Friday, December 31, 2010


The new year is almost upon us, and hopefully will bring all that you wish for. I'm not going to make any new year resolutions as they're hard to keep, I find. (still trying to lose a few pounds gained on the christmas dinner). However, I will try and keep the frequency of blog updates up a bit better than I managed during this year, particularly sept and oct were slow, but that was due to work commitments.

At present, it looks like a good year for model railroaders. Several new products, have been announced by the leading manufacturers . Just to name a few:
Athearn announced the GE U50 locomotives, SD45's in the Genesis range, as well as trucks with UPS paint schemes etc.
Exactrail has announced a great looking model of the C50-7 caboose (so has Athearn). I've ordered an Exactrail version, and as soon as I take delivery I will post a review of the model on this blog.
Walthers is shipping it's series of kits and railroad cars for their scrapyard theme, of which I also ordered some parts, including two gondola's in their Platinum range, which are their highest detailed cars yet, look out for a review on those too.
Overland models will be shipping beautiful  (but pricey) models of the NRE genset locomotives, they're outside my price range, but they are beautiful nonetheless.
Rapido trains should be very close in shipping their Canadian F9's, as well as re-engineered  Fairbank Morse C-liners.
Atlas is announcing the GP39-2 model in HO in various paint schemes, as well as several freight cars in both HO and N.
That's just the tip of the iceberg.
Wishes I have too, personally top of the list for me would be a release of the Athearn GP15-1 in California Northern livery. All it takes is a paint job, the correct loco is already in their production in the form of the CN&W shell with the correct nose gong bell. Let's hope someone from Athearn is reading this :-)
Let's also keep fingers crossed for more (affordable) steam loco models, and a personal wish is more US sedan car and pick up truck models in HO and N of the 70's, 80's and 90's, or re-releases of them. (Chevy Caprice Classic, Saturns, Chrysler Neons etc etc). I particularly like the 'ordinary' models, the one you'd see on the streets every day, not just some exotic dream car or classic. Adding more of the ordinary, will make your model railroad look much more realistic.

In any case, Happy New Year, and happy 'model' railroading!

 PS: If you're a manufacturer or suppliers and would like to have a model/product reviewed on this blog, feel free to write me, or send me a sample (I will return them of course, should you require that). :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

VERY small parts

In our everlasting quest to add details to our model railroads, some people stop at nothing.
Besides offering some fine quality structure kits, Vector Cut also offers HO scale tools, and consumables like HO scale nuts and bolts, as well as HO scale hot dogs, donuts, hamburgers etc. Very small parts, and very nice too. I guess this does require a steady hand in assembly though...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Switchlist Generator for Mac OSX

If you like switching, or need a way to generate switch lists for your layout, have a look at Switchlist
This little program runs natively on the Mac, although it requires Mac OSX 10.5 Leopard as a minimum.
Those running older versions of OSX (like myself) can't use it, although my wife has a Mac book that runs Leopard, so when she's not looking I'll install it on there.
Be quick to download this little app, as I am not sure how much longer the website will be live. I believe that Apple plans to drop support to their older website hosting systems, and it appears that this is one is hosted as such, I could be wrong though.  Anyway, give it a shot!

UPDATE: THE SITE MENTIONED ABOVE WILL REMAIN ACTIVE, see the comment to this post by the author of the program!.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Railflyer Model Prototypes products

Railflyer Model Prototypes, a relatively new company (well compared to the usual ones anyway) focusses on making diesel detailing parts and in the very near future complete locomotive kits, has just released the following message. I can tell from pictures etc I've seen that their products look very promising, and are extremely well detailed and prototypical correct.
Here's their latest news. 


We received some new test shots for the Clean Air Room Bases and Stanchions this week, images can be found on their website/blog. At this point the tooling on the Clean Air Room bases is almost finished, a bit more to do the stanchions but both are in pretty good shape. At this point we're sending another 30% deposit on each to start the final phases of tooling to get them production ready.

The Clean Air Room Bases are MK 5000 and MK 5001. They are a plastic base that works with our Clean Air Room Sides to give you an extremely accurate replica that matches the unit you want to build. Our initial batch of sides have also gone to our supplier and will be available soon.

MK 5000 works for the GP35, GP38, GP39, GP40, GP15-1, GP38-2, GP39-2 (Including Late Phases), GP40-2, and GP50.

MK 5001 is good for the SD38, SD39, SD40, SD45, SD38-2, SD40-2, and SD45-2.

The sides are MK 5002 – 5014. They are multi-layer photo-etched kits with door latch and cab step detail included.

Our speakers, SK-8701 will be here this coming week. They are 16.5MM X 47MM X 7MM and sound amazing with great clarity and no “Tin” like noise.

We also have restocks on photo-etch, and a new revision in our GMDD SD Dash 2 Tread-plates arriving soon.

Don't forget we completely restocked our Ditch Lights and received our new Salem Filters this summer. The new SMD LED's have also been moving well.

