What was the NS like in the ’90s era? Things were still pretty much
the same as in the ’80s, with standard older units in NS, N&W, & SOU paint, fallen flag freight names on equipment, a few cabooses, older track layouts, original signals, and more. The 90s also brought the new Triple Crown service between CR & NS, and the newer W&LE Class 2 regional RR out of Bellevue & Brewster, OH. NS 1990s Part I is a good example of this coverage.
Also the ’90s brought more freight cars with the applied NS roadname, CSX cars were showing up more on trains as well. NS GP30s and SD35s were showing up in loco deadlines, fewer cabooses were being seen on freight trains, although still being used on most locals. Steam excursions were still on the rails, but coming to a slow down due to NS’s concern over liability concerns, after a few derailments.
The NS merger proved to be one of the very few mergers that made sense, and actually prospered financially and efficiently, until the CR break-up in 1999 with CSX.
NS has done it again- this time they have painted up an EL SD45-2 Unit #1700, ex-Erie-Lackawanna (EL) back into original EL paint, as number 1700. This unit was painted in the Altoona, PA ex-PRR/PC/CR- now NS shops.
NS aquired a few of these ex-EL units, and are usually used on the eastern part of the NS system. However 1700 should be seen across the system. So get your cameras ready.
Great to see an EL unit on the rails once again, especially being true ex-EL! The EL used many types of locomotives for their freight trains. They even used old E-units
EL was formed in 1961 as a result of the Delaware Lackawanna & Western (DLW) & the Erie railroads merging. The EL was a great railroad, cared about their employees, and became a favorite to many. It’s main downfall was due to having parralle lines, and most of the main route from Chicago to New York bypassed all major cities. They had to connect the main line to these cities by secondary lines, which turned out to be not as efficient. Also both railroads were losing money around the time of the merger, although it made profits in the mid 1960s. In 1972, the EL filed for bankruptsy. In 1976, it finally asked to be included with the newly-formed Conrail.
Most of the EL was taken up by CR after 1976. Most can say that CR was actually the PC, with ost of the employees, trackage, and equipment being from the PC, just now in different colors. Left-overs of the EL can still be seen today- sometimes a freight car on trains (we saw EL coal hoppers within the past year on an NS train), a boxcar or two being used as a shed somewhere, ROWs, bridges, viaducts, facilities, etc.
The EL once again is on the rails, as an exmaple of restored railroad history.
The most recent as of 9/2015, NS announced they will be phasing out Triple Crown roadrailers from the main tracks. they will still plan on having service with roadrailers from Detroit, MI and south, with evnetually phasing them out 100%. They will still keep the name and trailers, but most trailers will now be transported on TOFC flat cars, and no longer be mounted on railroad wheel trucks. This means the Sandusky, OH and other terminals will be closed. Get your photos while you can.
(Image of NS Triple Crown in Indiana)
NS has been slowly phasing out these re-built 100 ton coal hoppers, and being replaced with new aluminum cars. Top Gons were from a project NS had in rebuilding many of their coal hoppers in the 1990s, mainly from their H11 and 12 hoppers. Over 2,000 cars were rebuilt in order to fill the void of coal cars they needed.
NS was having problems with congestion on a number of their lines, especially the Chicago Line on their end of the ex-Water Level Route, from Cleveland to Chicago. even tho congestion was a problem after they took over their half of conrail in 1999, as oil trains increased on the system, so did congestion. So in 2014, they leased the ex-CR Pittsburgh Division- Fort Wayne Line from CSX. This also included NS paying to have the tracks and ties rebuilt in areas needed. The towns this line runs through are Crestline, Bucyrus, Van Wert, and other towns in OH, and Fort Wayne, IN, etc.
The horse head logo started to appear within the last few years to add a small change. The logo looks more impressive as a result. This has been applied to locomotives and freight cars.
