Saturday, October 14, 2017 house, old house

I don't know if it's some sort of omen (and if it is I hope it's a good one!) that the same day we signed the contract to sell our old house (closing middle of next month - provided all goes well!) construction started on our new house. 
I went by yesterday to see if anything was progressing and the footers were being poured - and the house "kit pack" - essentially the precut lumber for the house and the floor "decks" were being offloaded from a series of flatbeds. No, I didn't try to measure the outline of the basement walls...I didn't have my tape measure with me (or my boots!) 

Friday, October 13, 2017

About that mill building

The mill building that's currently sitting on my modeling desk is a pre-production set of parts for a kit based on a prototype in Vermont commonly called "Ben Thresher's Mill." Photo shows the subwalls and foundation mocked up on the old layout.
More details can be found in this post.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A quick update

Some of you have emailed asking for an update on the move, sale of our old house, construction of our new home, etc...
Briefly, our old house officially went up for sale two weeks ago tomorrow - we have received an offer, and are currently going back and forth with the potential buyers... anyone who's ever sold or bought a house will appreciate how much fun that can be! But I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll end up with a successful deal. (Someone told me once that a successful deal is one where all parties end up just a little disappointed with the outcome...)
Since we plan to sell the house well before our new one is completed, we rented a small apartment and moved just enough furniture, clothes and the like to make it work. I also brought along my modeling desk, and am planning to spend some time working on bench projects until the new house is done.
Speaking of the new house, construction has officially started - the excavators were hard at work yesterday, and we've graduated from being the proud owners of an expensive pile of dirt and rocks to being the proud owners of a really big hole.
I don't know where all the extra dirt went and don't care. It was great to see progress after several months of planning, permits, prepping the old house for sale, and the like.
On the modeling front, I plan to work on several half-started projects, including some resin freight cars. I also dug out the parts for this mill building, which will be the first project I work on in the temporary modeling shop a.k.a. the apartment dining room.
Before we moved, I added indentions for nail heads to the clapboards, roughed the walls up, stained them, and gave them a coat of paint. I also painted a lot of windows. The first step was to dig all the pieces out of the shoebox they were stored in and make sure everything was still there! 

The basic process I used to finish the walls is common with builders of craftsman structure kits (Finescale Miniatures, South River Model Works and the like). Frankly, I've not tried to use these techniques in years - and I really don't have that much experience with them. I'm going for a "rundown, but not dilapidated" look - a building that definitely needs some TLC but isn't about to be condemned.
I'll let you be the judge. Here's a closeup of one of the walls:

Then I started staining and highlight painting the New England Brownstone stone wall castings - some of these will serve as the foundation walls, others I plan to use as part of the mill dam.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Milepost .5 Million

I was checking the blog this morning, something that I haven't been able to do for almost a week, when I noticed the "Views" counter had tripped over the half-million mark sometime over the weekend. Even Beauregard was excited to hear the news! (actually, he never looks excited about anything...)

For the record I had nothing to do with putting this hat on my dog...
So, I thought a quick blog post was in order to (1) Let you know we're still alive and kicking and, most important, (2) Thank everyone for their interest in my scribblings. 
To say it's been crazy month would be an understatement - I will post a more complete update on where we are, how the new basement (house) is coming along, etc... 
First I need to catch my breath. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Layout Design Crowd Sourcing

Crowd sourcing a layout design is certainly a new experience for me, and I'm not sure it's going to actually result in a workable layout design, but that hasn't stopped several people stepped up the plate and asked for the "brief" on the "Richford theme" layout. I sent each of them the following (NOTE: This note has been revised slightly this morning to clarify a couple of questions - so if you 're one of the "volunteers" use the specs below - changes shown in red italics): 

Central Vermont Railway v3.1 – to be built in Gainesville, Va. (a.k.a the new house)

I’m looking at four possible themes for the next layout – one of these is definitely in the lead but at this point all these options (and perhaps others?) are in the running:

1. Essex Junction – Richmond – Waterbury Vt., on the northern division mainline (Essentially a reboot of the last incarnation of my previous layout)
2. Richford Branch, 
3. Palmer Mass. – Millers Falls prototype modeling on the CV’s southern division. 
4. Southern New England – return to my prototype freelanced SNE – this time either circa 1925 OR circa 1965….

