Time for me to show off!

ModelRailroadForums.com is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


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.
Last edited:


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.


Last edited:


Curse You, Red Baron!
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).


Always Improvising
It's been one hell of a journey since October.. I've sold off all but one of my BNSF locos and exchanged them for BN SD40-2's in keeping with my 1970's theme. Thanks to help from friends in North Metro I've also acquired some more Milwaukee power, including a legendary Little Joe! I'm also electing to sell off my Northstar commuter set in exchange for a 1976 Amtrak Arrowhead consist.

BN #6806 and #6822 are presently the backbone of my 1970's BN roster. I also have the bicentennial SD40-2, #1876, to accompany them. As a native Minnesotan I was a BN guy before I found Milwaukee so I had to give into some Cascade Green. These, along with #1876, are Athearn RTRs I was able to get cheaply.


And of course my Little Joe! This is an MTH model that I found buried in the bargain section of my nearest store. The garbage MTH operating couplers are long gone and replaced with Kadee's. The pantographs are supposed to raise and lower on their own but one seems to be broken. No matter to me, honestly. I'm really waiting to use this as a helper on the Hennepin Overland layout where we have modeled catenary on the mountain line. Based on my test run with this loco, I may need to weigh down the pilot trucks a bit.


One of my North Metro friends has been liquidating a lot of his collection. He offered me two Walthers SW1 models, along with a BLI 2-8-2 and caboose for a price that I just couldn't turn down.


These SW1's will soon be joined by a third, and so begins my models of the Smoky Mountain Donkeys from south-east Minnesota. MILW's line out there had some weight restrictions, and so MILW opted to lashup five SW1's for the area rather than upgrade the line.


J. Bjorklund, 1977. Isinours, MN.

And last, but not least, the BLI Mikado. Someone in the North Metro club had bought this as a dead loco. The blown-out Paragon decoder was replaced with an ESU Loksound unit equipped with superior speakers and a very nice keep-alive. The loco is a very smooth runner, although noisy, but has excellent sound quality. This particular loco is MILW's L3 USRA-type Heavy Mikado, and the model is pretty close to accurate. I have a few steam-era freight cars to hitch up behind both 8690 and my two DM&IR 2-10-2's so I can run some highly demanded steam power for open houses.


I hope my next photos will show some of my first attempts at weathering. I've begun spraying my freight cars with dullcote in preparation for powder weathering.
Last edited:


Always Improvising
These times, they are a changin'.

Since my last share, I've sold and or traded off all but two of my post-1995 locomotives. My D&RGW heritage diesel was traded for two Proto-1K C-liner locos and a batch of freight cars. The cars included both 1970's appropriate and 1940 appropriate rolling stock, so I can now tie up a bunch of NP reefers behind my MILW 2-8-2 and make up my own train #626 from St. Paul to Duluth.


I also traded my "Great Pumkpin" BNSF diesel for an N&W Y3 which I believe I will sell off after a while. THis is the first articulated steamer I've ever had so I'm just kind of poking around playing with it.


I also got a BN Bicentennial SD40-2 around 4th of July time. Forgot to show that! A friend also sold me one of his DM&IR SD9's, too. I had learned of MILW leasing some of these units for a few years of the '70's, so I had to land it.


I have also been working on how to use my Little Joe as a mountain line helper like the real deal. I've so far been able to do it successfully, but still need a little practice. The Joe does really well on the code 100 Hennepin Overland layout.


I have some custom modeling and painting projects going on in the background at a snail's pace. I've been kept very busy with real trains when not clubbing.

Last edited:


Grandson of ALCO Bldr
I've gotten a few more second-hand freight cars. I'm waiting on an Athearn 85' Flat (with two 40' Northern Pacific trailers) to show up and I have a UP Tri-Level autorack in the middle of construction. On top of that I've gotten another GP60M to run with my first and I have a new used MILW GP30 to run tandem with my SD40-2. I also got my E7's whipped into shape and today I had to throw out all of my Hiawatha cars behind the E's to see their fullest potential.

My Hiawatha train is still pretty short. I have seven of the Walthers cars, one Fox Valley coach and a single Athearn Blue Box RPO. I need to get a few more, ideally some of the signature cars such as a Tap Lounge or Diner. Definitely need two more 52-seat coaches.

View attachment 31869
View attachment 31870View attachment 31871View attachment 31872View attachment 31873View attachment 31874
Love the wood chip hoppers!

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)

ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.