Skip to main content

"HONGZ" stands for HO scale, N scale, G scale, and Z scale.

Post your non-O scale stuff here!

Should be the last of the testing before tomorrow's GNRW operating session.


Interesting: the turbine is pulling about 50 vintage cars that I've had for decades with metal trucks and no problems with those shorting as I've had with the recently acquired vintage cars!

UP turbine at Hillyard:;     

UP turbine at Tye:;    

UP turbine at Skykomish:;


3rd escape track needed some cleaning.


Was having trouble with this spot, last season.  Finally figured out the occasional derailment was due to one rail lower than the other across the wood in the staging yard.


Scaletrains 'museum quality' turbine #4. Very detailed and has an ear piercing turbine, just like the full size.

Classification lights clear/red/green.

cab lights.


Step lights


walkway lights


She just clears the escape track.


Tender has to be disconnected for turntable.



Ready for the next run.



Images (8)
  • GNRR588
  • GNRR589
  • GNRR590
  • GNRR591
  • GNRR592
  • GNRR593
  • GNRR594
  • GNRR595
Last edited by samparfitt

Tonight's GNRW operating session pictures.

Pleased on how the trains ran: only 2 cars that derailed and were removed from the layout.

A railroader brought his PRR decapod(upper train in picture/video).


Got two trains running parallel to each other.;    



GN Z-6 4-6-6-4 has uncoupled from train, used the escape track and, now, heading to the roundhouse.



Images (4)
  • GNRR596
  • GNRR597
  • GNRR598
  • GNRR599
Last edited by samparfitt

Decoder install in SF 2-10-4 by united.

Decoder: 1517 WOW 101 steam with sound and keep alive.

First decoder install of the season.

In order to control head light, cab, classification lights. running board lights and fire box glow, an 8 pin connector was made using 30 gauge wire.

SF 2-10-4 52

Contrary to popular belief, one can use an open frame motor in DCC; as long as the decoder can handle the amps, plus the motor is insulated from the frame.

The motor mounting hole was enlarged so a piece of white tubing and some kadee insulation washers could be put on the original mounting screw to insulate the motor from the engine frame.

Also, there's an original piece of black rubber that lays between the motor and motor mount.

SF 2-10-4 53

Open frame motor mounted and tested.  Runs very smoothly under DCC, and quiet. 

SF 2-10-4 54

I'm 'partial' to the old PFM sound system speaker as they have fantastic base sounds.  They do, however, require two capacitors and a choke to operate, correctly.

SF 2-10-4 55

Part 2 of the testing: with lights.

Unfortunately, the lights are not coming on except the fire box glow.  Pressing button F0 for lights is not working: the generator sound initiates but not the lights.

I tested the lights in the engine and they work so I know I've got something wrong going to the decoder.  No smoke so that's good.  The tender light does not come on, either, when put into reverse.

Motor and sound work OK.

Not having put in a decoder for several months, doesn't help!

SF 2-10-4 56

As I soldered the wires, all colors are correct plus I checked each one for a good solder joint as I soldered each one.

SF 2-10-4 57

I put in a separate 4 prong connector for the engine lights for ease of maintenance.  Again, colors correct plus able to successfully test the lights without the decoder.

SF 2-10-4 58SF 2-10-4 59

Last year, I made schematics to I would know how to connect all wires: so much for that theory!

SF 2-10-4 60SF 2-10-4 61



Images (10)
  • SF 2-10-4 52
  • SF 2-10-4 53
  • SF 2-10-4 54
  • SF 2-10-4 55
  • SF 2-10-4 56
  • SF 2-10-4 57
  • SF 2-10-4 58
  • SF 2-10-4 59
  • SF 2-10-4 60
  • SF 2-10-4 61
Last edited by samparfitt

SF 2-10-4 decoder install (cont)

One of my comrades gave me the solution for the lights: I had the polarity reversed on the lights.  I've added that the 'resistor' side (red) goes to the blue wire.

The top of the open frame motor taped to insure no contact (ie short) with the inside of the boiler.

SF 2-10-4 62

TA DA: all light functions work.  F0-3 controls head light, classification lights and running board lights.

