Op Session at RPI

 A few photos from the operating session at RPI's NEB&W back in April.


D&H at Fort Edward

As I was collecting the lighting at the rear of the Civic prior to loading it into the trunk after capturing the pair of ex-UP SD9043MACs from Rogers Island, I overheard the D&H North End dispatcher telling the VRS crew up in Whitehall Yard ...........”They should be up there at 03:30” and I concluded she (Maureen) was referring to local D47 which operates out of Whitehall Yard and runs to and from Saratoga Yard. Frequently the VRS night job from Rutland waits for D47 to deliver cars, and apparently this was one of those nights. And...........D47 operates with a pair of CP GP 38-2’s! I remembered how Greg Klingler had dragged me over to the station in town to check for possible angles after a night photo we combined on in the past there on Rogers Island, and I thought...........why not? This is about as spontaneous as I get at night! Lol!
A few minutes later I was walking around the east side of the Fort Edward station, liking what I found! The only wrench in the works was a speed limit sign and post I had to compose around. After I repositioned the car on this side of the tracks, I quickly got to work setting up lighting, imagining how nice a pair of bright red CP GP 38-2’s would look against the refurbished station. Two different police vehicles came past several times as I was going back and forth from the Civic with lighting and one rolled down his window to ask....................”Are you surveying”? I bet the two officers has guessed on what I was up to! This officer lost, as I told him I was setting up to take a night photo of a train. Officer Bill Gatewood, down in Ashland, Virginia would have won the bet as he knew what I was up to when we crossed paths years ago! lol! The officer tonight asked when the train was due, mentioned how they come thru all night long here, and then we parted ways wishing each other a safe night.
I’m just finishing the lighting when things start falling apart! I can hear D47 coming down Gansevort Hill below me, the grade ends at the bridge which crosses a portion of the Hudson River onto Rogers Island..........the stepladder and camera are still in the Civic. Not good! I get to the car and stuff the tiny GR and Pocket Wizard into each back pocket then make a racket dragging the stepladder out of the back with light stands and clothes falling onto the ground after coming along with it. As I position the stepladder D47 is blowing for the bridge, not much time to waste! I mount the Pocket Wizard onto the GR hotshoe turn everything on and climb up atop the stepladder as D47 rumbles over the bridge perhaps half a mile away. I fire off a test shot and it looks way too bright! Something is not right as I had set the flash output to expose the scene much darker!  I examine the exposure settings and try to increase f-stop from f2.8 but the GR for some reason does not respond! I’m not using the correct dial?
The crossing gates are activating next to the station! Unable to adjust the f-stop, I increase the shutter speed to 1/1000th of a sec. from 1/640th and the test shot looks better as D47 is blowing for the crossing. I’m thinking this is wild! How can it expose like this at 1/1000th? I had manually preset the focus so as D47 comes into sight I frame up the view and watch as the leader comes out of the dark, over the crossing and past my mark at around forty mph. A silent press of the shutter results in the lighting reflecting back.......................Champlain Blue, Yellow and Silver, as D&H 7304 flies past me! What a nice surprise! And the shot looks excellent! How can this be I wonder standing atop the stepladder as D47’s short train is gone into the night. Then........... I notice what’s goin’ on.
In my hasty handling of the GR I cleverly (somehow) managed to move/nudge the protected MODE DIAL which I normally set on manual everything. I had moved the dial to “shutter/aperture mode”! In this mode the camera adjusts the ISO setting for the selected aperture/shutter speed. SO I’m checking the settings on the rear screen of the GR, 1/1000th.......f2.8........ISO 12,800! Oh no! I instantly conclude I have a grainy/noisy shot here at such a high iso setting, as I was using iso 1600! But...........zooming in it does not look bad on the GR’s rear screen! I can’t believe it! Back home in post-processing the image is CLEAN! I’m impressed. This is quite a performance/save from a $560 camera/lens combo! Plus, it’s a shot of D&H 7304, one of two remaining locomotives on the CP roster to wear a variation of the D&H Lightning Stripe scheme! Please enjoy! Comments are welcomed. SHot on June 12, 2015 at 02:55 in Fort Edward, NY. Special thanks to Greg Klingler, you were right Greg!
All The Best In 2015;
Gary Knapp

Laser Cut Bridge

A really nice laser cut bridge from Monroe Models will hide the hole in the backdrop looking towards Newport....
 Wayne sent a photo along from his layout...

