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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Different Flavors of Railroading


All of us like to run trains, simulating real-life train movements.  However, one of the major issues in moving real-life trains is dealing with maintenance and infrastructure that is being worked on, either during preventive maintenance or repair.  One aspect of railroading that can be emphasized more on most layouts is maintenance of the right of way and infrastructure that supports operations.  


Here’s a photo of an actual infrastructure issue that occurred, and the subsequent repair that we chose to model during operations.   One of the switches on the west end ladder tracks in Onondaga Yard experienced a rod failure during the most recent operating session.  Rather than make a quick repair during the session, we locked the switch in one direction, simulating a ‘spike and block’ situation where crews mechanically fix a switch to prevent derailments due to a broken component. 

Once the sun came up, I placed one of my block truck models at the location with some figures to simulate the repair process.  After the session I made the repair – a careful application of Walthers ‘GOO’ adhesive did the trick, reconnecting the throw bar with the ground throw.  For this session, we will have the switch out of service for the first hour or so, allowing the track crew to finish their work – and adding some variety to the yardmaster’s job.

Modeling maintenance is a fun part of operations, and helps challenge operators to think outside the usual box of the job.  Where will the next repair be needed?  We will know when it happens – and we will deal with it, like they do on the prototype.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

From White to...Dark Brown

Summer in full swing means limited layout time, but in the mantra of keeping things moving, here you go:  20 minutes painting up the bare white plaster makes a world of difference for visitors and operators until the scenery itself is installed.


A little bit of scenery installed before gluing in the foam shoulders for the canal scene makes life easier down the road, too - installing static grass beneath a low bridge is nearly impossible.


Here's a view looking west at the middle of the scene.  It is going to be something else when there's a wooded hillside here, but even now the long gentle curve is a cool place to watch trains.  Much more appealing than bare white plaster!


Finally here's a view of the whole scene from where the new grade crossing will be installed.  This is one of the more sweeping scenes on the railroad and I aim to keep that aspect, adding lots of trees behind and some smaller ones and scrubby brush in the foreground.  This is an exciting addition, one of the typical Central New York scenes that is just starting to take shape.  I am set here for a major push into the fall!

~RGDave