A fascinating video of great electric railroading. I’m not sure if the soundtrack is original but it works really well. Beyond just the trains there’s a lot of great detail here for the commuter rail modeller. I really enjoyed this.
I used to have this issue of Model Railroader but lost it in the flood last spring. I’m looking for a copy of the August 1987 issue of Model Railroader. More specifically I am looking for the John Nehrich article about kitbashing meat reefers from the old Life-Like wood reefers. I think the article was titled: “Here’s the beef”. I have a bunch of these cars and thought it might be fun to refinish a few in this style. A scan would do if a whole issue wasn’t available. I imagine that Kalmbach still offer the whole issue in their back issues list but I thought I’d put out the word in case someone already has one that’s just in the way that could use a new home.
A few more minutes to spend on the layout this evening and the track is weathered enough to be ready for ballast. I’m a little nervous of this next step and how well my foamcore benchwork will do with all that white glue and water spread over top. I am taking some comfort from knowing that the ballast won’t be too thick so there won’t be as much water everywhere.
For the ballast itself I’ll be using a mix of Woodland Scenics “Fine” grade ballast in a few light colours.
I’ll try to get home over lunch tomorrow and grab a quick photo or two to share here so you can see the progress so far.
It’s been entirely too long since the last time I did anything on my layout and that was really bugging me so I decided it was time to get things moving again. All the track is built and the thing is wired. The next steps are painting and weathering the track and starting to ballast the track.
I decided I’d start with painting the track. While some of the things I’ve done on this layout are new to me I knew that I was pretty happy with the way I used to paint track in the past and wanted to pretty much follow that same course. I had always started with a primer colour of sorts, an oily-brown similar to Floquil’s Roof Brown or Humbrol’s aptly named (and my preferred choice): Track Colour. The ties and rail all got this same uniform colour. Once it had dried I would wash and drybrush the ties and rails separately to bring out their characteristics – that brown serving as an undertone to really tie everything together. Thinking further ahead, I also used the same base colour on my trucks and wheels reasoning that the things that turned the track those colours would also be on the passing trains so they should probably share some of the same colour references.
My little Humbrol tin of Track Colour had completely dried so off to Great Hobbies I went to replace it. Instead of Humbrol I purchased a jar of Tamiya Red Brown #XF-64. Same colour, same finish but acrylic so easier to clean up and a nicer on the nose too. The Tamiya paint is still an absoloute joy to work with. Man, it’s nice paint! As with every layout though this activity did cause me to reflect that I’d do things differently next time and I would make sure I painted all the ties before I put down the rails. Working paint around the ties, in and around the rails was a pain and quickly went from doing it right to just getting it done. Perhaps if I had some way to spray paint I could have tried that instead and things might have been a lot more fun. Boy, I sure was glad I only had the tiny bit of track I did to paint.
This kind of hindsight rarely comes in one instance and tonight I started working on another unenjoyable, to me, task from my layout’s punch list: filling the gaps in the PC board ties. I’ve never found a method to fill in those insulating gaps easily and in a way that minimizes the mess so once again I started with a tube of Squadron Green putty thinned with some plastic solvent cement and filled each groove carefully. Tomorrow I’ll sand the little filler bumps down and hopefully this task is “good enough” to call done.
So that’s two more parts of the layout completed and I have that great feeling of accomplishment. Even though filling in the ties is a task I’d really rather avoid and the painting was done too late during the construction process, I’m still really proud of what I did and it feels nice to look at the layout and it’s that much easier to imagine how much greater trains are going to look on it next time I operate on it.
I was lucky. I grew up on a steady diet of British model railway books and magazines. Everything I know about the hobby is really viewed through this lense and I’m more than okay with that. Over the years I’ve built models in 4mm scale and 2mm scale, the British equivalents of HO and N respectively, and even built up some nice narrow gauge models too. Packed safely away I still have a Mainline Models 4-6-0 in the fine maroon colours of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and a pair of coaches to go along with it. I even have one of those ubiquitous Airfix brand GWR autocoaches in case I ever decide to build myself a classic Great Western branchline layout.
So with that background it’s kind of funny how I’ve never had a proper British train set. I’ve spent hours studying the pages of Tri-ang and later Hornby catalogues and planning which sets I’d like to have. So there I am gleefully spending hours, pouring over pictures. That sure is a fun mental image eh? Maybe not. Anyway, let’s do something more fun. Let’s hop into our TARDIS time machines and shoot forward to a more recent time and a particularly weak moment where I found myself with a little extra money in my PayPal account. Off to eBay I went and there I found the listing for a little Hornby set featuring one of the most famous Hornby engines and two of their classic four-wheel coaches. The price was right and I jumped into the bidding. A week and a bit later that same little set arrived here in Charlottetown. I knew it wasn’t brand new but it was actually a true British Hornby set made before their manufacturing shifted to China. The detail was terrific and I quickly got some power to the rails of my micro layout so I could see how well it worked.
