Athearn RTR SD40M-2 Arrives Today - 5-3-2017
|THE MERIDIAN SPEEDWAY||
Athearn RTR SD40M-2 Arrives Today - 5-3-2017
Athearn released four numbers of the SP SD40M-2s in their Ready-to-Run series. All four versions represents locomotives rebuilt from SD45 cores. I was actively railfanning the EsPee when these locomotives were "new" in the 1990's and have fond memories of them. The prototype SP 8650 was rebuilt from CNW SD45 907. The below image of the SP 8650 taken by Andrew Koenigsberg typifies how these units were worked on the SP!
This model is the second SP SD40M-2 in the fleet, joining Athearn Genesis SD40M-2 8691 which represents a locomotive rebuilt from an Erie Lackawanna SDP45. Despite one being RTR and the other being a highly detailed Genesis locomotive, the two look great together!
The above detail shot shows the differences in the SDP45 carbody and the SD45 carbody as well as the differences in the Genesis vs. RTR Athearn details.
The Proto-Freelanced Mississippi Central Takes Shape
Concurrent with the development of my Yazoo and Misssissippi Valley concept was that for a similar railroad, my proto-freelanced Mississippi Central.
New Delivery Today - 4-17-2017
A small order arrived today. A 3-pack of Atearn brass HO Nathan M-5 horns was the primary purpose for the order. Athearn has really stepped up its game with regards to detail parts and the horns are no exception. My Y&MV SD35 rebuilds will have Nathan M-5's so I ha to grab these while they are available.
It is interesting that Athearn/Athearn Genesis puts a lot of effort in the appearance of the horns on its locomotives and then equips its locomotives with a decoder, Tsunami, that is incapable of making a sound that represents the detailed horn. Oh well, the Y&MV SD35s will be LokSound equipped.
Also available are the second release of the Gunderson 62-foot bulkhead flat cars by Wheels of Time. The first run sold out pretty quickly so I decided to grab one, decorated for Golden West Service as GVSR 443042.
This was my first Wheels of Time purchase. The car is quite nice, equipped with metal wheel, KaDee No. 58 couplers, and all of the details we expect from top-end models these days. This is a Southern Pacific specific model and is a great addition to the fleet.
The car comes with the wood for the bulkheads as separate pieces. Evidently these were not well maintained by the Southern Pacific and it was not uncommon to see these cars running with bare bulkheads so they are applied separately to facilitate modeling cars in that condition. I expect that the rebuilt GVSR cars in 1996 were fairly complete so this car spent a few minutes in the paint booth/shop for installation of the bulkheads.
Putting the bulkheads on only took a few minutes. Testors plastic cement did the trick!
I was a little surprised at how low the bulkheads are on these cars. I'd imagine this is part of the reason this design was not sold to more railroads. The image below shows how short the car is as compared to a Walther's 50' Seico pulpwood car. Variety is what makes this hobby great!
Dining Car Menu Item - Gumbo
By popular demand, I am putting my seafood gumbo recipe in writing. It is important to note that ingredient quantities are not exact in a good Cajun entrée. You just grab what you've got and throw it in a pot, adjusting until it is just right! This is especially true with a gumbo.
There are many types and styles of gumbo. My favorite is a shrimp and crab gumbo with okra. When I was very young we ate often at a place in New Orleans called Wise Cafeteria. I always ordered the gumbo there because it was damned good...and it tasted very much like my grandmother's gumbo. The recipe below is my interpretation of that flavor.
Now living in Fort Worth, Texas I do not have access to the great variety of fresh seafood that I had at my disposal in New Orleans...but we do have Costco! On my last trip there they had the most amazing looking shrimp and a few aisles over were 16 oz tubs of lump Blue Crab meat. Normally I do not buy these things as my wife and kids (Texans) do not like seafood, but I decided it was time to make a pot of gumbo!
I came home with the above pictured ingredients and was ready to get started.