The following specs are focused on the Richford Branch, the other themes require different curve radii, governing motive power, and the like and therefore some adjustments to the list below will be required for those plans. 
 I plan to design the entire layout but complete construction in stages - one town at a time. Ultimately will include Richford, Sheldon Jct., Sheldon Falls, East Berkshire and/or Enosburg Falls.

Era: pre-September 1954 (plywood mill in Richford burned down in late Sept 1954) 

Governing motive power and minimum radius: N-5-a class 2-8-0s, 30” min. radius
Governing train length: 2 N-5-a’s, 16 40-foot cars +van. 

Space: The overall size of the room where the layout is to be located is approximately 26 x 42 feet. I have no intention of ever filling this room with a model railroad layout. The layout area is the area shown in the diagram – from the post to the exterior wall, and the approximately 30 foot length.

Aisle Width: 4 foot, minimum. Pinch points acceptable at ends of lobes, etc..

Grades: Although the Richford Branch was a helper district (the daily freight was frequently double-headed, and often needed a shove from the St. Albans switcher) – I’d prefer to keep the track level. In my experience, model railroad grades and “realistic” helper operations are asking for trouble. 

Control System: NCE wireless

Track: Micro-Engineering code 70 flex, handlaid turnouts. No 7s on passing sidings, No. 6 minimum everywhere else. Blue Point turnout throws. 

Schematic: Point to point (from staging into Richford) acceptable but MUST include “hands off” turning of locomotives on both ends of run. Richford can either use a turntable or the CP interchange wye, “St Albans” staging can use the Walthers 90-foot turntable I have on hand. 

Operating Crew: When the entire layout is complete I’d picture the following as a typical operating crew:
1. Richford Local Engineer
2. Richford Local Conductor
3. Paper Mill Switcher
4. CP Interchange Job (can be same as Paper Mill switcher person)
5. Dispatcher/Session coordinator

Must have scenes/elements on complete layout:
1. Richford Plywood Mill and Yard
2. Richford interchange with CPRy (nice to have would be the Agway feedmill on the CP in Richford, which was switched by both CV and CP.)
3. Sheldon Jct – interchange with St. J & LC. And three-span through truss bridge. 
4. Sheldon Falls – Paper mill 

I’ve sent the folks who expressed an interest (and Bernie, who didn’t express an interest but got drafted!) the following:
1. Article on Richford Branch from CVRHS Ambassador
2. Valuation Maps of the Richford Branch
3. Scans of pages on Richford from the Nimke Conn River book. 

Town maps, redrawn from various sources can be found on my blog – do a subject search for “Richford” and they should all show up, along with some photos. 
If you want to take a crack at one of the other themes feel free. I can answer any specific questions you might have - but suggest you start by searching the blog for the appropriate subject area (ie., "SNE", or "Palmer") - 

Finally, although the ultimate goal is a workable accurate plan, I'm well aware that it's impossible to accurately plan a layout when the  space is currently a hole in the ground.

So at this point use the estimated dimensions shown in the sketch on the blog, and keep the design "lose" - blocking in key elements, benchwork shapes and the like. I'd hate for someone to spend a lot of time coming up with an excellent design - and then find the basement is actually 10" shorter or whatever....
Thanks again! 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Benchwork footprint - initial try 1

Bernie Kempinski and I had lunch today, and spent some time thinking through possible benchwork footprints for my new layout. 
So here, for the first time, is the very, very preliminary sketch of the Richford Branch in my new space. I'm not going to attempt a critique of this sketch - it's obviously just that - but it is a starting point and shows that a "spread out" Richford branch is certainly a workable theme in this space. 
I've included labels showing some key dimensions that got buried in our pencil work, as also show where Richford and some other key pieces might fit. 
I'm not sure we have the ideal arrangement. Perhaps Richford would be better on the other end of the line - staging could be located in my workshop accessed via the open space behind the powder room wall? And, though obviously not drawn to scale, the "squares" we worked with allow for 30" radius curves. But the peninsula lobe may be too close to the stairs. 
I'll likely try a few different benchwork footprints over the next few days and weeks. Obviously, detailed scale drawings should wait until there's an actual basement!
I will say we did discuss a Essex Jct - Richmond - Waterbury plan - I might pursue that a little more, just to see what it would look like, but immediately after broaching the subject the same old issues with minimum radius, the need for two staging yards, etc... all reared their ugly heads.  
So, for the moment I want to pursue the Richford branch plan to, as Mr. Spock would say, it's logical conclusion. 

