What is Protocrastinator?

A Protocrastinator is a person who puts off finescale Railroad (and railway modelling) for no good reason.
Originally for me it was 1:87 (HO) scale. Problems with acquiring the bits and pieces led to extreme dissatisfaction and the project stalled. Now I've acquired an O scale boxcar and I intend investigating Proto 48 as a finescale project.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Forget it...

Well, its been 9 months since I placed an order with the P87 stores for some bits and pieces.
Now I appreciate that Andy has had some serious issues to take him away from the P87 business. But 9 months is a long time in anyones' books. As a result my enthusiasm for P87 is pretty well shot. I've tried to keep if going with some interesting plans schemes and concepts. But right now my interest in doing anything in P87 is totally zero.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Flurry of activity

This is no less than the fourth post in THREE days to this blog. I haven't had activity like that since the start of the blog.
I don't know why. Surely its not just the impending arrival of that ExactRail boxcar...
Things have just conspired to inspire me lately. If I was at home this weekend who knows what I would do...
Anyway, I've also updated my list ofProto87 links over there to the right. P87 links are few and far between so if any of you have got any others and would like to share them. I'll post them there. I'm always up for inspiration.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pages from the sketchbook

So, to expand on the idea outlined earlier here's a couple of sketchbook pages to illustrate what I'm talking about.
The above sketch shows the wide open backscene typical of prairie country like the Midwest.
This is exactly the same layout sketch with the backscene changed to something more afforested.
The scribble below each layout concept illustrates how the sloping backscene would look in profile. I'd bolt the backscene onto the back with a few coach bolts and wing nuts. There shouldn't be too much of an issue with the tree backscene. Perhaps the extra depth of the prairie might be an issue but this only needs to be made from the lightest thinnest ply so it wouldn't weigh too much and throw things off balance.
As another note I checked my stock of baseboards and I have a frame ready made that is 54" x 14" Almost the perfect size.

More layouts for your money.

It started off quite innocuously. I was looking at a thread over at RMweb concerning Nick Palette's latest layout. A slice of Cornwall in 5' x 1'. Very nice and atmospheric and to Nick's usual high standard. It always amazes me the atmosphere he can create in such a small space. Put me down as a big fan. However, as usual, I'm sliding off the point a bit.
Nick was ruing how the trees on the layout were encroaching on the stock because of the narrow width of the layout.
I was reminded of an idea that I had a year or two ago now concerning a sloping backscene.
In this instant the backscene would slope away from the layout allowing a greater depth of trees without adding much depth to the layout 50-75mm perhaps. The front of the backscene would feature fully modelled trees, behind would be tree tops and other foliage.
I'd also considered this idea for modelling the flatlands of the Lincolnshire coastal plain. In this case the slope would be much more gradual and a deeper section, 200mm perhaps, with a landscape modelled in muted tones and in diminishing scales to force the perspective. Perhaps the backscene could smoothly curve from the ground into the sky for extra effect.
This leads me to another thought. If the structures and detailing are sufficiently non-committal on the baseboard then it would theoretically be possible to change the atmosphere of your layout just by changing the backscene.
Think of it, change your layout from New England in the fall, to the Arizona desert, to a Midwestern city just by the changing of your backscene!
It's a pretty neat idea without a doubt. Especially for train shows. Imagine the looks you'll get from the punters if the second time they come back to look at your layout it has changed.
I think the concept needs a bit of tidying up. But it's certainly got me thinking and I'd like to try it. Wingetts Recyling is a self contained unit and would be unable to have the backscene changed out. So it would necessitate the construction of a new layout specifically with a narrow baseboard. I think I might even have one lying around the garage waiting for such a purpose...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Joy of Joys!

If you recall this post you will know of my love for ExactRail rolling stock and consequently my disappointment when I was not able to acquire one of the Waffle sided box cars in Southern livery. Well I am unhappy no longer because ExactRail have re-released said box car in HO scale and only in Southern livery ONLY.
You can bet that as soon as I found that out I placed an order. Hopefully it will be winging its way too me quite soon.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Field Trip

Here's a few more pictures of the Duluth Steam plant. From last weekends visit to Duluth. Magnificent structure.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Duluth Steam