The prototype idea...LV - CNJ Blackman St. Bridge.

Full Moon

Last night turned out to be an unusual, early night by my standards. Wierd things are known to occur on full moon nights such as last night was. I took my night photo by a little after ten p.m.! It all was made possible by photographer Shaun McGinnis down in Bellows Falls, VT. As I was going through my routine of beginning my night I turned on the cell phone and found a text waiting for me from Shaun. It seemed that the Pan Am Heritage GP-9s that were seen in Bellows Falls the night before had stayed over rather than making the usual southbound run back to East Deerfield Yard! We agreed they should be returning south tonight and I thought of the stone arch bridge in Bernardston, MA. they would be  going across. It had been three months since I last had a chance to shoot either of the colorful pair working on the Conn. River Line. I was on the road by 7 pm when I pulled over to read another text from Shaun stating that EDBF, the job the Heritage units would return south on was arriving in Bellows Falls! And I had a two hr. drive ahead of me just to get down to the falls, never mind the stone arch bridge further south! I continued onto the interstate thinking it was worth the chance of catching the pair to risk driving two hrs. for nothing. It turned out to be a good decision!
Maybe one hour later I pulled over again to read another update from Shaun, surprisingly, the two GP-9s were heading out of town NORTHBOUND with a boxcar and a couple tanks! They would be working local BF-1 again tonight rather than returning south! A most fortunate development for both Shaun and myself as normally EDBF and BF-1 exchange power on a nightly basis. Little more than one hour later I was crossing the Connecticut River into New Hampshire, with my new destination, the station at Charlestown a couple miles away. I can hear BF-1 a few miles to the north running around their train prior to performing switching duties at a propane distributor. On the outskirts of Charlestown I spot southbound NECR local 601 powered by GP 40 437 switching out what looks like salt carrying covered hoppers. Apprehensively I arrive at the station, figuring if it looks too run down I will opt for the stone arch bridge in Bellows Falls. I jump out of the Civic and do a couple walks around the building and like it! Owned by what looks to be a building supplier, I have seen the station looking much worse in the past! I adore very tall stepladders but...........not here, stacked on display leaning on the front of the station!
I just get the lighting out of the car and crossing signals activate! Thankfully it is a false alarm as the NECR local comes by behind the 437. I get out the stepladder and spot it to check out a favorite view, inside between the track and station, an angle made possible by the lighting at night. The locomotives jump out at you more from this angle it seems to me. Once I have the lighting set up, test shots reveal a blown out white overhang so I adjust for that, then it just becomes a matter of waiting. A couple and their two kids, perhaps attracted by the flashes of light, come walking down the street off to the right and sit inside a gazebo nearby to watch. Knowing BF-1 was on their way back, I walk to the nearby Civic several feet away for a cup of tea, with the thought of perhaps asking the couple if they would like to be in the photo. This move away from the stepladder of course brings BF-1! I no more finish pouring the tea when crossing bells start ringing above me! I return to the stepladder as BF-1 finishes blowing for the crossing, ST 77s headlights brightening up the track behind the station. The Ricoh GR is ready to go though, as is the lighting, and I concentrate on leveling the small camera as ST 77 comes out from behind the station, drifting along at maybe twenty mph, hits my mark and in a spash of color the lighting reflects back the classic Boston & Maine maroon and gold paint scheme!
And yes, the station really is painted that color! And yes, I was REALLY glad I decided to continue the drive down here even when it looked like the Heritage engines might leave before I arrived. This trackage, part of the Conn. River Line, is now owned by New England Central and was used by CV and B&M prior to NECR ownership.  Pan Am trains utilize trackage rights to operate here these nights. Shot on June 3, 2015 at 22:02. Please enjoy! comments are welcomed. Special thanks to Shaun McGinnis for his help!
All The best In 2015;
Gary Knapp


 Picked up a pair of the InterMountain Sharks.  They run and sound real good.
In the attached picture you see Hostler Al Fish about to climb aboard.  He had just conned a local rail buff out of $5 to take the Sharks out of the shop and position them for photos.  He made a killing doing that!