The first thing I did was prepare the seafood. I lined a pitcher with a gallon ZipLock freezer bag (raw shrimp odor can linger in a plastic containr for a LONG time) and poured in an entire bottle of light beer. Then I put in a couple of teaspoons...ish of Old Bay dry seasoning. This is powerful stuff! I also threw in a heaping spoon of chopped garlic and stirred it up. The shrimp came de-veined with the shells split so it was easy to de-shell them. These shrimp were large so I cut them each into about four pieces and tossed them in the beer marinade. Once all of the shrimp were in the beer I dumped the whole tub of crab in the bag as well. Satisfied that all of the seafood was submerged I sealed the ZipLock bag and put the pticher in the refrigerator.
Next came vegetable prep. Of course we start with the Cajun Holy Trinity which is chopped celery, onion and bell pepper. Since moving to Texas I have become a huge fan of the Poblano pepper! Whenever I can I include a Poblano when I make the Trinity. This time I saw fit to chop the following: 1 green bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper, 1 Poblano pepper, 2 sweet yellow onions, and about a third of a bunch of celery. These all go into a mixing bowl. I poured a cup or two (nope I did not measure that either) of a red wine over the chopped vegetables and then put in some dry spices - Thyme, Oregano, Basil, and Parsley flakes. Then went in a couple of heaping spoons of Garlic. Freshly ground salt and pepper as well as some Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning and some smoked Paprika went in next and then the whole bowl was thoroughly mixed. I like to add the dry herbs at this point because they have time to absorb the ambient moisture and re-hydrate before cooking. This intensifies their flavors. I am sure I had another beer in my hand and some of that went into the chopped vegetables as well. Yeah, I am pretty sure. Certain. The bowl of veggies gets set aside for a bit.
Now it is time to cook and make some magic in the kitchen! I used a large pot and coated the bottom and sides with oil. This will cook for a long time and things tend to want to stick and burn. I like my pot to be as resistant to sticking as possible. With the pot prepared it is time to make the roux.
Often intimidating, the roux is very important and not that difficult. We will incorporate roughly equal quanitites of oil/fat and flour. I threw in about 3/4 of a stick of butter, a cup and a half of oil, and some chicken fat on hand from a container with a rotisserie chicken that happened to be in the refrigerator. On medium-low heat this was quickly melted together and stirred with a whisk. Into this warm liquid I slowly added about two cups of flour, adding it in small batches and whisking it thoroughly.
The next half-hour is very mundane--continuously stirring this mixture and and watching it become a "Roux". The color gradually changes from a light tan to a very dark brown over a period of about 30 minutes. It becomes very aromatic and needs to be kept in relatively constant motion by stirring with a whisk to avoid burning. Once the roux looks like a thick chocolate, it is time to get busy!
It is time to introduce the chopped vegetables. Most recipes advise putting the raw vegetables directly in the roux and sweating them out in the pot. I prefer to sauté the trinity mixture in a separate pan at a higher temperature than the pan with the roux will allow. Doing so in this manner allows for greater flavor to be achieved from the ingredients. So this is what I did and then mixed the sautéed vegetables into the roux. I poured some wine and some beer in the pan that it cooked the trinity in to de-glaze the pan, using heat and a whisk. Of course this mixture was then poured into the gumbo pot with the roux and the trinity mixture. With a gumbo if you get your hands on some flavor, you throw it in the pot!
Now that that roux and the trinity are in the pot, about six cups of water and two large Bay Leaves are added and stirred in. I want to make sure this dish knows it is Cajun so a hit of Tabasco hot sauce as well as Louisiana brand hot sauce go in at this time. By a hit I mean you shake the hell out of each bottle for about 10 seconds! And some more Tony Chachere's goes in also.
I bought two 12 oz bags of frozen cut okra. This goes in the pot now and I bring it to a quick boil. Oh yeah, that smells amazing! The okra helps to thicken the gumbo. Once it boils, back to simmering we go.
