Sunday, July 31, 2016

"Again?... A Sunday Morning's Rude Awakening."

An unwelcome text came in from our friend in Maryland early this morning with news and video of the overnight flooding in Ellicott City. Readers of this blog know that this has been a habitual problem for the area and it is what ultimately rendered the Old Main Line all but obsolete. 
 
The National Weather Service reported that more than six inches of rain fell in less than three hours. More than five inches fell within 90 minutes! It has been deemed, "a thousand year storm." 
 
The charming downtown is built on the side of a hill and its main street runs from top to bottom, punctuating with a meet at the Patapsco River. Higher hills on each side of Main Street funnel all water run-off onto it. This area, pictured in happier times, suffered significant damage.

Twenty four hours later damage was still being assessed. This stretch of Main Street is considerably higher  than the area adjacent to the Patapsco River. It did not escape harm.

News is still filtering in about the extent of the devastation. Two deaths have been reported so far. Our family is absolutely gutted, having visited this historic place so many times and always enjoying our interaction with the friendly residents and shopkeepers. Prayers!

BTW, for more photos of Ellicott City and its downtown architecture, see my post on selective representation.

UPDATE: August 1, 2016
Buddy David Olesen sent this update from the Washington Post. The videos emphasize the danger and helplessness that powerful, cascading water presents. The damage is such that there is now the very real fear that some of the historic buildings may not survive. EC will never be the same. So heartbreaking.
 
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   BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO...  
 

 


Friday, July 29, 2016

"Friendly Fridays... Cheshire Branch Revisited."

On one of several recent trips to Boston to help our college graduate settle into her "second floor closet with natural sunlight" in the city's historic north end, I had the opportunity to ultimately rendezvous with Jim Dufour and check on his progress. I hadn't visited in about three years and I was long overdue.

After a fortuitous meet at a nearby grade crossing, I arrived and we got right down to business... cold beers and gossip, plus a quick check of some workbench projects. But it was the work one level below that I was most anxious to see.

I have featured many images of the Cheshire Branch, some from my original visit, but many received via email, and I was excited to see the updates in-person. Aside from the expected rave reviews, one dominant impression struck me repeatedly. Jim's mainline 'rolled,' gradually climbing and descending around the layout, meeting at its run-through staging, despite his protestations that it was level.

"At least it's supposed to be," he pleaded.

Like my New Year's trip to Sykesville, I was one pick-up truck away from perfection as a CSX local rumbled by on the former B&M Worcester-Ayer line one block from Jim's residence. Alas, I did miss the motive power hauling a real assortment of graffiti-covered cars but there were some genuine blasts-from-the-past like this yellow one...
 
... and this blue one! (BTW, great prototype photo for aging roads.)
 
Jim's handiwork is exceptional and it comes from a modest table set up in his kitchen with nice sunlight. Here, my beer dwarfs the gas tanks for a fuel facility that he will be installing. Note the naked little people on the napkin that Jim is in the process of dressing.

The undulations of the terrain and the crossing lines of the track, road and river not only convey the impression that the railroad is not flat, it creates an illusion that the track is most definitely undulating itself.

I know that land forms built above and below track grade disguise the fact of a level railroad, but Jim's somehow goes beyond that, forcing the viewer to accept that the track is either gradually ascending or descending.

I got you now! I actually used my iPhone's level app to prove that this stretch north of  Troy was climbing. It wasn't.

We ran a couple of trains and I enjoyed the perceived rolling undulations. And then it was off to a local pub for New England clam chowder and a lobster roll. What else? But even over a nice meal, Jim couldn't explain how he had created such an illusion. I wish he could because I would like to steal it!
 
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  BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO... 


A photo may be deceptive, but it's just as deceiving in person. C'mon now, tell me that the track isn't gradually climbing as it weaves through the cuts and curls around the end of the peninsula in the foreground.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

"Just what the doctor ordered... 500mg of Fukitol!"

If you read Marty McGuirk's Central Vermont Railway blog, then you already know about Randy Laframboise's Rutland Road presentation at the recent NERPM... and his reliance on 500mg of Fukitol in designing and building his very large multi-deck layout with Mike Sparks. (So, that's how they do it!)

