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Nickel Plate Road Steel Train

After many, many years I finally have a true steel mill train. Nickel Plate Road 365 was the first MTH Premier Line steam locomotive in my collection. It is based on a standard USRA 0-6-0 switch engine. The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway originally built 365 as W&LE 3965 in the company shops in Brewster, OH. After the Wheeling was leased by the Nickel Plate Road it was renumbered to 365. Two Wheeling & Lake Erie 0-6-0s survive. NKP 384 and W&LE 3960.

Next up is the brand new Lake Terminal Railroad gondolas. Again these are from the MTH Premier Line. The Lake Terminal Railroad was a small switching railroad which served the steel plant at Lorain, OH. It facilitated the movement of cars in and out of the extensive operations at Lorain with the Nickel Plate Road, Lorain & West Virginia (Wheeling & Lake Erie), Baltimore & Ohio, New York Central and their successors. It is still in operation today.

The US Steel cars were made by Lionel Electric Trains in two productions runs. The first three slag cars picked up by the engine were cataloged in 2003 while the second three and the two hot metal cars were made in 2016. The new ones are equipped with LEDs but other than that there is not much difference between the two runs.

You may notice a few changes on the layout. Notably the ballasted mainline. I was able to get many of the required Fastrack Remote/Command Switches in place and I only have to get the ones required for the freight yard trackage. The station on the mainline has swapped its installed rectangular platform for one custom made out of Woodland Scenics’ Mold-A-Scene Plaster. A glimpse of NKP 755 sitting on a new engine terminal track can be seen at the beginning of the video but more on that later!

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MTH Premier Line NS SD60E First Responders #911

Direct from Uncle Ray’s Trains it is my very own Norfolk Southern SD60E First Responders #911 locomotive! This is the only one of the three specially painted SD60Es that I have had the pleasure of seeing in real life, thanks to the engineer friend who was running it that day and it was only fitting that I should add it to my collection. Lionel may have cataloged them first but MTH delivered first. When you listen to the PFA (Passenger/Freight Announcement) you will even hear the voices of Mike Wolf of MTH, Wick Moorman of Norfolk Southern, and I think the third one is Andy Edleman also of MTH. Something that Lionel versions will definitely not have!

You will go for a ride around the layout in this video where you will most of the new Lionel Remote/Command Fastrack switches in place. The reverse loop is now complete all that is left now track-wise is to install all of the yard and engine service tracks. I really like the built in wireless control since it cuts down on the amount of wires plus the hardware you would need to run them remotely.

After you have watched the MTH Premier Line 911 in action check out the real one below!

 

 

New video! Lionel Legacy Nickel Plate Road ALCO C-420 & GP-9

I know it has been awhile but here is the latest video. Enjoy!

Make Your Own FasTrack Lock-ons

I am pleased to announce that the two mainlines of the Lower Level of the North Western Railroad are now operational. Basic wiring is in place which allows me to run four trains on both levels of the railroad. Once I acquire the rest of the necessary switch tracks for the freight yard, engine terminal, and reverse loop I will be able to run or at least have more than four locomotives on the layout at one time.

None of this would have been possible if I had not come up with a solution to solve my shortage of Lionel Accessory Power Wires which provide electrical connections to the Lionel FasTrack. While I could of simply ordered more from a train store I wanted to see if I could make my own. Both of the mainlines are divided into isolated electrical blocks using the MTH DCS Star Wiring pattern which provided a solution detailed below.

Step 1

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All Lionel FasTrack 0-72 Remote/Command switchers include these little 1 3/8 in pieces for spacing purposes between interconnected switches. They can also be used to isolate power in the center rail. Lionel sells them separately with or without roadbed on the sides.

Step 2

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Underneath is a small wire with two connectors that just so happen to be the same size as the FasTrack Accessory Wire connectors.

Step 3

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Pulling the wire breaks the connection and creates an isolated center rail. As I have a total of 8 blocks I had plenty of these little wires to work with.

Step 4

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I cut each wire down the middle to create two new separate connectors. I stripped a little off the ends and attached them to my stranded 16-gauge speaker wire that I use for all my power needs.

Step 5

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My speaker wire has two colors copper and silver. Copper is positive for the center rail, silver is ground for the outer rails. Once they are connected to the track we have a solid secure connection that is virtually cost free!

First Korber Models Kit Build

Nickel Plate Road High Speed Service Episode 1

My Lionel Legacy NKP 765 smoke unit shorted out a few months ago. Two weeks ago I was able to free up some time to contact Lionel and get a replacement smoke unit motor and replaced it myself. I’m happy to say that my favorite locomotive is now running better than ever before. This is the first of a series of videos I plan to produce with the engine hauling various NKP trains over the under construction North Western Railroad. This first episode of High Speed Service features 765 with a string of boxcars.

