Volume 4 No. 2, How a New Product was Developed for S Scale

The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 4 No. 2, March 16, 2015

How a New Product
was Developed for S Scale

by John Gibson

The Sunkist Citrus Fruit Shed Kit –

In 2006, the NASG underwrote a run of a Sunkist citrus shed kit in S scale.  The story behind this kit, manufactured by Showcase Miniatures, is just one example of how a new product was brought to S scale.  It’s a recipe that others have followed successfully, and you can do it too.

I live in the Sacramento area of northern California, along the original transcontinental right-of-way built by the Central Pacific Railroad (which became the Southern Pacific).  In the first half of the 20th century, the area was one of the largest producers of pears and plums.  Each year between 1953 and 1956, the SP handled more than 10,000 carloads of pears and 2,500 carloads of plums.  Almost all this fruit was transported by the SP in Pacific Fruit Express (PFE) refrigerator cars.

The S scale model railroad that I’m planning is based on this industry.  To this end, I’ve been researching how the fruit was processed for PFE shipment to distant markets.  Generally, the fruit was picked in the orchards and transported by truck to packing sheds located on sidings along the SP right-of-way.  Once at the packing sheds, the fruit was graded, washed, wrapped, and packed into crates.  The crates were then loaded onto pre-cooled PFE reefers for shipment.  To replicate this traffic on my railroad, I will need to model several of the area’s packing sheds.

My research has located photographs of several of the packing sheds that I intended to use as a guide to scratch-build or kit-bash these buildings.  However, I’ve been unable to locate pictures of all the packing sheds.  So I’m always on the lookout for suitable model structures to use in the meantime.

In September 2005, one of the Yahoo e-groups that focus on the citrus industry announced that Joe Warren, owner of Showcase Miniatures, had just released an HO laser-cut low-relief building kit based on the Sunkist San Fernando Heights Orange Association packing house.  I Googled the Showcase Miniatures website to take a look at the kit, and was immediately impressed.  I thought it would work well for my purposes as built and as a base for a kitbash.  I also thought the structure could double as a warehouse or an industrial building.

(Note:  “Low-relief” structures, often referred to as two-and-a-half-dimensional, are generally meant to be placed against a layout’s backdrop.  They have partial-depth walls perpendicular to their front faces, and no rear walls.  When placed in context with other closely spaced structures on an industrial siding, the lack of complete depth is not noticeable.)

I contacted Joe Warren to see if he would be agreeable to producing the kit in S scale, and if so, what he required for production.  I was pleasantly surprised when Joe enthusiastically responded that the kit could be easily converted to S scale and that he was interested in producing the kit if I could guarantee 50 orders.  We discussed the size of the finished model and the estimated cost.  One of the advantages of this project was that I knew I could front the cost of the entire project, and thus guarantee the minimum numbers Joe required to do the work.

Once the preliminaries were completed, I set about gathering orders for the project.  I advertised the kit on the S-Scale and S-Trains Yahoo e-groups.  I also got promotional pieces printed in the “NASG Dispatch,” the “S Gaugian,” and “1:64 Modeling Guide.”  If I were doing this project today, I would also advertise in the S Scale Resource and of course on the NMRA S Scale SIG Forum.

In about a month I had 25 orders.  Then in October, NASG President Sam McCoy contacted me to discuss the project’s history and to see if I had any commitments for orders.  Sam then told me that NASG Board of Trustees might be interested in investing in the project and wanted to know if I would be willing to turn the project over to the board.  I quickly agreed, and the NASG board approved the project.  The plan was for the NASG to buy the initial run of 50 kits for sale to NASG members, and to handle the logistics regarding these orders.

The NASG Board assigned Western VP Gerry Evans as project manager.  I turned everything over to Gerry; then all I had to do was wait for the building kits to be produced.  After Gerry worked with Joe Warren on some minor modifications, the citrus shed kits were rolled out in the summer of 2006.

In addition to getting buildings I needed for my railroad, I learned the following about getting a new product made for S scale:

  • It’s very important that the manufacturer wants to produce a product for S scale.  Joe Warren was looking for a project to test the S scale market; I was lucky enough to approach him at this time.
  • It really helps if the item has never been produced in S scale before.  For example, I thought the citrus shed could also double for a machine shop or a warehouse.  When I was gathering reservations, I found that I was not the only person who thought that way.  Customers were also telling me the same thing about the potential to use the building for other uses than a citrus shed.
  • A new project has to be aggressively promoted in every venue read by S gaugers to get the word out and the orders rolling in.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!  Many projects fail because the vendor can’t figure out how to reach us!
  • You have to have thick skin because some folks like going negative and are going to tell you every reason why the project will not succeed.  Even worse, these Negative Nellies will want to share their opinions, which can hurt the project as well as put a negative light on S scale in general.

