August 2015

Testing Model LRVs !

Finally, the wait was over. The first HO scale model San Diego (SDMTS) S70 LRV arrived on July 1, 2015 at Custom Traxx. This is the model whose shells and floors were fabricated using 3D Printing. Volkmar Meier of France attended the East Penn Traction Club meet in May 2015 and gave a presentation about 3D Printing. It was then that Custom Traxx made arrangements for Volkmar to provide two models for the Southern California Traction Club to use on their LRV Display. No one has yet produced models of any of the Los Angeles vehicles but there have been HO scale models produced of both the San Francisco past and present vehicles. Now we had models of two current San Diego vehicles. The S70 model was powered by two Halling drives in both the A and B units as shown below.

Each Halling drive has a motor with a flywheel on each end of that motor. The motor is attached to the geared truck with a drive shaft. The unit negotiated 8" radius curves when being tested by Volkmar prior to shipment and negotiated 9" radius curves on the SCTC test track during their testing. The club also has three five-unit, three truck Leopold Halling Flexity units which are powered by a single motor in the C unit and they ran much better than expected.

First, the S70 model was checked against the dimensions shown on the SDMTS web site and found to be very close if not "right on". At the same time, we checked the dimensions for our MTS Imports SD100 and found similar results:

Length (Body)
SDMTS S70 (short)
79.2 ft
8.7 ft (104 in)
12.4 ft
76.7 ft
8.7 ft (104 in)
12.4 ft

After the models checked out extremely close to these measurements if not exactly, they went to the next step and Custom Traxx finished the car with some of their CN-2051 decals since Volkmar had already painted the unit in the SDMTS red and black.

The car had been equipped with an eight-pin plug and an overhead/two-rail switch by Volkmar prior to sending the car and this would make testing easier and faster. So the first thing to do was to test the operation of the car in the two rail mode with the pantograph lowered. This was done on Friday, July 3rd on a layout in Calabasas, CA owned by attorney Michael Duberchin.

Michael is the same modeler that introduced the SCTC and Custom Traxx to the Roco Z21 Command System. The car ran flawlessly on his extended layout in the DC mode. On July 4th, the car was brought to the clubhouse of the Southern California Traction Club and operated in the two-rail DC mode with the pantograph contacting the overhead wire. It was then that they noticed that there were problems with their catenary. Volkmar had not yet fastened the shells to the chassis of all three sections. With the pantograph sitting on the top of the C section, any irregularities in the catenary became obvious almost immediately. After about two hours, most of those problems were eliminated. Most of those problems were hangers too far from the track center and span wires too loose. It also helps to ensure that your line poles are firmly secured in the layout. The club LRV display is modular so each time it is set up, the club knows it may have to make some adjustments.

The goal of this project is to produce an HO scale model using injection-molding for the bodies, die-casting for the floors, Bowser drives for propulsion and a TCS WOW sound decoder. Work will proceed in that direction.

Custom Traxx is also testing the first of the HO scale models of the 29 double end Kawasaki LRVs currently under development by Island Model Works (Joe Ogden). The prototypes have been operating between 69th Street in Upper Darby, PA to both Sharon Hill, PA and Media, PA since they replaced older equipment in 1981. Joe asked Custom Traxx at the May 2015 East Penn Traction Club Meet to assist in the testing of the proposed model and we are told that Custom Traxx cheerfully agreed. The test model consists of a detailed preproduction resin shell and floor with power from a Bowser PCC mechanism with flywheel from a defective RTR PCC car. The next photo shows the testing program on the car being accomplished at John McWhirter's testing room using the Roco/Fleischmann Z21 DCC System. On the same table are Leopold Halling models of Bombardier Flexity trams from Gmunden and Innsbruck, Austria. Note the Z21 unit (black box) and the associated Wi-Fi router (white) in the lower right corner:

Custom Traxx is nearing the completion of their testing on the Island Model works model of the SEPTA 100-128 series LRV. They have sent all their findings to Joe Ogden for his review.


Allied Model Trains Abruptly Closes!

At 6:42 AM on Tuesday, July 7, the following internet message was received by the Trolleyville Staff:

Dispatched from Allied Model Trains, Culver City, California

It is with great sadness we send this messages to our friends, customers and vendors.
As of today July 07, 2015, we are closed.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, the stockholders had to close and declare insolvency.
We had sixty-nine wonderful years and we are sorry the journey has to end.
All of us at Allied Model Trains, Nick, Fred, George, Karie, Sam and Dave thank you for all the years of support.

