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railman28
Fireman

USA
5330 Posts

Posted - 08/28/2019 :  12:47:42 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You need a bigger shed for that good looking bus. Very nice Job indeed.

Bob

It's only make-believe
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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 10/14/2019 :  11:18:57 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Something new for an old friend.

I noticed in the Rail Events section of the Forum that something new is being added to the model train show that is going to be held at the Timonium Fair Grounds just north of Baltimore MD. These are the Great Scale Model Train Shows and they are BIG, with three acres of model trains and layouts under one roof with both dealer and private sales. Despite the show's stodgy name, it is family oriented with tinplate as well as toy trains; something for everyone. They are held three times a year and, weather and health permitting, I go to every one.

On my current layout project about one third has come from these shows, one third is from eBay and the rest has come from my LHS, Home Depot, arts and crafts suppliers, rare flea market finds and, of course, the dollar store.

What is new at the upcoming show (Oct 26 & 27) is something called the Craftsman Courtyard. According to e-mail blurb sent out be the show promoters, some two dozen of the nation's top structure and scenery modelers will have their own section comprising of fifty tables and a clinics area.

As an old fuddy-duddy, who utilizes pre-cut wood and molded plastic models that are finished in spray paint from the big-box stores and whose modest mini layout is the scale train equivalent of a tinplate Christmas garden, I view this addition to the show with a bit of skepticism. Nevertheless, I will be looking in on them with an open mind. I wish them well and I hope that their efforts will be welcomed by the hobby.

One thing about being old (in the rear view mirror of life "getting old" has disappeared into the distance), is you get to the point where you have everything you need, even with model trains. Occasionally, I'll find something interesting and/or useful at the show, but mostly I go home happy and fulfilled as well as empty handed. Curiously, there are very few used or slightly broken items at the show that lend themselves to On30 bashing and the same is true for eBay.

Most everything being offered in On30 is not only NIB, but also a bit on the pricey side for hacking into pieces. So far, the only things I have found at the show were a Bachmann large flatcar, which I passed on as I use the smaller cars, and a Bachmann passenger car with a gaudy paint job, which I bought to use as a track clearance car.

This time, I will go to the show with a one item shopping list. I will find the spray paint guy, if he shows up, and see if he has a suitable school bus yellow color for my model railbus. While it is adequate, the present pale yellow color just doesn't get my motor running.

All the best to everyone.
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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2019 :  7:10:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It is now the day before the Saturday opening of the aforementioned train show and the excitement is starting to build. At the opening bell, while waiting for the anxious horde to distribute themselves amongst the various dealers, I will pay a visit to the layout area. Paraphrasing a well-known movie line, I love the smell of infrastructure in the morning.

Mostly there are modular layouts, which are being unpacked from trailers and assembled together in preparation for the show as this is being written, and some of them are enormous. Nevertheless, soon after the show opens, amongst the sea of scenery as well as a goodly number of unsceniced modules, a peddler freight or a short Amtrak train is all that will be moving.

Mostly I go to see what isn't moving and the reasons why. Running a prototypical hundred car freight requires putting dozens of cars together on multiple yard tracks while several donor locos are bring synced up with each other. It makes me glad that my modest home layout is what it is and I can have it up and running in about thirty seconds.

Speaking of modest, one of my layout endeavors is to cross reference my DCC throttle steps to scale speeds. Top speed on my industrial, narrow gauge layout is to be a prototypical fifteen miles per hour. For my Bachmann On30 locos, this equates to a throttle setting of 10 or less out of a potential 28 steps on my Bachmann Dynamis DCC system.

There are a number of commercial speedometers in the forty to eighty dollar range and some may be on display at the show. Many of them will require some form of permanent and sometimes intrusive layout installation and a connection to a computer running Windows. They give speeds in tenths and even hundredths of a scale mile per hour, which is complete overkill for my layout. As accuracy on the order of furlongs per fortnight will be sufficient, I usually do not have a use for such gimcrackery.

Once again, serendipity played a major part, along with the dollar store and a free online calculator provided by stonysmith.com. On the calculator, I selected O (1/48) for the scale and 24" for the distance to travel. As it turns out, the outside rail on the layout's Atlas 15" radius, code 83 track is very close to 8" long, so three sections, or one quarter of a circle, makes an easily measured distance.