A much smaller connector pin could be used if one didn't want to control the lights.

SF 2-10-4 63SF 2-10-4 64

Tender light on in reverse.

SF 2-10-4 65


Images (4)
  • SF 2-10-4 62
  • SF 2-10-4 63
  • SF 2-10-4 64
  • SF 2-10-4 65
Last edited by samparfitt

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 by Alco; decoder (1517 WOW101 steam, sound/keep alive) install.

I'm installing a decoder in at least one of each railroad that I have.

This engine was already painted and 'they' did a good job on it. 

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 14PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 15

Cut out a rectangular hole for the decoder harness.


PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 16

Fits right under the tender deck.

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 17

There were 3 brass lights on the tender.

Drilled out holes for the LED's.

Taped up the entire back so oil, shavings and any 'bad judgements' wouldn't damage the paint.


PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 18


PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 19

This model was made in 1977 and I'm guessing that someone installed a can motor as it looks like an 'aftermarket'.

Nice: there were already 'sound' holes in the tender floor.

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 20

Old incandescent lights removed.

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 21PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 22

Was going to drill out the classification lights but, after looking at it from the outside and inside, I decided too risky as may damage the paint and classification housing. 

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 23

Slow work installing the LED's as each one needs to be placed 'perfectly' in place and glued without disturbing them. 

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 24

Harness made while glue on LED's dry.

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 25

Slow going on getting the running board lights installed.

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 26


Images (13)
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 14
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 15
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 16
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 17
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 18
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 19
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 20
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 21
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 22
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 23
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 24
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 25
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 26
Last edited by samparfitt

Thanks, Mike.


PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 decoder install (cont)

Final assembly.

Test videos:

At Tye:;        

At Tumwater canyon trestle:;

At Wilmar:;

West of St. Paul:;


Testing sound and lights.

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 27

Used 1/16" diameter heat shrink tubing to protect all the light wires from getting damaged from installing the weights, etc.   Electrical tape used to secure heat shrink tubing to boiler.

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 28PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 29

Final check.

Engine was shorting.  One tire on the tender truck came loose: some thin CA fixed it.

Engine has two weights but not 'super' weighted like my engines that I did in the 80's.

This, essentially, a 4-8-4 can handle 30-35 cars up the 0.5% grade.

A good running engine; went from Seattle to the interchange with no problems.

PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 30PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 31PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 32


Images (6)
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 27
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 28
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 29
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 30
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 31
  • PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 alco 32
Last edited by samparfitt

Make your own!

The last engine purchased only had the top half of the box (first for me).

I decided to make the bottom half.

Initially, I was going to use cardboard but thought the foam board would be better.

After measuring the inside of the top of the box, I subtracted an 1/8" to allow for minor errors; also, top of box will never fit over too large of a bottom box.

Perimeter cut out. 

Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 17

Only need to cut, barely, into the top of one side of the outer surface of the foam core.  Kind of like cutting sheet rock, score and break, only the bottom of the foam core remains intact. 

Some box tape to hold the sides.  Some 'foam safe' CA would also work.

Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 18

Since the foam core is 1/8" thick, the ends were made an 1/8" wide on each side.

Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 19

A paper cutter was used to trim the foam inserts since the 1/8" thick foam core is thicker than a normal cardboard box.

Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 20

Good fit.

Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 21Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 22


Images (6)
  • Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 17
  • Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 18
  • Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 19
  • Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 20
  • Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 21
  • Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-4 22

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 by Westside decoder install.  

This model was purchased already painted and heavily weathered.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 16

A #57 drill bit was used to drill out the tender's headlight and marker lights along with holes in the tender for the wires.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 17

A huge can motor in this engine.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 18

Marker lights drilled out on the engine.


B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 19

A hole close to the handrail was drilled for the wires.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 20

LED's installed with crystal Klear.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 21

Ditto on the tender.

Also drilled holes for the running lights, engine headlight and cab light.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 22


Images (7)
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 16
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 17
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 18
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 19
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 20
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 21
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 22
Last edited by samparfitt

B&O EM-1 decoder install (cont)

This install has not gone well.

