Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Thinking About the Georgia Northeastern

Now that I'm moving and thinking about a new house, I want to build a model railroad that is more permanent than some I've built before.  This time I'm not moving.  Anytime I start with a blank sheet of paper I always think about the Georgia Northeastern

Benjamin Matchett recorded this great railfan journey on the GNRR.  What fun!  Lots of good bell!

And part II.

I'm thinking about building some sections (Layout Design Elements or LDE's) in my spare time, and highly detailing them.  Then add to a layout later.

Thomas Klimoski's article on modeling the Tate facilities is due in the mail soon.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Quick and Easy Scenery with Rick Wade

My friend Rick Wade is a very talented modeler and fantastic clinician.  He sent me a link to his latest on line clinic for making quick yet effective scenery.

Take a look!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Operations Night In North Carolina on the Piedmont & Western RR!

Its been a long time since I posted.  A lot has gone on.  I had to sell my business in Salt Lake because I had been working non-stop for 2.5 years and was just exhausted.  It was doing well, but everything I hoped to gain from the benefits of owning my own factory never came to fruition.  So I took a new job doing what I love and moved to Fort Mill, South Carolina.  Big move, but I'm back in the South and near family and friends.

Last night my new friend Jim Thomas gave me the green light to join him at Jack Parker, MMR's fantastic Piedmont &Western Railroad.  I can't remember when I've had so much fun with a great group of people.  If you look up Southern Hospitality in will find Jack Parker's name in the first sentence.  He is a wonderful person and a top notch model railroader.  If nothing else he was most patient and kind with my first night operating mistakes.  Though I have to say the layout is done so well, I only made a few errors.

Being a lover of chemical factories, I loved this industry and spent a great deal of time looking at it.

The road runs from North to South, from West Virginia down to Charlotte.

The fall scenery was certainly perfect for this time of year!

The control panels have a hot "lead" and to through a turnout you take the lead and touch the contact point.  SNAP!  Wow, this cuts down on wiring and switches!

This railroad is built in TWO BUILDINGS!  Literally you have to leave one building to chase your train in the other building as it goes over the outside bridge.  It took me over an hour to traverse the main line on time, North to South.

Most of the trains are pulled by articulated locomotives!  This was a first for me on operating night as usually you have diesels.  They ran great and pulled long trains over the mountains with ease.

The main line is supposed to be 600 feet, but I really think it is much longer than that.

There are quite a few well detailed and constructed industries on the line, and lots of reasons to move coal.

Marshallborough is where I took a rest on the siding waiting on another train to pass.  Having an articulated on the front end can sometimes make you a bit too long for the siding.

Jim Thomas, who agreed to let me come play with the trains, is also my neighbor!  After getting a chance to talk we found out that we are only about a mile apart in Fort Mill. Ride share!  Well, that and he's just a fantastic person.

This is absolutely brilliant!  With as many livestock buildings I've built it never occurred to me to do this.  The cows are removable!  You unload the cows and put the plate of cows into the pen, then remove them after they become steaks.  So easy!

Jim showed me a small pin used to lift the plastic sheet up from the pen, removing the cattle.

 Its very hard to see, so Jim shot the laser pointer at it.

After running the main line as an Engineer, I worked the Mt. Laurel yard as the Assistant Yard Master in hopes of earning my stripes and one day getting to run one of the many active yards on the line.

Here is some short video of the line!

All in all it was a great day and I had a chance to make a lot of new friends!  Thanks Jack, Jim, John Y, John S, Fred on the panel, Dick from RR CirKits and all the rest.  I look forward to running with you again in January.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

009 Mammoth Cave RR - Layer Cake with Pink Frosting

I snuck down to the basement for about 30 minutes in hopes of getting some quiet time.  Its Sunday, which means the wife likes to yell at the kids all evening.  Its kind of a hobby.  Even the dog is noticeably missing.

We need to start building terrain.  We're going to use the layer cake method where we put on layers of foam to get the desired effect.  The second layer is significantly higher, so we'll use 2" foam.

Using some white paperboard, I'll make a tracing template for the next foam cut.

I lay out the paperboard on the layout and tape it to the side to keep it from rolling up.  A sheetrock square helps me to cut a straight edge with a knife.

