My Northern Pacific Butte Montana Layout.

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Plucked Tailfeathers
Staff member
Mark - I would like to see some more pic of your NP W-3!
BUT -- I want to see them more close up and with a "plain jane" background like Brian posted with that SF 4-8-4!


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Brian borrowed his photos from the Walthers website. I don't have photo booth for taking snap shots of my models. However, I will do my best!


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Like a good boy, I do what I am told! I may need to re-shoot some of these photos that aren't quite in focus. I should have used my tripod. Anyway here are three photos of my Northern Pacific W-3 Mikado, built form a Rivarossi Mikado and an article in Model Railroader Magazine.


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So, now you have a collection of photos, some good and some not so good. The program will not let me delete the first batch of photos, so you get what you get. Had the photo attachment process not become so confused, I would have talked a bit more about this loco, and the process of kit bashing it.

This project was done in the mid 1990s and to remember what was done and who produced the detail parts, I will have to do some research on. Of course, many of the detail parts are from Cal Scale. I remember that I shortened the tender 38 inches and to get the N.P. W-3 look the tender needed to have a "Dog House" on it. The locomotive has a new smoke stack. I think the only original dome from the Rivarossi loco is the steam dome. The sand dome was cut off and replaced by a wooden dome and the small dome in the back of the steam dome is also made by hand from wood. The headlight is a Cal Scale part and the back-up light has a jewel, instead of an actual light. The Model Railroader Magazine that contained the article on the kit bash is the August 1986 issue. Looking through detail parts in my old 1989 Walthers Catalog, I find that Cal Scale, Precision Investment (PIA), Detail Associates and Precision Scale where some of the familiar detail part manufacturer I probably dealt with. I don't know if any of these companies other than Cal Scale are still doing business. A fellow named Jim Morin wrote the article. He included an Auxiliary Tender with his kit bash, I suppose the short tender made this a requirement.

A surprise for me with this look at this loco is that I found there was some binding with my trailing truck, this binding caused the back of the loco to lift a 32nd; or, so off the track! I fixed this and now the loco runs way better!! The fact that it didn't run all that well, kept me from using it.
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Plucked Tailfeathers
Staff member
That is some VERY NICE work. Also good pictures - some a little out of focus.
I need to get my digital camera working again with the Win10 computers. It has a really good "close up" ability. but I have been reluctant to try and find the installation disks and I do not know if they will even work with Win10.
The disks are in a box somewhere in the garage from our move here 10 years ago - WOW!


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Thank you Sherrel! I read over the article again, done in the August of 1986 issue of Model Railroading, on kit bashing a Rivarossi Mikado into a Northern Pacific Mike and the author of the article took his kit bash far beyond where I ended mine. I wanted something that gave the appearance of a W-3 mike; not a dead ringer, as I felt that really couldn't be accomplished with the Rivarossi Mike. The cab isn't long enough and in places the boiler shape doesn't quite match the prototype. That's O.K., like I said, I wanted something that gave the appearance of a W-3 and I felt I accomplished that goal. I think that a couple years after I built this loco, i had to modify it to DCC, so it has been around a while.


Plucked Tailfeathers
Staff member
I really like the head on shot!
The tender intrigues me; did you make - or purchase - the doghouse ... it's cool!
I bet the doghouse was a cold place to be in the winter!


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Had I found a Dog House I could buy, I would have. No, that is a scratch build structure made of Evergreen Siding along with the tool box along side. The structure wasn't difficult, just took some time to build. I would have to guess the winter in that little shed, speeding along at 60 MPH would be a miserable place to be. I don't know if they piped steam into them for heat; or, not. I have never read any accounts of what being the head-end brakeman on a W-3 was like and I have read years worth of the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association's "The Mainstreeter"!

As you know, another big proponent of tender Dog Houses was the Narrow Gauge D&RGW! Although even at the high altitudes the D&RGW operated, I wonder if the outside temperatures where ever as cold as easily gets here in Minnesota? Plenty of the W-3s where operated all along the N.P. in all divisions!


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It's almost time for me to get back down to the basement and continue working on my layout. It's been a great and "SHORT" summer; but, I look forward to getting back to Model Railroading, now!


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I have several locomotives that I am installing TCS Sound decoders in and one Proto 2000 SW1200 N.P. switcher that I'm installing a basic DCC decoder in. I brought the SW1200 over to the lake to do the decoder install; but, never got into the install, as I became involved in problems with my boat's engine and doing cabinet work in it's galley. I've decided that it's time to sell the boat, so I want the interior to be finished. I have brought all my tools and stuff for the install back home here and after the boat comes out and we close up the trailer, i will be back at the railroad.
Mark, Nice to see my Northern Pacific guy back posting. I really like that mike. Nice work.

Hope you get the boat improvements finished. I lived in Florida for 13 years and have a house in the Keys, but never had a boat. I had access to boats belonging to my friends though. They said that the second happiest day they had was when they got their boat and the happiest day is when they sold it, claiming that a boat was a hole into the water into which you pour money.

I have been getting quite involved with my model railroad club in Livingston and have been looking into more DCC equipment. I am still a DCC dummy and probably won't graduate to the next level. I did manage to get a good deal on ebay on a BLI NW2 for $80, new in the box.

