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  


I respond to all inquires about My Model Railroad.

Thanks for taking the time to visit my Blog!

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.

October 9, 2019 New Motors for a Rivarossi Cab Forward

I have 12 Rivarossi SP Cab Forwards, 4 Rivarossi SP AC-9s (kitbashed Cab Forwards) and 6 Y6Bs.  I kitbashed two into AC-3 Cab Forwards two MC-1 and two are still Y6Bs.

Of my 22 Rivarossi articulateds I bought one Cab Forward new in the box and one was a gift from a RR Buddy, 20 were clunkers bought at either the Bakersfield yearly Train Show or off eBay.

The Rivarossi articulateds can be restored to fine running locomotives.  When re-motoring them with rare Earth magnet can motors they will except up to 10 additional ounces of weight without heating the motor.  The combination of new motors and added weight they become super pullers at 5 to 7 ounces of drawbar.  Out of the box their drawbar spec was 2.8 ounces.

Before my modifications an out of the box Cab Forward would have a hard time pulling a half dozen empty flat cars up my 3% grades without wheel slip.  After my mods they will easily pull as many cars as I could put behind them with 6 to 8 ounces of drawbar.

As probably most of you with Rivarossi articulated locomotive experience know they have a slight to moderate wobble when running.  I have determined that the wobble is caused by the Rivarossi driveline.  Driving two gear boxes with one motor and a driveline between them the frame tends to wobble.  By installing two motors, one for each gearbox the wobble isn’t there.  The two motor Rivarossi also has more traction even without adding weight, the drawbar with two motors is 3.4 ounces.  I tried to determine if the second motor added some weight but found out that a dual motor frame weighs slightly less than the original Rivarossi frame.

The original Rivarossi could and did draw close to one amp at full throttle.  A dual Canon EN22 or Mabuchi SF-266 motored frame draws less than 500ma with a dozen cars behind them and that only increases to 620ma pulling my 3% grades.   

As most of you out there know the Canon EN22 motor is getting very hard to find since the passing of Eldon Shirley, AKA Motorman.

The SF-266SA is a bit smaller then the Canon EN22, the white plastic on the rear of the motor can be removed decreasing the length by 3.5mm.  As delivered the motor power contacts are removable, they come in a separate envelope.  By removing the white plastic piece there are a pair of brass lugs to solder the wires to. 
A fellow on the Model Railroad Forum put me onto the Mabuchi SF-266SA motor and after putting a pair through some vigorous testing it came out very close to equal to the Canon EN22.

I removed the two Canon EN22 motors from my Rivarossi Cab Forward 4126 and Installed two Mabuchi SF-266SA motors and it matches the pair of Canon EN22s in my AC-9 3807 in speed and power.  My AC-9 3807 is a kitbashed AC-10 with a pair of Canon EN22 motors.  Both locomotives have 10 ounces of added weight and the drawbar is 5.8 ounces on both.

I didn't remove the white plastic piece on these two.

The bottom line is the Mabuchi SF-266SA looks like a very good motor for remotoring HO locomotives.  I initially bought 2 of the SF-266SA motors off eBay for $1.92 each and $2.50 S&H.  When I found out how well they work I ordered 10 more.  The total of 10 motors with S&H was $21.77.  The first two arrived from China 11 days after I placed the order.

As of October 2, 2019 there seems to be an abundance of them available but I thought the Canon EN22 were in abundance too.  I bought one Canon EN22 initially to test it for $1.19 State Side.  It was suburb so I ordered 20 more, a couple of days later I placed a second order for 20 more, I received 11 because they were sold out.

I bought a few from Motorman over the years but not at that price.

Update Signal System September 30, 2019

I don't do well when it comes down to updating my blog when I get into working on new projects.

I have started a new Projects post on my Arduino MEGA signaling project.  I ended up using the Arduino FC-51 Obstacle Avoidance Modules for track obstacle detection.

I spent about six months trying to find a good looking for 3mm bicolor LEDs for my signal heads without any success.  I finally found a perfect three color SMT LED, the SMLT4-RGY by Bivar.


The SMTL4 doesn't have a lens but it is very easy to make a 3mm lens, check out my in progress Project Post.

My Upgrade Signaling Project Post.


January 21, 2019 Arduino NANO Tower Beacon Flasher

I have finally come up with a flashing tower beacon driver that looks very realistic.  I'm using an Arduino NANO with a NPN Darlington MPSA13 transistor to drive a 2mm 12 volt Grain of Wheat bulb.  The bulb draws 70ma at 12 volts and as normal I'm running the bulb at about 70% for max realism and longer bulb life.  The MPSA13 has 500ma sinking capacity so it will easily handle the bulb current.

The MPSA13 drops the voltage by .7 volts so I'm actually operating the NANO at 9¼ volts to achieve the 8½ volts to the bulb.

I couldn't find any premade NANO expansion boards so I cut up some 18 x 24 hole perfboards.  I can get three NANO expansion boards from one perfboard.

This is a drawing of the Mel NANO expansion board.

