Saturday, December 12, 2015

Salvaging a helix

Unfortunately, the Southside Railroad Modelers club, that I have been a part of since 2001, found out recently that they were going to loose their space in the Southside on Lamar building in Dallas. For more information on the club, take a look at the website. I haven't been active in the club since moving to Argyle, but I still keep in touch and offered to help them move in exchange for the helix. The helix was in the base of the dispatcher's tower.

My wife and I went down Saturday to see if we could get it out without destroying it.

A big part of the club layout has already been disassembled and moved into storage.

Here are some photos of Janet separating the helix from the base.

The hope was to keep the tower intact, so our plan was to tip it vertical and roll it out the door.

The more benchwork we removed, the closer the helix was to being vertical.

At last we were able to get it resting on the floor.

However, we soon discovered that the helix was built with a 6'10" diameter. Most doors are of course, 6'8". Damn it!

Yes, I am forcing a smile after realizing the damn thing is too big to get out.

No problem, that's what power tools are for. a couple well placed cuts and some persuasion with a pry bar and it was out.

All in all, it took us about 90 minutes to get it out. We didn't bring anything to haul it home in, though. That would have to wait a day. The trick is going to be getting it into the section house. I'm thinking that I can take 1 1/2 inches off of opposite sides with a saw and belt sander in order to make it less than 6'8" across... at least in one spot.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

2015 OKC Train Show

Every year, the first weened of December is the Oklahoma City Train Show. I haven't been in several years because I just haven't been in the buying mode. I decided this year to put the word out to my division and organize a carpool to OKC. Bill Huber and I made the trip on Saturday. I took Katy and TJ.

TJ's favorite thing at the show was this LEGO Back to the Future Delorian being pushed by a steam loco.

I thought this On3 layout was particularly nice.

But the coolest thing I saw were these Boeing 737 fuselage loads from

It was a pretty quick trip... in by 10:30 and out by 12:30. The OKC train show is one of the biggest in the region. Many of the vendors that participate in our local shows attend OKC, but they get some of the manufactures, like Richardson, TX based CVP.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Rolling Mill teardown

My late friend Tom Patterson built this steel mill at our club in Dallas, the Southside Railroad Modelers. The mill was so large that it was difficult to operate with. Cars would get stuck inside and there wasn't a good way to get them out. Eventually, another club member built a replacement and this one was stored downstairs.

The club tried selling it at the Fall Plano train show, but no takers, so I gave them some cash and took it home. My hope is to use the Plastruct to make grain elevators and buildings for the sugar factory. The building is so large, that it took up an unreasonable amount of shelf space. I decided to disassemble it to conserve space.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

On to the First Track

The first switch I tried, I thought the best way would be to just have the splines fork. This proved to not only leave big gaps, but it was hard to get the right angle.

After talking to Joe Fugate at Train Fest and getting Craig Bisgeier's input, I realized a better way to approach adding switches is to cut a piece from a pine 1x4 and glue it to the spline where a switch is needed.

I got my number one helper Katy to come out to the section house when it came time to put the 45 degree angles on the sides.

Once all the spline was built, it was time to attach it to the benchwork. I put in a 1% grade between Hardin and Parkman. I left the track thru Lodge Grass level. A 48" level with a piece of 3/4" plywood under one end is pretty close to 1%.

The house track at Lodge Grass needed a curved turnout, so I had to make one using a jigsaw and bench sanding wheel. This photo also shows the countersunk screws that hold the spline to the risers. Two generally aren't needed, but I didn't get quite enough glue in this spot and the first screws caused the spines to separate some.

I had tried using latex painters calk on the expansion of my old layout and that seems to make sense for the Masonite splines since it doesn't take spikes at all and I am not adding a layer of cork or Homasote to the top. I forgot to stock up on soup cans to weigh the track down, so I scrounged for everything heavy I could find.

After the calk dried overnight, this was the result.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Milwaukee Train Fest

Something I've always wanted to do is attend the Milwaukee Train Fest - one of the largest model train shows in the US.

We used to have our Ft. Worth Train Show the same weekend as Train Fest, but this year the fall show was held in September. This started me thinking about making the trip north. When I heard that Lionel Strang and Jim Rindt from A Modelers Life were going to be there, I sent an email suggesting that we plan a meetup and immediately went online and booked the flight, car and hotel.

I didn't hear anything from Lionel and Jim for a couple months, so I started making plans for Saturday evening. Lance Lassen told me he was going to be in Milwaukee the same weekend for the Trains 75th Anniversary Gala, which sounded fun. Also, by NP buddy Mike Morse who live in Appleton, WI was going to be there, so I made plans to hang out with him on Saturday.

I arrived on Saturday a half hour before the doors opened and it was like attending a Rock Concert. There were several thousand people in line - luckily inside.

Joe Fugate was a busy guy. The first time I went by the Model Railroad Hobbiest booth, he was being interviewed by some show with Youtube stickers on their equipment.
 We decided to have lunch there. I had what they called the Lionel Strang Special. I guess his reputation preceded him.

Walthers is painting their DM&IR caboose up like an NP 24 footer, which is a closer stand in than let's say Athearn's Santa Fe model. I have several Laserkits to build of the more accurate prototype, so I'll undoubtedly get at least one of these. However, the $49.98 price is ridiculous.

 Kadee had a cool poster with the history of their couplers.

They had at least 5 garden layouts on display. I lied this one because they took the time to put down the rubber mulch.

The clinics were top notch... I was having too much fun on the show floor to see any of them.

A second building had nothing but layouts on display.

This traction layout was very nice.

Unfortunately, my battery in my cell phone didn't last all day. I did finally get to meet Lionel and Jim.

Here is a photo from the Model Railroad Hobbiest Facebook.

The Trains Gala was interesting, but I only knew one guy there: Lance.

The next morning, I was back at the show. Rivarossi had their new U28Cs, which look a lot like the U25C.

Here is the video that Lionel recorded with me on Sunday.

Since I flew in and out of Chicago, I left Milwaukee with enough time to stop at Lou Malnati's near O'Hare on the way back. Worth the trip in itself.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Spline Benchwork

The upper deck of the left peninsula is starting to look like a railroad after getting the spline roadbed installed.

Lance Lassen came over and helped me get started. We got the first few splines in and I started to realize I needed more spring clamps.

We also added the n-scale cork on the passing siding in Hardin.

The next day I added more pieces to the outside and extended the length to the end of the peninsula.

A couple days later, Matt Latham came over to help me add more splines.

More spline, more clamps. I got in a habit of adding splines in the morning before I went to work and in the evening before I went to bed in order to give the glue time to dry.

This end view shows the progress of the peninsula.