Monday, January 27, 2014

Post Springfield

Home after another successful trip to Amherst Railway Society Hobby Show. The drive home was a bit of an adventure weather wise. Between Utica and Syracuse New York a large snow squall descended making the roads adventurous and once through that high winds were the order of the day across the rest of New York state.
I had a good 2 days at the show. Met up with a good number of old friends and got to meet a few souls I've tried to meet for some time. I can now put a face to Don Valentine of New England Rail Service and Bob Van Gelder of South River Model Works, to name two.
It's always astonishing to me how far people will travel for this event. Eight people came in from Calgary, Alberta for this show. Including my old friend Monty, whom I worked with 30 years ago. Nothing quite like looking at someone and knowing you should recognize them but can't quite connect all the dots.
21,000 people went through the gates in 2 days. Those numbers stagger me. Sadly, as a dealer I can't ever take it all in.
But the highlight for me will remain the dinner on Sunday night at the Student Prince restaurant. Excellent food and even better company with the "Dead Railway Society". Comradeship and lots of belly laughs. Does it get any better than that? Don't think so.
If my work schedule permits I'll be back next year. If you haven't been there yet try and get there. It is worth the trip.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Trains are Stupid!

Part of the fallout from Sunday's "Sea Trial" was uncovering a few gremlins in the layout that needed addressing. To be expected.
A few of the gaps in the staging yards had closed up with the seasonal building shift. Some of the actuator pins for the turnouts were a tad long and fouled the underside of the SW-8 trucks. There was a broken connection on one of the power switches for the staging yard. ( I have a switch for each of the staging tracks so I can power down unneeded units).
And I had 2 turnouts that required serious attention as a result of a failure to properly secure the stock rails when they were built. Threw a few things out of gauge.
After addressing those issues today, I was feeling a tad emboldened. So I pulled out "The Daily Effort". That is the Hamilton originated mixed that traverses the Cayuga Sub from Jarvis to Simcoe while on it's way to Port Rowan and Port Dover. In the era I'm choosing to model that train was headed by a CNR Mogul.
First problem arose trying to cross Highway #6 in Jarvis. The Mogul kept stalling. A very close inspection revealed that the planking I had used for the level crossing was a tad higher than the rail, which prevented the Bright Boy from cleaning the rails properly. So out the planks came.
I'll try again with 4 x 12 stock after I finish experimenting with painting the road. What you see here is a failed attempt to brush paint with acrylics. I'll be airbrushing this later.
With that out of the way, the train ran very nicely along the main until we entered the helix. When things stopped. After 1/2 an hour of poking and prodding I determined that I was having an intermittent short on the Mogul.
Oh Goodie, I thought. Nothing like trying to chase down an intermittent short in a brass model. First place I looked was the drawbar. The insulators are notorious for failing and causing no end of issues. So I dismantled the engine, no small feat as there is a hardwired decoder in the tender. and checked the drawbar. Changed one washer just to be safe, put back together, back on the rails and no joy!
Back to the bench, into the foam cradle and out comes the meter. Poking, shoving, twisting, then suddenly a short. Do it again. Takes 5 minutes to repeat the effect.
Are you kidding me?! As it turns out the helix is exactly the right radius to cause the rear tender wheel to short against the brake cylinder. And only if it's turning to the right.
The brake cylinder is now residing in it's new permanent home in the trash, and the Mogul runs like a dream.
Trains are Stupid!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sea Trials Part I

Moving forward. Ever forward.
Trevor Marshall and Gerry Schaefer were here for the day to help me play with the timetable. With Trevor's invaluable assistance we took the original Cayuga Sub time table,
and modified it using real timings from running trains on the layout.
That data was then transposed onto a "layout" timetable and a few trains run.
The stations in red are the actual modeled locations. We found that 4:1 fast clock works well for the distances involved. There are a few nuances to still work out but we are now within striking distance of actually running the full schedule.
It is worth noting that there are at least 5 extras, way freights and Red Balls, still to be incorporated into the mix.
And of course as soon as we start running things for real the gremlins come out. So there are a few things to fix as well.
But I'm super happy.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

See you in West Springfield?

Next weekend I'll be setup at the annual Amherst Railway Society Hobby Show.
I'll be showing all of the wares that I currently have in stock along with samples of many new items that are being worked on.
New etched running boards, new replacement etched stirrups and sample of some decals we're looking at.
I hope that you'll wander by, say hi and give me feedback on what you'll see on the table.
I'm looking forward to meeting up with old friends and making a few new ones.
I'm suspecting that the "Dead Railway Society" dinner will be a high point.

Monday, January 6, 2014

What's in a name?

Depending upon your perspective, quite a lot.
If you've been following this blog for awhile you will know that last April I posted on the completion of the pilot models for the CPR plywood sheathed boxcar.
I've also taken to calling it the CPR War Emergency car, in part following the lead of an article written in the RP CYC #23. At the time the best source I had for a car history.
Over the course of the months that this model was in development, none of the many helpful people I consulted about this car ever felt the need to correct me on what I chosen to call this car.
So you can imagine my surprise to discover that one of my products was renamed for a Product Review in the December Railroad Model Craftsman. The reviewer, who put forth a very detailed prototype history for the review, did not agree with my calling this car a "War Emergency" car. Rather he believes that the car should be titled the "Victory" boxcar.
That is his opinion and there is some data to support his argument. However if you attempt an online search for a CPR Victory Boxcar, you will not find any reference to my model kit. In fact all you'll find is an old Montreal Gazette news item on the cars.
Part of the point of Product Reviews is to assist and direct modelers to new and interesting products. I've written a few of them myself. There are 3 things one has to get right. The company name, the product name and the contact information. Otherwise you're doing a disservice to the manufacturer. Now if a manufacturer has, in the reviewers opinion, misnamed something, it is not the reviewers role to retitle the product. The reviewer has the capacity to state his view in the text of the review along with the option of contacting the manufacturer and discussing the concern.
The renaming of a product, for whatever reason, is a highly irresponsible act and rather arrogant. At least I now understand why I've been getting emails asking about a "Victory" boxcar.
At this time I'm still waiting on the editor to get back to me about this issue, but it is causing me to think long and hard about my relationship with the magazine.
Stay tuned.

After a day passed, I did speak with Chris D'Amamto of RMC. He is very understanding of my position here. He will be printing a price correction and a title correction. What may or may not get said to the author remains unknown to me. Frankly I believe I'm at least owed a public apology. Watch me not hold my breath.