Building a Model Railroad – Part 7: Baseboards

The layout as of the end of February 2021

For the last couple of months I’ve been slowly cutting and gluing the baseboards for the layout. I needed to do this now so that I would know for sure where the bottom edge of the backdrop should be. I’m a little over half done but that’s enough to let me start hanging the backdrop, so I figured I’d write this up now before I change tacks.

Continue reading

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 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

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.

Continue reading