s164.com - focused on 3/16" (1:64) scale modeling

White Mountain Central Railroad

Visit the White Mountain Central Railroad in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

Conway Scenic Railroad

Bangor & Aroostook Railroad State of Maine Boxcar fresh out of the paintshop at the Conway Scenic Railroad, in North Conway, New Hampshire.

North Carolina Transportation Museum

Southern FP7 at the NC Transportation Museum loacted at the historic Southern Railway Shops in Spencer, North Carolina.

Conway Scenic Railroad Museum

Steam and Diesel power on Railfan Day at the Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, NH.

Mount Washington Cog Railway

Climb to the Top of Mount Washington in the New Hampshire White Mountains on the world's first mountain-climbing Cog Railway train.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Enjoy a ride along the Toccoa River in the Chattahoochee National Forest on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Trains depart from the historic depot in Blue Ridge, Georgia and travel to the GA/TN State Line and return.

South Carolina Railroad Museum

Experience the history of railroads in SC and ride the Rockton, Rion and Western Railroad (RR&W). Located near Winnsboro, SC, the museum offers hour long train rides, BBQ trains, and special events!

Circus Model Builders Plan Library

The CIRCUS MODEL BUILDERS have made their entire plan library now available online!
Get started building your circus models today!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

M.T.H. Locomotives - Electronics

Like many in the S community, I'm patiently waiting for the return of the S Helper Service product line and new S offerings from M.T.H. As the pre-order date for their first catalog has just passed, I'm really hoping there was good interest shown by the S community.

One of the areas I am very interested in is the electronics they will include in their locomotives. Between the advanced sound decoders on the market and the advances that Lionel delivered, M.T.H. has a high bar to reach. Like Lionel, M.T.H.'s 2013 catalog items in the Locomotives area are being delivered in one of two ways -- either with a set of electronics to handle all sound and power needs, or delivered as dummy non-powered units.

From the M.T.H. 2013 catalog (starting on the inside cover), every powered M.T.H. locomotive will include their Proto-Sound 3.0 sound and control system. Specifically in the catalog their EMD F3A and F3B powered units will feature Proto-Sound 3.0 units which
"offers authentic EMD 567 prime mover sounds, a first generation diesel horn and bell, crew and station sounds, and the ability to maintain any speed down to 3 scale miles per hour".
 Again from the text on the inside cover page of the catalog:
"Our Proto-Sound 3.0 sound & control system enables M.T.H. locomotives to run in every S gauge environment: conventional AC or DC, NMRA-standard DCC, or our own DCS digital command system.
With a conventional AC or DC transformer, Proto-Sound offers diesel motor sounds that ramp up and down with engine speed...You'll also hear squealing brakes whenever an engine slows down or stops. In addition, the Proto-Speed control acts like the cruise control on an automobile, helping your locomotive maintain a constant speed regardless of hills, curves, or heavy loads -- at any throttle setting from a 3 mph crawl to full throttle.
Add an M.T.H. AC transformer equipped with whistle and bell functions, and you can experience a much larger range of locomotive sounds: horn or whistle, bell, passenger station announcements or freight yard sounds, crew conversations and typical engine sounds such as air pumps...
If you operate with Digital Command Control  (DCC), you'll find Proto-Sound 3.0 locomotives take full advantage of the capabilities of DCC and are completely compatible with all DCC motive power. In fact Proto-Sound engines are already equipped to use DCC functions 0 through 28, to full advantage of newer DCC controllers that use the full range of NMRA standard functions.
To experience the full capabilities of Proto-Sound 3.0, add the M.T.H. Digital Command System (DCS) for full command control and an even larger range of sound and control features." (note: Pages 2 and 3 of the catalog provide a detailed view of Proto-Sound 3.0 features, along with a table of the DCC enabled features.)
At several points on pages 1-4, it notes that more details can be found on their web site at www.mthSgaugetrains.com. The nice thing about the online catalog is that you can click on any catalog item number and get a detailed page for that item.

The Proto-Sound 3.0 system really seems quite comprehensive. As always I'm even more interested in the reality of the delivered models. Until the S locomotives are delivered, the best I can do is review written material.

One data point that I do consider very useful is what they are delivering with Proto-Sounds 3.0 in their HO engines. Model Railroader magazine in the July 2013 issue (pages 64-65) has a detailed review of M.T.H.'s new HO scale Proto-Sound 3.0 equipped GP35. While it might not be an exact match to the S gauge unit, I suspect it will be close to the capabilities of the Proto-Sound 3.0 units in the S gauge models. The Proto-Sound 3.0 system is noted in Model Railroader's review as a highlight of the model. Find a copy and read the review for more details.

Also in the same review it is noted that the M.T.H. GP35 user manual is downloadable from mthHOtrains.com -- here's the GP35 Owner's Manual direct link. This provides considerably more insight into the specific DCC features implemented in the Proto-Sound 3.0 unit for the GP35. Again the DCC implementation looks pretty comprehensive -- including a number of advanced DCC features like user-defined function mapping, user-defined speed curves, and active functions at the consist address that are found in many DCC Sound decoders along with some M.T.H. specific DCC controls.