Due to a shortage of units, NS aquired wide cab units from UP, and many of them are still running around on the system still in ex-UP paint. They also aquired SD40-2s from BNSF. They have also been in the process of chopping all high-nosed EMD units that originally came from the N&W and SOU. High nose on the NS will be a thing of the past. Standard cab GE units will be converted to wide cabs in the near future as well.
A Railfan Runs The Railroad:
Even tho he has been the CEO of NS for a few years, Wick Moorman has brought back the heritage of railroading, along with turning NS into a great money-making company. They always were a profitable railroad, but he has increased NS’s value. He has also put out numerous heritage units, brought back steam train excursions, and has had countless events, such as an F and E unit display event.
As railroads progress, changes are made in order to help keep them in business. We capture things of today that will become things of the past. Those things that are now considered vintage, were once things that were modern. What a great way to preserve the changes of railroads- in Railroad Video DVDs and Audio CDs.
New Railroad AUDIO CD for September 2015, of NS action from 1987: NORFOLK SOUTHERN- N&W 1980s, Vol. 11. This CD was produced by 1-West Productions™, and contains recordings of freight action- no pictures. Why an audio-only version? It gives the listener something new to use with their imagination. Back in the day, radio shows were the hot item for entertainment before TV. Listeners had to use their imagination for the scenes as they took place, and would become a different world. Although having a picture is nice for seeing certain features and such, having a variety of formats can be appealing as well.
Back in 1987, we recorded the trains around the Bellevue, OH area during NS’s early merger days of the N&W and Southern Railway. We used directional mics to help give the natural movement affects of the trains, as we hear them in person.
The CD contains older standard cab locomotives from GE & EMD, background ambient sounds, and horns that have become more rare compared to today’s horns we hear on units.
For more information, please visit this page here.
We have a new release of Norfolk Southern modern material released- a new Railroad Video in SD DVD 16×9 Anamorphoc format. Which means it will play like it should on widescreen TVs, and also on the standards 4×3 screens. We have been in the process of filming modern NS material for those who like the modern stuff.
Built in the 1800s, that section of the line that we filmed eventually was owned by the New York Central when they took over the original owner, the Lake Shore Michigan Southern RR. The NYC obtained ownership of the whole line from Albany, NY to Chicago, IL by merging the LSMS & several other railroads that owned the line across the states. This line was an efficient way of hauling freight, & also a competing line with the PRR, since it was mostly built on flat land, with very little grades. The PRR had to go through the mountains in order to get into the more western part of the country.
By 1968, the Penn Central was formed with themerger of the PRR, NYC, & NH, and depended on that line. By 1976, Conrail was formed and then owned the line until 1999, when NS & CSX split CR. NS ended up with the line from cleveland on west to Chicago, & CSX from Cleveland on east to NY. Amtrak uses this line today for some of their trains as well. NS then called the Water Level their Chicago Line, Dearborn Division.
NS has always had congestion problems on the Chicago Line, especially with the increase in oil train traffic. In 2014, they worked out an agreement with CSX to lease their ex-PRR/PC/CR Pittsburgh Division line that runs through Bucyrus, OH, Fort Wayne, IN, & to Chicago, IL. NS would replace ties & rail where it was needed, and was able to transfer some of their oil trains on that line to help ease the congestion on the Chicago Line.
NS has since made updates to the Chicago Line, such as replacement of the ex-NYC/PC/CR signals, added detectors, and even changed detector voices from saying “Conrail” to “Norfolk Southern”. Some of the detectors heard in the area where it was filmed are at Graytown, LaCarne, Gypsum, Sandusky, Vermillion, & more. Locations filmed were at Sandusky, near Gypsum, Vermillion, & Toledo, OH, etc. NS also put in a connetion at Oak Harbor, to connect the chicago Line with their Toledo to Bellevue Line, & a connection outside of Vermillion to connect the same line east of Bellevue.
Many fallen flag freight cars, & locomotives such as UP, BNSF, CN, CP, etc. can also be seen on this video. Order yourstoday, & see our coupons for even more savings.