After laying the track circle down on the paper and tracing it with a brown marker (for track) I then cut out the canyon part.

I tape the template down to the canyon and to all the sides to keep it from moving.

Using a red Sharpie (why didn't you guys tell me I had been spelling it wrong for years!) I marked all the cut lines for the foam.  I always cut the foam a little big, then trim it to size later with a smaller hot wire cutter or a rasp.

Be sure to mark the "keeper" pieces and the trash pieces.

Once the template is cut, I transfer the cut lines to the foam stock with a red Sharpie.  I'll go back and touch up the lines that were interrupted with the tape.

I cut out the foam layer with the heavy duty hot cutter.   Here is what it looks like.  Notice it is very close to the track line.  Later we'll trim it down and round it off.

The canyon is getting deeper.  A quick hit with a heat gun will smooth this out.

As you can see the top of the locomotive is higher than the foam.  All good until we hit the tunnel!

Later I'll add another stack of foam.   Its quiet upstairs.  Time to sneak by them and get a sandwich.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

008 Mammoth Cave RR - Gorge Time

Once the trains start running, the kids become very interested.  They were upstairs playing until they heard the train.  Luckily, Taylor (age 10 now) is good with the camera, so she took all the pictures while I worked.

I traced the train track on the foam then drew in the second level trackage.  I'm getting ready to cut out the gorge and put on the second tier of foam.

I've been photo bombed by Katie, now five years old and sporting a lollipop.

The camera person just can't be left out, so she shot a selfie, also with a lollipop.

You can see from the drawing that there is a river and a gorge that runs along the center of the layout.  The cave is further back near the tunnel portals.

Using different color Sharpee markers I drew the canyon and the river, as well as all the structures.

The Digitrax unit is on a shelf below the layout, but isn't fastened down yet, so I have to be careful when moving the layout around.

I removed the soldered track and set it over on the Navajo Mining Railway while I work on the scenery.

Everything is drawn on the first level, so now is the time to cut.

I'm using a heat knife that I bought some years ago from Harbor Freight.  It is my second as they don't last long.

This is a slow and boring process.  Luckily the girls keep me entertained.

I pitch the blade at a slight angle to mimic the sides of the canyon.

Once the section is cut (about 15 minutes) then I remove the inside of the canyon and keep for later use as scenery material.

Here is the lower part of the gorge.  Imagine a small pond in the middle with two small waterfalls and lots of large Kentucky rocks on both sides.  Better start making ferns!  I can't wait to show the NMRA guys the Southern scenery.  Everyone here models the Utah rock scenery, which is amazing, but EVERY layout has it.  Thought I'd do something different.

Once the inside part is removed you can see that we have some depth here.  There will be a nice bridge spanning this cravass.

There!  Next we'll make the second level which will be much more difficult and will require a lot of cutting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

007 Mammoth Cave RR - Running Trains!

I hooked up the Digitrax DCC system to the layout using just two feeder wires.  Let's give her a go!

The locomotive is a bit rusty and needs some work, but its been running for an hour now with no problems or derailments.  The two heavy 20' cars are tracking well out of the box.

What fun to finally have some trains running in my basement again.

Monday, November 30, 2015

006 Mammoth Cave RR - Track Gang at Work

I moved the layout into the bigger basement room to be warm by the fireplace and to have more elbow room.  Aside from 107 interruptions by Wicked Witch of the West, I am getting some work done.

Each section of the track is being carefully trimmed and filed to fit.  I'm starting with code 70 rail joiners for code 83 track as they fit a little tighter.

Aside from the soldering iron, these are the tools I'm mostly using for the trackwork.

Today I started using the code 70 rail joiners but they were just too tight, even when trying to open them on the widening tool.  Can't afford to have my hands gouged, so I switched back to the loose code 83 joiners.

My mobile tool bench has everything I need for track work and it can roll around the layout with me.  The light is the most helpful to my eyes as seeing tiny things even with glasses is tough.

I"m using Rick Wade's gifted weights that are so handy!  They hold the track in place while I solder.

I've decided since I don't have the turnout I need and can't afford a replacement, I'll just do without.  We have a simple loop of track now.

 The loop of track is done!  You know what comes next???