Time for me to show off!

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Always Improvising
After watching some YouTube videos of 1970's Milwaukee freights in various areas of the country I decided I had to up my automotive and piggyback transportation game. I have so far bought and built an Accurail tri-level autorack kit and two 85' flats. I also have an ExactRail Vert-A-Pac car on its way to me.

I also kicked my BNSF locomotives in their respective butts and got five of six working. The SD9 is an older Athearn Blue Box which I have refurbished and brought to DCC life. She still needs lights, though.



Always Improvising
Finally got my Milwaukee FP45 #1 running. Like the SD9 she is waiting on me to figure out LED lighting, but it runs very well for being cobbled-together.

I normally don't bother with lighting the number boards, but I think I may go for it in this case. They're just so prominent and look very easy to light on this model. This loco will also need some secondary lighting, which I believe are mars lamps, between the number boards. I don't think those particular lights were used while these locos were in freight duty. I'll remove the dynamic fans sometime this summer when I can spray-paint outside. At that point the trucks and fuel tank will also be painted.
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Always Improvising
The Milwaukee Road sure used a lot of color schemes for their locomotives. I think I like the Silver and Orange scheme the best!

They did. This particular FP45 I'm modeling was once power for the late '60's Hiawatha trains. Milwaukee Road had struck up a partnership of sorts with Union Pacific with passenger service, hence why all of Milw's passenger equipment was painted to match UP's. The FP45's were built in 1968 and by 1970 they were in freight service. FP45 #1 was not painted to the Milw's orange and black freight scheme until perhaps 1971.


Always Improvising
WHEW. I've been away for a while thanks to a nasty computer virus, but here I am! I've had some fun in the meantime. A club member had three Milwaukee diesels he didn't want anymore and offered to sell them to me. $150 each for these two Atlas QSI-equipped GE's (U30B and U30C) and a DC-only Genesis MP15AC. These have kind of thrown my collection "theme" into the wind but all three have quickly grown on me. The U30B spent a lot of time out on the MILW Coast Division, and the U30C would have been in unit train service, most definitely coal trains. I also got ahold of an ExactRail Vert-A-Pac car for that true 1970's authenticity. The MP15 received a DH166 decoder this week and will go through its shakedown and first duty assignment tomorrow.





In addition to all of that I attended my first "Trains after Dark" night the weekend before Christmas. The layout is FAR different in the dark, although it's not as dark as I was expecting.




Always Improvising
I buckled down on my Northstar consist and finally got it fit enough to run. Locomotive found something down in our westbound staging that it doesn't like which I still need to troubleshoot but it had no problems operating on the layout surface, that's even including in reverse or "Push" mode.

The Bombardiers, stubborn as they are, could still use some work to get them into tip-top shape. Right now they still have some rolling resistance, so poor #501 can't pull all five at one time by herself. Prototypically, Northstar runs one loco for three cars and two locos elephant style for five cars or more so I may have to pursue another loco, maybe without sound to keep the extra cost low.



I've also put together a few YouTube videos from the past couple months.

All Milwaukee Road:

All of my BNSF, plus my Northstar:

All of my modern UP stuff:


Always Improvising
I've been clearing out some stuff from a past hobby via eBay, and I took some of that new funding to buy a Lionel #2338 GP7, more or less for the hell of it, to occupy the shelf formerly displaying my 1/35 tanks. Also had to land a Menards O-gauge boxcar to go with it.



Plucked Tailfeathers
Staff member
STEVE -- Is that GP-7 one of the older more valueable ones, or one of the newer repoes?

I thought about trying to get one of the older ones - just haven't figured out which arm or leg to give up!


Always Improvising
STEVE -- Is that GP-7 one of the older more valueable ones, or one of the newer repoes?

I thought about trying to get one of the older ones - just haven't figured out which arm or leg to give up!
It is not one of the newer repros. She is a legit 63-year-old loco, and her interior shows it. I paid $105 for it, and it should theoretically be around $115-$120 per some Lionel collectors I know.


Always Improvising
I have to admit I'm a bit stuck. The same guy who sold me my MILW GE's also sold me a bushel of BNSF diesels, four altogether. Two GP60M's, one GP60B and a GP35. I'm now at a loss, as my BNSF #117 is now way out of sync with my other BNSF power. I may just sell it off.

The timing is kind of funny since I have been invited to operate at another club in the Twin Cities as a special guest during a prototypical ops session, so I'm semi-frantically freshening up all of my BNSF power for service.





Always Improvising
Hey guys, I've been busy browsing, buying and selling. I sold off two of my GP60M's, my SD75M, and my ES44AH to acquire some other things. The roster has changed quite a bit since my last post. Sadly a couple club members have passed and their collections went up for sale.

I got this Athearn RTR BNSF SD40-2 on the cheap from a guy up in northern MN. It needed a decoder, but fortunately I have the one from GP60M #130 which is now for sale. I'm intending to use it and the GP35 together, but I'll keep it available to help my GP60's if need be.

Custom-painted/decaled Kato GP35 acquired from a past club member's collection. LED's and non-sound decoder installed. Nice, smooth runner. F7B behind it is a dummy I got from eBay.

I also got a UP SD90/43MAC and AC4400CW, both Katos, from another member's collection. I sold my Walther's ES44AH since I have the better Kato's. For some reason I really dig the big SD90, and I wanted more Armour Yellow so I wasn't always running Heritage paint. Kind of takes the fun out of it!

Last but not least I bought another steam loco from the same collection as the Kato UP's. This Spectrum DMIR 2-10-2 needed a little bit of fixing, but I test ran her Tuesday night and she performed very well on our rough branch line.


Always Improvising
Latest addition to my fleet. ScaleTrains Rivet Counter SD40-2, MILW #156 Bicentennial.

I will admit mine is a little rough around the edges. The MU ports need to be fixed so they are straight, same with the rear handrail stanchions, and the engineer side air reservoir fell off.

Am I mad? No, cuz I can fix this stuff myself. I'm actually very impressed with what's under the hood. If you don't have a ScaleTrains engine, they keep everything separate from the shell, like Kato or Walthers do. All the lighting is self-contained on the frame and is transmitted to the lenses via fiber-optic stuff, excluding the stratolite which has an electrical connector which touches the decoder board when the shell is installed. They also make it very easy to add sound later if you did not buy a sound-equipped unit. The only hangup here is that It's only made easy, apparently, if you install an ESU sustem. The factory light board, and the contained accessory lighting, will not be happy with a Digitrax, NCE or other 21-pin decoder from my understanding.

The stock Scaletrains couplers were too low on my Kadee coupler gauge, but once I changed over to Kadee #148's the coupler height was perfectly fine.






Well-Known Member
Staff member
The only hangup here is that It's only made easy, apparently, if you install an ESU sustem. The factory light board, and the contained accessory lighting, will not be happy with a Digitrax, NCE or other 21-pin decoder from my understanding.
So long as you know this before buying then it's OK, but you also need to know that the same applies to the Loksound Select boards as well(which from what I believe are now discontinued anyway). Only the V4 or the latest 5 can access all of the functions the motherboard has available. It does have a big current keeper built in, the capacitors are buried into the chassis beneath it. The GE Gevo Tier4 I got had poorly fitted items too and one of the sanding lines disappeared before I even got it on the track. If it's like the Gevo, the sugar cube speakers mount in a rectangular hole in the top part of the chassis, above the rear truck (has to be split along a horizontal joint to get to it and there is a plastic enclosure within for them).

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