Allied Model Trains

Allied Model Trains originally opened in 1946 in the West Los Angeles area, with a large, highly-stocked store on Pico Boulevard. In 1989, they moved to 4411 Sepulveda Boulevard, in nearby Culver City to a custom-designed and constructed building fashioned after L.A.'s Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT). In March 2007, the store's owner at that time, Allen Drucker, sold the business and leased the Union Station-style building to local photography retailer, Samy's Camera. Allied was purchased by three partners one of whom was the owner of another Model train store in Pasadena, CA, The Original Whistle Stop. A second partner was a former employee of Allied Model Trains and the third operated his own successful model train business. The business was moved to a smaller storefront at 4371 Sepulveda Boulevard, Culver City, just across the street from the LAUPT-style store, where they conducted business from July 2007 until July 6, 2015.

The store's proximity to the entertainment industry made it a popular store for model railroading celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart and Gary Coleman.

This is what greeted former customers on Tuesday morning, July 7, 2015!

However, this sign was found later on the front door:

We will most likely see most of their former customers at Arnie's Model Trains in Westminster, CA.


Perley Thomas - Builder of Classic Streetcars!


By Edward B. Havens

Trolleys manufactured by Perley Thomas of High Point, North Carolina, are best known for the 35 surviving examples in New Orleans which operate on the historic St. Charles streetcar line. The Perley A. Thomas Car Works, Inc. was a 20th century builder of both wooden and steel streetcars. It was named for its founder, who had been employed by the Southern Car Works, also located in High Point, North Carolina. He founded his company when Southern Car Company went out of business in 1916. The New Orleans cars have been modeled recently in HO scale by Bowser Manufacturing Co. and were imported in brass in 1965 by Model Tramway System (Fairfield Traction Models), also as a powered model. An imported non-powered model in brass in O scale was distributed by MTS Imports. Car No. 832, surviving at Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, had "War Bonds" livery during World War II:

NOPSI Car 832 on the Desire Line.

And a contemporary look :

NORTA Cars 926 and 911 at Carrollton& Claiborne terminal.

Perley Thomas built various types including double truck Birneys. They had extended lives, being resold by Durham, N. C. to Toledo, Ohio, and by Helena, Montana, to Butte in the same state. A Durham car is shown in the next photo:

The double ended Birneys were used at Toledo on lines that lacked reversing loops or for short turns. The Toledo fleet was mainly comprised of single ended Kuhlman-built Peter Witt streetcars:

Here's an advertisement for the Helena cars:

Wikipedia reported this about Perley Thomas streetcars: "Known for their workmanship and durability, some of the cars built by Perley A. Thomas Car Works in the early 1920s are still operating today in New Orleans. Thomas based the design of these cars on New Orleans' first order for double-ended, double-trucked, arch-roofed electric streetcars, the 400-series from Southern Car Works."

NORTA Car 915 on Saint Charles Avenue.


Los Angeles' Expo Line Testing Moves Westward!


On Monday morning, July 13th, Trolleyville caught P865 car 107 on the eastbound track at Sepulveda/Exposition Station of the Expo 2 line under power. A few weeks earlier, LACMTA dragged one of the P865s over the Centinela overpass and that was the first electric transit car in the city of Santa Monica since the 1950s.

The above car, known officially as a P865, is one of the most dependable cars on the system and has been recently refurbished along with many others in the fleet. At that time, the Overhead Catenary System (OCS) was currently energized as far into Santa Monica as 17th Street.

During the week of July 20-24, testing started on the grade crossing signals at Military Avenue, Westwood Boulevard and Overland Boulevard. Several runs were made in both directions including some runs made with two cars going the same direction on both tracks. In the next photograph are cars 107 and 104 both heading eastbound toward Miliary Avenue. They have triggered the signals and the illuminated red/white NO RIGHT TURN lights are already activated.

The farthest west that we have seen powered cars operating is the Sawtelle Boulevard Bridge, which is just west of the I-405 freeway:

However, on Sunday, July 26, members of the SCTC found Siemens cars 229 and 235 sitting even farther west on the Expo Right of Way (old PERy Santa Monica Air Line) at Exposition Blvd & Tennessee Ave just east of the Barrington Avenue Crossing. LACMTA has been repainting the 69 Nippon Sharyo P865 and P2020 cars (series 100-153 and 154-168) into a new two-tone gray (off-white) for a while and has just started on the 53 Siemens P2000 (series 200-250 and 301-302) cars. Car 229 is so far the only one of those Siemens repaints on the Blue/Expo lines. SCTC Emember Gram Nylen is shown wth the two idle cars in the background.

On July 29, 2015, just before 2:00 PM, the first electrically powered transit vehicle since 1953 reached the 4th Street Station in Santa Monica. Car 104 was that vehicle, the same Nippon Sharyo car that Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti posed with a few weeks ago. Testing is now in full swing with the opening of this line now scheduled for next year.


Southern California Traction Club at Pomona-Fairplex! ***

The Southern California Traction Club returned to the Pomona-Fairplex on July 18-19, 2015 after an absence of four years. This location is known for difficulties, including distant parking, parking lot shuttles that seem to vanish when needed. The most troublesome aspect is the security people who seem to not be organized. This time was no different with a very long drive using Gate 17 to get to the display hall when Gate 1 is right next to it.

Anyway, according to information provided by Train Show Inc, about 3500 people braved the heat, humidity and thunderstorms to come out and see model trains. The SCTC was on hand with their 100% DCC operated city streetcar layout and their LRV Display. The club now stresses modern traction with an occasional history lesson in past glory of electric streetcars. Emember, Gram Nylen from Irvine, CA is explaining the way the LRV Display works to a few show visitors in the next photograph:

In the next photo, four models that would be operated on the LRV display during the show are shown in the next photograph. In the foreground is a model of SEPTA PCC-II 2322. This is a model of a prototype PCC Car, originally Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) 2770, a 1947 era PCC car which spent most of its operational life on Route 23, Germantown Avenue. Car 2322 is essentially a PCC body shell with LRV trucks and propulsion system. It has air-conditioning but no old PCC equipment. Eighteen of these 2004-vintage cars currently operate on Philadelphia's Route 15, Girard Avenue.
Next to it is our test model of the San Diego Siemens S70. The model of car 4001 was made using 3D printing by Volkmar Meier in France. The car uses two Halling drives and is DCC ready. It was painted by Volkmar and lettered by Custom Traxx. This car is being test run and has been deemed satisfactory. There will be some recommended changes as a result of this testing process. A second car is due soon for testing with Bowser drives.
The third car is an MTS Imports, Inc. model of the SD100 cars also used in San Diego. These 52 cars (2001-2052) are the oldest cars on the system since SDMTS retired all the original U2s in January 2015. These were the cars that renewed "trolley" service in that city in 1981. MTS Imports, Inc. ceased operations a few years ago.
The white car at the top of the photo is a model of one of the 112 single end vehicles that began service in Philadelphia in 1981 and every single vehicle is still operational today.

Operating on the LRV display under catenary sometime during the show were HO scale models of SEPTA 107 and Gmunden 320. Gmunden 320 is a model of the Bombardier Flexity vehicles now running in that same Austrian city of 15,000 people. SEPTA 107 is a model of one of the 29 Kawasaki vehicles purchased by SEPTA at the same time as the 112 single end versions. These cars run on the two suburban lines out of 69th street to Media and Sharon Hill. This test model consists of a detailed resin casting from Island Model Works (Joe Ogden) and powered with a Bowser drive salvaged from one of Bowser's RTR PCC cars. The car is undergoing extensive testing by the club at the request of Joe Ogden. Gmunden 320 is a Leopold Halling (Austria) Model. The blue NachtBus in the foreground is a Faller product which follows a steel wire buried in the road and gets the attention of the crowd. In the background is the George Patton loop of the SCTC City Streetcar Display with a Pacific Electric Hollywood car sitting next to the church.

SDMTS S70 4001 and SDMTS SD100 2017 are shown on test runs on the SCTC LRV Display during the show:

The LRV Display at the show was also serving as a test bed for some exciting DCC control systems such as the Roco/Fleischmann Z21 and the ESU ECoS System. The club test stand at the show is shown in the next photograph:

The black box at the left allows various systems to be connected to the LRV Display. Next to it is the Digitrax Zephyr (DCS51) that was the traditional DCC power for the display. It is sitting on top of a box that houses its power supply. Next to the DCS51 is the MRC Tech 3 9500 that is used for DC operation of the LRV Display when needed. To the right of the MRC 9500 is the Z21 with it's Wi-Fi router (included with the unit......Note the smart phone sitting on top - it serves as the throttle for the Z-21). Last but not least is the ESU Control System (ECoS) from ESU LokSound. It is at the extreme right with the two silver knobs allowing for the control of two locomotives without the use of a smart phone or tablet. ECoS can be used also with a smart phone or tablet. The club is learning all that it can about these systems as they appear superior to anything that the club has seen so far.

At the Custom Traxx booth (below left), the Bowser New Orleans Public Service (Muni) 952 was also being operated using their Z21 (below right).

The Z21 app shown on the iPhone (right) allows the operator to load in a photo and description of the car along with its DCC address. After that, the user just selects the car and runs it. As you get familiar with all the attributes, there is so much more that you can do with this system. The SCTC does not feel they have scratched the surface yet. So far this system seems to be just short of fanstastic. The club is also evaluating a DCC Control System from Marklin.

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