The Trainset

Like many model railroaders, I have items in boxes I do not use. Some I purchased for future use, some I purchased without any clear plan on their use. Some point in the past, P-B-L announced that they would be releasing passenger cars, including a Chili Line sets. Being a huge fan of mixed trains and knowing of the Chili Line, I took the plunge and ordered one. As a lifetime Rio Grande Southern fan, I really didn’t know much about the DRGW and its branch from Antonito, Colorado to Santa Fe, New Mexico besides its name, the Chili Line.  I also knew that the motive power was primarily T-12s in the early days and K-28s in the later days of the branch.

Below are two files photos of the trainset when I first worked on C modules. More photographs to follow as the models get unpacked.

Shallow C-Chili Line Sn3

An Sn3 Chili Line train in the 12 inch “C”

Sn3 Chili Line-Shllow C from end

Sn3 in a shallow space

Posted in Chili Line, Mixed Trains, San Pedro de Chamita, Sn3 | 1 Comment

A New Direction, a New Start

As an armchair modeler over the past year plus I did on occasion read blogs and posts about the current state of model railroading affairs. The ready to run/ operate trend, the large home model railroads, and a few voices lamenting the lack of scratch building and building models from plans. I too would like to add to the few who would like to see a swing to smaller layouts with kitbuilt or scratchbuilt models. I’m certain though that time, or actually the lack of time influences many to buy RTO/RTR items.

After much thought I decided to go a new direction in my modeling that will lead me back to Beckleysville at some point in the future. An explanation is required, so let me wander for a brief moment. Besides model trains, there are other pursuits that I enjoy, one of which is woodworking. Now a days one can buy many tools that make it very easy to construct furniture and other woodworking projects. However, some time ago I decided to move to using hand tools ( planes, handsaws, chisels, etc) and learn how these tools were used by craftsman to make so many things from wood. So I purchased an interesting book, The New Tradition Woodworker: From Tool set to Skill set to Mind set. It is like an apprenticeship in a book. One starts by building tools (i.e. a wooden straightedge and square for starters) needed to make future projects. In the process skills are learned and built upon through a progression of projects, just as if you were an apprentice.

My new project starts with a train set. I could not go any simpler than the trainset. Now a word of warning, this is not a trainset one purchases at the local hobby store or online. It is one assembled from the boxes of RTR/RTO equipment that I have collected over time and have not used. I am sure everyone has some in their own home. I have not finished unpacking all the boxes at the moment but I will so as to take photos of my trainset. It is a complete Sn3 set which does not include sectional track or a “transformer”.

Why not continue Beckleysville? The simple reason is that I did not have any RTR/RTO equipment. In reality Beckleysville is, in an Sn3 version, a kit and scratchbuilders delight requiring more time than I have at the moment to spare. I also needed a project that allowed me to start model railroading as a novice and build on skills. So why not start with a trainset and go from there.

A New Direction, a New Start©

By Herbert Mathews, August 2018

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Return to Beckleysville II

Continue reading

Posted in Beckleysville, Northern Maryland, On30 | 4 Comments

Back Home

Good Evening everyone,

just a brief note to update the blog. Unfortunately, we were unable to sell our house in Maryland. So after 15 months of my wife and kids in Maryland and me driving home every other weekend we decided to end our relocation plan….for now.

So after spending much time armchair modeling and doing some model building it is time to get back to active modeling and writing.

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Is he still out there??

Yes, the silence has been for longer than I would wish. Stay tuned for posts soon though.

Here is to a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to Everyone

For your entertainment narrow gauge from around the world and across the centuries

The EFOM today-as a tourist railroad.
Picture pulled from Internet but I do not remember the site


EBT’s #15 in Orbisonia

A few of the “Bordes Altos” car in service.

The IRCA-Want the brakeman’s job?
photo by John West

C&S Passenger Train at the Leadville Depot
from the Denver Public Library Digital Collection

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Been a while

It has been quite some time since my last post, and a lot has happened since I started my caboose/combine project.