I can put together a "brief book" with information on the Richford branch and some various must have's, nice to haves, etc.. for anyone who might be interested in taking a stab at a layout design for this space. Email me directly at mjmcguirk AT comcast DOT net....

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

CV Shower Car #4546

Ryan Mendell is building a very nicely done model of a Grand Trunk MoW car - which you can see on his blog here. 
In the comments section I mentioned how even the CV shower cars had the "Flammable" sign on the side - a common feature of most of the old CV wood work equipment. (And while I certainly thought about it, I didn't pry one of these signs off the cars laying about in East New London  yard way back when ... almost wish I had - it would make a nice conversation piece hanging on the walls in the basement.)
Back to Ryan's post. Although he's not building a shower car, my comment led to a question about what a shower car is, or was.... seems pretty obvious to me - it's a car with showers - in this case six shower stalls (and nine coat hooks??).  
Does this mean the "bunk cars" didn't have showering facilities? Honestly, I don't know. 
I do know the CV rostered three shower cars, nos.  4546-4548, from the late 1940s through at least the mid 1960s (based on the date on 4546 below).  George Dutka obtained some information about the interior arrangement of the shower cars from Jim Murphy, and included them in an early issue of the CVRHS Ambassador. Reproduced below:

A number of years ago, Pete McLachlan sent me a stack of photos of CV work equipment he photographed at St. Albans, which included a photo of CV 4546.  Based on the reweigh date, the car was weighed at St. Albans, Vt., in May, 1965, so this photo dates to after that date. I don't believe this car ever got the white maple leaf that was applied to some of the MoW equipment after 1954. In the 1950s the lettering would be identical except there wouldn't be a pregnant tapeworm logo on the side of the car. 

Note the "Flammable" sign. 

Wordless Wednesday #163

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Westerfield I-GN boxcar - ready for weathering

I finished dealing the Westerfield I-GN boxcar, and added an overcoat of Future floor polish followed by a coat of Vallejo Matte clear. I think it makes a nice addition to the "late 1920s" roster. 

I think I'm going to hold off on weathering the car until I get some other half-finished freight car projects completed. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Westerfield I-GN Boxcar

As I was sorting and packing some of the smaller items that reside in various small plastic containers, I came across the decals for a Westerfield International Great Northern 40-foot single sheathed boxcar that I'd built almost two years ago.
Having no idea how the decals ended up separated from the car, and knowing full well that it would happen again if I didn't take drastic measures, I opted to spend a pleasant hour or so this past Sunday evening getting the decals on one side of the car. Side #2 has since been completed.
For the record, and my reference, the car was painted with a base coat of Vallejo "Boxcar Red" sold by Micro-Mark. The Vallejo labels reveals they refer to this color as "Rust." The paint was allowed to dry completely (although the 26 months this paint dried may have been excessive!) before I hit the model with an airbrushed coat of Future clear acrylic (or whatever they're calling it this week).  
When this photo was taken I hadn't yet "snuggled"* the decals in place, which is why there's so much decal film showing.
When I decal a car I like to leave it on the modeling desk for a week or so - every evening I'll add another application of Microscale setting solution. After a few days of this most of the film disappears. The next step will be another coat of gloss, followed by a coat of clear flat.
Sharp-eyed freight car fanatics will note this car is lettered to reflect lettering styles that predate my typical 1950s roster. 
No further comment on that at this time.  

