Wednesday, June 1, 2016

RPM time again

Just a quick plug for my buddy Dave Owens and his NERPM which is coming up this weekend. It's in a new location this year in Enfield Ct. I'll be giving my Tails From the Helix clinic on Saturday night. 

Check out the website for more info at:

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A crisis of faith and deadlines..

I have to be blunt and honest: Updates have been slow in coming here because I've been searching my heart whether to continue on with this layout or move onto something else.  There are a few problems I'm having trouble fixing, some personal issues that need resolving, and a growing interest in other areas of the hobby that have been effecting my desire to keep moving forward with the Ma & Pa layout.  Long time readers of this blog know I have an affinity for getting sidetracked.  Lately my interest in traction has been blossoming up, and I actual have picked up a few traction models.  I might try my hand in building a small test module to see if I can handle the trolley wire and special track work.  Proto 87 Stores has a bunch of neat products that promises to make it easier to model traction.  All this has played a big roll in sidetracking me from the layout which in turn has me wondering if I should continue with it.

So I've taken the last few weeks off from doing anything on, or thinking about the layout, and also the planning of the test section traction layout.  In the interim I had a chance to run again after a few month's absence on my friend Ted Pamperin's steam era C&O and I took the hostler's job.  I enjoyed doing that as a change from my usual assignment of running the west end of Hinton Yard. I marveled at the steam power big and small and that in turn re-lit a small fire in me to work on the layout as it exists now.  So with the small kick in the ass of inspiration Ted's layout gave me along with the deadline of the joint GSD/NJ Division meet coming up this Saturday in Wall NJ (The Ma & Pa will be open from 1-5pm for the layout tour) I actually cleaned up and organized the layout space, and did some scenery work in Yoe.  

As you can see I finished the basic ground cover on the helix and hopefully I'll be testing out the static grass gun soon.

If you are free this weekend I suggest heading to Wall and participating in the joint meet.  It's usually one of the best meets of the year for both divisions.

GSD Spring Meet
May 14th, 2016
We're having another dual meet with the NJD
and will take place at InfoAge in Camp Evans
2201 Marconi Rd,
Wall Township NJ 07719

This is the location of the Garden State Central Model RR Club.

Clinics & Meeting: 9am to 12 noon
Layouts 1-5pm.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

"The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." Mark Twain

We just returned from our West Coast trip which took us on a Pacific voyage from San Francisco, down the coast of California to Ensenada Mexico, and back to San Francisco.  It was a nice relaxing itinerary, though the weather was chilly for California and Mexico, consistently in the low 60's with temps in the low 50's at night even in Mexico.

Despite it's short comings in it's political state, California is beautiful and it's real hard to justify why I live in NJ when there is such a beautiful place to live like CA.  Santa Barbara was stunning, peaceful and relaxing, and I loved San Diego too.  I was able to visit the La Mesa Club at the San Diego MR Museum and pictures do not do justice to what they have accomplished there. One of the members invited me into the layout and I was able to take a lot of great pictures.  If there is interest I'll share some here in the near future.

San Francisco was the crown jewel of the trip.  Cable cars were fun to ride but the thing RR wise that got me excited was the vintage PCC trolley cars of the F Line.  Being a closet traction and trolley fan I was having a blast photographing the various cars painted for the lines they came from.  One of my favorites was a Red Arrow car from Philly and of course the Newark City Subway car painted in original Public Service paint scheme.  Again, I know this is a blog about my Ma & Pa RR layout and you're expecting an update, so I hesitate to post the pics here but if there is interest, I will do so.


I gave a clinic at the Valley Forge RPM in Malvern PA two weekends ago.  In a break from my usual update on the layout clinic I did one on building helixes, and specifically my backbone helix.  There was Ma & Pa content in the clinic as I covered how I model the town of Yoe on the outer loops of the helix.  I had pictures of how I've done the scenery there.  It was a great weekend catching up with many friends and especially nice to see Dick Bradley and Art Kuperstein again!  

