Thursday, July 19, 2012

Major Milestone - 30,000 page views!

As of this evening, the blog has exceeded 30,000 page views. Thanks to all who take a few minutes to look over this blog. I hope you find something of use here, and I appreciate all the links to the blog, feedback from readers and emails!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Essex Junction Trackwork - Update

Rather than overcomplicating things, I decided to go with a very simple homemade spring to hold the points on my hand laid turnouts. As you can see from the photos, the spring is a piece of .028" brass wire bent to a 90-degree angle with two "legs" bent downward. These legs are inserted in holes drilled in the throw bar and an adjoining tie. 
Once the turnout is finished, painted, weathered, and ballasted, I think it will be virtually invisible. If I want to take a realistic photo of the scene at some point it's a simple matter to remove the spring and replace it once the pictures have been taken. 
Thanks to all who commented with suggestions - the "spring" you see here is actually the result of some experimentation over the last couple of nights. I'm pleased with how well it works. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. 

Possible shelf model?

I have a couple of HO scale models on display in my office. And my-coworkers and our clients who regularly visit our offices always comment on them - usually there's a story about someone or another (or them) who had a Lionel train. But I've uncovered one or two "real" model railroaders in the process. 
But let's face it, even the nicest HO scale model sitting on a shelf lacks, well, "presence." 
I'm thinking maybe an O scale model would be a better choice. 
I found that Mullet Scale Model Works makes an O scale Central Vermont three-window caboose. One neat thing about their models is the way the steel components on the prototype are modeled in brass, and the wood parts are laser cut wood. A neat approach. 
I may have to build me one of these. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Essex Junction trackwork in progress

Been spending time over the last couple of weeks laying track in Essex Junction. It took several evenings with Sanborn Maps and prototype track maps - along with photos - to come up with a trackage arrangement that resembles the prototype and is functional enough to support the planned operation on the layout (sometimes those two things don't align as well as we might like!)
Anywhere I can use a straight "stock" turnout I use Micro-Engineering Code 70 no. 6 turnouts (all the track, with the exception of a couple of code 55 sidings, is M-E code 70. For curved turnouts, custom fit to a specific place, I handlay them. 
I need to handlay a total of six turnouts for the train shed approach tracks - most of these turnouts are somewhat curved. I'm using Detail Associates frogs whenever possible (on at least two turnouts the "stock" frogs won't work, so I have to scratch build the frogs as well) - 
One of the main things I need to figure out is how to throw the hand built turnouts - the ME turnouts have a built-in spring - and I've really come to like those - crews don't have to translate between a turnout and a control panel of some sort, and I don't have to build a control panel - or, even better - install under-table switch motors. I've been using Caboose Industries ground throws in some other areas of the layout (Hartford and Waterbury) - they work great but look awful - especially in photos. I'd rather avoid them in the Essex Junction scene. Stopped by Radio Shack on the way home and picked up a couple of slide switches to see if they would work.  

Here's a couple of progress shots - more pics to follow! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Layout Work Sessions - Beneficial or Too much like, well, work?

I've had several local modelers volunteer to come over and help with various aspects of the layout. Several have indicated they would be willing to stop by and help next time I have a "work session." 
While I appreciate the gesture, and have certainly accepted help on the railroad from time to time from friends, I've been a little hesitant to declare "Every other Tuesday night" or whatever is a work session and invite a half dozen people over to work on the railroad. I seem to do okay with one or two folks at a time.  I also do okay when it's a group project - something like building benchwork comes to mind. Or it's something where I know the results will meet my vision (Bernie's backdrop painting, like that shown HERE, jumps to mind.)
My main hesitation stems from the fact that the few times I've had more than one person over to work on the layout I get really stressed out looking for tools, materials, and the like, answering the "is this what you wanted?" type questions, and all the rest. Frankly, it brings the hobby dangerously close to the kind of stuff I deal with all day at the office. And that doesn't sound like fun. 
But the whole process is fraught with peril of another sort. Someone might be the nicest guy in the world, but he's all thumbs when it comes to modeling - or certain aspects of modeling. Such things can easily lead to hurt feelings - "Gee, Bill, thanks for taking the time to make all those trees last work session. They looked like garbage . . . which is where you'll find them if you want them . . ." 
Hardly seems friendly. 
But I do know some modelers who manage to host what amounts to a private club in their homes - and they seem to get a fair amount accomplished. I'm not sure, but my guess is they know to play to each person's strength - and in some cases may find that honesty, even brutal honesty, is the best policy. And there's a clear understanding that "This is my layout, and if something doesn't meet my expectations I reserve the right to change it." 
Another key would be to have the "work assignments" in mind before everyone shows up at the door - and tell them what they will be working on and ask they bring their own tools. That would cut down a little on the need to spend an entire evening or afternoon rushing around the basement looking for all the tools and materials needed. 
Any thoughts for people who host, or attend work sessions? No need to mention specific names. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Actively working on the layout (more track work - update coming soon!) and staying out of the summer heat - 

Hope all have a happy and safe 4th of July!