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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Building a Model Railroad – Part 2: Layout Design

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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

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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.

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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.

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A Railfan Modeler’s Manifesto

My dad and I took this series of photos in Steilacoom on what appears to be a cold, late fall or early spring morning. That’s me standing on the rip-rap in the blue jacket but I’m unsure of the exact day or even year. I’m 99% certain we’re looking at the Coast Starlight though if this is before May of 1997 it could be the Pioneer. I had that jacket for ages so it doesn’t provide much of a timestamp however I don’t think I look old enough to be in high school. Based on that alone I’d say it’s pre-’97.

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