But that was just one of the many humorous, yet insightful,  moments presented at this annual event. In that vein, Mike Rose detailed how he can delicately fine-tune benchwork with a reciprocating saw and Kip Grant showed his radio roots by imitating the sound of an RS-3 in start-up mode. And of course, there were no shortage of wife anecdotes from various presenters that gave support and comfort to a room full of basement-dwelling model railroaders.

Several hundred attendees had 3-4 clinics to choose from in each of the seven slots from early morning through late evening this past Friday and Saturday. Here Neil Schofield discusses his latest layout and some quick scenery techniques to a rapt audience.

Marty McGuirk presented a nice piece on his latest layout efforts focusing especially on fall scenery and backdrops. He recounted that several areas have been redone on multiple occasions. (Music to my ears!) Plus, I got to finally meet Marty face-to-face after several years of only  on-line communication.

Who knew there was such a story about those two nuns loitering in downtown Sonnyvale on Kip Grant's D&H branchline? In addition, he recounted a story of a modeler who had seen his GMR 2011 article and called to ask for a visit. "Hi Kip, you don't know me, but my name is Dick Elwell..." Good stuff!

Moving the meet from the senior citizen's center in Collinsville, CT to the Holiday Inn in Enfield, CT provided many advantages, not the least of which was a larger room for vendors and model displays. This photo captures about one half of the space which was filled with plenty to gawk at between clinics. Truth be told though, the lighting could have been better in this room. Or is that my age rearing it's ugly head?

A tremendous amount of motive power and rolling stock was on display illustrating various talents in building, modifying and weathering including Butch Eyler's graffiti-filled goodies. Fellow bloggers Ryan Mendall and Pierre Oliver, plus Jered Slusser, had similarly very nice displays which my terrible photos unfortunately do no justice.

This HO scale scratchbuilt structure was the unofficial fan favorite of the meet and builder Ron Poidomani's presentation explained his process from design to finishing details, including interior  LED lighting  and weathering techniques. It is breathtaking.

I regrettably missed this clinic in order to heckle Kip Grant in his, but heard that it was very well-done. Likewise, I had to attend Jersey buddy Ted Pamperin's C&O New River Division in lieu of Chris Adams' presentation on his New Haven branch line. Decisions, decisions!

And of course food was a highlight, although I did not expect braised short ribs, truffled mac and cheese and fresh asparagus washed down with some local IPAs. This certainly beat a burger and beer, four-fold, which was about the cost ratio.
A word of thanks and congratulations to Dave Owens and his crew at the NERPM. A great time and wonderful event! What I've presented is just a fraction of the weekend's events. So many other clinics and model displays could have been covered here, but I'm certain that they will be in other blogs, websites, etc. Click on the above for photo galleries.
 
And a sincere thanks to my roomie, Jim Dufour, who shared great banter and some real neat discussion about theory and philosophy in constructing his prototype. His presentation on detailing the B&M's Cheshire Branch was a highlight. The NERPM is just few miles down the road from the annual Springfield show. If you can get to this region for that, you should do the same for this event. You'll be happy that you did. Cheers!
 
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   BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO...  
 
Although I'm not quite ready to pull a George Costanza and declare, "I'm back, baby," the NERPM was a needed shot in the arm for me and hopefully will get me going again. Just what the doctor ordered!

Friday, April 1, 2016

"One year anniversary... and the need for speed!"

Well, one full year with the blog, and my critically definitive review is, "Meh." My goal was to present well-written, entertaining and informative pieces on model railroading in an attractive format. But with an average of less than one comment per post, stagnant membership and declining viewership (except in France!), I have to be honest and acknowledge something less than success... although it was a good creative outlet and a fine way to document my missteps in attempting to build a layout. Stuff happens. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Blah, blah, blah.

