Sunday, September 13, 2009

AEFRE 49 Update

Had a chance to get a little work done on the
AE&FRE 49 motor this weekend.

New trolley poles from Light Rail Products
(Major effort to get them together, but well worth the
price and effort. Maybe I should read the
directions next time, see if there's an easier way)

Sitting on Baldwin MCB trucks which aren't correct, still
determing if it's worth the effort to scratchbuild
the proper Peckham trucks or not (Probably will)

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Workshop

The Workshop, where all the magic, I mean tragic, happens.

After a couple of months of the workshop being a dumping ground for the latest magazines, and myriad other junk, followed by a fevered last couple days of hacking and slashing defenseless styrene to start a couple of 1/2 inch scale box motors, the workshop was in dire need of a clean-up and re-organization.
The lovely wife, always at the ready with a pithy comment or three, advised that I take a couple pictures as it "rarely looks like anything could actually be accomplished in there". That, along with a couple requests to show what the den of inquity looks like, produced the following :

We own a townhouse, nw suburbs of Chicago. About 1/2 way between O'Hare and IRM if anyone cares. It's a three bedroom, which is more than enough for the wife, myself and the dog. Unfortunately, it's on a slab, no basement, and we have way too much crap in the garage to make a workroom, so I grabbed one of the bedrooms. Standard 10x10 foot bedroom, packed to the gills. One of the things I actively try to keep in mind in my modeling is the concept of modeling big things, in a small space, the idea being, anyone can do this if you have just a simple bedroom, you don't have to have the master workshop we all dream about.

The view in from the hallway, most of the library on the left, the all important sound equipment to the right rear. Large scale Fox River car on the left, large scale CA&E Pullman in the back.

Much of the library, research tools can not be undervalued, EVER ! I've put a lot of effort (and money) into building my library over the years. Almost all the CERA bulletins, almost any significant traction book you can name that's been published in the last 50-60 years, lots of photos, etc.

A peek past the door, the rest of the library and research materials (Mostly covered by boxes). The 1:6 scale Birney in semi-hibernation, waiting for the next burst of inspiration. Much of the walls here are bare, normally the walls are covered almost completely, but a lot was taken down for the displays and I haven't gotten around to putting it all back up. (Re-arranging some too !)

The actual work area. Tucked the worktable into a former closet.
O scale collection on the left, lots of "White Ghosts" (unfinished styrene projects, mostly 1:24) above. The current projects, the two CA&E box motors
on the table in the foreground.
Amongst the "White Ghosts",, North Shore line car 606, CSL Big Pullman, Toronto PCC, a section of Chicago elevated track, a North Shore Line "Insull Spanish" station, CTA 1-50 car (waiting for trucks from the new Aristo PCC !), a Sand Springs 68, couple others. Some day...

(Wife's note - This is a historic photograph,,, no empty beer bottles in sight)

The actual worktable. Couple more projects and nonsense in view,, AE&FRE workcar, AE&FRE "cab on flat" work motor, 1:6 scale Indian motorcycle. Too many toys, not enough time !

Labor Day Modeling

Made a concerted effort to get back in the modeling groove this weekend.

The project du' jour,, a pair of CA&E box motors, 1/2" scale.
The cars in question, CA&E #5, and #7

Not much progress thus far, only had a couple of days, but here we go...

Locomotive #5

and Locomotive #7

One of the bigger milestones (at least for me), is getting trucks under the bodies. Current Line Baldwin sideframes (which will be modified and have their 3rd rail shoes added later), Bachmann steel wheels with new axles to "widen" them out to 1:24 scale/gauge. Got it down to a near-science now, set up a mini-production line with the drill press and other tools, knocked out all four sets of trucks within 90 minutes, a new world record (at least for me !)

Next up, finish off the basic bodies, add doors to the #7, roofs and details. Actually have the roof for #5 about 2/3 done, this is the clerestory roof. (#7 has a basic rounded roof design) Trying a few ideas, all in styrene, details later. The basic idea/design works, it's in essence what I did with the CA&E Pullman car, but I'm trying a couple new wrinkles.

One other project of the summer, converting a standard Bachmann boxcar to 1:24 scale, and building CA&E service car "Tool Car B".

All the handrails/details removed, holes filled in. Doors modified, whole bunch of Ozark Miniatures handrails and grabirons. Kadee couplers and the usual modified "widened" trucks for 1:24 scale/gauge. Roof modified as well, with a tar paper "look", made with strips of masking tape. Few more details here, and off to the paint shop.

Summer Update

Updating has been lax the last couple months, a busy summer all-around.
Haven't gotten too much modeling done, a combination of family, summer railfanning, and that darn job kept getting in the way.

What a railfanning summer though...
As I write this, just 16 days from my 49th birthday (send cash only), I can't recall a more jam-packed two months, and all either directly in my backyard, or at most within a couple hours driving time.

Started with the IRM Trolley Pageant on July 4th. A dreary rainy day didn't take a single thing away from the 2 dozen plus electrics operating. Rare equipment, including pantograph equipped cars, trolley freights, and interurbans "at speed". And all of this literally just feet from the Large Scale Trolley Group "mini-meet".

The rest of the summer is a bit of a blur, so in no particular chronological order :

Leviathan, a new-built 4-4-0 steam locomotive test steamed and run for the first time at the Fox River Trolley Museum (First steam on the line since it was built ??), literally minutes from my house.

SP 4449, chasing it across Illinois, through the western suburbs, into Chicago, then a few weeks later, on display in Franklin Park, and later, north to Milwaukee.

Trainfest 2009, eight steam engines operating for a long 4 day weekend in Michigan.

NKP 765, one of my favorite steam engines, operating trips in Indiana.

IRM Diesel Days, the usual assortment of unique and rare equipment, plus active UP units, and the unveiling of CB&Q 504, resplendent in Chinese Red

IRM pulling CB&Q Hudson 3007 out of barn storage for a couple weeks to post with the Chinese Red unit and other Burlington equipment.

UP 428 steams for the first time in 50 years as IRM's steam team gets closer to returning steam operations to the museum.

Freeport & Stephenson's 1936 standard gauge Heisler in steam (just west of Rockford)

And that's just the last couple months,, still up is Monticello's Railroad Days with another Levithan appearance, and a possible return of Leviathan to FRTM before the year end.

A good time to be a railfan in the Midwest !

LSE Auction Update (Labor Day)

Brief update on the LSE auction, at least in terms of local (Chicagoland) interest.

Early in August, the Illinois Rwy Museum Board of Directors authorized bidding on up to a total of eight cars from the LSE collection, with a particular emphasis on the CA&E wood and steel cars. There's a total of eight CA&E cars, but that's no indicator that they're trying for all of them. I can see giving up on two of the four CA&E 450 series St Louis cars, and trying to get 6 CA&E cars, and two cars from the rest of the collection (Another Fox River car, maybe one of the Iowa motors ?) We'll have to see.

In the meantime, IRM is the first group (at least that I'm aware of) that's actively solicting funds for the purchase. You can contact IRM directly and/or donate direct to a specific fund set up for these cars. Link here :

Every dollar helps, remember a winning bid is only the start, the museum also needs to pay for rigging (both at shipment and delivery points), permits, transportation, insurance, track space, and eventual indoor storage, restoration, upkeep, etc.

Here's hoping that at least one of the Fox River cars "comes home" to FRTM in South Elgin as well.

Winning bids will be announced on October 2nd (along with the 2016 Olympics bid which Chicago is a finalist for !)