I was testing some speakers so I was going to use some alligator clips but, while powering up the decoder, the speaker wires must have touched each other or the tender frame and hosed up the decoder.  Put a new one in and all's 'good'.

Will be sending the bad one back for repair.

Initially, I thought I, also, burned out the three LED's in the tender but the 'light' function wasn't on.  

Initially, I used F2 (the violet wire) to turn on/off the red tender lights but that button only allowed the LED's to light when the button was held down.

I switched to the F3 (brown wire) and that worked to control those red lights.

The tender headlight  connected to the yellow wire, default for 'on' when engine is in reverse.


B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 23

After all the wires were 'shoved' into the tender....

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 24

some foam was used to protect the wires.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 25

More troubles in 'river city'.

To protect the thin LED wires to the classification lights, I ran some 1/16" diameter heat shrink tubing along the inside of the boiler.  Some long, easy to see inside the boiler, yellow wire was soldered to the ends of the LED wires and routed through the tubing: not an easy task since the front smoke box doesn't come off!

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 26

The LED's worked great until I tested for contact against the boiler and blew both of them.  I think I pulled the thin insulation off the  LED leads when pulling them  through the small hole in the boiler which made contact with the brass boiler.

I need to use the volt meter to test for shorts instead of trying to quickly touch the boiler to the LED leads: not fast enough (idiot)!

Start over: new LED's glued into the classification lights; let that dry for awhile.

The yellow wire was soldered back onto the old LED leads so, at least, it will be easy to re-route the wires.  


B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 27


Images (5)
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 23
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 24
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 25
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 26
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 27
Last edited by samparfitt

B&O EM-1 decoder install (cont)

Removed the 'blown' LED's in the classification lights and installed new ones, being careful not to have any shorts to the boiler shell.  Used a voltmeter to check everything.  I put some crystal klear in the holes to protect the wires.

Finally, everything's working!

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 28B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 29B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 30

With the headlight mounted on the front driver engine, another set of wires was routed there.

A two prong connector made for easy PM.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 31

The wires were routed through some 1/16" diameter heat shrink and then routed through the two frames of the driver engines.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 32

Next; assembly and road test.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 33


Images (6)
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 28
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 29
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 30
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 31
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 32
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 33

B&O EM-1 re-assembled.

Had to grind down the threaded portion of the tender draw bar pin as it stuck up inside the tender and interfered with the wires going into the tender.

Normally, there is room between the trailing truck support beam and the cab floor for routing wires but not in this engine so I had to route the wires outside to reach the cab.  

Next, road test.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 34B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 35


Images (2)
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 34
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 35

New delivery:  

I actually ordered some diesels: the first ever on the GNRW.

Reasons for order: 

1) First E's made by EMD: ie, an iconic engine.

2) very cool rakish nose.

3) beautify paint scheme: warbonnet

4) they were being sold at a very good price: actually, this was the number one reason!

I got both units powered so they can pull lots of cars.

They weigh in at:

A unit: 20.75 oz

B unit: 21.0 oz. ( I would have guessed the A was going to weigh more).

For comparison of weight:

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4: engine: 25.7 oz, Tender: 8.6 oz

GN R-2 2-8-8-2: engine: 30.8 oz, tender: 8.05

GN C-1 0-8-0 switcher: engine: 16.1 oz, tender: 5.8

Both have decoders with sound.

SF E-1 set BLI 01SF E-1 set BLI 02

Very secure 4-sided plastic with an additional sleeve over it. 


SF E-1 set BLI 03

Headlight, number boards and classification lights functional.

The red light on the B unit lights in reverse.

SF E-1 set BLI 04

Lots of detail.  Know nothing about diesels so I guess it's all correct!

SF E-1 set BLI 05SF E-1 set BLI 06SF E-1 set BLI 07

B unit.

SF E-1 set BLI 08SF E-1 set BLI 09


Images (9)
  • SF E-1 set BLI 01
  • SF E-1 set BLI 02
  • SF E-1 set BLI 03
  • SF E-1 set BLI 04
  • SF E-1 set BLI 05
  • SF E-1 set BLI 06
  • SF E-1 set BLI 07
  • SF E-1 set BLI 08
  • SF E-1 set BLI 09
Last edited by samparfitt

NMRA MCR Div 3 Dayton's train show.

