Time for me to show off!

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Always Improvising
Held a very informal New Year's party at North Metro club, which also included me moving in most of my collection. I took over Northtown yard for a few hours.



MILWAUKEE ASSEMBLE! This is the vast majority of my motive power, missing about seven. Three locos were lashed up to a grain train down in staging, and four more were still at home. Not bad for a year of collecting, eh? I'm nearing 40 MILW locos, and about 52 total now.

We also had a major shakeup in our club ops pool, which meant tons of holes needing cars, so I rushed as many of my cars to the club as were needed. I documented part of this in a recent YouTube video:



Always Improvising
Back for my "few months" check in. I've been a busy guy.

First off, I've begun something of an arms race within North Metro for making open car loads. Myself and our Ops manager are competing with eachother to see who can make the coolest and most practical loads for gondolas and flats. A few of mine are purchased, but I have been scratch-building or bashing many of my own. Most importantly, all the loads can be moved to other cars, allowing our ops pool to be diverse and varied. No loads are on the same car twice in a week, which is very good for our realism.

I got us two pair of these combine corn header sets. Both were new old-stock from Ertl and Life-Like. The Ertl ones come glued to a flatcar deck, but otherwise both sets come glued to a big crate between the headers. I separated them, sprayed them with a Model Master gloss red, then dullcoted them and mounted them to craft sticks with E-6000 glue and art tape. I'm very proud of how these turned out and I want to do two more pair in J.D. Green.

This large I-beam load was made with scrap Plastruct bridge beams we had laying around or riding in gondolas as ad-hoc loads. I cleaned them up, painted them, then mounted them. Looking much better this way.

Steel plate load made of Evergreen sheet styrene we had laying around. Easy to make.

This, I believe, is a Bachmann signal bridge kit I found in our scrapyard. I took it apart, cleaned it up, and turned it into this bundled load.

Steel beam loads on flats made form Evergreen styrene strip. These are another easy load to knock out several in a day. Also one of my coil loads. Three plastic Walther's coils, and one random pewter one we had.

This coil load I actually made from scratch following a project in an old Model Railroader. Mine aren't as neat as the ones in the article but they look the part. I had to brain out my own cribbing so they could be removeable. We have a couple of gondola rails for holding coil loads which I will use next time.

A very imaginative transformer load I made from an old electrical junction block I found in the trash at work, next to a piece of electrical conduit turned into a big ol' pipe load. The pipe is resting on craft stick cribbing.


Always Improvising
I'm also happy to say my collection has been refined and grown a little bit. I've sold off most of my forever projects and less-than-stellar locomotives. Also acquired a few new things, like these gorgeous SDP45's.
I also snapped up a very-loved Blue Box U33c, which I originally mistook for an Atlas. It runs well and looks pretty sweet, so I'd hate to sell it. Also goes well with my NP SD45 I traded for.

And because I keep forgetting which end of the Milwaukee I like, I got a pair of Proto-2000 SD45's at decent price! One of these has a Soundbug decoder, which I normally don't like. This one is actually pretty good and I'm not inclined to change it yet. See them in action with my "Ford Fast" style auto train.


I also acquired my first ever brass model, a Milwaukee Road 4-6-4 Baltic (Not a Hudson on the MILW!). Built in Japan, IIRC. I believe someone told me it's from the 1980's. Either way I'm happy with it. The drive is okay but clearly needs to be serviced by someone who knows how. I'm intending to reach out to a local expert for that, as well as a sound install. Paint work is something I can handle myself, since this thing already has paint on it.

And last, but not least, I got cracking on assembling an Arrowhead train. This little Amtrak shorty ran from Minneapolis to Superior, WI, and then later to Duluth. The service lasted about a decade and was eventually shut down. It would have been quite a scenic ride, back in the day. Every photo I find of it shows the consist had atleast one dome car, but usually both a Full- or Super-dome and a Vistadome. I opted to have two domes for interest. This train also doubles as a 1977 Amtrak Steam Special for my AFT #4449.
I've tailored my Arrowhead specifically for the North Metro club, as our layout is Minneapolis (Northtown yard) to Duluth. It's meant to be part of our Ops pool, and as a go-to easy train to run for our open houses.
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Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
You a hard man to keep up with the way you purchase, swap, and trade around!
All the equipment looks great - per Willie's comment, "The loads look great"!


Well-Known Member
I love some of the loads on your flat cars in the video!! Was one of them formerly a motorcycle fuel valve? That's great. :)


Always Improvising
You a hard man to keep up with the way you purchase, swap, and trade around!
It's hard to not. My goal is to have at least a pair of all the 1970's diesels MILW had. I could have gone without the brass but I love the MILW's 4-6-4's, the price was good and it already had paint. As far as the other things, like my SDP45's, a fellow North Metro member was selling those as a pair for $150/ea. Hard to pass up Genesis locos for that price, especially when one has sound. Big Sky Blue is such a beautiful paint scheme, and I have a budding early BN collection, so those were very hard to resist, and they look really cool at the head of a colorful '70's grainer.

Collecting this stuff is like a drug, made even worse when you have friends who sell it cheap, and they know who has the weakness for Milwaukee. I hate to admit, model railroading has been a hell of a lot more fun since I started representing the MILW as it was 50 years ago.

I love some of the loads on your flat cars in the video!! Was one of them formerly a motorcycle fuel valve? That's great. :)
I couldn't tell you, honestly. The loads in that video (Except for the metal plate/sheet load) are ones I did for North Metro club out of materials North Metro provided me. I think the ones you're referring to were some kind of valve or part of a pump, yes. I'm just glad to say my loads have been a landmark positive for us, as now we have dynamic loads that can be changed out and are not just random debris thrown into a gondola.
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Section Hand
Dakota: Great scenery and loads on the club's layout. I'm a MILW nut and have maybe 50 MILW locomotives.

