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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New England/Northeast RPM 2016

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Blair Davies’ spectacular kit-bashed feed mill.

The 2016 New England/Northeast RPM is wrapping up as I’m writing this.  The meet moved to a new location this year and it seems like it was a success.  There were a lot of models on display and quite a few interesting clinics.  The new venue isn’t perfect, but I think it’s an improvement over the old location.

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Valley Forge RPM – 2016

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– GE E44’s by Drew McCann on display under scratchbuilt catenary.

I’ve been attending the New England/Northeast RPM Meet in Connecticut since 2007, but in that time haven’t been to any of the numerous other RPM meets that are held regularly across the country.  I like these events because they have a heavy focus on modeling and there is often a lot of really excellent work on display.

So, this past weekend I tagged along with some friends who were going to the Valley Forge RPM Meet in Malvern, PA.  The model room wasn’t huge, but there was some stuff I hadn’t seen before and I managed to take quite a few photos. There were also a lot of clinics on the schedule, but I only made it to Andy Rubbo’s talk on the construction of his impressive Pennsy Northeast Corridor layout.

We also hit up some hobby shops and managed to get trackside in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  I haven’t looked at those photos yet, but if they’re any good I’ll post them here or on Facebook.  It’ll be the usual NS/CSX/Amtrak stuff, but I did see one interesting thing 😉

Model photos are below the cut. Enjoy!

Chris

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