Saturday, March 10, 2018

2018 started out with a bang. My wife Janet and I flew to Boston and then drove to Springfield, MA for the Amherst Train Show, probably the largest train show in North America. It was a lot of fun, but not much for sale if you don't model eastern railroads.

I ran into several people I know, including these Yahoos from the Modelers Life podcast.

I also got a sneak peak at the new Rapido NP Boxcars that are coming out this year. Rapido worked with the NPRHA on the lettering and the Company Store will cary the cars. Very nice models.

My goal for early 2018 was to get the layout operating again. I started by working on carcards and waybills.

Which required boxes to be built. These were cut on Speed's laser out of 1/8" MDF.

Speed brought another South African over, who turned out to be a pretty good hand. We cut out some homasote and laid it along the edge of the new section of benchwork.

I also put together this Burlington depot mockup that we cut on Speed's laser. I originally cut this on the Cricut, but 1/8" MDF is a lot stronger.

In February I went to Kanas City to participate in Prairie Rail 2018. I operated on Rick McClellan's huge Frisco layout...

Larry Tiffany’s Union Pacific South Platte Division...

Mike Tomei's ATSF Albuquerque Subdivision...

and Kevin Leyerle’s Oklahoma Kansas & Texas Railroad.

Meanwhile, I broke out the Cricut to make some Vinyl letters for the car card boxes.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Wrapping up 2017.

The first weekend of September, 2017 Houston was recovering from hurricane Harvey, so my buddy Speed and I drove down to operate on the late Mike Spoor's CB&Q layout, which is being kept alive by his son Michael. Here is Michael on the right and Speed on the left with Gilbert Freitag with his back to the camera. Michael is moving the switch engine at Eola yard in Aurora, IL.

Mike loved passenger train operations, but freights were also well represented on his little piece of the CB&Q.

We also had a session on Al Partlow's SP layout. Al models the line north out of Houston thru Hearne.

At the time of the trip to Houston, I had been adding some fascia to the upper deck and filling in the area between the track and the fascia with more foam. The photos tacked on to the backdrop are ones I took of the railroad in the summer of 2016. Unfortunately, they are too green to use as photo backdrops. I need to make a trip back to Wyoming in the fall between snowstorms and reshoot the hills.

September was also when the NPRHA convention in Duluth was. I flew in and out of the Twin Cities, which gave me a chance to railfan the old CB&Q line between St. Paul and Chicago that follows the Mississippi river. Here is the bridge at the Wisconsin state line where it crosses the St. Croix river at Prescott.

In Duluth we stopped at the railroad museum in the old NP passenger station where the NP's first locomotive, the Minnetonka is on display along with a Milwaukee Road boxcab electric that is supposedly headed back to Montana as soon as they get an indoor shelter built. They also have NP SD45 3617.

In October we had an operating session at Dean Ferris. The yard master at Monument is my favorite job on his layout. I really like is tab on car system.

Even though I was just there, I headed back to Minnesota in October for Minn-Rail. Started out running the ore job on Jeff Otto's Missabe and Iron Range. 

Before Minn-Rail was over I was back at Jeff's working in the Duluth yard, where he has Atkins Tools, which I thought was cool.

In November I was in Tulsa, OK for the Tulsa Line operating weekend. First up was Sammie Carlie's Santa Fe Herford Division.

The Clearmore and Southern's club layout, where it looks like I was joined by Bill Childres.

Then Steve Davis' KCS.

And on sunday, Jim Senese's Kansas City Terminal, where I ran the MKT with Tom Bailey.

I continued to work on scenery base for the upper deck.

Then someone on the Facebook showed me a photo of Parkman from 1970 and I realized I needed to add a stock pen and siding. 

So I hacked in another siding so I could add a stock pen.

But I decided maybe it was time to start working on the bottom deck again. First, back with the plastic to cover things up and keep them from getting too covered with dust. I started adding dominos that I recycled from the old Camas Prairie layout.

By the beginning of December, I started working on a swing bridge to allow egress during operating sessions. 

And I needed to build a support that could attached to the door jamb with hinges. I used a Kreg Jig to recess the screws, which I really liked.

The gate swings out into the foyer.

And with the decking and some magnets to hold it closed.

The tracks over the bridge are curved, but using Atlas curved snap track makes it easier to keep teh bend.

This is pretty much the layout progress at the end of 2017. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A construction update

I've spent most of 2017 adding benchwork to the southeast wall of the section house. It's been a slow grind. Other other things have sucked up my hobby time. Also, because much of the time I'm working on the layout by myself, there's a limited amount that I can do a few hours a week. Anyway, I thought I'd share some progress photos.

So in March I went to Tulsa for the LDSIG/OPSIG weekend where I was asked to present. Of course, I took the opportunity to operate too, including on one of my favorite layouts, Jim Senese's Kansas City Terminal.

Bernie Kempinski was the featured speaker and I was able to get him in a selfie while he was selling some of his great books.

I also operated on Steve Davis' KCS which I first saw when it was in about the same stage my layout is now.

Tom Fausser has a new layout based on a waterfront warehouse district in New Jersey.

By the end of April I had brackets up and the beginnings of an upper shelf.

I needed to remove the track from the section of spline the was completed because the latex caulk didn't work well. You can see the track has come unglued here.

I had a few folks over for a work session including Matt Latham here with Eric Mumper behind him. Did I mention that you can never have too many clamps?

Things were starting to get messy as I added spline.

After the work session I stuck this piece of curved Masonite backdrop in to help give the illusion of a backdrop. This piece was from my old Camas Prairie layout and it's been held together as a curve for the last 14 years or so.

Sometimes you forget to read the fine print in eBay auctions.

With the track in, by the end of July it was time to add some paint to the valence and backdrop.

 I told TJ about how much fun painting was and he couldn't wait to help.

One of the dangers of painting track above your head.

 My resistance soldering iron is my absolute favorite tool for adding drops.

 In August, I started adding foam base scenery.

Unlike most of the US, 2" foam isn't easy to find in North Texas. This came from a company in Lewisville that makes walk in refrigerators. Foam goobers were everywhere.

It does make a very nice flat surface and is super easy to work with a hot wire cutter of a saw. This section is between Lodge Grass and Parkman and will be rolling hills covered in cheatgrass with the north end of the Bighorns in the distance. Below is the Billings yard.

At the end of the peninsula is Lodge Grass. The buildings below are just being stored, but the Billings freight house and TOFC will be at this end of the yard.

I used small pieces of thin Luan plywood as a screw base for the Tortoises and then hot glued the base to the Masonite spline.

As of August 15, this is the state of the expansion. I spent a couple evenings vacuuming up all the drywall dust and foam goobers before I start removing more drywall to support the lower deck.

I need to build a swing out bridge at the door for emergency egress. The upper deck is wired to the west end of Parkman, which is above the turntable. I still need to add two more Tortoises and more foam scenery to give the area a hilly feel. I also need to figure out how to create some photo backdrops of the distant hills and mountains. I'd like to get back to operating, but I want to have track in along the wall on the right so the trains have some place to go past Billings.

Drop me a line if you are interested in visiting. I work on the layout most Saturdays and Sundays in the afternoon and evening.