Sunday, February 28, 2010

More Links

Today I've expanded the links substantially to help you on your way sourcing models, parts, scenery details etc for North American model railroads, which are not always that easy to find in the UK and the rest of Europe.  If there are any you feel are worthy of inclusion in this list, let me know and I'll gladly add them.
I will still add some more in the future as I still have more to put in the list, but this should get you going :-)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Western Union photo impressions


I decided to add a column of useful links to the blog. I have loads more to add which I will do in the near future, but for now I hope you find these helpful. I intend to cover as many aspects as I can, and I do not endorse any of the commercial companies that you may find here, but having them in one place may help you find what you are looking for.

Friday, February 26, 2010

First run

Today, I continued with some wiring on my layout to the point that I was able to run the first loco for a few meters. I used the one with the shortest wheel base to find any spots where the power pick up isn't great, and I did find a few places where it's not too reliable yet, so more feeder wires to be soldered on still. This is the ideal moment to do so, as later when track is painted and ballasted it is a lot trickier.
On the picture, my Proto 2000 North Eastern SW1200 locomotive is heading straight for the camera lens...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Paints, airbrushes etc

Model railroading is a hobby with many sides, and you have to be a bit of a jack of all trades.  Modeling an American prototype comes with it's own challenges, particularly if you are based in Europe, like me.
There's all sorts of fantastic articles on the web and magazines and referring to several great products, only to find that they are sometimes hard to get on this side of the pond. My current task (among others) is trying to locate a few sources that supply the railroad colour range of Testors paints. More precise their Floquil Poly S paints. I found one shop so far that has a fair selection in stock, but as luck should always have it, there are a few not listed that I need. (not listed means out of stock in this case), this is Model Junction based in Slough UK. A great shop, but I'm looking for alternative sources, simply because I don't want to have to wait weeks for a simple bottle of paint for them to order it in the US I'd like to have a few sources so that if one doesn't have it, someone else may do and I can keep going with my modeling in a reasonable time frame. Seems only fair right? If you know of any others in the UK, be sure to let me know via a comment here, and share it with others. A similar issue I'm having currently with my airbrush. Mine is a DeVilbiss. I hadn't used it for years and now I'm preparing for that again, but what has happened here? DeVilbiss has specialised in paint guns for the automotive industry, and sold most of their airbrush production to a chinese company who still markets them under the same name, but the quality is reportedly not quite the same. Mine is a pre take over model. Anyway, so finding parts, hoses and other accessories for these is proving hard too, not in the least because there are several different manufacturers that use different fittings , couplings etc on their hoses and I'm not entirely sure what I have on mine...  So another challenge here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wiring up

As mentioned in the last post, I was in the process of wiring up the layout. One yard is now done. I've soldered wires directly to the rail, and used a little extra flux (available from your DIY store or plumbing supply) to make the solder flow easier and reducing the time the soldering iron is in contact with the rail, and thus preventing the plastic ties to melt. As ever with work like this, use caution, follow all safety precautions (solder is hot, flux is an irritant, so ventilate the space well) by their respective manufacturers, and I do not accept any liability. Rather than taking pics etc, here's a little video I found on Youtube, that explains it very well, and is very similar to my method, although I prefer using multiple strand wire as opposed to the solid strand used in this video, made by Paul Aziz from Lebanon, Oregon.   

Progress on the layout.

My California Northern layout is seeing some slow progress at the moment. About 90% of the track is laid, and I've started piercing holes through the roadbed next to the tracks to feed wiring through. I'm using PECO code 75 track with 'electrofrog' turnouts. This means that insulated rail joiners have to be used as these type of turnouts have a tendency to short out the lines if thrown. There are ways around it by cutting wires on the bottom etc of these, but then you'll need to wire up these turnouts and use switches etc. As mine are going to be hand thrown for simplicity and as they're all within my reach, I have decided to leave these wire bridges in place. It does mean however that a few additional electrical connection points are needed throughout the yards etc, making that job a little more tedious. Then again, it will improve electrical connections, and making it more reliable once I switch to DCC.
Here's a pic of one of the yards just before I started the wiring job.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

North Eastern Locomotive Works?