In this blog article, we will discuss how to build a railroad scanner base antenna do-it-yourself, for receiving railroad signals can be built, & tuned to the railroad frequency band for better receive results. All main railroad radio channels are found in the FM VHF 159 MHZ – 161.565 MHz range. This homemade antenna will be tuned to the middle of that band, at about 161.000 MHz. This is not too critical, but does help in receiving results.
[*Disclaimer: always use safety glasses, be safe with sharp tools, & get help with projects, especially when mounting the finished antenna. Do NOT mount or work anywhere near live power lines or electrical areas. We are not responsible for, do not hold any liabilites, & do not cover any warranties for any accidents or results of this project, before, during, & after, including any possible damage to property or equipment- including possible damage to equipment from lightning, due to not properly grounding the equipment or not removing the antenna from the equipment before any lightning storms, etc. This article will only give steps on how to make this antenna, & not about mounting the finished product, etc. Results of this project may vary, depending on your location of where railroads are located, etc.*]
-About 52″ L of twin TV antenna flat ribbon lead (2 pieces of wire can be used w/ the coating, but for this project flat TV ribbon cable is used. The kind WITHOUT the foam is better, but will still work.)
-About 5 – 6 ft of 1/2 – 3/4 ” diameter PVC pipe
-1 PVC cap to fit over 1 end of that pipe
– Some RG58 or 59 coax cable w/ a PL259 end soldered on the end- length will vary- least 20 feet to make sure there is enough to reach inside a house/shack to the scanner radio. If more is needed later, purchase extra coax, & use a double female end connector to go between 2 PL259 ends.
-1 wire tie
-About 1/8″ drill bit with drill
(Click for a larger view of photo)
1. Wear safety glasses.
2. Strip about 1/2″ of the plastic coating from the wires on each side & ends of the ribbon cable, then twist the braided wire of each wire end. On each end of the ribbon cable, twist 2 of the stripped wires together to form a triangle. Solder the wires together where they are twisted together.
3. Lay the flat ribbon with the soldered ends flat on a table. You can make either end the top or bottom. Next measure on the right side from the top tip down about 34″ & mark. Then measure down from that mark about 1.5 – 2 “, & mark that. Cut out that 1.5 – 2″ chunk of that wire on the right side ONLY (do not cut all the way across the ribbon wire).
4. Measure from the bottom tip of the ribbon wire up to about 1.74″ – 3.48″, and carefully strip the plastic wire coating from the wire about 1/4″ to expose the wire on the right and left sides with a knife.
5. Strip about 1″ – 2 ” of the outer black covering from the RG 58/59 coax cable (try not to damage or cut the braided wire under that outer covering). Then pull the inner/center conductor out of the braided wire, and strip about 1/2″ – 1″ of the plastic insulation from the inner wire. Next carefully twist the braided wire to make it into a tighter wire itself.
6. Solder the center conductor wire to the LEFT part of the ribbon wire that was stripped to about 1.74″ – 3.48″ up from the bottom tip previously. Next solder the braided wire on the RIGHT stripped side. If necessary, wrap electrical tape around these soldered joints.
7. Drill a hole through the center plastic towards the top of the ribbon wire. This is where the plastic wire tie will go through later.
8. Drill a 1/8″ hole through both sides of the PVC pipe at 1 end only (about 2″ down from the top).
9. Feed the top of the ribbon wire (with the center hole at the top) through the PVC pipe, until it reaches the drilled holes in the top of the pipe. Feed the wire tie through the hole on 1 side of the pipe, through the center hole of the ribbon wire, & through the hole on the other side of the pipe. Next, wrap the wire tie around the pipe while zipping the tie to secure it. This keeps the ribbon wire antenna inside the pipe from falling down, when it is in a vertical position.
10. Next seal the opening of the bottom of the PVC pipe with silicone caulk & let dry. Also seal the holes at the top where the wire tie goes through the pipe.