Jim Layfatte


Rob Dennis Layout Update Too

Thank God Spring is here! My new Athearn Genesis B&M 200 showed up just in time!
 The south end of St Johnsbury yard is finished, track wise...

 Brad is testing the track ...

 Of course we had to do a photo shoot!

 Before we could finish the yard I had to finish the benchwork towards Bartlett.

Enjoy, Rob

Rob Dennis Layout Update

Progress is slow but steady, 15 minutes a day, upgrade a freight car, wire some feeders, work on a building....back in January we worked on the north end of St Johnsbury yard. I worked figuring out the Ethan Allen factory at Orleans, VT. Not a large customer but a large complex, I will make traffic for this place.

Enjoy Rob!

RS3m 502

Aaron stopped by in a while back to show off a new custom toy... includes DCC and sound...enjoy!

Alco back in service...

I sold Brad Peterson a yellow box Atlas RS3 I painted in the 90's, sitting in the box for years without the decals. He fixed up the little guy!

"Here's that RS3 you sold at Albany. I need to touch up the handrails and add number boards but for now she's in service."
"Headlights work, decoder in, the decals were a bitch...old and didn't want to work right.  I need a horn and associated piping but that hasn't stopped me from running a loco before."


Sister Pan Am Heritage

The night following the captured image of Pan Am Heritage engine ST 77 in Bernardston, MA., found sister Pan Am Heritage engine GP 9 MEC 52 heading northbound out of Claremont,NH as trailing unit on BF-1 bound for White River Jct., VT. I traveled down from Hinesburg, VT armed with prior knowledge of this move from overhearing the conversation between crews the previous night. Arriving around nine pm I monitored the car scanner as BF-1 did some switching moves in Claremont. I was an hour or more early! Very unusual, lol! I poked around looking at various spots before setting my sights on Milepost Five of the NECR Roxbury Sub at Hartland, VT. while BF-1 waited for permission from the NECR dispatcher to come north. With the outside temp in the single digits below zero, I thought it wise to wait in the cah at the little used grade crossing until BF-1 got past me before I jumped out to set up the lighting. It seems like it was just after midnight when BF-1 came by doing track speed, maybe thirty to forty mph, the Civics high beams illuminating MEC 52 as it swept past! I was delighted! This would be a first for Gary, shooting the 52 leading! I pushed the trunk release and jumped out into the cold.............now for the lighting.
This view from Hartland is, to me, a classic New England scene with its towering white barn and connecting white farmhouse for a background. The MEC 52 with its dark green paint would not stand out everywhere at night, but here, with white on three sides it should. Slogging around in the knee deep snow positioning lights kept me warm, and maybe one hour later I was all set taking test shots. Some great memories flash by here from my earlier visits many years back when I was beginning to shoot trains at night with flash units. NECR local 601 was a favorite target back then. Perhaps twenty to thirty minutes pass by before BF-1 tones in the NECR dispatcher for permission to head south.................behind MEC 52! BF-1 received permission down to the signal protecting the main at the south end of White River Yard only around five miles away. Up on the stepladder after fifteen minutes of silence I concluded they were still waiting for a signal. No worries though, BF-1 had permission south, it was only a matter of time before they got out onto the main and past Gary at Milepost five.
Then I hear it! That most welcome sound at night................an air horn blowing for a grade crossing! Then the distinctive sound of a 567 prime mover working, and I’m standing atop the stepladder..............smiling! This is gonna happen! Like I had any doubts?...........lol! BF-1s headlights appear far away up the long tangent track leading away from me to the north. I do the usual test shot of the lighting for the crew so there are no surprises and relax, trying to judge the speed of 52 as BF-1 closes in. The engineer throttles back a bit with a light train in tow and sails down past me. The lighting reflects back as GP 9 MEC 52 delivers the classic dark green and yellow of the Maine Central paint scheme to the scene................SUCCESS! Another “gem” in the world of railfanning in New England, captured! Shot in Hartland, Vermoot on February 26, 2015 at 02:10. Please enjoy! Comments are welcomed.
All The Best In 2015;
Gary Knapp

