Debating what to do

thx712517 Aug 11, 2014


What's the best way forward?

  1. Stay the course

    2 vote(s)
  2. Go transition era

    23 vote(s)
  3. Modify a few things (detail in post)

    8 vote(s)
  4. Something completely different (detail in post)

    4 vote(s)
  1. thx712517

    thx712517 TrainBoard Member

    I've finished the preliminary stage of my HCD layout. Right now I've got a P42 pulling a baggage car and three coaches, as well as an ES44AC for use on the local freight. The idea is a modern-era layout with a small town (hence the Amtrak commuter) and a brewery (ES44AC, tankers, grain hoppers, box cars, etc), with room for expansion in the future. I've been pretty happy with my Kato P42 and Kato coaches. I just got my FVM ES44AC, and I'm not as pleased. It's making a grinding/whining noise depending on speed, but it has gotten more quiet after some running time in forward and in reverse.

    I'm just not sure at this point. The ES44AC is a nice locomotive, don't get me wrong, but I think I bit off more than I can chew with such a large, modern loco. Given the track plan below (which will be the end result) I'm wondering if I should go back to my earlier idea of a transition-era layout (1950s) and pick up a Mikado and an FM H16-44 as well as a bunch of 40' box cars, etc. I do have a reserve on the new MT SW1500, not sure when mine will come in. It seems like I'm doomed to like non-popular roads (NYC, Conrail) for the eras I'm looking at.


    Keep pushing forward? Will more running quiet down my FVM ES44AC? Throw my hands up on the modern era and search for an FM H16-44 in black NYC?
  2. Hansel

    Hansel TrainBoard Member

    Looks like a great size for a logging railroad! Doesn't Atlas make a Shay?
  3. MRLdave

    MRLdave TrainBoard Member

    Smaller layouts seem to work better with smaller locos and rolling stock. There are a few small modern locos, but your choices are much better if you go transition era. And passenger service can be doodlebugs or RDC cars.
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    To me, an ES44 doesn't seem like what you'd see most of the time for local freight power. I know it does happen....

    I think you'd be happier with smaller power and smaller cars.
  5. scottmitchell74

    scottmitchell74 TrainBoard Member

    Good looking plan, there.

    I voted transition era because you can always sneak some steam in, if you want. Plus, I just love the look of everything from that era.
  6. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    An es44 isn't really the right loco for a local that would switch industries. For modern I'd think GP38 or 40 or 60 or 2 would make the most sense.
  7. bumthum

    bumthum TrainBoard Member

    Well the transition era is the greatest era in my opinion, diesel locomotives had character and steam seems to have been at its apex (Berkshires, Moguls, Big Boys, Mallets... they were all running), it sure was a great time. Modern trains hold some interest for me but mainly only on shortlines and regionals where more than mile long unit trains are rare. I like variety and you can't beat the transition era for that.

    I don't know which freight road you are modeling by try a pair of 4-axle units for motive power, they look better in local service.

    Option three is to broaden your era a bit and run equipment from a 2-3 decade span... I run stuff from the 1950s through the late 1960s and the difference is barely noticeable. Even in the 1970s you could see first and second generation power running with 3rd generation diesel units... just a thought.
  8. thx712517

    thx712517 TrainBoard Member

    I think if the SW1500 was available first then I wouldn't be having this head-scratching moment, since it would fit in better with the layout. The ES44 is a cool locomotive in real life (my favorite modern power) but it is overwhelming on a branch line layout.
  9. LOU D

    LOU D TrainBoard Member

    Model what you like..
  10. robert3985

    robert3985 TrainBoard Member

    I'm biased towards a transition era time period, and I think with your radii, even a Mike would be too big. I'd opt for the Bachmann Consolidation (2-8-0) which is a very well-detailed and nice running engine, along with such B-B trucked engines as RS's, Geeps, F's, Alco FA/FB's, and stick with 40' (or shorter) cars, with an occasional 50 footer thrown in for variety's sake.

    You don't need long trains, and you can detail the hell out of Atlas Geeps. I run them on my Park City Local and they look great on the branchline. Here's a re-worked Atlas GP9 on my code 40 Park City Branchline...