“How was it?” I can hear you asking. I have always maintained that anyone starting with model trains here in North America starts with the biggest pile of crap they are ever going to experience in the hobby when sadly they are opening their first train set. Those Bachmann F7′s and GP40′s are such poor running models that only get worse with time. Train sets need to be made for beginners. The trains need to run and run nicely. The more fun we have with those first trains the more likely we’ll buy more and then think about building our own model railway layouts. I don’t know how any of us ever progressed to build layouts and stay in the hobby – thankfully we were stubborn enough to keep going past those first set models. Now, imagine the complete opposite and you have the little tank engine from Hornby. This thing will creep along the track and it’s easy to imagine properly switching cars at a scale speed. The boiler and tank are cast metal so it has lots of weight for a little extra adhesion and to help it on dirty track. The detailing wasn’t too bad either and certainly sufficient enough to look realistic while still providing some opportunity to add more if the interest in that part of the hobby occurs.
I had a blast running the model around and I was running this thing on my layout over code 55 rail without problem. I found the back-to-back distance on the wheels a little too tight but then it’s important for me to point out that my turnouts are built as tightly to the NMRA recommended practice for check gauges around turnouts as possible. I’ve since run these models through factory stock Peco and Atlas turnouts and had no problem. Since my micro layout isn’t scenicked I’m lucky enough to have some photographs my Dad took on his layout and it’s these that I’ll share here to show off this great set in all it’s glory on a very nice home layout.
I’ve been selling off my N scale collection. In many ways it was a hard decision as many of the models are ones that were a lot of fun to collect or represented something special. It’s so easy to develop an emotional attachment to these models but I’ve been finding that it really frustrates me to have these same models packed away in a box on the promise of their eventual use. I am having a lot of fun with my little micro layouts and want to keep working on those and I think I’m going to be really happy with just enough stock to keep them populated. That’s not to say I’m imposing an restriction on future purchasing but I can almost envisage a sense of cycling through things to keep the home-based hobby shop in check. So far the sale has been going nicely. A large collection was sold before it was even advertised, which was nice, and I’ve been really taking advantage of the excellent N Scale Yard Sale group for some other models. I’m down to the last few and they will likely appear on eBay.ca soon enough.
Okay, I regret the almost melancholic tone that somehow appeared in the introduction to this post so it’s time to switch gears quickly to something that happened yesterday that really excited me. One of my 70 tonners was sold to a very kind gentleman in California who just happens to be a member of the legendary San Diego Society of N Scalers. This club’s layout, the Pacific Desert Lines, is about as fine as any N scale layout could ever hope to become. Opening my email yesterday I was greeted with an email to let me know my little 70 tonner had safely made it all the way from Charlottetown to California. Cooler still was that the buyer had included two photographs to show my little engine in it’s new home and operating on the Pacific Desert Lines. Check this out:
How cool is that?! I have pictures of models made by the equally legendary Norm Wright running across those same bridges. To say that I am humbled is a slight understatement. That little GE is a long way from my imagined home layout and pushing short trains backward into Montague. All in all, I’m really pleased with this update and will cherish these photos. I think this is a really neat ending for my decision to parse out my collection.
So, with all this great repatriatoin in mind, drop me a line if you’d like to have one of the N scale micro layouts. I’m just giving those away now.
I just saw an advertisement for Athearn’s GP40-2w in GO Transit colours. Four road numbers are available: 703, 705, 708 and 709. I still haven’t seen any of these models but from the pictures online they sure look terrific. I wonder how well they will compare to the Atlas model of the same engine? Athearn are making this model available in straight DC or a DCC and sound-equipped unit. I’ll confess, I really want one, of either the Atlas or the Athearn one.
Of course a first thought that occurred to me was a reminder of how disappointing it is that Athearn still haven’t re-released their Bombardier cars in GO colours. A few have been showing up on eBay lately and the resale prices have been really shocking on every one. I have a few of these models in HO and they are quite nice. I’d buy a few more if they ever returned to the marketplace. Tonight I read on The Train Cellar’s Facebook page that Athearn are planning on actually following through with the coaches in 2014. I sure hope they do, but I’m more than a little disappointed that they didn’t schedule the cars to release alongside the engines. Is this going to cause a glut of unsold engines while we all wait patiently for the cars? It’s got to be frustrating for hobby shops trying to put together practical inventories when manufacturers put together schedules like this.