Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dunsel Line Roster

2-Rail/Trolley Equipment*
Chicago "L" (CRT/CTA)
525000 seriesTBD(2) WagnerWoosung Brass
(The Car Works)
Skokie equipped
21-50 seriesTBD(1)Woosung Brass
(The Car Works)
Skokie equipped
TBD60 seriesTBDTBDWoosung Brass
(The Car Works)
2153-21542000 seriesTBDTBDSt. Petersburg Tram CollectionMint green & alpine white
1892-19922000 seriesTBDTBDSt. Petersburg Tram CollectionCentennial
TBD3200 seriesRavenston
(2) NWSL StantonMTHSkokie equipped
Chicago, Aurora & Elgin
300-308300 seriesCar Works
TBDThe Car Works 
300-308300 seriesCar Works
TBDThe Car Works 
311311 seriesTBDTBDThe Car Works 
142NS WoodTBDTBDMTS Imports 
400400 seriesQ Car
408400 seriesQ Car
411400 seriesQ Car
(1) Q CarChicagoland 
417400 seriesTBDTBDChicagoland 
434420 seriesTBDTBDSt. Petersburg Tram Collection 
436^420 seriesTBDTBDSt. Petersburg Tram Collection 
452450 seriesCar Works
Gen Steel
(1) WagnerThe Car Works 
454450 seriesCar Works
Gen Steel
TBDArt Models
(The Car Works)
455450 seriesCar Works
Gen Steel
TBDArt Models
(The Car Works)
457450 seriesCar Works
Gen Steel
TBDArt Models
(The Car Works)
459450 seriesCar Works
Gen Steel
(1) WagnerArt Models
(The Car Works)
500500 seriesCurrent Line
St. Louis-64
(1) Current LineGreg King 
Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee
752752-776 seriesQ Car
Baldwin 8430AA
(2) NWSL Magic Carpet III
TBDSkokie Valley train
256250-256 seriesQ Car
Baldwin 8430AA
(2) NWSL Magic Carpet IIIBill ClouserSkokie Valley train
155150-165/165-169 seriesTBD(2) NWSL Magic Carpet IIIBill ClouserShore Line train
TBD170-182 seriesTBDN/AAjin
(MTS Imports)
Shore Line train
TBD170-182 seriesTBDN/AAjin
(MTS Imports)
Shore Line train
Gen Steel
  • * Does not include shared rolling stock with the partially demolished Chicago Wheaton & Western/Illinois & Wisconsin Southern
  • Q scale (1:45.2 or 17/64)
  • ^ Factory misnumbered
  • ° Shared with the Illinois & Wisconsin Southern (included for personal reference)
3-Rail Equipment
6225-62266200-seriesMTHGarfield Pk.Late PCC
3311-33123200-seriesMTH95/Dan RyanWhite Sox World Series
3269-32703200-seriesMTHMidwayYellow Book

Saturday, March 25, 2017

2017 March Meet

Last weekend was the annual “March Meet” (the 2017 O scale meet) held in Lombard, Illinois.

The traction offerings were surprising in that there were far more than I was expecting. I saw a decent amount of Chicago Surface Lines, some Illinois Terminal, several Milwaukee Electric pieces, a bit of Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, a few Chicago Transit Authority cars, plenty of the ever popular North Shore Line, and a few others that I cannot recall offhand. I counted a minimum of four Electroliners for sale: all of them 801-802.

My main interest was a CTA 1-50 series car. Acquiring this would bring me up to a total of 3, which is what is needed in order to build a 1-50 and a 60. I arrived on Saturday morning and learned (much to my disappointment) that there was one at the show, but it had been sold “almost immediately” the previous day. Apparently these cars are hot-ticket items. The other CTA offerings were 6000 series sets. One—a flat door 6—was a brass set available for $900 while the other—a 6200 with curved doors—was an MTH model. Like their 3200 series cars, the 6000 series cars they produced are from their lower quality Railking line, are slightly oversized for O scale (they’re closer to 1:45.2), and are built for 3-rail operation. The detail on these cars is significantly better than on the 3200s.

At the end of the day, I walked out with yet another brass CA&E 450 (I have five now), the MTH 6200 series set, two packets of tie plates, a pair of knuckle couplers, and twenty four plastic brake shoes.

