Sunday, January 29, 2012

And Then There Were Twelve... Lumber Loads

I had a successful appearance at the Great Train Expo this weekend, and made it home with only a couple bent trees and a few scuffs on the fascia which can be easy painted.  The Marias Pass operated flawlessly for 13 hours with no derailments.  On day two, I ran 5 units on the front, and a pair of helpers on the rear of a 30 car train.  It was quite a site.

Anyway, I promised more pictures of lumber loads, so I shot a few tonight.  I have a total of twelve different brands of wrappers and have plans for several more.  What am I going to do with all of these lumber loads?  Well, I plan to use a few for myself, and I started offering some for bid on ebay.  From what started out as a hunt for a nice lumber load for a couple of my centerbeam flatcars has quickly spiraled out of control.  Isn't that how most addictions work? 

Here are the latest: Millstead, Roseburg, Sea-Sno, Riley Creek, Simpson, Tembec

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Loading Up for the Great Train Expo

I am loaded and ready for the Great Train Expo that begins today in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Although the layout is 10 feet long, I transport it (as well as my previous layouts) in my mini van.  It is made to carry a 4x8 foot sheet of plywood, so other than about 1.5 feet of layout sticking out the back, the van works well.  I built a simple wood frame covered with cardboard to shelter the exposed area while I transport it.  It's only about 18 miles from my house, so while not ideal, it gets me there successfully.  If anyone reading this is planning to attend the show, please stop by and say hi.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Centerbeams & Lumber Loads, My next N Scale Addiction

Sometimes addictions lead people to find new ways of getting high.  I am making my own lumber loads for Red Caboose 73' centerbeam flatcars and I can't seem to get enough.  Here are 3 more versions that I created recently for Swanson Group, Dunkley, and Sun Mountain Lumber which has a nice looking lumber load wrap.  I have 6 more versions completed, so stay tuned for more pics...

Friday, January 20, 2012

N Scale Lumber Loads and Centerbeam Flatcars on Marias Pass

I recently purchased a handful of Red Caboose centerbeam flatcars and wanted to add some scale lumber loads.  After doing some research online and checking out what was available in the retail market, I decided to try to make my own.  After several evenings of prototype photo study and observation, I put my ideas into action and created a prototype.  From there I went through a couple iterations of enhancements and landed on the lumber loads shown in the photos below.  I think they turned out quite well.

So far I have created lumber loads with the brand of West Fraser, Canfor, and Interfor Pacific.  I have more templates created and will be sharing the results very soon.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

N Scale Athearn 28' Tandem Pup Trailers

Athearn recently produced another run of their 28' tandem pup trailers.  These little gems are hard on the wallet, but they are very nice models.  I wanted a few for spine car loads and decided to buy all 4 available versions.  The CF (Consolidated Freight) trailers are long gone as the company went bankrupt many years ago, but I really like the paint scheme and am not a "purest" when it comes to operating equipment appropriate for my era.  These will make nice loads as well as a nice model for a highway or street scene, or perhaps traffic for a future intermodal yard.  We need more trailers in N scale and I am very impressed with everything about this model including the packaging.

N Scale BLMA Spine Cars

I have had a few sets of BLMA's new spine cars ever since they arrived but needed to add hitches to the platforms.  The hitches are provided unassembled in a small plastic bag. 

The car overall is a very nice model with a lot of great detail.  The frames are made of metal which gives the car some weight, and comes with metal wheelsets.  I have had them operating empty on the Marias Pass and they track well, however I did find a couple trucks that were tight on the bolster and simply removed some of the paint with a file to loosen it up.  I found a few very wobbly wheels almost as though they were egg shaped and need to remedy that issue by replacing the offenders.  A few of the platforms had detail parts that had come loose during shipping or had fallen off during my intial handling of the cars.  This is easily fixed with some CA and reapplying the parts.

The hitches are very delicate and require a steady hand to assemble.  There seemed to be a lot of noice around this from the N scale community.  Since then, BLMA now offers the cars with assembled hitches.  While I haven't purchased any of these models, I have heard that the preassembled hitches are not well made.  This maybe one of those "be careful what you ask for" types of things. 

As N scale models continue to get more detailed I have to wonder if perhaps there can be TOO MUCH detail.  I sometimes think about the poor person that has to sit at a work table day after day and add details to an N scale model because we "demand" it.  Oh well, I don't want to get controversial on my own blog and will simply enjoy my BLMA spine cars.

My truck trailer collection is thin, especially in the common 53' version as I am sure many other N scalers have also experienced since purchasing these spine cars.  Deluxe Innovations hasn't given us product in a while.  If anyone has any extra trailers they would like to part with please let me know, or I will simply wait in line like everyone else until they are available again.

The hitches need to be assembled using 3 seperate parts.  Here are the contents to 1 package including raised or collapsed hitches depending on your preference, and also pins for containers.  I added an assembled hitch to this photo as a comparison.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Donner Pass in N Scale?