I've been looking around for structures for this layout. For something that inspires me to want to build it. There is one building that I've always been fascinated with. It's the Duluth Steam plant in, not unsurprisingly, Duluth, MN. For over 80 years the plant has supplied heat to the downtown and Canal Park areas of the city and currently more than 220 buildings are served.
Though the structure is not currently served by rail, the tracks of the North Shore Scenic Railroad pass the building and there is at least one siding to the building. In the past coal would have been delivered there and fly ash would have been shipped out. The fly ash is a by product of the burned coal and is used in the making of cement. There is quite a demand for it. These days the fly ash would be shipped out by truck but the fly ash hopper (the cream coloured thing to the right of the second picture) is directly over the railroad tracks. So there is plenty of justification for having such a rail served industry on this small layout.
I'm sorry that these pictures are so small but for some reason I have lost the originals. I pilfered these from a plan I supplied to Carl Arendts micro layout gallery. I guess that means another trip up to Duluth for research purposes That will not be a hardship...


Well, after two days work, scarily, I have two almost competently built baseboards. They are light strong and rigid. Built from 3/16" ply strips for the sides and 1/4" ply for the top. Glued and pinned.

I plan on adding a little extra bracing underneath. But at the moment it doesn't really feel like it needs it, to be honest.
The next step will be to add the blocks for the hinges so that the baseboards will fold over for storage and transport.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Baseboard progress

Yes indeed you read right. Baseboard Progress! Having been an extremely crappy day today, weather wise. I really had no choice but to go and work on the baseboards for the layout. Two identical ones as you will recall from the drawing.
Now I approached this with great trepidation as I am known to be one of the worst woodworkers in the world. So I started work with great care, following my full size template and measuring twice and cutting once.
I am used to rushing through baseboard construction and paying the price later. But this once I seemed relaxed and more careful. My saw cuts were a little less wavy, the corners were square. All in all things are progressing quite well.
I haven't finished yet of course. Which in itself is another miracle. Normally I would have banged these baseboards together in a couple of hours. Today after 4 hours I'm about halfway there.
Why is this? Am I getting mellower in my old age or is it the spectre of the P87 standards staring over my shoulder saying.
"If you don't get it right now then We'll bite you back with stock derailments later"
Strangely, I'm quite happy that I don't have the baseboards finished yet. There's always tomorrow after the England game...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jiggery Pokery

So, feeling like doing little more today than resting my aching limbs after yesterdays marathon. I gave some thought to the baseboards for this little venture. I have, courtesy of my father-in-law, some 16 strips of 13/16" ply 4' long x 3" deep for the purpose of framing a baseboard or two. Bolstered by the fact that the really difficult job of cutting some perfectly, square level and flat has already been done for me I feel that I can safely make some baseboards... (famous last words there)
So the visible section of the layout is planned to consist of two identical baseboards hinged so that one folds on top of the other for easy transportation (what was that I said about things being safe). Perhaps the construction of some sort of jig is in order.
Ahhh now lets see about this. My woodworking skills are suspect, so I expect myself to make a jig to enable myself to make decent baseboards. Somewhere, somehow, this scheme is going to come crashing down in a pile of my own logic...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Exactrail Signature series Waffle side Box car

Those of you familiar with my US outline blogs will know of my liking, nay love, for Exactrail models. Today another one arrived by mail. (I'd like to say arrived in my mailbox but the mail person had just thrown the package on the driveway) . In the package was a NS waffle sided boxcar. I desperately wanted the Southern Railroad version but so, it seems did everyone else, and there is nary one to be found except by paying over the odds on fleabay. So I settled for the NS version.
It is one of the Signature series of models, top of the range and what a gorgeous model it is. Take a look.
Below: The lettering is really tiny and very legible

Above: The end detailing features coupler cut rods and air hoses
Above: More stunning detail.
If I have one criticism of the model it is that the door is moulded as a part of the body and not separately applied as on the Railbox perhaps's that's a production issue. The door actually fooled me as to me it looked as if it might open.
Another great model from Exactrail

Friday, June 4, 2010

First mock up

So not wanting to leave a good idea alone and the fact that its well past 80F in the garden and I don't fancy mowing the lawn in that heat. I set to and mocked up the sketch plan. Though I am a visual person and can see things in my head pretty well I always think that on small layout like this there's no excuse for NOT throwing things down to confirm just how they look to see if there might be any issues with clearances etc:
Above: Here's the plan, you should be able to make out the edge of the baseboard in blue marker. You can see that there is plenty of room between the tracks and the central road will comfortably take four 60 foot cars. I also have a couple of 70' cars and there won't be any issue with them either.
Above: A down the layout view. I think the City classics Smallman Street warehouse is well suited for that location. It's a kit I love and should one find its way onto the layout it will be the 4th layout of mine to feature one. The team track on the front road before the warehouse denoted by the woodchip car is another device to stop folks seeing the trains move across their field of view.
Above: View from the road overbridge. The perspective of the "concrete canyon" between the two buildings is quite pleasing. I don't know if the Walthers Lakeville warehouse used is the right building for the site. Perhaps something different is needed there.
Now to sit on the idea for a while and see what happens...