When MTH originally released the 6000 series sets I wanted to get an unpowered pair to modify into the “double-unit suburban car” drawn up as part of CTA’s halfhearted proposal to assume operation of the North Shore Line. The idea was that the MTH cars would be a cheaper alternative to buying and cutting up a brass 6000 set, but as these sets became increasingly harder to find, I scrapped the idea entirely. Of course, now I have a pair.

The CA&E 450 will fit in nicely with my other CA&E steel cars (four other 450s, four 400s, and two 420s). I haven’t decided on what consists to develop these into.

The tie plates are from Right-O-Way and will be used for the ties supporting the third rail chairs. Since Old Pullman went out, I’ve been looking for a replacement and have heard good things about Right-O-Way. Given that my layout will be a section of the “L,” the third rail will be a necessary aspect of the project. The initial track section will be made with flex track, but given the construction techniques employed on this section of the rapid transit system, every fourth (or fifth) tie will need to be removed and replaced with an offset tie which will support the running rails and a third rail chair. The replacement ties will get these plates to keep the uniform look of rails held in place with spikes and plates.

The knuckle couplers are made by Monarch and will serve as a test for “close enough” couplers for the middle of a North Shore train. They were six dollars for the pair.

Surprisingly, the thing I spent the least amount of money on, and the thing I wasn’t looking for ended up being the purchase I am most satisfied with. These would be the plastic brake shoes. From its inception, equipment on the Skokie Swift was provided with “wheel scrubbers” (or “scum busters” depending on your preference of terminology) to ensure positive contact with the running rails. These were brake shoes that were applied to the edges of the wheels to provide a small amount of friction to remove and prevent an accumulation of dirt and debris. Now that the catenary wire has been removed, they are no longer needed or in use. They're a tiny thing that helps make a “Skokie” car, a “Skokie” car and I had forgotten about wheel scrubbers until I saw these guys.

Friday, March 24, 2017

2016 in Review

“The reports of the Dunsel Line’s demise are greatly exaggerated.”

While it started off rather well, 2016 was ultimately not a great year for modeling for me. Contrary to what the lack of updates may suggest, there has been progress over the past year. Some projects have inched forward, while others have not. What follows is a smattering of what has been accomplished since March 2016.

CTA 52 (Skokie Swift)

The underbodies of all three sections have been primed, leaving the bodies of the A and A1 sections of the car in their natural state. A resistance soldering unit was acquired from the defunct Chicago & Utopia shops and made short work of the trolley shrouds and brass roofboards. (I left the boards on one section for the time being as a reference point.)

Very recently, I ordered the Chopper III from NWSL and made short work of a set of styrene strips that will become the new roofboards. It is a very nice little tool that I expect to put to good use. I still have to get the dimensions of the “saddles” (the supports for the boards) and fabricate them before I can continue.

The PCC cars that were “Skokie equipped” were given sets of curved horns that I had long searched for as a commercially available product. This search was in vain. The 5000-series cars carried these horns on the roof near the destination/route sign meaning that they were generally out of reach. On a trip to the Illinois Railway Museum, however, I discovered that an accessible pair of 6000-series cars was equipped with these as well and that the horns were beneath the anticlimbers. Not long after returning with pen, paper, a tape measure, and a few other odds and ends, I had a set of 3D printed horns arriving at my office.

CTA 3200s (Skokie Swift)

After the last printing of the front section resulted in a less-than-optimal print (and also turned out that I’d made a mistake and made the piece too short) I have gone back and decided to redesign the whole thing (front and back). The rear portion looked good, however the brackets that support it didn’t fit into the grooves on the roof. This was something I had never intended and just figured I’d work around it, but with the needed redesign of the front, I figured why not correct this too? In all, it required an increase in width of 1mm. The difference is small enough that it shouldn’t be visually noticeable, but should prove to make the fit much better and easier.

After printing and priming a partition with closed cab door, I discovered that pipe filters would make an excellent filler for the cab door window. (The small window in the door has a crosshatch in it.)

