Hello and welcome to August, my how summer flies by. Why isn’t it that way with winter? Perhaps if I was involved with the right winter activities it would.
I am almost tempted to say that July was a bust as far as the railroad went. Work ate up a tremendous amount of time as I was out of town for half the month. When I was home, projects that suddenly popped up pretty much ate up the rest of the time. When I was home early in the month I kind of sat downstairs (when I had a chance to get down there) in a funk, not really getting anything done. I think we all have these periods of time.
What kind of turned around the month for me was me sitting in front of my computer, binge watching “Rehab My Railroad” on Model Railroader Video Plus. Yup, all episodes, plus the first one on the outdoor railroad.
Now, I’m a long way from rehabbing my railroad as I would have to have something to rehab. But it made me think more in terms of small projects you can get done in a short time. So with a new mindset and renewed enthusiasm I tackled some more small thing that needed to get done.
First thing up was to build the quarter round corner fillers. I haven’t talked about these before, but they are filler pieces for the squared inside corners so that the fascia panel flows around the layout. Below is a picture I had posted before that shows the corner before the filler piece and one that shows with the piece in place.
As you can see in the second photo I also added the second track to the staging yard as I needed the filler to lay the track across.
I also added two more fillers in the dead end aisle that is in the New Brighton area.
The plan for this area is a turntable and roundhouse, I know, pretty cliche’. However, I need a turntable to turn the steam locomotives and this is obviously the best place. The problem is that it isn’t big enough for a turntable and a roundhouse. The solution is to place part of the roundhouse in the aisle.
Part of the roundhouse obviously will be cut open which means that I will get to do some great super detailing in the roundhouse. I have done this before, again the picture below is from a previous post.
Because the new roundhouse will be right at the edge I will have to step up the detailing to the next level as compared to the one above. I will post on this as I get around to the build of the roundhouse.
I also got the backdrop installed in the port scene and painted.
As well as another backdrop building flat for the scene. The building isn’t finished as I want to paint the building name on it, but I’m not sure yet what to call it.
That’s what I have for right now. As far as August goes we’ll see how it goes.
Happy 4th of July, and to my Canadian counterparts a belated Happy Canada Day (July 1st).
Looking back I can’t believe that the last time I posted was Memorial Day. The time has flown by with summer under way and work has been absolutely crazy busy. Can’t complain, without the work the rest wouldn’t be possible.
Haven’t really gotten anything done that’s worth a post on it’s own and what did get done is bits and pieces. But here goes…
First up – last I left you I had started on the upper valance and had run out of pocket hole screws. Well, I got more screws but didn’t have any real time. I did get four more supports up, but in order to do that I had to take off the backdrop to lower the horizontal brace before mounting the supports. After they were in place I then had to cut slots in the backdrop. I still have one more section of backdrop that will have to under go this process. Not much, but here it is:
Second – when I have had a little time I’ve been working on the manufacturing backdrop building. I opened up the dock doors and added a floor. Also installed lights. What’s left, detailing the loading dock, the roof detail and weathering.
For Father’s Day my wife got me something I wanted, but certainly didn’t need. I am now the proud owner of a MTH DM&IR 2-8-8-4 Yellowstone. To be specific, number 229. I had hoped to post it on Father’s Day but I couldn’t find the picture I have of the actual 229 that’s on display in Two Harbors with my 3 kids sitting on the front of it.
Lastly, I will admit that there was quite a bit of non work time available, but my wife found a way of filling that. With two weeks to go till Father’s day she mentioned that she would like a “picnic” table for the deck that could seat everyone. Not thinking I said it would be quicker to buy one. Yup, got the look. I should have known better. What she meant was an Outdoor Dining Table, with a bench built along the railing side. So I had to design and build the table and bench. I will admit that the end results turned out pretty nice.
As they say, for your consideration:
The work schedule is only going to pick up till mid August, but I should have time to get some stuff downstairs. I will keep you posted and hopefully before the next holiday.
