Monday, October 17, 2016

It's that time of year again!

This week is the RPM Conference-Chicagoland.
This annual event, which has been known by a few names, Naperville, Lisle, etc, is now under the stewardship of Mike Skibbe. And I'm very much looking forward to seeing how he does his first time around.
But more important to me, is the friends I'll be seeing and the new friends I expect to be making. Even though we model railroaders tend to do our work in basements out of public view, the camaraderie of like minded modelers can go a long way to re-energize the creative juices. And discussing current projects can serve to inspire, if not help solve problems.
I've yet to have a bad time at this Granddaddy of the all the RPMs, and I fully expect to come home this coming Sunday full of the same sentiment.
If you're going, be sure to say "Hi."

Friday, October 7, 2016

I don't know about you,

But I'm impressed with my progress.
Today, Facebook, in a rare moment of usefulness, reminded me that exactly one year ago I started laying ties in the St Thomas yard.
Over the course of the year, I've gotten quite a bit done.
The yard has all it's track and the beginnings of structures and scenery.
We've come around the corner and built a lovely long stretch of main line.
And now all the track is laid in Aylmer,
We're still quite a ways away from running trains, but this progress bods well for the future.
I think I'll take a minute and rest upon my laurels.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Last spike in Aylmer!

It's like eating an elephant. One bite at a time.
The rails are all in in Aylmer.
Now I can focus on painting the backdrop, wiring, turnout control, and structures. Oh yea and scenery. All the really fun bits.
I'm really excited with what I've done with this town. It'll take a good amount of time to switch once operations start. Which is the whole point. Operators will have to think about planning their moves properly as well as remembering where the brakeman are. Make him walk a mile cause you forgot about him, and that brakeman will be some pissed off at you.
Now I have to research traffic patterns in and out of the milk condensing plant. It looks to be a busy place.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Backdropping Aylmer

My high school English teachers would be spinning out if they heard that expression, but it certainly describes the activity.
This afternoon I took a couple of hours to get the backdrop installed down the length of the Aylmer portion of the layout.
A simple frame of 1x1 was knocked together to support the backdrop material and screwed to the walls.
I could have affixed the backdrop right onto the wall paneling, but I want to make minimal impact upon this basement finish. I won't be living here for ever, and when it comes time to leave I want minimal effort required to get the basement back to it's original state. That same thinking applies to the lighting and the lack of a valance.
With the frames secured, 14" wide swathes of styrene were glued to the frames with the occasional temporary nail to hold it in place.
The seams will be puttied with autobody spot putty, which has performed very well on the other parts of the layout.
While that all sets up, the last of the rails will get spiked in place and then serious structure considerations will begin.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Layout Chronicles: Rails in Aylmer

A major surge in progress, I've started laying rail in Aylmer.
I've been ballasting a few feet, letting that dry and then ballasting a few more feet and while that's drying the rails are getting laid.
Nothing earth shattering, but a nice feeling of accomplishment.
Ballasting has struck me as one of those leap of faith projects. Particularly when you have images like this.
All that glue will actually turn into something presentable? Outrageous!
I'm always pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New and Improved!

I'm retiring my old cordless Dremel tools.
These little guys have performed yeoman service for me for the last few years. But the batteries aren't holding a charge like they should and the bearings are not standing the test of time. Some how I doubt that this tool was really meant for the work outs I gave it.
But that's okay. I found something better.
The Dremel Micro #8050.
A better built tool with an integral battery. The stand is the charger. The bearings feel to be more robust. And those clever souls even incorporated LEDs in the head to illuminate the work surface.
5 speed settings and a nice ergonomic design.
See your local building supply outlet and check it out. I have to go and get another one next week.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

I wish I knew who wrote this!

Below is a blog post form "skiloff".
I found it on the MRH website.
It pretty much sums up my feelings about the "state" of the hobby today.
Read it and share your thoughts.

After receiving my NMRA bulletin this morning and reading president Charlie Getz's discussion of Caboose Hobbies closing, I felt compelled to write a response.  First, here is a summary of what Mr. Getz wrote:
Did you notice that the 2017 Walthers catalog combines HO-N-Z in one volume?  Some may celebrate this as it presents more scale options, but this also is another example of the contraction of the hobby.  There simply is not enough product to justify two catalogs, as in past years.  Walthers, like Caboose, is a seminal part of the hobby industry and while far from closing, is an example of changes in the industry. 
The future of Walthers, Caboose-style shops, and the NMRA resides in your hands.  For every product you buy online to save a dollar, you contribute to the Caboose closing or the Walthers contraction.  For every new member you ignore at an event or fail to make welcome, you doom the NMRA.  In reality, the answer to the contracting hobby lies with us all.
And my response that I just sent to him:
I find your commentary from the latest bulletin troubling.  Not because of the closure of Caboose Hobbies, but your continued insistence that the hobby is in a state of contraction using the evidence of Caboose closing and Walthers' catalogs becoming one.  This is looking at a few facts and making broad assumptions of them without really looking at many other facts out there.  Caboose closing and Walthers' catalogs is not a sign of the hobby dying - it is a sign, like the world at large, that things are changing.  It is very frustrating when people in your position in the hobby paint it as dying because of change, but fail to acknowledge or understand that change, perhaps, is renewal, not death.  Is the hobby of the 50s and 60s dying?  Yes, indeed.  Is the hobby of model railroading dying?  Absolutely not! 
In fact, there are many signs that we are in a new era of growth for the hobby.  The current range of products has never been of higher quality, and a broad range of affordable options are still out there for those entering the hobby.  The options available to modelers is second to none in terms of how they want to enjoy the hobby - scratch building, kits, or built-ups.  The real problem is, this is seen by many of the old guard as a negative, because it isn't "as it used to be."  Everything in the world is changing, so why would model railroading expect to be static?  And in fact, if it doesn't change, I would say THAT is the bigger concern, because failing to change (like so many in the hobby) is what will kill businesses.  Just ask Kodak or Polaroid or Tower Records or Montgomery Ward or Woolworth's.
In reality, I feel that the most damage done to this hobby is done by it's leaders who continually trumpet it's death and make statements, such as you made in a newspaper article in the past year that suggested young people are only interested in their phones.  THAT is the kind of nonsense generalization that will drive young people from the hobby.  In fact, there are probably the same proportion of young people in the hobby today than there were decades ago, but they enter the hobby differently.  But this is not understood by leaders, such as yourself, and through this lack of understanding, you inadvertently do damage to the hobby you are trying to protect.
The real issue, I believe, for the NMRA is it's shrinking base of members.  Let's be clear - this is mostly an NMRA problem, not a hobby problem.  Why is the NMRA membership sinking?  In many ways it's because of these out-of-touch comments by it's leadership.  Who wants to join an association that openly generalizes about young people and their cellphone addictions?  Or one that suggests internet shopping is bad for the hobby?  The failure of the NMRA is it's failure to change with the world and understand the world it operates in.  But that doesn't seem to be understood - it's simply blamed on the internet and young people that only care about their cell phones, which are both patently false.  
I hope the NMRA will succeed for the long term, because I believe the hobby is better with it than without it, but there needs to be a sea change in how the NMRA leadership views the world in which we live and the way the hobby is evolving.