Here is a line up of most of my locomotives that need work doing. Visible are:

North Eastern RR GP38-2 (needs DCC+sound and some cosmetic repairs)
2x UP GE 44-9W (need super detailing, weathering and DCC+sound fitted (in only one of the units for now, the other is a dummy))
A CF7 , which will be painted in new North Eastern colours and also needs motorising, detailing, DCC etc.
Lastly and only just visible is a GP35, which will be painted in UP colours, and detailing and weathering done. It already has a DCC decoder, but will get swapped in the future for a better decoder with sound.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Making the switch

No I'm not trying to convince you to swap your Windows PC to a Mac (although it would be a good decision :-) ) It's about going from DC to DCC. I've been pondering this for ages. All my loco's (except my latest GP35) are DC models, which I bought before DCC really took off. in addition, my modelrailroad hobby stood still for a while due to various circumstances, but I've started again, and I now find myself digging through the overwhelming choices of DCC systems and terminology that I am still a little alien too. However, thanks to being an NMRA member, and meeting other model railroaders recently, I've had the opportunity to 'play' hands on with a variety of systems. I've had some hands on fun with Lenz (the inventors of DCC), Digitrax, and a bachmann set. There are many others available, but I have to say that the Lenz system makes the best impression, particularly on the build quality. The components have a very proffesional feel to them. The Digitrax system seem to use standard PCB mounted switches which just poke through holes on the relatively cheap feeling (but sturdy enough) hand set. However Digitrax has the advantage of having dedicated keys for functions like bells and whistles etc, which makes access to those a bit easier. Also digitrax uses a faster communication protocol between the components that make up their DCC system, so that could be an advantage on very large or complex layouts. In the real world however, on the average layout these differences will be totally acceptable and won't stand in the way of railroad fun.
So, unless I come accros an offer that is too good to miss out on, I'm saving up for a Lenz DCC system for my home layout. I've always been sensitive to quality over quantity, and while the Digitrax and others certainly are very good systems, I prefer Lenz. It's as personal as choosing a car or PC probably. I'll keep you posted once I've bought my system.

Installing grab irons

I mentioned using a pin vise in an earlier post. Along with a pin vise, you may want to consider getting one of these great drill templates from BLMA models (BLMA MODELS ). This video tells the story.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tools of the trade

Just thought to report on my latest purchases, which are a Tamiya Pin vise, and a set of HSS twist drills starting at 0.3mm and up.
I have several locomotives for which I've been collecting detail parts etc, and am planning to start detailing these soon. Once I do, I will make plenty pictures so you can see the progress.
Why am I mentioning these tools? For those that are wanting to take the plunge and do some detailing, but were afraid to, or had some unsuccessful attempts, a good model starts with good tools. Drilling these very small holes for a variety of details can't be done with an electric drill. These usually turn way too fast, resulting in either the drill or the plastic, or both to overheat and melt, bend etc. A pin vise is a hand tool, the size of a jewelers screwdriver, and the drilling is done by hand, by gently turning and twisting the drill so that there's no heat build up etc. It is slower of course, but this isn't a speed contest, it's about accuracy. So get yourself a pin vise and good miniature drills. It's worth it.
The loco's I have on the detailing list are: 2x Union Pacific C44-9W, 1x NE CF7, 1x UP GP 35. I will probably start with the CF7, depending on which loco I've got all the parts for first. (some are on back order.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ballasting track

Model railroader Denny Turani from Italy, posted a great clear video on ballasting track.
He demonstrates his technique in this video posted on his Vimeo account, where he shows you how he did it on his N scale Southern Pacific layout.
I believe its one of the clearest yet simplest video's on the subject I've seen so far, and wanted to share it here with you too.

How to ballast and weather N scale track from Denny on Vimeo.

