Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Atlas S-2: Initial Assessments & Starting 0604

With the prototype research done, let's take a closer look at the Atlas model and get started on the build!

As I mentioned last week, the Atlas S-2 with horizontal louvers provides a great start to modeling the first nine New Haven DEY-5 class switchers (0600-0608). And as I mentioned yesterday, the main visual changes will be to add a new cab and a different horn/whistle. But there are a couple of - thankfully minor - issues with the model itself. . .

The first thing I noticed "wrong" with the Atlas S-2 right out of the box was the position (and brightness!) of the headlight:

This causes the headlight to lose a lot of intensity through the lens, despite how bright this bulb is - so bright, in fact, that you'll have to blacken the inside of the shell to keep the light from shining through the walls of the hood(!)

Another problem - at least on the model I got - was that the cab fitment wasn't great.

The good news is that - like the prototype, the cab overhangs the frame a bit. But the bad news - as you can see in the top picture above - for some reason my cab flares out.

But these problems are no big deal at all. I plan to replace the cab with a new low-profile NH cab from my friend Mike Redden of NE Modelworks (5-piece kit, seen above), and I just figured out how I'm going to fix the headlight issue - but I'll wait and share that solution when I get to that point in the build.

Speaking of the build, let's get started building!

These are among my favorite pics - that fresh, new-to-you look and feeling you get when you first open a kit and lay out the parts.

Since it's an undec, you have to apply all the separate parts yourself and there are no instructions, per se - just an exploded diagram showing you where everything is supposed to go. So you'll become VERY familiar with all the parts - you really have no choice!

The pic above shows everything all laid out, including the extra parts I plan to apply (brass whistle, different lenses, and of course the low-profile cab).

Since there are no instructions, you'll want to install the most robust parts first and save the more delicate parts for later in the build. I decided to start by adding the grab irons. They're sturdy metal, so I figured they'd survive lots of subsequent handling. Thankfully, even though it's a "kit," Atlas already drilled all the holes for you - which is a BIG timesaver! Have some small drill bits on-hand though, in case you have to enlarge them at all (fortunately, I didn't).

Once the grabs were applied, I turned my attention to the cab. Given that it's a 5-piece kit itself, it warrants a post of its own. Which we'll get to next time.

Hope you're enjoying following along, and if you are - and especially if you have any special tips/tricks to share - be sure to let us know in the comments!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Modeling Monday - Research Notes on the DEY-3 & DEY-5 class switchers

(Disclaimer - Most of this post first appeared 9/23/2018)

Like many of you, one of the first things to do before starting any modeling project is something I find the most fun - research. So, as I begin modeling the New Haven's Alco S-2s and S-1s (class DEY-5 and DEY-3, respectively), I want to get all my modeling notes together in one place - and put them here for any of you that may want to try modeling these locos yourself (or just curious about the history...)

New Haven class DEY-3 switcher #0967 with Valley Local freight at Fernwood Street, Wethersfield, CT in 5/1949.
John Wallace photo.

The first stop when researching any New Haven railroad locomotives is Jack Swanberg's seminal work New Haven Power, which provides encyclopedic coverage of all NHRR motive power throughout the history of the railroad. You'll also want to be sure and consult the series of books produced by Bob Liljestrand (Bob's Photos) that have covered NH engines. Volume 1 covers the switchers and road switchers, including the DEY units.

Marc Frattasio and Bill Chapin aggregated a ton of prototype information and provided the definitive resource for the DEY-3 and DEY-5 switchers in the Volume 35, Issue 1 edition of the NHRHTA's Shoreliner magazine.

Since I'm modeling both types of engines (DEY-3 #0967 for the Valley Local & DEY-5 #0604 for the Haddam Local, aka PDX-2), I figured a quick reference of prototype information would be helpful to repost here. And if you have any interest in these engines, I hope you find these notes helpful too. But for the most comprehensive information, including lots of photos, be sure to consult the Shoreliner article and the books mentioned above.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
General Information

The New Haven's DEY-3 and DEY-5 class switchers differed visually from standard Alco S-1s and S-2s in two primary respects:

  • Cab Roof Profile
The New Haven cab is a low-profile version, to provide additional clearance when used in the electrified zone. The compound curves resulted in an overall roof height that was approx. 6" lower than the standard cab.
 Image from the Shoreliner article.
  • Crosley 3-Chime Air Whistle
Instead of a standard air horn, the New Haven used brass (or bronze?) 3-chime air whistles.
Image from the Shoreliner article.