I was lucky that the building caught the eye of the NASG Board and that they picked up the cost and logistical work for the orders, but I was prepared to buy the whole run because I wanted the building.  As such, I had to be prepared to do whatever was needed to sell what I did not need.  For example, I knew that I would likely have to sell several kits to the hi-rail crowd.  So I was prepared to offer a built version (which I was going to build).  Fortunately, thanks to the NASG, I did not have to offer kit-building services.

I am glad to see that this process is still occurring in S scale and that people are taking the initiative to bring new products to S.

Editor’s Addendum

A couple of other examples are worth noting.  S scale New York Central fan Ed Loizeaux noticed that Model Memories was producing very delicate photoengraved brass kits for HO models of the graceful cantilever signal bridges that were the standard along the NYC’s Hudson Division.  Ed negotiated a minimum order quantity with Model Memories (MM) and got his signal bridges.  Ed’s personal requirement met the minimum; however, MM continues to offer these S scale kits in its inventory.

For a long time, American Models (AM) offered its rib-side twin coal hopper cars in only one NYC livery – black.  The black color scheme appeared on the prototype after the time frame that I personally model (1955).  I needed a freight car red version within a particular car-numbering range.  I asked AM’s Ron Bashista if he would to the red version, and if so, what was his minimum order quantity.  His answer was yes he would, with a minimum quantity of 25.  So I polled the Yahoo S-Scale e-group’s members for interest and came away with commitments for 27 red hopper cars.  AM then produced the cars, and afterward added them to their standard product line.

Volume 3 No. 3, The S Scale Workshop at the North Shore Train Show 2014

The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 3 No. 3, October 13, 2014

Spreading The Word About Scale Railways In 1:64

by Trevor Marshall
photos by Trevor Marshall, videos by Simon Parent

The Wikipedia entry notes that S scale has been around for more than a century – and commercial models have been produced since the 1930s. Yet there are many people – including experienced craftsmen who have been hobbyists for decades – who have never seen a layout built to 1:64.

The members of the S Scale Workshop – a group of friends mostly in the Southern Ontario area – have been doing their part to change that.

The Workshop was already well established when, in the mid-2000s, members decided to build modules to an S scale version of the Free-Mo standard. Since the new modules made their first appearance at a Canadian prototype train show in Copetown, Ontario in 2006, the Workshop has taken S scale to exhibitions across southern Ontario as well as to Trainfest in Milwaukee WI (2011), The Railroad Hobby Show in Springfield MA (2012), and the NASG Convention in Scranton PA (2013).

But we’d never exhibited in the province of Québec – which was odd, given that one of our most prolific members – Simon Parent – calls the Montréal area home. This year, we corrected that oversight.

The opportunity presented itself in the form of the first-ever North Shore Train Show, held October 4-5 at an athletics complex in the Montréal suburb of Laval.

Three members of the Workshop contributed modules:

  • Simon presented Dunham Junction – a four-section module featuring a working junction built through a 180-degree turn-back curve. Simon also brought one of his earliest modules, featuring a river crossing.
  • Andy Malette displayed his two-section switching module, featuring the Great White North Brewery and the Simcoe Ice Company. Andy also brought along a module representing a typical Ontario wetlands scene, featuring a main track built on a rubble causeway.
  • I presented two modules – Judge Farm and Division Street. Each features a single main track travelling through a large-radius arc (more than 30 feet), past meadow, pasture and farm field. I’ve been building these modules for a series for TrainMasters TV – a web-based television show about the hobby. And the Laval show was the first time they had appeared in public.

Simon also contributed two return loop-module sets – including one featuring a three-track staging yard, and the other featuring a 90-degree crossing guarded by a tower. These loops made their first appearance at this show and they made a real difference to how we operate the layout for the public.

Previously, the Workshop modules would be set up in a point-to-point fashion, with a train-length turntable/staging yard at each end. Since these had to be portable, trains had to be fairly short – four cars was typical.

Thanks to Simon’s work, in Laval we were able to run some very long trains for the first time, including a long coal drag and a 22-car freight behind double-headed steam power. The loops made a real difference to the presentation, as these videos shot by Simon demonstrate.

Simon, Andy and I were joined by friends Claude Demers, Fredrick Adlhock and Brian Nicholson. While they did not have modules, these three gentlemen were invaluable in helping us set up, run trains and tear down. We could not have done it without them. Thanks guys!

Our friend and fellow Workshop member Jim Martin also deserves special mention. He was unable to attend this show, but he made sure we had our S Scale Workshop and NASG signs, flyers and handouts, copies of features on the Workshop from popular hobby magazines, and other materials that helped us look good. Jim also supplied a train-length turntable for the third leg of Dunham Junction, and even loaned Fredrick some S scale equipment to help populate the layout.