I am fortunate however, that a really neat hobby shop is right here in my town specializing in slot car racing, which may be more my speed, so to speak. NJ Nostalgia Hobby is an institution in the slot car community and racing nights are not all that different from operating sessions. Just faster, friendlier and much more inclusive. The store's track is nice, but I am installing a more significant one at home, necessitating some big changes in the basement. We started this week.

The store's track is about 5' x 16'. I'm installing one that will fill my 15' x 35' 'finished' area where my lounge, office and workspace had been. They have all been moved to an empty bedroom upstairs. The current train room will remain as is, at least for the time being.

Anyone who has ever visited, knows the 6'-3" ceiling height is problematic. So to negate that and add overall resale value to our home, we are replacing the existing slab floor with one that is 14" lower. I took a day to gut the room and then had a crew come in to begin excavation. In this shot, some wall framing and the baseboard heating units sit in dust awaiting removal to the dumpster. Several neighbors will be using much of the crushed concrete for dry well's in their backyards saving me considerably in disposal costs. Nice!

It's a noisy, dusty job, so my wife and the pups visited the in-laws on eastern Long Island for a few days. I am reminded that a client of mine did this in his old Victorian to create a nice basement play area for his kids. It came out great! But the real genesis for this came from a casual comment from a buddy about an issue I had detailed in an earlier post here.

The trickiest part of the entire job is the initial chipping away of the slab that sits atop the foundation footing. Once that is done, excavating commences and a new footing is poured to undercut the original one. I am fortunate that we have a bulk head exit so all materials and debris could easily be transported, relatively speaking. The sunken 14"  area will be accessed by two 7" steps. Can't wait to frame and sheetrock the walls!
 
So, that be that. The railroad was probably a tough ask for a first-timer like me, with no right-hand man, no experienced wing man, or go-to guy to help with the myriad of questions that I had at every step. Not sure what will happen in the train room, but right now I want to race... and I definitely won't be blogging about it. Well, probably about time to hand in the ol' NMRA card and save a few bucks. RPM has a whole new meaning now. Be well everyone. It's been real.
 
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   BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO...  
 
 
Sweeeeet, and no PanPastels needed!... BTW, look out for fools who may prank you this April day. Don't you just hate those guys? Cheers!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

"Damn it, get up!... You can sleep on the beach!"

The ladies of the household dragged me to Mexico's Riviera Maya last week so I could reprise my role in, "You're so annoying." Far be it for me to say, but I don't understand the logic of waking at dawn to secure a prime beach chair under a hut out of the sun, then slathering on sun block from head to toe for protection from said sun, before dozing off for much of the day. I could achieve the same result staying in my air conditioned room, with a lot less fuss and a lot more ESPN. 


Whatever the case, I reluctantly experienced the beach ambience with my wife and daughter while a favorite RPM commenced in Malvern, PA. No clinics, no models, no layouts, no nothing. Just a bunch of topless European women on holiday with, and I'm guessing here, no interest whatsoever in model railroading. But I did get a hobby fix via an email thread that I will unabashedly share here. 

Jim Dufour enlisted the help of the visiting Randy Laframboise to complete some river scenes on his B&M Cheshire Branch. Due to the river's slope, they  chose Golden Polymer Medium to pour into the previously  modeled river beds, per Glenn Glasstetter's advice.


Tony Koester commented that New England's cleaner waterways present more of a modeling challenge than the Midwest or central Appalachian regions which merely require that modelers fill the undetailed basins with plaster and paint them  pea-soup green, before building up layers of gloss medium.


While the acrylic gel was easy to work with for Jim and Randy, Bernie Kempinski reminded all of the anxiety of dealing with the alternative two-part resin option. He suggests that the most reliable and most foolproof is Magic Water from Unreal Details.
 
Jim referred to Randy as "ever fearless." in his email. Kip Grant beat everyone else to the quip, "It's easy to be fearless when it's someone else's layout!"  Truth is, we all recognize Randy's talent and his willingness to help, not to mention his ability to throw good-natured verbal jabs of his own when he spots an opening. For today, we'll just say that Dairy Boy done good here, real good.

