Boston, North Station

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by thedowneaster, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman

    Hi all,

    Here's the official thread of my Boston-themed railroad! Over the last year I have begun building a new railroad in HO scale. I've been collecting equipment appropriate for railroading at North Station and beyond. I have MBTA commuter rail / MBTA green line, Amtrak Downeaster, and Guilford freight equipment.
    Here are a few photos of my layout where North Station will go.

    All of the tracks viewed in these photos are staging tracks (8 wide). This entire section, about 25-30ft long, will become the lower level. The upper level will be detailed and only form a "U". The back corner will be a dead-end....North Station Boston (TD Banknorth Garden). Out of North Station 8 tracks will merge to 4 tracks, cross the Mystic river, pass by Boston Sand and Gravel, Boston Engine terminal, and head north double track to Haverhill MA where the line will terminate. The entire commuter rail operation will be controlled automatically by computer control. The railway on the lower level will remain a completely seperate line, but the scenary will blend them together.


    After the staging yards the lower level merges to double track detailed mainline and forms a complete oval. The upper level and lower level will merge for about 12 feet with shared scenary. The photos make it very difficult to describe my plan as they can only show one wall at a time.. I plan to take a shot from outside my garage door to view the entire layout at some point.

    Attached Files:

  2. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman

    OK next to view is my MBTA progress.
    I currently have 5 Walthers Comet commuter rail cabs for the operation. This makes a fine-looking commuter train, but I would like to buy more standard coaches when Walthers comes out with more. I have added detail components to the cabs to make them look a little more authentic. My active cab car now has a pilot, horn, and diaphragms. The other cars have had diaphragms added as well.


    I also have several locomotives that I've aquired for use on the MBTA commuter rail. 2 Trainline F40PHs, a lifelike F40PH, and an Athearn GP40X being modified to become a GP40MC. All will be painted in MBTA colors.
    What's a real GP40MC?


    My next success was finding an MBTA Green line LRV on ebay. In fact, I just recently aquired three more units, and plan to use them in an active subway scene below north station.

  3. Trainiac77

    Trainiac77 Member

    Hey downeaster,

    I like your North Station ideas, I don't think I've ever seen that modeled before, keep the updates coming! :thumb:

    I've tried to view all the pictures in your second post from 2 different computers on 2 different internet connections and I keep getting invalid link errors. :confused: Any clue?

  4. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman

    Trainiac, I tried to post them as attachments to the original post...I will re-upload them onto my personal web space. To post a picture in a thread directly, must they be resized to 500 pixels max?
  5. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    A prototype rebuild, and not from a GP40X. GP40 or Dash 2 with, I believe, the nose from a scrapped F45/FP45 and the long hood stretched to accomodate HEP.
  6. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    I thought it was a rhetorical question answered by the photo?:confused:
  7. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Me too...I can't see the pictures in your second post....:cry:

    That's a pretty impressive undertaking....Keep us updated..!!!

    Good luck..!! :thumb:
  8. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman

    Triplex... The GP40MC was an active link with a picture of a GP40MC in MBTA colors. The prototype engines are mostly rebuilt ex-canadian national locos with HEPs and modern controls. The GP40X is an excellent base model for this project since it has a longer hood than the standard GP40...and has radiator flares. It's not perfect, but it will be a decent likeness.

  9. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman

    Tonight's showcase...Amtrak's downeaster.

    The real downeaster runs between Boston North Station and Portland Maine. The train is powered by a phase V GE P42 on the north end of the train, and usually has an NPCU (cabbage) on the south end (or another P42). The train usually carries 3-4 amfleet coaches and a cafe car.

    Photo links of the real deal:
    Downeaster from the northend P42

    Downeaster from south end Phase V

    Downeaster from south end phase IV

    My Downeaster:


    This shows my Walthers F40PH acting as the NPCU. I'm still not sure whether to paint this in Phase IV or Phase V. Seems like all of the prototypes have been repainted...but I still love the original!
  10. Trainiac77

    Trainiac77 Member

    All pix are viewable now, thanks :mrgreen: By the way, have you thought about extra weights on the Green Line LRV? I have 2 of them and they really don't run very well. They seem to be very noisy. Your thoughts?