In all, the members of the S Scale Workshop presented more than 90 feet of well-scenicked and smooth-running S scale to entertain the public. Many visitors to the show did not realize that so much has been produced for S scale, making it possible (with careful selection of prototype) to build a realistic layout:

  • Our exhibition included custom-built brass locomotives, ready-to-run rolling stock in brass and plastic, and kit-built equipment from resin, plastic, brass and even wood components.
  • As with most S scale layouts, we’ve also made careful use of many details and scenery items marketed as HO or O scale. There were many examples of scratch-built structures, bridges and other detail elements on display too.

With Simon’s return loops and my open-country running modules, the layout configuration was very different from previous exhibitions. We’re looking forward to a future show when we can combine these new pieces with other modules that were unable to make the trip to Laval. We’ve already received a couple of invites to future shows where we might be able to do just that.

This was the first year for The North Shore Train Show, so it came as no surprise to us that attendance was on the light side. But over the two-day show, several hundred visitors learned about scale modeling in 1:64. Many times over the course of the show, visitors commented on the size, quality and performance of the equipment on the layout.

And – as is always the case when the S Scale Workshop exhibits – we heard several comments along the lines of “If I didn’t already have all this HO…” and spotted a few people sizing up 1:64 and wondering how quickly they could unload their HO equipment on eBay.

While we know that’s unlikely to happen, we also know it means that we’ve dispelled misconceptions about “S Scale” being just another term for “American Flyer” or “Toy Trains” – and that’s a good thing for those of us working to higher standards in 1:64.

[Would you like to see more pictures and videos from the show? View Trevor’s blog entries Home Movies from Laval 2014 and Laval 2014 is in the books for more on The S Scale Workshop’s modular layout.]

Volume 3 No. 2, CNR Montreal Locomotive Works FPA-2 #6706

The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 3 No. 2, August 11, 2014

Canadian National Railway
Montreal Locomotive Works
FPA-2 #6706
(Road Class MPA-16a)

by Dick Karnes

The Prototype

In 1955, under license from the American Locomotive Company (Alco), Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW) built six FPA-2 diesel locomotives and six matching FPB-2 units for hauling CNR passenger trains. These locomotives were essentially FA-2 diesels with the addition of a steam generator. The Canadian units also had features for cold-weather operation, most obviously winterization hatches.

Ditch lights were added later; the units did not have these when built. (See black-and-white MLW builder’s photos). I modeled the as-built configuration, as my layout is circa 1955. The paint job is also per the original, with green handrails and black kickplates. (Note the differences between the builder’s photos [B&W] and the later color photo.)

The Model

The loco started out as a lot of “stuff,” primarily a powered AM FP-7 chassis, an American Models Alco FA shell from a swap meet that some inexperienced modeler had severely damaged while trying to add a second headlight opening, and a bag of SouthWind Alco FA/FB detailing parts.

I referred quite often to James Whatley’s article on converting an HO FA-2 to a CNR FPA-4 in the January 2013 Railroad Model Craftsman. I relied heavily on this article for suggestions on how and what to do to create my loco. A chat with Andy Malette confirmed that the rear features and color of the FPA-2 and FPA-4 were identical.

Superstructure (see unpainted model photos)

I did a lot of work on the carbody. The unpainted model photos pretty much highlight what I did. All the brass parts were from the SouthWind FA/FB detailing kit. Handrails above the coupler lift bars, and the lift bars themselves, are formed from .020″ steel wire. The cab awning is a piece of styrene sheet. The stainless-steel Farr Grilles are a Des Plaines Hobbies product, intended for EMD units. I narrowed them with a coarse bastard file in order to fit the FPA-2 grille areas.

I filled in the rear of the pilot (on both sides) with .060″ styrene to achieve the correct prototype contour. I also filled in the second headlight hole in the nose with .060″ styrene and faired it in with Squadron Green plastic body filler. You can see more of the green stuff used to repair dings on other parts of the carbody.

The winterization hatch as well as the flat platform “thingy” were built up of layers of styrene sheet, files, sanded, and filled to achieve the correct contours according to the RMC article. The larger of the two vents over the train heat boiler (rear of roof) is an O scale trolley car pole retriever. The smaller vent is an S scale coach lavatory vent. The grab at the left rear of the roof is another piece of formed .020″ steel wire.

Lift rings and wipers are from the SouthWind FA/FB detailing kit. The diaphragm striker plate and the modified horn cluster are from an Overland E-unit parts pack. With the exception of the Pacific Rail Shops ladder, the rest of the rear-end details are from the SouthWind FA/FB detailing kit.

