Monthly Archives: November 2008

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Coffee Table Layout

One of the advantages of N-Scale is that you can do a lot of railroading in a small space. Being about 1/2 the size of HO, N-Scale is ideal for model railroad layouts in apartments or other spaces that might not lend themselves to larger scales. N-Scale is also considered by many to be the perfect size for scenery, as it is large enough for a remarkable amount of detail, and yet small enough to allow for twice the amount of scenery as HO.

Still not convinced? Then check out the above video which shows an N-Scale layout constructed in a coffee table!

Mt. Washington Cog Railroad

Video of the cog steam engine taking on coal

Video of the cog steam engines in action

Throwing a 9 part turnout on the cog railroad

Some more great footage of the Mt. Washington Cog Railroad

Al Qaeda’s Goal: Cripple Amtrak’s N’east Corridor

The world’s economic fears were violently pushed aside on Wednesday by another global threat — terrorism.

A massive coordinated attack was launched in Mumbai, India just hours after the FBI warned that Al Qaeda may be targeting New York’s subways and railroads.

If Al Qaeda terrorists have their way there will be chaos and mayhem here this holiday season, a mass transit bomb plot that would probably affect all the subway and train lines at Penn and Grand Central stations.

“The threat is serious, the threat is significant, and it is plausible,” said Congressman Peter King, R-Long Island, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Uniformed officers, including this NYPD Counter Terrorism Squad members and Amtrak cops with M-16s, flooded Penn Station Wednesday after the FBI said it had received a “plausible but unsubstantiated” report that Al Qaeda operatives discussed a plan two months ago to bomb New York City’s mass transit system.

(Read article here)

Milo rail yard finds new life in evolving industry

On a gray November day, the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway yard in Derby — a tiny community in the town of Milo — might seem like it’s remote enough to be at the end of the track. But for the gleaming, like-new parts of Locomotive Kit 19, Derby is just the beginning. The locomotive is being completely rebuilt by the hardworking crew here. When it’s finished, it will be shipped to Rail Polska in Poland.

“When you see something go out of the shop that your people have worked on and fixed and made successful, that’s very fulfilling,” said Tom Tancula, vice president of mechanical operations for Rail World Inc., the lead investor of MM&A. “There are creative and knowledgeable people up here. There are very few things they can’t do.”

In what’s a growing part of the railway’s business, secondhand Amtrak locomotives rebuilt in Maine are now cruising the rails of Panama and Estonia, as well as Poland. The company is angling to rebuild locomotives for Dallas Area Rapid Transit in Texas and has a contract to repair railcars for Dragon Cement of Portland. This kind of skilled rebuilding and repair work is the opposite of outsourcing — and rail officials hope that by shipping out more and more refurbished engines and other parts, they can prepare for the future.

(Read article here)

MTA official says rail shutdown might have been prevented

The current shutdown of half of Baltimore’s light rail line likely could have been prevented had Maryland Transit Administration engineers decided in 2000 to spend about $4 million on an electronic system designed to prevent trains from sliding on slippery tracks, according to a top MTA official.

he emergency shutdown was announced late last week as fallen leaves along the northern section led to recurring wheel damage that was forcing cars out of service more quickly than they could be repaired.

Falling leaves are a perennial problem in the rail industry, but the annual event had not led to big service interruptions in the past.

What is different this year is that last April, the MTA discovered a potentially dangerous crack in the wheel of one of its cars as it was being moved in a maintenance yard.

Kay said the discovery triggered a rigorous examination of the wheels of all the cars and an inquiry into what could have caused the crack. What had been happening, the examiners determined, was that the wheels were being flattened in spots where the automated train protection system reacted to slippery tracks by forcing a hard stop. Those flat spots, they found, put the wheels in danger of cracking.

(Read article here)

Workin on the railroad

Inside a mostly windowless, drab beige building on the corner of Hoboken Road and Eighth Street in Carlstadt sits the entirety of the old Erie Railroad—from Jersey City to Port Jervis—in miniature.

This is the headquarters of the Society of Model Engineers, where scores of model train enthusiasts are busy laying track, planting grass and building warehouses—all at 1:72-scale—for their upcoming holiday exhibition.

A long history

Except for World War II, when the enlistment of many members forced the club to go on hiatus, the Engineers have been doing shows for the public for over 80 years. The group is the oldest model railroad club in the country, dating back to before the first World War, but it only officially came into being as the Society of Model Engineers in 1926, when members needed a license to show model boats on the lake in Central Park.

“Back then we used to have a little bit of everything,” said Society vice president Andrew Brusgard. “Model boats, model planes, a lot of stuff. But over the years the focus became just trains.”

For about 10 years after World War II, the Lackawanna Railroad hosted the club at their terminal in Hoboken, where the model engineers built a scale layout of the Lackawanna line running from Hoboken to Scranton, PA. The layout, which measured 50 by 125 feet, was for years the largest of its kind. But then the rail company unceremoniously kicked the model engineers out. That’s when they found a home in Carlstadt.

(Read article here)

CSX’s new intermodal route to Avon via the West Coast holds the promise of new shipping efficiencies

Every weeknight since last month, a half-dozen or so trailer-sized shipping containers have rolled into CSX’s Avon rail yards in Hendricks County, completing a 2,000-mile journey from California.

Arrival of the containers on the 2 a.m. train from St. Louis signals a small crack in the tight monopoly Chicago rail yards have held on intermodal shipments bound for Indiana from the West Coast.

While limited in scope and potential, CSX railroad’s new direct-to-Indiana service has created an appreciative buzz in Indiana’s transportation industry.

Until last month, Central Indiana had never received regular direct rail shipments of intermodal containers from the West Coast. The containers are standardized metal cargo boxes that fit on ships, trains and trucks, and carry much of the world’s freight.

The chance for Indiana shippers to bypass Chicago’s congested rail yards, derided as a “black hole” in the nation’s rail system, has some freight-reliant businesses almost giddy over the efficiencies and cost savings they could gain.

(Read article here)

Strangers on a train

As in most cases where people sit cooped up for long periods with little to do, rumours travel quickly on a train. In my experience, they generally start at the back, in, say, the glass-lined sightseeing car that serves as VIA Rail Canada’s caboose. From there they quickly work their way forward, through the fancy sleeper cars and then the less-fancy sleeper cars, to the dining car, to the cafe car and then to the comfort-class car, where, despite the name, passengers are given a pillow and footrest and little else.

When a rumour at last arrives at the conductor, 18 cars and iterations later, it typically goes something like this:

Our train, the Ocean, is stopped here in the middle of nowhere at 7 a.m. because a moose wandered onto an adjacent track and was struck by a fast-moving freight train.

Dying, the moose staggered a bit, and then, in a kind of death lunge, threw itself onto the Ocean’s track, coming to rest antlers-up.

If true, this was significant. Antlers-up is one of the few ways a moose can damage a passenger train, it turns out.

(Read article here)

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