Thursday, October 12, 2017

Modeling Danbury - Susnitzky's

Susnitzky's, a luncheonette/variety store named for the proprietor family during the era of the layout was located in the bottom corner of a two story brick building. I refer to the entire building as "Susnitzky's" only because this was the largest named occupant at the time. This building had one additional store front on the bottom floor and apartments on the second floor, also a large imposing billboard structure on the roof.

With this buildings close proximity to the Danbury passenger station a model of this signature structure is a must to complete the station scene on the layout.

Locating Photos for Modeling.

Like most of the prototype structures modeled within the Danbury diorama portion of the layout the actual structure no longer exists, therefore historic photos for modeling need to be located. First a search online of Danbury historical photos provided no help.

The building that Susnitzky's is located in often appears in the background of photos where a railroad related subject is the focus of the photograph. One example of these photos is below, the building is obscured by the RPO car that is the subject of the photo, but a portion of the roof billboards can be seen above the cars roof providing a hint of that detail. This photo also shows the roof pitch and part of the front facade of the building to the left of Susnitzky's that will also need to be modeled.

Courtesy Bob's Photo

This next photo shows a street corner view of the building, this side is not seen from the operators isle and will not be modeled in detail. The photo does show the buildings cornice detail and the angled door of the corner entrance to Susnitzky's store front (a tavern in this photo from the WW I era).

Copyright NHRHTA Inc. Reproduced by Permission

An online aerial photo from the 70's shows the building and its relationship to the surrounding structures and yard, but to small in the photo to glean any detail.

Using the three photo examples above, finding a workable photo that showed enough detail to build a creditable model of the building was very frustrating.

Albert Comes to the Rescue!

During a visit to the Danbury Railway Museum I noticed a display about the Albert Hitchcock movie, Strangers On A Train. This 1951 movie has several scenes shot on location at the Danbury passenger station.

Watching the movie at home I was able to get a screen shot of the scene below. Although the building where Susnitzky's was located is partially obscured by the station platform cover that was still in place when the movie was made, this view of the building was good enough to be the "blueprint" to build a reasonably accurate model from.  More details are also revealed about the building to the left that is on the list to be modeled. This movie was made only six years prior to the era of the layout therefore provides photo information about signage and details that are close as possible to 1957. Thank you Mr. Hitchcock!

The Model Structure

Leftover 1/4" plywood from the Danbury station model and some dimensional lumber cut to the estimated building height form a solid base for the model stricture in the photo below.

The four building sides are each cut from a single piece of .040" styrene. The predominant side that is in view when the structure is on the layout is shown below with the door and window openings cutout.

In the next photo cornice detail has been added to the parapet wall at the top of the building, the corbels are ready molded ones from Tichy Train Group.

After painting the cornice, the adhesive backed textured brick paper from Micro-Mark is being applied in this photo. The windows and doors are from Tichy, the larger store front window to the right is from a Smalltown USA kit.

Pre-painted lintels are glued over the windows and door, sills under the windows, these are made from .010" styrene strips.


The billboards and other signage took more time to construct that the structure its self. The billboards taking the most time to build because of the lattice work below and between the billboards.

Below the billboards have been assembled with finished lattice in between. Gray paper is in place of where the signs will be inserted, the billboards are made so that the signs can be slid in from the top making it easy to change signs if desired.

Below the long lattice that is located under the billboards is being constructed. Equally spaced long strips of .010"styrene that will be the horizontal lattice bars are taped to a glass work surface using a straight edge at the bottom to keep everything straight. Shorter same width pieces of styrene keep the bars equidistant while gluing on the vertical bars. Vertical bars are glued in place one at a time using a same width piece of styrene as a spacer while gluing.

The finished billboard.

This will be the long horizontal sign that is seen on the prototype building in the screen shot from the movie, Coca-Cola button signs will be on each end where the mounting holes are drilled. The fluting at top and bottom are 1/2 round styrene strips.

The Finished Model

Below is the finished model with all the signage in place, again using the movie photo as a guide to make and locate the building signs.

John A. Devine that had the real estate and insurance business on the lower floor left later served as the Mayor of Danbury.

The Coca-Cola fountain service sign on the building corner came from an old magazine, it is mounted on styrene and hung by a bracket made from brass wire.

The green curtain, tobacco and lunch counter menu signs in Susnitzky's window are all from the net.

The OK used cars and trucks billboard sign came from the net, Dan-Ridge Chevrolet once had a used car lot just to the east of the Danbury station. I bought my first new truck from Dan-Ridge in the 1970's.