Happy Victoria Day to all my friends north of the border. Why I would I even notice that today is Victoria Day? Well when you live in the US and work for a Canadian company you get all the US holidays off as well as the Canadian ones.
With summer upon us, days are busy with work and evenings and Saturdays with house and yard work. Sundays are “Date Days” with my wife, where we spend the day out of the house doing whatever. Very important when you both work out of a home office.
So with a sudden day off I was able to get downstairs. When I last left off in the train room I was working on buildings for the business district in New Brighton. My last project for the third block was combining a couple a buildings to make a hotel. This will represent the Exchange Hotel in New Brighton. It was “The” hotel in the town although in reality it was long gone by the 1950’s. Since it was important to the cities history (and I couldn’t think of another business to put there) I wanted to include it in the block. The problem I was having was it wasn’t turning out as I had hoped. I had joined the buildings and made an awning (not the right word, but the right one eludes me as I’m writing this) and vertical sign, but it just wasn’t working. So work came to a halt.
So with a found day I turned back to the layout. And I finished the track work in Brandon. The mainline is in to the crossovers on the north end of town and all sidings (except the spur to the gravel company) are in place.
In the photos below I show the three major businesses. The creamery building is a stand in for the feed mill, it’s from the Walthers ( walther.com ) Consolidated Dairy kit, but is the exact same building as their Columbia Feed Mill. The other stand in is the oil dealer. The one in the photo is pretty beat up and I plan on getting a new for the space. The grain elevator will be used.
North of the crossovers is the curve that heads into the helix. I worked out the elevations for it so that I can cut the risers for the subroadbed. Once they are in place I will lay the track and then start work on the helix. Although before that happens I will be making the doors for the cabinets. I told you my wife wouldn’t let this one go and it will be nice to get rid of the visual clutter from the open cabinets.
I hope all goes well with you and enjoy your summer.
Welcome to the Looking Back and Looking Ahead 2016 edition. I reread my last years looking back, lookingahead post to see what I had accomplished and what didn’t make it last year. What I found was that when I started this site was – that the first year I had pretty high expectations. And while I scaled it back for my second year , they were still pretty high.
The main three from the start of 2015:
FINISH THE CABINETS AND BENCHWORK. Can check this one off.
MINIMUM OF THE MAINLINE IN AND OPERATIONAL / BOTH LEVELS. That would be an obvious miss.
SOME TRACKWORK IN FOR TOWNS. Again, an obvious miss.
While I believed that the above goals were accomplishable, looking back they were a bit optimistic. Factor in the job change in April that had us traveling almost every other week for a good part of the remainder of the year and they quickly became over optimistic. Even making the cabinet doors and having them installed before Christmas (that my wife had requested ) didn’t happen as not one, but two business trips suddenly got wedged into the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And yes my wife understood.
So what would I like to get done in 2016? Well… everything. But realistically I think I’ll shoot for the following:
New Brighton yard planned out and cork down.
All trackwork for the lower level in and wired.
Pretty simple list, but knowing that the work/travel schedule is not going to lighten up ( at least for the first half of the year ) I think that I should keep it realistic.
Where am I at right now on the list? I have the yard in New Brighton started, as far the track layout goes, however I keep tweaking it as I mentally operate it. The biggest problem I have right now with the yard is that when the track plan is finalized ( the next couple of days ) is that I won’t be able to lay the cork roadbed for it.
Why not ? Well it seems that Walthers ( walthers.com ) is having their “ biggest track sale of the year ” and one of the sale items is the Midwest Products ( midwestproducts.com ) cork sheets that I use for yards. They are out of stock with an unknown restock date. I have to wait till Walthers restocks and ships.
I won’t halt work until that happens, instead I will start the trackwork. The starting point will probably be where the switches are for the return loop and work towards the helix, wiring as I go.
I am finding that I need to actually get trains running or I am going to start loosing interest/focus with the layout. Not a good thing.
