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DT400R with Zephr system

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DT400R with Zephr system
Posted by corsair7 on Sunday, July 13, 2008 7:36 PM

How does one use a DT400R with a zephyr system? Do I have to get a larger Digitrax system or can I just get some basic stuff to set up Radio Control on the layout?

Irv

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Posted by simon1966 on Sunday, July 13, 2008 7:39 PM
All you do is get an UR91 radio panel and plug it into the loconet connector on the back of the Zephyr and your DT400R will work with the Z.  You will also get the additional functions that the DT400 has.  It is really simple to do, which is part of the beauty of the Loconet infrastructure.  You don't have to configure the Z in anyway.

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

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Posted by simon1966 on Sunday, July 13, 2008 7:44 PM

David is alluding to the new duplex radio system from Digitrax that has been demonstrated at a couple of shows.  It is expected that it will be announced formally at the National Trainshow this week.  According to reports there will be a new 2 way radio panel, the UR92 and a 2 way radio version of the DT400.  Reports also suggest that non 2 way DT400's will be able to be sent in for upgrade.  To my knowledge there has been no mention of price for any of these things.  Apparently UR91's are fairly hard to come by at the present time.  Many of the main dealers are showing them out of stock. 

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

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Posted by jwils1 on Monday, July 14, 2008 8:31 AM
Don't you also need a PS12 power supply for the UR91?

Jerry

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Posted by corsair7 on Monday, July 14, 2008 8:22 PM

Thanks. I was under the impression that I might need more than the basic Zephyr system to get up and running with a DT400R besides the UR-91 and its power supply.

Irv

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Posted by Capt. Grimek on Monday, July 14, 2008 8:33 PM
corsair7, hope you don't mind my jumping in here with a question similar to yours...
I'll have an 8X16 foot oval-ish layout with a three track yard, an industrial switching puzzle area
and should be able to run three maybe four trains simultaneously.

I was wondering also if the Zephyr would be enough. I know that I can run up to ten locos with a Z
but wondered what other future considerations I might need to take into account... would the Empire Builder be much more useful for running future accessories such as building lighting, switch motors,
other things I haven't even thought of yet?

I know I'd like more throttles than the Zephyr's anyway. I go to operation sessions on other guys layouts and the 400 is the throttle of choice. If I'm going to buy more throttles (at least one) later, wouldn't the Empire Builder serve us better on that basis alone PLUS provide for more accessories use later?

After reading through pdf manuals, etc. I'm still not sure if I need or would find it beneficial to have radio
control as opposed to infra red. What's the consensus?

One friend from the board thought it would be well worth getting the Empire Builder over the Zephyr even for a small to mid sized layout. What are the realistic considerations?

Thanks. I hope replies to my questions above will help corsair as well.
I'll be buying one or the other by Fall. I was going to wait and see what the newest systems consisted of
and to figure out if I'd want or need duplex radio. I may have one grade greater than 3%...

Raised on the Erie Lackawanna Mainline- Supt. of the Black River Transfer & Terminal R.R.

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Posted by locoworks on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 2:01 AM
if you are planning to keep your Zephyr the empire builder would suit you fine as the zephyr can read back CV's when programming.   it would also give you an option to use one as an auto reverser. BUT, for the extra few bucks i would get the chief. it specs out much better the empire builder for comparatively little extra.  as to the radio, the UR91 will only work with the current radio throttles. when the UR92 comes out for the duplex radio, it won't see the current radio throttles as the frequency is 2.4ghz rather than 900mhz.  if you want to use both types of radio you will need both types of receiver
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Posted by simon1966 on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 6:42 AM

Capt. Grimek,

The Z has more than enough power for the locomotives that you want to run.  As noted in answers to the other OP the DT400 just plugs into the Loconet.  If your main concern is powering accessory items, I would use a separate power-supply and not draw power from the DCC system for this regardless of the model that you have.  IMO the lack of CV read-back is drawback in the Empire Builder and personally I would not get one as my main command station for that reason.

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 6:55 AM

When I was making my decision, I did not even consider the Empire Builder because it uses a booster rather than a command station.

I compared the Zephyr to the Chief and bought the Chief.

In my humble opinion, Digitrax should replace the Empire Builder with a 5 amp Zephyr.

