Monday, April 29, 2024

Springtime doesn't slow down

 April in the last few years has become a very busy month.  It is amazing that we are almost to May, and as would be expected there were a lot of moving parts in the last few weeks.  

But what a few weeks - a total eclipse of the sun from Deshler, OH, street running in LaGrange, KY, along with a trip to Massachusetts for the Boston Marathon, all followed by a trip to operate trains on a variety of model railroads around San Francisco, California.  

Some amazing experiences.  The eclipse was outstanding - what a surreal and ethereal experience to be in the 100% shadow - and for CSX to run trains and display different aspects for it was amazing luck.  Then the other railfan sights only to be topped by the incredible model railroads of the Bay Area of California.  Wow!

I also did some work to help some fellow modelers out as I could fit it in, and progress has brought us nearly to completion at CP 294, with some exciting final photos coming soon there.

Still:  Ten states in 3 weeks - too much for my taste! The theme is a constant one - so much to do, too many great things to be part of - and so we must push to do as much as we possibly can.  Perhaps there is a time coming where there is less to do, but I feel it is more likely that there will always be an amazing list of things to do.  Maybe, just maybe, there will be an era when there is more time to do those things.  In the mean time, it's a great ride!

Monday, April 8, 2024

On Right-of-Way and Drainage

 There is very little 'flat' about the details along railroad tracks.  Even in some of the most flat and level territory, tracks are installed to facilitate drainage, which means some elevation changes are present even if they must be added by the construction.  

One reason most larger model railroads are built with subroadbed cut to fit the track areas and then mounted on support piers is that the terrain around the roadbed then can easily be built to be above and, more importantly, below the track level.  Water flows down, and adding simulated ditches where that would happen adds a lot of plausibility to your model.  

Here is a scene on the OC where the terrain is both above and below the right of way.  The bridge is up on abutments with slopes down and away from the road, but those slopes keep right on going down past the tracks, suggesting a spot where the railroad is on an embankment.  This is a key to a scene's plausibility and adds a to the overall feel of an area.  Real railroads provide a spot for water to run off too, and modelers should, too.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Doin' what you gotta do...

We can get ourselves in trouble sometimes.  Self-caused mistakes are some of the most frustrating as they are usually quite avoidable.  This photo is one of those stories.

Final scenery over at CP294 has been filling in, as I’d mentioned last month, and as a direct result several other things happened.

Below 294 is deep staging.  Wiring for the track power through CP294, along with the signals, switch machines, and accessories is tight over the top of the three tracks.  In my excitement to make progress, rather than move all the trains from deep staging and leave them all over the main line, I decided instead to use painter’s plastic drops gently stretched over the top of deep staging to shield them from any debris that might fall down.  It worked great - until I knocked the last car of the grain train out while removing the plastic.  It hit the floor and while it survived, the end was bad enough with a broken main coupler box and frame that a rebuild would be untenable for operations. I was pissed - that’s an expensive $55 mistake. 

As I fumed, contemplating options, it occurred to me that this would perhaps be a good ‘wreck repair’ load, on cribbing atop of a flat car, with the trucks removed.  I had always wanted to do one of these after seeing the ones available from and other custom builders.  In fact it’s a great car for that - and while I’d never do that to a functional superdetailed car, a broken one is a perfect match.

So I did some online research and found some photos.  I proceeded to add more damage to the covered hopper to simulate a full end collision….and now needed a flat car to carry it.  Luckily I found a nice new ScaleTrains flat car in my to-do pile which needed only assembly of the wooden deck and final weathering. 

Sometimes when you make a mistake, you just gotta do what you gotta do and make up for it.  I think this came out as well as it could!