The front coupler in the unfinished photos, a San Juan Car Co. “Evolution” coupler, was replaced after painting. Both couplers are now Kadee #808s.

Chassis (see unpainted model photos)

I replaced the AM Blomberg sideframes with SouthWind AAR Type B sideframes built from parts in the SouthWind FA/FB detailing kit. The fuel tank is built up of styrene sheet overlaid on the AM chassis’s underfloor fuel tank. The various bolts and clean-out plugs are from the SouthWind FA/FB detailing kit. The fuel level indicator on the left side of the tank was made from a brass relief valve from a SouthWind A-B brake set plus a length of brass wire. The fuel pipes on the front left of the tank are simply formed brass rod. The side steps are from the original FA carbody shell.


I used the color prototype photo as a guide for painting and lettering. All paint is Scale Coat, airbrushed. The first coat is CNR yellow, no longer available in the US. I sent the completed body shell to Andy Malette, who sprayed the entire carbody with the correct CNR yellow. When I got it back, the masking began. Next came CNR green, which I had, thanks to the NASG’s CNR Pullman Car remediation program of some years ago. I masked the yellow, including the striping, and oversprayed the green.
Then I masked again for the black, including the thin one-inch black stripes that divide the green from the yellow along the bottom of the carbody.

After peeling off the masking tape and letting the paint cure for a week, I began decaling. I had a lot of striping left over from the NASG remediation program, so I used the stripes of yellow bordered with black to finish the black stripe wherever yellow meets green. Curves in the stripes were achieved by repeated applications of decal solvent accompanied with teasing the stripe segments with a No. 11 X-acto blade. Some of the black striping done by masking was rather ragged, so the decal stripes were overlaid on these to clean up the look. The sharpest curves were not outlined with these leftover passenger-car stripes (but see next paragraph).

The lettering and herald came from a Black Cat decal set for CNR diesel units. Also, portions of the black “O” in “National” were cut and fitted to the sharply curved color boundaries.
Finally, the handrails were all repainted by hand with CNR green, per the color prototype photo. A cardstock mask behind each handrail served to protect the carbody color from paintbrush mishaps. Then the entire body shell was given an overspray of Floquil “Flat Finish.”

Clear plastic windows, lenses, and number board decals were applied last; the number boards were then hand-brushed with clear nail polish.

The chassis was next. I masked the couplers as well as everything above the floor, then painted the entire chassis with a spray can of Floquil Grimy Black. Then I removed the truck cover plate/sideframe assemblies, separately painted the wheels, and cleaned the treads with lacquer thinner.

Parts Breakdown

Scratchbuilt Parts:
Fuel Tank
Big square thing on roof
Winterization hatch
Cab awnings
Various hand grabs
Front coupler lift bars
Stock Commercial Parts:
Truck sideframes (kit)
Door handles
Rear handgrabs
Cooling coils
Back-up light fixture
Fuel tank cleanout plugs
Rear coupler lift bars and hangers
Roof lift rings (“U”s)
Rear end lift rings
Flag stanchions
Bolt heads
Fuel tank clean-out plugs
Windshield wipers
Lav vent
Hose cocks and gladhands
Overland diaphragm striker plate
Kadee #808 couplers
American Models clear plastic sprue (windows etc.)
Pacific Rail Shops ladder
MV lenses (back-up light, classification lights)
Black Cat decals
Clouser trolley pole retriever
NCE DCC decoder
Modified Commercial Parts:
Overland horn cluster
BTS relief valve
Des Plaines Farr grilles
American Models:
Powered FP-7 chassis
Carbody molding
ACC (super glue)
Brass rod
Squadron Green plastic body filler
Sheet styrene
Liquid plastic cement
Steel music wire
Electrical wire
Wire insulation (for hoses)

Volume 3 No. 1, Bill Young’s Southern Pacific

The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 3 No. 1, July 23, 2014

Bill Young’s Southern Pacific

by Dick Karnes Photos and drawing by the author except as noted

Background and Concept

Bill Young earned his civil engineering degree from Stanford University in 1963. He is now a retired general engineering contractor living in St. Helena, CA, summering in Mt. Shasta, where he has his layout. In the winter he builds equipment for his layout; in summer he installs it. It’s not really a surprise, given his background, that Bill’s first love is bridges. The layout is designed as a showcase for Bill’s bridges.

Bill’s Espee is an around-the-wall layout in a dedicated 10 x 24 room, essentially the size of a one-car garage. The layout consists of one single-track loop and one double-track loop that both converge on the town of Dunsmuir CA. There are ten totally scratchbuilt bridges ranging from wood trestles to steel trusses to a three-track motorized bascule bridge that incorporates electronic sound effects recorded from a real motorized bridge. By “totally scratchbuilt,” I mean that Bill fabricated every individual structural member, e.g., laced girders and columns, piece by piece from sheet and strip stock.