Enjoy!

A Postwar Lionel Train Layout

I am proud to present the first layout I have completed for a client. The benchwork, track wiring and most of the buildings were already in place but the owner had no time to do scenery, structure lights and had some wiring issues he could not figure out. Over the course of three weeks (3-4 days a week as our individual schedules allowed) I built roads, wired lights, created ridges with trees, modified buildings, added ties and ballast to the track, added figures, reworked bad track wiring, and developed a system to add street lines.

I’m happy to say that it has reached a completed stage to both mine and the client’s satisfaction.

If you need any kind of help with your layout either construction or design feel free to contact me at acmatthews@icloud.com

MTH Premier Nickel Plate Road Alco PAs

All aboard it is my favorite AA set of diesel locomotives, the Nickel Plate Road Alco PA’s from the MTH Premier Line! These engines have a long and storied in both real and model form.

The American Locomotive Company simply known as Alco developed the PA as a high speed passenger diesel. The “P” stands for passenger and the “A” stands for A-Unit meaning that it has a cab unlike a B-Unit. For the Nickel Plate the PA was the answer to revolutionizing their passenger service in the post WWII era. 11 A-Units were purchased and were immediately put to use hauling long distance trains all over the NKP system. They were initially delivered in a blue and silver paint scheme, this is where I come in to the story.

You see, the silver metallic paint ended up rusting over time so the NKP tried using substituting different silver paints but all failed. The solution was to replace the silver with white and for the better part of their careers the PAs were blue and white. This led to the nickname “Bluebirds.”

In 2013 MTH Electric Trains brought the NKP Alco PA back to the Premier Line but there were some issues. First off these engines had been made nearly 12 years before with Proto-Sound 1 in the blue and white scheme and were a complete sell out. As such they became highly desirable and hard to find. When one looked at the catalog it was impossible to tell if the engines would be blue and white or the never before seen blue and silver. I was working at Stockyard Express at the time 3 months of phone calls, emails, research, debates, and photo comparisons of real PA’s we got our answer. The engines would be the blue and silver.

This of course caused many would be buyers to be upset as they desired the blue and white scheme. Why? Well it was the more memorable and attractive scheme. MTH agreed to manufacture 16 blue and white models in addition to the many blue and silver engines already in production.

With exclusive engines coming we just had to have more! Hence the creation of the City of Lorain, Lima and Fort Wayne Pullman Sleeping cars along with the two heavyweight Railway Post Office cars 830 and 831.

Making a model train takes a great deal of work. It took nearly two years to get all of these models finalized and in production but took only a day or two weeks to sell out. My greatest wish is that we would of have doubled the amounts put into production for everything but that takes risk. Just goes to show how popular the Nickel Plate Road is to the model railroad industry. Someday I hope to work for either MTH, Lionel, or even Atlas. Believe me I have applied relentlessly but still I have yet to receive a definitive answer. Email is acmatthews@icloud.com

Lionel Vision Line Union Pacific Big Boy 4014

After months of planning the lower level bench work is complete! A newly constructed 4×8 table has filled the gap but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I have laid out the outer loop of Lionel Fastrack however it will be temporary. Why? Well, I’ll be using the same track for the Amherst Train Wreck 100th Anniversary Event so the rest of the track will have to wait until after March 29th!

In the mean time I might as well have some fun with my Lionel Vision Line Union Pacific Big Boy #4014! This locomotive was cataloged in 2014 and broke new ground in the O-Gauge World with 4 smoke units both stacks, whistle and blowdown, three speakers, the disappearing coal load along with all the other fantastic features of Lionel Legacy equipped locomotives. It’s hooked up to 29 refrigerator cars and one UP bobber caboose. The reefers are a mixture of wood sided and steel car models from Lionel, MTH, K-Line, Atlas, and Weaver. If you hear squeaking wheels those sounds are coming out of one of the new Lionel Vision Line Pacific Fruit Express reefers.

In real life the Union Pacific Big Boys were arguably the largest steam locomotives ever built. 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. You might notice that the front end of the locomotive swings out to go around curves and believe it or not it did the same exact thing in real life. It’s called articulation, in fact the Big Boy’s are technically classified as simple articulated steam locomotives. Meaning that they had two sets of drives wheels which were powered by 2 pairs of cylinders receiving high pressure steam from the boiler. 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.

So sit back and relax while 4014 relives the glory days of moving perishable freight across Wyoming or in this case going around the lower level of the layout!

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