I like a little tomato in my gumbo, but I do not like to see tomato in my gumbo. After the above mixture has been simmering for about 30 minutes I open a can of crushed fire roasted organic tomatoes and pour the contents directly into a blender. Then I add about four ladles of the contents of the simmering gumbo to the blender, I am biased towards getting the okra in the blender and am careful not to put the bay leaves in the blender. This tomato/gumbo mixture is liquefied in the blender on high and then poured into the gumbo pot.
I bought some Andouille and some Boudin sausage for this batch. The Andouille is a very grainy sausage. I remove the outer casing from this sausage, chop it up, and add it to the gumbo. Andouille dissolves quickly into the liquid. Once served you will never know there is Andouille in the gumbo.
The Boudin is a more traditional Cajun sausage, keeping its properties throughout the cooking process. I slice it up and add it to the gumbo next.
Now is time for the seafood. Out of the refrigerator comes the shrimp and crab mixture. The whole thing including all of the beer/Old Bay marinade go in the pot. It is a LOT of seafood! One more time, the gumbo is brought to a boil and then back to a low heat to simmer, stirring regularly, for a few hours...anywhere from two to six hours is just fine. Look at the clock and you will know how much time you have to simmer this pot of gumbo.
Now that is a pot of gumbo! I chop up a bunch of green onion. Half of it goes in the pot and half of it stays out to garnish the served up dishes. I also add some Zatarain's filé powder during the final simmering process. We now have "Filé Gumbo".
During the simmering process samples are tasted to make sure the final flavor is headed in the right direction. Salt, Pepper, Paprika, and hot sauce are added as needed to tweak the taste. I will also add a dollop of tomato paste here and there to thicken and sweeten the final product.
Rice is not something I have the patience to mess with. So I cheat. Costco sells these wonderful packs of garlic quinoa and brown rice that require only 90 seconds in the microwave. And this is what I do. Once it is time to serve up the gumbo, a large mound of rice goes in the center of the bowl and a couple of ladles of gumbo are poured around it. It is important to the presentation to have the visible island of rice in the center of the dish! Garnish with chopped green onions and Saltine crackers and dinner is served!
Like most soup-type dishes, this gumbo gets better over the next few days. Into the fridge go the left overs and you have some good eating for the next week!
Flour - 2 Cups...ish
Butter - 3/4 Stick...ish
Oil - 1 1/2 cups...ish
Another fat if available - chicken/bacon/etc. - 1/2 cup...ish
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 Poblano pepper
2 sweet yellow onions
1/3 bunch of celery
Chopped Garlic - Lots
Frozen Chopped Okra - 2 twelve-ounce bags
1 bunch Green Onion
Shrimp - Lots
Lump Crab Meat - Lots
Boudin - 1 pack
Andouille - 1 pack
Beer - 1 bottle...ish
Red wine - 2 cups...ish
Water - 6 cups...ish
Tobasco Hot Sauce - To Taste
Louisiana Hot Sauce - To Taste
Old Bay Seasoning - To Taste
Salt - To Taste
Pepper - To Taste
Smoked Paprika - To Taste
Thyme - To Taste
Basil - To Taste
Parsley - To Taste
Basil - To Taste
Filé powder - To Taste
Tony Chachere's Seasoning - To Taste
2 Bay Leaves
Tomato Paste - 2 dollops...ish
Diner in the Diner
I recently shared on FaceBook that I had made a pot of gumbo from scratch. This post was made without too much thought, as are most posts on social media. A friend soon requested that I share the recipe on a FaceBook group called Home Cooked Soul Food. This inquiry caught me off guard a little bit as food is generally not a topic I write about.
Now both of my grandmothers could cook and I do dabble in it a bit myself. Some of the things they cooked I remember and some I have forgotten. Grandma Scorsone made a good gumbo, the recipe to which she wrote down many years ago on a few scraps of paper. Of course I have improvised a bit since then and the scraps of paper are long gone.
