There are two characteristics that all women say that all men have... we see no need to ask for directions and we won't read instructions! Well, there are times when I unfortunately fall into that category... especially the instructions part. But there is a reason that manufacturers print them and supply them with every kit that they produce.
You may recall that a few miles back, I mentioned that I was working on a tri-level auto rack car for the Nickel Plate. They actually had three as I've mentioned previously. Well, today is the big day that I get to start on the project. So with a minimal amount of trepidation, I headed for the basement workbench to have at it. The kit premise is simple... first you assemble the flat car then you assemble the auto racks that went on top. This is similar to the way that the railroads actually did it; the flatcars were usually owned by TrailerTrain and the auto racks themselves were owned by the railroad. But I doubt if this is a case of the model following the prototype.
Anyway, the assembly of the flatcar went rather well. I'm a bit concerned about the mechanism that allows the coupler arms to swing since the car is so long but that will have to be tested at a later date. Then came the autoracks...
The kit is designed to be either a bi-level or tri-level model and there are parts for both options. The instructions say to attach the support arms to the rack floors then after that is dry, to attach the completed rack assembly to the car. Well, well... who needs instructions??!? I figured it would be much easier to simply glue the posts into place on the car then slide the rack floors into place. Besides, I reasoned that with 24 posts and two separate floors to deal with, that would be one wiggly, squirmy mess. So off I went and glued all 24 posts into place on the car. So far, so good...
Once the glue had started to set, I simply slipped the floor into place and started lining up the tabs on the floor with the slots in the posts... one, two, three... Oops! One came out of the slot. One, two, three, four... Oops, One came out again. Not to be outsmarted by a few pieces of pre-molded plastic, I figured that I'd do opposite sides. One, four, other side, one, two, three... you guessed it! Oops! The first ones are now out of alignment. And so it went... no matter what I tried, I couldn't get those cussed posts to first line up then stay in place. Finally, I laid the car on its side so that all of one side of the posts were on the same plane and was able to get things "pretty well" lined up. I then worked carefully to position the posts on the other side and get things reasonably well lined up there as well. By this time, my patience was running thin and the glue was setting... and not always where I wanted it to either. After about twenty minutes and several verses of sailor's language, I think I have things pretty well ready to go... for the first floor. There is still the second floor and that one could be even more fun! I'm hoping that I can simply turn the car upside down and put the second rack in place that way since all of the posts are supposed to fit flush with the top of the car. Let's hope so anyway...
Bottom line? Read the instructions! Looking back now, I think I would have had a much easier time of it had I assembled the racks as per directed then once they were pretty well set, added the racks to the flat car. Lesson learned? I doubt it... :)
Some really exciting developments in 3D printing are being "brought to light." If you are like me and think that this has a real future in model railroading, you may very well enjoy watching this video...
It speaks of a new process that both increases definition and decreases printing time. The piece shown in the video is complex enough that it cannot be made by conventional methods. It can't be cast nor can it be milled. But the new process that has been developed allows this baseball-sized, complex piece to be created in about seven minutes... or at least 25 times faster than current printing methods would allow.
This is really some interesting stuff! Enjoy.
"The number to call is BR-549..." That was Junior Samples' line on the old TV show "Hee-Haw" when he was going to talk about his mythical used car lot. You may remember back in January, I mentioned that I was going to try to build a "modern car" for the Nickel Plate Road, a tri-level 89-foot Auto Rack. Yes, the NKP had a grand total of three of them but if they had one, then "I" can have one too. So I set about to duplicate the prototype once again.
Finding a car was easy enough; Accurail makes a tri-level Auto Rack that is similar enough for my purposes. But the only prototype photo I've seen of the car had 1964 Mustangs on it. Where would I be able to find that many vintage Mustangs? Well, my usual friend, Ebay, wasn't a lot of help. Oh, they are out there but I'm not going to put my entire yearly hobby budget into the cars that would only be ornamental on the star of the project. $18 times 15 is too high for me to figure out without a calculator but it's high enough for me to know that I don't want to spend THAT kind of money on them.
When in doubt, I always say look for a compromise. About a week later, I found one as someone was listing some older, plastic cars that probably came with an auto carrier model. And, best of all, they were affordable! So about a week after, my bid was the winning bid and the cars arrived in the mail. They were a little rough looking at first but after a trip through the "car wash" (a quart jar filled with hot, soapy water, then shaken), they actually looked pretty good. While I may very well paint a few some different colors for more variety, that part of the project has been put to rest; I have more than enough cars to fill the auto rack.
Next up, the name placard for Nickel Plate Road... well, there's good news in that department as well. You may recall that I mentioned a few miles back that my decal printing was on hold since my old PC wouldn't boot up to run the printer. Well, a trip to the computer shop and $40 later, it had a new memory stick and ran like a top!
