Long time reader

Hii all,

So love the layout have been a arm chair reader of the site for years. I hope it is ok, that I am a HO Modeler vs O Scale. I am in a small 1950’s house and also been a HO modeler for 30+ years. But the one thing I share in common with this group is I have been a Porto-Freelance modeler since the early 1990’s. When I was 15 was part of a HO Club that had SAMM for a RR name and there was a yard Called Sagana. I created the railroad Sagana Northern then with love for the Rock Island, C&O and many others. I wanted the molders freedom to crate a “twist” on history as we know it today.

I just love the control panels you guys have created. Being in A/V automation my entire career. I have adapted it to my model railroad. This 10" touch screen panel controls the switches at Laurel Creek Yard, Sagana, KY.

I have been wanting to learn more about O Scale also what looks the most proto-typcial vs “toy like” is there GP35’s in O that look as good as say a Modern Gold series Atlas 35 vs a Kato that needs lots of work to be correct?

Great layout guys and just wanted to share a neighbor layout set in KY!

Mike Kisser

Mike -

That’s a clean looking way to do a control panel. How are you driving the touchscreen and the switch motors?

Generally speaking, the level of detail and operating performance of modern HO is fantastic. I’m quite impressed. Some locals find details to be delicate and easily broken during operating sessions.

Back in the 1980s Overland imported quite a few different variations of the GP35. The detail is pretty nice. I have one N&W high-hood, a GM&O version painted A&O with trade-in Alco trucks, and a few others waiting in the closet to be rebuilt.

If you pick up a vintage Overland GP35, don’t expect it to be an RTR experience!

This era of Overland brass commonly requires a lot of tinkering. Many of the models have cold solder joints that crack. Blobs of solder paste didn’t always get hot enough in the oven and fused to a granular lump instead of flowing. These days I resolder all the structural joints with a resistance iron after stripping any paint.

I’ve opened up numerous gear boxes to stop gear teeth from jamming or making clicking noises. The sides of gears rub against each other, and the edges of the teeth were not beveled. For this I use a die grinder and a cylindrical diamond burr.

Some of the drives use an acetyl coupler to power the gear tower input shaft. The set screw often strips out.

If you look closely at the truck springs in the above photo you will see that I installed a second set of springs. The OEM springs were too soft for the weight of the engine (the fuel tank comes with a large slug of lead.)

On the plus side, there is plenty of room inside them for a Loksound V5DCC decoder and a gutsy Tang Band 1925S speaker module firing up and out the radiator fans and air intake grills. A&O operators have been impressed with the amount of bass compared to any of their HO and N scale engines.

Another thing I consider a plus is the freedom to add a lot of lighting. The most recent Overland I rebuilt, an Alco C425, contains 24 LEDs (could have been 26 but I didn’t light the cab.) Ground lights under the cab can be opened up with a tiny burr.

Atlas did a couple runs of the GP35. Fortunately the 2-rail units came with solid pilots, but many of the details are somewhat oversize to make them more durable for the 3 rail market. Truck side frames stick out too far to clear wide 3 rail pizza cutter wheels.

All Atlas engines except for their SW8-9-1200s use two vertical can motors. Evidently this arrangement is fairly durable but low-speed performance without a good back-EMF decoder is poor. The stall current of each motor is said to be 3A and they come from the factory wired in parallel. Some people rewire them in series which can affect traction should wheel slip occur. The motor for the front truck intrudes into the cab.

Some parts of Atlas engines are zinc alloy. Alas not all parts have been free from zinc pest. I personally witnessed the pilot of an undecorated F3-A start to crumble in my hand. Fortunately a P&D pilot fits just fine.

Regards, Bob

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the reply. Looking at Ebay and others ya I see lots of “split” foot board areas for the O Scale locomotives. I have taken many kato’s removed the solid foot wells and added the brass ones offered and replaced the crappy fans on the roof of them with Cannon parts.

I don’t mind getting my hands dirty if you want to call it that lol. That is the part of the hobby I enjoy :smile:.

I am a Crestron Programmer A/V designer and I wanted to adapt that world to the layout since I have been programming that world for over 20 years. So it was nice vs having to learn anther way to code things up.

