Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Northeast Fallen Flags RPM this Saturday 9/29/12


Just a quick note about the NEFF RPM meet that is coming up this Saturday, September 29th.  It's shaping up to be another great one day RPM event and if you have the chance to make it to Bridgewater NJ please come by and join in the fun!  We have a great lineup of clinicians and the modeling on display has to be seen!  And did I mention free lunch?  (And you thought there was no such thing as a free lunch. ;)

Check out our website for the meet at:

I'll be there helping out with the meet (sorry, I'm not doing any clinics, so the Martini glass is staying home for this one) so stop by, have some fun, and say hello. :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's a twister! It's a twister!!

"Well it was a miracle that no one got hurt today, but that there twister sure did some damage in the yard"  Ted D. Baker, Maryland & Pennsylvania RR Superintendent was quoted saying in an interview in The York Dispatch today.  

Seems like there was a freak weather occurrence where a strong thunder storm produced an F1 tornado that passed through the far end of the M&P's York Yard.  There was very minor damage to buildings, but one of the road's RPO's was obliterated.  "We were working in the engine house when we heard this loud roaring noise approaching.  Just as we got outside to see what the commotion was we saw the twister hit #34 and it looked like a bomb went off inside it! KABOOM! And just like that she was reduced to a pile of splintered timbers!  I've never seen anything like that in my entire life!" Mr. Baker said.  

He went on to explain the RR's plans to rebuild #34 "That old RPO was a piece of junk anyways.  We bought her second hand off eBay and didn't realize from the pictures that the guy who tried to build her had less talent than a chimpanzee trying to do physics!  I mean it was a disaster before it even got wrecked by that twister!  Glue marks all over, crooked doors and windows, lead weights inside that looked like someone dropped some turds, good God that car was a mess!  Thankfully we got her cheap so it wasn't that bad, just figured we'd need to get around to rebuilding her some day"  

How the car looked before the Tornado.

Opposite side.  This side was even worse than the other side!

The aftermath of the twister.

The M&P shop crew is wasting no time in rebuilding #34 and is doing so using more stronger and durable polystyrene. 

Mr. Baker concluded in the interview "We have the original blueprints though and we will recycle all the doors, windows, and end pieces and rebuild her better than ever.  You'll see."

Saturday, September 8, 2012

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. - Yogi Berra

It's been a long time since I've painted or decaled any models.  I have a couple of engines that need to be painted and decaled, but I've been putting it off.  There are a couple of reasons why: First, I have a spray booth I built that is just missing a blower motor (just haven't prioritized that purchase yet).  Second, I never have painted brass, let alone steamers, so I've been nervous about trying it.  Third, even though I've done it many times before, I have not decaled anything in a long time, so I feared I was out of practice and put off trying to do some.

One of the engines that needed painting and decaling was a Ma & Pa light consolidation that I had bought a while back.  I figured I needed just one engine of this class since they were not used too much on the Ma & Pa in the time frame I'm modeling.  A few weeks before we left for our trip, I found one of this class of 2-8-0s already beautifully painted on eBay, with the only problem being it was painted for a private road name.  You find that's common with this particular model as it was produced over a period of years by Akane, Atlas Industries, and finally, United Scale models and imported towards the end by PFM.  Many modelers bought them and painted them for various RRs as the engine is an attractive representation of an consolidation style of locomotive.   So, I theorized that if I bought this engine and changed the lettering and numbers to proper Ma & Pa RR ones, I'd save the trouble of having to paint it, or paying someone else to do it.  How's that for putting off learning how to paint a steam engine?  I know.. I feel ashamed.. Actually I don't.  ;)

Here is a picture of the engine as decorated for a private road name by the previous owner.  Yes, that is the wrong box.  I've seen a bunch of these engines being sold on eBay with this wrong box.  I don't know why.

Here I used Micro Sol to soften up the old decals so I could remove them.  This method works best with equipment that has been lettered with decals.

Here is how it looks after I removed the number from the cab.

This is how the entire engine looked after about an hours worth of work removing all the numbers and lettering.

Maryland & Pennsylvania RR #26 all finished except for weathering.

Here is the view of the left side of the engine.  What I love about the paint job the former owner did was he actually went through the trouble of painting the builder plates and smokebox number plate!

This turned out to be fun, and I think the re-numbering and re-lettering job came out real nice.  Just the relaxing type of project I needed to help me unwind this week after a hectic start to the new school year.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Half my life is an act of revision. - John Irving

One of the things I found out a long time ago was that the fear of making revisions in a plan, or to a layout can be just as bad as analysis paralysis.  You can easily get so hung up on having to rip out some work you have done prior, that instead you put it off, or worse yet, never do it at all.  This can be one of the factors that leads to dissatisfaction and long periods of inactivity with working on a layout.  Ultimately, if the frustration level gets to be too much, the layout comes down.

I've learned from some of my good friends here in NJ not to fear revisions, especially if they make the layout better, and ultimately myself more happy with the end product.  My friend Dave Ramos is just finishing up a major revision of the New York Central RR High Line portion of his NY Harbor Railway.  The lift bridge section that spanned the entrance to the bathroom always seemed to have problems and he had compromised on the prototype's track arrangement in order to put a few extra turnouts he thought the operators would need while working the industries in the area.  The problems bugged him enough that finally, after the last op session before the summer, he tore out that entire section and rebuilt it simpler, and more close to the prototype's track arrangement.

Another good friend, Craig Bisgeier, has made many, many, MANY changes to the layout that we have been helping him build over the past decade.  At one point we considered changing his name to Craig Change-Order Bisgeier!  But, what it boiled down to was this: when he found a new bit of info about the Housatonic RR that he didn't know before, and that info affected how the layout would operate, or how the scene being modeled would have to look, he made no bones about changing it.  Knowing the stickler that Craig is about these things, I know he'd be unhappy if he just left things be.

Which brings me to the point of this post:  I have a section of the railroad that bugged me enough that I decided to rip up the roadbed and fix it.  If you remember a few months back I was working on the section of the upper deck that has the T.H. Knisely coal dealership.  The section where this was located was just single track on the prototype, but I felt maybe I needed an extra runaround siding here to help serve T.H. Knisely and the York County Chair Company which is located at the opposite end of this section of the upper deck.  What it wound up looking like was a double track section of railroad, which didn't exist on the prototype Ma & Pa at this location.

The area around T.H. Knisley Coal.

This picture shows the single track and the turnout to the siding for T.H. Knisley Coal.  This picture was taken after the coal shed had been torn down.  Photo taken June 1971, by Ernest W. Colwell, and is from the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Society's archives.

This photo shows the section as first built.  It was two tracks almost for the entire length of this section.

This how this section now looks, after it had been revised to be single tracked.

I think this section looks better and will be more close to the prototype ( not exact, but close).  Any worries I had about run around moves will be moot, because engines can run around their train in two other locations on the upper deck:  One on the passing siding which is close by on the top loop of the helix, and the other which is about 7 feet away on a small siding which will be located at the Red Lion Station.  I just recently found a track map that showed the existence of this siding, so it will be added.

I'm glad I made the change earlier, rather than trying to force the scene.  Even if it had gotten to the point of being well along scenically, I still would not hesitate to change it if I wasn't happy with it.  

A bit of Model Railroad Zen advice:  Don't fear the revision my friends, be one with the revision... Ommmmm... Ommmmm...