I am old enough to remember the last days of steam on the MILW as well as the SOO and C&NW and saw lots of action living in and near Milwaukee. I grew up within walking distance of the former MILW, SOO, C&NW and some trackage rights for foreign roads. I'm still within 2 miles of of where I grew up and my home is less than a half mile away from the former MILW Bug Line, the line from northwest Milwaukee to Merton, Wisconsin.

Now I hear the CN and UP from my home and if lucky sometimes the CP.

Keep collecting locomotives.


Saxeville Junction.JPG

A unfinished scene on the CM&N the portal needs weathering and some vegatation behind the portal.


Always Improvising
Keep collecting locomotives.
Thanks for the kind words, Greg! Much appreciated, especially from someone who was able to see the MILW in action. (I'm just young enough to have missed it.)

Also glad to say I've kept true to my exchanging shenanigans since this last post. I've since acquired four more MILW locomotives from a fellow clubber, and a 12-car TOFC train fom another. I'm now sitting on five ScaleTrains SD40-2's. The other two acquisitions were an Intermountain F7A and an Atlas GP40. I also got a sweet little Thrall-built bay window caboose from Lines West Products. The owner, Todd, is a longtime Milwaukee fan who started his own little garage company with a 3d printer. He makes some quality parts that aren't available elsewhere, such as MILW's quirky 3M Thermal Generators.

I'm presently weeding out the parts of the TOFC which don't fit my era. Hope to have it rolling next month. Otherwise I've been a busy boy, making more carloads and lately acquiring passengers and crew to include in photography.

I'm very happy to say that my latest video for Hennepin Overland club let me shine a light on the MILW's western operations. The video can be seen here.

Despite all of my "clean" trains, I'm very proud of this one. I spent a week or more watching whatever videos I could find of MILW's trains out west, and about half of my freight car collection resembles those trains. Tack on my MTH Little Joe and a few older EMD's and I have a dead ringer for MILW's scheduled freights, #263 or #264.
Showing off the sheer size of train 263 compared to the layout it's on. This section is actually meant for trains of about 8 cars total.
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Always Improvising
Another bunch of loads I made for North Metro club. REALLY proud of the big transformer!


We landed a whole power substation set, salvaged from someone's layout, for $2! The depressed center flat just happened to be waiting for repair, and is both a solid match to this transformer prototypically speaking, as well as operationally speaking.



Always Improvising
Due to Covid-19 and the resulting effects on our economy, specifically small businesses, I'm working a ton lately. North Metro club is a 1 hour drive each direction for me, so I'm not spending as much time there lately. I'm going back to Hennepin Overland more as it's closer to home and far less busy.

Today I slid into our helix, and broke into the mountain logging camp atop it. I took a bunch of interesting photos from a perspective most people don't get to see. Unfortunately this section of the layout isn't activated yet.






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Always Improvising
Got a new (used) weathered caboose from a Facebook sale last week. Matches well with my weathered USRA Mikado!



I also began my first attempts at weathering with a cheap Bachmann Chessie U-boat. Nothing fancy, this is just layers of drybrushed paint and a clearcoat. Next I'll try finishing it off with powders.


I'll have more photos to share this weekend. I was finally able to get a pair of Rock Island geeps for interchange power. #382 is an Atlas GP40. I have another in 80's MILW paint with sound, which I am considering doing a shell swap with. I'm at a point where I'd like SOME sound in all of my lashups if I can have it.



Always Improvising
As typical on holidays that get me a day off of work, I spent Monday at North Metro club. A fellow clubber of mine took this photo back in 1975 as the American Freedom Train was climing up "Shortline Hill" beside Ayd Mill Road from St. Paul up into Minneapolis. This is Milwaukee Road track and still to this day is known as a pretty serious grade for trains.
Of course, Shortline Hill gave #4449 and her 26-car rake a fight and even the big northern wasn't enough, so MILW had to come and help. Minnesota is not as tame as most people think, and the Mississippi river valley can really give trains hell sometimes. As I finally have a three-pack of MILW F7's, I just had to recreate this scene. The model location is on the North Metro club layout beside our rendition of Soo Line's Shoreham roundhouse, but at a certain angle this hill bears resemblance to the old MILW grade.
I hope within the next year, my models will better reflect the unique MILW details and weathering of the real photo. It was fun to stage anyway.

Otherwise, I spent a good portion of my time getting to know the ESU LokProgrammer software. I have a few locos with LokSound that I want to match to non-sound buddies. My four ScaleTrains SD40-2's are all MILW Rocky Mountain locos, two Locotrol masters and two slaves. I'd love to be able to do manned helper type stuff with these four. It'll be an interesting attempt, anyway.


Always Improvising
Had some Sunday funday yesterday. Hennepin Overland is trying to be open for visitors in a safe manner, with masks and distancing required. We only had three visitors in the 4-hour period.
I've embraced some of MILW's western operations, especially since I have a Little Joe and Locotrol SD40-2's. There were a couple sections in Montana that paralleled the Northern Pacific main. Hennepin has a mere few feet where the Westbound main parallels our mountain branch line. If you look at it just right, you can travel back 50 years.

The little GN GP35 is my newest acquisition for my "rainbow era" BN collection.


Always Improvising
Oh boy, I did it again. Athearn Genesis Z-8 Challenger.


Also got going on my CRIP GP40. This is an Atlas Silver Series with ESU Loksound. This shell came on an older, non-sound Atlas frame, and I swapped it with my 1980's "Hiawatha" scheme GP40. Still need to swap the fuel tanks. I've started details installations, such as the hood bell.
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