Boston & Maine Colors In Bellows Falls

Alerted to the possibility earlier in the evening about the presence of PAS Heritage engine ST 77, wearing the Boston & Maine (B&M) colors of maroon and gold residing in Bellows Falls, I was reassured it was not being used on local job BF-1 until tomorrow night. Then the text arrived from Scott Whitney, residing in nearby North Walpole, NH,..................”Get your butt down here! It’s being used tonight!” I was moving out of the driveway in forty five minutes after brewing a thermos of tea and loading up the Civic. Two hours and change later I was arriving at the station in Bellows Falls. There sitting on the VRS lead coming off the NECR main sat ST 77, headlights dimmed, waiting for EDBF to arrive from East Deerfield, MA. so the crews could exchange trains and continue with their duties for the night. Within minutes EDBF appeared with PAS Heritage engine MEC 52 trailing! Holy Cow! Both Pan Am Southern (PAS) Heritage engines are in Bellows Falls tonight!
Having already been most fortunate to have shot the 77 a couple months ago I mentally went over possible night photo locations I could catch the MEC 52, which I had never shot, returning south leading BF-1 back from Claremont, NH. Once the crews exchanged trains BF-1 continued north up the NECR main, passing NECR local 601 in N. Walpole, and conveniently (for Gary) telling the 601 crew not to plan on them (BF-1) returning back to Bellows Falls tonight, they thought they would leave the power in Claremont overnight as they needed to go further north to White River Jct. tomorrow night. Realizing the 52 would not be leading anywhere tonight, I turned my attention to southbound BFED, still sitting on the curving VRS lead onto the NECR main. Now I notice, in the darkness behind the 77 is a B&M boxcar...........ST 77 is running alone! Ha,ha,ha! I immediately think of the stone arch bridge in Bernardston, MA as a great location to catch 77 within. Once I see EDBF pull onto the NECR main, following railfan rule number eighteen..........Always make sure the train you want to photograph leaves its terminal before you do.........I head for the interstate!
Roughly one hour later I have the stone arch bridge in Bernardston cornered. I have looked this location up on google maps several times and remember the parking area on the south side of the bridge. I figure to only need four flash units and light stands to light up the scene, as one GP-9 would pretty much fill the bridge. I grab two light stands and flashes, climb atop the snowbank where the plows have piled up the snow, and head out. It soon became apparent the snow was too deep for me and I retreated to the Civic and drove across town to “plan B”, the parking lot at Kringle Candle. This looked a lot more inviting! As I set up the lights I hear an air horn to the north...........Rats! But, now I hear the whine of a turbocharger! This obviously cannot be the 77 coming, and sure enough, a GP 40-2 comes by running light, we are still on! Perhaps thirty minutes later I am standing atop a huge snowbank, watching as 77s headlights sweep above the tree line to the east as EDBF negotiates the curve before the stone arch bridge. Within the minute here comes the 77 down past me, running alone............in the snow! One of the many gems of railfanning New England. Please enjoy! Comments are welcomed. Shot on February 25, 2015 at 02:46. Special thanks to Scott Whitney!
All The Best In 2015;
Gary Knapp

NECR Orange!

