Well it has been almost a year since my last post here on the Meridian Speedway blog. There have been many distractions and time seems to fly by faster than ever! You may notice the website now has a newer format. Though it is a bit nicer, all of the individual page headings and slideshows were deleted with the upgrade. I have spent a great amount of time trying to replace some of the lost data. That project continues.
That being said, the good news is that I have finally decided on the scheme for my third proto-freelanced model railroad. My version of the Mississippi Central (MCRR) has been in development for the last two years. This railroad compliments my Yazoo and Mississippi Valley and is the other half of the IC regional spin-off property in Mississippi in the Meridian Speedway storybook.
The paint schemes I experimented with numbered approximately two-dozen. The above image represents the final version. I sent my specifications to Circus City Decals and was pleasantly surprised with a very quick turnaround on artwork and printed decals. The first sheet arrived yesterday!
The above artwork was the final version provided by Circus City before we went to press. Though the MCRR does not roster any EMD locomotives, the GP38 used for design purposes does look sharp!
The Y&MV pays tribute to its Illinois Central heritage with a paint scheme inspired by the classic black scheme worn by Illinois Central freight locomotives which displayed the famous "Green Diamond" logo. The Y&MV rosters only EMD locomotive.
In contrast the MCRR rosters no EMD locomotives and the paint scheme is inspired by the Illinois Central "Chocolate-and-Orange" passenger scheme. Intentionally the colors are not the exact Illinois Central shades of orange, brown, and yellow. I have decided to go with Scalecoat II 2014 "PRR Caboose Red" for the long hood and running gear, Scalecoat II 2015 "Reefer Yellow" for the cab, and Scalecoat II 2016 "Reefer Orange" for the nose and hood band. The yellow band and frame stripes will be from the decal set.
Last week the first locomotive destined for the MCRR roster arrived in the form of a LokSound-equipped Atlas Alco C425 model decorated as Delaware Lackawanna 2457. The paints also arrived directly from Minuteman Scale Models.
This decal sheet is my first ever order from Circus City. They do look nice! I am looking forward to getting this project underway!
More to come....
Intermountain LokSound Equipped IC 8394
I am pretty excited about today's equipment delivery. This includes my first InterMountain locomotive. LokSound equipped IC GP10 8394 is now a member of the Meridian Speedway fleet! Overall a great looking locomotive though I would prefer that the number board numbers be less transparent. There will be many more GP10's added to the Meridian Speedway stable in the future!
I found a couple of images of the prototype IC 8394 on-line. The most recent image captures the IC 8394 as the second unit on an Illinois Central coal train. Is photographed is creddited to Tom Golden and can be found in the Sam Beck collection on rrpicturearchives.net.
The next image was take by Ralph Hawkins at a place I visited often in my childhood--Covington, Louisiana! In this January 1985 view we see the same locomotive wearing orange-and-white dress as ICG 8394. What a great photograph!
Today's shipment also included a couple of freight cars. I got Broadway-Limited cryogenic tank car UTLX 80074 decorated for Liquid Air Corp.
Athearn RTR 50' FMC 5347 Box Car SRN 5281 completes this new equipment delivery. The Sabine River and Northern ranks among my top-ten favorite shortline railroads. I recall seeing the distinctive red box cars quite a bit in the 1980's and 1990's.
My First Bowser Locomotive Arrives Today - 8-14-2017
I have a few Canadian grain hoppers over the years. Canadian Pacific grain trains made their way to export terminals via the Illinois Central with some regularity in the 1990's. CP grain trains have always had a place in my Meridian Speedway playbook, though until now I have not purchased any power for these trains.
The latest offering from Bowser I found to be irresistible! Nothing says Canadian quite like a "Red Barn" SD40-2F! I ordered their version of CP 9017 factory-equipped with LokSound. This is a beautiful locomotive! Now I will have to order a couple of regular CP SD40-2s from Bowser to complete the consist....
GP7Us Visit the Paint Booth
It has been a long time coming. The ex-Santa Fe GP7Us acquired to become Y&MV 200 and Y&MV 201 have recently been primed and painted white on the cabs and frames. Today I masked the white parts and painted them black. Y&MV 200 and 201 are closer to completion.
AL&M NRHS Passenger Special
Here are some video clips from a trip made in 1994 to an AL&M passenger train excursion. The train ride would be a round trip between Crossett, AR and Monroe, LA on Georgia Pacific;s newly acquired Arkansas Louisiana and Mississippi.