A little more to think about while waiting for the delivery of the models!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

MotorMax 1:64 Dioramas

These came out a while ago, but over the last week, I have run across two variations of this products that I had not seen before -- Bustling Metropolis has a subway stop with a Ford Crown Victoria yellow cab, and Down Town has a Savings & Loans with a white 1956 Ford Thunderbird. Here's the complete selection of 1:64 dioramas I have run across -- but there have been numerous variations from what I understand...


Hinkle's Package Store

A new kit from Bar Mills Scale Model Works in S Scale  is Hinkle's Package Store. Available from your friendly S scale dealer who carries Bar Mills' products, or direct from Bar Mills, Hinkle's footprint is about  2.75"w x 3.5" deep. Of course you'll need a little additional room for real-estate.

This little "package store" comes complete with everything from window signs to a fire hydrant. Bar Mills tried to keep this one "simple", making it a quick & fun-build for modelers of almost any modeling skills. A small footprint combined with colorful graphics & an awning help to make this type of structure versatile... whether using it in a small eastern town or a "narrow-gauged" setting it's generic enough to look right at home pretty much anywhere. The figure does not come with the kit... but anything from the mailbox to the sidewalk does. At MSRP $37.95 for S scale it's a good deal.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Stairs, Stairs, Stairs...

Recently the Bristol S Gauge Railroaders visited for our
monthly meeting. During the course of the afternoon some of them noticed some kits for stairs that I had in stock. They were not aware that these S scale stairs are available, nor where to get them. So in the interest of  providing greater visibility...

The S scale stair kits are produced by fellow S scale modeler Mike Fyten at Kaw Valley Designs. Mike has four different S scale stair kits available:

  • Kit #301 - Straight Stairs
  • Kit #302 - U-shaped stairs
  • Kit #303 - 2 pair of straight stairs
  • Kit #304 - L-shaped stairs
The kits sell for $11.95 each plus $2.00 for shipping. Buy any three kits and shipping is free. These make a really nice addition to any structure where stairs are needed and not included. Stair kits can be ordered from Mike at: Kaw Valley Designs, 6801 Nolan Rd., Shawnee, KS 66216 USA. If you have questions, you can contact Mike via email (remove all spaces) mike   @    kvrr-usa   .com.  Here are some photos of the available kits.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

S Scale Stockade Fencing

If you're looking for stockade fencing for your S scale layout, you don't need to look very far! Branchline Trains offers S scale 6 foot tall stockade fencing. Available is a package that provides 88 feet of fencing for your layout.

BRA #705 includes 10 sections of 6 foot tall by 8 foot wide panels as well as 2 sections of 4 foot gates. These can be laid out to separate one yard from another, or by using multiple packages, to enclose the entire back yard or property. The fencing can painted or stained as desired.

Using iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android devices as Wireless Cabs on DCC

Over the last few months I've received a number of inquiries regarding the use of the almost ubiquitous Apple iPhone's, Apple iPod Touch's, Android phones and Android MP3 players as wireless cabs on a NMRA DCC system. Some model railroaders are interested in supporting these in addition to a DCC manufacturer-produced wireless cab system they already have installed to provide support for additional cabs and/or supporting visiting cabs. Other model railroaders do not yet have wireless cabs for their DCC system, and are considering this approach as an alternative to DCC  manufacturer-produced wireless cabs.

So to assist others with understanding this option, we're developing a white paper on this area. As we prepare the white paper we'll be posting pieces of it here as blog entries, and invite readers to share questions, comments, and experiences in this area. Wherever possible we'll try to incorporate the reader input into forthcoming white paper wherever it will strengthen the white paper.

Right now the basic structure of the white paper will be:
  • Overview of Need and Solution options
  • Solution components  - what are the components needed, what role does each component perform in the solution, why is it required, how it connects to other components
  • Pros & cons of this solution
  • General solution configuration information
  • Solution elements - products, models, where to obtain, and general pricing
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
After the core of the white paper, we'll include a number of appendices specific to a number of major manufacturers' systems. At the moment, we are only planning to include appendices on systems where we have access to the actual manufacturer system and are able to actually configure and test the solution. Right now we have these appendices in our plans:
  • Appendix A: Solutions for Lenz DCC
  • Appendix B: Solutions for Digitrax DCC
  • Appendix C: Solutions for NCE DCC
  • Appendix D: Solutions for ESU DCC
Just as it is important to specify what will be covered, it is also important to be clear about what will NOT be covered in the white paper. This white paper (and related blog entries) will NOT cover any of these topics:
  • DCC manufacturer-produced wireless cab systems/solutions/products
  • Interoperability of DCC manufacturer-provided wireless cab systems
as they are already and/or better covered in existing materials from the manufacturers, various book authors, and/or numerous Internet forums.  Readers who are interested in detailed information on the DCC manufacturer provided wireless cab systems should consult the various sources of information already available.