Dave

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Posted by corsair7 on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 7:52 AM

 locoworks wrote:
if you are planning to keep your Zephyr the empire builder would suit you fine as the zephyr can read back CV's when programming.   it would also give you an option to use one as an auto reverser. BUT, for the extra few bucks i would get the chief. it specs out much better the empire builder for comparatively little extra.  as to the radio, the UR91 will only work with the current radio throttles. when the UR92 comes out for the duplex radio, it won't see the current radio throttles as the frequency is 2.4ghz rather than 900mhz.  if you want to use both types of radio you will need both types of receiver

I am not interested in buying another system at this point since my layout will be in N-Scale and will be G shaped and located in 12 x 16 room. I am not sure if the Zephyr's 2.5 amps will be enough because of the distance since my current track plan shows that it will have a lot of track distance in there. Besides I want to be able to walk around with my trains without having to tether myself to Loconet. In other words, I want a wireless system between my handheld controller and the layout. I also want to be able to run more than one train at a time. Plus, if someone else wants to run a train, I want them to able to do so. So I may have at east 3 operators on my system at any given time and someone may be assigned to run the yard which will be located at top end of the G.

 I am not sure whether I will be using powered turnouts or manual turnouts at the moment but the possibility does exist that at some point that will happen. And there may be some animation as well as some of the scenes I plan to feature at various points may require lights and sounds triggered by a passing paasenger train.

Irv

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Posted by simon1966 on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 8:33 AM

Irv, the track distance is all but irrelevant.  If you have used good wiring practice with a decent power bus and feeders to the track the distances you are talking about will have so little voltage drop to be of no concern.  If the wiring is not good, it won't matter how many amps the system has, it will not run well.  In other words 5 Amps don't somehow reach further than 2.5 Amps. When you think in terms of current (amps) imagine a hose pipe.  Water going in at one end comes out at the other no-matter how long the pipe!  

Personally, I would power all accessories and animation projects from a separate power supplies rather than try and tap into the DCC system power regardless of if you have a Z, EB or Chief as the command station.  Adding radio to any Digitrax system is identical, connect radio panel to Loconet and utilize radio throttle.  Adding throttles to any of the system is also identical. 

The limits that you should concern yourself with are:

1.  The number of locomotives that can be run simultaneously due to power limitations of the booster.  With n scale the Z will easily handle 10.

2.  The number of locomotives that can run simultaneously based on limitations of the command station control system.  With the Z this is 10.

3.  The total number of throttles that can be run by a command station. Again this happens to be 10 with the Z.

So unless you really think you will exceed these limitations then the Z will handle what you want to do. 

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

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Posted by locoworks on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 9:07 AM
 simon1966 wrote:

 

Personally, I would power all accessories and animation projects from a separate power supplies rather than try and tap into the DCC system power regardless of if you have a Z, EB or Chief as the command station.  Adding radio to any Digitrax system is identical, connect radio panel to Loconet and utilize radio throttle.  Adding throttles to any of the system is also identical. 

The limits that you should concern yourself with are:

1.  The number of locomotives that can be run simultaneously due to power limitations of the booster.  With n scale the Z will easily handle 10.

2.  The number of locomotives that can run simultaneously based on limitations of the command station control system.  With the Z this is 10.

3.  The total number of throttles that can be run by a command station. Again this happens to be 10 with the Z.

So unless you really think you will exceed these limitations then the Z will handle what you want to do. 

 i am not convinced that the zephyr would be happy running 10 loco's/addresses at once if you consider this could include consists? which would be more than 10 loco's in terms of current/amps required.   it would be better to get a chief and use that as the command station as it specs better than the zephyr in current, addresses in use etc. use the zephyr as a booster located near the yard where it's lack of mobillity won't be an issue. this would allow more then ten addresses in use and they could even be small consists with the available power. also for tyhe extra very few bucks, get the 8 amp system. it will work on a 5 amp supply, and if you start to get near the 5 amp limit of your transformer and need more amps you can swap the transformer used at a later date with a more powerful one without the need for another booster.   another bonus of using the zephyr is that it or the chief could  be set for auto reversing and it can be used to power a revesing loop elsewhere on the layout. it doesn't matter whether the yard and loop powered by the zephyr or the entire main line powered by the chief swaps phase, the effect at the reversing loop is the same.