The county's new location with new buildings.

Not used to seeing 'new' on county fairgrounds!

Dayton's train show 01

The show used two large fabric covered metal frame buildings and one 'regular' building.

Dayton's train show 02

Lots of layouts.

With a larger parking lot, it seemed to have a larger attendance, this year.


Dayton's train show 03Dayton's train show 04Dayton's train show 05Dayton's train show 06Dayton's train show 07Dayton's train show 08

Hey, what's this thing on the top do?


Dayton's train show 09Dayton's train show 10

I remember MR doing an article on him back in the 70's or 80's.

Located in Dover, Ohio.

Dayton's train show 11

Can't beat two GN engines passing each other

Dayton's train show 12Dayton's train show 13Dayton's train show 14Dayton's train show 15Dayton's train show 16Dayton's train show 17

Some new 'ready to install' boats.

Dayton's train show 18

The vendor has added a few 'western' pictures.

Dayton's train show 19Dayton's train show 20Dayton's train show 21

Back in the 70's, I remember buying this building for about $1.98 (versus $38.75) from AHC.

I called them and bought every one that they had for sale: my roundhouse and 'flats' are made from them.


Dayton's train show 22Dayton's train show 23

Some of Nancy's excellent work (and her comrades). 


Dayton's train show 24Dayton's train show 25Dayton's train show 26Dayton's train show 27

CAD stuff.

Dayton's train show 28Dayton's train show 29

Obviously, I said something funny, but I don't remember!

Dayton's train show 30Dayton's train show 31

Rides for kids, big and small.

Dayton's train show 32Dayton's train show 33Dayton's train show 34

You have to watch where you park.  Had to call a tow truck to pull me out.

Fortunately, no damage.

I'm guessing someone did some work and forgot to put the cover back on as it was laying next to the hole.



Images (36)
  • Dayton's train show 01
  • Dayton's train show 02
  • Dayton's train show 03
  • Dayton's train show 04
  • Dayton's train show 05
  • Dayton's train show 06
  • Dayton's train show 07
  • Dayton's train show 08
  • Dayton's train show 09
  • Dayton's train show 10
  • Dayton's train show 11
  • Dayton's train show 12
  • Dayton's train show 13
  • Dayton's train show 14
  • Dayton's train show 15
  • Dayton's train show 16
  • Dayton's train show 17
  • Dayton's train show 18
  • Dayton's train show 19
  • Dayton's train show 20
  • Dayton's train show 21
  • Dayton's train show 22
  • Dayton's train show 23
  • Dayton's train show 24
  • Dayton's train show 25
  • Dayton's train show 26
  • Dayton's train show 27
  • Dayton's train show 28
  • Dayton's train show 29
  • Dayton's train show 30
  • Dayton's train show 31
  • Dayton's train show 32
  • Dayton's train show 33
  • Dayton's train show 34
Last edited by samparfitt


Made a list of all 'decoded' engines by: railroad, class, whyte listing, importer, type decoder and engine number.

A list of functions are also posted for the scaletrains and BLI.

Except for the few that I have bought that have decoders already installed: ie scale trains UP turbine and 3 BLI engines all engines are TCS decoders.


Since the bulk of engines have TCS decoders, The basic functions are listed at the bottom of each controller.  F1 for front marker lights, F3 for tender marker lights.






Images (2)
  • GNRR600
  • GNRR601
Last edited by samparfitt

Road tests after decoders installed.


SF E-1's by BLI; both powered with sound.

Can handle 45-50 cars on a 0.5% grade.;  

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 by Westside.

Can handle about 30 cars on a 0.5% grade.;


The EM-1 had two more shorts to diagnose. 

Tender wheel needed a kadee washer to keep the insulated side from touching the truck frame.

The engine's trailing truck was out of gauge and shorting. A NWSL wheel puller fixed that.

The company photographer went out for pictures.

SF E-1 set BLI 11SF E-1 set BLI 12

This snow scene reminds me of Christmas and a 'Christmas' memory:

Best Christmas ever had or will ever have.