Well, this is post numero 75 for this blog and it seems like a good number to finish up with as the one year anniversary is a week away. I'll be back on that special day with one more entry. Thanks everyone. We'll see you then.

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   BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO...  
 
My daughter, Senorita Wise-Ass, suggested that I post this photo from the local OTC farmacia as a public service to all modelers.



Thursday, March 10, 2016

"Modeling using selective orientation..."

Back in August, I wrote about a design and modeling concept that I referred to as selective representation. I concluded that it is just one aspect of the overall collective idea of selective compression. Now, I'd like to suggest combining that component with what I term, selective orientation. It's about the idea of necessary compromises to re-orient a structure relative to its relationship with the track, or the track's relationship with the benchwork footprint as mandated by room constraints. Everyone still on board so far?

As I play with track arrangements on my completed sub-roadbed, and continually fine-tune my drawings, I realize just how much of a challenge that selective orientation will be on my shelf layout. The photos below tell the story best.

The flour mill at Ellicott City bears off the main at a fairly sharp angle and crosses the river. The building itself is u-shaped and surrounds two spurs making operations difficult for my 1:1 crew. The angle can be reduced, but the building components may need to be staggered to allow decent access for visiting operators switching cars.
 
At Ellicott City, the track and Patapsco River travel east-west while the distinctive main thoroughfare climbs a hill in a north-south direction. Rotating that perpendicular relationship into more of a parallel one is the only way to depict any portion of the town, even when taking advantage of the depth that an inside corner of the benchwork offers.

One half mile up the river, around a horseshoe bend that would be best suited at the end of my peninsula is the Dickey textile mill in Oella. Alas, too many other layout design factors mandated that Oella end up along a straight portion of the benchwork, but that is the least of my worries. The structure is t-shaped and accepts a spur almost perpendicular to the mainline and river. This would work nicely if my shelf was about 42" deep!

The Dickey mill will need to be selectively represented predicated on its dominant window and brick fenestration, but re-oriented 90 degrees to fit the 20" deep benchwork. The sharp angle will be reduced so the spur can run alongside the front of the structure rather than the side. So exactly when is it that we enter no-longer-prototypical territory?


The Daniels mill complex is distinctive by the horseshoe curve of the river and the massive original building set perpendicular to the mainline. Like at Ellicott City and Oella, Daniels' spurs are severe and surrounded by structure causing headaches for humans bearing uncoupling skewers. And no one wants to be around a frustrated human wielding a skewer.

This axonometric drawing from the early 1900's shows the two original spurs, including a coal trestle, that bear off at about 45 degrees from the main. A third spur was present in 1960 and cut straight across the front of the original building into a 'well' created by the expanded complex. It is evident in the photo above.


Like so many aspects of building a prototype-based layout, compromises become the devil in the details. We continually try to determine the least of the necessary evils. How can we best determine what must be done, and what might be done without compromising things too much? Go too far, for whatever reason, and the layout becomes nothing more than the equivalent of a cheap made-for-television murder mystery, "based on actual events."

I guess we'll see as we move forward. My very first track plan shows my earliest attempt at dealing with each of these LDEs. Some modifications are forthcoming. But for now, work and life in general will waylay me for awhile. See you a bit later, but please comment with your own layout design experiences.
 
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     BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO... 
 
Check out the 2016 issue of Model Railroad Planning for a feature on the Rutland Railroad layout by Randy Laframboise and Mike Sparks that was a very popular post here last summer. Congratulations, boys!

Friday, March 4, 2016

"Have I become the Jerry Lewis... of railroaders?"

I enjoy a good joke as much as anyone, and if it's at my expense, so much the better... usually! I do not take myself, or anyone else, too seriously. But I don't care for unsolved mysteries very much, and there's one that's got me befuddled. Perhaps a fellow blogger or computer savvy reader can help.

Various statistics are available to bloggers regarding their viewership, including country of origin. For the first ten months of this blog's existence, American visitors dominated, accounting for about 75% of all views. Canadians comprised about 15%, Brits 5% and the rest of the world the remaining 5%. No surprises there. But in the past month, French viewership has rivaled that of American... and there is no rhyme or reason to it. It's defies any rationale.

