Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Wife and my Trains

This is one of those things I love about my wife.
While she has no real interest in my train layout(s) she is supportive of my love for it and she helps me with things regarding the theme of the railroad.

For instance, I was discussing with her how I wanted to add Wisteria (a native tree here in GA) to the layout and how I thought I could model it. She was quick to point out that while my idea for modeling it was good, I had already discussed with her having a corn field in one area of the layout and Wisteria is not in bloom when ears of corn are (around here, Wisteria is early spring, corn early summer).

These are the little things that I don't think of that remind me how fortunate I am and how glad I am to have her to bounce things off. Even when she doesn't know that she helped me.

The solution then came to me.

Since my intent now is to model Wallibus, Tarnable, Fitch and Whosaton individually as modules, I will now do each one as a different time of season as well, more fun and more options!

Now to decide which Fitch is, I think I'll go with late Spring early Summer.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Bachmann ON30 Gearbox Problems are being addressed!

Wow, Bachmann Trains has been getting beat up over the last several years for having a major problem with the gears in most of their ON30 locomotives, well the geared ones at least.

The 5 models below almost always came brand new out of the box with at least one gear cracked or split.

  1. Shay
  2. Climax
  3. Davenport
  4. Rail Truck
  5. Rail Bus
People have complained and posted all sorts of hatred towards Bachmann for allowing defective products to continue to be sold. And the worst part was, if you wanted it fixed, you had to send the entire engine back, not just the broken part. 

So a couple of guys over on the RailRoad Line Forums ( started a petition which I gladly signed and figured we would never hear anything of it again.

Well low and behold, on April 2nd, they responded with a letter stating the problems were being addressed.
Here is a copy of the letter.

Starting June 1st, you can contact Bachmann to request FREE new gears for your Shay, Climax, Davenport, Railbus or Rail Truck.

I know I will be requesting a new set for my Railbus as it is currently running front wheel drive only (and that has a bit of a hitch to it) after a managed to glue one of the gears back together. The rear set was too badly gone. I'll request a new set for my Shay as well.

Good Job Bachmann, you have made a lot of friends with this!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Getting Started

Because I simply don't have enough pokers in the fire already, I have decided that I am going to revisit one of my first hobbyist loves, the Model Railroad.

I have always had an interest in trains and model railroading, I think I have an interest in anything that simulates real life and lets me control it, but that is another issue entirely. I have had many, many layouts throughout my life. At one point I lived in an apartment and my main bedroom was the train layout and my bed was in the walk-in closet. Yeah, the chicks really liked that!

I blame this last revisit to Train modelling on my wife, she got us started building a Christmas Village this past year and it started me thinking. I decided that we really needed some type of motion in the village, a trolley.
After some searching around, it became obvious to me the answer was the Bachmann auto-reversing On30 Trolley set. A quick search of Ebay turned one up at a very reasonable price and that was it, we had our first piece of On30 equipment and I was falling in love all over again.

I had started in HO years and years ago but quickly moved down to N scale because you could fit some huge switching yards in a small area.  But the detail was never there hence another reason to fall for On30.

For those who don't know what On30 is, its O scale (1/4 inch = 1 ft), of a Narrow Gauge railroad where the rails would be only 2 1/2 feet or 30 inches apart.

O Scale
N Narrow Gauge
30 inches

Now the cool things about that is, that just happens to be HO track!

So, bigger cars, bigger people, bigger buildings, more detail, small easy to setup track.

So here is the original premise of the WT&F.

Era is mid 1950's back country/mountains of someplace in the Georgia?
It is a a mixture of Evergreens and Deciduous trees.
The town is a somewhat poor mining town (with the exception of Tarnable who is wealthy).
Structures are mostly Brick and Lumber in town, mostly Lumber structures out of town (maybe log cabins, shanties), with the exception of Fitch who lives in a trailer (see below).

