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.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Nothin' shakin' on shakedown street... Grateful Dead

My buddies, Dave Ramos and Ralph Heiss, stopped by to help me give the layout a good shakedown run to help find some more of the problem spots.  I now have all my brass equipment except for one ready to ply the rails and I knew brass being finicky, would find spots that were trouble where the plastic engines wouldn't have a problem.  And problems they found.  But that's OK.  That's the reason of holding shakedown sessions. 

Dave and Ralph building their trains.

Looks like Ralph found a trouble spot.

Payback is a bitch.  Many a night we amused ourselves by seeing how far we can throw skewers and make them stick while operating on Ralph's layout, which also uses foam on his layout.

The guys seemed to enjoy themselves, and in all, most of the problems found can be fixed without to much effort. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

To Portland and Back, the NMRA Portland Convention..

I just returned from the NMRA Convention in Portland OR on the red eye yesterday morning.  I spent most of yesterday getting some rest.  It was an awesome week spent with many friends, some of whom I haven't seen in years! I haven't been able to attend a convention since the one in Milwaukee, so it was great catching up.  The LD SIG tour was great as usual, though I think I will be seeing Southern Pacific engines in my sleep! :p  Out of the 9 layouts we were able to see during the allotted time they were open, 6 were SP layouts.  Just Charlie Comstock's Bear Creek & Jackson (SP&S inspired), Larry Kennedy's Great Northern Stevens Pass, and Bruce Barney's Arrow Lake & Western (Canadian Pacific Boundary Div) were not SP themed layouts.  All the layouts were great, not a stinker in the bunch.  One layout I didn't get to that I really wanted to see was David Clune's On3 Cascade County Narrow Gauge RR.  It's based on the Nevada County Narrow Gauge RR but moved up into Oregon.  Dave lives in Eugene and that was 1 1/2 hours south of Portland, so we just couldn't get there in time.  In all, it was a great week of trains, great food and brew pubs, and friends. :)

OK back to things Ma & Pa, the answer to the last Where is this Wednesday was provided by Dick Bradley and you can find his answer in the comment section of that post.

Speaking of Dick Bradley, I'd like to congratulate him for winning the RMC Dremel Kitbashing Award in the September issue of RMC!  He did a beautiful kitbash of the Ma & Pa RR caboose #2003 as it looked before being rebuilt in 1936.  I didn't even know it had a end cupola before that year!  It's a great article and I urge you to check it out in the latest RMC. :)

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Mother Load!

I came across a seller on eBay who was offloading a ton of back issues of the Ma & Pa Society's publication, "The Timetable". I managed to win most of the auctions (thank you Auction Sniper :) though a few got away.  All told I picked up well over 40 back issues, some going all the way back to when it was just a photo copied publication with one staple holding everything together at the top.

I have been spending quite a few hours going through them and I've found some valuable info from interviews conducted with older retired Ma & Pa RR men.  They gave lots of great insight into how the RR operated.  Between that and the maps and drawings I'd say I hit the mother load!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Where is this Wednesday #18

Where is this?

If anyone is heading out to Portland for the NMRA Convention let me know.  Maybe we can meet up and talk about all things Ma & Pa RR. :)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Mitzel Coal Trestle ready to take deliveries..

After my last post I continued working on the Mitzel Coal trestle deck and I installed it after shaving down and painting the foam.  I also sprinkled a little bit of black sanded grout around it. The picture below shows the finished trestle.  Does it look convincing?  Let me know.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wednesday Progress report..

This past week I worked on a few projects:  One that had been on the back burner, fixing the separating roofs on my two F&C Ma & Pa RPOs, the other was to build the top decking of the coal trestle for Mitzel Coal after thinking about how it would look for operators standing looking down at the scene.

Here trains 3 and 8 meet in Red Lion.  I know they probably never met there but let's say 8 was extremely delayed with mechanical problems that day. ;)  The two RPO's were bought on eBay awhile back but had a problem with the roof coming unglued off the top of the cars in the middle.  I got the roofs detached and filed down the car ends a little so the roofs sat somewhat flush.  Before I re glued the roofs on I added weight to the cars to bring them up to NMRA specs.

After last week's post I looked at Mitzel Coal trestle for awhile and realized that most operators will see the top of the trestle so something should be there.  Working off some drawings in my Ma & Pa RR Plan book 2 I made a reasonable representation of a coal trestle deck out of Central Valley bridge decks connected together.  I cut out for the coal drop, painted and weathered it, then glue on the rail.

I removed the track and roadbed from the trestle site.

Destruction complete.

Here's what it looks like looking down as an operator with the decking in place.  The foam will be painted black before the deck is permanently placed.