I took the placards for the original road, sprayed one side a medium blue and the other side a primer color to come close to the car color and let them dry. A trip through the scanner gave me an exact size to work with so I resized the Nickel Plate Road logo that I had to fit the placards and printed them with the ALPS. Part II of the project is now ready to go.
The Accurail car looks like it will be a bit tedious to assemble since all of the vertical auto rack supports are cast as separate pieces and have to be properly spaced in order for everything to fit together correctly. So it may still be a few more posts before I have something to share in the way of a finished product. Like I said, progress is sometimes slow...
In a day and age where many hobby shops are closing, it was nice to see a new one opening up. We were headed down to Sugarcreek, Ohio, to have dinner with some of my cousins and Janet happened to catch this sign on the side of the road... SLAM ON THE BRAKES, DO A 180 AND GO BACK!
Gone Loco Hobby Train Depot is located just west of Millersburg, Ohio, on St. Rte. 39. According to the owner, Mike Crider, they have only been open a couple of weeks. While the bulk of his merchandise is O scale, he did tell me that he has a lot more HO scale items on order and due for delivery soon.
The shop is very nice in appearance and things were well organized and the place was clean. There was ample parking in front of the store and it is easy to get on and off of Rt. 39 to get there.
Instead of me listing all of the particulars here, I'll simply post his web site. Directions, hours and contact information are located there.
If you are in the area, please stop in and pay Mike a visit. I'm sure that he would appreciate it. Besides, in addition to the fine food at Dutch Valley Restaurant in Sugarcreek, I now have another reason to visit Amish country!
An email arrived today with a really sharp video of a very elegant Great Northern locomotive, the 4-8-4 S2 in HO scale. I've not owned any Broadway Limited locomotives primarily because their offerings don't really fit well with my interest in the Nickel Plate... and they tend to be on the pricey side. But this loco appears to be one that may well be worth the dollars that they are asking, especially for a Great Northern fan. After all, it is a brass hybrid, it comes with DCC & sound, it features synchronized, chuffing smoke and is factory painted and lettered.
At one time, I considered modeling a fictitious merger of the GN and the NKP. In my beginner's mind, that way, I could run locos with Vanderbilt tenders along with my more sincere interest in the Nickel Plate. That didn't last too long but I did decorate a couple of locos for the GN. So for this reason, I've always enjoyed the story of the Great Northern, her heavy locos and her elegant & beautiful passenger trains. While many GN fans think the green & orange paint scheme on some of their passenger trains was the best paint scheme ever to grace ANY passenger train, I have always been partial to the blue & white one. But that's a different story for a different day.
Here's the video link:
There are a couple of features that make this loco look like it means business. One of them is the dual air pumps mounted on the smoke box cover. That always looked like business to me. The other is the Vanderbilt tender which just seems to look "cleaner" than the boxy tenders much more common on the eastern railroads although the C&O also used the Vanderbilt design.
The final interesting feature of the loco is the way they (BLI) added an all-weather vestibule to the engine's cab. It makes for a much more interesting looking loco, more realistic in appearance, especially when compared to one with a huge, unprototypic gap between the loco & the tender. Don't tell anyone but if there were more locos like this on the market, I might have to start a second layout to feature the GN!
Hope you enjoy the video.
No, this is still "Along the Right of Way," but today I'm going to talk cameras for just a minute. As a regular here, you know that I enjoy photography along with my trains and that many of the subjects of my photos ride the rails. Either the real ones or the ones on my layout. So it stands to reason that a comment or two about a new camera belongs here as it is a big part of my enjoyment of the hobby.
The Nikon D7200 is the newest version of Nikon's DX (small sensor) line. It boasts a 24 megapizel image, a wide range of ISO settings, Wi-Fi for remote photo downloading & sharing, six frames per second picture taking, improved auto focus and HD video. It is an improvement in several different areas over the D7000 which I have had for the past four years. I've come to the conclusion that buying cameras is like buying a computer... you had better be ready to replace it about every 3-4 years due to the technical advances that are made from model to model.
I'm not a big fan of cellphone pictures so for me, a good camera is the best way to get good pictures of both the prototype and your models. With the model photos, they are easy to share with others either by email or through blogs like this. They also serve as a way to check on your modeling. John Allen was a model railroader and a photographer by profession. He often said that he checked his modeling by taking photos of his work, enlarging the images to 8x10 prints and then... examining them with a magnifying glass to look for imperfections! Only when they passed that inspection, did he feel that they were good enough for his layout. I'm not that critical of my own work, but I have seen glaring errors in photos of my models when I thought the models themselves looked pretty good.
A good camera is a great way to capture things on the prototype as well. I have a few pictures that I'll be sharing in the next few days of unusual things that I've seen while out train watching recently. Seeing it is one thing; capturing it and then sharing it with others is quite a different matter.