First is a quick video clip taken of a five-unit locomotive consist laying over at the KCS Vicksburg Yard on September 30, 1994 - KCS GP40 4759, KCS GP40 4763, KCS GP40 4781, KCS GP40 4760, and MSRC GP10 1043 idle away - Video by C.M.Palmieri.
Next we catch KCS Train No. 30 as it hustles through Mound, LA - KCS GP40-2 4799, KCS GP40 4749, HATX GP38-2 202, and KCS GP38-2 4014 lead 117 cars - Video by Patricia Palmieri - 9-30-1994.
On Saturday October 1, 1994 Russell Tedder and the AL&M railroad hosted a passenger special powered by two spotless green-and-white GP28 locomotives. This was a round trip from Crossett, AR to Monroe, LA and back. Three freight cars were picked up at Bastrop, LA on the return trip making it a mixed train at the end of the day! There were several photo run-bys and cab ride opportunities. Video by Patricia Palmieri and Christopher Palmieri.
On Sunday October 2, 1994 the KCS (Former MidSouth Rail) Freight Yard in Vicksburg, MS was a busy place! There were 19 locomotives on the property with hostlers and yard jobs keeping busy! Video by Patricia Palmieri.
KCS train No. 29 climbs out of Vicksburg, MS - KCS GP40 4755, KCS GP40 4770, KCS GP40-2 4798, KCS GP40 4753, and MSRC GP10 1048 blast out of the tunnel and into the famous Kudzu-lined cut with 137 cars on Sunday, October 2, 1994 - Video by Patricia Palmieri.
The final video of the trip was during a stop on the way home to catch southbound Illinois Central Memphis, TN to Baton Rouge, LA train MEBR as it rolls through McComb, MS with IC SD40-2 6129, IC SD40-2 6148, and 64 cars - 10-02-1994 - Video by Patricia Palmieri.
First ScaleTrains.com HO Equipment Arrives Today!
Normally I do not pre-order HO trains, however, I have several pre-orders with new manufacturer ScaleTrains.com. The first delivery for the Meridian Speedway from ScaleTrains.com arrived today in the form of four Rivet Counter line GATC 4566 cuft Airslide Covered Hopper cars decorated for ADM Milling Company. The cars represented are ADMX 53005, ADMX 53022, ADMX 53066, and ADMX 53109.
As anticipated, these cars are exceptional! I look forward to seeing what this company will bring to the table over the years to come!
Athearn RTR SD40-2 6130
My second Athearn RTR SD40-2, IC 6130, arrived today. This model is a slightly later version than what I need for my era with a roof-mounted air conditioner. This will be easy to fix. Athearn RTR clay slurry tank car JMHX 71050 also arrived today. Both are great models!
Athearn RTR SD40-2 IC 6129
I reached out and grabbed one of the new Athearn RTR Illinois Central SD40-2s from the latest release. IC 6129 is a locomotive that I have seen and photographed a number of times. The Illinois Central bought a group of SD40-2s used from the Burlington Northern and rebuilt most of them without dynamic brakes. These units were common power when I was photographing the Illinois Central in the 1990's. The model I purchased is not DCC equipped and is fodder for a future LokSound and LED upgrade.
Below is a photograph I took of the prototype IC 6129 in McComb, MS on 2 October 1994. She is seen leading southbound Memphis, TN to Baton Rouge, LA train MEBR through this historic Illinois Central town:
I also picked up a Fox Valley Models CSX Seven-Post boxcar in a very plain scheme. This purchase was inspired by an image I recently scanned of a car in the same class, CSXT 134244, in New Orleans which I took in 1996. The model represented is very close, CSXT 134231. I am glad to have this unique car in the Meridian Speedway fleet!
RTLX 2048 Arrives Today - 6-17-2017
A single-car delivery arrived today in the form of an Atlas GATX 20,700 gallon tank car decorated for Relco Tank Line as RTLX 2048. Simple is good - love the car!
LED Headlight and Ditch Light Upgrade
Recently my Atlas models of SP B30-7s 7788, 7823, and 7850 were sent to Arthur Bradley of BradleyDCC to have LED ditch lights installed as well as an LED headlight upgrade. T&GN C40-8 3149 was also sent to have keep-alive equipment added. The above image of the SP trio was received from Arthur Bradley today with an update that the work was completed and the units have been shipped back home.
Damn that looks good! It is always a pleasure doing business with BradleyDCC.
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