There is a open house coming up in May during the next NJ Division NMRA meet so I need to kick things into gear and get the layout cleaned up and more progress done before then.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Gong Hey Fat Choy! Congratulations and be prosperous!

Gong Hey Fat Choy!  Congratulations and be prosperous! 

Another year has come and gone.  As my family gathers and reflects on our blessings from the past year I wish you and your family Happy Chinese New Year!  

We had our New Years Eve dinner and celebration last night a day early because most everyone had Super Bowl plans for today, which is the actual eve.  We had 20 people at dinner at one of favorite local restaurant, and later everyone came to our house for a round of mahjong and coffee, tea and desert.  My sister in law and her kids went down to the basement to check out the layout.  My nephew Quintin was fascinated and he and his sister Claudia got to run some trains.  I may have planted the model railroad bug in him. ;)

Gong Hey Fat Choy!  Congratulations and be prosperous! Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water. Carl Reiner

2+ feet of snow here in NJ.  Where's Heat Miser when you need him.  Well when you are snowed in what do you do?  Write a long overdue blog post that's what you do!  So here is a few shots of various projects happening on the Ma & Pa:

Progress on my kitbash of Mitzel Bros. Coal in York.  Some detail work, weathering, plus another small building (warehouse on the siding) needs completing.

Work is progressing slowly on number 61.  Finally found some brass mesh material to represent the radiator screen.  

Inspired by my friend Dick Bradley's work appearing in RMC I'm working on my versions of 2003, 2005, and 2006.  2006 is a brass PRR ND cabin and will be painted to represent the Ma & Pa version.

Now this winter public service announcement from Fran Zappa:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Looks like Heat Miser is at it again! Merry Christmas Everyone!

Looks like Heat Miser is at it again!  The forecast here is 72 degrees for Christmas Eve with thunderstorms, and 63 on Christmas Day! 

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Yoe, it's been a long time..

It's been a hectic couple of months.  We held the 3rd annual Garden State Railroad Prototype Modelers Meet (Formally known as the NJ LD/OP Sig and RPM) and though it was another huge success, constant friction and problems with one of the staff members took it's toll.  It took a while for me to recover from the aggravation and anxiety caused by this.  Ultimately the person quit, the show went on, people were happy, and the students of UCTECH once again benefited with the meet being able to donate $1000 towards scholarships and SKILLS USA competition costs.  A big shout out to my friend Jim Fawcett who came through at the end and brought along a friend to help set things up the day before the meet.  He also was a big help during the meet. Another shout out goes to the UCTECH custodians who are second to none.  They chipped in getting things set up and broke down for the meet. We were also able to put a lot more money away for future meets this year, so hopefully things can only go up from here.

The meet took up a lot of my time but now that it's past, I have time to work on the Ma & Pa.  I have started some scenery, specifically the helix, with the top passing siding scene, and the lower  loop with the town of Yoe.  

Both upper and lower loops have been getting the scenic treatment
I used street view from Google maps to capture front images of houses in Yoe and manipulated them in photo shop.  The Hotel is a paper model I drew using Clever Models textures.  Yoe station is a beat up plastic model that is standing in till I build the model from plans.  The streets are paved with sanded grout.

Here's another view of the hotel in Yoe and another house flat.  All the buildings have to be flats because there is only about 1 1/2 inches from the roadbed to the backdrop.  The background on both the upper and lower loops are backdrop photos produced by Railroad Graphics and is in their Vol. 5 set.

The upper loop has the Railroad Graphics backdrop.  Ballasting was done using Highball Products limestone ballast.  The rail fence was a bargain $2 find at a local train show.  It was a bunch of the Atlas fence kits that were thrown in a bag and found under the table.  I painted and weathered the fence and installed it.  Both loops received basic ground cover with more to go and I will be going back planting static grass and some trees and shrubbery.

 I've been waiting awhile to try out some scenery work and it's been fun.  I hope I get better as I practice more.