February 2024

Published by Thomas Austin on

The new year is already flying along. We sailed through January and pretty much without a hitch. Yeah, there were a couple of days of bad weather and some cold temperatures; but otherwise a pretty mild January in my honest opinion.

I dealt with another personal loss on January 21. My last brother, George; passed away at home in Yucaipa California; after battling a long illness. All that remains of my immediate family growing up is my sister Gail. I traveled out to California in January to assist her with final arrangements for George. So, that is how the year started for me.

Tangent Scale Models continues to crank out the new stuff as they had two HUGE coal hopper announcements during January. ScaleTrains announced their version of the HO scale Rivet Counter GP40 in HO scale; and Intermountain made a comeback with Chris Palomarez out front and announcing more GP10’s in the future. Athearn Genesis made the official announcement of their CA-11 caboose series; along with more GP38-2’s; there are couple of projects that I am hoping to see announced in the near future from Athearn…but we will see them on their timetable.

I continue to work on my long dormant MoPac fleet; and am currently working on the GP38-2’s and one GP38 for train 408. I also acquired a couple of Atlas RED BOX U23B’s in December; and will use them with my Atlas Silver series B23-7. All three will get Soundtraxx Tsunami2 decoders. I was able to get in contact with George at Soundtraxx and obtain a plethora of programming information to set up my MP units to work more prototypically and with some really neat brake and throttle enhancements. I really like the Dynamic Digital Exhaust features of Soundtraxx Tsunami2 decoders; as you no longer have to remember what speed step your consist was in when you hit the “FULL-Throttle” and feather the prime mover up manually with the throttle knob/encoder/etc., I did see that ESU announced some new speakers with a sub woofer in them at 8 ohms…so I might try those out in my fleet to see if they are any different. But I am using Soundtraxx exclusively at this point for all sound equipped units. Scale Sound Systems’ Speakers are my choice for drop in speakers on my installation.

Friend Brian Banna has been busy with his new 8K 3D printer…making new parts to share with me in my quest to get my fleet back up and running. He has made some new steps for my Rail yard Caboose; along with photo etched decking and steps to fit the new 3D printed step risers for the MP Short Bay window caboose. The SBW caboose will have a SoundCar installed in it with lights; and will be my main caboose for a bit; and has Bluford Shops end railings installed on it as well. Athearn Genesis caboose trucks will pickup power from the track. I’m trying some Mr Hobby white primer/surfacer under the vermillion paint on the new cabooses to get a more brilliant red out of them. The lighting will be 0603 LED’s with magnet wire. I am going to enjoy painting this caboose; as well as the remaining Pecos River Brass T & P caboose that I have…and have custom decals made by William Brillinger at PDC.CA.

I have thought about installing a SoundCar in the middle of a loaded coal train that is worked at the mines to allow the Soundtraxx braking features built in to the Tsunami 2 decoders to be used in operations. Using functions F11 and F12 yield both the independent brakes for a light engine consist during running around and flat switching; while the F12 features train brakes and makes the train stop more slowly to simulate a heavy freight train. The engines automatically throttle up and start charging the train lines with the air compressors; and the SoundCars will have the hissing noise of the brakes being charged…all the way back to the caboose. The Iowa Scale Engineering Squealer will be used at various flange points to simulate the wheel flanges protesting navigation of the switch frogs and tight curves on the mine trackage.

The Groundhog predicts an early spring; and we might see some intense storms with the El NiƱo pattern taking hold this year. I am looking forward to the Spring personally, and will continue with the layout. I am continuing to thin out un-needed equipment and add new Walthers Track to the collection.

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Thomas Austin

I am a Southern Illinois Native. I am a fan of nostalgia, and the history of Southern Illinois. Model Railroading has been a large part of my life; and it helps serve that interest. Through this interest I have learned much about the region; the people; and the industries that gave us all hope of building a life beyond our formal education. Small Towns in the Midwest built this nation...and this site aims to share that fact with the world.