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 The car continued in parlor car service until it was withdrawn from the Pullman lease in January 1950.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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Danbury Turntable Model


Articles authored by two of the best of the best New Haven modelers, the late Bob Rzasa and late John Pyrke, provided the inspiration to include a model of the Danbury turntable on the layout although it was not in the original track plan.

An excellent five page article by Bob Rzasa on scratchbuilding a model of the Danbury turntable was published in the New Haven Railroad Historical and Technical Association ( magazine, Shoreliner, volume 13 issue 1. This article includes all the necessities, photos, drawings and measurements to scratchbuild the Danbury turntable. Although this article is about a specific turntable it would be helpful to build a replica in any scale of a different prototype. Unfortunately this volume is no longer available from the organization.

An article on modeling the New Haven Hyannis Ma. turntable by John Pyrke was published in the September 2010 Model Railroader magazine. His six page article described how a combination of scratchbuilding and kitbashing methods were used to convert a HO Diamond Scale craftsman kit to represent this Cape Cod turntable as it appeared in the 1950's. The article mainly concentrates on building the through girder turntable bridge.

Overcoming Obstacles

As mentioned above the turntable was not originally planned to be a part of the layout, this was for two reasons. One, concerns that where the model would need to be located on the layout in respect to the prototype yard location, the turntable would protrude into the operators isle. The second reason, the turntable would have to be completely scratchbuilt, adding yet one more time consuming project to a layout where almost every structure needs to be scratchbuilt.

The operators isle where the turntable needed to be located is 34" wide, but at a location where the layout operation is limited, so narrowing the isle to 30" to accommodate a 4" bump out for the turntable seemed feasible overcoming that obstacle.

A used built up motorized turntable at a very reasonable price became available, taking a chance that it could be converted to a reasonable model of the Danbury turntable it was purchased in hopes of eliminating another large scratchbuilding project.      

Modeling The Danbury Turntable

The used model purchased is a Walthers motorized turntable, it is pictured below. This motorized turntable comes ready to operate out of the box after simple wiring hook up, has the ability to program stops and changes the table track polarity as necessary.

The Walthers turntable is a scale 90' in length, the prototype Danbury turntable is 95' in length, therefore this model can never be a true prototypical replica.

The decision was made to use it regardless, free from the confines of absolute correctness it would be "Danbury-ized" as well as possible in a reasonable amount of time and effort. Inspired by the aforementioned articles, the dimensional data and reference photos were employed from the Bob Rzasa article in the Shoreliner, the idea to kitbash the bridge came from the John Pyrke article in Model Railroader.

Turntable Pit

Not being overly impressed with the Walthers factory weathering job and the 4 1/2 scale foot thick ring wall that would not be correct for Danbury, the first modifications were made to the molded pit.

The pit was repainted with a base concrete gray color, then lightly over-sprayed with tan, dark brown, white and black holding the air brush high above the pit surface while spraying then followed by an initial weathering wash. The ring gear that is molded as part of the pit floor was masked while painting, the concern was that paint on the gear may impede the the performance of the bridge rotation in the long run.

To make the pit wall thickness appear more prototypical to the one surrounding the Danbury turntable, an overlay of .010" styrene was applied to the top of the models molded ring wall. Without knowing the exact thickness of the prototype wall, a scale 2' overlay was applied.

As seen above several ring wall overlay pieces were necessary to complete the circle, these pieces were cut initially to a width greater than 2 scale feet. The correct radius representing the outside of a 2' thick wall was cut into the overlay pieces before affixing them to the existing ring wall. The inside radius was cut into the overlay pieces after they were permanently affixed by trimming off the excess width with an X-ACTO knife using the inside of the wall as a guide insuring the inside radius would be a perfect fit.

The .010" styrene overlay is just thick enough to have a hard edge to butt the ballast up against. As seen below, once the over sized ring wall is covered with ballast a faux 2' thick ring wall remains.

Turntable Bridge

The out of the box turntable bridge is a separate part from the pit, it fits nicely into a receptacle hole in the center of the pit that allows the bridge to rotate smoothly.

The bridge comes assembled with an operators enclosure, power arch and bridge hand rails attached, the style of these three parts of the bridge are distinctly different from the prototype, therefore they will need to be changed to "Danbury-ize" the bridge.

The offending parts have been removed in the photo below. A piece of thick foam with a hole cut into the center the same size as the one in the turntable pit made a good work surface to kitbash the bridge.

The bridge deck has nice wood grain planking very similar to the prototype. The small platform cantilevered off the side in the center off the deck seen below is not on the prototype and will be cut off flush with deck.

The photo below shows styrene cross timbers below the deck have been added, spacing dimensions were taken from a drawing in the Bob Rzasa turntable article.

In this next photo hand railing matching the prototype is being added again using dimensional data from the Bob Rzasa article. Additional deck planking sections have been added between the rails as per prototype.

The power arch is the next piece to add. The prototype arch girder has a diagonal lattice pattern on the outside. To model this an easy route was taken, Central Valley bridge girders were used. The photo below shows that the lattice faces of two bridge girders has been separated from the solid web portion of the girders. Again using the dimensional data from the Bob Rzasa article the correct radius curves were bent into the pieces, then the pieces were trimmed to the needed height and width dimensions. The Central Valley plastic is very malleable and will hold a shape after bending, in this case a specific radius.

In order to assemble the two halves of the arch together a quick jig was fashioned. Working on a flat glass surface a straight edge was held down with some masking tape and five styrene blocks were temporarily glued the the glass outlining the height and width of the arch.  

Below using the jig to align then glue the two halves of the lattice arch together. After the lattice arch was glued and now one piece, strips of .010" x .030" styrene were glued to both inside edges of the arch, this was done in two layers staggering the joints. The styrene strips significantly reinforce and hold the desired shape of the arch.

Here the arch has been attached to the bridge.

The prototype operators enclosure is pictured below. Flat sheet metal forms the exterior surfaces. There is no door but the door opening has an unusual radius corner at the top left and a square corner on the other side. A control lever can be seen inside. Sure wish I took more photos of this 40 years ago!

The operators enclosure that was included with the turntable is reused, but the molded on detail of the four sides was filed flat so the enclosure can be re-sided with new styrene sides simulating the flat sheet metal sides of the prototype. Below the four new sides are shown before gluing to them to the enclosure.

Because the enclosure has no door, a lever and some controls can be seen on the inside of the prototype. Some basic control details seen above were added to the inside of the enclosure before the sides and roof were glued on.

The thru the floor control lever below was made from some brass bar stock and rod. This was attached to the enclosure floor before the enclosure was reattached to the bridge deck.

The finished "Danbury-ized" turntable bridge now painted all black as the prototype was in the 1950's.

Couple of photos after some weeds have been added to the scene.

It is doubtful that a prototype Alco DL-109 was ever turned at Danbury, but what the heck!

Not a perfectly accurate model but it will do the job. Maybe some more weathering in the future. The Walthers turntable operates very smoothly, a great addition to the layout.