Just off the workbench: PC 9633

The newest addition to my small collection of locomotives to operate at the paper plant on my layout is this Atlas S2. It’s a sound-equipped model that I painted, lettered, and weathered with acrylics, powders, and graphite pencil. I made an attempt to model the paint chipping along the frame, revealing white frame stripe that was part of its former NYC paint scheme. Also of note is the non-standard application of the corporate logo: the words Penn Central do not appear on the locomotive hood, and the numerals were applied using old NYC stencils.


The above photo represents the most accurate depiction of the prototype that I can muster with my collection. The prototype locomotive and caboose were both assigned at North Tonawanda yard. In the photo below, 9633 pulls a cut of boxcars across the switch to the bulk coal storage area.



N5B Cabooses Finished


Last summer, I picked up three undecorated Bowser N5B caboose kits when I visited English’s Hobby Supply in Montoursville Pennsylvania. I finished the last of the three and added it to the caboose fleet on the layout.

The three cabooses depict three different variations on the ‘standard’ paint scheme for Penn Central. I used Microscale decals, as well as some decals from the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society. Modifications to the kits were minor. I had to change the openings of the coupler pockets and the pockets themselves in order for Kadee whisker couplers to work. I also shaved off all of the grab irons and used plastic grabs from Bowser’s N8 caboose kit. Two kits had their roof walks removed. I also used the smoke stack from the Bowser N8 kit on all three. I added enough weight to bring them up to the NMRA standard, and added basic brake details like air lines, mechanical rigging, to Cal-Scale triple valve, cylinder, and reservoir parts. All three received Kadee scale couplers and metal wheel sets as well.

The two on the left will be used for the two local switch crews that operate out of North Tonawanda. The caboose on the right depicts a Canada Southern caboose, complete with unusual lettering provided by a Microscale freight car set. This one will ride on the back of a train passing through North Tonawanda between Buffalo and St. Thomas Ontario.

With the caboose fleet now up to seven, I think it’s time to turn my attention elsewhere.

New Project: Penn Central N5B 22923

Another project has moved from the workbench to the layout. This time, it’s the first of three ex-Pennsy N5B cabooses I’ve been working on.


To build Penn Central 22923, I started with an undecorated Bowser N5B kit. I removed all of the molded-on grab irons and replaced them with Bowser detail parts from their N8 kit after drilling all of the necessary mounting holes. I plugged the holes in the roof where the roofwalk would have been and used small pieces of strip styrene to represent supports left behind when the roofwalk was removed at the car shops. I installed brake rigging and air lines underneath using Cal-Scale parts and brass wire., then and modified the coupler pocket to more closely resemble the prototype. The model is painted and lettered with Pollyscale paints and decals from Microscale and the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society. Weathering powders provided some grime and dust.

Two more to go. I’ll post pictures of them as they come off the workbench.


More Work on the N5B Fleet


As a result of having an operational layout, I find that I’m splitting my time between modelling and operating now.  This is good because I’ve been able to test out my operating scheme and work out some problems.  However, all of this playing with trains has slowed down the pace of building  a fleet of rolling stock.  It’s nice to have options now.

I’ve made it a priority to try to populate the switching layout with the appropriate pieces of rolling stock.  To that end, I’m pushing to finish a caboose project that stalled when I ran out of the numeral “2” from my decal sheets.  A recent package in the mail solved that problem.

Penn Central’s fleet of former N5B cabooses were apparently ubiquitous on the Niagara Branch during the ’70s.  The most common arrangement for the local switchers working from North Tonawanda yard appears to have been a pair of Alco S-2s, each with an N5B caboose, though sometimes an RS-1 or SW-1 appears to have been rotated into the mix.  Knowing that I’d need at least two N5Bs (and thinking I’d add one just for good measure), I bought three undecorated models when I visited the Bowser company store last August.


I’ve nearly finished lettering one side of all three N5Bs. I’ve decided to letter one of the three for the Canada Division, which means it will be seen on CASO St. Thomas trains running across the  Niagara Branch.  The proud and independent shop crew at the St. Thomas shops had the luxury of working in the company’s colonial outpost, far from the watchful eye of upper management, and they took advantage of the fact by exercising some creative license with the corporate image.  I’m not sure, but it seems to me that this was the case with the N5B cabooses that showed up to replace the old NYC wooden cabooses some time in the very late 60s.  My model  on the far left in the photo above is lettered following a photo of a Canada Division caboose.  A different font size and spacing was used for the name, and the numerals were placed differently.

I’ll put up some better photos when I finish these models, which hopefully won’t be too much longer.  I’m currently running an N8 caboose into the paper plant.  These were newer cars, and were not likely relegated to branch line and industrial/transfer assignments.  I should be able to correct that soon.