Rock Out


My weekend modeling efforts went mostly toward ballasting the Industrial Lead, Sugar and Steam tracks. I used an assortment of ballasts. My favorite is Weaver Gray by a company called Rail Art and More. It was a train show find that I’ll probably never find again. Knowing this, I’ve been reluctant to use it but decided it was perfect to showcase the Cargill Sugar and Steam tracks. I also like a brown ballast is from T’s Trees. This was another train show find that I’ll probably never find again.

The Industrial Lead track is done with Scenic Express Medium Natural Soil and Dirt. This mix has some rather large pieces in it, maybe 4-6″ in HO. I decided to sift this dirt myself into 3 sizes ranging from way too big to fine dirt. I used the medium size pieces for ballast. Don’t tell my wife, but I used various sieves from the kitchen to separate it.

I also used a heavy amount of static grass tufts along the right of way.

Sugar and Steam tracks ballasted.
The Steam (right) and Sugar (left) tracks at Cargill were ballasted with Weaver Gray from Rail Art and More.
Horton Street.
The south end of the Cargill facility received a mixture of fine Soil and Dirt as well as several different gray colored ballast to create a small parking area.
Industrial Lead track ballasted.
The Industrial Lead track was ballasted with Scenic Express Soil and Dirt.


Athearn Genesis GP38-2
Athearn Genesis GP38-2 with a Soundtraxx Tsunami2 was programmed using DecoderPro.

I’ve avoided programming for months because its always a struggle to get my Digitrax PR3 to operate. But I had a friend coming this weekend to check out my railroad and I wanted to have my new Athearn Genesis GP38-2 properly programmed.

As usual the PR3 proved to be a struggle which took all of Friday night to solve. Some notes for next time maybe.

  1. Windows 10 uses the Windows XP Drivers
  2. Windows 10 Startup Settings have to be reconfigured to allow unsigned drivers to be installed.
  3. The PR3 has to be in MS-100 with Loc0net terminated.
  4. Decoder Pro Settings for the PR3 – baud 57600, Hardware Flow Control

Annoyingly, I restarted my computer Sunday and the PR3 connection stopped working. I was only able to restart it by re-installing the drivers.

I installed a Soundtraxx Current Keeper in this locomotive last week and was worried it would be a problem with programming. I’ve read on some forums that you need to disconnect any Keep Alive devices to program a decoder. Fortunately it was not a problem for me. I was able to write CVs using DecoderPro. 


Author: Greg Amer

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