I then temporarily located the deck on the trestle location.  The foam has to be shaved down a 1/4 inch so the track on the deck matches up with the approach track.

I parked a coal hopper up there to see how it looked. :)

I'm pretty happy with what I was able to accomplish this week. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Slacking off.. Not really..

It's been a few weeks from the last post and I've decided to suspend Where is This Wednesday for a little while, till I can come up with some more interesting pictures.  

Summertime tends to be a slow time for most modelers due to family vacations, summer out door activities.  Usually for me I have more free time during the summer months due to the fact that I teach and am off during the summer.  Any longtime follower of the blog knows Amy and I usually do our big traveling in the summer and we've been blessed to travel to quite few places in the world!  This year we will head to Bermuda for an easy trip and then I head off to Portland for my first NMRA Convention in a long while since going to the one in Milwaukee a few years back.  Another distraction that has come up this summer was the purchase of a vintage Honda motorcycle that I've been cleaning up and putting back to original condition, and also riding.  I've been riding since the age of 18 and the past 6 years have been the first time in my life since getting my license where I've not had a bike in my garage.  As much as I love our hobby of Model Railroading,  motorcycles have been a main passion for me since my teen years.

This is my 1979 Honda CX500C.  It's a bike I remember seeing in magazines while in High School and I always had wanted to get one.  It was in great shape when I bought it and I've been stripping off added on parts and cleaning chrome, replacing missing parts etc.

With the Honda being a distraction to a point, I've also been working on projects here on the layout.  One project that has been getting attention on and off has been the two Gas Electrics, #61 and #62.  61 has garnered the most attention being a kitbash and it's progressed up to the point you'll see in the following picture:

Detail work continues and all the mechanical items are sorted out.  61 runs great!  62 has gotten a speaker upgrade to a iPhone 5 speaker.  After seeing and hearing what my friend Kaylee Zheng was doing with the small iPhone 4s and 5 speakers in her modern Conrail diesels, I knew this was the way to go.  You can get these speakers on eBay for $4-$5 a piece and they sound as good or better than any Sountraxx speaker at half the size.  I'm currently working on a sound install on an older Bachmann Ma & Pa #27 4-6-0 and I'm using a 5s speaker in that engine.

I've also worked on some scenery shell, and some more playing around with paper buildings flats.  I'm tweaking two houses to be photo flats in Yoe and have installed a King Mills building flat to stand in for Red Lion Table Co.

The King Mills building flat installed on the Red Lion Table Co. siding.  Unfortunately, King Mills is out of the building flat business.  The copyright holder to the building photos has supposedly sold the rights to Scenic Express so hopefully we'll see them reissued soon by them.

I also got ambitious and mixed up some Ground Goup last night (that concoction Lou Sassie introduced to the model railroad world) and spread it out over some reworked sections on the helix.  Some also went into the Mitzel Coal and Lumber scene in the yard at York.  I have to thank Garden State Div. of the NMRA President Bruce De Young for reintroducing ground goup to me when he gave a clinic on using it at one of the GSD meets.  It's inexpensive to mix up and use and I like using it a lot better than Sculptimold. 

I gouped up the embankment that ran up towards the Mitzel coal trestle and installed the wooden fence I had just recently put together, painted and weathered.  All the pictures I've seen of this scene show that you cannot see the actual trestle because of the fence so I have not actually put in a trestle.

One thing about the scene in Yoe that has bothered me was the fact I didn't pay attention to the photos I had on hand and messed up.  When I installed the fascia I cut away too low and the scene wound up having the ground sloping down and away from the team track.  Photos show that the ground actually rises uphill from the team track.  

This photo shows the up slope away from the team track just beyond the depot. Photo by Art Kuperstein, all rights reserved.

My buddy Dave Ramos suggested I add a fascia extension which is what I did.  I then built up the scenery base to the extension and gouped it up.  

I guess you can see I've gotten some things accomplished despite the distractions of summer.  

BTW, Dick Bradley gave the answer to the last Where is it Wednesday and you'll find it in the comments.  Maybe I'll have a good photo and we'll post it for next Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Where is this Wednesday #17

Where is this?

Postcard view, photographer unknown.

Sorry for missing last week.  I've been busy working on some projects and will update them on the blog soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Where is this Wednesday #16

Where is this?

Looks like a parade! :)  Photographer unknown.

Last weeks answer was provided by Dick Bradley, not Dick Foley who is another friend of mine, who knows a lot about the Reading, but virtually nothing about the Ma & Pa.  The answer is Baltimore, and it looked like 61 was next to the roundhouse.  My apologies to Dick Bradley for my mix up.

Friday, June 19, 2015

#61 Update..