Additional things on the list could be:
Start the helix once track is in. At minimum I will cut the wood for the helix when the weather gets warmer.
Cabinet doors. No, my wife won’t let this one slide, but I should be able to put it off again till the weather is better (not winter).
Install the supports for the upper level valance/ lights.
Am I unhappy that I didn’t make my ( self imposed ) goals, sure, I had hopes of having things running by now. But over the last weekend as I was reading other modelers year end updates I have found that there are others who after 4 to 6 years are just finishing their mainlines. After a year and a half I’m not doing to bad.
We all know how we feel when we lose a Local Hobby Shop, if you check out any of the forums there is always someone lamenting the loss of another LHS closing down. We returned from another business trip last Tuesday, Thursday on a whim I picked up a copy of the local paper ( I had cancelled my subscription about a year ago as I read several different sources on my Ipad ) and on the front page of the local section was a story about a local club that has to vacate it’s space without knowing where they will go.
The Twin City Model Railroad Museum has been in existence since 1934. Originally housed in the St. Paul Union depot until they had to move because of it closing down. In 1984 the St. Paul Port Authority offered the club space free of charge in a newly remodeled Como Shops car shop that was set up as a shopping/entertainment center. Next door in a remodeled machine shop was the Children’s Museum. Also in the area were business offices, hotels and residential housing. All heated from a central location, the area was known as Energy Park. The shopping center itself was known as Bandana Square.
One of the stipulations placed on them by the Port Authority was that the club would have to be open to the public on a daily basis. Admission was free, but donations asked for. I remember finding them early on and stopping by on a regular basis to watch the progression as the club built the layout. In 2003 the Port Authority sold the Bandana Square complex to a private management company.
One of the first things that the management company did was to let the club know that they would have to pay rent like everyone else. The club had to switch from free admission to paid admission. It wasn’t much but it probably hindered some from stopping by.
As rents rose, some of the small shops and restaurants moved out, new ones moved in and tried to make it. With a shifting occupancy and some vacancies, traffic to Bandana Square dropped. In addition to this, the Children’s museum moved to a newer and larger space in downtown St. Paul. The management company started to shift it’s focus to office space and now it is a medical office building. With a lack of traffic and becoming more of a destination the club struggled with meeting their rent.
And now they can’t make rent with available traffic and they have to leave.
My kids have grown up with me dragging them along with me to see the layout as it grew and neared completion. My boys never caught the model railroad bug ( though they are always asking to see progress downstairs as they appreciate what goes into building the layout ), only my daughter was interested in model railroading and was happy to tag along or hang out with me as I worked on past layouts. So I was very saddened to see that I would not be able to share this with my grandson.
I also realized that I had never taken any pictures of the club’s layout. Why would I, it’s been around for 81 years and would be around for years to come.
So with my wife in tow this time ( no, she had no problem with tagging along, she has always appreciated what goes into building a layout of any size and knows what goes into every little detail ), I headed out to capture the layout as they will have to shut down by October 26th.
Below are the pictures I took as well as a trackplan of the layout. The layout itself was featured in a Model Railroader article in 1999. Also, though I took somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pictures, the ones with the trains in action didn’t turn out. The lighting was not as bright as I would have liked, I prefer to shoot without a flash if possible, and the trains were running a little fast (I’m sure to hold the attention of those who don’t understand scale speeds) , so the trains were a bit blurred as they moved past. I will add commentary about those things a do know about.
You will notice in the above photos the painted backdrop scenery. The club installed the backdrop and had painted it a light blue ( oh doesn’t that sound familiar ), an artist stopped by one day to see the layout and volunteered his services to paint the backdrop if the club so desired. You can bet that they hopped right on that offer as no one in the club wanted to do it. I always felt sorry for the guy as much of they scenery and buildings were in place at the time.
The Stone Arch Bridge ( yes we capitalize it here in Minneapolis ) is an iconic structure. A club member and his father first built the basic form for the bridge and then hand cut 5000 pieces of basswood for the bricks on the bridge. He then cut and laid the ties on the bridge for the track.
