Apr 30, 2016

Meet Mr. Western Pacific

I never asked why Mr. WP had on a Milwaukee Road shirt but I was a guest with a half dozen other
Evergreen members back in October 17th, 2015 and didn't think to ask! Jim Pendley is his name and
lives near Thorp, Washington in the Cascades and works for the mighty BNSF as an engineer.
This is why I call Jim Mr. Western Pacific as he has built an exact replica of one of the most identified bridges in the United States in the form of the Kedee Wye on the WP.
Jim has an entire building dedicated to this portion of the WP where the left side is the California direction of trains going to San Francisco while the right side has 2 lines with the
far one heads for Wishram, Washington and the close in one heads to Nevada with Reno as its first stop. The engineering of the model is first rate!
This WP train would have come west to the Kedee Wye from Nevada and I stood at this very spot some
35 years ago to shoot a train on this bridge. Very impressive! Jim is on the e-mail list.
There are several other impressive bridges on  the layout including this one with a southbound coming
down from Washington State with Big Sky Blue GN locos leading the pack. How many trees do you have, Jim?
The rock work is a work of art as well and Jim closely
matched the rocks at each location with special attention to the
colors of the rocks. Jim's layout was just featured in Model
Railroader magazine if you read such magazines.

Apr 29, 2016

Fast moving trains add to the challenge

When I bring my camera into the club I try to take action shots rather than posed shots. This is one of them. Greg was running this Maine Central engine and
rather than ask Greg to stop at a certain location I try to pan my camera to the same speed of the train so the engine is in focus and the scenery is blurred.
Here's another one but not as much success. All the cars in the yard are hopelessly blurred as I was
holding the camera over my head to try to stop the 2 Milwaukee Road trains. The one in the
background was a bonus as I was moving to the right and would increase the blur factor as that train
was moving to the left..
This moving shot was better than the still shots I took so I went with it.  Mike Conners set of GN RS-2s.
This one we see that the trucks are in focus but Tom Kirk's Rio Grande train is moving. Oh well.
I was sitting down in one of our club chairs when Greg's train was approaching the front of the layout
and I took a grab shot. The loco is so small that the movement can't be seen so I went with it.
Jim Bowden's 2-10-2 ( 2 wheels leading, 10 driving wheels and 2 trailing make the wheel arrangement ) meets up with Greg's 2-8-2. I moved at the right speed of the locos
and got them in pretty good focus. And for you environmentalists' out there the smoke is fake so don't think the Evergreeners are hurting anything but your religion.

Apr 28, 2016

Is it a model or the real thing?

The detail on today's models straight out of the box is remarkable when you think back when we were kids
and a block of wood may have sufficed as a locomotive. The model has windshield wipers, hoses, handrails,
lights and a perfect, sharp paint job. Very few modelers could achieve this level of quality today.
Same train, same location but further back I now see the rest of the loco and train.
Here's an improbable shot to have 2 BN trains exiting two tunnel portals but this is imagination
stuff and there is no boss to tell us we can't do it. This is the area that we added more lights.
Back near Cobbleton and the port district we see the BNSF waiting for clearance to enter the tunnel area
on the Blue Main and the BN diverting on the Red Main to pass the Union Station and beyond.
There may be no more cabooses but now we can look forward to catching another set of power on the
tail end of most BNSF trains.  This one still has the famous Santa Fe paint but they are fading fast.
Somebody left the light on in the tunnel?

Apr 27, 2016

Shooting with a telephoto lens makes a difference.

On returning to Helena on Saturday afternoon we decided to go up to Mullan Pass from the east side this time and catch more rail action. Not being there for some 20 years
I was not sure where to go but we did find our way. We missed an eastbound and decided to return by following him down the hill but could never get ahead of him. Near
Austin we saw a headlight on a westbound so we turned around for this opportunity. The lighting, the dip in the track, the headlights on the loco made this shot special.
Here's the same train and the same spot but instead of doing a 200 mm tele shot I pulled back
to a normal setting of around 30 mm and this is what I shot. Boring! Average! Thank goodness that I got a long lens!
From this perspective it looks like the track is level.
Sunday morning we got to the Helena train show and this was a very good event as lots of people and
lots of bargains to be found.
Heading home I suggested to Marvin to stop at St. Regis, Montana and found this family of hoofers
out for a late afternoon walk. Look at the camera and smile!
My main reason for stopping was to take a shot at the old Milwaukee Road bridge crossing the Clark
Fork River, The section over the MRL (ex-NP) tracks has been removed to keep people like me from going out
on it.
Marvin grew up about 40 miles from here up the river at Paradise. The MRL tracks are to the left by the
big tree and he is parked on the old right of way to Wallace, Idaho when the NP originally built west.
I'm standing on the Milwaukee Road bridge abutment.  Life is good!