The video above shows what progress has been made on my kitbash of gas-electric #61 from a Bachmann doodlebug.  A new can motor has been installed along with the Soundtraxx Micro Tsunami GE Cummings 70 tonner decoder, iPhone 4s speaker, and TCS KA2 Keep Alive capacitor.

The next video shows how long the KA2 keeps the sound going after the engine is lifted from the rails.

I still have a bit of detailing to do on this piece of motive power along with painting, but I am quite pleased how it's progressing. :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Where is this Wednesday #15

Where is this?

Photo of #61 from my personal collection.  BTW, this is one of the half dozen or so pictures I'm using to build my model of #61. :)

Thanks again to Dick Bradley for not only allowing me to use his photo, but also for providing the answer for last week's Where is this Wednesday.  And no Art, it isn't Little Gunpowder Bridge. :)  Check the comment section from last week's post to see the answer.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Where is this wednesday #14

Where is this?

Photo courtesy of Dick Bradley, all rights reserved.

Once again, thank you Dick Bradley for providing the answer to last week's Where is this Wednesday.  It can be found in the comment section. :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Where is this Wednesday #13 and NERPM report..

Where is this?

From the Barringer Collection.

I attended the NERPM last weekend and had a blast meeting up with some of my old friends and making a few new ones.  Dave Owens and crew do a fantastic job each year and we always have a great time there!  If you haven't ever been to the NERPM make it a point to go next year (always the weekend after Memorial Day).

Here is a link to photo's from the meet:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Where is this Wednesday #12

Where is this?

OK this is not Ma & Pa related, but I'll give you the answer upfront:  It's the NERPM Meet held in Collinsville CT. and it's coming up this weekend.  Check out all the info at :

Thanks again to Dick Bradley for providing last week's answer to Where is this Wednesday #11 in the comment section.\


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Where is this Wednesday #11

Where is this?

The answer to last week's Where is this Wednesday is: Spring Garden Brick Company in Spring Garden Township.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Where is this Wednesday #10

Where is this?

From the Barringer Collection.

Dick Bradley provides the answer to last week's Where is Wednesday in the comment section of that post.  Thank you Dick!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

He Flys Through The Air With The Greatest of Ease...

See my new loft space in my garage?  It's pretty nifty.  I will now be able to store everything that is currently in the basement, especially under the layout up there.  The garage is about 18' high, the loft is about 12-13' off the floor.  See the view in this photo?  This is how it looked to me 20 minutes after the builder left, when in my excitement, I scurried up the ladder and had it slide out from under me as I reached the top.  I fell 12', on my back, hitting my head on the ladder when I fell on top of it, causing me to head to the ER for X-Rays, a Cat-Scan and a few staples to close the wound on the back of my head.  This happened two weeks ago, and pretty much put a damper on my modeling activities.  Not that I couldn't work on things, I just didn't feel up to it.

Tonight I finally made it down to the basement to start on one of the projects I've been wanting to work on and that's the kitbash of one of Bachmann's Doodlebugs into Ma & Pa's #61.  I picked up one cheap at a local train show for $20 and made a deal with someone to buy two extra shells on HO Interchange on Facebook.  Today I finished phase one which was to shorten the body and add 4 extra windows on each side to match #61.

Here you can see the shortened body compared to the original size.

Here is a caparison of #62 a Gem Brass model and #61 my kitbash.  #62 has had an interior installed and I'm currently finishing up installing the Tsunami Sound decoder, TCS KA2 capsitor and the Stanton Drive. 

The chassis is going to need some modifications.  Not only do I need to shorten it, I'm going to have to figure out what to do about the drive in it.  I'm leaning towards scrapping what's there and installing another Stanton Drive.

The workbench is getting cluttered again with 3 different projects taking up space:  The two Gas-Electrics, and #27, a Bachmann Ma & Pa 4-6-0 I picked up cheap on eBay which I'm installing a TCS WOW Sound decoder.  

Hmm, maybe that hit on the head did me some good..

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Where is this Wednesday #9

Where is this?

Photo by Dick Bradley, all rights reserved.
 Once again, Dick Bradley provided the answer for last week's Where is it Wednesday.  Here it is:

 This early July 1971 Kodachrome slide is of the northerly side of the Hespenheide & Thompson feed mill brick buildings at Beaver and North streets in the city of York, Pa. Hespenheide & Thompson was served by the NC/PRR/PC until hurricane Agnes severed the line in August 1972. York County obtained the line and the Ma & Pa operated it. The abandoned coal dealer was on the Western Maryland whose tracks are in the foreground. Upon dissolution of the WM by the CSX the line was acquired by Emons and then Ma & Pa and Yorkrail equipment was used on it. It is now the York Railway of Genesee &Wyoming Industries.  Dick Bradley