I had not wanted to broach the subject with any of the members of the club as I felt they were pretty discouraged about the situation. But listening to them talk to others, it sounds as if they have found or are close to securing a new location for the club and layout. I can only hope so and wish them the best. Though I can share model railroading with my grandson on my home layout, there are others who may never be introduced to the hobby without someplace like the Twin City Model Railroad Museum.
I have finalized the track layout for the town of Jackson and having done so, laid the roadbed. For those who are wondering, no I’m not avoiding the helix base, I just haven’t had any large blocks of time. But in an effort to keep moving forward, I have been using the little snippets of time that I have had to keep moving forward.
I was able to keep the original track plan pretty much intact. The only major change to the plan was that I had to eliminate one of the crossovers between the southbound main and the rear siding. Other then that it more a matter of shortening some of the distances between things up a little. As I had mentioned last time some of this was accomplished by flipping turnouts around.
While planning the track arrangement I had photocopied the needed turnouts so that I could use them in the actual planning of the track arrangement. In the past I would have one of each turnout on hand and I would just mark there location and then move them to the next spot. Because I wanted to make sure everything was working right I used the photocopies and was then sure that it all flowed well. I then decided that I would glue them in place so that when laying the cork roadbed I would have an exact guide as to where to lay it. I have seen this done on larger club layouts ( and I’m sure that a lot of other people have done this on home layouts ) but I have not done this in the past and I’m wondering why I haven’t. Sometimes things take awhile to make it all the way to the top. It made everything so much easier and I will continue to do this for the rest of the layout.
One thing I did before I glued the photocopies down was to mark where the holes needed to be drilled for the linkage from the Tortoise switch machine. I then used the drilling template from Tortoise and drilled the linkage hole and the mounting holes. Normally the mounting holes would be drilled from the bottom and then they would only be drilled partially into the wood for the screws, but it is easier to drill all the way through the plywood from the top. The holes are small and will be covered with scenery ( actually they will probably be covered with ballast ) so I figured it really doesn’t matter which side as long as they are there.
Below is a photo progression of the work:
As you can see in the pictures I also laid cork down for known structure locations, these being the depot / freight house and the elevator / feed mill. I also put down cork where the main street intersects the railroad tracks. I stub ended the roadbed for the two rear siding tracks as I have yet to figure out what exactly will be back there. The short list right now is a manufacturing plant, an oil dealership, a mill and a fertilizer plant. Stay tuned.
A couple of photos with some of the buildings in place:
I should have some time after the 4th and hope to have the helix base in place, we’ll see.
End of May update… also know as ” nothing has really gotten done”. New job, new challenges. Since my last post I have been out of town for two of the last three weeks. The one week I was home I was fully engaged in work issues and unfortunately this is the way it will be until things are straightened out with the company we are now working for.
I have had a chance to get a few things done. In my last post I had talked about starting the planning for the town of Jackson. What was pictured was some general planning , but I have been working on specific planning and have about 50% of the town laid out and finalized. I should have the whole thing done in the next week or so.
I also have been working on some background buildings for the port of Duluth harbor area. I have been using Design Preservation Models wall sections to build some of the buildings and this is working out well. When I have something to report on I will let you know.
The other thing that is happening is the lower level remodel is done and the furniture is out of the basement. If I have a chance, I might have a chance to start the base for the helix, which would finish up the basic benchwork. If this happens, trust me, you will be the first to know.
Oh yes, the town of Jackson. As I mentioned in my last post the town of Jackson has turned into it’s own special little hell. And of course it is all my own fault. As originally planned the layout was longer down the length of the peninsula and the town of Jackson ( Kirkland in the original plan from Model Railroader ) almost dropped right onto the layout. And then I screwed up.