So in the Meridian Speedway world there is a place for food, specifically menus and recipes, and that would be on board the dining car in the office car fleet. As President and CEO I do get to set the menu!
That being said, with this blog post I have created the "Dinner in the Diner" blog category. Here I will occasionally share recipes that in my world would be served in the dining car. It will also allow me to find the recipes when I need them!
Forthcoming will be my recipe for seafood gumbo!
New Equipment Delivery - 3-24-2017
SP B30-7 7788 is the third Speed Lettering Southern Pacific B-Boat to join the Meridian Speedway fleet. The model of SP 7788 received is factory equipped with LokSound. This consist sure brings back memories for me! Trios of these were very common in Louisiana and Texas in 1996. They were so common that they were taken for granted and often overlooked.
These models look great on the display case! This brings my roster of EsPee locomotives up to 10 which nicely fills out two shelves.
SP 7788, SP 7823, and SP 7850 will be sent off soon to have LED ditch lights and LED headlight upgrades done. I am looking forward to operating these units when completed.
I ordered this locomotive from Toy Train Heaven as this model was not available from either MB Klein/ModelTrainStuff or TrainWorld. I ordered two boxcars as well, the third number of the three KCS Atlas HO 50' Berwick boxcars (I was only able to get two from ModelTrainStuff) as well a Mississippi Delta version as MSDR 195224. One drawback of doing business with Toy Train Heaven is that it takes a while for them to process orders so you never know when your card will be charged. In this case it was almost two weeks after the order as placed. In the interim I guess they sold out of the KCS car, so it was not included in the shipment which is too bad. The MSDR car is quite nice however and I am glad to have it.
The prototype SP 7788 I have photographed several times. The image below is one example where I photographed her as the middle unit on SP train 1-HOCXM-18 at Patterson, LA on August 19, 1995.
This unit has air conditioner and antenna equipment on the roof which Atlas did not incorporate into the model. This is interesting because Atlas puts those details on their SP and SSW GP40-2 models as per the prototype. This is a little disappointing but not a big deal as these details are not difficult to add. It is just a bit odd as we have come to expect better from Atlas.
IC Freight House Details
The theme of the railroad I am building in the man cave has changed from Vicksburg to Gibsland. With some persuasion from Greg McComas and Dan Munson there well be more emphasis on backdrops and scenery so I decided to simplify the operating concept for this layout.
Gibsland offers that simplicity while containing enough detail to keep it interesting. One landmark in the Gibsland railroad scene is the derelict former Illinois Central Freight House across from the Louisiana and North West diesel shop.
A trip was made to Gibsland last Monday, 3-13-2017, to take some detail shots and gather ideas for the layout. This post will focus on the freight house.
The below Google satellite image illustrates how the freight house is positioned in relation to the various tracks and the Louisiana and North West diesel shop in Gibsland.
Measurements and photos were taken to compliment images taken on earlier trips to capture enough information to model the structure. Below we will go around the structure. The drawings were made from measurements taken on this last trip. The drawings are not exactly to scale as they were done in PowerPoint, however they are very close.
Below are some more images taken of details and different angles to assist with modeling this structure.
Small Delivery from Model Train Stuff
With the pain booth being back in business I decided it was time to try out the wheel masks offered by American Model Builders.
New Article in the Meridian Speedway Library
A new essay has been added to the Meridian Speedway Library. Noted photographer J. Parker Lamb has written a narrative that outlines the evolving importance of Shreveport in the U.S. railroad network. This essay is illustrated with a number of Mr. Lamb's photographs.
This the second article that Parker has penned for the Meridian Speedway Library.
New Air-Hose Installed
The new air hose and Iwata airbrush come post locomotive display case, so I made a few modifications to facilitate painting. Swapping the hose with the Badger fitting for the hose with the Iwata fitting was easy enough. A few turns with a wrench and the job was done.
