Monthly Archives: December 2016

Strawberry Fields Consists

This garden railroad is will be made up of a simple loop and some sidings.  There may be a passing siding.  A major focal point will be logging.  There will be a logging area, a lumber yard and a furniture factory.  There sill be a depot and freight shed.  Other related buildings will be present.

There needs to be a staging area holding trains entering or leaving the outside world.  The staging area will be covered in a way that is similar to the train shed that once served on the dock in Sausalito for the North Pacific Coast.


It will need to be sufficiently wide to handle six consists.  Consists will be limited to the length occupied by four Bachmann passenger cars.

I see the following consists:

  • A log train running from the logging area to the sawmill.
  • A freight train taking lumber from the sawmill to the lumber yard.
  • A passenger train serving the area.  It could be a mixed train.
  • A general freight train serving the area.

In addition, the following consists will serve as kids consists:

  • Lionel Polar Express consist
  • Bachmann freight consist

The following battery cars will be supported.  The staging area will also serve as a charging station.

  • Lumber load – This car will have a lumber load that conceals the electronics.  It will be a Bachmann flat with a lumber load.  It will be rugged enough that it can serve both as an adult and a kids battery car.
  • Logging skidder – This battery car will lead the log train consist.  Using a bachmann flat as a base, its load will consist of a logging skidded and a crane mounted on a platform.
  • Passenger car – This will be a Bachmann Combine converted to a battery car.  It will serve both a passenger consist and a mixed train consist.

Strawberry Fields Motive Power


Over the years I accumulated a lot of G Scale rolling stock, a mix of 1:32, 1:29, 1:24, 1:22.5 and 1:20.5.  Included in that collection is around 15 engines.  Strawberry Fields would be uncomfortable  running more than 3 engines at a time.  So a fair amount of focus narrowing and pruning is appropriate.

I’m a narrow gauge guy which means that 1:20.3 would be the dominant scale.  The era is 1900 +/- 20 years.  So a lot of my G scale is currently being auctioned on eBay.  I want to pare my engine collection down to 6-7 engines.  Because logging is a major industry the following engines make the cut for sure as electrically powered locomotives

  • A Bachmann Spectrum 2 Truck Shay – an obvious choice for a logging locomotive
  • A Bachmann Spectrum Climax – another obvious choice for a logging locomotive
  • A Bachmann Spectrum 4-4-0 – Bashed into NPC No 6
  • A second Bachmann Spectrum 4-4-0 kit bashed into NPC No 21 – the first Cab Forward
  • A Bachmann Spectrum 2-6-0
  • A Bachmann Annie 4-6-0 – This is lettered for the WP&Y and pulls a consist of WP&Y passenger cars.

In addition I have the following live steam locomotives:

  • An Accucraft Ruby bashed into a Hawaiian plantation engine once owned by Ward Kimble
  • An Accucraft Ruby custom built to model the steam engines that once ran in frontier land in Disney World
  • A kit designed to build a Class A Climax.

I haven’t decided how to support the live steam locomotives.

Mode of operation for the electric locomotives is radio controlled DCC battery powered.  I’ve chosen Airwire as the primary manufacturer.  Unfortunately, this adds around $400 per engine. It’s crazy to invest that much money when at most three will run at a time.  I’ve decided to solve the expense problem with battery cars.

  • The logging battery car will be a flat car load that carries a log skidder and crane.  This battery car will primarily serve the two geared logging engines.
  • The general battery car will be a box car.  It will serve whatever engine is pulling a general freight consist.
  • The passenger battery car will be a combine.  It will serve the passenger consist and also mixed consists.
  • A fourth battery car could be added as flat with a lumber load.

Note that the proceeds from the sale of engines and rolling stock that don’t fit in will be used to fund the radio control battery powered gear as well as consists that fit better with the layout concept.

There is also one more set of locomotives and consists I want to support.  I want neighborhood kids to experience the joy of running trains in Strawberry Fields.  I have a Lionel set that is radio controlled battery powered that would fit this need.  Unfortunately these sets all operate on the same frequency so I can only support one.  But if one of the above battery cars is relatively kid-proof (like the lumber load), I could support a Big Hauler set pulling inexpensive freight cars.

My goal is to have at least two battery cars and two locomotives converted by spring of 2017.  Builders logs that follow will take you through the steps.

2-4-4-0T Switcher

This is a led-over parts locomotive.  The thought process started out with this Roundhouse 3 in 1 kit.

Roundhouse 0-8-0

This is an old Roundhouse kit that allows the construction of a static (non-powered) steam engine.  The photo shows an 0-8-0T.  But this kit was designed for kit bashers – like me.  The kit offers another option, a 2-4-4-0T articulated shown in the bottom of the following photo.  This engine would never have existed in the real world.  But it sure fired my imagination!

2-4-4-0T Option

If you look at the parts set, it includes the components to model the above 2-4-4-0T.  If you look more closely, the frame and running components are the same as those in the Outside Frame Roundhouse 2-8-0 Consolidation kit with the exception of the connecting rods and piston rods.  But as you can see, these parts are in the kit.  If you compare the two kits in the following photos, the locomotive frame is the same as are the counterweights and under frame.  There are two sets of pistons in the bag as well as the drivers.  There are two sets of piston rods.


I happen to have three of the 2-8-0 kits. Those two kits are powered.  Two are destined to be used in building a 2-6-6-2T logging locomotive.  A third will be used in building a 2-8-2 Mikado.  But there may be enough parts left over from the other Roundhouse locomotive projects to build this locomotive.  It is also common to see 2-8-0 kits that are incomplete on eBay.  This will be the last engine built in this series.  I’ll see where we are in left-over parts when the other engines are complete.

So what if I started with the 3 in 1 kit.  The tank, cab and bunker look a lot like the cab/tank/bunker that came with the 3 in 1 kit.  So I took my razor saw and cut the frame in half …

Loggging Mallet Frame 1

Inserted a second set of cylinders …

Logging Mallet Frame 2

Then laid the boiler-cab-bunker along side.

Logging Mallet Frame 3

It should work.  The boiler-cab-bunker is a good match to this drive train.  Now I need to figure out the best way to power it.

Also, there is a ton of room inside the shell to work out drive train issues and find a place for the sound board and speakers.   I’ll need to add weight somewhere.