11. Install the PVC cap on the top part of the pipe (gluing the cap may not be needed if it fits tight over the end of the pipe).
12. *Stay away from any live power lines or electrical areas when mounting this or any antenna outside. It is best to get a helper at this point.* Mount the pipe vertically to a board or post, etc. to get it high in the air if possible (max. at about 20 ft from the top of the antenna pipe- guy wires/rope will be needed if mounted over 20 ft). Make sure to keep the clamps at least 55″ or more down from the top of the PVC pipe (to prevent the clamps from going over the internal ribbon antenna wire, to help avoid interference from the metal clamps).
13. Plug in the other end of the coax cable with the PL259 connector to the scanner, program the scanner to the proper RR frequencies, & listen for any transmissions.
Sometimes using an inline receiving amp will also help with receiving signals. Most (not all) signal amps for TV antennas will work. Proper connectors to transition from the RCA jacks to the PL259s may also be needed, depending on the amp.
Grounding this antenna is usually not necessary. However always unplug this & any antenna from the radio(s) when not in use, during thunderstorms, or if there is a potential for thunderstorms in the area. This will help prevent lighting from possibly damaging the radio. [*Always disconnect any antenna cables from equipment before & during any lightning storms.]
Railroad signals will vary depending on location. If near railroads, scanners will most likely pick up railroad dispatchers, train crews announcing signals, talking to each other, & with dispatchers. Sometimes only 1 side of the conversation can be heard, due to the location of the scanner, crews, atmospheric conditions at the time, etc. RR defect detectors that announce information to trains passing over them at certain locations may also be heard. It’s best to search-scan the whole 159-161.565 MHz, if the scanner has that feature (see the radio’s instruction manual). As signals are heard, it’s suggested to write down each frequency, & program them in. Sometimes different days/nights will bring in different stations/channels.
Presently, railroads are still using analog transmissions mostly. They have extended the bands some where the frequencies are more tightly tuned. However with those particular frequencies, transmissions should still be heard, but with a slight hiss or drop in volume. Eventually when the RRs switch over to all-digital transmissions, analog scanners will no longer be able to pick those signals up. Purchasing a digital scanner for those transmissions will then be necessary. It may still take another 10 or so years before the railroads change all radios to digital, but that could be sooner or later.
This base scanner antenna can now be used to listen to railroad transmissions from farther away, on base or hand-held scanners, with the proper connectors.
Throughout the country, there are many train shows. What about summer train shows? We’ve noticed that in most other states, there are train shows all year, including in the summer. In OH for some reason, there are very few. Some people say it’s because everyone is out “doing their lawns & gardens”, & have no time to go to swap meets, or to mess around with their model trains. However, regular flea markets are packed this time of year, & model trains isn’t a seasonal hobby for a lot of people.
We’ve always have gone to train shows any time of the year where available. When it’s 80+ degrees outside, especially with high humidity, people usually go inside or somewhere that has central a/c. So what better place than an air conditioned train flea market to escape to when the weather is hot.
Hobbiests who won’t make time for their hobby or shows, that’s fine. To us people who like going to summer train meets, & are active with the hobby all year, Ohio needs more active train flea markets in the summer, & should catch up with the rest of the country.
Most of us like the railroads that we grew up with, and in that same area. Or could be we had a relative or friend who worked for that certain railroad. Maybe on a trip it stuck in our good memory bank in some way, and brings us back to those happy times. Whatever the reason, that railroad name stuck with us through the years.
The N&W / NS and Penn Central / Conrail stuck with me from those days. Seeing those “half-moon” and “zigzag” N&W logos on faded blue and black locomotives respectfully, stuck with me. Also the previous roads that made up the N&W. GP7s, 9s, 30s, 35s, 38s; SD40s, 45s, 35s, etc., especially the high-nosed units made an impact.
Let’s not forget the freight equipment with those logos as well. Even the MofW green equipment, the smell of diesel, running locomotives, generators, etc.
