Thursday, February 21, 2008

A new N scale Layout

Well I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my own little model railroad. While my current BendTrak modules are nice, they are big, flat, the track work is on the poorer side and they loud while running (gluing the track down was NOT a good idea). I've been toying with the idea to build a 4 foot straight module that would go between my current modules, but after evaluating the track work I just can't justify that. The track work is bad in some places and needs major repair (more like rebuilding). So I am left with the option to rebuild the two existing balloon modules or to work on something completely new.

At this point in time I do not have any local hobby groups building modules, and the one person I knew who was building modules has moved away and was using a different standard than me anyway. After seeing some of the great non module displays that folks are making in the class I’m taking, and in Model Railroader magazine I’m leaning toward a small (3x5 foot/ 91x152 cm) semi permanent layout. Now the question is do I model part of the NEC to justify having the GG1 when it comes out, do I model a part of the PRR main line or do I do a Pennsy themed freelanced layout?

I think I’ll make up some sample track plans in XTrkCad and see what works.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Paper Train?

While sitting in on the model railroading class I have been taking I learned that during WW2 the Lionel company released a paper train for around the Christmas tree. This sounded neat and I went looking for such a thing, I was also searching for a cheap Acela model also as I just don't have the cash to pick up the Bachman one right now (who knows maybe I'll luck out for my birthday). Those two searches converged to one place:

While not the Lionel train (although the above picture is showing the N-scale paper version next to my Lionel Pennsy set), and not a running N-scale Acela this was sure a fun little project. The Instructions are very detailed and very well written, and with a good hobby knife and some craft white glue this went together quickly. I would say that the first power unit took me a bit more than an hour to complete, and the remaining cars all took me much less time. In fact the more I built the faster I got. I built the final 4 cars in just a couple hours by pre-scoring the parts, cutting them out, and finishing with the glue.

In the end I wound up with a very nice display piece and several evenings of entertaining projects that kept me off the laptop. All in all I can't complain about it. Time well spent.

Wooden Train Layout

So I've wanted to build one of those wooden railways layouts for my kids (you know Thomas the Tank Engine/Brio). I remember when I was a kid seeing those in the stores and wishing I could have something like. Well now I can, although I'll let the kids play with it to.

The Table

My Father-In-Law built the table for the kids a while back, it's a nicely made wooden table with just a plywood top and what I think are oak sides. It's survived my three kids for at least three years now. It was originally built to hold a wooden train but it was very useful for other stuff too. So we never wound up installing the wooden track onto the table. The end result was that the kids ripped it all apart and after a few days we would shove it into a box and say screw it.

The Track

After a quick trip to a few toy/hobby stores that all had fixed wooden track layouts my wife one evening setup a few loops of track onto the floor for the kids to use. That lasted about an hour before the youngest had the whole thing destroyed. My wife rebuilt it to surprise the kids the next morning. To none of our surprise once again my youngest destroyed it within a few minutes. So I decided that since they liked it so much it was time to stick the track to the top of the table. This of course involved a few trips to the hobby stores to pick up those few missing track pieces and some glue. After reading the back of the Gorilla/Rhino glue I wasn't sure I wanted to use that in the house (and being all of 8 degrees F outside I figured working in the open garage wasn't going to be pleasant either), so I opted to try out some plain old yellow wood glue. Which worked at first but only lasted a few days before, yet again, my youngest destroyed the whole thing.

Finally, I broke down and started using the Rhino glue. It didn't have that bad of an order to it and it certainly seems to hold well. The only downside is that you have to keep clamping the whole thing down (I used cans and jars as weights) so that it can cure properly. We also used some kids paint to cover the wood with greens and blues and once I am sure that they can't destroy this version I'll start gluing down the trees, buildings and signs for them.