So the main point of this update is that we need a very strong sales push over the next two weeks. We have firm quotes on our new Fans (GP9 – SD70), two Hoods (GP38-2/SD38-2, GP40/40-2, SD40/40-2), and four Dynamic Brake Options. With this information in hand we are approaching a lender but we'll need to cover 25% of the cost ourselves. The help now gets the first complete hood options our for our kits and ensures the arrival of these projects in the next few months. After we get the hoods ready to go, the next aim is the Spartan Cabs and Drive/Trucks along with more details.

Anything you guys can do for us is greatly appreciated, we're trying very hard to get the best possible product out ASAP.

All the best,

Christopher Howard
Railflyer Model Prototypes Inc.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Model Railroad X-mass story

Here's a poem, written by Randy, aka 'River Run', forum owner of 'The Diesel Detailer'. It's a great poem that I thought deserved to get more exposure, so here it is, enjoy, and WELL DONE RANDY!.

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through my pike,
Not a steamer was stirring, not even a Mike.
My yard tracks invitingly empty and bare,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The diesels were nestled all snug in their sheds,
While visions of DCC danced in their heads.
While I, in my blue-and-white engineer's cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When down in the train room, there rose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the basement I flew like an ace,
Tripped over the cat and fell flat on my face.

I stifled a curse meant for Chessie (the cat),
And I muttered to no one, "I meant to do that,"
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But an HO-scale sleigh and eight Preiser reindeer,

With an engineer driving, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than GG-1's, onward they came,
And he blew a steam whistle and called them by name:

"On Athearn! On Lionel, Kato and Walthers!
On Kadee and Micro-Trains, Atlas and others!
To the top of the mountains of Hydrocal plaster,
Now dash away, dash away, dash away faster!"

As dry leaves that behind a new Genesis fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So in through the window the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of trains, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, on my roundhouse, I saw on the roof
The prints in the dust of each HO-scale hoof.
As I drew a deep breath, and was turning around,
From beneath the benchwork, St. Nick came with a bound.

He was dressed like an engineer from head to foot,
And his clothes had that fine smell of ashes and soot;
A bundle of trains he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes - just like marker lights! Dimples, how merry!
His cheeks like a Warbonnet, nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And his beard was so white, it would please Phoebe Snow.

He puffed on a pipe as he refilled its bowl,
And the smoke, it smelled just like bituminous coal.
He had a broad face and a belly (I found)
That shook like a tank car with wheels out-of-round.

He was chubby and plump, and I wanted to shout,
"Yes! The man's got a route the UP can't buy out!"
A wink of his eye as he passed near the door
Soon gave me to know I'd have freight cars galore.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work.
He filled all my yard tracks; then turned with a jerk,
And leaving an airbrush he'd found on eBay,
And giving a nod, he returned to his sleigh.

He pumped up the brakes, blew two blasts on his whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Top Model Railroad site

I'm glad to report that this blog is now part of the Top Model Railroad sites. A click on the link will bring you to the website, where you can find many other sites to link to. All so you can enjoy this hobby even more. So have a look!

SP model railroad action.

Here's another great video! Notice the prototypical speeds when the train is moving, this is one thing were layouts often fail, the trains are going too fast! Not in this case, very convincing and very smooth too. The only thing I would have liked to see a bit better is the acceleration, a bit too fast for my liking but once running, it looks very good.  A nice example on how it should be done.  The author is commenting on the sound difference on between a QSI and Tsunami decoder. While I can't comment on that yet, there is a difference audible, the GP20 has the Tsunami and sounds a little 'tinnier', it doesn't have the low end rumble of the other engines.  I am wondering though if it has something to do with the speaker used, and the way it is mounted inside the engine, and how much space it has (on the F unit, the hood is much wider, so can have a positive impact on the sound, there's potentially more air to displace, which makes the low end frequencies more pronounced. (a bit like big or small hifi speakers )

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Oldie from the shoebox

Digging through some old files on my computer (it was time for a clean up), I found this old picture of two of my freelance locos in action on my previous layout. The picture is about 12 years old. I thought I'd share it as I like it. At the time my layout was set in the mountain regions of Pennsylvania where my freelance railroad "North Eastern RR' had trackage rights on part of the PRR system.  Here's GP38-2 1623 (ex SP) leading GP9 1407 (ex UP) on a local freight.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Archive work

It helps to shop around :-) I am a member of a couple of model railroad forums, and sometimes some useful tips or help can be found there. I was looking for information on how to obtain drawings of the station building I want to build. To make a long story short, I eventually got in touch with the City of Davis, who were very kind to send me pdf drawings of the station building. I couldn't have asked for more. City archives, and historical societies are the places to contact if you're after drawings and other information when you're modeling something that isn't for sale.  The pic shows a snapshot of the drawings received, I'm reposting it here in general interest, and don't intent to break any copyright laws etc. Should I need to remove it, I will do so.

Model Railroad Tips

To kick of December, here's a nice little video on how to paint a boxcar (part 1). The author has a nice website too. Check it out.