*When I was on the Model Railroader staff we were always debating the best way to describe of process of softening decals using settling solution to get them to conform to the various details, ridges, rivets and the like. Somehow, someone (likely Jim Kelly, it sounds like something he'd come up it!) suggest the term "snuggling" the stuck.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Don Mitchell's Southern Mountain Railroad blog

Some of you may recognize the name Don Mitchell from the pages of Model Railroader. Don published many innovative layout designs over the years. The first time I met Don he took Christine and I on a behind the scenes tour of the La Mesa Tehachapi Pass layout (incidentally, Don was involved in the design of that railroad and is still an active member of the club), followed by wonderful early dinner and tour of Coronado Island during which we discussed model railroading (Don was one of John Allen's friends, and regularly operated on the Gorre & Daphetid), the Navy, food and cooking, and a wide range of other topics.
I've fallen out of touch with Don over the last decade or so, but was thrilled to discover he's been posting about his home layout on the Model Railroad Hobbyist blog over the last year or so. 
There's numerous thoughtful insights on layout design, composition, and interesting operations throughout this thread, so instead of trying to summarize, I'll merely direct you to his Southern Mountain Railroad posts on the Model Railroad Hobbyist blog here

Friday, June 30, 2017

Richford Branch Maps 3, Sheldon Springs

In between painting the basement walls and boxing up household goods I did manage to find enough time to draw up Sheldon Springs. Sheldon Springs is located west of Sheldon Junction (see the close up map here). Highlight of Sheldon Springs is the Missisquoi Pulp & Paper Co. plant, which is by far the largest single industrial customer on the Richford Branch. The first map is an overall view of the area and shows how the various elements fit together. (Click on the maps to enlarge).

The Missisquoi Pulp & Paper plant was located on a spur that swung northwest from the Richford Branch proper. The mill itself was located downhill from the CV tracks at the base of a fairly steep hill. The paper mill had a small switch engine (even had it's own engine house between the mill and CV main). But the CV did switch the mill, although CV engines couldn't operate past the points denoted with the red "B" on the diagram below.
Typically the Richford freight required two engines for power. George Corey provided this shot of N-5-a 2-8-0 no. 466 shoving on the rear end of the Richford-bound freight at Sheldon Springs on February 23, 1957. Within a month steam would be dead on the CV. (And yes, freight car nuts should check out the GTW rebuilt boxcar ahead of the van). 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Story Telling and Layout Design?

The space in the basement for the new layout has been roughly defined, meaning it’s sufficient to start some rough sketches of potential benchwork shapes and the like. Or so I thought.
These sketches are nothing more than doodles … and attempts to apply the John Armstrong’s by the squares and “givens and druthers” approach proved equally unsatisfying.  It simply wasn’t working for me. 
Mike Cougill and Trevor Marshall have written extensively about their model railroading and layout design philosophy on their respective blogs.  Rather than attempting to review it all here, I’ll suggest you read them for yourself (See here and here for some examples, but be sure to look around at both of these excellent blogs while you're there).  
I believe the essence of what they’re saying can be boiled down to “What story are you trying to tell?”  While this is a novel approach to thinking about model railroading, military modelers and miniaturists have done for years. Meaning we might be able to learn something from them.
Typically we jump right into layout design by figuring out how to fit the longest possible run into the space.  The question of “why” is left unanswered.  Instead, thousands of gallons of ink are spilled on explanatory text “I’m modeling the XY&Z railroad from Town A to Point B…” I’ve edited and you’ve read more than our share of such exposes so I won’t belabor the point.  Instead I’ll simply ask shouldn’t the story we’re telling be painfully obvious with nothing more than a single glance?  For example, see Sheperd Paine’s “How to Build Dioramas” – a book that should be a part of every modeler’s library.  Paine was a master at crafting a storyline for each of his dioramas. Check out the cover photo of the diorama depicting an aircraft assembly line in WWII – what stories does that one image tell? 

Truly gifted artists and craftsman imbue their work with an indelible stamp.  And, while I think most model railroads fall well short of being “art” some model railroads do indeed cross that threshold.  These are the layouts built by excellent craftsman with a strong, well defined theme – a story they’re telling.  
Mike Cougill frequently refers to model railroading not as a hobby, but as “the craft.”  And I think it’s no accident that defining the story you’re trying to tell, not only about railroading but about yourself and your relationship to “the craft” extends far beyond the trains, curve radii, dispatching methods or other minutia that bogs us down way too early in the design process.
While it may be a little too philosophical for some, all this resonated with me to a certain extent.  I should add these same ideas are applicable individual projects as well as the layout. 
I don't know how much all of this will impact the ultimate layout design, but asking yourself “What Story do I want to tell?” is worthwhile. I know I’m going to come up with an answer before I cut the first piece of lumber for the new layout. And I'm going to keep the answer in mind throughout the process of designing and building the railroad.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Bye Bye Bye ....

