Sunday, November 12, 2017

The grass is greener in Ma & Pa country.

Broke out the Heiki Flockstar and I’m trying my hand at static grass. It’s fun and pretty straightforward. 

To left of the road is just ground foam, to the right is static grass.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

2017 Garden State Prototype Modelers Meet

Just a quick note that this year's Garden State Railroad Prototype Modelers meet will be happening This weekend coming up: Saturday, November 4th, a day of clinics, model displays, layout design displays, door prizes and and vendors.  Sunday, November 5th is our ever popular self guided layout tour where you can visit some of the best and most popular layouts in the NY metro area.  You can still preregister via the website:

Or just walk in the day of the meet.  Registration either way you choose to do it is $20.  Check out the website for a list of clinics and layouts at this years RPM.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

First Official Op Session in the Books!

Saturday, July 29th, I invited over some of the guys who have helped me in various ways through the years with the layout.  Dave Ramos, Ralph Heiss, Ted Pamperin, Jim Fawcett and Tim Moses came by and ran the Ma & Pa and it's operating scheme through its paces.  We found some small problems that I will address before the next session, but all in all everyone said they had a good time. :)

Dave Ramos consulting with Agent Mulder while Tim Moses is saying "I don't know this guy.."

Ted Pamperin and Ralph Heiss were the yard crew in York.  Here they switch some of the local industries within yard limits.

Tim Moses was the engineer on Train 32.  Here he waits for direction from Conductor Dave Ramos while Agent Mulder looks on.

Cars spotted at York Coke and Coal.

Yard Crew Conductor Ted Pamperin contemplating his next move.

Train 12 arrives in Yoe, PA.

Train 31 is running late and is in the siding waiting on Train 12 to pass.

Trains 12 and 31 make the meet at the passing siding just outside of Yoe, PA.

Train 7, with gas electric number 61 makes its stop in Yoe.

Aside from being nervous prepping for and hosting my first official op session on the layout, I had a blast, and I thank the guys for coming out and making the Ma & Pa come alive again! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Oh Dollar Tree.. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..

OK so maybe the title is a little over the top, but I do love Dollar Tree!  Over the years I have found so many useful items there for the layout.  From inexpensive artist brushes, to black sand that I use for coal loads and piles.. I always find something there that I use at some point.

A recent trip there scored some more items of use.

 The latest haul shows spray bottles-$1 each, nail polish holders that paint and glue bottles fit in nicely-$1 each, and bags of course black sand/gravel that can be used in scenery or as larger chunks of coal-$1 each.

 In the past I've found these nail polish holders in the clearance section of Home Goods at around $4 but finding them at Dollar Tree for $1 each is even better!

Besides having bags of fine black sand that I use in my coal loads and some scenery, they also carry black course sand which will come in handy at some point.

You can see the paint holders really help organize my work bench with the glues and colors I use most.  I'm thinking about building some kind of rack to stack these holders so they take up a smaller footprint on the desk.

All in all not bad for an investment of $7.00 total excluding tax. :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lists or cards?

Two main trains of thought (please excuse the pun) for train forwarding on layouts exist: using car cards and waybills or switch lists.  I've leaned towards the ladder but have always held out the possibility of using the former. It's safe to say about 90% of the layouts I operate on use the car card system. I've also operated on layouts using switch lists.  My good friend Dave Ramos uses both on his NY Harbor RR.  He uses switch lists generated by the yard clerks on both his pocket yards served by car floats, one at Erie's 28th street yard and also at the Lehigh Valley's 27th street yard.  These two yards can be operated like small independent layouts on their own.  On the NYC Highline and 38th street yard he uses car cards and has made them to look like small versions of real waybills. Both systems work flawlessly on Dave's layout.

So, what should I use on the Ma & Pa?  My original intention was to use switch lists.  I've tested this out by having a few trial run sessions using them.

Being that the layout is small compared to others I've operated on, writing out switch lists before a scheduled session isn't that hard to do. Plus it saves having to setup initially all the car cards for each and every car that will run on the layout.  That being said, I always feel at ease just a little more having car cards with my train. It helps me plan out my moves a little easier.  One of the things I've kept in the back of my mind for this layout as pertains to possibly using the card card system is if could find a cheap and easy way of building car card boxes for the front of the layout I might go that route.

On a recent trip to AC Moore to pick up some mat medium for scenery work I found these project boxes.  They sell them for $1.00 each.  Looking at them I realized that they could maybe be made into car card boxes.  I bought 6 and brought them home to experiment with.

I cut one in half on the table saw.  My measurements reveal I can get 3 card spaces per half.  I will cut the sliding top into separators for the spaces.  

Here's the before and after shot of what the boxes started as end ended up looking like.

A quick placement to see how they would look mounted on the fascia.   If a single half is just used I'll have to modify the short end to match the higher end.  I also figure the boxes can be modified by cutting them into single and double boxes.  This just might work.  Not bad for $1.00 each investment.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Proof of life..

It's one thing to say the blog isn't dead, but that needs to be backed up with "Proof of life",  So after some prodding from others I decided it's time to get off my ass and write something.  I know I mentioned in the last couple of posts about other interests model railroad wise, and that I was exploring pursuing them, but they were never more than possible side projects.  One side project gaining momentum is some modern themed Freemo modules based loosely on the B&M in the Guilford era.  But, again, that's a side project.  The Ma & Pa is still alive and well.

I've been working on building up my scenery skills, and when I have some more scenes finished that I'm happy with I'll post some pics to the blog.

Two items that have been causing delays in getting operations started have been addressed: the two potable staging modules have been fitted and are ready to go, and two trouble spots that had been plaguing train operations have been fixed after much time looking for solutions.

This section going into B Yard had a hump in it that would cause cars to uncouple.  I found the solution to be shimming the blue board from underneath one of the cross braces.

I also pulled up some of the track and switches to shave down the cork at the joint between the two modules.

Number 42 and this curved turnout did not get along.  After much testing I finally figured out the gaps at the frog were too big and that's where 42 was derailing.  I filled them with styrene strip and now 42 passes through with no problems.

The staging modules at Red Lion.  Note the manual turntable to turn engines for the return run.

Long time readers will be happy to see El Sombrero is still hanging around. ;)

This shot shows both York and Red Lion staging modules installed.

So, things are still moving along on the Ma & Pa and I'm hoping to schedule another shakedown op session within the next month.