I've been thinking about my next layout project lately.  When I decided to model BNSF's Marias Pass, Union Pacific's Donner Pass was also on the short list of locations.  Donner Pass which is located in California has recently been given a lot of attention as Union Pacific upgraded the line to handle full height double stack trains.  Some other items of interest for me is that the line has both single and double track, wooden and concreate ties, Amtrak operations, BNSF trackage rights, tunnels, and more.  My initial thoughts are creating a 2 sided layout where I could replicate the western slope with trees and thick vegetation, and then go farther east and model perhaps Sparks, NV where I could replicate more of an arid desert area including a small intermodal yard.  With the introduction of the BLMA spine cars, piggy packers by Wheels of Time, and many other international and domestic intermodal equipment, I want to make intermodal traffic and operations a focus on this model railroad.

I've never been to Donner Pass, but much like my previous layouts, I spend a lot of time researching the area before I jump in.  Someday I'd like to visit the places I have modeled and plan to model, but family and career take priority right now.  There are so many resources including the internet that make it very feasible to model an area that I have never seen before.

I have a decent sized DVD library including two fairly recent additions covering the current Donner Pass after the Union Pacific completed upgrades to the line.  Pentrex is a very popular video producer and offer a sizable list of train videos.  7idea Productions has a smaller menu, but their videos are fantastic in both quality and overall entertainment.

So, I continue to do research and think about track plans and overall layout configurations.  Meanwhile, I am enjoying Marias Pass, and I have acquired a fairly large collection of rollingstock over the past several months that need graffiti and weathering applied.  Having a variety of opportunities is what makes this hobby (and addiction) so great.


Friday, January 6, 2012

One Year Ago...

It's been an entire year since I started my blog.  I'm having a lot of fun, and this is a good way for me to share my addiction with others.  My goal when I started was to not to substitute valuable modeling time by sitting in front of a computer, but rather share photos and info from previous model railroad projects as well as current activities.  For those of you who subscribe to N Scale Railroading, or buy copies at your hobby shop, I hope you have been enjoying my Marias Pass project series.  In only 3 weeks, I'll be loading it up and hauling it to the local Great Train Expo just across the river in Council Bluffs.  It will be its first public appearance so I'm looking forward to it. 

I've been itching to start working on a new layout project (at least the planning and design phase) and have some good ideas already.  Right now I'm content with operating the Marias Pass, but it's only a matter of time before I'll be looking for a new owner much like my first 3 model railroads. 

Thanks for stopping by and checking out what I have to share here on my blog.  Drop me a note if there's something you are interested in seeing more of, or want to share your own addiction stories.

By the way, although the Marias Pass is BNSF territory, I set up a Union Pacific ARMN reefer train tonight and shot a few photos.  I'm not done with the graffiti and weathering, but they look incredible in a unit train. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cheap & Simple N Scale Signals Using Fiber Optics

I built several simple and cheap signals for my Rocky Mountain Sub model railroad several years ago that used bi-polar LED's powered from Tortoise switch machines and fiber optics to channel the light up through a metal tube and out the signal mast.  I thought I would share some photos of how I accomplished this.  While they don't operate like a prototype signal, they are very easy and inexpensive to build, and offer an interesting and unique feature to a model railroad.  I built these almost 7 years ago, and today there are a lot of other signal options available using tiny LED's mounted directly on the signal mast and wired to a variety of electronic components. 

First I took a short strand of fiber optic and heated one end with a lighter to make it round like a bulb.

Next, thread the fiber optic into a short piece of hollow alumimun tube.  The tube was cut at a 45 degree angle on one end, and once the fiber optic is inside the tube, I form a 90 degree bend.

The mast target is created from a peice of styrene cut out using a hole punch. 

The target is slipped over the tube and glued in place.

The top of the mast is painted black.  Here are several signals ready to be installed.

I use bi-polar LEDs to light the signals.  I drill a hole in the end for the fiber optic strand.

Here I am testing a signal by holding the other end of the fiber optic over the green LED on my computer keyboard.

The LEDs are wired to a Tortoise switch motor to change polarity when the turnout is moved.  This motion changes the signal from red to green and vice versa.

Here are two working signals on the Rocky Mountain Sub model railroad.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Marias Pass - My Latest HD Video

I have been playing around with my new Canon Rebel, trying to fine tune the video capabilities.  The color is a bit more intense than I would like in my close-up videos.  I took some video footage of the family during Christmas and I am very pleased with the quality of video from this DSLR camera. 

Click HERE for my latest video.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Railfanning Photography on the Union Pacific

N scale trains aren't the only trains I enjoy.  When I have time I like to railfan the local area on both the UP and BNSF.  Here are some photos I have taken over the past couple of years.  I was fortunate to get a nice shot of #3985 a few years ago, as it hasn't been on tour for awhile due to maintenance.