This layout is actually Bill’s second. He met fellow Californian Lee Johnson between layouts. Lee suggested that one of the loops in the new layout should be separate from the other two for better scenic effect. Lee also helped design the Dunsmuir yard that ties everything together and makes the layout functional.

Bill does his layout construction projects in the winter half of the year, in St. Helena. When he and his wife move up to Shasta for the summer season, he takes his newly completed projects with him to install on the layout. The entire town of Dunsmuir on Bill’s layout, consisting of two 1’x 6′ sections and one 1’x 3′ section, were built in the winter and installed end to end on the layout. Dunsmuir Yard and all the bridges were likewise built in the winter season in St. Helena, then schlepped north and installed on the layout.

Bill’s friend Diana Woods, a professional artist, painted the backdrops. Eric Tiegel did all the electrical work – last!! Layout power is NCE DCC. And “every stinking foot [of track] is hand-laid” by Bill.

Bill’s work has been published many times, including the NASG Dispatch, S Gaugian, Model Railroader, and two BASS (Bay Area S Scalers) calendars. His three-track bascule bridge won First Place at Sacramento’s 2011 NASG National Convention.

Bill Young’s Southern Pacific Gallery

Volume 2 No. 6, New York, Westchester & Boston

The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 2 No. 6, October 30, 2013

New York, Westchester & Boston

by Dick Karnesphotos by the author

First published in the July 2012 Railroad Model Craftsman. The S Scale SIG would like to thank Carstens Publishing Co. for generously allowing this reprint and supporting the S Scale community.

Givens And Druthers

The late John Armstrong is my layout-planning guru. I have read and re-read his “Layout Planning for Realistic Operation,” and I have taken his methods to heart. I particularly like his “givens and druthers” approach, in which you write down your “must haves” (givens) and “like to haves” (druthers). My givens and druthers were as follows:


  • Heavy electrics
  • Car float
  • 1955 era
  • Passenger operations (MU, local, express, milk)
  • NH, NYC trackage rights


  • Design for operation
  • Lots of hidden staging
  • Point-to-point
  • Optional continuous running
  • Stub-end terminal
  • Freight yard

Heavy Electrics and passenger equipment can be a problem in S, my chosen scale. The only commercial electric locomotives are the ready-to run American Models PRR GG1 and a New Zealand 3.5-foot gauge boxcab kit. Therefore, my electrics are a rather eclectic combination of kit-bashed and scratch-built. Most of my electric loco bodies were bashed from components like American Flyer caboose bodies and resectioned AF Alco PA shells. Some sit atop modified diesel chassis; other chassis are scratch-built. Most steamers are brass imports, but a few have been scratch-built of brass and detailed with S scale brass castings. A few more are “interesting” combinations of AF, Rex, imported brass, and scratch-built components. For our older readers, think Bill Schopp, frequent author of brass-bashed locos in 1950-60 era RMCs.

Ready-to-run S scale passenger equipment is currently limited to American Models 75-foot heavyweights and Budd Empire State Express shorties. The Supply Car offers a large variety of full-length streamlined Pullman and Budd kits. There have never been any MU cars offered. But I have been fortunate over the decades to acquire equipment as it was available. Mine includes 1950-era Super Scale heavyweights, a Dayton Models NYC gas-electric from the same era, plastic heavyweight and streamlined Pullmans from American Models, brass heavyweights from SouthWind Models, and a fleet of MU cars bashed from American Models and American Flyer passenger cars with Black Beetle power trucks. My freight-car fleet’s lineage is similarly varied.

I have a 12-foot by 46-foot space for the layout with two closet doors at one end and a wall with doorway separating the space roughly in half. There were no obstructions (wash tubs, furnaces, etc.). I didn’t want the complication of double-decking, so I was willing to sacrifice some mainline route-miles. I knew I wanted a stub-end terminal, a wye for reversing specific equipment, and no reversing loops per se. I also wanted a single hidden staging yard that could ingest and disgorge trains, and I wanted the visible portion of the layout to support interesting point-to-point operation. Alas, I had to give up the idea of a single staging yard with multiple entrances and exits because the resulting hidden turnouts and crossings were just too complex. Instead, I settled for two separate four-track staging yards. Also, given the size of my space and my desire for broad curves, I had to give up any notion of even an abbreviated engine terminal, so I opted to model only minimal servicing facilities—water column, ash pit, sand tower, and two ready tracks.

