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Welcome to My HO Model Railroad Blog
This Blog is about my HO Model Railroad Hobby and how I model the Southern Pacific from my memories of the mid 1950s era as a teenager. I wrote a short synopsis of my back ground that can be found by going to my About Me page.

My layout is set in the mid 1950s in the Southern New Mexico/West Texas area. I grew up in El Paso Texas during the end of the Steam Era and lived in Alamogordo, NM during the 1960s & 70s. My wife and I are both retired and now reside in Bakersfield California. We have lived on both ends of the Southern Pacific Cab Forward Southern Route.


I recently learned that my type of layout is referred to as a "Twice Around", the mainline is one long double loop up and over it's self.


This is a simple track layout drawing of my Model Railroad.


My layout is essentially a modification of John Allen's first Gorre and Daphetid layout, he was and still is my model railroading mentor.


You can click on the colored text to follow the links.


I moved the About Me & My Layout articles to their own page because they seldom change.
Updated December 5, 2014

To go to my current Locomotive Inventory click here.
Updated September 14, 2015

To go to my additional pages scroll down to the bottom of my Blog, there are links to navigate my blog as well as other model railroad interests.

            You can send inquires by email by clicking on the link below  

melsmodelrailroad@gmail.com


I respond to all inquires about My Model Railroad.

Thanks for taking the time to visit my Blog!
Mel





October 2, 2020 Woodland Scenics Aermotor Windmill

 I like seeing things move on my layout so I'm adding a Woodland Sciences Aermotor Windmill.  It came in kit form made of cast metal and while I normally don't like to bad mouth products this kit left me with a bitter taste.  All of the castings except the fan were badly bent out of the box.  It is definitely not a beginners kit.  I managed to clean up the bent pieces and used super glue to assemble the parts.  And I ended up overall with a pretty nice looking windmill.


The base is three layers of .03" Styrene sheet stock staggered in size to create uneven ground.  I used WS scenery flocking for the ground cover.

I used a small 12 volt 6000 RPM motor and robotic gears to turn the fan, the gear ratio is approximately is about 75:1.  With the voltage set to 10 volts the fan turns at about 100RPM and looks pretty realistic to me.

 




October 8, 2020 Mabuchi FK-280SA motor

I made a great find for a direct replacement motor for the Athearn Blue Box locomotives, the Mabuchi FK-280SA.

The actual motor number to look for is Mabuchi FK-280SA-14200  12300RPM Dual Shaft Motor


 

 

The motor has 2mm OD shafts and the Athearn flywheels have 3mm ID.  My first few attempts were to us K&S 3mm brass tubing as shown in the following pictures.

  

I us a short piece of 2mm rod to hold the brass sleeve until the glue sets up.

 

The K&S tubing is a tad small in the Athearn flywheel so carefully making sure the brass sleeve is fully covered with CA Gel or Super Glue Gel the thick glue will self fill the difference in diameter. 


The 2mm shaft is helped by the 2mm hole in the Athearn universal.


Later on with the help of Hornblower (Model Railroad Forum Member) I found out that Evergreen #224 Styrene tubing is a perfect snug fit for the motor to flywheel sleeve adapter, regular CA or Super Glue and you are done.

Below is one of my Athearn SD9s with a Mabuchi Motor installed.  To keep the wires from touching the flywheels I use a short section of Evergreen Rectangular Tubing #258 to house the wires above the motor using Amazing Goop to attaching it to the motor.

 

I use Micro Connector Pins to connect the wires to the Athearn trucks making the trucks easy removable without having to get out the soldering iron.  Red and Black #20 AWG Superflex wire, red to the right (engineer side) rail black to the left rail.  I always wire both sides of the trucks for better power connection, I don't depend on the truck to frame connection.

I don't intend to install a DCC decoder in my SDs, I always run my SDs in DC mode on my layout.  It would be very easy to install a decoder in any Athearn BB locomotive as the Mabuchi motors are fully insulated to the motor shell.

I use Amazing Goop to attach the motors to the Athearn Frames, a small .08" strip filler between the frame and motor gives perfect drive line alignment. 

 

x

May 5, 2020 My HO scale M38 Jeep

1

I was down a our local park with my great grand daughter when I stepped on something in the grass.  It was a tiny military jeep, M38.  It looked like I had been there for years.  Marked on the bottom was 1:87.  Needless to say it went in to my pocket.

When I got home I cleaned it up and the wheels were in perfect condition, the windshield was broken on one corner but other wise it was in very good shape.

It cleaned up very nicely as you can see.


I cut out the floor boards to make room for the passengers legs.


I cut a small piece of clear Styrene for the window glass.




I installed 1206 chip LEDs for headlights and taillight.

