Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A New Avenue

Well, seems that life has thrown us all a big curveball to start off 2020, as New Jersey, the nation and the entire world is now dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.  These are tough times for many and scary times for most, between the illness and the economic fallout that is related to it.  While it has been brewing for months, it has become front-page news only in the last few weeks here in New Jersey.   The response is an unprecedented restriction on gathering, with schools and work largely closed or exclusively online. 

However, the real railroad continues to run, which means that I have work and that I must be on the property in performance of that work.  But, it also means most meetings are now conference calls, and that my kids are home from school with online learning.   That makes for long days for my wife and kids - and so an increased role for Dad when I get home. 

This means it's high time to act on my wife's longstanding plan to get an O-gauge layout set up in the finished attic space for the kids.  Yep, this scale guy is going to delve into building a 3-rail layout!  I figure it's a great way to get the kids involved and give them trains that are theirs to handle and run.  Thanks to some generous donations, it's time to get rolling (thanks Ralph & Chris!).

A quick trip to Home Depot got the basics loaded into the minivan.  Gotta love a minivan:  with the seats folded into their bays, you can fit a full 4'X8' sheet of plywood with no worries.  Cool!

Susie started off helping sand the base plywood.

Once that was cut down and sanded and ready to go, it was time to carry it up to the attic (with big help from Kristen!) and get the framework in place. 

That was covered with outdoor carpeting to give us a base for the track, and a visit to a local hobby shop turned up lots of used Gar-Graves and Ross Custom track for us to play with.  This stuff is nice, and was recommended by some O-gauge buddies over the Lionel track.  Teddy was a huge help in assembling track and trying different configurations.

After a Sunday and a few evenings of work, we got trains running, with more progress to come soon.  The kids are in heaven for a few days - what magic to be able to share this with them. 

With travel restrictions coming to deal with the virus, it's a great time to double down on a project at home you can do with the kids or grandkids.  Time to take the lemon and have some lemonade!  Best wishes during this time, I wish you health and economic stability.  Hang in there, this too will pass.


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Shifting Gears

One of the best parts of this hobby is that it really is many hobbies at once.

How many hobbies out there involve carpentry, electrical wiring, computer programming, plaster work, painting, mechanical and electrical construction and maintenance, operations planning, weathering, history, and planning?  Not many.  But one of them is model railroading. 

And so, after major scenery progress, it is a nice change of pace to change categories for awhile and focus on progress somewhere else.  Over the last few weeks, I've finally been able to make some headway on several mechanical projects.  First off, I finally finished up one of Lenny's 'Suffern Hoboken Interstate Transfer' GP35's.  As Lenny contributes his weathering mastery of freight cars and locomotives to the Onondaga Cutoff, I am adding DCC, sound, and ditch lights to his locomotives. 

Lenny's paint and decal work are second only to his weathering skills.  It's such a pleasure to bring some light and sound to his locomotives!

After that project was packed up for delivery to 'home' rails, I opened up a few new additions to the fleet on the Onondaga Cutoff as well.  Conrail's Chicago Line was a kaleidoscopic experience of foreign power in the 1990s - locomotives from all major railroads and many regional railroads as well made appearances on Conrail's trains, with and without Conrail locomotives mixed in.  That allows a fun and dangerous little side hobby for me in modeling run-through locomotives.  

Here we have two ScaleTrains SD40T-2's and one of Athearn's latest-run SD50's.  Each of these models is testiment to the fact that this hobby has never been better.  Adjusted for inflation, you get more than we have ever paid for these models, and it's done perfectly - all we need to do is program their decoders and weather them up, and they're ready to represent run-through power from UP and SP alike on Conrail trains through the 1990's.  Each is factory-detailed to match the look of these engines in the later 1980's and early 1990's - the stuff that used to take me dozens of hours to change on generic models.  Today's stuff is simply amazing.  

While all are nice, boy - these recent ScaleTrains offerings (with new drives, LocSound V5 decoders, dual speakers, keep-alive circuits built in, and the see-through grating) are just incredible. Next time we will have photos of the completed weathering.  Paint and detailing are top grade and it's exciting to spend time weathering them up for service!


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The 'Natural Hat Trick' on AML!

Now for the third part of AML's 'thirty-seven part trilogy' on the Onondaga Cutoff!  And, as you will hear, there is some more to come sometime down the road.  But for now enjoy the last of this long-form interview via the Podcast.

A ModelersLife