Plans afoot

Anyway, having spent a lot of the holiday weekend thinking about the concept and how to go about it. I came up with the following scheme.

I have incorporated the idea about the webcam. I don't know how practical it would be as my laptop is a MacBook Air and the screen isn't that big. You certainly couldn't get many people around it, probably not as many as could take in the actual end on view on the layout.
I have also mooted the idea that the central sorting road could be extended onto another baseboard/fiddle yard.
The "end on viewing" concept is stressed by angling the baseboard and the track backwards from the fiddle yard and blocking off up to half the layouts length with industrial buildings in front of the viewer. Thereby forcing the viewer to adopt a more end on view of the layout.
A crazy idea for the structure at the front would be to have a cut-away interior displayed. The viewer could then watch the loco and cars pass by the windows and loading dock doors. Perhaps.
Perhaps that's too crazy.
Right now it seems like a reasonable idea. This is after all, a small shunty-plank (switching layout) and devices would be needed to keep peoples interest up.
Practically speaking. Could I build two baseboards exactly the same and make them fold up with hinges as I've suggested? My carpentry inabilities are legendary.
The siding lengths are designed around my preference for the longer, more modern stock rather than the old fashioned 50 footers beloved of some layout builders who try to shrink layouts to microscopic sizes.
There's nothing wrong with the track plan. It's an Inglenook. Tried and tested proven over 50 plus years of railway modelling. It's all down to how its executed and the industries that I choose. I've got a few ideas on that front. More of them later

Friday, May 28, 2010

Would you watch a layout at a show from here?

So here's an idea for you. A little off the wall perhaps but here we go.
How many times when you were out railfanning/trainspotting did you sit on a roadbridge and watch trains go underneath you? Quite often, I'll warrant and even more often as a child if you were like me. How often do you get to do that on a model railway/railroad? Not very often. I can only think of two, perhaps three layouts where the principal motion of the trains is front to back. Nearly all layouts have you watching trains pass across your field of view.
OK so there are severe logistical issues here concerning the location of your storage sidings. Which has to make for issues with an exhibition manager an 8'x2' layout is easier to place than a 2'x8' one. But I in my own bloody minded way think it could be solved.
Anyway, here's a mock up to tease your brain a bit.
A loco would push some cars into the middle siding and proceed to switch them out to the sidings on either side replacing cars that would already be spotted there. A standard "inglenook" type switching operation. But all the switching moves would be to and from the viewer. There's not a lot room for folks to watch the layout end on with a 14" width as mocked up here. Even less when you consider the storage area will take up some of that. So some kind of concession needs to be made to letting people watch from the side. Perhaps having the layout open to viewers as far as the first buildings.
Having the storage sidings in front causes issues no doubt. But as I enjoy engaging the visitors in conversation (must be something to do with my accent) that wouldn't be an issue with me it could even form a part of the presentation.
Is it practical? I don't know. Its something to consider over the holiday weekend

What would we do without Railpictures.net?

I've found another picture of the Alaska Railroad yard on RP.
It's still a very appealing scene to me. I'm starting to have some crazy ideas about how to recreate this. More on those later.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Too quiet for too long

Been busy doing other things so interest lapsed for a while. I still want to build something in P87 but what?
Then I saw this delightful atmospheric small layout inspirational picture http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=286124&nseq=8

Right when do I start...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You have to see this...

