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Craftsman Boomer Trail - March 2014

Boomer Trail

Spotted on the fueling tracks and getting ready for another busy day, NPSF 3800 is an Atlas GP38 recently aquired by the railroad second hand and sublettered to rush it in to service. Upgrades include setails such as air conditioner, new plow, and antenna platform. Nicolo Platas' HO scale model railroad is patterened after modern Santa Fe/BNSF operations in New Mexico.

Details and scenes on the NPSF

by Nicolo Platas/photos by Otto M. Vondrak

March 2014 RMCDespite growing up in suburban Long Island, Nicolo Platas always dreamed of having a basement filled with a Santa Fe-themed layout. What developed was a modern layout based on Santa Fe's Raton Pass line reimagined as the "NPSF" (which tongue-in-cheek stands for "Nicolo Platas' Santa Fe"). With the help of his friends, the NPSF has managed to capture the look and feel of railroading in the Southwest while including many small scenes and details around the layout that are fun for casual viewers to discover.

Ready for another day of work

NPSF 3800 is spotted on the fuel track to be serviced for another day of local switching.

NPSF 3600

This unit now serves as the power for the NPSF dinner train service. It is an Atlas u36c that whas been detailed to match the actual unit and has a sound decoder installed.

Loading Rail

Workers are loading some rail for a repair on the main line. This is a great static scene that adds life to the yard.

Loading Up

Meanwhile at the other end of the yard, some workers are loading a hyrail truck to get ready to head out to a work site along the NPSF.

MOW storage

The NPSF maintenance of way (MOW) crews have a storage lot for materials including ties, tools, spare signal relay cases, and more. The storehouse is made from a discarded shipping container, in this case a Walthers model with a garage door and rooftop vent added.

Cleaning up

Workers remove some discarded ties from the yard while a loaded ethanol train passes in the background on the NPSF main line.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Here's a scene that definitely places the NPSF in modern times. This town recycling center was made from an old Atlas turntable motor housing disguised to look like a shed. This scene is based on an actual drop-off located in Lamy, New Mexico.

Gas up!

Amtrak's Southwest Chief rolls through the town of Ribera while locals gas up at the Shell station (a kit from Summit Customcuts).

Emergency repairs

The local water company is repairing a pipe today on one of the streets in Lamy. The backhoe is a die-cast model from Norscott Models, while the porta-potty is form BLMA.


Two NPSF units haul an ethanol train to the plant in Rowe for loading. The beautiful countryside in New Mexico provides rail fans great photo opportunities. Fortunately, the NPSF is a railfan friendly railroad. Some areas require a 4x4 to access, as evidenced by the two railfans and their rented Jeep. The two locomotives are Kato SD40-2 and SD45 models custom painted and detailed by Nicolo Platas to match actual Santa Fe units. Both units are equipped with sound decoders.

Hail to the Chief

Amtrak's Southwest Chief rolls through the scene as two railfans prepare to get their shot. The locomotives are Athearn models that have been repowered with can motors and extra weight for better performance, and also have sound decoders installed. Nicolo built the bridge from Micro Engineering parts, resting on piers scratchbuilt from styrene. The bridge is modeled after similar ones used on the BNSF line through Abo Canyon.


A railfan catches the daily "Rail Runner" commuter train on its way to Albuqerque. The F59 diesel locomotive and bi-level coaches are by Athearn. This colorful commuter train began serving Alberquerque in 2006, and has since extended to Belen and Santa Fe.

Taking in the show

Visitors enjoy the live show at the small park provided by the local tourist railroad. This was a great way to include some vintage equipment as well as steam operations on an old branch line.

March 2014 RMC

March 2014

Read "Visiting the NPSF Railroad "
by Nicolo Platas



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