Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Decoder Volume Level

I find matching the volume levels of sound decoders individually by ear between one locomotive to another type locomotive difficult. The difficulty increased when the programming track is at a computer desk in a separate room from the layout where the final sound volume is heard during operation.

Matching volume levels between several locomotives with the same sound file downloaded into the decoder is not difficult with a computer and programming track where the locomotive sounds can all be adjusted to a same volume level that is pleasing to ones liking.

It is the difference between the many other locomotive type sound files in use on the layout that offer the most difficulty matching sound volumes for me; Alco 539, 244, 251 as an example and then there are EMD's and motors too. Not only prime mover sounds but I like to match horn, bell, compressor and other sound levels as well.

I have started to use a sound level meter app in conjunction with the computer and programming track to even out the all the sound volume levels of the layouts many different type locomotives. So far this has worked far better that by ear!

The app is free and downloadable from The National Institute for Occupational Saftey and Health (NIOSH). The app can be downloaded here.

Below are a few example photos of the downloaded app in use with a cell phone on the layout, the meter numerals increase or decrease as sound levels rise or lower.

Alco 244 at idle,

at idle with horn,

at run 3.

Maybe this app will be helpful for others?


Friday, January 5, 2024

Modeling State Line Interchange Yard part 7 & Rising Junction

The last State Line Interchange Yard post, part 6, a base scenery layer was applied over an earth color painted surface to "make it green" using 2mm blended color static grasses. That post was in the colder months just over a year ago, closing by indicating the next step would be to make background trees, "a lot of trees". 

There is no place indoors to make trees with the ensuing mess from fine turf materials and hair spray fixative. This project was put off until it could be accomplished on the outside work bench during the warmer months of 2023 and I moved on to other indoor projects.

Working two layout locations at the same time ? 

State Line and Rising Junction are adjacent locations across the operators aisle on the layout's lower level, both prototype locations have very similar rural New England wooded scenery. Contradicting the initial goal of bringing each layout location to completion before moving to the next, it only made sense to complete the scenery of both locations at the same time.

Rising Junction is where the 9.6 mile branch line to State Line interchange yard diverges from the Danbury-Pittsfield main line.

Before making trees for both locations, the same methods used at State Line to bring the scenery to the "make it green" level of completion were again used to prepare Rising Junction.

"A lot of trees" times 2, then plant

Pleased by the prior tree making results at Berkshire Junction, once again the Jim Dufour Cheshire Branch color blend and method for making trees was used.

The large number of trees that were made for both locations will remain uncounted, following each tree was "planted" one by one into the scenery base. Both jobs were quite time consuming but gratifying in the end as the scenes came together. 

Finishing up with bushes and taller static grasses complement the trees and help to complete both scenes.

 Completed overall view of scenery at State Line below.

Rising Junction below.

Both locations together at the chair operated lower level, State Line to the left and Rising Junction at right. The upper level lighting is off during this photo.

The close proximity of the scenes and their scenic similarity made working on them both at the same time an easy choice.

Next project is to scratch build and install the State Line structures. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Modeling the Dudley #4


The sides, baggage doors, and roof were snapped in place in the photo below so the resin baggage car end could be glued in place. The sides, ends, vestibule doors and baggage doors were painted POLLY Scale Engine Black. 

All undercarriage equipment has been located using Pullman plan 2915E below. Undercarriage equipment, trucks and roof will be painted a 50/50 mix of POLLY Scale Engine Black & Grimmy Black.

When the car sides are separate parts to be installed onto the core it is most efficent to completely finish these parts while still on the flat.

After painting the sides they were decaled, Dullcoted, glazing installed finishing with the shades.

Below all parts ready to be attached to the core.


The 1952 NYNH&H RR  floor plan below is the latest known interior arrangement, this is the plan that is modeled.

The dinning area layout modeled per drawing above. Some "kitcheny" parts from the scrap box although not exact offer something stainless steel to see thru the 4 small windows of the ex-baggage door.