I dreamed up a layout schematic that involved two primary routes – a single-track line that crosses a double-track line. These two lines would join, share common trackage and a station through one town, then diverge, creating an “X”-shaped configuration overall. The double-track line would have catenary and the single-track line would not. Then I put my mind to adapting a prototype concept that fit my favorite area of America – Upstate New York and western New England.

New York, Westchester & Boston Gallery


I had always been fascinated by what might have been, had the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway, a heavy-electric road, actually met its goal of connecting New York City and Boston. The NYW&B, what there was of it when the New Haven bought it in the 1920s, was built to incredibly up-to-date standards for really heavy traffic demand. It’s anybody’s guess what it could have evolved into, but I decided to give it an alternate, successful history. I chose to model the NYW&B circa 1955. The real NYW&B was mostly dismantled by the New Haven; the remainder was incorporated into various New Haven routes. In my alternate history, the NYW&B was never bought out, but thrived. As a result, the New Haven is confined to the Long Island Sound and Atlantic coast, and the New York Central’s Boston & Albany division trackage terminates eastbound at Springfield, Massachusetts. The NYW&B has three divisions: 1.) The double-track electrified New Haven & Northern division from New Haven, Connecticut via Troy, New York, to Montreal; 2.) The New York & North Eastern division from New York City to Boston via Springfield; 3.) The Westchester Connecting Line from the Brooklyn waterfront to the NY&NE in Westchester County.

The New York Central has trackage rights over the NYW&B between Springfield and Boston, as does the New Haven from New Haven to Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut, where the NYW&B’s NH&N and NY&NE divisions cross each other. In addition, the NYW&B has trackage rights on the NYC from Troy to Springfield. New Haven and CNR passenger cars provide through service on New Haven-Troy-Montreal trains.

This concept gives me a rationale to host electric, steam, and diesel power. The NYW&B runs anthracite steam (camelbacks only) and electrics. The single-tracked NY&NE runs steam only, and the double-tracked NH&N nominally runs electric only. Exceptions are a lone boxcab diesel at the Port Hudson float yard, and the way freight that’s headed by a steam loco because it switches some industries beyond the wires. Additionally, the NYC from Troy to Springfield is electrified in order to power NYW&B trains between Troy and Boston.

The NYC and New Haven run whatever they want – NYC steam and diesels, and New Haven diesels and electrics.

Modeled Portion

I model the “X” configuration centered on Cornwall Bridge (CB), which hosts a through passenger station, a stub-end commuter terminal for MU cars, and the line’s motor shop for electric loco repairs.

Common trackage of the NH&N and NY&NE divisions runs from South Cornwall Junction (SC) to Springfield Junction (SJ). The road’s home office is located at SJ, where the lines to Montreal and Springfield diverge. Beyond these points each division is separate, and each terminates in its own staging yard. Troy Union Station serves passenger trains of the NYC, NH, CNR, and of course the NYW&B. There is also a freight yard at Troy as well as the minimal loco facilities mentioned before. A branch line to Port Hudson serves a float yard and barge operation on the Hudson River. There’s also a branch line from Cornwall Bridge to South Cornwall that serves several industries including a bulk fuel depot and a whey-processing plant.


These days, S scale standard-gauge trackage products are plentiful. We have vendors who provide flextrack in various rail heights, nos. 6 and 8 turnouts, and made-to-order items like crossings, three-ways, and slip switches. That said, trackwork is my favorite thing, so I have hand-built some 67 turnouts, five crossings, one double-slip switch, and nearly all the visible track. I have used commercial trackage only on the farthest tracks from view and in tunnels.

Although I am somewhat saddened that I have no more track to lay, I am still getting a kick out of completing my catenary. I get my catenary spans, column bases, and rain caps from Model Memories, and I scratchbuild my catenary bridges from old .172 steel rail. It’s always a challenge to fit catenary properly over complex trackwork, but I really enjoy puzzles, so this doesn’t bother me. At this point in time my catenary is about 80 percent complete. You can get a detailed look at how I build my catenary in the NMRA’s March 2009 issue of “Scale Rails” magazine (“Juice for Your Juice Jacks”).

Control System

When I began building this layout, I knew I wanted walk-around control. I had experimented with wireless CTC-16 on my previous layout, but abandoned it because it was prone to cross-channel interference. This time I opted for Aristo-Craft’s “Basic Train Engineer,” a wireless system that controls the track, not the trains. At the time, transmitter-receiver sets were available in four different frequencies, so I used two frequencies to control each of the two tracks on my double-track main line. I installed power routing all over the place, through the auxiliary contacts on my switch machines. This allowed the power to follow the train through whichever off-main route I chose. Troy Terminal, the float yard, the South Cornwall branch, and the NY&NE were separately controlled.