The Schaefer beer sign again is from the net, Schaefer was a New York City brewed beer and a favorite of mine until it was sold to another brewer.

"Dave's Old Six" bar & restaurant is the building partially seen to the left in the movie photo, that is the next building to be modeled and will complete the station area scene, hope to get started on it soon.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Narrows Light

The passenger car "Narrows Light" is another one of the rolling stock oddities that makes modeling the New Haven Railroad a fun challenge and the research to do so very interesting.

Car History

The heavyweight 36 seat parlor car Narrows Light was built by Pullman to car plan #3916B in 1929. This car entered service as part of the Pullman owned & operated roster for use on the New Haven's Boston to New York or Boston to Washington runs. In late 1945 the car was purchased by the New Haven then leased back to Pullman, under NH ownership the car retained it's Narrows Light name but was renumbered NHRR # 2056. The car continued in parlor car service until it was withdrawn from the Pullman lease in January 1950. In 1953 this car was converted into a diner.

Diner Conversion, Interior

During 1953 the Narrows Light was converted at the New Haven's Readville Car Shops to what was shown in the public timetables as a "cafe-coach", but the official NH Passenger Train Consists book referred to it as a "diner". The new interior configuration consisting of a small all electric kitchen with cafeteria style serving, this kitchen using compact electric equipment that was developed during WWII for use in the cramped quarters of Navy submarines, an eight table dining area seating 32 and a 12 seat lounge area. The below photo shows the new compact all electric kitchen on one end of the car. Click to enlarge

This second photo shows the dining area from the lounge area at the other end of the car. Why the two end tables have checkered table cloths is a mystery but an interesting modeling feature.

Both Photos Copyright NHRHTA Inc. Reproduced by Permission

Obviously food and drink including alcohol was served but no known menu from this car has survived to my knowledge.

Diner Conversion, Exterior

After the diner conversion the car continued to retain the Narrows Light name. Initially the car most likely would have been painted a light silver gray with the possibility of a Hunter green window band for a better color match when assigned to operation with the New Haven's new stainless steel clad fleet of light weight streamline cars with their green window band, but there is no photo evidence of this. A few years later the car was repainted in the McGinnis era "black knight" scheme of all black with a red-orange letter board and white lettering as in the two photos below.

The side with the air conditioning duct retained the same window configuration as the original Pullman plan #3916B after the conversion to a diner as seen in this out of service photo below.

Peter C. McLachlan photo

The kitchen side of the car also retains the original window configuration but the windows that back up to the new kitchen were covered over on the exterior with individual sheetmetal panels welded in place of each window. A vent was added onto the roof presumably for exhausting cooking fumes from the hood located over the range/oven and a fan added to the clerestory again presumably to vent the ambient heat of the kitchen area. The photo below of the kitchen side was taken at Danbury CT in the late 50's while the car was in NYC-Pittsfield MA service.

 Peter C. McLachlan photo

Modeling the Narrows Light

The Narrows Light was assigned to the Berkshire beginning in 1957, the era of the layout, therefore a model of the diner in the black knight color scheme is a necessity for prototypical operation. The completed model shown above in front of the sanding tower at Danbury motor service on the layout is an attempt to mimic the the black & white prototype photo above this one.

This model was built several years ago. Unfortunately the very few construction photos that were taken then have been lost to the passage of time so none can be offered here, only a description of how it was built.

No Pullman plan #3916B parlor car kit was available, a Branchline Trains Blue Print Series 6-3 Pullman Sleeper kit was used as a core to kit-bash the Narrows Light. This kit was one the many great highly detailed sleeper kits that used to be available from Branchline Trains, the 6-3 was used in particular because it had the most symmetrical rivet pattern on the sides (this model was built before the availability of rivet decals). Using a Pullman sleeper car as a core kit will never render a totally accurate finished parlor car model because the clerestory section of the roof is to narrow, overlooking the roof discrepancy this kit seemed the best choice for a starting point at the time the model was built.

An advantage of the Branchline kits is that the sides are separate flat pieces that can be modified before assembling the kit. The first step in this kit-bash was to convert the window layout of sleeper sides to the correct window layout of the #3916B parlor, essentially first converting the sleeper to parlor car.

The fully windowed food serving and AC duct side of the car as modeled to parlor car plan #3916B is shown below. To achieve the correct window arrangement the window band from the 6-3 sleeper was removed, then 9 paired windows harvested from additional Branchline sleeper sides were installed in the correct locations. Sheet styrene was then cut to size and installed to fill the gaps between each pair of windows.

No Branchline roof had the correct air conditioning duct arrangement for this car, the 6-3 roof was used as a starting point but the left side of the AC duct was to long. To shorten the left side of the AC duct, an end harvested from the roof of a 14 section sleeper kit that matches the length of the right side of the AC duct on the 6-3 roof was spliced in at the lines shown in the photo. The duct is still incorrect in length but judging from the prototype photo of this side of the car is a lot closer match and the best that could easily achieved with the Branchline parts.  

A note about the Branchline Trains parts. All the extra parts to build this car were once easily available from the manufacture direct. All the extra parts like the roof, side sets and undercarriage set details were only $3 each, so the total cost of extra parts was only $9 plus $5 shipping. I sure miss Branchline Trains, those were the days!

The kitchen side of the model below had the window band changed to a #3916B arrangement with the same method as the opposite side. When the kitchen was installed into the prototype car the windows behind the kitchen area were blanked out by covering over the openings with welded in sheetmetal panels, the same was done to the model using sheet styrene. An attempt was made to simulate the panel warping on the prototype caused by the heat of welding in the panels.

Vents were changed or removed as necessary in the clerestory and a vent was added to the roof over the range hood as per prototype.

Branchline undercarriage details were arranged on both sides of the car to best represent the look of the prototype.

Using the interior black & white photos of the prototype as a guide a basic interior was modeled with styrene and various readily available seating. The interior colors of everything except the white tablecloths and stainless steel kitchen are a mystery, so the blue seat color used on other models on the roster was used here too and a red & white checkered tablecloth was chosen for the two tables that required them. Below the kitchen/serving area shows thru the windows.

Below is the dining area and lounge.

A special thanks to Peter McLachlan for the loan of the very hard to find photos of both sides of the Narrows Light and his remembrances of the car, and to Ted Jones for providing the file to print out the HO checkered tablecloths.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Modeling the New Haven EP-3, Part 2

The Plan

An original New Haven Railroad diagram of the EP-3 below was reproduced within the EP-3 article in the Shoreliner magazine Volume 34 issue 2 mentioned previously. This diagram provides all the basic overall dimensions necessary to build a model of the EP-3. Printing this diagram in HO scale will also provide dimensional data necessary for items not specifically sized on the diagram and their locations like windows, louvers, piping, tanks, handrails etc.

                                                                         Click To Enlarge Photos
                                                          Copyright NHRHTA Inc. Reproduced by Permission

Reviewing the power chassis/frame dimensional data of the EP-3 above to that of a PRR GG1 reveals that the overall length of the GG1 is 2' 6" longer than the EP-3. The discrepancy is the distance between the driving trucks and the pony trucks whereas the distance is greater on the GG1. All other running gear dimensions appear identical.

The Power Chassis/Frame and "Porches"

Using the longer GG1 power chassis/frame with its dimensional discrepancy's described above as the foundation to build a model of the EP-3, some component length compromises will need to be made with the EP-3 prototype dimensions to compensate for the difference in length.

On the model, a decision was made to make the EP-3 box cab car body 2' 6' longer to compensate for the overall length discrepancy of the donor Bachmann GG1 power chassis/frame. The reason the car body was chosen is that the pantographs from the Bachmann GG1 will be reused on EP-3. These model pantographs are over-sized, so the extra length of the new car body will help them better fit onto the roof of the EP-3 among the other equipment needing to be located there.

The length of the streamline GG1 car body is near to the overall length of that locomotive, it covers the entire length of the power chassis/frame except the pilot faces and couplers.

The box cab EP-3 car body is significantly shorter than the overall length of the locomotive, this car body only encloses the mechanical and electrical components of the locomotive plus an operators station on both ends. The exposed deck area on both of the locomotive ends between the box cab and the pilot are referred to as "porches", see photo below.

                                                   J. W. Swanberg photo, Danbury 1958.  Author's Collection

The Bachmann GG1 power chassis/frame is made to fit tightly under the full length of that models car body.

To start the model of the EP-3, both ends of the Bachmann GG1 frame below were shortened 1.300" to fit under the new shorter box cab car body of the EP-3 and make room for the porches.

Below is one of the two plastic truck frames per locomotive that each drive and pony truck pair mount to, this assembly then swivels by and mounts to the cast metal power chassis/frame by the pivot shown. The pony truck mounts underneath the plastic truck frame with a screw. The GG1 pilot face details have been filed flat in preparation for the new porch components that will be affixed over the plastic truck frame. The GG1 step detail has been retained but squared up to match the style of the EP-3, later one additional step will be added above the bottom step.

The next photo shows a completed basic "porch", this will be glued over the plastic frame shown above. The pieces surrounding the completed porch are the component pieces that make up one porch. All parts are styrene.

