Operations Department

Take Some Time To Operate A Vintage Photo-Freight –


A lot of tourist railroads, with the equipment to do so, operate vintage photo-freights from time to time to satisfy railfans and what I believe to be their own desire to play giant model railroad.  One or two, like the Strasburg RR, actually use their tourist train to move revenue freight… while neat, I consider that a different category.  I am talking about frivolous use of older freight equipment for the sole purpose of running vintage freight equipment and taking pictures.  Let me ask those of you who have a layout and a vintage rolling stock collection a question; do you ever run a photo-freight for your friends, family, or yourself?  If the answer is no then you should try it.  I don’t mean get that locomotive from your childhood out, run it around a few times and then put it back away.  I mean put together a legitimate consist and give your vintage items some time to shine… just like full-sized photo-freights put together by real railroads.

Since I am still in the process of photographing and presenting my collection of vintage N scale items for your reading pleasure I thought it might be a good time to put together a photo-freight of my own.  For motive power I chose the ever reliable Atlas/Kato RS3 decorated by Bev-Bel as B&M 1536.  I really like the overall feel of Alco locomotives and an RS3 just looks right pulling vintage equipment.  For the rolling stock I chose all Minitrix 40 foot box cars, they are pretty representative of vintage N scale and, interestingly, all three B&M cars have the same road number despite being different models… how early N scale can you get?  The first is a PS-1 #70056, followed by a Hormel plug door, then a single sheathed box car #70056, and finally a double sheathed box car also #70056 (which I only recently discovered and acquired, more on that some other time).  Neat!  The caboose is a classic Atlas transfer caboose, I had never owned one so I took the time to get one off of eBay for my vintage operations.

I should point out that my photo-freight didn’t go as well as something a professional might put together (it has been 0 days since our last accident).  Yes, my photo-freight derailed the last two cars and the caboose.  On top of that the single sheathed box car almost ended up in the lake!  My excuse is that everything was running well so I thought I would step out of the room to get a drink of water.  When I came back I found that I had embarrassed the B&M in front of all of the 1:160 scale people who turned out to watch an old train run on a modified loop repeatedly around their town.  Of course all of this just goes to show that you never know what will happen when you operate a photo-freight… think of all the excitement you are missing when you don’t run one.  Oh well, it was a photo-freight so I took a photo.


Again, whether it is for your own personal satisfaction or an effort to show off your vintage collection to a group of awestruck admirers, don’t hesitate to slap together a representative consist and bump it up to notch 8, photo-freights aren’t just for the big boys!


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4 responses to “Operations Department”

  1. Jonathan Caswell says :

    Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  2. bumthum says :

    Not sure whether you have done a layout in the past but you might be surprised what can be accomplished using a small oval and two switches (three are better). You can get a simple oval for basic running and entertainment in addition you can squeeze some low level operations out of it. My first layout was a 4×3 oval with a couple spurs serving a team track, in town, and a crushed stone plant on the opposite side. The scenes were separated by a mountain, which acted as a view block.

    The layout I am currently using/working on is a small modified oval with a passing siding/run around track and two spurs. Switching is a breeze and run through trains can be operated with a local on the siding. With a connection off-layout there are only 5 switches on the current one.

    If you are a little tight on space you may want to check out: http://www.carendt.com/
    I spent a great deal of time there prior to starting my current layout; tons of knowledge and ideas there.

  3. Jonathan Caswell says :

    That blue bird RS….where’d you get it?

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