Updates – January 20, 2024

I think traditionally most modelers get more done on their layouts this time of year than any other. Cooler temps and inclement weather makes it easy to justify spending more time with your layout and not less. But, I seem to go opposite the trend – yes the weather has been awful, but holiday travel followed by post holiday colds have meant less time with the trains lately and not more.

I have been doing stuff though. There’s been some landscaping work on the East Side of the layout, and the holidays brought new additions to the layout too.

A trip to Florida gave me an opportunity to visit Ready To Roll Trains in Miami. This time I didn’t come away with an amazing find like a “new” HHP-8 without a crazy markup, but I did find a Bachmann Pennsylvania RR corrugated passenger car and baggage car.

For some reason Pennsylvania RR passenger cars seem to be somewhat hard to come by lately. The Kato smooth side sets from 20 or so years ago can still be found, but they’re usually carrying a markup on them – plus I have the NYC smooth side set front the same time period. The cars are identical with only the paint different so I’ve avoided getting them. Kato’s Broadway Limited passenger car set pops up every so often too, but it’s usually pricey.

Bachmann released corrugated passenger cars, and the actual passenger cars, unlike the baggage car above, are lighted which is a nice feature. If you can find these cars – they typically sell for around $55 each, which is not a nice feature.

The price is honestly my biggest issue with these – because unlike the SC-44 Chargers, these aren’t super detailed. At $35 or even $40 I’d consider them a really good deal, especially since they were lighted. By $55 is a lot.

On the left is the Bachmann car, on the right is a Lowell Smith car – the Bachmann tends to sell for $50 while Lowell’s is closer to $80.

The other addition over the holidays was the Kato ACS-64 Amtrak Intercity 5 car Amfleet bookcase set. I bought this because I wanted the ACS-64 and a few more Amfleets. Currently the ACS-64 is sitting on the workbench – the decoder I bought for it was DOA and I’m waiting for a replacement from Digitrax. As for the Amfleets, again not much to say about them other than that the set came with a cafe car which I didn’t have. Beyond that, they’re Kato Amfleet 1s.

As for completed projects, this one has been on the workbench for about a year but it’s now done – The MicroTains ATSF flat car fuselage load.

It’s taken a year because I didn’t know when I bought it that it wasn’t a ready to run set – it was a kit. It needed to get decaled with the included water transfer decals, and the loads needed to get affixed to the cars. Oh, and it came with limited instructions.

On one hand, it’s a cool and unique load to have on the layout – but issues with the decals means it’s a little “rough and ready.” This is one that will make occasional runs but likely won’t have a permanent spot on the layout.

Looking into 2024

There’s a couple of releases coming this year that are on my wish list:

Bachmann’s release of the ALC-42 Charger. I already have Amtrak 301 from last year’s Kato release, but I’d like to get one of the other schemes to accompany it. More than that, I’d like to see the two units side by side to see how they stack up to each other.

Bachmann’s release of the Siemens Venture passenger cars. On one hand I want these because I think they’ll look great behind my Amtrak Midwest SC-44. On the other, their $89 price tag isn’t so exciting, and if they’re at the same quality as the Pennsylvania corrugated cars I just got, I’m going to be disappointed to have spent that much money on them.

Rapido’s release of the Rohr Turboliners. Word is that these are coming this Spring. I’m thrilled that Rapido brought these to N scale, again not thrilled with the price. I’m sure that they’ll look and sound terrific – but unfortunately I’m also not sure that they’re going to run great.

This year should also see the release of Amtrak 801 and Amtrak “rainbow era” passenger car sets from Kato. I’m on the fence on these. I know folks were ecstatic when Rapido released 801 in HO last year – and it looked terrific, but I’m not sure if it’s something I need. The same with the passenger car set – it’s cool that they’re doing it, and with the layout based around a railroad museum, a mixed road passenger car consist would be fairly prototypical. However, it also feels like Kato’s being lazy with this release – why come up with something new when we can just grab random road names and shove them in a box to see as a “rainbow era Amtrak set.” I think that if I get them, it’ll be because I got a decent deal on them.