Here is a 30 second video of the flashing beacon with my Arduino NANO test socket.  I prewired a Mel test socket with seven 12 volt Grain of Wheat bulbs.  I don't plan on using more than 7 high current outputs from a NANO.

Here it is flashing the tower beacon.

The NANO Sketch (Program) is below, a simple copy & Paste to the Arduino IDE should work OK.



 This example shows how to fade an LED on pin 3
 using the analogWrite() function.

 This example code is in the public domain.

 More info: http://www.ardumotive.com/how-to-fade-an-led-en.html

int led = 3;           // the pin that the LED is attached to
int brightness = 0;    // how bright the LED is
int fadeAmount = 5;    // how many points to fade the LED by

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup()  {
  // declare pin 3 to be an output:
  pinMode(led, OUTPUT);

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop()  {
  // set the brightness of pin 3:
  analogWrite(led, brightness);   

  // change the brightness for next time through the loop:
  brightness = brightness + fadeAmount;

  // reverse the direction of the fading at the ends of the fade:
  if (brightness == 0 || brightness == 255) {
    fadeAmount = -fadeAmount ;
  // wait for 30 milliseconds to see the dimming effect   


January 16. 2019 Arduino Multasking

It took me quite awhile to come up with an Arduino Sketch that would flash multiple bulbs for my layout.  My goal was to flash my emergency vehicle revolving beacons on my layout so that they are not in sync, randomly flashing but all at the same rate of about 60 flashes per minute.  I finally conquered the Arduino multitasking by using millis instead of delay.

The Arduino is a one at a time processor, when it sees a delay all functions stop for the delay period.  The answer is to use milliseconds for delays, that way the program doesn't stop running essentially multitasking.

The video below is my Arduino test UNO with a Mel test expansion module that has three TD62304AP seven channel high current drivers so that the 20 Arduino low current outputs can drive 12 volt Grain of Wheat bulbs.

The expansion module has standard Arduino male connectors and I made a matching female plug with 20 GOW bulbs for easy testing the Arduino outputs.

Each bulb flashes at about 60 times per minute totally out of sync.

The Arduino Sketch (Program) is configured for a Nano so I used D3 to D9 for the outputs.  I'm going to be using a Nano to drive my emergency vehicle lighting.

This is a Nano with the Mel Expansion Module and the seven channel TD62304AP driver IC.

As normal I went with my own way of adding the Arduino connectors to the boards.  The UNOs use the Arduino female connector on the board and the Arduino way is to mount the male connector on the Nano.  I went with the female to match the UNOs.

I cleaned up my sketch, it should copy and paste to the Arduino IDE.  The sketch will drive LEDs as is.  I'll post my drawing of the high current TD62304AP wiring later for those that need from 6 to 24 volts at up to 500ma per output.

// This is a working seven channel nonsynchronous emergency flasher
// These variables store the flash pattern
// and the current state of the LED

int ledPin1 =  3;      // the number of the LED pin
int ledState1 = LOW;             // ledState used to set the LED
unsigned long previousMillis1 = 0;        // will store last time LED was updated
long OnTime1 = 300;           // milliseconds of on-time
long OffTime1 = 400;          // milliseconds of off-time

int ledPin2 =  4;      // the number of the LED pin
int ledState2 = LOW;             // ledState used to set the LED
unsigned long previousMillis2 = 0;        // will store last time LED was updated
long OnTime2 = 310;           // milliseconds of on-time
long OffTime2 = 410;          // milliseconds of off-time

int ledPin3 =  5;      // the number of the LED pin
int ledState3 = LOW;             // ledState used to set the LED
unsigned long previousMillis3 = 0;        // will store last time LED was updated
long OnTime3 = 315;           // milliseconds of on-time
long OffTime3 = 380;          // milliseconds of off-time

int ledPin4 =  6;      // the number of the LED pin
int ledState4 = LOW;             // ledState used to set the LED
unsigned long previousMillis4 = 0;        // will store last time LED was updated
long OnTime4 = 335;           // milliseconds of on-time
long OffTime4 = 390;          // milliseconds of off-time

int ledPin5 =  7;      // the number of the LED pin
int ledState5 = LOW;             // ledState used to set the LED
unsigned long previousMillis5 = 0;        // will store last time LED was updated
long OnTime5 = 305;           // milliseconds of on-time
long OffTime5 = 395;          // milliseconds of off-time

int ledPin6 =  8;      // the number of the LED pin
int ledState6 = LOW;             // ledState used to set the LED
unsigned long previousMillis6 = 0;        // will store last time LED was updated
long OnTime6 = 325;           // milliseconds of on-time
long OffTime6 = 405;          // milliseconds of off-time

int ledPin7 =  9;      // the number of the LED pin
int ledState7 = LOW;             // ledState used to set the LED
unsigned long previousMillis7 = 0;        // will store last time LED was updated
long OnTime7 = 325;           // milliseconds of on-time
long OffTime7 = 405;          // milliseconds of off-time

void setup()
  // set the digital pin as output:
  pinMode(ledPin1, OUTPUT);     
  pinMode(ledPin2, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(ledPin3, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(ledPin4, OUTPUT);     
  pinMode(ledPin5, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(ledPin6, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(ledPin7, OUTPUT);