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Posted by simon1966 on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 9:46 AM
People underestimate what the Z can handle.  We run 10 HO locos most with sound with our Z all the time.  I'm not saying that a twin booster system using a Chief or a DB150 as a slave to the Z, would be a bad thing, simply that the Z will in many cases be more than up to the task. 

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

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Posted by Paul3 on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 10:06 AM

Capt. Grimek,
The Zephyr can handle more than 10 locos as long as some of the locos are programmed to the same address.  For example, I have a 4-car RDC train on my Zephyr-powered layout.  Each one is programmed to 4448, and they all run as that number.  This 4-loco train only counts as one DCC address slot in the Z's memory.  This is called "basic consisting", and is useful for loco sets like RDC's and ABBA's of F-units.  Essentially, the limit of "10 locos" is actually 10 slots of memory (which I've heard is really 12, but I've never tested it) in which you can have active DCC loco addresses.  If I "MU" those 4 RDC's in the normal ("Universal Consisting") way, they would take up 4 slots.  Likewise, if I broke up the MU and left the headlights on each one, they are still taking up 4 slots.  To make sure you clear out a loco from the slot memory, make sure it's speed is zero, all the functions are off, and it's not MU'd to anything.  Otherwise, it will still occupy a slot.

Like others have said, I would not use the Z or any DCC system to power accessories other than DCC controlled switches (and even then, you should probably have the aux. power supply to run those, too).

I know you want more throttles for the Z, but don't forget about the jump ports.  This allows up to 2 DC throttle packs to be turned into DCC throttles.

As for IR vs. radio, the radio wins hands down.  It's much more dependable, and when you're approaching the bumper and you need to stop ASAP...well.  If the IR cuts out (or doesn't receive), let's just say that you will test the bumper.  The radio, OTOH, usually works.  Think of the IR ability as your TV remote.  Now try to imagine pointing your TV remote at the floor or ceiling and it still working.  Odds are, it won't.

The size of the layout really doesn't matter for most people.  For example, my Z-powered layout is 25' x 50' with a 200' long mainline.  I have 2 freight yards, a passenger terminal and a staging yard.  It's been working fine for the last 5 years, and I have weekly operation sessions with 3 or 4 people.  The real limitation is sound locos.  They can use up power fast, and it doesn't even matter if you are using them or not.  As long as they are on the track, they suck power.  If you use the PSX-typ circuit breaker, you can increase the number of sound locos that the Z will start up, but you still only have 2.5 amps to play with.

The differences between the new duplex radio throttles vs. the current simplex system is that right now, you have to be plugged in to acquire addresses, read decoders, or make & break MU's.  The new duplex radio will eliminate that (as well as giving you cab signals in the future), but you still have to plug in each time you power on the system.

Phoebe Vet,
FYI, the DB150 (the Empire Builder) is a command station.  Otherwise, it wouldn't work.  The reason is doesn't have decoder feedback is that it's old and not the top of the line (the Chief).  Of all the Digitrax starter sets (Challenger, Big Boy, Genesis, Empire Builder, Zephyr and Chief), only the Z and the Chief have feedback.

corsair7,
The Z should be able to handle what you want with ease.  I have a much larger HO layout, and the Z works just fine.  The UR91 and either the DT400R or UT4R should be just what the doctor ordered for wireless.  If you can wait, the new duplex UR92 and the DT402D throttles will make it even easier.  Digitrax also makes block detectors and animation accesory decoders like the DS64, not to mention signaling (SE8C) and transponding (RX8).

locoworks,
The Chief is the better system, but it also costs hundreds of dollars more than the Z.  The Z is a fine system, especially for the price.  IMHO, it is sufficient for most home layouts.  How many home layouts run more than 10 trains at the same time?  How many home layouts have more than 10 operators?  There aren't too many.  The real limitation for the Z is the power for sound locos.  If  you have 8 or 9 BLI's sitting live on the track, you are most likely going to have problems.

Paul A. Cutler III
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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 10:19 AM

Paul:

Sorry.  Poor choice of words.  I should have said DB vs DCS, better suited as a booster.

