Shotgun Tom model railroad

Shotgun Tom model railroad – he’s been busy adding bits to his layout and playing with real trains.

In his first post you can see how his layout was created.


The California state Railroad Museum in Sacramento pulled my Fathers 347C Santa Fe F 7 Red Warbonnet engine out of the Museum and put it in a consist.

The 347C is the last one in the world.

The Museum let me take a ride on this historic engine on for 17 miles.

Take a look at this professional video and ride with me and hear the story about my Dad John G. Irwin The Santa Fe Engineer from 1947 to 1973.

Here’s a shot of my Dad’s two Diesel engines on my Layout. The 347C and his switch engine the 2357 as seen in the video.

shotgun tom model railroad

Also The steam engine that my Dad brought President Harry Truman in to San Diego in 1948 on a whistle stop tour.

As for my Layout I’ve made a few additions like this old Timey water tank in the industrial area of my Layout.

shotgun tom model railroad

And I’m in the process of putting up telephone poles with high-voltage wire going up to my television transmitter on the mountain. Note the balls on the powerlines so helicopters won’t fly in to those lines.

shotgun tom model railroad curves

I also put in a New power utility station for my Power lines.

model railroad substation

All in All having lots of Fun with my Layout.

shotgun tom model railroad town scene

And lastly, I put in a Woodland scenics Gas Station in on the Layout.

gas station

Merry Christmas

Shotgun Tom
Aka Tom Irwin

shotgun tom

shotgun tom

A big thanks to Shotgun Tom model railroad update – hope you enjoyed it as much as me.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

Don’t forget, the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to get going on your model railroad.



PS And to say thank you to you all, here’s a silly offer on the print out buildings I’ve put together, just for a day or so.

PPS How silly? Just $1.45 per building.

33 Responses to Shotgun Tom model railroad

  1. Mark O'Reilly says:

    Tom, what a fantastic model railroad, but I must say your video has been the highlight of my Christmas morning.
    Those old American diesel locomotives are iconic and I have recently purchased an n gauge set from the US with that type of loco to run on my Christmas mini display.
    Thank you so much.

    Mark O’Reilly
    Northern Ireland

  2. Ruben Simon says:

    What a great video – educational and inspirational.

  3. Timothy Crump says:

    Fantastic train history and layout….all the more fun due to being a fan of yours from my early Navy days in SoCal!

  4. Rod Mackay says:

    Nice layout, nice tribute to his Dad. Happy Christmas to you, Al, and all your readers, your efforts are much appreciated.

  5. Jumping Jimmy Johosephet Jimbo Jinx James says:

    Like your layout and your nickname.

  6. David Schaffner says:

    What a awesomely touching tribute to your late Father…
    Love your layout, in fact it gives me some ideas, especially the wrap around portals with the two houses on top and the tracks in the foreground. Great detail. Love it.

  7. Erick says:

    Pretty Kool, I hope mine comes out that good.

  8. Eldrege Driver says:

    Enjoy the train very much. Merry Christmas to all.
    Thank you for all the work you do—-I enjoy it all.

    Eldrege Driver

  9. George Zaky says:

    Shotgun Tom
    Many thanks for sharing this wonderful tribute on Christmas Day.
    Big Al
    Thanks to you!!
    To all
    Merry Christmas! Smooth rolling, keep building, & keep showing off!!
    George from LI,NY

  10. Bill Geresy says:

    I got to engineer an FP-7A on the Kalamazoo, Lake Shore & Chicago Railway in Paw Paw, MI. I loved the view out of the cab windows.
    My Dad drove trucks and I got to ride with him when I was quite young. After 9-11 in the MI Army National Guard, I got a mission where I rode “shot-gun” in a 10 wheel semi like my Dad drove for a while. That was a special day for me.

  11. Larry Ripplinger says:

    Thank you for this video on Christmas Day! The best to all of you ‘Engineers’ out there! The same for you Al for making train modeling one of the best hobbies to do!

  12. Johnny says:

    Tom you will find this Hard to believe, but the Last Passenger Train I worked on before it’s retirement 347c unit, in the San Bernardino facility many years ago. I believe it was going to the Railroad Museum in Sacramento California. I did a complete Brake test before it left. I even helped rebuild it many years earlier when I was a Apprentice in the 1969. Thanks for the memories of time gone past. Great layout.

  13. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Sharp Looking layout!! Very Nice!!

  14. Herbert Sussman says:

    Al, thanks again for all you do all year long for our wonderful hobby, and Tom what a terrific memorial to your Dad. Thanks

  15. Mike Thornhill says:

    Hey, Shotgun – Wonderful tribute to your father and we are so glad you are a contributing crew member on our Wednesday & Thursday Crew (s) at the San Diego Model Railroad Association’s Layout..!

  16. Joe Gennari says:

    I listen to Shotgun on Serious Radio. And I’ve seen videos of his layout.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
    God Bless us All!

  17. Shotgun Tom you have a wonderful engaged layout I love all the details you put into your layout
    My nickname is tommyscomet, I also have a Blue Comet and a red comet.

  18. Don Fowler says:


    You have an awesome model railroad and the best part is that it is never finished. You are always adding great things to enhance the detail and quality of your modeling. I can’t wait to see what will come next. Thanks so much for sharing.

