I have been having a great time these past two weeks at the International Tree & Model Train Display and while I enjoy and will continue to answer your questions I figured I would do a write up on everything that is running for the benefit of everyone. So here goes!
All of my trains are three rail O-Gauge or 1:48 scale. Why 3 rails? Well that’s how Lionel did it back in the day as it was electrically simpler to have 3 rails to provide power. The center rail serves as the hot or positive pick up for electricity while the outer two rails serve as the ground or negative pick ups.
I use Lionel Fastrack which has a built in realistic looking plastic roadbed. There are three curve diameters in use on the layout. The outermost loop has O-84 inch curves, next loop has O-72 inch curves and the inner two loops have O-36 inch curves.
Most if not all O-Gauge trains today have command control built in from the factory. There are two O-Gauge specific operating systems from two different companies and the rivalry can be compared to Apple vs Microsoft.
First up is the Digital Command System from MTH Electric Trains. Every locomotive produced since 2001 features Proto-Sound 2.0 (PS2) which later morphed into Proto-Sound 3.0 (PS3) in 2010 and both versions of software incorporated the Digital Command System simply known as DCS. Each features realistic sounds and amazing fine tuned control. Engines operate in scale miles per hour between 0-150 SMPH. There are over 500 things that these engines can do so I encourage you to visit MTH’s website at this link MTH Electric Trains
Or watch this…
Next up is Lionel’s Legacy Control System and TMCC. TMCC debuted in 1994 and singer Neil Young was very much involved with its development. In 2007 TMCC morphed into Legacy in order to compete with MTH’s DCS which had surpassed TMCC by leaps and bounds. For more I encourage you to visit Lionel’s website http://www.lionel.com/brands/legacy
Both systems can be used at the same time without interfering with each other. On my layout I have one MTH Z-4000, which bears a resemblance to the classic Lionel ZW transformer, that supplies 400 watts. The Z-4000 is connected to the MTH DCS Track Interface Unit or TIU which is the “brains” of the system. The TIU takes the power in, 18 volts at all times, and then puts it out to the track. The Lionel Legacy Command Base requires only one ground wire connection to the track and is not connected to either the TIU or transformer. When I power up the track the locomotives stay silent until I send them the start up commands from the remotes. Speaking of remotes, the future is here and both Lionel and MTH have developed mobile apps for your smartphone or tablet. The rest is easy! For more on the DCS App click here
Lionel Electric Trains Vision Line
Union Pacific Railroad Big Boy #4014
Don’t worry that engine is supposed to swing out on the curves! It is the largest articulated steam locomotive ever built the Union Pacific Big Boy. 25 of them were built by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) between 1941(20) and 1944(5). Each was 132 feet long, weighed 1,250,000 lbs (625 tons), produced 7,000 horsepower and had a top speed of 80 MPH. Big Boys had a wheel arrangement of 4-8-8-4 meaning that it has 4 pilot wheels, two sets of of 8 drive wheels, and a 4 wheeled trailing truck. All were retired by 1959 and 8 were preserved. In 2013 Big Boy 4014 was re-acquired by Union Pacific Railroad and is now undergoing restoration to operational status and should run under its own power by 2019.
Where did the name Big Boy come from? After the first engine #4000 was completed at ALCO an unknown worker went up to the engine and scrawled “Big Boy” in chalk on the front of the smokebox. Later that day Union Pacific officials arrived to inspect their new engine and they loved the name and made it official. In fact UP had difficulty in deciding a name during the design process but there are reports that the name Wasatch was considered. They were also known as the 4000 Class.
This particular model was cataloged in 2014 by Lionel. It features several new features such as the Depleting Coal Load which simulates the engine’s use of coal being burned over time.
Lorain, Ohio was home to articulated steam as well back in the day with the Wheeling & Lake Erie’s 2-6-6-2 class, the Baltimore & Ohio’s EM-1 2-8-8-4 class, and even the Lake Terminal had a unique 0-6-6-0 locomotive.
For more on Union Pacific’s Steam Shop click here
Union Pacific Film: Last of the Giants
MTH Electric Trains Premier Line Model
Norfolk Southern ES44ACe #8103 Norfolk & Western Heritage Unit
In 2013 Norfolk Southern celebrated its 30th anniversary by painting 20 brand new locomotives in commemorative paint schemes honoring the 20 predecessor railroads that make up the modern Norfolk Southern system. ES44ACe #8103 was painted in the Pevler Blue paint scheme adopted by the N&W after it merged with the Nickel Plate Road and the Wabash. In 1982 the Norfolk & Western merged with the Southern Railway which created Norfolk Southern and in 1999 NS acquired 58% of Conrail forming the modern Norfolk Southern Railway.
To learn more about the Heritage Units click here
MTH Electric Trains Premier Line Model
Nickel Plate Road USRA 0-6-0 Switcher #365
Nickel Plate Road 365 is a United States Railway Administration designed 0-6-0 steam switcher built by the Wheeling & Lake Erie in their Brewster, OH shops as engine 3965. If you grew up in Lorain you may remember that a similar looking steam engine once stood in Oakwood Park and seemingly disappeared without a trace. No need to worry NKP 384 ex-W&LE 3984 is safe at the Lake Shore Railway Association which runs the Lorain & West Virginia Railway in Wellington, OH and is undergoing restoration to operational status. If you rode the Fair Train or Leviathan during the Lincoln Funeral Train event you saw it sitting on a siding in the yard.
To learn more on Nickel Plate Road 384 please visit www.lsra.org
MTH Electric Trains RailKing Model
Nickel Plate Road RS-3 #556
Nickel Plate Road 556 is an RS-3 diesel locomotive built in 1954 by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO). RS stands for “road switcher” which means that this locomotive was suited for both yard duties and mainline service. It can be argued that the RS series of diesels produced by ALCO are the forefathers of modern day locomotives built by General Electric as GE partnered with ALCO to produce locomotives in the early days of diesel locomotion.
ALCO diesels were given the title of “honorary steam locomotives” by railroaders and rail fans alike as they produced a huge amount of smoke upon start up.
MTH Electric Trains Premier Line Model
New York Central J3a Hudson #5450
The 20th Century Limited had already been famous since its inception in 1902 but became legendary in 1938 with an all new fleet of streamlined passenger cars by Pullman Standard and 10 beautiful, brand new, and streamlined J3a 4-6-4 Hudsons styled by industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss to power the train on the 16 hour journey between New York City and Chicago.
275 Hudsons were built for the New York Central between 1927-38. All but 10 were built by ALCO, the other 10 were built by the Lima Locomotive Works. All were capable of hauling trains at 100+ MPH even with 18 passenger coaches behind the locomotive! The Hudson was also the basis for the first scale detailed model train produced by Lionel Electric Trains. Sadly all of the real Hudsons were scrapped upon retirement and none survived into preservation.
On March 29, 1916 the 20th Century Limited collided with two other passenger trains just west of Amherst, OH causing one of the worst wrecks in New York Central Railroad history.
The rolling stock aka the freight cars are a mix of models produced by Lionel, MTH, Weaver, and Atlas. In my selection of pieces to run at the display I chose cars which would and have operated in Lorain County along with appropriate locomotives. While Big Boy #4014 never ran anywhere near Ohio fellow Big Boy #4012 was moved to Steamtown in Scranton, PA in the 1960’s and it may well have traveled through Lorain to get there. The UP reefer cars and hoppers certainly made their way through Lorain as freight cars travel over all railroads.
Other Links of Interest
Google Map of Lorain & West Virginia Railway -The Ramsey Road paralleled the L&WV from Wellington to Lorain
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society – Operators of Nickel Plate Road 765