If you have specific questions, comments, etc., please don't hesitate to let us know.

Our plan is to complete Version 1 of the white paper by July 2013.


PS To modelers reading this that model in scales other than S -- the solutions here should work equally as well in any scale where NMRA DCC compatible systems are in use.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

New Fields and Brass Updates in S Scale Product Database

Updates are on-going in the S Scale Product Database Project (SSPDP). Recently we have added these new fields to the Locomotive database:
  • Model Builder
  • Quantity Built
  • Manufacturer's Suggest Retail Price (MSRP)
  • Loco Phase
The first three fields should be obvious as to the contents, and the last field (Loco Phase) will be used to provide additional info about the special characteristics of the model, allowing us to move to values in Loco Type which are more consistent since they appear in a query drop down list. These fields will be populated as information is available. All of these fields are now available for export and for viewing on screen.

Also we're in the process of updating the  Brass models information in the SSPDP. We are currently updating Overland Models locomotive information, and will update other brass items following the completion of locomotive information.

Use this link for S Scale Product Database Project

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

S Scale Product Database Project adds SHS F-7A & F-7B

All EMD F-7A and F-7B units produced by S Helper Service have been added to the Locomotives section of the S Scale Product Database Project, including photos for most of them.

Use this link for S Scale Product Database Project

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

S Gauge Herald reviews restored in S Scale Product Database Project

For those who used the S Scale Product Database Project in the past, I'm pleased to report that the S Gauge Herald product reviews that are attached to some items have been restored. So if you see an item in the Database that has a product review from the S Gauge Herald, you should be able to read the review again.

As a future project, we plan to extend this feature to include either full text or citations (for magazine reviews) or hyperlinked URLs (for web reviews) to products as we find them.


SHS SW-9s added to S Scale Product Database Project

All EMD SW-9s produced by S Helper Service have been added to the Locomotives section of the S Scale Product Database Project, including photos for most of them.

Use this link for S Scale Product Database Project

SHS SW-1s added to S Scale Product Database Project

All EMD SW-1s produced by S Helper Service have been added to the Locomotives section of the S Scale Product Database Project, including photos for most of them.

Use this link for S Scale Product Database Project

Monday, March 18, 2013

PRR Crew Locker Building Available

The NMRA Mid Central Region Division 6 has produced a new structure in S scale. This release is a laser cut kit for a Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) Crew Locker building. The building has a footprint of 8" x 3". While they remain available, kits may be purchased on eBay for $35 plus shipping.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

UPDATE #2: Observations on the Lionel American Flyer SD70ACe Diesel Locomotive with Scale Wheels

This message is an update of a message I distributed earlier through the S Scale Yahoo group. The update is  based on additional observations & operations with the Lionel American Flyer SD70ACe.  As a result of additional deliveries from the good folks at Des Plaines Hobbies  & Port Lines Hobby Supplies, I've now got the benefit of three units to use & examine.  Run time of the units continues to increase. My updates have been edited into my  original message and the message is now divided into specific sections. Some of the updates are as a result of additional examination and testing I've done, while others are due to specifics inquiries from folks on this list, friends' comments, and direct emails I've received.

I must say that overall I am very happy with the locomotive. It is a very nicely detailed loco and runs very well. As with any model, it's all about compromises and choices that the manufacturer makes. IMHO Lionel made a pretty good set of choices at a very reasonable price point.

Since there have already been reviews of the Scale version of the SD70ACe posted by Rich Gajnak on the O Gauge Railroading (OGR) forum and by Ed Loizeaux on the S Scale SIG web site, I will try not to replicate that material here.

Here's some additional observations I have: 


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

S Scale Product Database Update

A minor update to the S Scale Product Database Project will now make a unique Record Locator Number (ID) and the Last Modified DateTime stamp available for each record in the Excel extracts. This will make it easier to detect and merge changed records, for anyone using the Excel extracts to update other databases. The additional information is available now, but the Last Modified date will only be populated as records are updated.

The S Scale Product Database Project and it's catalogs can be found at:   http://www.sspdp.info


Featured Post

MotorMax 1:64 Dioramas

These came out a while ago, but over the last week, I have run across two variations of this products that I had not seen before -- Bustling...


An active modeler in 1:64 scale (S scale) since 1998 and a relatively new On30 modeler, Michael's primary interests are in model railroading, structure modeling and control systems for model railroading. Michael is a life member of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA), a member of the National Association of S Gaugers (NASG) and the Bristol S Gauge Railroaders.

Michael and his wife Deane Louise co-own Pine Canyon Scale Models, a manufacturer of S Scale and O scale structures.

Michael is a past chair of the NMRA's Digital Command Control (DCC) Working Group and was a contributor to the NMRA's DCC Standards activities. Michael continues to play an active role in the use of NMRA DCC in S Scale model railroading.

Michael previously served as the NASG National Secretary and Librarian for the NASG's Russell M. Mobley Memorial Library.


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