Dave

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Posted by locoworks on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 2:17 PM

@ paul 3, i realise the cost implications, but for some reason i thought ( probably wrongly ) adding a booster was in the equation. my point was that between the cost of the empire builder and the chief, and the 5 amp vs 8 amp, i would opt for an 8 amp chief. obviously with no booster required the Zephyr could suffice.  i have seen the 2.5 amps current rating, but some people are claiming just short of 10 HO DCC sound loco's, which would seem a bit much for under 2.5 amps??  in pure obvious numbers 2.5 amps divided by 10 addresses is 250ma or  1/4 amp per loco.   speaking on the UK stuff, hornby have had problems with ONE loco being too much for their DCC chip with a 500ma motor output. most people are using 1 amp motor output decoders.  if we say 500ma for a smooth running US loco in HO, that is only 5 loco's and then we have sound to think of ( what does sound use in current??  )  it would appear the 2.5amp spec for the zephyr may be an understatement with a lot of margin for error??

 on a side note, i think the zephyr would be better with encoder rather than a potentiometer so it would leave an acquired loco running at is acquired speed rather than suddenly changing it to suit the controller possition and then you could always stop the loco or give it full monty. also something would need to be done with the direction switch too?  just a button like the DT400 would do, but you'd have to loose the brake setting.  in fact what i'm suggesting would be a DT400 in a big box with a big display and only 1 encoder.  expanding on that they could put 2 encoders on with knobs similar in size to the UT4 and make it something like the hornby 'elite' but keep the jump port option.  this odcourse would loose the 'train driver 'control aspect of the zephyr and turn it into a fixed DT400 with BIG knobs and display.

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Posted by Capt. Grimek on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 2:39 PM
Thanks everyone. I'm learning a lot of info. here that I haven't been able to find or decipher previously.
Hopefully the OP is too. Paul3 your post was especially clear and precise for me in a "primer" sort of way One more question? Using DC throttles like MRC Tech !! I'd only have speed and direction control correct? And would this be "converted" to DCC control, I presume? or remain DC for those locos?
I'm hanging in to hear more from everyone.

For locoworks, on a friend's layout at his lst operating session he asked all of us to put our locos on the layout at the finish of the session to see how many it could truly handle. We had 8 and it handled that fine.
Too bad we didn't have 2 or 4 more to test the situation. We didn't think about helpers/consists, so that will be something I'll mention to him this afternoon when I go over there to test run some new passenger cars.

Thank You. As always, this forum is one of the best around anywhere.

Raised on the Erie Lackawanna Mainline- Supt. of the Black River Transfer & Terminal R.R.

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Posted by simon1966 on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 3:34 PM

 Capt. Grimek wrote:
Using DC throttles like MRC Tech !! I'd only have speed and direction control correct? And would this be "converted" to DCC control, I presume? or remain DC for those locos?
.

Capt.

When you use a jump throttle, you assign a DCC equipped locomitive to the external jump throttle.  You then have speed and direction control using the knob and reverse switch of the DC throttle.  The locomotive is actually under full DCC control with the Zephyr taking the output of the DC throttle and converting it to DCC commands that are then sent out on the track to the locomotive that is assigned to the jump throttle. 

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

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Posted by Capt. Grimek on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 4:00 PM
Ah! That's mighty cool! Thanks Simon. I've read about the jump ports but didn't understand the DCC vs. DC function therein. That's a selling point to be sure for the Z. I appreciate it. The Tech IIs would be a little awkward for hand control throttles but they're not too heavy. I might use them until I can afford smaller
and convert the IIs for lighting etc. later. I'll probably wait until after the summer shows to see if there are any additional "surprise" products coming from Digitrax before buying a system.

Raised on the Erie Lackawanna Mainline- Supt. of the Black River Transfer & Terminal R.R.

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Posted by corsair7 on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 4:57 PM

 locoworks wrote:
if you are planning to keep your Zephyr the empire builder would suit you fine as the zephyr can read back CV's when programming.   it would also give you an option to use one as an auto reverser. BUT, for the extra few bucks i would get the chief. it specs out much better the empire builder for comparatively little extra.  as to the radio, the UR91 will only work with the current radio throttles. when the UR92 comes out for the duplex radio, it won't see the current radio throttles as the frequency is 2.4ghz rather than 900mhz.  if you want to use both types of radio you will need both types of receiver

At this point I already have the Zephyr but I want to use a throttle when I go to the club and it had been suggested that I get the DT400R for the purpose running decoder equiped locomotives there. Now I'd also like to use it on my home layout as well and that's what prompted the original question.