To measure the time to travel this distance, I use an electronic kitchen timer from the dollar store. Despite its rock bottom price, it is crystal controlled for repeatability with an LCD display for easy readability, plus it is handheld, no connection to the layout, as well as small and easy to use. As it is a countdown timer, I preset it to one minute and when the loco pilot goes over the rail joiners at the beginning of the selected distance, I hit the begin timing button. When the loco pilot passes over the third set of rail joiners the timer is stopped. Ignoring the inaccuracy that is inherent with starting and stopping the timer by hand, in subtracting the displayed number from the preset 60 seconds, the result is the time the loco needed to cover the 24" distance.

Plug that number into the online calculator and the result is a very close approximation of the train speed in scale MPH. For example, a 24" travel time of eight seconds equals a speed of 8 MPH. Sixteen seconds equals a slow speed of 4 MPH and four seconds gives the calculated speed of 16 MPH, the theoretical maximum operating speed.

For the Whitcomb diesel equipped with a Tsunami2, maximum layout speed is reached at step 10, medium speed occurs at step 5 and slow speed is at step 2. The 2-6-0 is also Tsunami2 equipped and the speed steps are 8, 4 and 2. For the railbus, with its NWSL Stanton drive, where there is no need for slow speed running, the steps are 6 for max and 3 for medium. In keeping with the simplicity of the rest of the project, a simple reference chart, handwritten on an old file card, keeps the resulting data within easy reach.

Edited by - Dan on 10/26/2019 06:09:08 AM
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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 10/26/2019 :  7:23:52 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Mission accomplished!

I returned home with a spray can of Union Pacific Yellow, which is also known as Armour Yellow, for repainting the railbus. It was made and sold by trainenamel.com of Warren OH, who has been in business for some fifty years.

On the topic of newer businesses, although it wasn't exactly my cup of tea, so to speak, the Craftsman Courtyard was quite nice. Lots of new, friendly faces, giving out helpful information and offering new craftsman kits.

All the best to everyone.

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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2019 :  08:53:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sic transit gloria mundi.

After more than a century of catering to the needs of various walk-in modelers, my local hobby shop has closed its brick and mortar store.

As the owner still maintains a booming online business, a will call window will be accessible at the warehouse, when previously ordered stuff can be picked up in person, without incurring shipping fees or having to wait for delivery.

While this seems fair enough, without the thrill of shopping in person and sharing the camaraderie of the people working there, it is a poor substitute.

But the modern day philistine does not care.
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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 11/10/2019 :  12:36:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Solving locomotive and car storage problems.

The mini-layout now has five functional Bachmann locomotives (0-4-2, 4-4-0, 2-6-0, a Whitcomb and a Davenport), plus a bashed railbus, but only one can be used at a time and this has created a problem. The open areas of the layout, soon to be covered by my attempts at scenery, have become parking lots for the extra locos. Nevertheless, by design, there is suitable storage space on a shelf built under the layout, but there has developed an age related problem.

Whenever arthritis pays me a visit, some way to access and use the locos, without a lot of painful and clumsy handling, becomes a necessity. For example, my current flareup is centered in my right wrist. As a result, my forearm has the shape and the flexibility of a hockey stick, but this will eventually pass. In the meantime, I have trains that I want to run.

While the following simple solution replaces the need for modeling a sprawling engine terminal or installing some sort of cassette mechanism, it does require compromise, which the front edge of my layout easily accommodates. The solution needs a twenty-one inch length of accessible right-of-way that includes about a foot of straight track at one end and extended clearance (2.5 inches) on either side of center.

The smaller locos and the railbus fit inside readily available and reasonably priced three inch diameter cardboard mailing tubes equipped with plastic endcaps. No track is used, so there can be no derailments to complicate storage. The arc of the interior of the tube acts as a guideway for the wheels. A unique, trackless, wooden roller coaster ride called the Flying Turns at Knoebels Park in Pennsylvania provided the idea.

However, the tall stacked 2-6-0 and the hulking Whitcomb require something bigger than a three inch tube and therein lies a problem.

To be continued...
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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 11/11/2019 :  12:54:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Storage problems - continued

What is needed to store the 2-6-0 and Whitcomb locos is a short length of four inch diameter tube as well as endcaps, but these tend to be available only in large quantities at a hefty price. Serendipitously, a suitable solution for this conundrum was found in the plumbing department of Home Depot. An improvised "kit" for storing the large locos was purchased at my local store for less than twenty dollars.

