Friday, March 30, 2012

Railroad Prototype Modelers-Valley Forge Report, and some progress..

I attended the Railroad Prototype Modelers Meet-Valley Forge PA and I gave a clinic on the Ma & Pa and how I'm modeling it in HO scale.  I'm pleased to report that despite the late clinic time, 10pm, it was well attended, and I think well received.  I had a great time giving the clinic and a bunch of my friends gave up some bar time (though they seemed to bring the bar with them ;) to support me, and give me some lighthearted ribbing.

Tom Schmeider, Craig Bisgeier, and Ted Pamperin settle in with their drinks for the clinic. 

Jim Schwietzer joins the others.. by the looks on their faces nothing good can come of this..

I did have my Stoli Martini, straight up, with a twist.  Jim is doing his best "you looking at me?"
The guys busted me a little during the clinic (payback is a b**ch) and even a few total strangers got into the act, but it was all in good fun, and it made for a humorous, and hopefully informative clinic.  I received a lot of positive feedback, and I made some new connections for Ma & Pa information.

When I returned home, I continued to work on laying track on the helix and I have about 3/4ths of it installed.  I also took time to experiment with some inexpensive plastic flashing material used I think for installing gutters.  I used it as a guard rail to keep derailed trains from plummeting to the floor inside the helix.  I think it works well, and it was only about $4 for a ten foot section.  A relatively inexpensive solution.

Track laying is progressing down the helix.

To protect derailed trains from plummeting to the floor, I'm trying out some inexpensive plastic flashing material screwed to the side of the inner roadbed, not that I'll ever have any derailments in there...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Railroad Prototype Modelers-Valley Forge March 22-25, 2012

For anyone interested, I'll be giving a clinic on modeling the Ma & Pa RR at the Railroad Prototype Modelers Meet-Valley Forge, 10pm Saturday night March 24th, 2012

I'll basically cover a lot of what has been posted in this blog.  It could be interesting being that the 10pm clinic time is prime time at the bar for my group of friends, so there could be some interesting audience participation (read HECKLING).  I might just do the clinic while sipping on my Stoli Martini (straight up, with a twist).  

Stop by and say hi at least if you're at the meet. :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

And so having re re adjusted the Helix Monster, exit our Hero, stage right...

After a one week delay, a few of the guys were able to come over to help me get the grades on the helix adjusted.. hopefully for the last time.  As I stated in an earlier post, I tried doing this before on my own, but with a Masonite backboard separating the inner and outer loops, it was nearly impossible to get it right.

Tom Callan, Jim Fawcett, and Ralph Heiss came over and we discussed our plan of action (where have you heard that one before..) Tom came up with the idea of drawing a chart/graph to plot out what the present grades were at 1/8th intervals around both loops using the iPhone app.

Here Tom holds up the initial chart we made, and is pointing out the fluctuating grades.

Tom went back and took two legal size sheets of paper, and redrew the graph to help us better understand where the big fluctuations and discrepancies were in the grades.

If we were to actually draw it out like a prototype grade profile, the helix would almost look as bad as this Ma & Pa grade profile chart.. OK maybe that's a slight exaggeration..

We started from the bottom of the helix and used the iPhone app to help with the adjustments. We loosened 1/4th of a section of loop at a time and re-adjusted it to get the 2.1-2.3 range we were looking for.  We methodically worked our way up the helix till we reached where it joins the upper deck.  Now the entire helix climbs at an average  of 2.1%, and I feel comfortable laying the rest of the track and wiring it up so I can run test trains up and down it. 

The original scene of the crime.. The spot where I first used the iPhone grade level app.  Here the grade was originally 5.7%, and now is 2.1%.

It really took a group effort to finally straighten out the grade problems on my backbone helix.  Even with the extra work and trouble, I still feel what I gain in extra operation and scenic elements, more than makes up for the aggravation trying to get the grade right.  If you're going to build a backbone style of helix, make sure you have some help.  The extra eyes and hands will make it easier to build than trying to do it alone.  Unfortunately, my problems have dissuaded Jim from building a double deck layout, though if he built a traditional helix, it would go a lot easier for him.    

And now for your viewing pleasure.. The original Bugs Bunny cartoon episode, Hair Raising Hare. Enjoy! :)