Classification System & Number Series

  • "DEY" classification system started 1944
  • Class DEY-3 (Alco S-1), number series 0931-0995
  • Class DEY-5 (Alco S-2), number series 0600-0621
Prime Mover
  • DEY-3
    • Same prime mover as HH660 - 660hp McIntosh & Seymour Model 531
    • Model 531 was designated 539 when in the S-1
  • DEY-5
    • Turbocharged Model 539, designated 539T, produced 1000 hp
    • Same prime mover in Alco RS-1 (DERS-1b) and DL-109 (DER-1)
    • Turbo produced a distinctive high pitched "chirp"
  • Neither prime mover equipped with automatic air reservoir blowdowns, so no "spitter" sound
Delivery Dates
  • DEY-3 (1941-1949), 65 units
    • 1941 0931-0940
    • 1942 0941-0950
    • 1943 0951-0957
    • 1944 0958-0970
    • 1947 (Nov/Dec) 0971-0976 (green/orange scheme begins)
    • 1948 (Jan-Mar) 0977-0983
    • 1948 (Sept-Dec) 0984-0992
    • 1949 (Jan) 0993-0995
  • DEY-5 (1943-1944), 22 units
    • 1943 (Dec) 0600-0601
    • 1944 (Jan) 0602-0603
    • 1944 (May-Nov) 0604-0621
DEY-3 Whistle Locations
  • 0931-0950 had whistle mounted even with roof overhang
  • 0951-0973 had whistle mounted about a foot forward of the roof overhang
  • 0977-0995 had whistle mounted about 3.5' forward of the roof overhang
Paint Schemes (late 1940s)
  • All DEY-5 units and DEY-3 units 0931-0970 delivered in all Pullman green with Dulux gold (yellow) lettering
  • Hunter Green cab & orange hood started with delivery of 0971 November, 1947.
  • Cab interior likely dark (Pullman?) green in pre-Nov. '47 units; light gray thereafter
Cab Signal Equipment
  • The following units were equipped with Hartford Line cab signal equipment:
    • 0967, 0981, 0605, 0606
  • The following units were equipped with Shore Line signal equipment:
    • 0610-0612
  • The following units were equipped with Dual Cab Signal equipment:
    • 0993, 0995, 0604, 0616, 0620
Radiator Shutters (louvers)
  • First 40 DEY-3s
    • 24 narrow vertical shutters set in a thin frame w/shallow protrusion
    • Horizontal space/cutting across the shutters at mid-height
  • Last 25 DEY-3s
    • 11 wide vertical radiator shutters also with a horizontal spacer
    • Rivet at each of the two quarter points of each louver
    • Larger cross-section frame around the perimeter, resulting in deep protrusion
  • First 9 DEY-5s (0600-0608) had horizontal radiator shutters
  • Last 11 DEY-5s (0609-0621) had vertical shutters.
This is just a list of notes for prototype reference, with special thanks to Randy for filling in many details in the original post. For a nice narrative, including even more detailed information on later paint schemes, additional detail changes, and final dispositions, be sure to consult Marc and Bill's comprehensive Shoreliner article mentioned above.

And of course - as always - if you have any additional information to share, please let me know in the comments or contact me directly. One of my main goals with this blog (and especially the website) is to provide a nice repository of information on the New Haven Railroad - but especially the Valley Line and its equipment and operations.

Next up, we move from prototype to modeling...

Friday, March 18, 2022

Friday Fun - Another Loco Project in Progress

In addition to the DEY-class diesel switchers I'm working on lately, long-time readers know I've also had a J-1 class 2-8-2 on my workbench for years. Literally. In fact, converting this 40 year old Key Imports brass model into New Haven RR #3022 first showed up on my annual goals list way back in January, 2017 (yikes! over 5 yrs ago...).