Both sides of the completed Dudley, now ready to serve on the Berkshire 1957.

These are the 3 food service cars used on the Berkshire in 1957.

Narrows Light, Diner # 5247 (Dreadnought) & Dudley.

A model consist entering Danbury with the same equipment as in the J. W. Swanberg photo that inspired modeling the Dudley.

Thank you.

A sincere thank you to J. W. Swanberg, John S. Horvath, Tom Madden and articles in the Shoreliner magazine offered by the  Their assistance made modeling the Dudley possible. 

Monday, March 6, 2023

Modeling the Dudley #3

Covering the Rivets

To help protect the rivet decals from coming off when handling a coat of gray primer was sprayed onto both sides.

The final prototype McGinnis red-orange color was then applied to the letterboard. No masking was used during this step just a stiff card held below the letterboard eliminating the chance of masking tape pulling up any of the rivet decals below the letterboard. There are no rivet decals on the letterboard so that can be masked off with tape for a sharp color separation when the black top coat is applied.

Sizing the Roof

The Tom Madden cast resin roof had to be shortened to match the length of the car after one vestibule was removed from the Branchline Pullman core.

The roof was shortened removing the needed amount from the center of the roof. Two cuts were made equal distance from the roof centerline, the halves were rejoined with ACC.

Completing the Roof

Another unknown in this build is new electric kitchen range roof vent. A partial view of this vent can be seen in the photo below on the duplicate car Quincy.

The converted parlor to dining car Narrows Light had a similar electric kitchen and range, the New Haven shops installed the electric kitchens in the three cars Dudley, Quincy & Narrows Light. 

Logic would suggest that modeling a vent similar to the one on the Narrows Light that there is a photo of below would be the best guess.

The 1934 Pullman duct layout plan after A/C was installed below was used to locate all the roof vents on the model of the Dudley

All the cast resin vents on the roof are also from Tom Madden. The range vent on the clerestory was made from styrene and located in a position over the electric range per interior drawing. The clerestory block off plates are styrene and the drip rail is brass rod.

The joint where the halves of the roof were glued together was finished with a skim coat of catalyzed automotive glazing putty.  

Below is the same kitchen side after primer.

The aisle side in primer below with a New England Rail Service A/C duct cut to length and installed. The duct and separate ends were difficult to fit to this roof, specially the duct ends. A narrow strip of .010" strip styrene was needed at the top of duct where duct meets clearstory to make the joint look neat and straight. The small gaps visible where duct ends meet duct will be filled with automotive glazing putty before painting.

Along with the other details an ice hatch and ladder rest where installed at the kitchen end of the A/C duct. It is not clear if the ice refrigerator below the hatch was still in use but it shows in the 1957 prototype photo at the opening of this build series.

Car Ends

The car ends of the Dudley were not pedimented but curved where ends joined the roof.

There is no resin inset baggage/express type car end with a curved top available to my knowledge. A Tom Madden resin wide clerestory pedimented inset car end was curved at the top with a file using the resin roof as a guide. The remaining pedimented Pullman vestibule car end on the Branchline core was also curved to match the roof using same method.

The inset end will be attached to the Branchline Pullman core after it is painted and the sides are installed.

Next step will be to paint all the body parts before assembly. 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Modeling the Dudley #2

Window pier panel 

Using the jig to set the inset depth of the replacement windows and panels described in the last post, seven New England Rail Service #200 Pullman paired windows and one #201 24" window were installed on each car side. Styrene window mullions and solid baggage room panels complete the window pier panels.

The baggage room doors are pressed into place for a final fit check but will remain as separate parts until the door windows are cut out, rivet detail added and for ease of primmer and painting. 

Fish plating and rivet decals added according to prototype.

Because one vestibule has been removed from the Branchline Pullman core the roof will need to be shortened as seen in the below photo. A narrow clerestory resin roof from Tom Madden lacking any venting or ducting detail will be used as a starting point.

 Completing the roof will be the next step in the build.