This all worked great, at first. But as I added and activated more trackage and route alternatives, operation required the addition of several selector switches. I discovered that if I didn’t operate my railroad at least a few times a week, I would forget how! Ergo, it was time to bite the bullet and convert to DCC.

I plunked down major $$ for a wireless NCE DCC system, including a power supply, command station, five handheld controllers and two antennae. I also purchased an array of secondary equipment like locomotive decoders, auto-reversers, and power-district controllers. But I never could have pulled the conversion off without the help of Roger Nulton. We had to undo all the power-routing wiring, install four power buses, and hundreds of feeder drops. We had to connect everything up with power on so as to monitor for potential short circuits, easily caused by connecting feeders to the wrong bus wire. When we were finished, I had two large boxes full of scrap wire.

But I have never looked back. I love it!

Milk Runs

I designed my NYW&B for operation, and it has lived up to that goal. It supports way freights, local passenger trains, interchange via two staging yards as well as a car float operation, and arrival and departure of long-distance freight and passenger trains. For open houses, the layout also supports continuous running with a choice of eight different trains.

A relatively complex set of operations centers on the dairy industry, which was still strongly rail-oriented in the Northeast in the mid-1950s. The southbound local passenger train stops at several milk platforms along the right-of-way where dairy farmers leave cans of raw milk. There are three such platforms actually on the layout, at Springfield Junction, North Cornwall, and South Cornwall. The cans are loaded into the train’s railway-owned milk reefer. At Putnam Hills, the milk reefer is dropped off at the Quaker Hills Creamery for processing. While there, the local picks up a dairy-company milk reefer filled with yesterday’s bottles of pasteurized milk and cream for retail trade distributors in New York City.

Later on, the northbound local stops at the creamery, drops off an empty dairy-company reefer, and picks up the railway-owned milk reefer, which is now loaded with empty cans to take back to the milk platforms along the route.

The way freight always picks up empty freshly-iced reefers at Thompson Ice. One is dropped at the creamery for loading cheese and ice cream. Another reefer, loaded with whey, is picked up at the creamery and trundled off to the Federal Whey plant at the end of the South Cornwall branch. While there, one or two reefers loaded with whey-based products are picked up. In other words, a single produce-laden reefer in a through freight from Boston can arrive at Troy Yard, be taken in a way freight to Ilzeb Wine & Produce at North Cornwall for off-loading, then taken to Thompson Ice for re-icing, then off to the Quaker Hills Creamery at Putnam Hills for loading. If its load is dairy products, it then goes back to Troy in yet another way freight, where it is reassigned to a manifest freight to Boston or New Haven or New York City. If its load is whey, it’s taken to the Federal Whey plant for off-loading, and remains there until loaded with whey products and then taken back to Troy, then on to its destination.

King Coal

As mentioned earlier, the NYW&B’s steamers all burn anthracite coal. The anthracite, from Pennsylvania, arrives on NYW&B property via hopper cars on the Port Hudson car float. These coal loads are trundled off to Troy Yard in the twice-daily transfer freight, where two are set aside for local delivery to retailers and the rest are coupled into through freights, to be taken to coaling station sites along the routes.

Typical Operating Sessions

We run with a four-to-one fast clock, so operating sessions take around three real hours. During this time, crews will have run two local passenger trains in opposite directions, stopping at milk platforms and Quaker Hills Creamery in addition to the station stops. Meanwhile, the Port Hudson boxcab has offloaded several cars from the car float into the float yard, assembled them into a transfer freight, delivered them to Troy, and picked up a half-dozen cars to take back to Port Hudson. And then there are the two trains that the way freight has encountered on its rounds – the Grand Isle Limited, with CNR, NYC, and New Haven equipment, speeding off to New Haven; and a through freight bound from Troy to New York City.


Today’s S scale is better than ever. Despite my eclectic motive power preferences, and my lengthy history that includes being at the right place and time to acquire what I wanted, there’s a large variety of currently-available ready-to-run plastic and brass equipment, trackage products, and structure kits that make it easy to do a lot in S. There’s also a lot of stuff in people’s shelves and drawers that they’ll never get to. So it pays to develop a network for trading/selling/buying purposes. Most of what I have is based on products that are currently produced or can still be found. To this end, the photo captions highlight the sources of the items in the scenes.

Volume 1 No. 10, Breaking Marley’s Chains – On2 to S

The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 1 No. 10, May 1, 2012

Breaking Marley’s Chains – On2 to S
“Givens” don’t fit? Change everything for a better layout

by Trevor Marshall

This article first appeared in issue 45 of the “Layout Design Journal” the publication of the Layout Design Special Interest Group, Inc. The S Scale SIG would like to thank the LDSIG for permission to reprint this article. Learn more about the LDSIG at www.ldsig.org.