When it came to the PC & CR, seeing those blue engines run at higher speeds on different lines, and seeing they meant business made an impact. Also especially seeing black PC units still wearing the PC logos stuck with me. That PC logo was the neatest thing- I never saw such a design in my life. In the very early 80s, I saw a PC GP7 or 9 switching open PC auto racks in Orville, OH. The sound of the engine, the smoke, the image. Also seeing a few green PC cabooses, with that same logo was just cool. Seeing old PC ROWs, abandoned facilities, track, equipment, deadlines, & more added to the engraving of the N&W and PC likeness. The visual and historical preservation aspects is what motivates me.
When it came to modeling, I could build my dream railroad with those road names. Plus photographing, filming, and restoring equipment of the same road names built even stronger memories and appreciation.
What road names stuck with you, how, and why? We all have reasons for what we like. Keep those memories alive.
Penn Central locomotive paint schemes will be discussed in this blog. Penn Central had a standard paint scheme they applied to their locomotives. This general version was the road name (applied to the hood of the unit), nose logos, and side logos applied to the hood. However, they had many versions due to different shops using different methods, available paint/supplies at the time, and in order for the image of “red and green team” to be erased as much as possible.
This was a tactic brought on by ex-SOU RR President Bill Moore, who became President of the PC in the early 70s. After the bankruptcy in 1970, he and other officials did their best to reform their broken image to the public, and among fellow employees. He ordered all predecessor logos and road names of the NH, NYC, & PRR to be painted over in any means possible, especially on locomotives. This is why sometimes one would see a locomotive still in ex-NH orange or red paint, but with PC logos, etc. applied. The same for ex-Tuscan red PRR paint on E7s, etc.
PC also had partial schemes, where the locomotive may be painted in new paint, but only nose logos and cab numbers applied. Below is a list put together on variations of PC locomotive paint schemes, as seen in photos, books, etc.:
-FULL: road name, nose logos, cab numbers, large/mid-sized side logos, all logos & lettering were white
-FULL Red P: the same as Full, but with a red P inside the PC logos.
-FULL Orange C: the same as Full, but with an orange C inside the PC logos
-PARTIAL 1: road name, nose logos, cab numbers -PARTIAL 2: road name, cab numbers -PARTIAL 3: nose logos, cab numbers -PARTIAL 4: nose logos, cab numbers, side logos -PARTIAL 5: cab numbers
-PARTIAL 6: any versions of the partial variations, but using the red P or orange C logos.
The following is a list of color type variations:
-Ex-NEW HAVEN: orange or red body (McGinnis or Alpert Schemes) w/ PC markings (any variation). All NH engines had new numbers applied, since they were not previously numbered in preparation for the PC merger.
-Ex-PRR: Tuscan red (usually E-units), DGLE green. All PRR locomotives received similar roster numbers as did NYC units, to prepare for the PC merger before 1968. Therefore some units kept their original gold/yellow PRR cab numbers, with PC markings.
-Ex-New York Central: gray (E-units), black. All NYC locomotives received similar roster numbers as did PRR units, to prepare for the PC merger before 1968. Therefore some units kept their original white NYC style cab numbers, with PC markings.
-Ex-Lehigh Valley: PC applied their road name to the hood of an RS2 in order to use for scrap-trade material, while still in LV paint. They did the same to a few other types of locomotives.
-Ex-D&RGW: PC received F-units from the Rio Grande they were originally going to use as trade in bait. However they found a few of the As & Bs to be still functional. They put 2 As & 2 Bs in service, and they wore the original yellow, silver, & black paint, with PC numbers & logos applied for a few years before finally being painted in PC black.
Although the PC paint scheme was a great one, with a futuristic logo & lettering fonts, and a basic but great black scheme, to those who didn’t like the straight-forward scheme, a little variety of various colors could be found within the PC system. There are many books, publications, DVDs, & other sources available out there for those who would like to see actual pictures & more. We have even found even more variations never seen before during our research. With the PC, anything was possible, and new variations are found all the time!