20180823_154212.jpg It does have some excellent sound and a sweet runner.

When I was working on my North Coast Limited F-3, I also picked up a Stewart F-9 for $25..

thumbnail_IMAG1239.jpg I really didn't need the F-9 because I thought that I already had enough locomotives so I actually put it in a pile of items that I would try to sell in the train show that we have every April in the NP depot in Livingston. As youcan see, it really lacked details and even a road number, and I really didn't want to go through all of the work that the F-3 needed. I had been searching for months trying to find an NP road diesel to MU with my Atlas RS-1 because of the two and a half percent grades at th club. There just wasn't one to be had anywhere. I can't believe how neglected that the Northern Pacific is in the hobby.

A friend on the forum who is really into DCC and I got into a conversation and I took the shell off and sent him a photo and found out that the F-9 was DCC ready and also had a Kato drive. He now has the chassis and has installed DCC and says that it is a really sweet running locomotive. He is in the process of downloading a sound program for it.

With that news I added the needed roof details and hand rails as well as numbering the locomotive. Here is aphoto that I took sometime in the 80's at the yard in Livingston where it was rebuild and was going to leave for the Mount Rainier Scenic Railway.

n220151110_17475644.jpg The road number was a no brainer for me, so the shell was given that number.

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A few minor details still have to be added, but I can't wait to get it running at the club. Speaking about the club, here's a cab ride video I took at the club. At about 11:25, the train goes into the town of Gardiner, MT. The NP did provide rail service from Livingston to Gardiner to provide good to the town and take passengers to visit Yellowstone Park. The service was abandoned in the mid 50's. The town was all scratch build using photos from the Museum of the Rockies set in the 30's. By the way, yo may see a guy in a dark blue Navy T shirt and hat, that's me.

Glad to see you back in here posting. Good luck with the boat.
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Chet, glad you decided to join the Livingston Club!

I can imagine in a club it's difficult to get everyone on board. However with Livingston being a major Northern Pacific town, I wonder why the layout isn't strictly N.P. Or, did the Milwaukee have a great influence, also. Is possible that the lack of available Northern Pacific equipment might have had a bering, also. It is a great club layout and I would love to see it!
Everything I run is Northern Pacific. You are correct about the lack of NP equipment. That is why I am installing DCC into the old Stewart locomotive that I had originally no plans to do anything to with. There of course is a lot of BNSF bnd MRL power on the layout being that is what is normally seen in Livingston, being that it is the home of the MRL shops.

The club is not era specific or railroad specific. Besides NP, BNSF and MRL power, other roads show up such as Burlington, SP&S, DM&IR and Milwaukee Road. The layout isn't even area specific, although a lot of the backdrops reflect the Livingston area which was painted by some locals years ago. One area is a recreation of Gardiner, MT which the NP did run trains to until the mid 50's to supply the town with goods and take visitors to Yellowstone Park.

One of the members wife is responsible for the outstanding work on that part of the layout. She used photos from the Museum of the Rockies to scratch build the many structures.


Gardiner 15.jpg







The locals really enjoy this part of the layout because of history of this area and also that some of the landmarks can easily be picked out. This part of the layout is set in the 1930's.

There aren't a lot of members. The layout has been build over the past 25 years, but many of the members have either moved away of have died off. There are only 7 full time members including myself. The layout is considered part of the Museum in the old depot so they pay no rent for the space and are open to the public on Thursdays from 1 PM to 4 PM during the summers and on Saturdays from 7 PM to 9 PM on a regular basis and also on special occasions that the museum may have.

I feel bad that in that during the winter I don't get over there as often as I would like. In the winter, the Saturday evening ops sessions can be hard for me to get to. It's a 50 mile trip one way over Bozeman Pass which can be a dangerous trip in bad weather plus I don't care to drive at night any more. Also during the winter months, we attend a lot of bowling tournaments in various town across the state during the weekends.

When I first showed up at the club, they were a bit cautious about having me join until they realized I knew what I was doing and saw the equipment I was bringing over. They were happy to have me join. I really enjoy the club because there are no politics and we just enjoy running trains.
The locals really enjoy this part of the layout because of history of this area and also that some of the landmarks can easily be picked out.
I would assume not just the locals. I can pick out landmarks from when I visited the park in the early 60's.

Can't get the picture to enlarge. What are the tracks for where the cars are spotted on tracks I've marked with pink and yellow? Pink a huge team track for the entire town? Yellow looks like reefer cars, for the small building just to the right?

but many of the members have … have died off.
We are having that problem with one of the clubs I belong to.
There were three tracks going towards the town. These were for unloading goods to supply the town. Most everything came into the town by rail. Talking to people who were familiar with the service, one reefer came in with meat,another with beer and then there were box cars or baggage cars that came in with other goods.


Here's a condensed scene done from photos.



I got ragged on because my tank car was a Texaco tanker. Conoco tank cars supplied the town. Thursday I will have a Conoco car so I won't hear any whining. The tracks were also use to park baggage cars for the passenger train and supplies coming into town.

If you look at the last photo in the precious post, you'll see a rock formation known as the Devils Slide just west of US 89 along side the Yellowstone River which the locals easily pick out.

devils-slide-1965-660x330.jpg is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to