I was seven.  Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, we had Higbees, May co and Halley’s down town department stores.  After Thanksgiving, each would have an entire floor full of toys.  Of course the best was the train area where there were Lionel and American Flyer layouts set up.  I’d stay there for hours watching them run and, of course, there were free catalogs.

Mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  I pointed to the Lionel SF diesel  A-A and 4 beautiful aluminum passenger cars and said ‘that’.  At 90 bucks, mom said we can’t afford that.  Dad worked at Midland Ross steel and, if he made that in a week, he was lucky!

$90 in 1953 is over $800 in 2018: imagine spending that much on a seven year old, today, for one present!

I remember getting up that Christmas morning and seeing the large rectangular box all wrapped and knew exactly what it was. 

As in ‘Christmas story’, that was the best Christmas I ever had, or ever will.

And it still runs great!


SF E-1 set BLI 13SF E-1 set BLI 14SF E-1 set BLI 15

The 'interchange/staging': just the basics.

The last three engines decoded and road tested.

SF 4-8-4, PRR T-1 4-4-4-4 and SF E-1 A-B set.

SF E-1 set BLI 16


Images (6)
  • SF E-1 set BLI 11
  • SF E-1 set BLI 12
  • SF E-1 set BLI 13
  • SF E-1 set BLI 14
  • SF E-1 set BLI 15
  • SF E-1 set BLI 16
Last edited by samparfitt

GN C-1 0-8-0 Tenshodo decoder install.

No sound installed in the switchers; just using TCS 1485 KAM5 with keep alive.

Kept the original open frame motor but had to insulate it from the engine frame.

Some electrical tape on the motor, a piece of red heat shrink tubing on the screw and a kadee washer next to the nut.

The slot on the brass mounting plate also had to be enlarged.

GN C-1 0-8-0 #810 01

Not enough room in the engine so the decoder went into the tender.

No lights installed so only needed to make a 3 prong connector: red for ground, orange/gray for motor.  

Without lights, pretty fast install.  Only needed to solder the black wire to the tender shell.

GN C-1 0-8-0 #810 02

Had to change the original #815 to #810 since the switcher at St Paul already owned that number.  Some solvaset on a q-tip and some aggressive rubbing removed the #5 without damaging the paint.  The #0 came from an old used set of champs GN decals.

While I was doing that, also added the C-1 nomenclature below the engine number.

Sometimes you get lucky:

I lucked out in that the top of the open frame motor touched the boiler, threw the CB but didn't 'smoke' the decoder.  Some extra electrical tape on all sides of the open frame motor fixed that. 

This engine is assigned to the ore dock.

GN C-1 0-8-0 #810 03


Images (3)
  • GN C-1 0-8-0 #810 01
  • GN C-1 0-8-0 #810 02
  • GN C-1 0-8-0 #810 03
Last edited by samparfitt

New delivery.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 duplex.

Had to get this iconic engine.  PRR only made one of these.

It was designed by Raymond Loewy.

140' 2.5" long and built to go 100 MPH.

84" drivers, timkin roller bearings and 300 lbs boiler pressure.

Reported 7,200 HP.

Duplex meaning it had two pairs of cylinders for a rigid base, essentially, 6-8-6 since the full size did not articulate. 

Cost about $700,000 in 1937 or $12,000,000 in 2018 dollars; and we thought  spending 1-2 million to re-build a steam engine was a lot of money!

Displayed at the New York's world fair, 1939.

In 1940, between Chicago and Crestline, Ohio, she reportedly reached 101 MPH.

This is a Gem model made by Olympia in 1965 and priced at $225 or about $1,800 in 2018: A lot of money then, and a lot of money, now.

This model is factory painted and there were only 72 painted models.

Gem gave it the slight 'green' look that PRR engines had.

This engine is 53 years old and it appears to have always been in the box.

The full size had a rigid frame; this model has an articulated frame, probably so one could run it on, back then, sharper layout curves.  With minimum 48" radii, the articulation will probably not be noticed, if any occurs.