Pop over to my T scale blog more t please to see some examples of some great work in the worlds smallest model railroading scale.
It fires me up with enthusiasm for the scale I can tell you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A couple of things

First things first. Remember this sketch of the front left hand side of the layout?
Well, I think I have sourced a suitable building for the location. It's this one. What do you think? I think it will be quite passable. It's from Northeastern scale models. I've never made a wooden kit before. So I'm quite comforted by the fact that these kits are designed for those who have no experience with wooden kits. I wonder if I might even be able to do a slight conversion on it and put an office door in place of the large door shown on the picture.
Secondly. I was planning to use this layout as the example for the small layout workshops I'm presenting at the Princeton Model Train Club in the forthcoming weeks. Well I had a rethink and I thought that it might be a bit big and involved for that purpose. So I have started to develop a new idea. A much smaller layout that will be much easier to build and complete in the alotted time set out by the workshop classes. As you may well know all my layouts have a blog and this new one will be no exception. You'll be able to follow it at Cwm Lwch.
There you go another layout, another blog. I'm a troubled soul. I really am

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Walthers Wood Chip Gondola

Trying to catch up a bit, here's my impressions of the Walthers wood chip gondolas that I got the other day. At the moment I know very little about Wood Chip gondolas. All I know is that I'll need some for this layout so I bought these two that were on sale through the "Walthers Flyer". No real rhyme or reason for the two that I chose - CN and CSX other than I see quite a bit of CN and CSX stock hereabouts.
Once again I'm really impressed with the details. The laddering on the sides and ends is separately applied and the printing of the wording on the sides is super. The one thing that I've come to notice now (and this is ExactRail spoiling me), the trucks are not equalised. I'm a bit disappointed. Still I can't have everything. Other than that they are a couple of very nice models that will look good in the yard at R Scend...
overall view of the car
end details showing the separately applied ladders
nice quality printing in the small details

So much to talk about...

So little time.
I've got lots to report and no time to tell you about it in detail. Yet.
I took delivery of the ME turnouts for the layout yesterday. So I'm just waiting on the P87 conversion units from the P87 stores to arrive to be able to get on with them. Looking forward to that.
I've had a plethora of rolling stock arrive in the past few days too.
A nice pair of Walthers wood chip hoppers that I will describe in detail just as soon as I can.
An ExactRail Thrall Railgon. It is quite exquisite and the best piece of R-T-R stock I have ever seen from a detail point of view. More to come on that soon too.
In addition to that. The ply strips have been cut by my father in law and await collection to be made into "Barry Norman" beams to frame the baseboard.
If that wasn't enough the Small Layout workshops that I will be presenting in conjuction with Lakeside Hobby will be starting on February 20th. At least that will enable me to get rolling on construction.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What "wood" you do?

This Sunday just passed I handed over a couple of sheets of 1/4" ply to my father-in-law for him to slice up into 3"-ish wide strips for the framing of the baseboard.
But exactly what I will do with them when I get them back? I don't know.
There's two courses of action open to me:
1. Turn them into "I" and "L" girders to frame the baseboard. A method poularised by Iain C. Rice.
2. Make some ply/softwood beams the preferred methos of Barry Norman. Here you take two of the ply strips and every foot or so place some peices of 2x1 pine between them to lmake the beam.
Both methods are said to be strong and light.
I don't know which to use. I've never tried either. Let's face it for me even using wood is something of an adventure.
I'm going to end up flipping a coin I think...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Copping a quick feel...

... for the design...
Yesterday I had a move around in the model railway room and allocated a space for the layout. With that done I could move on to the next stage of the designing progress. Confirming that what I had on paper was going to fit. I threw some track down to the approximate plan, found some old buildings and boxes and scenic bits, placed them where I thought they looked OK and checked the siding lengths with some cars. Now I can really see how everything will come together. Take a look...
1. A general view of the middle of the layout. To give you an idea of the depth here a couple of the trees are over 1' away from the bulkhead flat car.
2. Left hand side. I was a tad concerned that there wasn't going to be enough room for the building between the two tracks. That worry was unfounded. This will be a nice vignette as I first thought.
3. The business end. The main building and wood chip loader. Again I think things will come together nicely here. It looks like there will be more of the low relief structure than the sketches had envisioned.
All in all the pictures give me a good idea of how the whole thing will come together and I think I'm on to something. It gets me all fired up to start work properly.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ploughing the lonely furrow