  11. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman


    I think the green line train could use a little help... The shell is extremely light-weight and is clipped on rather than screwed. I attribute the noise to this design "feature." As far as traction goes...there really isn't much. I think adding some weight underneath the frame would help. Perhaps gluing some lead beneath the motor mount would keep it nice and low, and would add invisible weight to the middle of that car where it is needed most. I'm even considering removing the existing weight for the sake of interior aesthetics.
    They seem to run smoothest when the power truck is in the rear. I will run mine in pairs with one facing in each direction to ensure the gearing holds up.

  12. diburning

    diburning Member

    hello, I am new to this forum and found this thread through google.

    It's kind of weird how the GP40MC picture you linked to was the one I took :p

    I live in Boston and I think that your attempt to model North Station is looking very good!

    About the LRV. The manufacturer of the LRV, Mehano/IHC made the flanges too big and the motors spark (yikes!) Bowser makes a replacement undercarriage for the LRV which features 2 motors, correct wheels and trucks with track brakes (that don't work but are there for aesthetic purposes) but it does not accomodate the lights or the pantograph. The Bowser undercarriage costs more than the LRV itself! They are selling it for $90.

    Whatever you do, don't add weights to the LRV if you don't plan on replacing the undercarriage. The motor isn't very good quality and although it has couplers, it will have a hard time pulling anything let alone the weights on it's body. The couplers are for hooking it up to another powered unit.

    Also, you might want to repaint the LRV because the paint scheme isn't correct. The LRV only comes with the road number 3400. 3400 was the prototype/pilot car. The square where the pantograph is and the corresponding square on the other side of the articulation should be black. The rectangular area near the black spot should be grayish. They also neglected to paint the 2 black stripes above the doors.
  13. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman

    Hi Diburning!

    Nice photo from Nerail! You really captured all the important details of the engine. It gives me a nice prototype shot to use when modeling! What a coincidence you contribute to both sites! I do as well.

    Thank you for your take on the LRVs! The Bowser mechanism is tempting, but I'm probably going to wait until the IHC ones give up based on the price. My use for them will be underground, so interior and exterior lighting will need to be improved. They will simply be used in a set of 2 going back and forth on level track stopping at an underground subway station. They will change tracks on each end to account for inbound/outbound station stops.

    I had thought about having them come above ground in Cambridge, but decided they wouldn't be able to make it up any kind of grade! Do you think the bowser mechanism can handle it?

    I'm definitely considering your paint suggestions in addition to adding letter boards above the front windows to indicate train route letter and destination.

    Changing topics a bit...Do you happen to know where I can find measurements/drawings for commuter rail comet 3 coaches?

    Thanks for your suggestions!
    Nice to hear from you.
  14. diburning

    diburning Member

    I shot the photo of the geep through a fence as it was going by (I was walking down to yawkey station to catch an outbound. That train was an inbound)

    I know someone who kitbashed a GP40MC from an Athearn GP40X and a Kaslo cab.


    The center truck on the Boeing will derail on any curve less than 18". The Bowser mechanism is very good. It will run for hours and hours without overheating and has two motors instead of one (I don't know if the IHC Boeing has one motor or two. I ordered one off ebay and it hasn't arrived yet) The bowser mechanism can also do steep grades and won't derail on tight curves. I've seen reports that it can do curves that are 9 inches wide.

    Here is a picture of the bowser undercarriage:


    I don't know about the comet coaches but Walthers did a pretty good job with them. Just add number decals to make them look more realistic. You might want to glue on a bell and a horn for the cab coaches. Do you have a Walthers MBTA F40PH? I've found that the Walters F40PH isn't that good. It starts and stops because the pickups aren't very good quality. I'd suggest getting a Kato F40PH and repainting it in MBTA colors.