I tested it on the track and only the back drivers were moving: after 'only' 53 years, the rubber coupling to the front drivers is shot.  Will have to take apart and PM, lube, etc.

Cool, I can say I've got the entire roster of this class of engine on the PRR!


 The box has a 'felt' surface.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 02PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 03PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 04

Appears to not to even been test run.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 05PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 06

Even has cab detail.  Something not seen on HO models in 1965.

A factory painted model was also rare in 1965.


PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 07

Nice tender detail.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 08PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 09PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 10PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 11

The classification lights are even 'drilled' out.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 12PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 13

The stripes are actually raised brass.  Those Japanese craftsmen were true masters at their job.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 14

The tender trucks are articulated (moves up and down) with real springs.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 15PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 16

Many PRR tenders had red oxide tender decks.  Not sure if this 'only one engine' made had it and it would probably be hard to prove, one way or other.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 17PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 18

A comparison to a Key Big Boy for comparison.

Also, easy to see the 'green'.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 19


Images (18)
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 02
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 03
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 04
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 05
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 06
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 07
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 08
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 09
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 10
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 11
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 12
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 13
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 14
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 15
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 16
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 17
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 18
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 19
Last edited by samparfitt

PRR S-1 (PM).

No rotted tubing, as I first suspected on the universal as it's all made out of brass.

The linkage was just not engaged.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 20

A large pitman motor.  Some oil on the front/rear via the cotton material surrounding the armature shaft.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 21

The linkage to the front drivers was not engaged.

Some oil in the gear boxes, axles and side rods.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 22

The front drivers are screwed to a piece of bright thin metal that rotates.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 23

Instead of lead for weight, they used a solid piece of brass.

Thinking about it, the foam box was probably one of the first used as most engines came in cardboard tubes instead of foam back in the early 60's.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 24

No need to drill out to get to the classification lights as they left a hole in the boiler (center, right in picture).

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 25

They even made a builders plate for it.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 26


Images (7)
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 20
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 21
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 22
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 23
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 24
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 25
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 26
Last edited by samparfitt

In case I croak!

I don't plan on  'pushing up daisies' in the near future but, to help my daughter, executor:
Even railroaders aren't going to know which engine goes in which box.
Beside the inventory of engines, I just spent all morning labeling the outside of the boxes with the cab engine number so one knows what engine goes in which box.
I put 'not painted' on those, well... not painted!
Those with DCC have also been marked and manufacturer's instructions included in the box.
I used 'wall safe' tape so easily removable without damage to the box.
box with engine number 01box with engine number 02


Images (2)
  • box with engine number 01
  • box with engine number 02
Last edited by samparfitt

PRR S-1 decoder install.

I did not know that...

or I forgot!

It's a lot easier insuring the open frame motor is not a ground by, simply, unsoldering the one metal tab that is soldered to the motor frame.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 28

Had to install two LED's on each housing as one LED would not light up the front classification lights as well as the side number board.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 29


Images (2)
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 28
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 29

PRR S-1 decoder install (cont)

Being, this engine was made way before sound was ever invented, I had to drill some holes into the tender base.

The PFM speakers have about a 1/4"X1" outlet so the hole pattern was made that size.  An additional hole was made to route the 8 wires to the engine. The holes were painted from the inside to make it appear the holes are 'original'.

I watched a video for decoder installs and they said not to put holes into a brass engine as it would devalue the engine.  One: this engine is mine (and will be sold when I'm dead) and two: how can one install a decoder without holes into an older model.  

I consider this engine an important 'heritage' to early brass so I'm thoughtful in any alterations. 

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 30

The truck makes routing the decoder wires difficult but I put heat shrink tubing (in very short sections) over two sets of wires instead of the usual one for more flexibility.  

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 31

Normally, a lot of tenders have an open space below the deck for decode wires but this tender has none except added detail in that location and I didn't want to 'butcher it'.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 32

Having to route the wires through the tender floor forced me to make the 8 pin connector AFTER routing the wires through the floor. 