Goofy American comic Jerry Lewis enjoys an unrivaled popularity in France to the point that he was named to the country's Legion of Honor. His work on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association is legendary. He has even earned a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. But to many Americans, first and foremost, he'll always be the Nutty Professor!

I do not mean to denigrate Mr. Lewis or the French people, but I can not determine what about my blog should be so appealing to a Francophile. I have on occasion used French phrases and even once mentioned the Tour de France in my Sam Posey post, but that simply can't be it. Have hundreds of avid readers collectively relocated to the Cote d'Azur? That would be neat, but doubtful.

Last night at 10 pm EST here in north central New Jersey, there was a greater French audience than American and it was 4 am on the Champs Elysee! Is my blog the sure-fire cure for, how do you say, snooty insomniacs? "Mon dieu!"

Google support has assured me that this cannot be a glitch. Of course not. But then why am I identified as "a visitor from Sugarland, Texas" whenever I click on other blogs? That's a suburb of Houston, more than 1,600 miles from my basement laptop. Anyone? What am I missing?

UPDATE: March 7, 2016
Once again, at 9:45 pm EST, only five views are currently logged in from the United States and 25 views are supposedly logged in from France, where it is 3:45 in the morning! In the past month, more views have allegedly come from France than the US, while in the first ten months of this blog, US views outnumbered those from France by a rate of 6:1. Someone has some real 'splaining to do. This is ridiculous, but enough about this. More model railroading up in our next post.

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   BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO...  
 
"I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now... and not defer nor neglect it." - Jerry Lewis

Saturday, February 27, 2016

"Annoying tasks... and life's little victories."

There were a number of projects that I had been putting off, but absolutely had to address prior to laying track. The time had come to man-up. I wasn't looking forward to any of these because they were either frustratingly redundant, annoyingly messy or inevitably tricky... with the real chance of real damage.

The entire backdrop had taken a beating from the installation and removal of the upper deck. Patched screw holes and various marks and gouges were touched up and the result was a blotched backdrop. Attempts to feather the discolorations into a varied sky only exacerbated the issue. A new coat of the entire backdrop was required, and completed. Job one, annoying, but easy and done.

But the bigger tasks awaited. Because the bench work was built at a uniform 20" depth, it ultimately did not provide the necessary space required for one of my Layout Design Elements. But simply extending the bench work wasn't the issue. The lighting system  had to follow the edge of the bench work. So despite my earlier claims that I was never, ever again going to address the lighting assembly, there was no avoiding it. I did have a plan. In theory, it should work. Let's see.


With the freshly painted backdrop complete, the repositioning of a 12' length of lighting was taken on. Two sections of valence were carefully removed and short lengths of wiring were unclipped in each corner to create some slack.

The 12' length of 1" x 3" was disconnected at the corners from its counterparts, the ceiling clips were loosened and the entire unit was slid forward by about 5" until the clips hit a cross-member of the grid system. The now-excess  frame and rear reflective valence had to be cut in place using a circular saw, held upside down without damaging the ceiling grid.

The 1" x 3" frames were reconnected in each corner, the reflective rear valences were reinstalled, the corner light bulb was repositioned and excess wire was looped. No way was I pulling the cable tight by repositioning more than two dozen sockets. Good ee-nuff!

The bench work below was then extended by 7" along the 12' length with two identical 6' long 1" x 3" grid frames fabricated from my disassembled helix frame. They were generously screwed together to create a 27" deep foundation for the Ellicott City area.

Because there was slight deflection at the joint of the grid sections, additional 27" long 1" x 2" lengths were 'sistered' under each cross member creating a more rigid arrangement. Alas, there is no shortage of 1" x 2" lumber on hand  from the former second deck. Even with the 7" extension, the aisle is still a comfortable 32" wide opposite the end of the peninsula.
 