CSX (demos) on MRL 10/11/04

Hi Jerry; I saw your MRL photos while in Montana and I thought you might like to see the
Aces when EMD was demonstrating them west of Helena on the MRL. �Joe Shine
CSX 4832-35-31-37-39 Mullen Pass
CSX helper set returning to Helena at Continental Divide sign
CSX helper set after cutting away and ready to return to Helena
CSX on MRL at Elliston after cutting off as mid-train helpers from grain train 10-11-04
CSX SD70Aces on MRL as mid-train helpers on westbound grain train 10-11-04
Five CSX helper SD70Aces ready to return to Helena MT 10-11-04
EMD SD70Ace five-unit set at Helena 10-11-04

Apr 26, 2016

36 inches of muscle

This impressive model is about 36 inches in length as it is a G scale Big Boy and they had it operating on some 30 feet of track!
I hear they sell for over $4000.00 but I don't think this one was for sale at the Livingston show.
In the basement of one of the buildings they have a model train club, maybe 3 of them, in HO scale,
N scale and Lionel. This one was HO scale with a modern coal train making the rails hum. Scenery was
pretty good in most places.
A trailer train takes the high road around this curve with many people looking on.
The roundhouse seemed filled to the brim with equipment just like the real ones would look like as
they didn't seem to throw anything away.
In one spot they had government workers in striped suits working on the railroad. I wonder if any of
them are politicians?
Looks like the same trains we saw outside on the MRL. The scenery was very good in places and the layout
would look better if they had more space for one scale instead of three.
Lionel had a piece of the basement and you can tell its Lionel when you see 3 rails on the track.

On to Livingston, Montana

Saturday morning  we took off from Helena to Livingston where they were having a model train swap
meet where hundreds of crazies like me show up to sell, swap and buy stuff for the hobby of railroading.
We stopped to catch this eastbound at a bridge near Townsend but the low clouds made photography
questionable but I did it anyway. He was moving at 35 miles per hour and the camera could not stop it!
Later in the morning we caught up with another eastbound and the light was much better for this MRL train set.
Marvin watches it roll by and as you can see finding exits off the highway makes parking pretty easy
for the driver.
We arrived in Livingston, Montana about 9:30 am and wanted to get a shot of the MRL train we were
following when a MRL white van pulled up to tell us to leave. I got the station shot so it was time to go
to the show anyway.
I was impressed with this Northern Pacific Beanery sign that rotated and illuminated as it was an
original back in the day. Beanery was a name given to restaurants located in railroad stations.
I was very impressed with the architecture of this NP station especially the columns that were
classic.  No one would dare tell the people of Livingston to tear down this beauty.

More of Mullan Pass and the MRL

Here we have a coal car from a railroad that was dropped into the BN merger with the lettering still reading
Northern Pacific. They were the original builders of this tunnel at Blossburg and now is used as a clearance
car for tunnel repairs when needed.
Oh, they didn't want us to come up here and take photos so we better leave now that we know we were
trespassing. Marvin, it's time to go! And I thought they were a friendly railroad.
Looking west and down the hill you can see the grade drop off quickly.
We finally got to Helena and the sun is setting fast. These units are all in helper service to get all the
BNSF underpowered trains coming both ways and help them by pushing in the middle or in the rear.
The SD70ACe designation was the first new power for the Montana Rail Link. Everything before them were
hand me downs from the BN  or other railroads....including the Susquehanna, my hometown railroad.
This is a beautiful depot in Helena that the Northern Pacific built in its heyday. The MRL uses it today to
keep this part of the railroad operating.

Drummond, Montana and the Blossburg Tunnel

After we left Missoula we followed Mike Applegate to his home in Drummond where he grew up as
a teenager and that is his black SUV we are following. The Rex Terror ( dinosaur ) bones on display
at the Great Falls Museum were found about 2 miles away from Mike's house in Drummond.
Mike and his brother Robert have been working on this HO scale layout that we feature some of the
railroad scenes in the area and I have been asked to help with the scenery.
I would say that shelving is a top priority for the Applegates but that's below my pay grade to push it.
Back on the road to Helena, Marvin and I stopped to take photos of an westbound grain train and
they were busy cutting out the helpers at the bottom of the hill. They started back up the hill to the
Blossburg Tunnel. That's where we want to be!
I climbed up a short embankment to get a better angle at this helper set returning to Helena for another
westbound but first they need to return and I am there to catch them in the moment. The engineer gave
us a friendly wave.
Four big SD70ACe EMD units combine a force of 17,600 horsepower to assist trains that can't make
the stiff grade from Helena to Garrison, Montana as it must be near 2 percent westbound. That's a lot.