01 February, 2009

Not So Much Layout and so little time (and money!)

After talking and e-mailing with a friend yesterday, I came to realize that I have many options in the 70's "heyday" period of the RF&P. The only challenge I have right now is to pay for it all! *LOL*.

First, I modified the layout plan slightly:

Layout Plans
Bob suggested I move Doswell to the very bottom right corner and to eliminate the small peninsula completely. Also, have a wye down in the newest benchwork, at the bottom. I thought if I do those two things, then the bottom right will become North and the railroad will go counter-clockwise around the layout, to the Yard in the South, thus allowing me to keep my desire to theme the yard after Acca Yard & its Bryan Park Engine Terminal.
He also agreed with my possibly putting a swing-out section o' track, across the entry, so I can have continuous running... Still not 100% on this, but it may be something I'll add at a later time. I'm thinking I'm going to try point-to-point, with the yard at the south & the wye at the north. Bench height remains at 48". Also confirmed it will be the open-grid style of benchwork. Now, tryin' to get money saved to pay for it all.

Locomotive Roster
I wanted to get a couple of Geep-35s, but the only ones out now are the Athearn RTR and the paint scheme (and motor train) are not very good, so I'd have to buy some undecorated & either do it myself or have someone custom paint, etc. That's more $$$ than I want to spend (I need to figure out a track plan & build the layout first, anyway). I think I'm going to be good, motive-power wise, at least to start. Present inventory of power:

-One new, Proto 2000 Ltd Ed GP-7 (RF&P #103) and one, new Atlas Classic GP-7 (RF&P #102) that I'd like to get both fitted out with sound decoders. Daylene got the latter for me as a surprise Christmas present, from the RF&P HS (which I joined this year). That allows me either singe unit local work, or I can consist & keep the odd/even pointed north/south like real ops.
-One older (non-DCC ready), new-in-the-box P2k Ltd Ed GP-9 (SCL, number forgotten, since it's still IN THE BOX!) that I will get upgraded to DCC (maybe sound, maybe not).
-One P2k GP-9 (C&O #5912) that's factory-DCC/Sound (upgraded recently by Gary Paulino @ Traintek http://www.traintekllc.com/). This will be my local operator at Doswell.
-One P2k GP-7 (UP #105) that's factory-DCC/Sound (could swap out a shell, with another SCL or RF&P, but not sure if it'll fit & who would I buy it from?) Maybe I'll sell, with its two Cabooses when the wife's not looking - suicide, I know! ;o)
-One P2k GP-38-2 (L&N/Family Lines #6022) that I had Gary install the latest DCC/Sound (SoundTraxx Tsunami?) This sounds SO AWESOME!
-One P2k GP-38-2 (Conrail, number forgotten), with a Digitrax DCC only - I may sell, although this is my token unit from my past fascination with "Big Blue". I imagine if I get an undec shell, I can get this converted in to an RF&P GP-35?
-Two Atlas RS-2s (RF&P #s 61 & 65), one DCC (Tony's Train Exchange ATLS-4 decoder) & one with the MRC DCC/Sound drop-in decoder (not too happy with the small, tinny-sounding speaker, but that's all that will fit). I love that Alco Diesel sound, though.
-One Atlas U-23B, Chessie, with a very bad Decoder... not sure what I want to do with it.
-One Athearn Genesis SD-45-2 (SCL, number forgotten) with factory-DCC/Sound. I've never even had that one out of the box (that's the one I mentioned I bought, to try & emulate the nice job one of the SCL HS guys did. We were admiring at Protoscale Rails show, on one of the tables.)
The two P2k Geep-38s, I installed the Digitrax on the Conrail - painful for me - and I had Gary P install the sound decoder on the Family Lines one. Also, I have at least one caboose for each engine (except if I use both RF&P switchers and the main line units).

With this layout, I don't think I'll run six-axle units (probably too big?), so I may want to sell the SD, and invest in more 50' rolling stock (need some wood and pulp wood cars). SCL used them in pairs or trips on the coal trains, as pushers or lead power on the unit coal trains from western VA or WV, so they rarely, if ever made it up the region I'm modeling, anyway (maybe in to Acca).

I will eventually pick up one each of the future-release SWs, if & when they come out. I'd also like to eventually get a Bachmann Spectrum F40PH in Amtrak and two-three commuter cars, so I'll have a twice a day, run-through train (DC to Richmond & vice-versa) and add to operational challenges for those working on the main line.
Besides the great stuff Bob gave me for Doswell, I picked up Warren Calloway's pix CD of the RF&P. That's got great pixes of units, to allow for detailing (check out attached) and some of the Doswell area. I contacted Warren about any and all info he'd have & he said he focused more on the southern stuff (SCL and Acca), so what he had was what was on the CD.
DCC System
I'm thinking I'll have to upgrade my DCC system from the Digitrax Zephyr, to maybe the Super Empire Builder. The Zephyr is only 2.5 Amps and about 10 locos and all I have are two tethered throttles to go along with the command station throttle. The SEB is 5 Amps and 22 locos, with options to buy remote IR/Radio Ports & then upgrade to Radio throttles.
For eventual operations I've got the Micro-Mark Car-Card & Waybill system, with extra pocket-boxes, so when I get to the point I can operate, I can get started & then advance to Train Orders, etc (the RF&P was CTC, so I may invest in some DCC signal stuff later on).

This is great mental exercise, and is giving me some thought on how I'd like to do this (aka doin' it right).

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