Making the Switch to S

I’m relatively new to S scale, having started my first layout in 1:64 in October of 2011. My conversion to S actually started several months prior to that as I considered what prototype I could model in S scale and what would fit in my layout room.

Rather than write a feature on switching to S for an S-specific site such as this one, I thought it more valuable to share my experiences with a broader audience – one comprised of modelers working in a range of scales and gauges. So I penned a piece for the Layout Design Journal – the excellent quarterly publication from the Layout Design Special Interest Group (www.ldsig.org). This appeared in issue #45 – the Winter 2012 edition.

I have to admit that I took an unusual route into S scale. I had several friends working in S but until about a year ago, I hadn’t considered it as the scale for me. As the LDJ feature explains, instead of deciding, “I’m going to work in S” and then figuring out what I could do in it, I asked myself, “What do I want out of a layout – and what’s available, product-wise, to make it happen?” All scales and gauges were on the table – but I found that S standard gauge would provide the best combination of models big enough to appreciate detailing efforts yet small enough to fit an interesting layout into a relatively modest space. I also found the social aspects of working in S to be second to none and I’m grateful to have such a fantastic group of friends in my area who also work in 1:64.

Shortly after the feature was published, a comment on an S scale newsgroup made me realize those looking at S as a potential modeling scale might find my experience valuable. So I contacted the Journal’s editor, Byron Henderson, and secured permission to share the article on the S Scale SIG website. You’ll find it here as a PDF. If you’re not a member of the LDSIG, I encourage you to join. I find it great value for the money and the Journal is a tremendous magazine. Membership information is included at the end of the PDF.

If you’re considering the switch to S scale, I hope you find this feature informative and encourage you conduct an exercise similar to what I’ve outlined.

Download Trevors' artricle form the Layout Design Journal

Volume 1 No. 5, Passenger Trains: Why “S” May Be For You

The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 1 No. 5, February 20, 2012

Passenger Trains:
Why “S” May Be For You

by Dick Karnes

There are cogent reasons to consider a switch to S scale. If you are in a larger scale and face downsizing your living quarters, S may be for you. If you’re in HO or N, are getting older, and your eyesight isn’t what it used to be, S may be for you.

Mike’s story combines both of these. Mike, forty-ish, switched three years ago. He was an O scale NYC fan who wanted two trainsets of the Central’s Southwestern Limited passenger train, a five-car Budd consist as it crosses the Midwest. He began to realize there was no way he could plausibly do this in the limited space he has, so he thought “I need to switch to HO.” But, being a practical man, he projected ahead another 20 years: “I’d have to switch scales again as my eyesight degrades.” Bob McCarthy’s streamlined passenger-car kits marketed under “The Supply Car” brand, pushed Mike over the edge.

Bob McCarthy’s cars can be furnished with Budd, Pullman, and ACF car sides in any prototype window configuration at no extra charge. Can’t find the one you want in Bob’s listing? Send him a plan and it’ll get made. I did that for the 1938 20th Century Limited observation car, and I got exactly what I wanted.

Shown are some of the components in a typical Supply Car passenger-car kit. This particular car is a diner from the NYC’s 1938 20th Century Limited. Shown above are the two sides against a core body, floor below, and some of the underbody details at the bottom. Roof details also come with the kit. The Supply Car will soon have full-width diaphragm kits to go with these.

Commonwealth 43-R triple-bolster roller-bearing trucks were standard on most 1938 20th Century cars, although the Century’s diners and RPO had six-wheel trucks. The 43-R roller-bearing trucks (shown from a 1938 Commonwealth ad) and similar SP-43 plain-bearing trucks are now a committed River Raisin Models project.

The Supply Car
356 Conrad Circle
Columbia, SC 29212
(803) 429-1811

River Raisin Models
6160 Upper Straits Blvd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48324
(248) 366-9621

Volume 1 No. 1, The S Scale Workshop

The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 1 No. 1, November 21, 2011

The S Scale Workshop

by S Scale SIG Staff

The 8 member S Scale Workshop began presenting their Free-mo inspired modular layout at Southern Ontario regional train shows in early 2006. Their largest arrangement to date appeared at the 2007 Toronto Christmas Train Show with nearly 110 linear feet of single track modules. The group was honoured with “Best in Show – Layouts” at the 2011 Trainfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Articles on the group appeared in the May 2008 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman and the “Train 16-Track 2” issue of Canadian Railway Modeller. Specializing in Canadian railroads, the S Scale Workshop presents some of the best modeling in S. Learn more about the S Scale Workshop at their website, www3.sympatico.ca/bobcatt/ssw/.

Enjoy a glimpse of their modules in this first installment of The S Scale Journal.