Running Trains at Twilight, in My Driveway, During a Pandemic, With Neighbors Watching

It’s been a weird summer. Society has been gradually opening back up, but large gatherings are still taboo, we’re all wearing masks when we’re out in public, and train-club meetings remain on Zoom. I’m starting to miss those things we used to call “events.” Because the recession came knocking at our shop, and slashed our workload, I now have four-day weekends to fill. The COVID-19 Emergency Railroad has been coming out a lot lately. (more…)

Handcrafting a Jack Panel for the Pandemic Atlantic

In the first chapter of the Pandemic Atlantic saga, I addressed the loose drivers and bent side rod that I hadn’t noticed when purchasing the engine. The next thing I wanted to deal with was the jack panel at the rear of the cab, which was cracked. This is a common problem with these engines. Sure, repro panels are available if you know where to look, but there’s a pandemic going on, and I had time on my hands. (more…)

Six Points for Gryffindor

Hex Frog Juicer” sounds like something out of a Harry Potter novel, doesn’t it? I’d be lying if I said my purchase decision wasn’t influenced just a teeny bit by the name. But, colorful connotations aside, that name is actually quite descriptive: the Hex Frog Juicer is designed to provide electricity to six turnout frogs. Just what Susquehannock Industrial Park needs! (more…)

Yonder Gallops the Gift Horse

Shown: brass-railed Atlas code 100 flextrack, and code 175 rail.

The appearance, some fifty years ago, of nickel silver rail has been hailed as one of the hobby’s great milestones. Not only did it present a more realistic appearance than the brass rail of the day, but when it tarnishes, it still conducts electricity reasonably well. Aside from cost, there was no drawback to choosing nickel silver over brass. Because cost plays a bigger role in the hobby than anyone cares to admit, it took another decade or two for brass rail to vanish from the market, but vanish it eventually did. You can’t give the stuff away now.

Okay, I’m lying. You can. Somebody just did. (more…)