Summer Evening and the ML401

Summer Evening and the ML401
Conrail ML401 rolls west through Central New York farm country in Onondaga County, September 1994.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Dream, Come True!

Ever since I can remember, 'Model Railroader' magazine by Kalmbach Publishing Company has been a staple of the model railroad hobby.  I've been a subscriber for decades, and it has long been a source of inspiration and of wonder for me - as a child, seeing these amazing layouts was defining over time. The idea of being published in 'Model Railroader' was a long-time dream for me.

I had practiced for the last few years taking some photos of the railroad, and sharing them with you here and with friends as well.  It's an entire subset of the hobby!

Due to a variety of timing and circumstance, I was introduced to the columnist for the new "On Operations" column in the magazine, Jerry Dziedzic.  He actually attended several operating sessions and very much enjoyed them, especially the overnight part of the operation. We enjoyed having him as an operator, as well!   Much to my excitement, late last year Jerry approached me with a request to feature the night operations on the Onondaga Cutoff in one of his columns, including a photo to help set the tone for the column.

I am thrilled to announce to you all that in the May 2016 issue of 'Model Railroader', you will find Jerry's column discussing night operations on the Onondaga Cutoff, accompanied by a photograph I took!   It's a fun read and a good issue overall.

Here's a few out-take photos from the shoot that eventually provided the photo editor the material he was looking for.  This is train SEBU, shown before dawn at Onondaga Yard, before making his pickup and set out.




The final shot was close to what Jerry and the editors decided they wanted.  This ended up being a process of about 4 different shoots to get to the final product, and it was a great experience to be able to go through the process of proofs, critiques, and edits with professionals.  I hope there are more to come!

Enjoy, and as always thanks for your support!

~RGDave

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Big Upgrade - A Ceiling!

It is fitting that on Conrail's 40th birthday, April 1 2016, that I would have a major upgrade to report to you on the Onondaga Cutoff!

Last night we finished up the installation of a new drop-in ceiling in the basement, covering most of the layout with a shield from dust and at least some sort of barrier for moisture that may come through the old wooden floors of my house (the near-disaster of spilled orange juice in the kitchen, directly over CP 280, comes to mind).   Further, we've added a MUCH tighter appearance to the layout - without all the chaos visible above, the eye travels naturally to the scenery and models.

Here's an opening view, pre-ceiling.  You can see the laser line if you look closely, showing where the finished elevation will be.  This tool helps to 'see' the finished height.


Once the line is set, the contractors built a grid of aluminum framing, and I started to move the lighting from the rafters to the grid (as well as label the grid at critical spots, where valves and junction boxes would be hidden).  I also installed light plastic 'dust jackets' to the layout to aid in clean-up.


Once that was in place, it was time for the contractors to come back the following day and install the tiles - this was like watching an artist.  These cuts have to be perfect.  I was happy to have professionals on board to install the grid and make the tough cuts.


What a difference!  I am amazed at just how different it looks with the ceiling in place.  There are a few adjustments to make, including lighting and such based on operator feedback, but I think I am going to be very happy with the changes in the room.

Here's a comparison for you - the Iroquois area with the grid, and then the Iroquois area with the finished ceiling:



I feel as though the space for the layout went from 'amateur' looking to professional-looking, all in two days' time!  I am hoping this cuts down on track cleaning, and offers some protection to the layout, but also hoping this is a more enjoyable place to spend time with the new clean look.  One thing that is for sure is that it is now time for backdrops to be finalized - I am looking at photo backdrops, but that is a post for the future!

Best wishes into April!

~RGDave