First, as I mentioned before in an attempt keep from buying things I didn’t need I started building model ships. Once built, I needed some place to put them, so I put up a wall of shelves. It’s really nice to have someplace to display them and I have received many compliments on them. However they stick out 12″ and the layout had to be shortened. No problem it’s only a foot. Then as the peninsula was being built and I was moving around what would be the end of the peninsula I figured I should have more then the 3 feet I had figured for an aisle, so I expanded it to about 4 1/2 feet. This gave me a comfortable aisle to move things around without hitting the layout or the ships on the shelves. As the peninsula was about a foot short of the original Kirkland plan, plus the foot for the shelves and now another 1 1/2 foot, I was now 3 1/2 feet short.
Second, as I was building the end of the peninsula I shortened up the transition where the table flairs out for the rounded end of the peninsula.
As you can see in the above picture you will note that the subroadbed pushes out almost to the edge of the benchwork. You can bet that as I am laying track, that I going to be sure that it is as perfect as I can get it. A derailment here would be catastrophic to say the least. But as of right now I believe that I can live with it, as the alternative is to decrease the radius of the turn and I am unwilling to do that. It’s one of the major compromises I made on the last layout and I always regretted it. A possibility here is to superelevate the turn.
Planning the town itself has become something of a challenge as I try to get everything into it that I liked from the plan. I realize that some things might have to be left out or shortened. But I’m trying to keep the flavor of the plan. I have found that in some places of the plan that by flipping a turnout around, meaning flipping the straight thru part with the diverging route, I can pick up space as you don’t need to have a straight section to avert an s-curve.
I will continue to plug away at it until I have a workable track plan that I can live with and don’t feel as I’ve compromised. Below is the start of the planning.
As you will note from the above pictures, I made it over to the storage locker for some of the needed buildings. I thought I had the box with the throttles in it, but I didn’t. I guess another trip is in order.
I can finally report that the benchwork is finished. I still have to add the rest of the upper joists that will support the valance, but this can be done in between other projects as I have time. That is as long as I do it before any of the track work is started on the upper deck.
Next up is the deck work for the helix. However that is put on hold temporarily. As you will note the pile of stuff in the aisle in the first photo, we are putting in new carpet in the Family room and a bedroom. That means all the furniture and miscellaneous stuff has to go somewhere and guess where that is. However that doesn’t mean work will grind to a halt. The wire order has arrived. I sat down and tried to figure what I would need to wire the layout, buss wires, power wires for turnout control, Loconet wiring, signal wiring, general power wiring, etc. I believe that I covered all bases and placed an order through All Electronics (www.allelectronics.com). As I finished up the peninsula, the order arrived. So now I can start running the buss wires and wire up the staging yard. Which then means I can actually start running engines, granted only about 16 feet, but it’s something.
The first photo has all the wiring in it, the pile on the right is wire leftover from the old layout while the pile on the left is the new stuff. Included in the new stuff is: 2 conductor shielded wire for the switch machine wiring, running from Digitrax DS 64’s to the Tortoise switch machines. 4 conductor flat wire for the signals. I’m using the Atlas signal system and will make my own wires from the signal controller to the signal heads. 6 conductor flat wire for wiring up the Digitrax loconet components. 14 gauge wire in various colors for the main busses. 22 gauge solid core wire for the drop wires from the track to the busses. Colors match the main buss wires. Bicolor LED’s for indicators on the valance to indicate switch position and power to the track sections. Switches to shut off power to the staging tracks. I want to be able to shut down power to the tracks, if for no other reason so I don’t have to listen the sound equipped engines idling away while they await their turn on the road. A crimping tool for attaching the ends to the flat wires. A real soldering iron, in the past I usually bought the cheap ones from Radio Shack. Additionally new power supplies have also arrived.
On the left is the new Digitrax PS2012 (www.digitrax.com) to power the command/booster and the booster. On the right is a Meanwell 12 volt regulated power supply. I plan on using this to power the Tortoise switch machine. I think I’ll pick up an additional unit to power everything else – building lights and whatever else.
I have gotten a lot done and have a lot to do, but I’m quickly getting to the point where I get work on the “fun” stuff.