We are moving! Yes, that’s right. Next Monday I am driving to Jefferson City in eastern Tennessee to start a new job. Everyone else is staying here until the house sells. So on one of my back and forth trips, I’ll take my tools and the combine south to start working on it again.

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Bashing a Bachmann Combine: First steps

With the holidays over and ice falling today, I thought I would get back to some modeling. Still sitting on my desk is combine #26 awaiting conversion to its final combine caboose configuration.

The first step was to determine where to locate the cupola in conjunction with the floor and roof. My initial thought was towards the end of the passenger section giving it the traditional look.  I made a mock up of one end of the cupola and placed it on the roof.

Cupola at the end

Cupola at the end

Cupola at end side view

Cupola at end side view

I did not like that location, and I doubt the real railroad would stick the cupola there either. So I moved it closer to the car center similar to DRGW #212.

Cupola in center

Cupola in center

I didn’t want to have the cupola just sit over the roof because I wanted viewers to be able to see the inside of the cupola. So I measured and marked the masking tape then proceeded with sawing out the roof section. I first scored the mark lines with an X-Acto knife then used my Micro-Mark saw to remove the clerestory section. The remaining edge of the roof I removed with rail nippers.

Halfway cut

Halfway cut


Tools used to remove roof section.

Tools used to remove roof section.

Next time, building the cupola

Next time, building the cupola

Bashing a Bachmann Combine: First steps©

By H Mathews, January 2017

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Northern Maryland Combine #26

By Spring 1914, Northern Maryland combine #26 has reached its 40th year of service. The combine was one of two bought in 1874 when passenger service was expanded. For the next 26 years, it was used almost regularly in  mainline passenger service. By 1894 though, the railroad decided to purchase two 40 foot combines to replace the two 30 foot combines.

The two combines went to the shop for a major rebuild into baggage-express cabooses. Both had their passengers compartments extensively rebuilt to include a cupola, an office area for the conductor and a water cooler and small sink for the crew. Combine #26 spent most of its remaining years on the Beckleysville mixed train.

To build 26, I decided to start with the Bachmann combine and create the car I wanted.  The narrow gauge inspiration for the car is DRGW #212 as the Pagosa Combine, but I have found a standard gauge example on the McCloud RR. One could also point to the Sandy River’s caboose’s, but I had DRGW’s 212 in mind.

Northern Maryland Combine #26©

By H. Mathews, December 2016

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Return to Beckleysville

Hello everyone,

II have completed most of my garage rebuild. I still have some electrical work to rewire, insulation to install, and of course the Sheetrock. I plan on working on some of this on the upcoming weekend. On the outside the big project is to install a new exterior door and reinstall the vinyl siding. The bad news is I discovered some damage further down the wall as I removed vinyl siding. So, I decided to wait for Spring before doing any more work on the outside. I’m hoping for a nice somewhat warmer day with wind to install the exterior door.

So with Winter almost upon us, it is time to return to the “Beckleysville” project. First up is to finish cutting plywood to complete the remaining modules. This is mostly an outside project I hope to finish this weekend, as long as the weather cooperates and we have no rain or excessive wind. Stay tuned for future posts!

Return to Beckleysville©

H. Mathews, November 2016


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Still working in the garage

Just a brief update-still working on my garage. One wall, really just a three foot section, has been stripped and new treated wood put it. I plan on making a slurry with borax and hot water to coat the existing siding on the inside. I discovered as I removed the vinyl siding that quite a bit of the original OSB siding has been attacked by the termites, so more vinyl has to come off to find where the damage ends.

A borax “slurry” is said to be termitecidal. I will find a definitive reference and post that with some pictures. On my longer wall over half of the new concrete wall has been poured. I plan on replacing the existing damaged wood with new treated material before I continue towards the corner.

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