I painted it civilian metallic gray with tan seats and the traditional Red Jerry Can.

For a lost and found kids toy I ended up with a very nice jeep for my layout.

Apil 15,2020 Kenworth tractor & trailer Lighting


This is my first attempt at a complex LED lit vehicle.  1mm micro bulbs would have been much easier and faster.  I can't find a source for the 1mm 1½ volt micro bulbs so I'm stuck using LEDs.





I still have to paint the roof to cover up my errors then trim the marker fibers.






Even working on the bottom is a problem, the #36 Litz wire has a mind of its own.




The marker LEDs turned out pretty good but the taillights need work.





I went with a polarized micro connector between tractor and trailer (polarized because of the LEDs).

All the rest of my vehicles operate on 1.4 volts and use a Mel connector to the road for power, I decided to go with Arduino connectors on my LED lit vehicles to prevent having the ability to plug in a 1.4 volt vehicle into a 12 volt socket would be very bad.





I'll trim the marker fibers after I paint the roof.





When it's finished I'll update this post with a finished picture.

The LEDs are all installed, wired and working.

The 1206 LEDs were a bit large for the taillights so I ordered some 0603 LEDs, they are not easy to work with.



As this picture shows the tiny 0603 compared to a 1206, the 1206 is below Roosevelt's ear and the 0603 is near his nose.
 


March 15, 2020 1951 Rolls Royce

I'm one that really enjoys watching mysteries and one of my favorites is Nero Wolff.  He owns an Rolls Royce Phantom so I had to get one for my layout.  I used the car in the DVD videos to properly paint his car.



I mixed my own Acrylic paints to match the car.  Here I have drilled out the front grill assemble and glued in the three 1mm 1½ volt bulbs.
 
Next I built up a .03" diameter fiber driver using a fourth 1mm bulb for the taillights.



Checking the headlights to make sure they work
 

Here I have installed the lamp driver  and prewired the three headlights.



I have chopped up a couple of 1:87 figures and painted Nero and his right hand detective Archie.  I installed the two .03" contact brass rods and connected all four bulbs and it's ready for assembly.



The finished Phantom ready to be installed on one of the many vehicle spots that have the brass tubing contact.



This is a nice addition to my layout.  Next will be a 1938 Elery Queen Packard Coupe.

January 25, 2020 Mel's Magnetic Uncoupler

My original post November 2017 on my magnetic uncoupler disappeared from my Blog.

The Kadee between the rails uncoupling magnet works very good, almost too good so I fixed it.

I decided to make the magnet drop down below the track out of range of the coupler "hose" to prevent the influence of the magnet field.

I cut away the ties between the rails so that the magnet could move freely.



Next I built a box to hold the moving magnet.






So far so good

I cut out a .08" thick piece of Styrene sheet the exact size of the magnet and drilled a hole in the center for the moving support rod.  I sleeved the hole in the bottom of the box so that the rod would be able to move up and down with a precision movement.

 

As the rod is steel music wire and not easily soldered  I super glued a small ring of the brass tubing as the lift point of the moving magnet.


I attached a dual coil (latching) switch machine to the box to lift the magnet to the proper operating level.




I built a second Mel Uncoupler and both have worked flawlessly for three years.


 

Rivarossi Cab Forward Motor replacement and DCC Wiring Up Date November 5, 2019

I recently found a replacement for the Canon EN-22 series motor.  The Mabuchi SF-266SA motor is an excellent replacement for the EN-22.



The SF-266SA is readily available on eBay with very good pricing.

 The upper frame in the picture above is a Rivarossi Cab Forward kitbashed into an SP AC-9 with a Mel brass frame and a pair of Canon EN-22 motors.

The frame below the AC-9 is a Rivarossi Cab Forward that I removed the two Canon EN-22 motors and installed a pair of Mabuchi SF-266Sa motors.



The lower frame is a Rivarossi Cab Forward with a Philips 9904 motor using a standard Rivarossi frame.  The Philips 9904 is 9500 RPM so I geared it down to 6000 RPM with a pair of 3:2 gears, very powerful motor.



It's much easier to install the 8 pin NMRA connector with the Monkey Deck floor removed.

Notice the black wire, I added it from the driver assembly frame to the main frame to enhance conductivity.  It is 24AGW Flexible Silicone wire.

While replacing the EN-22 motors with the SF-266SA motors on the Cab Forward I also upgraded the number board lighting and marker lamps to LEDs.

This is a corrected drawing of the LED wiring for my DCC Ready Cab Forward.

The Number Boards are wired directly to track power through a DB107 Bridge Rectifier.  The number boards come on with the track power.  The Marker Lamps are controlled by a function switch on the DCC Controller.  The lighting will work on DC using a DCC Decoder Dummy Plug.