To untrained eyes, like those of my wife and daughter's, it may appear that no progress has occurred. But I can readily attest that seldom has the appearance that nothing has changed been so rewarding. As annoying as everything was, the tasks got done with no real complicating issues. No damage, no injuries and a minimal amount of cussing. The valence was trimmed and reinstalled with no need to touch it up. Victory!... but seriously, I really am so sick of sawdust.
 
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   BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO...  
 
The crew did lend moral support... while awaiting their puppy chow.
 


Friday, February 19, 2016

"Friendly Fridays... Hello again, old friend!"

I guess I have a love-hate relationship with Model Railroader magazine. On the one hand, we go way back to my formative years in the hobby when I was gleaning everything I possibly could and was attracted to every era, every geographic locale and every road name. But things evolve and readers like me begin to define our likes and dislikes and move from novice to something beyond.

I have subscribed on and off for years and just signed up after going MR-free in 2015. I do not envy editors and publishers of print media in this day and age of online overload where every yahoo (pun intended) can allegedly disseminate expert information, helpful advice or entertaining anecdotes to anyone who will listen via blogs, websites, YouTube, Facebook, etc. (Yes, I do see the irony here!)

But Model Railroader marches on, trying to appeal to newcomers while holding on to established hobbyists. It can't be easy. And losing a beloved icon like Andy Sperandeo recently doesn't help. But a new columnist has been named to carry on the monthly operations feature and he's a real good, knowledgeable guy!

It was good to hold the magazine in my hands again, but immediately based on the cover and bonus insert, I wondered if my interests had passed it by... or was MR trying to tell me something? But there was neat news inside. A buddy was becoming a regular columnist.

New operations columnist Jerry Dziedzic (center) joined our road trip a few years back. Here Jim Dalberg appears to be selling something at Kip Grant's D&H Sonnyvale Branch that Jerry just isn't buying. But Jerry's true entertainment value on that trip was seeing him wind up Tony Koester over each night's dining arrangements... just for the fun of it.

Jerry's own basement empire is the multi-deck HO scale New York, Susquehanna & Western that fully occupies the approximate 25' x 40' space. His three staging areas are in a separate room that is about the size of my entire layout! It is fully operational and awaiting scenery. The design and fabrication of his unique pivot-lift-gates using drawer glides mounted vertically was featured in the May 2014 issue of Model Railroader.

I haven't known Jerry too long and haven't spent that much time with him. But the time we have had together has always been very enjoyable, whether it's that road trip, or operating on the Susquehanna or just having craft beers and Jersey cheese steaks at the historic inn down the road from his home.
 
He is currently helping me with some roadbed decisions I need to make which I expect to cover in a future post. But for now, I wish my newer friend the best in his exciting endeavor. Jerry's column will debut in the April 2016 issue of that older friend. Check it out.
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   BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO...  
 
Jerry is a retired chemical engineer who winters in Colorado with his wife Laura. They serve as guides with the Breckenridge Ski School and are very active in the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. He thoughtfully sent along a photo of "the view from my office"...  Nice!
 


Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Like the man said... It's deja vu all over again."

I am not in the habit of quoting the late New York Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra. But as I embarked on installing 150 risers, it was not lost on me that I had done this once before for the original single deck, then removed them all, before re-installing taller risers to cantilever my ill-fated second deck. That sentiment seemed so perfectly descriptive, even for a New York Mets fan.

So let's see. One hundred and fifty risers at two screws per riser... installed, removed, installed, removed, installed. That's 1,500 tweaks of the drill in all of the same locations. If that ain't "deja vu all over again," I don't know what is.


The very original single deck sat on benchwork that rested on a ledger strip about 44" above the floor. Five inch risers, plus the 1" Gatorboard brought the track height to 50" and nicely met the styrene backdrop in corners and along the peninsula.

The benchwork had been dropped about 5" to accommodate the ill-advised second deck, so new risers had to be used to make up the difference. Seventy five  17" risers from that second deck were reused, cut in half and mounted using jigs, so that they'd be plumb and level.

By using a block clamped in my table saw to assure that all cuts were 8-1/2" and by using jigs that aligned those risers with the bottom of the 1" x 3" benchwork, I theoretically should have risers that extend 6" and are even with one another. My level confirmed that, for once, theory and practice were in harmony... AKA "even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes!"