Other than converting it to DCC, the major change to the model involves converting the tender to a "clear vision" version, just like the prototype did. As you'll see in the videos below, the major part of that work is done (and, actually, has been for a long time). I've also been puttering around on some other detail work - or was, before I started on the Alco switchers.

I'll definitely have more to say - and show - on this locomotive in future posts, especially once it makes its way from the back of the bench to the front. But the switchers have to be done first and in the meantime, I'll content myself with watching this ancient model still running smoothly on straight DC (yes, the "Airline" part of my layout converts from DCC to DC with the flick of a switch. If anybody's interested in learning how, let me know in the comments and I'll do a post on it).

Enjoy - and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The New Haven RR's DEY-5 (and the Atlas model)

(Disclaimer - much of this post first appeared 1/5/2018)

Based on its early success with Alco's diesel switchers during the 1930s (the famed "High Hoods"), the New Haven Railroad rostered an impressive number of Alco's successor models - the S-1 & S-2. Deliveries started in 1941 and continued to 1949 for a total of 87 units.

These switchers had essentially the same prime mover as the HH660 (a 660hp McIntosh & Seymour Model 531), but while the engine was mounted above the frame on the High Hood locos (which is why the hoods were "high"), on the S-1 the same engine (now designated Model 539) was mounted down in the frame to lower the hood and increase crew visibility. Other than some cosmetic differences (different exhaust stack, larger radiator louvers), the S-2 was essentially the same as the S-1 but had a turbocharged version of the 539 engine (designated 539T) that increased the horsepower from 660hp to 1000hp. In 1943, the railroad began taking delivery of Alco S-2s and the "DEY" classification started the following year, with delivery of the last of 22 S-2s (#0600-0621). S-1s (class DEY-3) would continue to be delivered until January 1949 for an impressive total of 65 units (#0931-0995).

The DEY-5 is interesting to me for two primary reasons: 1) during my era, this locomotive type was assigned to three of the four locals I model (below is a photo of the Shoreline Local in Essex, road number unknown) . . .

. . . and the DEY-5 actually came in two different radiator louver configurations - vertical (as above) and horizontal (as below, click on the image to enlarge).

The first nine DEY-5s (#0600-0608) were delivered with the horizontal louvers. The photo above shows the Shoreline Local at East Haddam with DEY-5 #0604.

I already have a New Haven DEY-5 - #0615 produced by Atlas with era-appropriate paint scheme & vertical louvers (see photo above), but getting a DEY-5 with horizontal louvers to represent #0604 has proved difficult - until now . . .

Waaay back in January, 2018, I got enough birthday money to cover the purchase from TTX of a fresh-from-the-factory (the container actually just arrived from overseas the previous month!) undecorated Atlas S-2 - with horizontal louvers!

Even though it's unpainted and requires all the details to be applied, it still looks pretty awesome. And it sounds just as great with a factory-installed Loksound decoder. Excuse the quick grab shot above - I'll post more about this model as I go through the build/detailing - but I wanted to show the only "bad" thing about the model (which hopefully is easy to fix): the front headlight.

As you can't help but see, the bright LED is SO bright that it shines right through the body shell!

And the bulb appears to be aimed, not through the headlight, but at the top/front corner of the hood. Ugh!

Fortunately, the rear light is fine in all respects - heh - including retina-burning brightness - but at least it's bright through the headlight lens rather than above it.

So one of the first things I'll be doing to this engine is seeing if I can move that front bulb. And I'll probably have to paint some blackener on it as well to keep light from seeping through where it doesn't belong. If you have any experience with this, I hope you'll share in the comments!

Despite the bulb issue, I'm really excited to have a finely detailed DEY-5 (the older Atlas S-2 #0615 has molded-on details) and especially one that's correct for the first nine units delivered.

Now if somebody would just come up with a correct NHRR DEY-3/5 cab . . . but that's a whole 'nuther story . . . (and this problem, since January 2018, has been solved nicely...)

