Sunday, September 9, 2018

Extra 3202 East

Extra 3202 East Climbing the Atwater Hill - Willmar, MN - September 9, 1950

First stab at a Photoshop image. I will work on focus stacking photos in the near future hopefully.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Willmar Division Diesel Locomotives - 1969

(SW-1   600 HP) 1 Locomotive Total

(SW-2   800 HP) 1 Locomotive Total

(SW-4   1000 HP) 19 Locomotives Total
102, 104, 105, 106, 108, 110, 119, 120, 121, 122, 129, 130, 134, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150

(SW-4   1200 HP) 1 Locomotive Total

(SW-7-9   1200 HP) 8 Locomotives Total
11, 12, 21, 22, 23, 33, 166, 167

(SW-15   1500 HP) 5 Locomotives Total
205, 206, 207, 208, 209

(SD-7   1500 HP) 1 Locomotive Total

(SD-9   1750 HP) 5 Locomotives Total
590, 591, 592, 595, 596

(GP-5   1350 HP) 3 Locomotives Total
903, 904, 905

(GP-5   1500 HP) 1 Locomotive Total

(GP-7   1500 HP) 18 Locomotives Total
627, 628, 633, 634, 635, 636, 637, 639, 640, 641, 642, 646, 647, 648, 649, 650, 651, 652

(GP-20   2000 HP) 4 Locomotives Total
2032, 2033, 2034, 2035

(RS-2   1000 HP) 2 Locomotives Total
186, 190

69 Diesel Locomotives Total

All photos courtesy of the Great Northern Railway Historical Society and the Newby Collection

Friday, May 25, 2018

Willmar Division Steam Locomotives - 1954

Oil Burners

(C-1 Class)  12 Steam Locomotives Total
813, 814, 821, 826, 828, 829, 832, 833, 842, 845, 846, 847

(P-2 Class)  9 Steam Locomotives Total
2500, 2502, 2509, 2513, 2516, 2517, 2521, 2523, 2524

(S-2 Class) 6 Steam Locomotives Total
2576, 2578, 2579, 2582, 2584, 2587

(O-4 Class) 21 Steam Locomotives Total
3210, 3213, 3215, 3217, 3218, 3219, 3220, 3221, 3224, 3226, 3234, 3235, 3237, 3238, 3239, 3243, 3244, 3248, 3250, 3252, 3254

(O-6 Class) 10 Steam Locomotives Total
3351, 3354, 3356, 3361, 3362, 3364, 3366, 3369, 3370, 3375

(O-8 Class) 20 Steam Locomotives Total
3378, 3379, 3380, 3381, 3384, 3385, 3386, 3387, 3388, 3389, 3390, 3391, 3392, 3393, 3394, 3395, 3396, 3397, 3398, 3399

3246 Leased.

78 Steam Locomotives Total

All photos courtesy of the Great Northern Railway Historical Society and the Keyes Collection

Friday, January 5, 2018

Photo - GN O-3 Class Facelift

My first modification to my Broadway GN Heavy Mikado. These were placed in the GN O-3 Class and heavily modified after WWII. My first detail change was to add flying pumps, relocate the headlight, and the addition of numberboards. More changes are on the way as I find the time to work on it. Photo by Sean Murphy.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Great Northern Class C-1 0-8-0 Switcher #828 - Part II

Status update on the #828...

I was able to rewire the locomotive and it functions on DCC! While this took a while, I can breath a sigh of relief that I have not burned up the decoder.

Unfortunately there is a lot of gear noise still, even after lubrication. It also staggers a bit at the slowest speeds. Any ideas out there short of regearing would be helpful.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Great Northern Class C-1 0-8-0 Switcher #828 - Part I

1949 Minneapolis, MN

The Great Northern operated a number of switching steam locomotives over the years. None were more prominent or lasted longer than the Class C-1 0-8-0 steam locomotives that operated throughout the GN system from WWI to the end of steam. 