  19. Douglas says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Years from Kodiak Alaska. Enjoy this site the very much and read it every day.

  20. Shotgun Tom says:

    I want to thank everyone for leaving your comments about my 347C Santa Fe video doing a tribute to my father John G Irwin Santa Fe engineer.

    A special Thanks to Jhani Kaye The Hollywood Television Director who edited this video so beautifully. He put hours into this project for me.

    We tried to make the video as if you were riding along with me in that historical Red warbonnet Santa Fe engine.

    Please continue to leave more of your wonderful comments.

    A lot of you said the Video was emotional and informative as we went through and explained what everything did in the cab.

    Again, your comments are much appreciated.

    Thank you
    Shotgun Tom

  21. Allan J Jelinek says:

    The most beautiful engine ever made (In my opinion) . That must have been fun. My grandfather worked for Santa Fe and had the missing finger to prove it.

  22. george Moffatt says:

    Hey, Shotgun, a terrific vid about your dad and his locomotive. And the intro was, well, breathtaking, in its simplicity and yet its evocative sense of engine power.

    And yeah, I teared up with you at your closing remarks.

    The pity is that we all don’t have the opportunity to salute our dads as you did. Bravo

    George Moffatt

  23. Dave S. says:

    Love the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento! My son and his family live in Sacramento and I’ve spent hours there on several occasions. I’ll look for the 347C the next time I visit. Really liked the video!

  24. Derek Harnish says:

    Great story…
    I grew up in SoCal in early 60’s and would see passenger trains in Fullerton quite often and would ride with my Dad when he to my brothers surfing down to Doheny Beach. I would sometimes see the passenger trains pulled by F Units (not sure which ones) Cool to think your Dad might have been the engineer on one of those. Take care.
    Derek H.

  25. Derek H. says:

    Great story…
    I grew up in SoCal in early 60’s and would see passenger trains in Fullerton quite often and would ride with my Dad when he would take my brothers surfing down to Doheny Beach. I would sometimes see the passenger trains pulled by F Units (not sure which ones) Cool to think your Dad might have been the engineer on one of those. Take care.
    Derek H.

  26. Jerry Jackson says:

    I didn’t meet shotgun until 40 years went by. I worked with his dad on the Santa Fe when I was employed by the (SF). When he became a member of the SDMRR museum we meet for the first time and became good friends. I remember working on the crew that turned the train that 347C was on the head. It’s nice to see shotgun got to ride in the same seat as is dad. Don’t forget to close the switch when you leave the yard.

  27. Dave Karper says:

    Nice video, but I have a soft spot in my heart for overhead wire and E33, E44, GG1, and AEM7 classes, which in my time as a Conrail, and Amtrak engineer were more powerful than Diesels. Also, they have no exhaust to add to pollution.

  28. JOHN R BOLIN says:

    I am a long time friend of Shotgun Tom and was the “in cab” videographer for this story and my son Scott did the drone and some of the ground level photography. For me, as a longtime rail fan, this was a once in a lifetime experience. I am really pleased how our editor, Jhani Kaye, was able to assemble all of the elements and deliver this outstanding video. I’m also glad it is getting so much well deserved praise and was so happy I got to be part of the production.

  29. Randy Geisick says:

    Lived just outside of Sacramento (in Elk Grove) for nearly 26 years. Had the pleasure of visiting the Railroad Museum on several occasions. I would have loved to volunteer there when I retired in 2019. Alas, that was not in the cards, as we moved to Kimberly Idaho upon my retirement.
    Thank you, Tom for the fantastic video.

    Randy Geisick
    Kimberly Idaho

  30. Bob Ippolito says:

    Shotgun Tom:
    Thank you for your wonderful tribute to your Father. Listen to you on the radio
    and so glad to have you as a contributing member to our San Diego Model Railroad Association’s layout.

  31. john McGimpsey says:

    mark from northern Ireland , Bangor of all places , I am from there originally but moved stateside in 1985 , I had a partial O gouge layout done in in Texas ,but have since moved to Oregon , love the old steam video , from Shotgun Tom excellent job

  32. Alas I missed…
    I heard when Shotgun was going to be at the California State Railroad Museum but I heard the incorrect day.
    Wile I missed “Shotgun Tom” the day I was there, I did ride the railroad. It was the first time I had ridden it even though I lived very near it and got to watch their steam engine (0-6-0 Union Pacific 4466) fire up every Saturday morning… That was 1989 to 1992.
    I have moved from Southern California to Northern Nevada and CSRM is about 2.5 hours away. It is an amazing museum. I used to visit it rather regularly when I lived in Sacramento and was going to school at the University of California Davis.
    My local museum is the Nevada State Railroad Museum — Also an amazing place. The two museums are “top shelf” but it is not fair to compare one to the other.

  33. Ross Johnston says:

    Thanks Tom for your excellent video! I’m envious as I would love to be in the cab. I have been up front on a “Bluebird”Railcar from Adelaide to Broken Hill and I really enjoyed it. We couldn’t get up to speed in some places because of heat affected track otherwise we were doing around 110km/hr-120km/hr (65-75mph). I hope you will make some more Tom as I think they’re great and really worthwhile to watch. Happy New Year to you and all the people who read Alistair’s blog. Cheers Rossco, Adelaide, Austyralia

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