    Bob Gilmore
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2014
  11. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    I like the modern era, but I also think the GP38 would be far better for your duties, maybe an SD40-2 at the most if you want a little extra pulling power. The ES44 is a main line engine and catching it switching out a brewery by itself would be a rarity at best. Many 40-2s have been relegated to switching detail, so they would look good and still give you 6 axle pulling power.
  12. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    Heck, UP uses rebuilt SD60Ms on Haulers and Turns now so even big not so old power would be appropriate on the layout though not in switching. Example, the UP's Roseville local power is 2 4axle locos of either gp38-2, GP40-2 (or rebuilt 40s) or GP60s or a mix of those.
  13. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

    I would say a slight modification could be the answer. The track plan is good, but you will not find an ES44 doing switching. That doesn't mean you can't still run it. As other have said before, getting some smaller locomotives for the switching work is a good idea. But, you can also still use the ES44 too. If you add a scenic divide, you can alway have the ES44 running a long haul hotshot train. Basically it would come through as a complete train, the go around the divide and wait a a bit until it came round again. It becomes what I call "Layout Animation". On earlier layouts, I always had trains running on the main sort of automatically, and used the to get my switching skills to improve. Get the cut of cars, jump on the main and deliver before the hotshot came round again.

    This way you can keep your current locomotives and just add a few smaller locomotives to handle the industrial switching duties.

    Just another idea to kick around....

    Also, the more you run the ES44 the better it will be. On some of them it seems like the have to break off flash on the gears or something and then poof, they run smooth and quiet.
  14. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    Just my opinion but the big modern stuff just looks better on those big layouts with the broad sweeping curves and tonnage tied on behind stretching back. This layout seems to cry out for 4 axle power, single or doubleheaded and 15 or 20 car freights. Take it forward in time a little into the early Amtrak era and one can have the option of using an F unit for power on the passenger local even with the original paint on the loco and just renumbered into Amtrak. Same can go with the small passenger consist staying with the rainbow era of color and you still have the option of using some of the older style freight cars instead of the 60 and 70 footers. As far as using steam I would think about it as an excursion loco with a short consist which would leave your options open for what ever wheel arrangement makes it around your curvature.
  15. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Modify: But I'd rather say diversify.

    The transition era is a popular one that allows for a fine mix of stoves and diseasels. I say diseasels because most of the early ones needed major adjustments in cooling the diesel engines and numerous problems with the dynamic braking. Many requiring almost as many water stops as the stoves. Lot's of bugs to work out. A fun time for the Rails...for sure. Grrrrrr best describes what I used to hear.

    Getting back to the era. May I suggest not limiting yourself to just transition era. For example you can have equipment on the layout from the mid 40's to the mid 50's and then remove it to bring out equipment from the 60's . Build a staging yard where you can store era specific trains and when you tire of one era and want a change of scenery, bring the other's out.

    About your choice of layout. You will have loads of fun building it and operating on it. One of my favorite was built not so dissimilar to yours. There have been some fine suggestions made. Speaking of such, I would agree the four axle locomotives and steamers like the 0-6-0's and other variations but with a short wheel base will work just fine.

    Not to toot my own horn. I started a thread in the How To department that may be of some help. You'll find Video's from other modelers with helpful tips and How To's:

    The best of luck to you and bring back some pictures so we can share in the fun.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2014
  16. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    I wrote a long post with a lot of ideas for you but it disappeared when I "voted." I guess I should have voted first. Or posted before I voted. Sorry.
  17. paperkite

    paperkite TrainBoard Member

    I'd be tempted to go to transition era ( I do with logging roads and thru frt and pass of several roads ) that leaves you to go to more modern as your tastes change and you expand the hcd's layout/s . You can always keep the older stuff in the " ready junk line" once you get too modern for the '40's-50's era. Hard to go back to transition era though when you start out newer and want to go older .. the rolling stock and buildings etc. give it away . not to mention modern esthetics don't look good with older stoves...
  18. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Kenneth go back to Edit (uhh..err) Reply and click on the Auto Saved. What you wrote may jump right back up.
  19. thx712517

    thx712517 TrainBoard Member

    So maybe a GP7 or GP9 and an Alco RS3? Throw in a 2-8-0 if I really want steam. Wish I could find an FM H16-44 in the black NYC livery instead of the two tone grey.
  20. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    I agree with David...

    Keep the ES44AC. Run a freight train through. Stop it and hide it behind a view block in the back. Do some switching of the industries up front on the main with some small 4 axles. Park the switcher and bring the freight through again on the main. I do the same on my larger layout. It takes a freight 4 minutes to make a complete circuit. I switch the yard using the main in that time. IF....yard work isnt done in time...I can stop the bigger freight out on the main. It doesnt make the Yard Master happy....but still a lot of fun !!!


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