The new risers still leave the deck about 4" below the styrene backdrops in corners and along the peninsula, but land forms should be able to hide the issue. Of course an added bonus to my venture into multi-deck land is that I now have twice as many lengths of Gator Board that are all two narrow to 'cover' the full depth of the single deck. But again, the issue should be minimized with varying land forms and all of the hacking and stacking to come.

So the long, strange journey from single deck to multi-deck and back again, has cost me more than a year and has left me with a track height of 46" instead of the originally planned 50". Not the end of the world, but frustrating as all get out.

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   BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO...  
 
Friends and visitors often tease about my benchwork being "too nice to cover up"... apparently I have taken their comments too literally!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

"Forecasts are like layouts... subject to change!"

Aided by warming temperatures, we have finally dug out from the recent blizzard. Somehow weather models continually showed that our region would get between 8-12" of snow right up until we had actually gotten 8-12" of snow. Then, forecasters adjusted the likely totals to 18-24". Ultimately, television news reported that my town in north central New Jersey got 28 unexpected inches of the white stuff. Not exactly spot-on. Weather forecasters to the public, "Our bad!"

But the unexpected is very expected in our hobby. We all know adjustments, revisions and the like are an ongoing adventure when it comes to track plans and other design issues. So I used last week's snow day to finally take on a task of which I was not particularly excited... mounting my flat screen to the wall to accommodate plans for a once-and-for-all revised staging area.

The flat screen was raised nearly a foot when detached from its base and mounted to the wall. Staging can now utilize both ends of the 18' wall at 46" high and 18" deep. The bureau will be relocated to another part of the room. New benchwork will mimic that from the layout room and hold the various A/V boxes with all wiring being concealed. 

A view from an earlier post on my new workbench shows the former position of the flat screen. Viewing from all three of my work stations is now enhanced as an added bonus.

The actual mounting was tricky, but I won't bore with the details. Suffice to say that nothing is as easy as one would hope. Eventually I did get the flat screen positioned and it continues to stay in place! Its final positioning has now determined my track height of 46" and the location of a wall penetration.

Much more on this as we go forward. For now, risers are being re-installed on the benchwork and a track plan is being prepared for a post that will better detail staging. See you shortly.
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   BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO...  
 
Remember our lesson for the day, boys and girls. Mulligans exist not only in golf, but in weather forecasting and model railroading.

Friday, January 22, 2016

"From the land of pleasant living... Part deux"

While we await the approaching blizzard that our local media has been excitedly forecasting for the past week, I am mixed with childish anticipation for a good snow storm and the more mature nervous anxiety from memories of several power outages during the past few years. Either way, it may be wise to get a new post published while it's still relatively calm here.

This will be short and sweet. My previous post on period ads and brand logos generated considerable emails, so here's a few more.

One can never have enough 'Natty Bo.' A circular sign plastered to the side of a structure always looks neat, and unlike a Coke sign for instance, this brand has local chops.
I'm not too concerned if any image is fuzzy or faded. When reduced and weathered, I suspect they'll be just fine. I like this one due to the inclusion of Baltimore, Maryland.

While I dissed Gunther Beer in my previous post, I actually uncovered quite a bit of their images and will find a way to afford them some equal time on the layout.

Again, I'm not too worried about the fuzziness, but love the Baltimore, MD.

Another circular sign for a general store. But this 'Frostie' may be poorly timed right now.

Somehow I'm not sure come tomorrow whether I'm thinking that 'Frostie' is a good thing. 

That's it for now. Hopefully mother nature will provide only a modest distraction that will yield some hobby time, but we'll see. The basement actually had a minor change in infrastructure this week that will accommodate a new staging arrangement. Photos shortly, followed by some track drawings. Stay warm.

-30-
 
   BONUS:  JUST  ONE  MORE  THING  BEFORE  WE  GO...  
 
The battle of the Baltimore beer trucks! I may have to go with this one over last week's National Bohemian truck. Opinions anyone?