Or is that plowing? All depends where in the world you read this I suppose. Plowing looks really, really wrong to me...
So I'm coming to realise that this P87 malarkey is quite the lonely field to be in. I've posted my P87 intentions on a few message boards and for the most part have been met with silence. Perhaps I just picked the wrong message boards.
Just my luck.
I have though, managed to find out that there is one more P87 modeller in the great state of Minnesota. Though I do have hopes for one more. You might also notice that the links section to your right is growing slowly too. This is all down to the members of the Yahoo! P87 group. So if you're interested in P87 I guess the only place to be is there.
This has to be contrasted with the adoption of more "proto" standards (EM, P4) in England. There, the interest is staggering by comparison. There healthy societies manufacture a huge range of bits and pieces for the aspiring finescale modeller. It is no exaggeration to say that when a new Ready to Run diesel locomotive is released that within a matter of perhaps weeks Ultrascale will have the P4/EM conversion kit for it released.
So why is this such a lonely furrow to plough? Why is it that so relatively few modellers in the US adopt "Proto" standards?
It can't be that they don't appreciate the details. US modellers are renowned the world over for their attention to detail in their locomotives, rolling stock and scenery. Then why on earth don't they adopt that same standard in their trackwork?
The arguments for changing from H0 to P87 are exactly the same as if you were to change from 00 to EM/P4. (Cost, time, yada, yada, yada...) I've heard them all before and I bet they are plastered all over the internet too. Of course there is no reply to the "I just don't care" argument. You can't beat that and that's fine by me.
But there's no two ways about it though if you desire a truly "realistic" model railroad then your trackwork has to be to proto standards. You can have a high level of realism in your models without them being realistic.
I think that deep down a lot of modellers realise this too. How many times have you marveled at a picture of a great model in a magazine only to realize the train is photographed so that you can't see the wheels and it is covering up the turnouts so you can't see "the Grand Canyon of crossing flangeways"?
You know I'm right...
But we're still not answering the question 'Why are there so few P87 modellers out there?"
It must be that most people are ignorant of what it takes to be a P87 modeller.
That's fine. So am I. I'm less ignorant than on Sunday December 6th when I started this blog. But I still have astounding levels of ignorance about P87-ing. However I figure that with my enthusiasm and the small band of P87 modellers out there I can solve the problems that come my way.
Perhaps you think P87 is deadly serious and that I'm being too flippant about it. Perhaps Proto modelling is perceived as a deadly serious branch of the hobby. Maybe I can help put that straight for when it comes down to it this is only a hobby and hobbies are about having fun. If as a result some more of you come over to the world of P87 that will be a bonus.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Page from my sketchbook

I said I could see a vignette in my minds eye concerning the front left hand corner of this layout. It wouldn't go away so I had to sketch it out on paper to get it out of my head. Maybe to create some more room for a few more ideas too...
Looks pretty reasonable to me...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Plans and problems

Well then, here we go another round of planning inspired by the baseboard.
First things first, when I sketched out the first plan back here. I drew a nice smooth arc between the two front corners of the triangular baseboard. When I cut it out of the wood I cut the arc to the circumference of a 4' radius curve. That is how I ended up with over 3' of depth.
This opened up a whole new track of thought for me. The front siding now no longer parallels the front edge of the baseboard and I gained a lot more space to sit the railway into the landscape, (away from curious little fingers at a train show).
(OK I know I drew a tree as the scenic break front left, a real cop out. But I can see a really nice vignette here for the train to pass through with the tree, the lumber company office and the premises sign there by the roadside)
However I immediately started to see problems.
I plan to display this layout as a "stage set" with a proscenium arch picture frame front. Similar to Wingetts. So I immediately began to wonder if a 5' 8" long curved front fascia board would be practical. Is that length too long? would it sag, or even worse topple the layout with the weight from the lighting inside it? I could add supports from the rear. But where would they be sited? Has anyone got any ideas or experiences on the matter?
So the idea develops and more problems emerge. I'm sure they will all get resolved before long though.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January Thaw