    Where did you get the horn and diaphragms? I am thinking about buying some commuter rail coaches and I'll need to put those on.
  15. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman


    The Walther's MBTA cars are just about next to impossible to find right now. I really hope they come out with more soon. One problem is their color choice for the purple. Its a lot pinker than the real deal and other models that are availble. (such as the soon to be released limited run bi-level kawaski cars, microscale decals, and the old life like f40s)
    I'd be willing to overlook this if I could get more coaches, but if they don't provide soon I will make Comet 3's and make them right.
    My detail parts were all from

    The GP40MC hasn't been too difficult to build, but I am worried about the paint job. There are no decals available for that paint scheme yet, and the curved yellow lines are not easy. As far as the Walthers F40PH's go, I think I will be able to make them run a lot smoother with a bit of work...even if I have to add feeders from the coaches.

    Thanks for the photo of the Bowser mechanism! I'll have to give it a try sometime! To many projects, too little money! haha
  16. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    You wouldn't happen to be familiar with NTRES? Its a site based around younger modelers, but they model the exact same stuff you do. Infact, a kid of there is trying to make a GP40MC the same way you did.

    I still think people need to go for that HEP generator in the back though. No one has gone for it. I think i'm going to have to make a GP40PH-2 one of these days and then see if i can't build that piece of the long hood easily, because its the same for the GP40MC and half a dozen other GP40 passenger variants.

    Never say impossible. I was searching for some SEPTA stuff, and low and behold, i went to a train show one day and there were PILES of SEPTA comet IIs sitting there. That was luck, but if you look real hard, you'll find them. I just saw some MBTA stuff on Ebay (i don't know if its still there) and it looked about right.

    And like i said, don't get to gungho about making Comet IIIs, it looks like Comet III shells will be available soon from Island model works, if IHP seems to expensive.

    If you are really careful, you can try to airbrush it. it will be tedious, but what you do is get a glass plate, put some masking tape on it, use a compass or whatever you need to cut the currect curvature from the tape, and then airbrush it (or paint, if thats how you do things). I've also seen people take a striping decal and curve them. This is even more tedious, since you need to use stuff like solva set to make the decal mushy. I wouldn't try it this way, but thats one way to do it.

    A Kato would be nicer, lol!
  17. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    Sure sounds and looks like it is going to be something great. Keep the updates coming. :D
  18. diburning

    diburning Member

    To paint a GP40Mc or a F40PH-2C, ust use masking tape. The stripes on the GP40MC are all straight lines so if you cover some parts with masking tape, paint, wait for it to dry, cover the other parts and paint again, it will work.

    The Walthers MBTA coaches ARE availible. has them amongst a couple others. There was a Horizon cab car on ebay a couple weeks ago but I forgot to bid on it. I did buy a new and never used Boeing LRV in MBTA colors though. It was shipped today and will be here Saturday or Monday.

    Who's making the Kawasaki cars? I haven't heard about it. Could you please explain?
  19. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    If they are straight stripes, then get the stripe decals. you can get stripes of various sizes in most colors. its easier that way.
  20. diburning

    diburning Member

    Here's a picture of the paint scheme

    Everything is straight lines except for the part on the nose. If you cut the masking tape right, you can easily paint that. Or, you can eyeball it and fix it with rubbing alcohol if you mess up.

    For the numbers, you can either get decals or paint them yourself.

    If you want to paint a F40PH, (the screamers, 1000-1017. The F40PHs without a seperate HEP generator. The HEP comes directly from the prime mover) it's just a purple stripe all around.

    The F40PH-2Cs are pretty much the same color scheme as the GP40MCs.

    I am leaving the F40PHM-2Cs (1025-1036) out of this because they are a little different in shape. They are F40 clones built by Morrison-Knudsen. But otherwise, they have the same color scheme as the F40PH-2Cs (1050-1075).

    If you want to do a historical model (I am suggesting this because you have a Boeing LRV on the layout which is no longer in service), you might want to consider getting a F10 and repainting it in MBTA colors (they had a couple color schemes). The F10s were retired/sold to CCRR in the 80's.

Share This Page