Home Depot carries two foot lengths of four inch diameter plastic drainpipe, along with flanged plastic endcaps, which are a friction fit, the same as on the cardboard tubes. Normally, these inexpensive endcaps are temporarily used during low pressure testing of new drain assemblies, but they work just fine for this storage scheme.

Light duty screen door handles (only one mounting hole on each end), also from Home Depot, attached to the plastic pipe makes handling easier, especially when loaded with the heavy locos. The three inch tubes are small enough and light enough to be grasped with the hands, even arthritic ones, and do not require the handles. Small self-sticking, dome shaped feet applied near the bottoms of both sizes of tubes keeps the cylindrical containers from rolling over in storage.

A cut down Kato 2-502 wedge shaped, portable rerailer ramp provides the transition from the ends of the tubes to the track. For the Atlas code 83 HO track used on the layout, the ramp was trimmed to six inches long so its end height matches the thickness of the walls on the four inch plastic tubes. The unused portion of the Kato ramp became a shim for under the thinner walled cardboard tubes (SEE THE CHANGES MADE IN THE EPILOGUE SECTION).

Witness marks on the top rear of the rerailer ramp and the inside bottom at the front of the tubes visually ensures proper alignment.

To be continued...

Edited by - Dan on 11/20/2019 2:41:32 PM
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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 11/12/2019 :  10:39:02 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Storage problems -continued

By making just a single cut with an ordinary hacksaw, the two foot length of plastic pipe provided a fourteen inch long piece for the 2-6-0 plus its tender and a ten inch long piece for the Whitcomb. On each piece, one endcap will be semi-permanent and one will be removable. For about fifty cents, Home Depot sells a traditional, dedicated instrument. It is a metal, church key shaped, paint can lid lifting device, which also facilitates the removing of the flanged endcaps.

As there is a good chance that the couplers will be damaged if the heavy locos slide back and forth inside their tubes, appropriately sized and shaped blocks of medium density foam (also from Home Depot) are glued to the inside of the endcaps to keep the couplers and the fragile end details out of danger. As the effectiveness of these blocks is position sensitive, alignment notches are cut into both the flange of the removable endcap and the corresponding tube end.

For the lighter locos, the three inch diameter cardboard tubes are cut to the needed lengths with a razor saw. Home Depot also carries Frost King AC43, square foam strip. Serendipitously, its diagonal measurement is three and one eighth inches. This means that a slab of the foam, cut to an appropriate thickness with a razor saw, will center and hold itself inside of the tube. With one side of the square shaped foam designated as the top, the corresponding bottom side is notched to clear the protruding couplers.

To be continued...
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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 11/12/2019 :  11:37:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Storage problems - continued

Expanding on the idea for loco storage; as the layout is small, the trains are, by necessity, just three or four short cars in two strings, one for loads and one for empties, plus some miscellaneous cars. However, the layout is convertible from a mineral railroad to a logging one by changing out the rolling stock, so there are actually four strings to be stored, plus additional miscellaneous cars.

These strings and cars are also stored inside lengths of three inch diameter cardboard tubes, which are used in lieu of a space devouring fiddle yard. In using a separate tube for each string and each group of miscellaneous cars, the layout can be cleared of all rolling stock, if the need arises. As with the locos, the cars going in and out of the tubes, by way of the Kato ramp, require a minimal amount of handling.

The only problem, so far, is with the smokestack on the roof of the Bachmann passenger car. It is a bit too tall for the three inch tube, but as it is held in place by a tiny screw, which goes through the roof and into its base, it is removable during storage. By exploiting the immutable Newtonian laws of gravity when the car is on the layout, a short piece of metal rod inserted in the base of the stack, replacing the screw, facilitates this minor storage chore.

To be continued...
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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 11/13/2019 :  12:52:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Storage problems - conclusion

As this project is based upon an old amusement park ride and some equally old office supply technology, nothing about it can be construed as being rocket science. A small box from the dollar store provides the means to keep in one place the Kato ramp, the shim for the cardboard tubes and the church key endcap remover.

Also included are a couple of extra coupler knuckle springs - just in case - along with the required tools and a hands free, jeweler's loupe magnifier. Another item in the box is the bashed, snowplow shaped, layout track cleaner and a small bottle of gunk removing alcohol; ever ready for a brief assignment during a loco or rolling stock change.