Monday, March 14, 2022

Modeling Monday - Introducing #0604

In the Connecticut Valley of 1948/49, the local freights were powered primarily by DEY-3 and 5 class switchers (Alco S-1s and 2s). Unfortunately (depending on your perspective), the New Haven's Alco S-1s and 2s had a special low-profile cab.

Fortunately, my friend MikeR has created a kit for that unique cab, and my friend JoeS has blazed the trail in building one (and shared his process with us all).

So, I got an undec Atlas S-2 and am converting it into NH DEY-5 #0604 (I also have a Proto2000 undec S-1 waiting for a decoder and Scale Sound Systems speaker before being converted into the Valley Local's #0967). If you've been a regular reader, you've seen occasional progress posts - usually for Wordless Wednesday. But starting today, I plan to do a more-thorough step-by-step series of posts showing how I went from unit you see above to (hopefully) something close to what you see below . . .

This Kent Cochrane photo shows the "Haddam Local" (aka PDX-2, aka westbound Shoreline local) northbound entering East Haddam/Goodspeeds. It's here to swap cars with the Valley Local (HDX-7) that will be arriving here from the north (Hartford). For more details, click here. But for now, suffice it to say that the 0604 is a "must have" loco for my layout. 

So I hope you'll follow along as I recreate it in HO scale!

Friday, March 11, 2022

Friday Fun - October, 2021 Ops Session!

Wow - I really have to get myself organized. Probably like many of you, I have photos, music files, documents, and all sorts of digital detritus scattered across multiple devices, computers, both real and virtual, local, and in the cloud. I'm really hoping my buddy Randy can help me get everything cleaned up and into one place soon, but in the meantime... well, let's just say the struggle is real . . .

Case in point: turns out, despite the fear I mentioned yesterday, I actually DO have photos from my ops session last October! Unfortunately, I don't actually remember much about that session (I only recall a couple of minor trackwork issues), but I DO remember it being a Special Saturday Session for some Out-of-Staters as well as a couple of newcomers to the Valley Line!

So, without further ado, I'll let the photos tell the story . . .

The major improvement since the last session was some scenery and backdrop at Dividend.

I usually get a shot of the nicely organized paperwork and operator's desk. It looks so nice... until chaos ensues.

Speaking of paperwork - I decided to try moving it, along with the sign-in book, upstairs to the kitchen since it can get a bit crowded at the bottom of the basement stairs.

But turned out, not everybody signed in upstairs - so back downstairs it came, where folks are used to signing in right before they get their train.

And what folks are we talking about? Wow - what folks they were! Here's Mark Herrick, fellow AML-er - who I just met in person at last Autumn's NER Convention- operating here for the first time, and veteran operator Jim Lincoln (of "Jim Lincoln Chev-Olds" fame). Mark came all the way from the northeastern corner of the state and Jim came in from Massachusetts to operate the Valley Local. Here they are with the local in Wethersfield.

Regulars Tom and Kaylee working Shore Line west staging and the Airline local, respectively.

Bill held down the operator's desk, aligning switches for the Shore Line, while Jim ran the eastbound Shore Line Local using the ProtoThrottle. I figured since he came the farthest (New Hampshire!) he'd get the new equipment. Unfortunately, his engine started malfunctioning shortly after this photo was taken. Fortunately, that didn't affect ChrisZ operating the westbound Shore Line local through Saybrook and up the line to East Haddam.

Alex, another first-timer (and super helpful in helping solve my shorting issues), worked with Chris on PDX-2 with Tom and Kaylee looking on...

It's a little lonely Way Down East over in New London staging (representing points east and northeast of Old Saybrook - up into Worcester, Boston, and Maine), but Bob held down that job admirably - especially since he's still relatively new to Shore Line ops.

Despite all the smiles, operations are serious business - at least that's the impression one might get from this photo! It gets a little crowded here between west end staging (representing Cedar Hill Yard in New Haven, NYC and points south and southwest), Essex, and Somerset on the Airline so I'm considering moving to 1-person crews here.

Kinda like this - Jim was the only crew on PDX-1 and look at all the room he has here in Saybrook!