Western Union video

Here is a video taken with an 'onboard' camera, mounted on a gondola directly behind the switcher engine (in this case a UP GP15) during the meeting on Feb 13th 2010. Quite shockingly, yours truly is also visible in some of the shots, and reminds me why a career in movies is probably not for me. :-) Video shot and posted by Mike Ruby.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Beautiful model bridge

Bridge over Gila River Canyon. Build by a group of Dutch model builders, and shown here on it's public debut at the Rodgau US convention in Germany. The modules are of the european FREMO-USA standard. Video by Leon Honings, aka ChiefDeadFrog.

Nice railroad video

Here a video of US modelrailroading on European US standard FREMO (not to be confused by FREEMO) modules. Video shot by a friend of mine Leon Honings from the Netherlands. See his site (mostly in the dutch language) The sound is dubbed in, it doesn't come from the actual models. Unfortunately sound is still a little difficult and usually sounds more squelchy due to the small speakers build into the loco's. In this video a trio of SP SD'9s pulling a local freight.

Western Union Meet Feb 13th

I attended the monthly meet of the Western Union group which I reported on before, yesterday. Had fun working together with others to run a long coal train with helper engines in the middle and at the rear. Lead units were two Rio Grande EMD's SD45's if my memory serves me well, while the helpers were a mix of Southern Pacific and Cotton Belt SD45's and SD40-2T's. Unfortunately a dirty lens of a camera prevented more pictures to be made, but here's a pic of a set of helpers, awaiting the coal train arrival in Anson. Photo credits go to Brian Moore.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bit of trouble with the blog

Just an unrelated brief post, but it seems the blog doesn't work well. If you find it not accessible then check back later as I may be doing maintenance on it, among others the web counter has stopped working, which is a bit strange. May replace it with another one. Thanks for your patience.
More railroad related postings coming soon, attended the monthly meet of the Western Union today, and had fun running a long coal train with helper engines both in the middle and the rear of the train. All DCC controlled of course and radio head sets used for communication between the engineers and dispatcher.

Friday, February 12, 2010

California Northern

Let me introduce my own layout (under construction). I called it California Northern as I want it to be set in the mid to northern part of California, the UP being the class 1 railroad in the area, but with my freelance shortline railroad being the main operator on my layout.
It's a switching layout, which I chose to do due to the limited space available, and want to try and make it a believable scene, not too much crammed into a small place, but leaving sufficient space for scenery, to create a nice balanced look. The temptation to cram in loads of track is often a 'mistake' that many make, but it also depends on your priorities, and in that respect there is no right or wrong. This is just how I planned it.
Some inspiration for this layout came from seeing how Lance Mindheim build his 'East Rail' Miami inspired switching layout. You can see his layout at Lance Mindheim dot com . Another source of inspiration is the work of Pele Soeeborg from Denmark. " His layout can be found at Pele Soeeborg/my hobby . I've got some of their books too for plenty of great tips and instructions. See their websites for more info.

The picture shows my track plan, click on it for a larger version.

The Snow fighting equipment

Here is a nice youtube video showing the snow fighting equipment in the title picture.
Credits go to all that build the equipment, and posted the video.

The title picture

The title picture shows part of the layout of a model railroad group I am a member off.
This is the Western Union group, based in Plymouth UK, and is a division of the NMRA-BR (british region).
It shows the loco service facilities on which a pair of Southern Pacific SD9's are being serviced.
These SD's are equipped with snow fighting equipment and are coupled to a scratch build snowplow car. Passing by is my freelanced North Eastern GP38-2 with a local mixed freight.

For more on the Western Union, go to: The Western Union
More on the NMRA-BR can be found at: NMRA-BR.

Welcome to my new blog

I've got a few hobbies, one of them is model railroading. I find it a relaxing and creative way of spending my time. While I'm living in Europe, my interest goes towards North American prototypes, hence the name of this blog.
On here I will post progress about my own layout, hope to include a few how to's over time, and share model rail road content I find around the net and other sources that I find are interesting to share and enjoy. I hope you'll like it too.
I may end up posting biased articles, but that's the point of a blog, it's a personal account, so it is likely to reflect the things that I like.
Enough already, hope you will enjoy this blog. :-)