Tonight's night photo is set in Milton, Vermont on the north end of the NECR with its subject being GP-38-2 2048, the newest addition to the fleet, having returned from the G&W shops after being rebuilt (and repainted!) from NECR blue & yellow painted GP-38 3848. A welcome addition during the rebuilding to the locomotive and its looks are dynamic brake grids. After arriving back on the NECR 2048s assignment has been running paired with a second four axle engine between Swanton and Burlington powering the Wood Chip Train during the day and the wayfreight between St. Albans Italy Yard and Burlingtons VRS Yard during nighttime hours. I waited patiently for 2048 to be turned to face north for a night photo as it was always south facing limiting locations to shoot it within and I learned earlier tonight..............it had happened! Tonight was the night! 2048 had indeed been turned to face north. HOORAY!
Mother Nature cooperated with excellent conditions, all things considered for this winter, with temps in the mid-teens compared to recent overnight temps in the minus mid-teens with a wind, and of course the still welcomed snow flying! lol! The “fun factor” goes down a bit at night when handling the aluminum light stands setting up in below zero temps, afterwards of course, the “fun factor” returns with the image captured! So there I was, its 3 a.m., I’m parked with eight or nine flash units blinking away on their light stands set up around the open trunk of the Civic, and a car pulls up across the street. I glance over and see a newspaper wrapped in plastic go into a mailbox. Then the driver, a middle aged woman opens the driver side door and steps out to look across at me and ask..............”Is this a party?” I explained what I was up to and she replied surprised...........”here?” I pointed confidently to the nearby main line, she glances at the track and says “Why trains?” And I go on to explain how much better they look at night with the flash lighting, pointing to the gathering in back of the Civic and she seems to lose interest, maybe it was the papers still to be delivered, and she says “Have fun!” before disappearing back into the car to drive off. One of the attractions this location provides to me is the outside frame wooden Central Vermont boxcar parked under the elevator, seen in front of the 2048s pilot in the photo.
Perhaps one and a half hours after the woman delivering the paper departs, the snow has picked up in intensity, (I’m delighted!) the turn to Burlington is toning in the dispatcher for permission on the main line south of me at Essex Jct., coming off the branch to Burlington, and the town of Miltons snow plow driver has arrived at the town garage, a snowballs throw away from me down the street. Congratulating myself for getting into position for a night photo in heavy snowfall, I’m thinking.........this shows promise! The town plows headlights shining out from the open garage door illuminate the falling snow “and” several light stands across the street. Smiling I imagine the driver wondering............what the heck are those things? lol! To the plow mans credit he pulls the plow out of the garage, backs his pickup in the vacated stall and drives off without a word of conversation or acknowledgement as I stand watching outside the Civic. Then I realize the light stands the plows headlights lit up are placed in the turn around for the plow across from the town garage! No worries! With the 2048 coming onto the main line at Essex Jct. they will be by me long before the plowman is done plowing the towns streets!
The snow is coming down heavy now, its light powder snow, and with no wind it accumulates on the equipment, especially the flash unit heads, further diffusing the light from them. Not to worry though, the snow will NOT be melting for several weeks yet, it can just be blown off the equipment afterwards tonight. The camera and lens being the exception of course. I give the crew ten minutes to pull off the branch and get underway then go over to the stepladder, take the camera out of the bag and get all set under the brightly colored umbrella standing on the second step from the top. Maybe ten minutes later I hear the welcome sound of an air horn blowing for a crossing. The umbrella is carefully collapsed and put away. This is the best! In a snowstorm, at night, GP 38-2s heading towards me and the temps are in the mid-teens above zero! A few minutes later 2048 rounds the curve below me and comes into sight, drifting up the tangent track into position. The flash units light up the scene in the blink of an eye as the GP 38-2s roll past me braking prior to doing their work here at the feed mill. I climb down off the stepladder and kneeling in the snow inspect the image..............Success! Shot in Milton, Vermont on Feb. 19, 2015 at 05:55. Special thanks to Ed Ferguson. Please enjoy! Comments are welcomed.
All The Best In 2015;
Gary Knapp

"Flying Switch"

I thought I'd scanned all from this "Flying Switch" series some time ago but, I came across this one just today.  a local crew was switching out this car just north of the U&D switch in Kingston.  They were performing a "flying switch" but, gravity alone didn't take that boxcar far enough on it's own to clear, hence the strong arm action! Right place at the right time to catch the move!
 12/5/1987 in Kingston, NY

For the model railroaders:  Neat idea for an operations move or just a scene:-)

Wayne Sittner

"Inch At A Time" Chapter 17 - Scenery Detailing‏

Time passes quickly.  It's hard to believe it's been four months (almost to the day) since my last progress update.  This time I'll let the pictures speak (mostly) for themselves. The prototype photos I used for reference were taken in McKees Rocks, PA.  
I thought the near derelict feel of this area was close enough to what the landscape around my abandoned cement plant should look like.  There's a great variety of scenic material in use here. 

I found most of it, not in Woodland Scenics, Noch or other commercial offerings but, rather in nature itself.  There MUST be variety to create a look of reality.

Regards to ALL,
Wayne Sittner