The January thaw is a wonderful thing. It is a welcome respite from the bitter Minnesota winters. It is that brief period of a week (perhaps two) when the temperatures approach and even pass freezing. As the week previous to the thaw had seen temperatures as low as -30C todays passing of freezing point was greeted with much jubilation. So, with a rush of blood to the head I ventured into the garage to cut the baseboard surface for the layout from an 8' x 4' sheet of 1/4" ply I had. The reasons to do this were:
Reason 1. So that I could see the size of the layout. It's all very well sketching an idea on paper and liking what you see. You can even work your plan up with the most detailed track planning software and come up with superb 3D CAD renderings. But when it comes down to it things still have to look right full size and I maintain that the only way anyone can do that is working full size. Some people make scale models of their layouts which is great for your basement filling opus but this one is only 4' long so it doesn't really matter. Now I can take this baseboard down into the hobby room and place items on it to see if everything will work as I envision it.
Reason 2. It's the January thaw! The past few years I've been building baseboards in the depths of winter when it's been in the low teens in the garage and the fluorescent lights have struggled to come on (and make funny noises when they do), and I've had the heater on at my feet and still had to come inside to warm up every 30 minutes. The joys of working in temps above freezing had to be celebrated. By heck! I even had a lighter weight jacket on and no hat to boot!
Now my woodworking skills are not the greatest but after some careful marking and cutting I ended up with this that you see below which will probably pass muster as the baseboard surface.
My first thought was.
"Oh my! It's much deeper than I thought, It's three foot four inches deep I didn't expect it to look like that"
My second thought was...
"Oh Ho ho! It's three foot four inches deep! Belter!"
I've always a wanted a layout with real depth too it ever since I first saw Barry Normans' "Petherick" (about half way down this linked page) at a model railway exhibition many years ago. Now here is my chance.
Both Barry Norman and Iain C. Rice have both espoused a layout presentation theory of 3:1 of length to depth this one at 5' 8" x 3' 4" isn't even 2:1 so it might look a bit unusual. But heck! It's a triangular baseboard anyway. So I'm breaking new ground there. Looking at it now it could have its depth reduced by six inches and still look pretty good.
That then, is it so far. I'm going to get my father-in-law to cut me some nice square straight 3" deep strips of 1/4" ply for the framework. Because he's a craftsman woodworker and has access to the equipment to do that sort of thing. To be honest though when I get them back I'm really quite undecided wether to use those 3" strips as "L" girders or with softwood spacers to make "Barry Norman" beams, where two strips of ply are spaced apart by small pieces of softwood to make a strong, lightweight beam.
Anyway thats a thought for another day. For now I can look at the baseboard and dream of what I want this layout to be...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Icicle Works

Some of you will have seen this already if you're on your toes.
Otherwise http://railwayeye.blogspot.com/2010/01/ice-to-see-you-to-see-you-ice.html
What I find fascinating is that the icicle is pretty much shaped to the loading gauge...

Exhibition news

It is somewhat remiss of me to forget to mention that Wingetts recycling my regular HO scale layout is now confirmed for the Granite City trainshow in Saint Cloud, MN on April 24th at the National Guard Armory.
The Granite City Train show is a very good show, one of the best that Minnesota has to offer. Those of you who are familiar with the layout and its accompanying blog will know that it is inspired by a Saint Cloud location I'm looking forward to attending and seeing if the residents recognise the inspiration.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sorry I no speak Ameri-can..

"England and America are two countries separated by the same language" So wrote George Bernard Shaw.
Never was that statement so true as today when I emailed Terry over at Lakeside Hobby wanting "Two Micro Engineering Code 75 points" for this layout.
When I got home from work there was a message on the answerphone (voicemail) waiting for me. He didn't know what I was talking about.
American railroads don't have points they have switches. On top of that the Mico Engineering switches I wanted are in Code 70. If I remember correctly I reckon I used to scratchbuild my switches/turnouts/points for my E.M.Gauge layouts from Code 75 bullhead rail. Very common place in England.
So now everything is sorted and two Micro Engineering Code 70 switches are on order...
To be honest though you'd think that after 11+ years of living here I'd have this sorted out by now.

Waves of Nostalgia

You never know what you're going to get from me here sometimes...
Today, a friend at work emailed me a link to the failed NBC TV series Supertrain.
I knew of this show though being English I had never seen anything of it because I don't believe it ever made its way to UK television screens.
What it prompted me to remember though was this. Casey Jones*. Starring Alan Hale Jnr.
"Casey Jones, Steamin' and a rollin'
Case Jones you never have to guess
When you hear the tootin' of the whistle
It's Casey at the throttle of the Cannonball Express"
The show was made in 1957-58 in good old black and white. No HDTV then. No colour either. The show must have been a good 10 years old when I saw it on the BBC during the school summer holidays along with shows like The Virginian and Branded. I remember Alan Hale Jnr. as a rather large, chubby, gentleman with his hat and big old engineers gloves on. Quite unlike the pictures of the real Casey Jones and he never met the same fate that I recall. But that is by the by.
It was one of my earliest exposures to railways and railroads the undoubted first is mentioned over there to the right in the about me section and in greater detail here.
Is it why I'm keen on US railroads? I doubt it. Casey never drove an SD70ACe or even an F-7. But it's there lurking in the back of my mind waiting to jump out at me...