To retrieve the equipment from the tubes, the open end abuts the thick end of the Kato ramp that was prepositioned on the layout straight track. Using the fingertips, the equipment is gently coaxed out of the tube, down the rerailing ramp and out onto the layout. As steam locomotives have a long rigid wheelbase, there is a teeter-totter moment during the transition.

For storing the equipment, the process is reversed. As the clearances are close, the pilots and the tender footboards on the steam locomotives may require a bit of adjustment when entering the tube as will the wide footboards at either end of Whitcomb and Davenport. Carefully align and replace the removable endcap and the deed is done. When the tubes are in place on the under the layout shelf, all is ready for running trains or adding scenery.

Questions and comments are always welcome.
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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2019 :  2:36:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Storage problems - epilogue

I bought a new Kato rerailer ramp (about seven bucks on eBay) to modify the way that the old one is being used. In my dotage, my flashes of brilliance, initially, tend to be a little out of focus, requiring some remedial work.

The original ramp, which was cut down to six inches long to work directly with the four inch plastic pipe, required the use of a shim to achieve good height alignment for working with the three inch cardboard tubes. As this method proved to be somewhat clumsy...okay, it was significantly clumsy...and as nearly all of the storage tubes are the three inch ones, the configuration of the original ramp was conceptually bass-akwards.

The new rerrailer was cut down to seven and an eighth inches, to work better with the four inch pipe. However, this time, the cut down ramp was itself cut into two pieces, at two and five eighths inches from the small end. The new short piece directly interfaces with the three inch cardboard tubes, eliminating the need for a shim. For working with the locos that require the plastic pipe, the two ramp pieces are placed on the layout track, one right behind the other.

I glued as small piece of scrap strip wood, cut to fit between the ties on the Atlas track, to the front end of the small piece. I similarly fitted the larger piece with some bits of scrap styrene. While in use on the layout, this keeps the ramp(s) from sliding back and forth on the straight track.

All the best to everyone.

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DennisT
New Hire

USA
31 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2019 :  11:49:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I guess it's never, (almost), too late to catch up. Just came across this thread and finished reading and capturing some of it. Very enjoyable and educational, thank you for all the time you spent sharing. I'm passing along the info to another good friend and modeler, both of us now mid-seventies in age. Merry Christmas, Dennis in E WA state

Dennis in the nearly deserted prairies of Eastern Washington state wheatlands
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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 12/03/2019 :  5:45:59 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Dennis and Merry Christmas to you and to everyone else!

Dan
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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2019 :  6:02:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Honey, I Shrank The Christmas Garden...And The Christmas Tree Too!

Last winter was not a very good one, on the health front. There was nothing catastrophic, just a bunch of little things that go along with being old, which collectively sap one's strength, both mental and physical. As a result, for the first time in many years, neither the Christmas tree nor the Christmas garden were put up. It was a bitter pill to swallow, along with all the other pills that the doctors had prescribed.

In the ensuing months, the situation was given a good deal of thought and it was decided to start a new, easily doable variation of the old tradition. A permanent garden and tree that can be manageably stored in a box or two is the new agenda. To accomplish this, the garden shrank from thirty inches by forty-eight down to ten by sixteen inches. The tree was downsized from four feet high by two feet wide to eighteen inches high by twelve wide.

From the glistening silver star at the top of the new Christmas tree, down to the shimmering sequined skirt around its base, everything, including the tree itself, was supplied by local dollar stores, which went a long way to make the project affordable. Everything, that is, except for the tree holder, which came from the plumbing department at Home Depot. To ensure stability, it was cobbled together with heavy cast iron pipe parts that added up to twelve bucks.

Serendipitously, the new Christmas garden came from just one store, the Dollar Tree. It was like being a kid in a candy store. Using three plastic, hand painted structures and an assortment of matching nearly O-scale figures and accessories, all by the same importer/manufacturer, it was built on a ten by sixteen inch plastic serving tray from the party supply aisle. The tray was inverted and covered with traditional cotton snow batting, so it appears that the created town square scene is sitting on a low rise.

Whether or not there will be trains has not yet been decided, as they take up a lot of space and the whole idea of the project is to downsize as well as simplify most dramatically. Technically, two weeks still remain in which to make a decision.

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Dan
Engine Wiper

166 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2019 :  7:41:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here is an attempt at a photo.

Why is it sideways? I don't have a clue! I really do hate Windows 10.


Edited by - Dan on 12/11/2019 7:43:12 PM
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