After spending several hours hauling bits of wood up to the garage, and planning to rent a pickup up truck and make several trips to the dump,  I opted to solve the problem of removing the layout from the basement the American way and throw money at it. So first thing this morning this appeared in the driveway -
Add "cost of having a junk hauling company remove the layout from the basement and haul it off" to the list of things that cost more with a large layout. Less than an hour after they arrived what had started life as my "dream layout" looked like this:
I am still rather depressed about the whole thing, so I'm going to stop here and say this hereby closes the book on what will be from now on referred to as "the last layout."

Friday, June 9, 2017

Which way do I go?

When faced with a decision I like to outline the immediately possible choices, and research each of those possibilities to hopefully arrive at the choice that leads to the desired outcome. Sometimes there simply isn't time for deliberation, but in most cases there is at least enough time to consider various options.
And you need to take people's inputs with a grain of salt, since oftentimes their well-meaning inputs is really "This is what I'd do in your shoes based on my priorities, not yours."
Let's consider one decision - what's the next layout going to be? Instead of one question, it's actually a series of questions I continue to mull over as we box things up and get the house ready to list.
I've found over the years the typical "new layout" question starts with Joe Modeler sending a note to his friends (or posts on a blog) something like this:

"Hey Guys, We're moving into a new house shortly with a dry, finished basement perfect for a model railroad. Can't wait to get building. First I have to choose between <insert: railroad x vs. railroad y; northeastern vs. western; modern era vs. transition era, etc... you get the idea>. Thoughts anyone?"

Inevitably well-meaning modelers, and non-modelers provide answers based on what they have done, or would do, presuming that if it's right for them, it's right for everyone.
I recently had this very experience on an email list I regularly participate in. I don't know everyone on the list personally, but I do know most of them and consider all of them friends. When I outlined a few possible themes for the next layout I immediately got feedback that I can sum up as "bigger is better": Gotta have room for those 2-10-4s, White River Junction, lots of trains, and a large crew. Some of these thoughts were well-meaning from fellows who aren't model railroaders (read, they have no idea how much work, time, and expense are involved in "building White River Junction," so I take some of it with a grain of salt!)
But one of them, my friend Trevor Marshall, who knows well the frustrations I've had and continue to have with my last layout, took the time to offer his thoughts based on his experience with his layout. Trevor's note, included below:

I’ll argue in FAVOR of the Richford Branch. I model a one-train-per-day operation in my basement and I love it. Here are a few of the reasons why:

1 - 90% of the time, I run the layout by myself. Any more than one train would be too much.
2 - The smaller physical plant required for a branch like mine means more space can be devoted to each scene. The main yard of my layout - the terminal in Port Rowan - has a grand total of five turnouts, and I’ve been able to model it roughly 2/3 actual size. It looks great and is actually a lot of fun to operate.
3 - I’m 50 years old, so I’m possibly one of the younger people on this list. Yet, I find that between work and home commitments, other interests, and just getting older… I don’t want to grapple with a huge and complex layout. I was able to go from empty room to running trains with all track hand-laid and wired in about a year. Since then, I have had almost no maintenance issues with the layout. Plus, I enjoy zero derailments and no electrical “table-thumping” or “locomotive poking” issues. In short, the layout runs perfectly - with the exception of operator error - 99% of the time. When there is a problem, it’s easily spotted and fixed in next to no time.
4 - I enjoy scratch-building - everything from structures to the more than 200 trees I’ve added to the layout - and it all takes time. A simple layout, with no maintenance issues, means I have the time to do that.
5 - I have many projects in the hobby that I want to explore and my small, simple layout means I can do that. For example, I belong to a group that exhibits a free-mo style layout in S scale. I am also learning to brass-bash, with an Overland S scale 2-8-2 being converted into a CNR S-3-a. And I want to scratch build a Jordan spreader (type A) and a crane similar to the Tichy 120 ton model, both in S scale. These are all projects that will take up considerable hobby time - but thanks to having a mostly complete, easy to manage layout, I can indulge in them. - Trevor

Trevor posts regularly on his blog which I find very informative, link below...and thanks for the thoughts Trevor!

