I can't believe that I actually forgot to blog about this! Chalk it up to my excitement at playing with my new toy and other things that have been going on. On a visit to Trains & Things in Ewing/Trenton, I was once again enchanted by the Standard Gauge Blue Comet set from the new Lionel Corporation that Tony had on the shelf. It's a modern reproduction of a set from the original Lionel that came out in the early 1930s and was a representation of Jersey Central's famous Blue Comet which ran from the Jersey Central terminal in Jersey City (now Liberty State Park) to Atlantic City. On this visit, it called out to me too loudly and wound up coming home with me! Unlike the original set from the 1930s which had three cars, this set has five cars — and additional coach as well as a newly-designed baggage car. As with the prototype, all of the cars are named for comets. The train is pulled by an absolutely exquisite two-tone blue 400E steam locomotive, fully equipped with all the modern conveniences such as PS2, sound, smoke, etc. Now, I had already bought a 400E, in gunmetal grey, to pull my Standard Gauge freight cars, but as the saying goes, you can never have too many 400E's. The cars are also absolutely exquisite and sport the same detailed interiors as the originals, down to the sinks and lavatories in the rest rooms! In the following photos (click to enlarge), you can see the locomotive, tender, the five cars, and the detailed interior.
The 400E Steam Locomotive
Baggage Car "Olbers"
Coach Car "Tuttle"
Coach Car "Faye"
Coach Car "Westphal"
Observation Car "Tempel"
The detailed interior, with opening doors, seating, and rest rooms
Rest room detail, showing the sinks and lavatory
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This video is to showcase the twelve new 40' woodsided refrigerator cars (reefers) that AtlasO just brought out in July 2011. To pull this short freight train, I've assigned the Pennsy L1s Mikado (2-8-2) steamer, one of their workhorse freight locomotives during the steam era. Built between 1914 and 1919, the Pennsylvania Railroad's fleet of L1s Mikados hauled freight through two world wars and served until the end of steam in 1957. All told, there were 574 of them built. The reefers are the twentieth regular issue of these cars by AtlasO since they first started bringing them out in 2000. A few special runs (custom made for various dealers) are also included. For the first time, the regular run contains both regular reefers as well as models of the rebuilt reefers (distinguishable by the roof deck). I think you'll agree that the designs this time around are quite nice.
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Atlas O has released a dozen more new 40' woodsided refrigerator cars. Unlike past runs, these are a mix of standard reefers and rebuilt reefers and are the twentieth regular release of these cars. There are also a few custom cars included in the dozen. Photos appear on the Atlas Reefers page of my web site, which also serves as a photo catalog of all of the woodsided reefer cars (both 40' and 36') that Atlas has issued over the years. Here are a few photos to whet your appetite! (click to enlarge) 🙂
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Here's the last of my older Protosound 1 O-Gauge diesel locomotives that I'm converting to Protosound 2 (this makes a total of six). This is the Seaboard Orange Blossom Special set which consists of EMD E8s in an A-B-A configuration with six matching passenger cars in Seaboard's very attractive "citrus" paint scheme. The locomotives came out in 1998 with the original Protosound system, and I've now converted the set to PS2 by making each A-unit an independent locomotive with full control and sound electronics (in the original set, only the leading A-unit could run by itself; now, both A-units can run independently). In this True HD 1080p video, you can see them running as a DCS lash-up hauling their passenger trains. The prototype began running in 1925 from NYC to Miami and last ran in 1953. The Pennsy handled the train from NYC to Washington, where it was taken over by the RF&P to Richmond, where it was handed off to the Seaboard for the stretch from Richmond to Miami via Raleigh, Columbia, Savannah, and Jacksonville. If you compare this to the video of the set as-issued (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrrKa8-qBqM) you'll note that there's now twice the sound, lots more smoke, no more tethers between locomotive units, and you'll have to take my word for it that it's a lot more fun to play with! 🙂
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Here's the fourth of my older Protosound 1 diesel locomotives that I've converted to Protosound 2. It's the Premier model of the EMD BL2 which came out in 1996. The BL stands for "Branch Line" as it was intended for use on light branch lines. As such, I have it hauling a short freight train as it would have in real life. You can compare it to how it operated pre-conversion as I have a video of it as-issued already posted (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwNJ7eV9w9A). As you'll see in this True HD 1080p video, after conversion the low-speed performance is much better, the sounds are richer and fuller, and it has the full panoply of remote control features, such as remote uncoupling. All in all, lots more fun to play with!
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This is the third of my older Protosound 1 diesel locomotives that I've converted to Protosound 2. It's the GE AC4400CW (the AC version of the Dash-9) which came out in 1998. I've previously shown it in its original PS1 incarnation — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEVdt0hx6Ow — so you can compare what the upgrade has done. I now have full remote control with DCS, the slow speed operation is excellent, smoke output is voluminous, and as you can see, the ditch lights now flash when the horn blows. The sounds are also much richer and fuller. All in all, it's a lot more fun to play with! 🙂 In this True HD 1080p video, I show it hauling a pure intermodal freight train with TOFC cars and husky stacks, much as I see at the local railroad crossings.
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Here's another diesel conversion from PS1 to PS2. I've previously shown this locomotive, the EMD GP20, in operation with its as-delivered Protosound 1 (PS1) electronics (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pm6K0MGU3NM). I've converted it to Protosound 2 (PS2) and by comparing this True HD 1080p video with the previous one, you can see many of the changes, not the least of which is that I'm now running it with the DCS remote control (well, you can't see that but you can take my word for it). There's much better control of the speed, better sound, full control of the directional lighting, etc. All in all, it's now a lot more fun to run! In this video, it's hauling an intermodal train, as you might have seen it doing on main lines all across the country.
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I've previously shown this locomotive, the EMD SD90MAC, in operation with its as-delivered Protosound 1 (PS1) electronics (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EO9mteFDR4). I've just converted it to Protosound 2 (PS2) and thought that I'd reshoot the video so that you can compare the operation between the two different systems. First off, of course, it's now under full remote control via DCS. You'll note that I can run it at much lower speeds now thanks to the pS2 scale speed feature. It now also has flashing ditch lights and fully controllable directional lighting. The sound is much better and it also smokes much better. I also have, as you can see in the final segment of this True HD 1080p video, the ability to uncouple the locomotive from the train via the remote control. It's pulling very much the same train as before, mostly intermodal with a few large modern freight cars.
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My PS2 diesel upgrade kits arrived and, as I said I would in the descriptions of the videos of the PS1 diesel locomotives, I've begun upgrading them to PS2. The first one was the EMD GP-20 which, having come out in 1996, was fairly bare bones with just a headlight, cab light, and backup light — no smoke unit, no other lighting — which made the upgrade pretty straightforward. It's now done and working fine, and as soon as I have the basement cleaned up (I've had some work done on the house and the basement is a mess) I'll shoot a video of it in action so that the PS1 version and the PS2 version can be compared. I've also completed the upgrade of the Seaboard E8 master A-unit. The B-unit was just a dummy and stays that way. The slave A-unit is waiting on some parts as it's becoming a second full PS2 locomotive and the two A-units will run together (with the dummy B-unit) in a DCS lashup. As both A-units will now be independent locomotives having speakers and operating front and rear couplers, it should be interesting. A video of those will follow.