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 33

Masked off the back of the tender to drill out the three holes for lights.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 34

Holes painted and LED's installed.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 35

The slow process of waiting for the glue to dry.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 36

Four running board LED's installed.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 37

They made a very nice headlight lens out of a plastic tube.  It was fun getting some glue on the end of the tube inside the engine and then positioning the LED at that location.  Seems to be working well, though. 

The cab light and fire box glow are the last LED's that need to be installed.


PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 38


Images (9)
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 30
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 31
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 32
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 33
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 34
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 35
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 36
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 37
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 38
Last edited by samparfitt

PRR S-1 decoder install (cont)

Wiring done.

Had to use resistance soldering on a loose ash pan.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 39

Cut LED black wires shorter than other red wires as routing wires through 1/16" thick heat shrink tubing and not enough room to also insulate the black from the red inside the 1/16" tubing.


PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 40

10 LED's completed in boiler.

Four way connector for PM. Protective 1/16" heat shrink tubing taped to top of boiler. 

Weight re-installed.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 41

Motor, fire box glow LED and connector to boiler complete.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 42

Four way connector needed for PM tender shell from tender bottom.

Three LED's in the tender.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 43


Images (5)
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 39
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 40
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 41
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 42
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 43
Last edited by samparfitt

PRR S-1 final assembly, test.


All 14 LED lights worked after turning them on with the function keys.

The only thing I did wrong on the decoder was forgot to attached the needed two capacitors and a choke for the PFM speaker.  


PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 44PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 45


I see why this engine has never been run.

When I first tested it on the track, the front driver's were disconnected and, after I fixed that, I decided to install the decoder without finishing the initial test run.  Attaching the two sets of drivers to the boiler is time consuming and it took me, probably, an hour to figure how to re-attach everything in the right order and getting all screws inserted and universals connected. Not counting the derails and shorts!  Due to space restrictions, re-assembly is not the same order as dis-assembly.  It's easy to have a screw fall out of a tight space, it's another problem, getting that screw back into that tight space!

Good thing we do this for FUN!

The front driver set had the back two drivers not resting on the rails.

Backing up, the front drivers were derailing.

The two screws have 'shoulders' on them that connect the front engine to the back engine thus, creating a lot of vertical slop.

I had to add some RC tubing to the back linkage screw to keep the short connecting bar down while putting another RC tubing below the driver retaining plate to keep the back set of drivers on the rails.


PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 46

The tender with those 16 wheels, were shorting on 8' radii.  I had to not only add some kadee insulating washers to the insulated side but also some RC tubing to the center two axles.  The truck frames hide the tubing when on the track. 

I really didn't see where the wheels were shorting but it occurred when I would force the tender away from the insulated side and causing them to touch the truck frame and short.  Fully articulated truck frames have a lot of  movement in them. 

They're also sensitive to any 'out of aligned' track gauge.  One spot where just about all my cars and engines travel, the tender truck was derailing.   Putting a track gauge along there, it was, indeed, to wide for the gauge.  Fortunately, with hand laid rail, it's easy to pull up spikes and re-gauge the track.  

Having to put that much insulation on one side of the truck also reduces side movement so those 4 sets of axles are going to be more sensitive to bad track.

From the picture, one can see that the center part of the truck frame is out much farther than the rest of the truck frame which, probably, allows the insulated wheel to touch the outer truck frame.  The axles on the center two wheel sets probably should be a little longer.  These trucks have no screws so dis-assembly is not an option. 

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 47

Well, I think I've gotten all the bugs out just testing in the yard.  Still need to do a 'road' test.

This models like the full size ones: seems like the unusual 'wheel arrangements' didn't equate to what the 'slide rule' said they would!   I'm guessing this engine probably needs minimum 30" radii (if not 32"-36")and #8 turnouts.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 48PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 49PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 50PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 51

And I still need to figure out how to get a coupler into that scale size coupler pocket!

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 52


Images (9)
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 44
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 45
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 46
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 47
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 48
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 49
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 50
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 51
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 52
Last edited by samparfitt

Testing before this Saturday's op session.

Most of the pictures are always close ups.  Thought I'd take some panorama's while testing the track.  

As usual, had a few 'bugs' to fix.

Glacier park


Shows the 3 levels of the mainline from Seattle to St. Paul.