*However when most Minnesotans think of "Casey Jones" they recall the lunchtime TV show "Lunch with Casey" that ran from 1954-1972 with Roger Awsumb as Casey Jones.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A proper plan!

So, with the sketch whizzing around in my head it was time to put pen to paper and try to work out how plan it out on a baseboard.
The first and most important thing for me these days is to avoid rectangular baseboards at all costs. I also knew that having watched the trains on the curve on Wingetts Recycling. I liked that and wanted to have that feature on the new layout too. The curve would have to be really generous working in P87. One thing lead to another and before I knew it I ended up with this triangular based scheme.
Quite how I came up with a triangular based layout I don't know though I have always been fascinated by Roy C Links Crowsnest Tramway and in particular the third incarnation which is would you believe it, is a triangular based plan. So that must have come back out of the depths of my mind to haunt me. So I just dropped my previous sketch into a triangular baseboard and everything seemed to fit quite nicely.
The numbers by the pointwork indicate the frog size and hand (6L is 1 in 6 left hand) the 6L's will be converted Micro Engineering points, the 5R will be built from one of my Proto87 stores kits, though of my turnout building fails there is plenty of room there to replace it with a 6R. The two sidings disappearing off to the right will enable me to load and unload cars in the loading shed and fill up a woodchip car by the loader. All in all the layout is about 5'9" long by 2'4" deep or thereabouts. For a Mk1. its a pretty good start.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

ExactRail Concern

Concern runs through the body of the Protocrastinator this morning.
Yesterday saw the releaase of the HO scale Thrall gondola model in a variety of liveries.
I wanted one in the Railgon livery. I like Railgons as much as Railboxes. There are less of them on the railroads and as a consequence are more difficult to see.
ExactRail models are superb. The best there are. I suppose its a testament to their quality that they sell out so quickly.
I placed an order with Terry to get me one last weekend. I hope he managed to get one...
Update: No he didn't. Terry is rather frustrated that as a retailer he can't even get hold of the stock. Me? I'll have to keep looking...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine

About time I put in a good word for Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine. It's a Model Railroad magazine with a difference.
It's free! Totally and utterly free.
It's an e-zine (I do so loathe these "e" prefixed phrases that signify intenet content myself but I have to move with the times) So it is a magazine that you download from the internet. With all the advantages that the internet and modern computer trickery can throw at you. Direct links to the advertisers website for example.
Have you ever looked at the pictures in a model railway magazine and thought.
"That looks neat I wish I could see it working". Now you can. For the "e-zine" has video in there too. A quick click and you can see a video of a train running on someone's layout. Want to see that working colour light signal work? Click and there you go it changes from Red to Green.
It is a great magazine, though it can be a bit strange at first when you compare the experience to that of looking through Model Railroader for example. I'm still not entirely used to it myself. But it is well worth a read and in these environmentally conscious days just think how many trees you're saving by having a magazine on your hard drive. Not to mention how easy the back issues are to store!
I like Model Railroad Hobbyist. I recommend that you take a look yourself.

Interesting Video

The following video at the link below came to my attention.
For those of you who think that finescale layouts are slow running layouts that have trouble with stock staying on the track. This video of the "Mostyn" P4 (the finescale version of 4mm scale -British 00 scale) layout disproves all that.
The trackwork is excellent and the running is outstanding. There is nothing more to say.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Rev.Peter Denny

I am saddenned to report the passing of the Rev. Peter Denny age 92. Railway modeller and pioneer of finescale railway modelling.
His EM gauge Buckingham Great Central layout was an inspiration to us all who aspired to "go beyond the train set". I would encourage any of my American friends who read this blog to Google him and find pictures of his Buckingham Great Central layout. This is a layout that was started some 60 years ago. His influence on the Hobby in the UK can be compared to John Allen and his Gorre and Daphetid Railroad layout.
He was a founder member of the EM Gauge Society.
I can still remember how taken I was by the pictures of his Buckingham Great Central in one of the first issues of the UK magazine "Railway Modeller" that I bought in the late 70's. The layout had everything, detail and atmosphere.
Reflections of the man and his legend will fill the model railwaying internet soon from people more knowledgeable about him than I.
I'm just going to remember a very influential modeller. If anything I ever saw in his layout has manifested itself in my approach to modelling, then I'm very happy and I'm sure he would be happy that he ideas were being taken up too.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Reliability test.