Main Characters :

 Edgar (the Walrus cuz he is fat) Wallibus
 Thomas (TomTom) Tarnable
  Eli Fitch (folks call him Evil-Eye , cuz he only has one eye, he lost the other in a Still Explosion).

The Railroad is a local narrow gauge line serving the town of Whosaton (Who-sa-ton) as well as the Wallibus Foundry/Smelting plant ,  Tarnable Mining and Fitch’s Repair shop & Scrap yard.
The town consists of a General Store/Post Office,  CafĂ©, Bar/Pool Hall and a Truck Dock
Wallibus owns the Foundry/Smelting plant that processes the ore from Tarnable’s iron mine as well as melting down scrap metal/iron. The resulting products are shipped out by truck.
Wallibus and Fitch live in homes along the rail line. Wallibus lives in Log Cabin near the foundry .  Eli Fitch runs a still and supplies hooch to the Pool Hall and men who work the line. Fitch lives in an old Spartan Travel Trailer that was modified by removing the axles and replacing them with the wheels from an old train car so the trailer could be hauled up the rail to a siding on Fitch’s property where it now sits. Tarnable lives in town and also owns the Pool Hall. A Diesel powered Critter/Switcher serves to move ore/scrap to and from the mine, smelting plant and truck dock.A Railbus delivers mail and groceries (and Eli’s hooch) along the rail as well as taking the folks into and back home from town.

Wow, so I had a new idea. Same scale, new idea. DOWNSIZE!

Once again I had grown my simple railroad idea into something that was going to take a lot of space, a lot of time and a lot of money to do. Before I had even put down the first piece of track I had managed to almost talk myself out of even trying. This was going to be too big!

So I backtracked and remembered what it was I wanted to accomplish. It's not so much about the "Train Set" for me as it is the building the world that the train will run in. That is what I like to do.

So I decided to go somewhat modular in my design. I say somewhat because the first "module" is not what most modelers would think of when it comes to model railroad modules but none the less, it is as it is (or so they say).

I found a 42" diameter wooden spool and decided it would be the home of Fitch.

I cut a piece of thin plywood and put it on top and layered that with some Styrofoam for a base.

I used a hot wire cutter and carved out a little run-off stream then painted it all with a base coat of some Georgia clay colored paint.

Then I started placing buildings and track around to get an idea of just how much space I really had to work with. I knew I wanted to model Fitch's home (the trailer) and his workshop/scrap yard.
This is too close, need more "separation".

I decided to move the trailer "up the hill" so I made a very tight turn of the track and brought it up hill 1 inch (scale 4 feet) this allowed me to create a "hollow" for Fitch's still to sit in.

This is the path/siding up to Fitch's trailer.

A little more detail going up the hill.
I used crafting sticks that I found at Hobby Lobby to build the retaining walls.
The tulips and wildflowers are from MRC/JTT (also at Hobby Lobby).
The tall grass is paintbrush bristles stuck into the foam.
The moss and short grass are a mixture of fake foliage from Woodland Scenics and real moss from my own back yard. Most of the sprinkled ground cover is real moss that I dried partially and ground up in a coffee grinder. I painted some of the moss before grinding to add more colors to the mix.
Everything gets held in place with good misting from a spray bottle filled with watered down Elmer's Glue.

This is some detail work I've been doing for the interior of Fitch's office.
The building itself came from an Wooden Cigar box that I was using as a place maker on the layout.
I have a couple of them and they are just the right size to represent a building.
I got bored and decided to use one so I printed out and glued the flooring and walls (Thank you ), the building front is from some plastic kit. To bring it all to life I added a soft LED bulb and a modified RC Servo to create a special effect.

The crew gathers to build the bridge.

The Bridge

 Heading home from a hard days work.

I scratch built a little outhouse to put up at Fitch's place.
It's down in the hollow next to the still.

This short clip is a ride around the loop.
I managed to wedge my Cell Phone onto a flatbed.