In a normal year, this would be the first day of the fall train-show season. I’d be in the car right now, with a load of T-Trak modules and gear, on the way to the fairgrounds in Syracuse. I’d spend the afternoon dragging folding tables into position, shimming them up into some semblance of levelness, spreading tablecloths, laying out modules and cables, and building a railroad to run in public all weekend. I’d be doing the same thing next weekend, and several weekends after that, right into mid-December.
But this is 2020. None of that is going to happen. Everything is cancelled. (more…)
Several of my clubmates have attended the N Scale Weekend show in Bedford, Pennsylvania over the past several years, and have urged me to join them. The event is no longer held in Bedford—this year, it relocated to Altoona—but no matter. I went along, and had a great time. I somehow managed to make it home with a whopping 19¢ still in my pocket.
The big night is here: you’ve invited esteemed members of the local model-train community to operate your new Basement Empire for the very first time. You’ve printed out waybills and switch lists, set out snacks and beverages, even swept most of the junk off your workbench. As the guests filter in, you show them around the engine terminal, gesture towards the bare plywood where great mountains will arise, and hand out the throttles.
“So, what era are you modelling?” asks one of them.
“My railroad is set in the mid-Fifties,” you state proudly, as you survey the mixture of steam power and first-generation diesels in your yard.
“But the ICC banned billboard reefers in 1937,” he says, pointing to your wood-sided beer car. “This car doesn’t belong here.” (more…)
Model railroading is not necessarily a seasonal hobby, but many people treat it as such. When the warm weather arrives, there’s a garden to weed, or a Harley to ride, or a reunion to attend. The trains sit ’til autumn. I generally keep at the railroad activity through the summer—it’s a perfect time for taking messy jobs outside—but this year, not so much.
In addition to preparing for the RIT show, I’ve been frantically soldering another throttle together for an exhibition I’m setting up on Monday, documenting Chuck’s new throttle, and doing some emergency track repair on George’s railroad. I’ll have more details on all of these things soon, so bear with me.
Four years ago, I had an upcoming show for which I needed a reverse loop module. I had one week, and a minimal budget, to build one. With limited after-hours shop time at my disposal, I decided to forego wood and experiment with corrugated cardboard instead. I’ve written about the construction of this module elsewhere. So, how’s it holding up?