The photo below shows a porch assembly permanently affixed to a truck frame. A buffer has been installed and the coupler release bar from the Bachmann GG1 will be reused. The lower pilot assembly is shown here but not permanently attached, this particular assembly has 15 separate parts and 32 drilled holes.

Below two truck/porch assemblies have been mounted under the power chassis/frame for a test fit.

The Box Cab Car Body

Car Body Sides

Both car sides and the cab ceiling between are glued together and mounted on the power chassis/frame in the below photo, all parts are made from styrene.

The cab ceiling and sides are .040" thick. The four side louvers are simulated with clapboard siding. The area designated in red in the photo from the horizontal belt line up is made with a double layer of .020 styrene, the inner layer outlines the stiles and rails of the windows. The horizontal belt line will be added after the cab ends are in place with .010"x.060" strip styrene.

Car Body Ends

The ends of the car body are semi-rounded, the center door is flat. The car body roof is fully rounded at the ends. A second original New Haven drawing from the Shoreliner EP-3 article below provided the correct radius to fabricate these pieces.

                                                          Copyright NHRHTA Inc. Reproduced by Permission

The photo below shows the cab end components on the left and a completed cab end on the right. The center ceiling piece is semi-round on both ends and will be located and glued to the top of the cab end inner-structure. The cab end sheets are made from thinner .020" styrene to help them conform to the cab end radius when gluing.

The following photos show the sides, ends and cab ceiling now all glued together and mounted on the frame.

A clerestory roof section from a Branchline coach kit was found to have the same arch radius as the EP-3 roof. The clerestory section was removed from the coach roof, it was cut to length of the ceiling piece and the ends trimmed to the correct radius. Matching the centerlines of the ceiling with the clerestory the two pieces were glued together. This will support the integrity of the roof curvature once the new roof is in place.

This photo shows the cab end crown piece in place, this piece matches the curvature of both the cab end and the arch of the roof. This is made from .010" stock for ease of gluing it to the curved cab end.

Car Body Roof

Pictures of the prototype EP-3 roof are rare but necessary for modeling. There is one good photo of the roof in the Shoreliner EP-3 article, modeling the roof details are mostly derived from that photo.

No photos were taken of just the basic roof piece. The roof was made from one piece of .010" styrene to best represent in scale the thickness of the prototype roof and for the ease of making the bends where the prototype roof panel contacts the car body sides for riveting. The roof ends were rounded, again using the overhead drawing as a guide for the correct radius.

In photo below the roof has been glued to the car body. Boiler stack and large center tank have been mounted, trial fit for the pantographs and head light.

The assumption is that the large tank mounted on the center of the roof is the fuel tank for the boiler. The prototype tank has a 460 gallon capacity, so this would be about the right size for that, it was modeled as best possible from photos. If anyone knows differently please make a correcting comment. The roof mounted air tanks are being fabricated from styrene tubing in this photo.

The model shop has no lathe, the boiler stack in the above photo was turned by chucking it in an electric hand drill see below.

The air tanks are mounted and connecting piping installed, piping and porch handrails are made from phosphor bronze wire. A running board on both sides has been added. Also in the photo below the 3rd rail pickups have been installed on the pony trucks and fuse boxes and 2nd corner steps to the porches.

The car body is ready for rivet decals.

Rivet Decals, Paint & Decals

Archer rivet decals applied to the car body. Roof, porch and trucks already painted black.

The third paint scheme applied to the prototype EP-3's starting in 1950 is called the "Cat Whiskers" scheme. The Car body is solid #13 Pullman Green with #44 Dulux Gold lettering and striping, The roof, porches and trucks are black. This color scheme is appropriate for the era of the layout and was applied to both models. Badger Model Flex Pullman Green and Accu-Cals decals were used. Below the car body has been painted and decals being applied.

EP-3 road numbers 352 & 357 are frequently seen in prototype photos at Danbury, these two numbers were chosen for the models.

Truck Details

To make the model GG1 trucks appear more like the the prototype EP-3 trucks a few details have been added. The EP-3 had friction bearings on the drive trucks, below faux friction caps cover the GG1 roller bearings. The GG1 had more holes in the truck side frames than the EP-3, 10 were filled on each side.

The EP-3 drive truck has outside brake rigging, below a brake cylinder, connecting rod and lever have been added to the drive truck. On the pony truck 3rd rail pickup has been added, the wood mounting beam, air actuating cylinder and pair of 3rd pickup shoes, a fuse box is mounted above.

Making it Run

Below an ESU-Loksound Select sound decoder, #50321 speaker and enclosure make it run.

