Upgrading an old model.

#101 fitted with it’s new front coupler box and desperately in need of a good cleaning.

I don’t think there’s any question that I’m a better modeler today than I was a decade ago. That’s probably true for anyone trying to be their best at something. Our “best” is a constantly moving target that changes with every new skill mastered and bit of knowledge gained. So, with that in mind, I decided that it was time to take a second look at my model of Seattle & North Coast F7A #101, which I began way back in 2007 and didn’t complete until 2014. This model has always had a few annoying issues caused both by inexperience and not having the proper tools and I figured that at this point I was ready to make a second attempt.

Continue reading

Building a Model Railroad – Part 6: Benchwork

If you’ve been following along since I began this series on my layout build, it probably appears as though I spent three years dawdling over the basement remodel then magically had the benchwork built and installed over the course of a month while simultaneously caring for a new baby.

Though this benchwork system is pretty quick to build, it didn’t quite happen like that. In fact the components have been complete (but un-assembled) for well over a year now and the main tables were in use as a flat surface to build the basement wall panels on. All I really needed to do was screw the various tables and modules together.

Continue reading

Building a Model Railroad – Part 5: Finishing the layout space.

This update is clearly way overdue but the summer modeling doldrums hit hard this year and I ended up spending most of my free time working on outdoor projects and other things I can only do when the weather is nice. That said, I did manage to complete the basement renovations and am only one small push away from getting the backdrop hung on the wall.

A lot of the stuff I’ve been working on was identical to the stuff I highlighted in previous posts so this update will be shorter than normal but there were a few unique challenges to solve and hopefully this will be a good capstone to this phase of the layout.

Continue reading

Building a Model Railroad – Part 4: Setting up the workshop.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’re in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic as I write this.  My wife and I are healthy and almost completely isolated at home.  We’re fortunate to be able to work remotely and so far haven’t experienced the financial worries that so many others are faced with.  In other words, we’re doing fine.  For the moment.

I sincerely hope you’re all well and able to get by.  If you happen to be a first responder, or working in a hospital, or employed at some other “essential” task (like say, driving a delivery truck full of toilet paper), you have my undying gratitude.

Anyway, as promised, here’s the next installment in my layout build saga.  Still no actual layout but the prep work continues apace.  This month I’ll go over the fitting out of my new workshop.  It has turned into a terrific space that I’m really happy with.  As you can see from the photo above, it’s a big improvement over what I had before.

Continue reading

Building a Model Railroad – Part 3: Renovating the basement.

Basement_Plan

After all the planning in the last two updates I can finally share some actual work.  As of this writing the basement is around 75% complete but I’ve already got too many photos for a single post.  So this month we’ll start at the beginning and work up to the point where I was able to move into the workshop.  Next month we’ll go over the fit-out of said workshop and the month after that we’ll finish everything up in the layout area.

Continue reading

Building a Model Railroad – Part 2: Layout Design

Slemp_20200122_004
Last month I started what I hope will be a monthly series on the construction of my layout.  Knowing my penchant for procrastination and the ease with which best laid plans are upset by life and other obligations,  I made sure that I had enough material to cover at least the first few months of posts.  So here’s the track plan, right on schedule. Continue reading

Building a Model Railroad – Part 1: Planning

stott_20160719_001.jpg

UP K-SEMN rolls south across Bridge 14 at Steilacoom, WA. Photo by Robert Scott.  Used with permission.

Well another year has come and gone with very few posts from me. But after three long years 2020 looks to be the point where I can finally begin to put time and money into building a layout. In fact, the benchwork is 90% complete though at the moment it’s not in its correct configuration and is serving as a series of work tables for the last bit of construction in the basement. If everything goes to plan I’m hoping to have the prep work done and be hanging the backdrop and valance over the next couple weeks. In the meantime I thought it might be worthwhile to fill you in on my plans.

Continue reading

UP 3773: Modernizing a Scale Trains SD40-2

slemp_UP3773_20180430_092I think it’s reasonable to argue that the SD40-2 was the defining example of 2nd generation diesel locomotives in North America. They were purchased in huge numbers by most Class 1 railroads and have developed a reputation for reliability over decades of operation.  Today they’re less common on Class 1’s, but many are being rebuilt to extend their lives and quite a few are well into second careers on regional and short lines.  It has therefore been rather unfortunate that HO scale modelers have never had a really good plastic model of the SD40-2 (I’d argue that there’s never been a really good brass model either, because, well.  Brass.)  Many companies have made an attempt at the SD40-2, but most have gotten stuff wrong (Athearn, Intermountain) and no one has made a stab at the huge amount of variations that occurred over the twelve year production run (Kato).  Athearn could and should have put an SD40-2 in their Genesis line to go along with the GP models they’ve been releasing but they never did.

Therefore, it was no small thing when I cam home from work about a year ago to find a box from Scale Trains sitting on the stoop.  Inside, I hoped, was the SD40-2 so many of us have been waiting for.

Continue reading