Port Rowan in 1:64

While I haven't made a decision, I know which way I'm leaning - very heavily.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Status Report - 3 June 2017

After a long day in the basement, disassembly of the peninsula is complete. Next step is getting the remnants upstairs and out to the garage. 
The massive amount of wood currently leaning against the walls and piled on the floor present the perfect argument for smaller, simpler layouts! 
Ugh, none of this was any fun, but having a good friend over to help at least made it seem to go a little faster! And we did enjoy a nice lunch trackside in Old Town Manassas - where we discussed plans for the next railroad! 
Thanks Stic!

Friday, June 2, 2017

New England Prototype Modelers Meet, June 2-3 2017

Work has been insane lately. And, as regular readers of this blog know things at home are certainly less than calm as we get the house ready to put on the market and deal with the issues of selecting items for the new house. To top it off, we will be helping my parents move from Connecticut to South Carolina later in the month.
All of these events conspired to keep me away from one of my favorite model railroad events of the year, the New England Prototype Modelers Meet, going on today and tomorrow (Jun 2-3, 2017) in Enfield, Conn.
A couple of weeks ago it actually looked like the timing of all these events might align such that I would be able to get up there for at least some portion of the meet, but it's not going to work out.
So, take this as a hearty endorsement of the meet if you can get there, and as a virtual "hello" to all my friends up that way. File this one under "Road Trips that didn't happen!"
Have one for me at the bar, I suspect I'm going to need it!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Lessons Learned

An important lesson all sailors learn in bootcamp - ways to stop water from getting into the people tank.
Lessons Learned are a big thing in my work life.  We’re perpetually looking at things that didn’t go as planned (and even those that did) in an effort to identify and repeat the things that worked and to avoid repeating those times, as one of my old bosses was fond of saying “The water got into the people tank.”*
So, although I was pleased with the layout’s scenery and performance (once the initial teething pains were worked through) I find myself asking if the layout was “successful?”
The stated purpose of the railroad was to “model the equipment, structures, operations and setting of the Central Vermont Railway in the late steam-to-diesel transition era.” 
Measured against that standard, I’m not sure the railroad didn't fall short.
Here's just a few of the lessons learned:
Focus: I need more of it, and I need to stick with something once I drive the stake in the ground. "Modeling the Central Vermont of the 1950s..." is a large canvas. As I've relayed in this blog, I started modeling the Southern Division of the railroad on a double deck layout, then tried to shoehorn White River Junction and the Northern Division (with it's larger engines) into a single-deck railroad, only to later remove WRJ and install Essex in its place. The basic footprint of the layout never really changed all that much, but I think we built, and rebuilt, every section of the layout at least twice. 
My approach to layout design?

In essence, I was chasing the ever illusive squirrel - the hope of a "perfect" layout design to overlay on my theme. In the end, "perfection" became the enemy of decisiveness. That's all on me, and I truly appreciate the grace and tolerance shown by my friends throughout all this! 

Modeling the Operations:  In general, the individual operating sessions were a success (I always had a good time).  But let’s look at it from the viewpoint of return on investment.
I started construction of the layout in December, 2008.  It took several years of building (and yes, rebuilding) the layout.  In total, I ended up hosting 17 “official” operating sessions throughout the railroad’s 8.5 years of existence.  That’s averages out to a session about every 7 months.  An aside, if you really want to depress yourself, consider the following formula:
Total Cost of the Layout (in $) / Total # of Sessions = Cost/per session ($) 
No matter how it's broken down, it doesn’t seem like the time, effort, and money to build the layout was worth it when you consider the total time spent performing its main function was a fraction of the time it existed.
We didn't operate as much as I'd hoped, but Christine made sure no one left hungry!
Modeling the Equipment:  It’s great fun to tell yourself you’re going to model the railroad’s operations, six or seven towns, complete with scratchbuilt replicas of all the buildings, and run through them trains populated by accurate, detailed cars pulled by equally accurately detailed locomotives.
If you asked me what my favorite part of the hobby is I’d tell you it's building detailed freight cars. 
The one resin car I've gotten built in the last 24 months...and it's not even lettered yet!
If that's the case then why I have gotten exactly one – that’s one – resin car kit built in the last two years?
 Instead of doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, I’ve been stuck in a do-loop of sorts - “feeding the monster” – that large layout looming in the basement that required track, wiring, static grass, structures, trees (my God, the trees!), in massive quantities.  I kept telling myself I’d get the thing to “looking finished” and then turn my attention to the projects I wanted to work on.  But there was always another bunch of trees to install – or some piece of track to ballast.
I'll conclude with this. I'm not "down" on large layouts. I'm also not "down" on small layouts, or anything really. I don't think  the layout was an absolute failure. I had fun, shared some good times with friends, perfected some techniques and learned a lot about myself. My purpose in writing this is not discourage anyone else from pursuing their approach to the hobby (Lord knows, the above isn’t going to encourage anyone to do anything other than take up knitting!). Instead, I'm trying to quantify the good and bad and hopefully apply those lessons learned to the next railroad. 
 *To get the joke it helps to understand he was a submariner. And the #1 rule of all submariners is to keep the water out of the people tank…(Hey, it’s not my line, submariners are weird, everyone knows it.)

