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.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Remembering What Inspires Us

 Model railroading is an effort to capture in miniature the essence of what fascinates us about trains.  This can take a variety of forms: there's collectors, there's builders, there's operators, there's historians...and plenty of other approaches.  The trains are central to it all of course but railroads are part of western civilization, and so there are many ways the interest manifests itself.

A challenge for serious hobbyists, though, is to keep a vision on what we set out to accomplish in the hobby.  We can loose sight of what really inspired us to get into the hobby in the first place. That's where looking through old photos and notes can help.  

Conrail TV-13, CP 286 at East Syracuse, NY, March 1997

In researching the C30-7A kitbash article for submission, I went looking for slides in my collection of prototype C30-7A's, and found a few that fit the bill.  I scanned them and noted how the image brought me back in time - it was exciting to see the image and imagine the sound, remember the scent, see the dynamics - I could almost feel the ground shaking as the train accelerated past.  

For those of us into the operation, all the rest of what we do in the hobby is in service of operations - the vision of an operating railroad, complete with the role-playing game that is required to make it run.  Operations is fascinating for many reasons and for me, capturing the essence of what Conrail was doing on the Chicago Line in the 90's is the goal.  Many diverse people from all sorts of backgrounds came together 24-7-365 to move trains, and they did it safely, with pride.  

Conrail TV-24, East Syracuse NY, March 1997.

Take some time to look through your old books and photos, notes, and trip logs.  We can't go back in body, but we sure can go back in mind.  Bring that to an operating session featuring a railroad in the past, though, and we can for a few hours travel in body back to a miniature world gone by.  That's a joy of the hobby for me, and a goal of the Onondaga Cutoff is to share that with others.

~Dave


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Conrail on the Onondaga Cutoff - On the Cover of Model Railroader!

There are still surprises in life.  

I'm thrilled to present the August 2021 cover for Model Railroader magazine, with a neat kitbashing article taking the cover - a kitbashing piece I wrote for the Conrail C30-7A!  


This blog has an entry from several years ago describing the build, and in discussing with one of the Senior Associate Editors at MR, he advised that I should pitch it to the Editor.  I did, and it was accepted; I moved ahead with the whole piece.  It was submitted in January 2021 and in just 7 months was printed - with a cover shot to boot!  

This is the second MR cover shot for the Onondaga Cutoff, but the first with Conrail locomotives front and center.  Ever since Mike Tylick's pieces on building a junction module based on the Boston Line in the late 1980's, I have hoped to get Conrail, my 'home' prototype and modeled railroad, on the cover - and here we are.  

The whole thing is surreal and too-good-to-be-true, a lifelong dream achieved at 44 years of age.   From the start of this blog through to now is quite a journey and God willing there is quite a bit more left in the tank.  In some ways I think I'm just getting going, although this one is going to be hard to top.  May the best be yet to come!