The other area where there's plenty of room is at Middletown - super wide aisle here. And here's Kaylee dropping cars from the Airline local for the Valley Local in Middletown yard. You even get a glimpse of "O'Rourke's Diner" in Middletown, just as it is on the prototype...

And whither the Valley Local? We catch them here in the Dividend section of Rocky Hill, switching Hartford Rayon.

Alex and Chris back in Saybrook after their run up the Valley branch to East Haddam & back, dropping & picking cars before they continue west to Cedar Hill Yard.

More smiles in Middletown - Kaylee's Airline Local is ready to head back down to Cedar Hill while Jim & Mark finish their switching so they can head back north to Hartford.

One of the best things about my occasional Saturday Sessions is not only the opportunity to open up the layout to out-of-staters that would otherwise not be able to operate here, but to be able to go out for dinner together afterwards. And where else could be better than right along the Shore Line in Saybrook in the old freight house? Here we are at Pizza Works getting some well-deserved sustenance after a "hard day's work" operating the Valley Line.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Throwback Thursday - Ops 2/24/2022

This'ere blog has had some fits and spurts lately fer sure...

2022 started out fine enough, with a lot of posts going into the first half of January (see here).

Then it diminished to a LONG update post at the end of January (see here). Thankfully, it was a long post because I'd actually done a lot of modeling and work on the layout but hadn't posted about it. Well, I'd done regular little posts on the Valley Local Facebook Group - but many of you here are not there.

Since the end of January, legislative session started and work got busy. Thankfully though, I've still been able to do some modeling and such - and I had an an ops session!

I've only hosted 3 sessions since the big Pre-Springfield AML session of January 23, 2020 BC (before COVID) - JulySeptember, and October, 2021. While I posted reports for the first two (click on the links), sadly, I forgot to take pics during the October session. That's especially disappointing since that session featured two newbies to the Valley Local - Mark Herrick and Alex Wood! Kaylee Zheng, Chris Zygmunt, Jim Fellows, Jim Lincoln, and regulars Tom Derwin, Bill Schneider, and Bob Murphy attended as well. I'm REALLY hoping one of them may have taken photos (and will let me know!)

So yeah - I've been a bit spotty with posting, but hope to slowly work my way out of that rut . . . starting with a quick report of the most-recent ops session, and the first one since last October!

The February session was another shake-down of sorts, since shorting issues have continued to bedevil me over the past few months. But thankfully, I seem to have FINALLY solved the problem. If you're interested, I'll go into more detail in a future post, but suffice it to say I needed to 1) upgrade my PSX circuit breakers, and 2) increase their trip delay by 30ms vs. the PSX reversers.

Confident I'd finally fixed things, I had some of my regulars over to put the layout through its paces. Randy, Tom, Bill, Pieter, Kaylee, Bob, and Chris ran all four local freights as well as the Shore Line trains. And I'm pleased to be able to report that everything ran really well! Well, the Shore Line trains continue to be a little finicky over the West End Loop (blame full-length passenger equipment on a 24" radius turnback curve), and a few decoder programming issues manifested themselves, but all in all, I consider it a success!

Heh - I think I may actually dare to run a full-steam session next time...

Randy working The Valley Local (HDX-7) in Middletown Yard.

Tower operator Bill supervising Pieter running The Shore Line local (PDX-1) while Tom (New Haven staging/Shore Line trains) looks on.

Kaylee switching the Airline Local in the freelanced town of Somerset. Note she's using the ProtoThrottle to operate DERS-2 #0510.

Chris operating The Haddam Local(aka westbound Shore Line local, aka PDX-2) in East Haddam.

Tom and Bill - right before I had the temerity to mention how well the layout was running... and just at that moment, the layout shut down with a short. I kid you not. Thankfully, it was operator error and not a revisit by the gremlins...

Kaylee and Randy with their locals meeting in Middletown, just like the prototype.

Especially during the COVID months of isolation - and occasionally since then - I've wondered if I've taken on too much with this layout, and if I'd be better off with something smaller, more manageable, and more quickly finished. But it's sessions like these that remind me why I expanded the layout to take up most of my basement. Being able to have friends over and have so much fun doing something we all love and have in common makes it all more than worth it.

I'm already looking forward to the next session!