The Finished EP-3's

Not perfectly accurate models, but they run and pull very well. They fill a big void in the layout roster. Finished cost, about 1/4 of a comparable EP-3 brass locomotive.

EP-3's 352 & 357 on the layout at Danbury motor storage/service


A special thanks to authors J. W. Swanberg and R. L. Abramson. Their text and photos made building these models possible.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Modeling the New Haven EP-3, Part 1

If You Build It, They Will Come

The phrase "If you build it, they will come" is from the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams. Well, "they" have not! On this Layout of Dreams, "they" refers to affordable mass produced models of electric locomotives or motors.

During the planning phase of this layout, one of the key decisions to include the electrified catenary on the Danbury Connecticut diorama was that at the time a manufacturer was actively planning to offer mass produced New Haven motors in HO scale. The catenary was installed, but the affordable motors were never produced.

The alternative was limited production brass imports. The New Haven EP-3 has been offered in HO scale by a few importers in the past, the latest version by Overland Models Inc. The Overland version is a beautiful well detailed model, but is out of production and when or if they become available on the used market they are very expensive.

One brass motor is on the layout, a New Haven EP-2, the prototype predecessor to the EP-3. This too is a beautifully detailed model, imported by Railworks. This model was expensive, took many hours to eliminate the electrical shorts it caused going over switches on the layout and most detrimental, it is not a good puller.

Two EP-3's are required for the layout. Sharing financial similarities with the prototype during the modeled era, purchasing two more expensive brass models and ones that may not pull well were not desired or in the layout budget.

An inexpensive reliable running model that is a good puller somehow needed to be built.

A Solution and A Donor

The modeling solution actually came from the prototype in a round about way.

The Pennsylvania Railroad tested several New Haven EP-3's on their New York-Washington electrified mainline in Delaware during 1934. Pleased with the performance of the EP-3, the PRR built an experimental test prototype with near identical specifications and dimensions to the EP-3. This test motor eventually became the PRR # 4800, the first of 139 GG1's with the distinctive Donald Dohner-Raymond Loewy designed car body. With the dimensional similarities between the EP-3 and the GG1 near identical, the thought removing the car body from a model GG1 power chassis and reverse engineer it back to the box cab design of the EP-3 seemed plausible.

Scale models of the GG1 have been produced by many manufacturers in various scales for a long time much like the EMD F7, so there are many choices. The donor power chassis of choice became the readily available Bachmann GG1. These were advertised on sale at a very reasonable price, a DC version was purchased, an on hand basic make it run decoder was installed and thoroughly tested on the layout by pulling trains of the length desired.

The Bachmann GG1 below turned out to be a smooth runner and the good puller desired, a second one was purchased to start the conversion.

Next, part 2 will summarize the models conversion from a Pennsylvania GG1 to a New Haven EP-3

One final note, Rapido Trains Inc. has announced plans to offer a affordable mass produced New Haven EP-5 Jet in HO scale, if they do a few will join the layout roster.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New Haven EP-3 Motors

Motor #352 @  Danbury, Connecticut 1958  
Casey Cavanaugh Photo, Copyright NHRHTA Inc. Reproduced by Permission

General EP-3 Information

The successful New Haven class EP-3 motors built by General Electric were designed to pull 15 heavyweight passenger cars. Assembled during 1931 these were the first for the railroad with a 2-C+C-2 wheel arrangement and twin AC traction motors per driving axle, they were geared for 70 MPH. A large electric at 403,500 pounds and 77' long at the pulling faces. Steam for train heat was provided by a oil burning vertical boiler with a 1,800 gallon water capacity. Ten of these box cab design motors were built, NH road numbers 0351-0360, the "0" prefix was later eliminated from the road number in the 1950's when the car body was repainted in #13 Pullman green as pictured above.

Comprehensive EP-3 Information

More comprehensive EP-3 information can be found in the book, New Haven Power, by J. W. Swanberg.

A complete 34 page detailed history of the EP-3's authored by New Haven electric expert R. L. Abramson was published in the New Haven Railroad Historical & Technical Association magazine, Shoreliner, volume 34 issue #2, the issue cover is seen below.

This excellent issue is still available from the association via their web site

EP-3's at Danbury

During the mid 1950's era of the layout, the prototype EP-3's regularly pulled round trip passenger trains between Grand Central Terminal in New York, NY and Danbury, Connecticut. Motors assigned to these runs were also stored overnight and weekends at Danbury.

Modeling EP-3's are a must for the layout, building them will be the subject of the next post.

                                                       Modeled Motor #352 @ Danbury, Connecticut 1957