Layout Tear Down Status Report - As of 1 June 2017

Hope all took some time to reflect over the past weekend on what the holiday is really about.

Thanks to a (seemingly) never-ending string of rain storms passing through the area I've not yet started on my deck staining chore.  I did turn my attention to starting removal of the layout from the basement. Currently, the "barn curve" - a scene that I think came out pretty well, is sitting in the garage in 5 or 6 pieces awaiting a trip to the landfill.

Attempts to part out sections or pieces of the layout, even interest in basic components like 1 x 4s and the like, have fallen on deaf ears, or became too difficult to coordinate (I can't store this stuff indefinitely waiting for someone to come out and decide if they want to take any of it or not!). So, I opted to make it easy on myself and, once the layout scraps are in the garage, everything will go to the dump.

In addition to the lobe end of the peninsula I've started removing the around-the-walls sections of the benchwork. The rest of the peninsula, which involves removing the backdrop and supporting structure, will wait until the weekend when I have some additional hands available. I expect the basement will be devoid of model railroad by the middle of next week.

On the positive side I've been doing more sketching and thinking about the next layout (hey, it makes the drudgery of tear out seem like hobby time, I guess!). I'm still leaning - very hard - towards the Richford Branch theme. Some have expressed concern that this would be "too limiting" and not offer enough variety, require enough operators, or otherwise wouldn't be worth the effort. I do see the point, but in my mind, these limitations are precisely what makes it appealing. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dismantling commenced

From this:

To this:
Total elapsed time, about two hours. 
Because of how it was built, and rebuilt, this area had some of the most "complex" benchwork. I think taking the rest of the layout out will go even faster. 
They always come out A LOT faster than they go in....
Thinking about the next layout makes the process a little easier. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Richford Branch Maps - 2, Sheldon Junction, Vt.

We continue our trip up the Richford Branch with the location many consider the scenic highlight of the line - the bridge crossing the Missisquoi River in Sheldon Junction. This is milepost 10.11 on the line, measured from St. Albans. 
The word "Junction" in the name gives a hint as to the other key element of this scene, the CV's crossing with the St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain RR, Vermont's famed "Covered Bridge" railroad. 
Again, this map was drawn using photos, valuation maps, and the railroad's engineering department drawings. 
(Click on the map to enlarge it. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Layout tear-down update

Thanks to all who have written individually or posted to the blog. I've been in the middle of a big project at work, and moving is well, all consuming, so I haven't been able to respond to all the notes, posts, comments, etc... Here's a quick rundown on where this project currently sits:

- The layout is still in place, but not for much longer. Thanks to my folks visiting last weekend and looking to help, the railroad is now devoid of trees ... most of the fall trees have been packed away for possible reuse. My dad proved to be quite the logger....

- Monday my folks helped me pack up my workshop - so the lathe, milling machine, scratchbuilding material etc... are all boxed up and ready to go into temporary storage. First, I have to haul all those (heavy) boxes upstairs!
- Over the course of the last couple of weeks of evenings I managed to pack up all the all the cars, locomotives, and structures, etc...
- All the salvageable track (ie. any track without ballast) has been removed from the layout. Any pieces of code 70 track longer than 2 feet have been bundled and packed away. All others bits and pieces of track, broken turnouts, etc...went to the curb. 
Next step will be the worst - removing the layout framework itself. That's on the docket for next couple of weekends...