The air tank is positioned where the air line comes through the floor from the garage below. I decided to place three brass hook under the display case to hold the air hose as it extends from the air tank to the paint booth. This keeps it out of view and always handy. I also place a couple of hooks on the side of the pain booth that fit around the moisture trap on the hose and feed it into the paint booth.
Looking forward to doing some painting soon.
Iwata Revolution HP-SAR Arrives Today
The Meridian Speedway paint shop has been inactive for some time now. A couple of packages arrived in the mail today that will change that!
I was quite displeased with the spray consistence of the last cars I painted with my once trusty Badger airbrush. These cars were the four Y&MV Thrall all-door boxcars. At the recommendation of Matt Sugerman, I decided to make the switch to Iwata. My comfort zone lies with single action, so I elected to get the same brush Mr. Sugerman has, the single action Iwata Revolution.
At first glance, this feels like a finely machined instrument! The weight and motion of the pieces are impressive. The kit comes with some needle lube, a wrench, and a bottle. I also got a badger hose with a moisture trap and the Iwata fitting. I was quite pleased with the Badger hose I was using before.
I look forward to great things from this airbrush!
New Equipment Delivery 3-2-2017
I must admit I seem to have a case of B-Boat fever! The fourth new 4-axle GE to join the Meridian Speedway stable this year arrived today in the form of Atlas B30-7 SP 7850. LokSound equipped, this unit looks great with sister B30-7 SP 7823!
The SP 7823 and SP 7850 are the only two sound-equipped SP B30-7s available from Trainworld. It looks like I will have to find another source to supply me with the remaining two numbers, SP 7777 and SP 7788. Yes I have B-Boat fever and there is no cure!
As usual a couple of freight cars were part of the order. I came across SOU 50127 and NAHX 90401 while looking at the specials on the Trainworld website. My intermodal fleet is woefully small and the Southern car was impossible to pass up. As for the NAHX hopper car, well there is no such thing as too many "data only" hoppers and tank cars in the era I am modeling.
Must find more GE's!!!
New Equipment Delivery - 2-15-2017
The latest release of Atlas B30-7s include four in the SP "Speed Lettering" scheme. I could not be happier about this release as these locomotives were very common in 1996 and they all looked good! My normal supplier ModelTrainStuff/MB Klein did not have these in stock with sound so I had to reach out to another source. Trainworld has a couple in stock, so I decided to grab this model of SP 7823.
It just happens that a roll of film I recently scanned had a few images of the SP 7823 leading train 1-AVSRQK1-19 on the SP Lafayette Subdivision. I could not be more pleased to have found a home for this locomotive on my display case! I am certain that some of its siblings will be joining the fleet in the near future.
A couple of freight cars got my interest while perusing Trainworld's inventory, so they were added to this order. My freight car fleet is woefully lacking CSX cars, so I picked up Athearn 50' PS-5277 box car CSXT 142841. I think this is my first 50' CSX box car. Hmmm.... Need MOAR!
I also picked up the second number of the Athearn black-and-white UTLX Hydrochloric Acid tank cars, UTLX 802752. I had picked up the first number at Discount Model Trains several months earlier. Both cars will be right at home on the Meridian Speedway!
New Equipment Delivery - 2-10-2017
A new Atlas LokSound equipped GP40-2 arrived today. The prototype SP 7941 was equipped as a slug mother, but I am sure by 1996 it could be found on the high-iron in any consist. I think it looks great with the SSW Athearn Genesis GP40-2's already on the property.
A pair of Athearn Genesis 50' PC&F box cars with a combination of a 6' plug door and an 8' plug door arrived today. Decorated for Southern Pacific, each car displays a different scheme. SP 694928 represents the last SP scheme complete with "Speed Lettering. SP 698436 has the classic Southern Pacific block lettering used for many years.
What's New in HO Scale