The Great Northern updated much of it's steam power in the 1900's and 1910's and buying new switchers was part of that. The GN preferred its custom steamers and the C-1's were ordered in 1918 from Baldwin, just ahead of the US Railroad Administration taking over locomotive orders. "They had the common (at least for the GN) 55-inch drivers and 26-inch by 28-inch cylinders. They were equipped with Walschaert valve gear and piston valves. As delivered, they operated at a boiler pressure of 200 psi (design pressure was 210 psi) with a total weight of 232,600 pounds (all on the drivers, of course) and a tractive effort of 58,500 pounds." (Middleton & Priebe, 2010)

#828 served on the Willmar Division through 1955. Almost the entire class of locomotives lasted until December 1957 when the first were sent off to be scrapped. They outlasted most of their counterparts for the simple fact that they were in good shape and were near their fuel and service locations at all times in yard service.

Most photos place it in service at Minneapolis but this is close enough for me. While never a road locomotive, the limited space I have to model in requires a small GN locomotive to conduct switching moves with, so concessions have to be made. In the future, I hope to get some larger GN steam models.

1951 Minneapolis, MN

I have a mint, DC, Tenshodo Great Northern C-1 0-8-0, circa 1960. After lubricating it and adding a Kadee coupler on the tender, it runs fairly decent for sitting in a box for over 50 years. The motor runs fine but sounds a bit like a coffee grinder. What I hope to do with the locomotive is a full DCC conversion and repower. I will do this in two phases.

Phase I:
I hope to install a new LED headlight to replace the jewel headlight on the smokebox. I hope to do the same with the tender light. I will also replace the motor and drive shaft joint with parts from Northwest Short Line. Last, I will run a connector cable to the tender which will house the new decoder, the ESU LokPilot Standard that I picked up for cheap. If I fry it in the install process, it will be a lot better than losing an expensive sound decoder.

Phase II:
If everything works out in Phase I and I am able to run it flawlessly on DCC, I will look to add a sound decoder.

If I can get through all of that, I will weather the model and add detail down the road when my skills are better. All of these tasks will certainly be challenging and at the very least it will be a learning experience.


Middleton, K. R., & Priebe, N. F. (2010). Steam locomotives of the Great Northern Railway. Stevens Point, WI: Great Northern Railway Historical Society.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ground Goop

Looking for an ideal ground base is not easy but I am happy with the technique that I found in a number of places online. Called "ground goop," this mix of ingredients forms a hard shell over whatever forms you choose to use. I used pink polystyrene but I am sure that almost anything could be used. I found the mixture very workable and a drywall knife worked great for both mixing and spreading. Using a wet finger occassionally was great for minor adjustments as well. 

After about 36 hours even the thickest areas were dry and it truly forms a tough shell. If you are not happy with the contours, the dried goop will readily accept additional applications over the top of it. I have been told that water will loosen the mixture with some work, but I have no desire to find out...

Finding the right base color is important, even when you plan to add scenery over it eventually. The color will show through where scenery wears off on the surface, where there isn't enough coverage, or if the surface is pierced or dented by anything. Behr "Underground" is pretty close to the dirt color found in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota. While I could have chosen something even darker, I like the dry soil look vs. a darker, wet look.

Below I have posted the ingredients that I have used for my modules, although this is by no means the only way to do this.


  • 32 oz. Vermiculite - Can be found at Home Depot.
    • A finer vermiculite would probably be better but I use what's readily available year round and this is the only variety at the Home Depot that I was able to find in stock.
  • 32 oz. part Celluclay -  Can be found at Michaels.
    • The amount of glue used is flexible 
  • Mix with small amount of water to your desired consistency.
    • Oatmeal consistency works well.
  • 8 oz. Paint #N200-7 Behr "Underground" -  Can be found at Home Depot
  • 24 oz. Elmer’s White Glue -  Can be found anywhere.