR SOFTWARE Train Set. When the CSD offered a box car, I decided to dedicate that car as one of the HJRS train cars and the first one to actually receive the HJRS logo and other signage.

The CSD Boxcar project started the 3rd week of June, 2019 when I attended the CSD meeting where incidentally, I also received the NMRA Golden Spike certificate (I will blog about this eventually). Participating CSD members received the undecorated 50-foot boxcar shell as we were taught how to use a airbrush. For many, this was just additional information to a skill they were already quite familiar with. Although I have several airbrushes, as of late, I haven’t been able to put my hands on them (I’ve misplaced them). I only attempted to use them twice and not with very much success. I did however have some success with buying a Testor’s aerosol airbrushing kit and painted a custom-built covered Hopper for the HJRS Train Set several months earlier. The airbrushing sessions was a real treat for me and I learned quite a bit. Now if I can just find my airbrushes I might be able to use them better henceforth.

I didn’t take any photos of the unpainted boxcar shell when the CSD handed them out to us. I did take some photos after the airbrushing session and then again almost a month after the decal session. Those photos are in the gallery listed below:

On or shortly after the last CSD session in this series, I will post additional photos and comments on the finished boxcar. Now that I have the first set of HJRS decals printed out, I will also be applying the decals to the other train cars in the set and creating posts for those projects as well.

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.