New addition(s) to the roster

Untitled by BGTwinDad
Untitled, a photo by BGTwinDad on Flickr.

Following extensive testing of a B&O unit borrowed from the GPF&F Railroad, the CH&FR has acquired two EMD SD35 locomotives for use in mine service in the Glover’s Bend area.  The first, B&O#7413, is painted in the Chessie System paint scheme, and is already in operational service.  The second has just been delivered, and is due for a heavy service and painting operation at the Frost River Locomotive Works.  This unit will be painted in a classic CH&FR paint scheme, and will be numbered CHFR #7401.

The SD35 is a six-axle Diesel unit produced by the General Motors Electro-Motive Division (“EMD”) from 1964-1966.  Its 16-cylinder 567D3A engine produces 2,500 HP, and its overall length is 60 feet.  This combination of good horsepower, short wheelbase and high traction makes the SD35 a good choice for pulling heavy coal trains on the sharply curved trackage in the Glover’s Bend area.

Both locomotives are slated for a full detailing, including detailed fans, grab irons, sun shades, windshield wipers, MU and airline hoses.  Stay tuned for more information on the detailing process.


Help! My Zephyr Isn’t Working!

In a recent thread on my favorite internet train watering hole, one of the users, having just received his new Digitrax Zephyr Xtra and a couple of new DCC locomotives, was having trouble using the Zephyr to program the locomotives.

The jolly crew of course jumped in to help him diagnose the problem, and what resulted was a pretty good list of things to check before hitting the panic button when you DCC conroller doesn’t work.  While these points are specific to the Zephyr and Zephyr Xtra, most if not all of them are also applicable to most DCC systems.

  • Is it wired up correctly?  The main layout should be wired to the “Rail A” and “Rail B” terminals, the programming track to “Prog A” and “Prog B”.  Beware that there is a ground terminal between the two programming track terminals.
  • Where is the locomotive, and which programming mode are you using?  Ops Mode works only on the main track, while Direct and Page Modes work only on the programming track.
  • Is it a non-Digitrax decoder?  Some non-Digitrax decoders don’t respond with a strong enough signal for the programmer to “hear” the response.  Placing a 1-kΩ resistor across the rails can help with this.
  • Are the rails and locomotive wheels clean?  Poor contact can affect the communications.
  • Does the locomotive have  a decoder?  Sometimes it pays to check the obvious.
  • If using a PR3 and JMRI with your Zephyr, did you tell JMRI to use the PR3 in MS100 mode or Stand-alone Programmer mode?  Stand-alone mode should only be used if the programming track is wired directly to the PR3.
  • If you’re in Ops Mode, did you select the correct locomotive address?

Well, that’s a start.  My hat is off to my friends at for their willingness to help those with questions, and to their suggestions of things to check.

If you have ideas to add to the list, be sure to post them here!