Another advancement came with the announcement that NWSL had finally come out with the Stanton drive in O scale. The downside was that the wheelbases offered (8’-0”, 8’-6”, and 9’-0”) were too long for most traction applications, but after emailing them, I was informed that S scale drives were available that were capable of accepting O scale wheel sets and that the wheelbases offered (same as for O scale) would scale out appropriately for O scale traction applications. I promptly ordered a pair of these with a 9’ wheelbase with 30”/145 flush axle wheels. For the 1:45.2 size of the car, the trucks are slightly too short and the wheels are slightly too large, but this is by far close enough and well worth the avoidance of the headache of building my own. When complete, each car will have the rear truck powered so that the ends can have visually appropriate trailer trucks.

CNS&M 170 series cars (Shore Line train)

I make no attempt to hide the fact that I am a novice modeler from others or (more importantly) myself. Given that I recognized the simplicity of some of the North Shore cars and decided to put some effort on these.

Unlike the CA&E, there are no multiple unit connections needed for proper trolley operation and trailer cars only need power for interior lighting. With the completeness of the brass models, this reduces the project (for the most part) to painting and wiring (and the wiring will be simple due to its minimal nature). This made it a great starting point. I began priming one of the two models before remembering that the trolley hooks need to be removed and insulated for proper operation. The trolley hooks on these consist of a bent wire that runs through the boards and into the roof where it is secured in place. Unfortunately it was not secured with a bead of solder so it could not be removed by heating the area and pulling without damaging the hook. Instead it needed to be removed, which was done with a Dremel. (I’m short on parts for this, so this is as far as I’ve gotten.)

3D Printing

It came to my attention that Bestine, the solvent used to remove the waxy leftovers from the 3D printing process is no longer made. I didn’t hear about this in time to stockpile it before it was all gone. The search for a pure heptapane replacement is ongoing.


There has also been decent progress on the benchwork, which is almost complete. All that remains at this point is installation of the legs, shelf brackets, and the two storage shelves. (Sufficient funds and access to the proper tools are the two things holding this back at the moment.)

The section under construction is going to feature the North Side Main Line embankment as it passes through Edgewater. This is a four track structure with island stations. I toyed with the idea of throwing in some crossovers, but decided to leave it at four straight tracks and I’ve acquired the track and subroadbed for this.

I’ll endeavor to put forth more effort in both modeling and maintaining this blog in 2017!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Unexpected Windfall

I've been meaning to write an update for winter/spring 2016, however something has come up that has changed things and takes precedence.

The remnants of the old Chicago, Wheaton & Western have long sat moribund while a reorganization plan was worked out for the refurbishment and rehabilitation of the railroad. Those plans have now been cancelled as the Illinois & Wisconsin Southern has purchased the assets of the CW&W and is now in the process of liquidating parts of the old line. The trolley wire has been removed and, as such, a good deal of rolling stock has now become superfluous.

It is unfortunate about the old road, however the demise of the CW&W has resulted in a tremendous gain for the Dunsel Line: eleven Chicago Aurora & Elgin cars!

Four St. Louis Car Company 450-series cars. The two fitted with Q Car trolley poles (which are actually incorrect for these cars) are powered. The other two are not.

Three Pullman 400-series cars. (One not pictured due to it being unassembled.) All have insulated power trucks. (They came with a spare pair of trailer trucks). One of the two pictured will be 411 and has the correct Baldwin trucks for that car.

Two Niles-built 300-series cars. The one on the left (without trucks pictured) seems to have been through hell. It appears to have all of its parts, but many of them have come loose and/or are severely broken. The parts were stored inside the car body which has a large, rough-cut hole in the floor to permit a large power truck. Neither truck, however, has a motor and one truck is mostly dismantled.

Here we have something of an oddity. This is clearly a Kuhlman 311-series car, but it looks ancient! (Note the arched "rainbow" sash—currently missing the stained glass.) It must have been stored somewhere in the back of Wheaton yard and was never modernized prior to its transfer to the CW&W. This car is a nice little relic that will get a nice Pullman Green paint job.

Another interesting car. This is an ex-Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Jewett-built parlor car that was transferred to the CA&E in the 1930s but for some odd reason, this car never received the standard modifications that the rest of the set got. This will definitely have to get rectified. This car would have been perfect on the Batavia branch.

Many of these cars were clearly never removed from the box prior to today. Well I've certainly got my work cut out for me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

That Was Fast...

So, after only having her for a few days, the Electroliner is out of commission!

