Archive for the ‘Building’ Category

Scratchbuilding a Shed

Sunday, November 17th, 2013
A mostly completed end wall.

A mostly completed end wall.

Building models using a minimum of commercial parts or set directions is often referred to as scratchbuilding. Anyone who is building a model railroad that closely follows a specific prototype location will need to scratchbuild a number of structures to capture the look and feel of the real place. In some cases, commercial models can be modified and altered to represent an actual structure but those instances are infrequent. Scratchbuilding has challenged many model railroaders over the years. The fear of failing or messing up a project inhibits many modelers. I think all model railroaders should attempt at least one scratchbuilt structure. I recently finished two small buildings and learned new skills in the process. Click on any image here to review a large size. Let’s take a look at one of these projects.

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Upcoming Prototype Modeler Events

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

RPM-East proto meet logo

It’s been a busy start to a new year as a new job has kept me busy and has slowed progress on the layout project. I’m also helping to spread the word for an upcoming prototype modeler meet. RPM-East will be held March 22 & 23, 2013 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh. I’ve been attending RPM-East events since the first one in 2001. These are wonderful events packed with many interesting prototype and model presentations. The setting is informal and it’s easy to get into a discussion with others. I think I’ve learned just as much in the model display room as I have in the presentations!

Speaking of models, there will be a few hundred on display. I captured many of the 2011 display models as digital images and I’m looking forward to seeing more in just a few weeks.

If you have the time and some extra hobby funds, I encourage you to spend a few days in Greensburg, PA at RPM-East. It’s a great way to recharge your model railroad inspiration. I’ll be coming in from Texas to soak it all in and give a presentation. If you go, flag me down and say hello.

If you can’t get to RPM-East, there are a number of these events held around the country. The Western Prototype Modeler meet is April 13. The New England and Northeast meet is May 31 and June 1. The Northeastern Fallen Flags meet will be held in late September.

1920s Era Freight Car Model Guide

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

After a few months of discussions with several model railroad friends, I began developing a list of available plastic HO scale freight car models that are suitable for use on a model railroad set in the 1920s. I had several of the models on hand and took pictures to illustrate this freight car guide. I’ve posted the info as a separate page of this blog, so the link will always be in the list at the top of the column to the right.

While all of these models represent prototype freight car designs in-use or introduced in the 1920s, not all of these can be used for the full decade. I am focused on November 1926, which limits my use of a freight car prototype introduced in 1927 or later. I’ve also noticed that some freight car hardware was introduced just after my modeling period. Prototypes equipped with Dreadnaught steel ends or Youngstown corrugated steel doors are often crossed off of my wish list. Some may say I am too picky, but I actually enjoy fine-tuning my purchasing so the freight car fleet “looks right” to my eye.

Again, the link is to the right, or just click here and review a guide to 1920s era HO scale plastic freight cars. Drop a note below if you are so moved. Please follow the directions of the anti-spam program when you leave your comment. All comments are reviewed and approved before they appear here.

Four Months of Progress

Monday, December 31st, 2012
team track yard

A view of the four tracks of the Wheeling, WV team yard. A B&O E-24 class 2-8-0 is spotting cars on track four. This location is in the upper right corner of the plan posted below.

I just wrapped up the installation of some feeder wires on a layout section and I wondered exactly when I began this project. A quick review of the time stamps on the photos I’ve taken reveals an August 31st start date for the first two benchwork sections. My wife and I moved to El Paso on July 3rd, and I posted about surveying the new hobby space on August 3rd. A few weeks of design contemplation and the sawdust began to fly August 31st.

And here we are with about 85% of the track installed, buss wires installed on all layout sections, and feeder wires installed on four of the eight sections. In the plan below, all that remains to install are a few tracks at the freight house on the left leg of the layout. Click on the image to review a larger version.

A scale drawing of the B&O freight terminal layout design.

I had a goal to operate by January 1st. A digital command control system is still a few weeks away from installation, so a real session will have to wait. Until then, a nine volt battery provides the power to move a locomotive and a string of cars. I’ve already worked out a few methods to switch seven or eight freight cars in the team track yard and it’s been lots of fun watching the trains glide smoothly along the trackwork. Am I cheating? I’ll leave that up to you, but remember I am pulling and spotting freight cars with a locomotive. The fun I have with a simple nine volt battery encourages more layout progress.

Your comments are encouraged. All comments are reviewed and approved before they appear here.

Happy New Year to all!

Beginnings

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

 1978 layout.

I was reorganizing boxes of hobby materials and other ephemera the other day and I came across a box of old photographs. A few loose pictures caught my eye and I thumbed through a small stack. Among those were several images of my first HO scale layout. The image above shows the overall scope of the project. Click on it to see a larger version. My father had a 4×8 table built at a local lumber yard and we built a plan from an Atlas plan book of John Armstrong designs.

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