Irv

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Posted by corsair7 on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 5:02 PM

 locoworks wrote:
if you are planning to keep your Zephyr the empire builder would suit you fine as the zephyr can read back CV's when programming.   it would also give you an option to use one as an auto reverser. BUT, for the extra few bucks i would get the chief. it specs out much better the empire builder for comparatively little extra.  as to the radio, the UR91 will only work with the current radio throttles. when the UR92 comes out for the duplex radio, it won't see the current radio throttles as the frequency is 2.4ghz rather than 900mhz.  if you want to use both types of radio you will need both types of receiver

At this point I already have the Zephyr. I've also got a DT400R, together with UR91 coming in a few days.

This will allow me to to run decoder equipped locomotives at the club. It will also let me incorporate the Zephyr and the throttle og my layout from day one since the layout hasn't been started yet.

I realize that at some point I might outgrow the Zephyr but I'd rather cross that bridge when the time comes. After all, that could be next year or 20 years from now.

Irv

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Posted by locoworks on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 6:04 PM
20 years if you rush things   Big Smile [:D]    i'm still there.  good choice on manufacturer and what you have will likely last you till a chief 2 hits the shelves.
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Posted by jwils1 on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 7:16 PM

I've long felt that a Z plus a DT400 is an ideal combination for many home users.  Now that I have them I'm convinced.  I've been using MRC Wireless and couldn't wait for their computer interface so I picked up a Z just so I could use Decoder Pro.  I fugured I could always sell the Z later if necessary.

I also though it might be good to have a backup for my MRC as I was having some problems with it.  After getting the Z I just couldn't resist and got a DT400 as well.  Now the D products are really growing on me.  Funny thing though, now that I have the latest MRC upgrades it is now working perfectly.  So now I have a tough time deciding which system to run trains with.  But as I learn to use the DT400 I really like it.  I run solo most of the time so being able to run two trains at the same time on the DT400 is pretty slick.

Since I prefer wireless, I am using the Digitrax Infrared and the way my train room is arranged I have direct line-of-sight with the receiver most of the time and it is working very well.  Once the D duplex radio is available I will need to make a decision as to which system to stay with, and unless the pending MRC wireless computer interface turns out to be a terrific product, I'm thinking I will very likely be 100% Digitrax radio.  And besides, I've met some really nice Digitrax users here in the Colorado area, and on the internet.

P.S. to Paul:  Remember when you and I were debating Digitrax vs. Lenz?  Well, since then I've had experience with CVP radio throttles, NCE Power Cab and MRC Prodigy Advance, in addition to Lenz.  And now Digitrax, which surprising to me, has become my favorite.  I've been fortunate to be able to try these various systems, and to be able to sell them as I moved on.  Looks like I may have an MRC to sell one of these days!! 

Jerry

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Posted by Paul3 on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 7:35 PM

locoworks,
One probably doesn't need a booster for most home layouts, so adding a booster is most likely an un-needed expense.  There's a lot of misconceptions about DCC, and one of them is that you need boosters, power sections, and circuit breakers.  As long as you can work within the limits of your system, you're fine.

The major problem with sound locos is the start-up.  They almost all have capacitors that must charge when the power comes on, and this "in-rush" current can trip the booster or breaker well in advance of the normal load requirements.  Certain kinds of circuit breakers claim to solve this or reduce it's effects (see: Tony's PSX), but the only real solution is to have either fewer sound locos on powered track or have more boosters.

I'd say 10 sound locos on a Z is pushing the envelope for certain on in-rush current.  Using the Cheif in that situation only makes sense.  If one can afford 10 sound locos, the cost of the Cheif shouldn't be much of an issue.

Personally, I like the pot vs. the encoder.  I have had many encoders fail on me, but no pots as of yet (and it's been 5 years of use, both on the Z and the UT1).   I like the feel of it, and l like knowing where the off position is.  The brake can be fun, but it can also be a pain when it doesn't flip over all the way 'cause you're in a hurry.  Smile [:)]

Capt. Grimek,
In general, yes, you can only control speed and direction with the jump ports.  However, if you have the Z set on Jump 1 or Jump 2, you can access F0 to F8 on these throttles with the Z's keyboard.

jwils1,
HOLY COW!


Laugh [(-D]

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Posted by Capt. Grimek on Thursday, July 17, 2008 2:47 AM
Thank you Paul.

Raised on the Erie Lackawanna Mainline- Supt. of the Black River Transfer & Terminal R.R.

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