Don't think I've taken any pictures of this town. 





Entering Chumstick and Tumwater canyons where the two trestles are located.


The steep grade is the logging railroad.


Logging railroad.



St. Paul.

Three tracks on the left are incoming tracks with route to the roundhouse.


Ore dock.




Three track staging/interface.



The 'bare' essentials of the three levels going through the laundry room.

The Kenmore washer and dryer, I believe, were purchased around 1975: nice to have non-electronic devices that will last forever!  I don't need a phone to tell me my 'wash' is done or needs drying! 

Do I want to spend money on new devices or trains: a 'no brainer'!

OK, I'll get off my 'soap box'.




Entering Seattle's freight yard.

Passenger yard in on the 'back side'.


Each yard has three incoming tracks with escape tracks at the end.

Here, the engine uncouples from the cars and moves to the escape track.


Leaving the escape tracks to head to the turntable.


St. Paul's roundhouse.



Images (22)
  • GNRR611
  • GNRR612
  • GNRR613
  • GNRR614
  • GNRR615
  • GNRR616
  • GNRR617
  • GNRR619
  • GNRR620
  • GNRR621
  • GNRR622
  • GNRR623
  • GNRR624
  • GNRR625
  • GNRR626
  • GNRR627
  • GNRR628
  • GNRR629
  • GNRR630
  • GNRR631
  • GNRR632
  • GNRR604
Last edited by samparfitt

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 road test.

Used a kadee #4 coupler for the scale size hole in the tender.

Unfortunately, they no longer make #4's; they were good for the front of steam engines.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 53PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 54

Glad I didn't run a long train.  Won't be pulling any 45 cars.  

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 55

The tender is shorting going through most turnouts where the inside of the wheel is touching the opposite, open switch point.

A railroader friend suggested nail polish: thick and tough.  


PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 56

Engine shorted at this spot.  A few spikes fixed it.


PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 57

Needed the 'top creeper' to get to the bad track, though.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 58

Ice storm this morning.  I can, normally, walk under those limbs that are touching the ground.  Most leaves are off this time of year but these pin oaks will take another 1-2 weeks to loose them.


tree limbs ice 01


Images (7)
  • tree limbs ice 01
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 53
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 54
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 55
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 56
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 57
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 58

Road test B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4.


B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 36B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 37

Taking on water.

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 38B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 39

Why I need to road test each engine.

The front engine drivers were derailing at one spot.  Once in a great while, I've had some cars come off so  I investigated the area.

Initially, one spot was just a bit too wide so I re-spiked it but nada.

Put a straight edge along the center of the ties and there's a bump there.

This is where the laminated roadbed meets the flat plywood.

Under the layout, I lowered two supporting arms about an 1/8", put glue between the supporting arms and sub-roadbed and put some weight on the track to hold it in place while the glue drys. 

The layout was started in 1979 so I'm not sure how long that spot has been bad.

With the mainline down until tomorrow morning, looks like road testing the EM-1 will be delayed.



Supporting arms. 

Had to remove the old straight screw driver screws and replace them with square head ones.  Those old screws were a pain (literally) : I remember jamming my finger with the screw driver when it slipped off the end. 

All the old newspapers are under the plaster when I used 'zip texturing'.  



Pretty good ice storm hit this morning.

I can usually walk under those limbs that are touching the ground.  

tree limbs ice 01tree limbs ice 03


Images (8)
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 36
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 37
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 38
  • B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4 westside 39
  • GNRR657
  • GNRR658
  • tree limbs ice 01
  • tree limbs ice 03
Last edited by samparfitt

Insulation paint for PRR S-1 tender.

Picked up some nail polish at Krogers which should make a good insulator paint.

While at HD, I was picking up some electrical tape and noticed these identical 'suitcase' connectors a few feet away from the tape.  I'm guessing they get them from 3M.

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 59

Two coats of nail polish on the insulated side of the wheels.  Let that dry and see if that fixes the shorts when going through my turnouts. 

PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 60


Images (2)
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 59
  • PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 gem 60

Add Reply


OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
800-980-OGRR (6477)

Link copied to your clipboard.