Finally, there is video... I never really thought that a dSLR would be able to take good video but I learned during a recent trip to Altoona that is simply not the case. I'll gladly compare video shot with my D7000 with any video shot with any other consumer-targeted video cameras. The D7200 features improvements to that as well; I'm looking forward to the opportunity to try it out and share some of the results with you.
From time to time, I've discussed making my own decals using Paint Shop Pro and my ALPS printer. Well, I'm currently working on a Nickel Plate auto rack (yes, the NKP had a total of four of them) and needed a custom size NKP logo. No problem... or so I thought.
I fired up the Win 7 computer that I use most all of the time and laid out the decals, getting them ready to print. Since there is no driver for the ALPS printer and Win 7, I kept my old PC upstairs and use it exclusively for printing decals.
Once the artwork was done, I transferred it onto a USB drive and climbed the stairs. I hit the Start button and... NOTHING HAPPENED! :( I messed around with it for a while but no luck. I don't know for sure but it sounds like the hard drive isn't responding. A while ago, that could have been a disaster but everything on it has been backed up onto my new PC so "IF" I had to get a new one, all I would need would be WinXP and the Paint Shop Pro software. Both are relatively easy to come by.
But for the time being, there are no decals until I can take the box into the shop and have my computer guy take a look. Hopefully it is something else but if it's the hard drive... well, I'll have him replace it and get me ready to go.
I realize that the ALPS is on borrowed time. It is 15 years old, ALPS no longer repairs them and, according to rumors, they will no longer even be making supplies for them sometime this year. That is a decision that I hope they reconsider. The ALPS has filled a nice little niche in the printer market and does do a very good job on the decals. But I really can't complain much... I've had it for probably better than 15 years and I got it used. It has served me well and has provided many, many sets of decals for a lot of my rolling stock. It's provided more than a few laughs too but that is another story for another time.
Every so often, the topic comes up as to "what is the correct color for...?" and we go through the throes of extoling the virtues of this color vs. that one or this mix as opposed to another. After a few, some times heated email exchanges with the group hosting the topic (I've seen it in several), things settle down and the ruckus passes until the next time.
If you refer to my previous post, you will see a photo of the two Bowser H30a hoppers that I commented about at Milepost 935. If you look closely at the car on the left, the gray one, you will see that the picture above is a small portion of that picture. You will also note that the two smaller images above are even smaller portions of the photo which show what appears to be TWO DIFFERENT COLORS of paint on the same car! How can this be??!? Well, it's not.
This clearly illustrates one of the principles I've been advocating in these seemingly endless color discussions... that one of the things that affects the apparent color of an object is what it is sitting next to. In this case, some of the color of the brown car shown in the picture at Milepost 935 is actually being reflected off of the gray car. If you throw in the type of lighting (in this case, bright white LEDs), the age of the paint, the mix of the paint and the supplier of the paint, you will soon see that there are simply too many variables to make the decision as to what is the "correct" color for most anything.
The moral of the story is this: let's get close with a color, let's try to be consistent with that color and then let's move on and have fun with model railroading! Think of it this way... if YOU aren't sure of the exact color of something, how can someone else's opinion be any better??!?
In a recent conversation I was having with my friend Paul, we were discussing our respective pile drivers and how we both were contemplating building railcar mounted steam shovels. He was wondering how he could use both of them on his layout and I suggested a "shoofly" arrangement that would not only allow both the steam shovel and the pile driver on the layout but also in the same scene.
As you may be able to determine from the drawing above, a shoofly arrangement is a temporary track across a stream that is put into place while a new bridge is being built OR an older one is being repaired. The arrangements are scant, barely covering the needs of the railroad for the period of time required to complete the more permanent project but it gives us the opportunity to show off some equipment that may otherwise be parked behind an engine shed or roundhouse collecting dust.
This second drawing taken from Track Planning for Realistic Operation, Kalmbach Publications, 1963, shows a slightly different configuration but also gives some details as to what other elements can be added to complete the scene.
Both drawings clearly show the main line being rerouted on temporary track, extra tracks being added for storage and the work in progress for the new bridge structure. In addition to the pile driver and the steam shovel, this would also be a place for some extra work train cars for the crew's convenience, some misc. bridge materials strewn about and signage to assist with restrictions placed on the trains themselves.
From an operations standpoint, this could also serve as another "industry" on you railroad as building materials would need to be brought in, camp cars may need to be changed, that pile driver or steam shovel may need to be moved and of course, traffic over the temporary bridge would have to be slowed down to a crawl.
I suppose that one could also model this type of arrangement after the bridgework has been done. The rails would come up but the ties, ballast and fill would probably remain. The culvert pipes would be gone as well and the entire section of abandoned track could show its signs of age & neglect with weeds and perhaps overgrown trees, etc.
While the caption in the Track Planning book suggests that this type of arrangement could be used while you are building that super-detailed bridge, "I" suggest that it is a great way to display those really cool, kit-bashed/scratchbuilt pieces of MOW equipment. :)