This site is dedicated to my model railroad, the HO scale Virginia Midland Railroad. This layout comprises a 12X9 room with two levels. The upper level is about 95% complete and the lower level scenery has just begun.

I do a handful of train shows in the Virginia/Maryland region and go by the name of Virginia Midland Shops.
I also can help you find that freight car/locomotive or other hard to find item.

Email: stctigers@gmail.com
You tube videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/Virginiamidlandrr/

Sunday, October 4, 2015

New awesome products from TCS and Soundtraxx!

At the 2015 MARPM event last week, I stumbled across a great new product.  Bob the Train Guy:(Website: Bob the Train Guy ) had the new TCS motherboard replacement with the Keep Alive capacitors.  The Keep Alive capacitors are a direct replacement for the boards in RTR locomotives.  right now they have 4 different boards, Athearn RTR, Athearn Genesis, Intermountain and Bowser.  I'm pretty sure the Athearn Genesis will work on a Atlas drive!  I have been adding KA's or Soundtraxx's Current Keepers in my sound locos for several years now.  They work well and keep the sound and locomotive moving on dirty track and through unpowered frogs.  A must for sound equipped locomotives.  Making room for a speaker and capacitors was always an undertaking.  So enter this new replacement board from TCS: http://www.tcsdcc.com/.
I was already picking up a speaker and my first Soundtraxx Econami 21 pin decoder from Bob.  I was putting the sound decoder in a Intermountain GATX SD40-2 that I picked up for $72 from MB Kleins.   It had the 21 pin connector on it motherboard and I was somehow going to add a capacitor.  Bob then told me about the new motherboard replacement from TCS.  Saved alot of time and the capacitor worked better than the others on the market.  I turned the power to the track off and the locomotive ran for about 27 seconds!  Unbelievable!

Here is the original mother board out of the Intermountain SD40-2.  These come DCC ready and have a 21 pin decoder installed.  I unhooked all the connectors. 

This is the new TCS motherboard.  Same plugins so the wiring requires no soldering!

The new Soundtraxx 21 pin economi sound decoder.  The CV setup is totally different for the Tsunamis but the horns are better and has different bell selections.  The best feature, it's 20-30 bucks cheaper.   

The only small problems I ran into was adding a speaker to the new mother board.  I need a connector to solder to the speaker wires.  Luckily I had one of these in my DCC drawer.  Never dispose of stuff because it may come in handy down the road.  The other is the Econami decoder itself.  The 21 pins on the TCS mother board were not long.  So adding the Econami decoder was not perfect fit.  On the bottom of the Econami were electronics that did not allow it to lay flat.  So the 21 pin connectors barely fit in the Econami at an angle and came off easily.   If the pins were longer, it would be no problem.  I'm sure the TCS WOW decoders will lay down quite snug on these and they were making Econami users like me work fro it! Overall easy installation and great sounding decoder.  Here's a quick sample of it:

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The 2015 Mid-Atlantic RPM Meet is in the books

The 3rd annual MARPM Meet is in the books and one again it was a great success.  We added more hands on clinics and even more speaker this year.   Some of the speakers/clinicians included some of the celebrities of the hobby such as Scott Mason, Lance Mindheim, Paul Dolkos and Butch Eyler.  Looking forward to the 4th annual one next year, same time. same place.  Here are some pictures from over the weekend. (I forgot to get pictures of my models!)

2015 MARPM pictures

Friday, September 18, 2015

Busy! To say the least

Well, with school starting last week and a work week before that, my modeling has slowed down considerably.  Fall is right around the corner and winter is in the distance.  That's when most get back to their modeling hobby.  I wanted to get a few things done on the layout this week but it seemed I had something every night this week.  Next week is the the 3rd annual Mid Atlantic RPM Meet here in town.  I'm a co-founder and you will not a better collection of speakers or models anywhere else.  I have several things I need to do for the show next week (I'm head of the sponsorships of the show and door prizes).  I'm also attending Mat Thompson's operation session on Thursday night.  Mat's HO Oregon Coast Railroad layout has been in Great Model Railroads.  The op session is part of the MARPM.  So hope to see a few of you at the meet next weekend.  If you can attend or just want to see what's a RPM is about, check out these links!

2015 Mid Atlantic RPM Meet

Mat Thompson's Oregon Coast HO Railroad

Thursday, September 17, 2015

TBT: Sept. 17th 2015

Sorry I have not had any other updates in a few weeks.  Been quite busy and MR time is at a premium.  But I do have the TBT post for today!

This is former RF&P GP40 patched for CSX.  These were common a few years after the merger since the RF&P motors had to lead on RF&P tracks due to their CTC controls.

Prototype pic

Prototype in the dead line

Thursday, September 10, 2015

TBT: Sept. 10th 2015

On this day before the 14th anniversary of 9-11 I wanted to post a throwback pic of old glory from one of my favorite railfanning spots: Mance, PA.

Mance Post office (not in operation) 2005

The only reason why I like Norfolk Southern: High hoods!  July 2009 near Bealeton, VA.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Throwback Thursday: September 3rd 2015

Been a little warmer and humid this first week of September so its time for a cold flashback to December 5th 2005, where we find some early season snow!  Winter is only 3 months away!
A little snowy action on the RF&P sub of CSX only minutes from where I grew up.  This shot is from Jones Crossing looking toward Guinea, VA
Zoomed out shot.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Modeling a specific prototype: Shapeways makes it possible to model a BQ23-7

I have always been interested in rare or different looking locomotives.  My personal favorite locomotive is the unique CF7.  Another odd and ugly looking locomotive is the BQ23-7.  The
BQ23-7 would actually set the standard for wide cab locomotives that we see today.  The Q stood for quarters which could comfortably house the crew of the train without a caboose.  As we know, the caboose's days were numbered.    It was mainly a different cab for a standard B23-7. The SCL ordered 10 of the BQ23-7's in the late 1970's.  They went to CSX through the merger in the mid 1980's and remained with CSX until the late 1990's.   As you might know, the BQ23-7 did not catch on and were actually considered dangerous by CSX.  They were rated to only trail position, reclassified as B units and even had their windows plated over.
The 10 BQ23-7's were all in FLS paint and were originally numbered 5130-5139 (Photo by Raymond Stewart RRpicturesarchives.net)

Windows plated over and rated as a B unit.  (Photo by Ken Roble  RRpicturesarchives.net)

CSX paint.  (Photo by Sam Beck RRpicturesarchives.net)

#3001B  (Photo by Richard Gorddard Beck RRpicturesarchives.net)

To model this locomotive, you have a few choices: a expensive OMI brass one (did see one for $300 one time) or the terrible Bachmann one from the 1990's.  They even painted one Chessie!  Enter Shapeways.  Shapeways is the a 3D printing company that's been around for a few years.  I accidentally stumbled on a N scale BQ23-7 cab while browsing the Shapeways offerings.  Of course this did not help me.  I emailed the producer and asked if he planning on making a HO one.  He promptly emailed me back that he was.  I finally could produce a quality BQ23-7 without a complete scratchbuild or breaking the bank.  Atlas produces the B23-7 now so one could be easily made. Shapeways has many different things for the HO modeler like complete freight cars, vehicles and tiny detail parts. Make sure you check out their  model trains page.  You just might find what your looking for!

The Shapeways BQ23-7 cab

Another view.  Primer gray has been added

Atlas undecorated B23-7

The shell fits right on the shell.