A bit enamored with my recent acquisition, I've been checking in on the 'Liner frequently at home to either admire its beauty, assure myself that it is in fact in my possession and not some elaborate dream, or—most frequently—to develop a plan of attack as to how to effect repairs and upgrades. Today I was checking out the tavern-lounge section and wondering about the windows. The booklet that came says: " The 2nd car is the diner with all the electronics and sound, the windows have been frosted to simulate pulled shades." This intrigued me as from what I had seen, my windows did not appear to be frosted and I went in for a closer look.

The floors and interior of each section is held to the body by four screws. For the tavern-lounge, three of these are easily accessible and are removed with minimal effort. If the section is held upside down with the truck at the bottom the fourth screw is in the lower right-hand corner, situated to the right of the truck. This screw has obscured access due to the shape of the sideframes. (The screw on the left side of the truck does not have this issue.) To access the screw, I removed the truck and then the screw came out without difficulty.

Upon opening the model, I discovered that indeed, the windows in my model are not frosted. After getting a good look inside and how the windows are constructed (2 "single" panes which go outside of a double pane and a triple pane for the opposite side) I put the section back together starting with the screws. The truck is mounted to the body by a screw which passes through a spring and the bolster. The screw connects with a short threaded tube which is part of the underframe. The threaded tube is also the mounting point for the next section.

When reattaching the truck, I applied too much force to the screw (all I was trying to do was make it snug) and the threaded cylinder came off of the underframe. This is very unfortunate (to put it mildly).

The cylinder (in black) is still attached to the screw for the truck.

As I see it, I have two options. 1) Attempt to solder the cylinder back onto the underframe or if that doesn't work, 2) contact Sunset and see if I can get a replacement underframe for the lounge section.

Either way, the 'Liner is going to look a little funny for a while.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I Won't be Eating Any Time Soon

So I went to a model railroad/railroadiana show today with my father. This was a last minute affair and I had precisely zero expectation of finding anything of interest. For the most part the show lived up to my expectations, but toward the end I saw something and the more I looked, and the more I asked, the higher my interest became. I'll admit it: I actually became light-headed for a while. Then I walked away and finished the show. Upon completion, I promptly came back and bought it.

Now arriving at Adams & Wabash...

At this length, I won't be running her on the North Side embankment any time soon.

This is a two-rail Sunset Electroliner 803-804. (My father has the 801-802—and, as he pointed out, the substitute liner—so now we have a "complete set.") I don't think she was ever taken out of the box. Apparently, she garnered some attention at the show, but kept getting passed up because she isn't the three-rail version. So much the better.

She does have some problems. Almost all of the window glasses have fallen out or are on the verge of falling out. I knocked a few out myself when my fingers barely brushed up against them. The grab irons on one unit are also bent inward. Neither is a major issue. And for $600 I'm in absolutely no position to complain!

The window on the left is still in place, while the two on the right have fallen into the car.

Not a Pulitzer caliber photograph, but it will do to get the point across. The hazy lines running between window openings are the tops of the window glasses which have fallen out. The passenger seated here doesn't seem to have noticed.

The bent grabirons should be easily fixed by teasing them into place with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

Now I've got to get her set up for DCC and overhead operation.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Interesting Article

734 Electric Railway Journal Vol. 154, No. 20

Construction Begins on Dunsel Line

Sources close to the company have reported that construction has begun on the Dunsel Line. The company has acquired a right-of-way 60 ft. wide through Edgewater. The 0.05-mile line now under construction will have four tracks elevated approximately twelve feet above ground. These will rest on a solid-fill embankment with concrete retaining walls.

Chief Engineer Leif DeFurst has said that no special track work will be required at present. Mr. DeFurst went on to say that tracks and ties will be ordered as soon as possible. These are expected to be of the prefabricated type utilizing code 125 rails of nickel-sliver. In all, there will be four tracks such that when the line is completed, there will be dedicated local and express tracks in each direction over this segment of the line.

Plans for the new road call for third rail electrification along its lines. Code 100 nickel-silver rails of the standard type will be employed. The top of the third rail will be situated 6-½" above the top of the running rails and the center line of this rail will be 20-1/8" from the inside of the running rail so as to be of the same type currently employed on all the rapid transit lines in Chicago. This means that upon completion, the new road will be unable to host cars from other roads not so equipped. Chief Engineer DeFurst has stated that erection of standard trolley wire over the westernmost track is being considered, but is not an immediate goal.