void loop()
  // check to see if it's time to change the state of the LED
  unsigned long currentMillis = millis();

  if((ledState1 == HIGH) && (currentMillis - previousMillis1 >= OnTime1))
    ledState1 = LOW;  // Turn it off
    previousMillis1 = currentMillis;  // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin1, ledState1);  // Update the actual LED
  else if ((ledState1 == LOW) && (currentMillis - previousMillis1 >= OffTime1))
    ledState1 = HIGH;  // turn it on
    previousMillis1 = currentMillis;   // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin1, ledState1);    // Update the actual LED
    if((ledState2 == HIGH) && (currentMillis - previousMillis2 >= OnTime2))
    ledState2 = LOW;  // Turn it off
    previousMillis2 = currentMillis;  // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin2, ledState2);  // Update the actual LED
  else if ((ledState2 == LOW) && (currentMillis - previousMillis2 >= OffTime2))
    ledState2 = HIGH;  // turn it on
    previousMillis2 = currentMillis;   // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin2, ledState2);   // Update the actual LED
    if((ledState3 == HIGH) && (currentMillis - previousMillis3 >= OnTime3))
    ledState3 = LOW;  // Turn it off
    previousMillis3 = currentMillis;  // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin3, ledState3);  // Update the actual LED
  else if ((ledState3 == LOW) && (currentMillis - previousMillis3 >= OffTime3))
    ledState3 = HIGH;  // turn it on
    previousMillis3 = currentMillis;   // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin3, ledState3);   // Update the actual LED
   if((ledState4 == HIGH) && (currentMillis - previousMillis4 >= OnTime4))
    ledState4 = LOW;  // Turn it off
    previousMillis4 = currentMillis;  // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin4, ledState4);  // Update the actual LED
  else if ((ledState4 == LOW) && (currentMillis - previousMillis4 >= OffTime4))
    ledState4 = HIGH;  // turn it on
    previousMillis4 = currentMillis;   // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin4, ledState4);   // Update the actual LED
    if((ledState5 == HIGH) && (currentMillis - previousMillis5 >= OnTime5))
    ledState5 = LOW;  // Turn it off
    previousMillis5 = currentMillis;  // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin5, ledState5);  // Update the actual LED
  else if ((ledState5 == LOW) && (currentMillis - previousMillis5 >= OffTime5))
  {    ledState5 = HIGH;  // turn it on
    previousMillis5 = currentMillis;   // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin5, ledState5);   // Update the actual LED
  if((ledState6 == HIGH) && (currentMillis - previousMillis6 >= OnTime6))
    ledState6 = LOW;  // Turn it off
    previousMillis6 = currentMillis;  // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin6, ledState6);  // Update the actual LED
  else if ((ledState6 == LOW) && (currentMillis - previousMillis6 >= OffTime6))
  {    ledState6 = HIGH;  // turn it on
    previousMillis6 = currentMillis;   // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin6, ledState6);   // Update the actual LED
  if((ledState7 == HIGH) && (currentMillis - previousMillis7 >= OnTime7))
    ledState7 = LOW;  // Turn it off
    previousMillis7 = currentMillis;  // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin7, ledState7);  // Update the actual LED
  else if ((ledState7 == LOW) && (currentMillis - previousMillis7 >= OffTime7))
  {    ledState7 = HIGH;  // turn it on
    previousMillis7 = currentMillis;   // Remember the time
    digitalWrite(ledPin7, ledState7);   // Update the actual LED




January 6, 2019 Scratch Built Sears Catalog Home

I have built a scratch built home for all of our children for my layout including one for my wife and I.  This house is Larry's house, he is a Public Works Director in New Mexico.  Before he became a PWD he was the local SP Yard Superintendent on my layout.  Each one of our children have a position on my layout as well as a home.  My wife and I are retired and live in a bungalow at the end of Red Canyon Road.
This is a delayed posting.  I made an HO scale scratch build from the plans on Antique Home Style web page back in 2012 for Larry.

I did a CAD drawing and reduced it to HO 1:87 scale then made paper templates to cut the pieces for the walls and roof.

This is my drawing of the floor plan glued to a HO scale size piece of 3/16" sheet Basswood.

The following pictures show the construction of the house back in 2012, I will only add text to the pictures that need it.

I make my own corner post, it's easier than ordering them.

Bottom view of the first floor

Here the brick foundation has been painted.


The finished house and garage sitting in place on it's module.


When I rewired the house and garage for the Arduino Random Lighting Controller I went with ⅛" X ⅜" Neodymium magnets to hold them in place on the module.  They really snap into place.

I recessed the garage magnets.

The house has 16 lights and the garage has 4.  All 20 lights come on and go off randomly.  The Random Light Controller makes it look lived in.

Removing the roof to revamp the lighting wasn't an easy task!  As expected I dinged several walls but I was able to repair the damage where it isn't noticeable.

The Random Lighting Controllers are well worth the time and cost for the great lighting effect.