Here is a touch screen at a control point that is showing the inside the bungalow local control mode. It acts like the real RR that has them for local testing inside the CP track side. Helps for testing the logic that is on the US&S machine upstairs.

Thanks for the info on O Scale. I have been contemplating O Scale or S Scale for SNRY Version 3 in the next house!

I have GP35’s , C420’s , C424’s, GP10’s, GP9’s SD35’s U25c’s. I have found a way with the help of my 3D printer to make encolusers to work with the cube speakers that my HO Scale stuff sounds “ok - decent” but i am sure O scale man I could really make a C420 come to life!

I guess, I am just trying to learn the what is what about O scale while i work to finish the HO scale version 2 of the SNRY.

Thanks for your replay,


Hey Mike.

Thanks for posting. I love seeing the work you have done and the touch interface. That is awesome!

And don’t feel bad about posting. We all have other RR’s we have and I for one love learning from others experiences. I’m in HOn3…but have learned so much from my A&O family that is has brought my modeling to another level!!


Hi Craig,

Thanks for the reply. I was always wanting to post but was like. This is all O Scale here is this HO modeler, but thanks for the reply!

Here is the “Mole Yard” Panel yep spent some time at Lee’s in Utah LOVED the mole type operations. The layout in my 28x28 space is a figure “8” the diamond is hidden inside a mountain. At what is both ends of the RR the MUCH smaller part of the 8 is in the furnace room that has a 8 track yard and a few staging tracks for unit trains. (TankTrain, TOFC and unit coal trains)

Since many don’t like to work 3-way switches and complex track work like double slips but to max out the space I used complex switches to get all the length I could get.

I knew, I needed to create a panel for it that would help the operator and work all the switches for them from the lead to the track they wanted.

Based on the source, you get options of tracks to go to. When you pick the track you want to go to it sets all the switches to get you from X to Y.

Also the track diagram on both changes to show the route as well. Here is an older photo of the mole yard.

Welcome, Mike. So glad you’ve joined up.

You’ve done some amazing work in your control system. I lean on Bob and others for all the A&O needs in that area.

My advice to you re: a scale change is to obtain a car kit, an engine, or a structure and tinker with it. You’ll immediately discover the detail potential and whether you enjoy this type of modeling. But since you like to “get your hands dirty” I suspect it will spin your beanie. After my 27 years in HO scale, I tip-toed into O this way, then self-observed which scale RR stuff I wanted to spend my hobby time and $ on. The decision was unconsciously made for me.

And yes, O scale engines tricked-out with the Loksound and lighting is an amazing experience. Some of the op session videos sort of convey that. Waaay too much fun.

Keep us informed!


Hi David,

Thanks, if we get back to some level of normal after all this covid stuff. I would LOVE to come out for an OP and learn about O Scale the stuff to look for and the stuff to stay away from. I am building a US&S machine that has all original hardware on the bottom half of it its a “compressed” version to fit on a table in a small room. Still 2" centers but has 15" wings vs 30" wings. Its also a “poor” mans cTc install system coded track circuits.

I will be HO modeler for now but good time to learn about the O scale world for version “3” of the SNRY!

Thanks all,


Wow! Lookin’ good!! Congratulations. A lot of work there. We know first hand.

The operators in our area were just talking about when we might reasonably resume ops. The consensus seemed to be after the first of the year. We’ll see.

I’ll make a note to myself and send you a PM when were up and “running” again.


Mike, that’s a superb setup you have there! :grinning:

David: I feel your pain re no ops sessions. FWIW I’ve been running remote Engineer sessions on the GHR during isolation using JMRI WiThrottle server and Zoom calls. Might be a way to get some freight moving on the A&O! I made a thread about it here:
and a few video clips here:

I’ve been running my scheduled trains sequentially with Engineers in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. We’ve completed almost three full sessions now an hour or two at a time. Not perfect by any means but better than no ops at all! :grinning:


Hey Pete,

Now that I think about it, we’ve been doing your current type of operations for some time now…'cause some of my operators are virtually barely here, or so it seems :slight_smile:


Hey, David -

I know what you mean!

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk! Doh! :grinning: