HO scale

The Joy of Cheap, Gaudy Boxcars

I overpaid for this ’80s-vintage Model Power boxcar at the train show in Cicero last December. I mean, look at it: crude, heavy molded-in detail, exposed assembly tabs, graphics printed directly on raw plastic. I paid $5. It’s not worth a nickel over $3. But still, that color! Oh, the color! Glorious, gaudy traffic-cone-orange plastic! It practically glows in the dark. Just what I need for the Windlenook project.

So I handed over the whole $5, took it home, pried off the shell and the horn-hooks, and proceeded to spend way too much time installing Kadee couplers. I had to do a surprising amount of surgery to both the underframe and the shell to get everything to fit properly, but it’s back together now. It’s prone to wobbling, however, and I’ll probably spend way too much time fixing that.

But the color!

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Windlenook Gets Its Joystick Throttle

When I took the Windlenook project on its very first outing to the Maker Faire last November, I had to hook it up to an old MRC power pack. I’d attempted to get an Arduino-based joystick throttle working at the last minute, and couldn’t get it to respond. I finally revisited the throttle circuit after New Year’s, and discovered that it was just a few code errors away from working. Oh, well. (more…)

Cute

“Cute.” How I hated to hear that word used to describe trains, as I was growing up. Trains weren’t cute. They were big. They were grimy and smoky. They made noise. They hauled thousands of tons across the countryside. (Or, in my world, they were models that represented such things.) But I picked up a vintage Varney Dockside at the RIT show last month, and it’s… (more…)

Attempting to Relax With Kit Assembly, and Succeeding

Remember me saying how kit assembly brings out the perfectionist in me? How my anxieties bubble to the surface whenever I put tools to plastic? Well, I still haven’t finished that Erie Station kit yet (let alone the Bickles project), but I have discovered model kits that bring me joy, relaxation, fulfillment, and just enough challenge. You’d never guess what.

Vintage HO scale boxcar kits! Really! (more…)

I Purchased Some HO Scale Freight Cars. Please Stop Freaking Out.

These days, I’m known amongst most of my fellow hobbyists as an N scale guy, although there are a few who still remember my S scale past. I’m not one of those people who switch scales every couple of years. I have never, ever dabbled in HO scale, even though it’s the most popular scale. So when I picked up some used HO scale boxcars at the spring shows, my friends naturally started freaking out.

“You’re not getting out of N, are you?” they asked, perhaps anxious that I’d no longer be able to help them with their Micro-Trains coupler problems. (more…)