I've just taken delivery of some Micro Engineering Code 70 flex track from Terry at Lakeside Hobby. As soon as I got home I joined up some lengths of track either side of the P87's turnout to see if it really did work properly and didn't derail the P87'd boxcar. I'm pleased to say that the car went through both roads of the turnout time and again in both directions.
Score one more confidence building point to my abilities.

Another Plan

Since the idea of a logging line crossed my mind the other day my mind has been somewhat busy coming up with ideas. That the concept should be centered around an inglenook track plan was a given. How I should present it was the problem. The Hull Oaks sawmill featured at Dawson Station has an inglenook track layout. So I started there. I also wanted to operate a diesel logging loco conversion of sorts so I needed a seperate logging line in there as well. This started off as just a seperate unconnected line at the back that just ran to the rear of the sawmill building. I envisioned a converted SW1500 with a couple of flat cars running along there the loaded cars would disappear behind the building to reappear empty and head out again.
"None to exciting" I felt as the music of Phillip Glass started to play in my head...
Once I connected the single logging line at the back to the mainline railroad at the front things happened...
This then is the Sawmill of R. Scend of Nowhere, Minnesota. (Some Brits may well have burst out laughing as they said that to themselves and trust me it is totally and utterly intentional). There really is a Nowhere in the state of Minnesota and it was established for the logging industry too. Once I discovered the name Nowhere I just had to use it.
Back to the trackplan. A 5-3-3 inglenook at the front is linked to the single logging line at the rear in front of the building entrance. This would enable the logging loco to work the inglenook too. There would be a lot for it to do as well with switching the lumber cars and pulling a car through the wood chip loader that you can see at the end of the middle siding.
Operation would be sort of like this. The mainline railroad would bring a selection of cars into the front siding where it could either switch them about in a typical "inglenook game" or it could leave them for the logging line loco to work. Otherwise the logging loco would shuttle along the rear siding bringing flat cars loaded with lumber into the building and taking empty ones up into the forest.
So lots to do on such a simple trackplan and with a name like this one. It would be too much to pass up.
Wouldn't it?

Extreme Close Up!

Wifey does like to sleep in of a morning at the weekends. I, unfortunately, do not. So with Lorrie still firmly ensconced in her slumber. I headed into the model railway room to finish off the conversion of the Micro Engineering Turnout I had started a few days earlier. This time I added the rest of the guard rail clamps. This task was much easier the second time around. I think it must be a case of experience revealing a passable technique. Buoyed on by this success I added the frog bolt head detail. This is just a plastic strip of bolt head detail the you can just superglue onto the rail side. That was all the detailing for the frog that comes with the ME turnout. There is still some detailing to add at the switchrail end. This is what it looks like. (bear in mind these are extreme closeups of a first attempt)
Above: Here you can easily make out the added detailing. The guard rail clamps and the frog bolt head details.
Above: This for me is what its all about. Scale clearances. This is a scale model of a turnout. Not some half-arsed mass produced attempt at a model turnout. The close up does make some of the rail alignment look bad but a P87 truck does run though it OK. I will be testing further to see how reliable it is.
Some of it looks a bit clumsy my supergluing technique needs some work but I expect that will come with experience. But once again my confidence eases up a notch.
Still a bit more work to do. With some work on the switching end of the turnout. Plus I do have some P87 stores superdetailing to add as well.

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's fiddlier than T scale!

New Years day and I start the year the way I mean to go on. Wifey was still in the land of nod when I awoke at 7:30 or so.
Looking for something to do I decided to work on my ME turnout conversion. When I left it on Wednesday I had run a truck through the frog just to see if it would work. This morning I fixed the frog in place with some CA. I then added the guard rails.
To my delight my LBF railbox runs through this turnout perfectly. A HUGE confidence booster. Next comes the work of adding the details. This is going to be a long job methinks. In the time I had available to me I only added the guard rail clamps. This was a rather interesting task. I have modelled in T scale so I know a thing or three about gluing fiddly small pieces of plastic together. But this was a bit more difficult than I expected. I just couldn't find the right tweezers for the task of putting the clamps in place and believe me I have a goodly selection of tweezers. Angled, bevelled, needle point none seemed perfect for the task. I muddled though though and got four of the eight in place before brekkers called. I'll try some more later.
Confidence is building though with every tiny piece that I successfully add. I think that the P87 idea was a good one.