Monday, October 26, 2009

Show Schedule

Starting to get some interest and attention for my traveling display,

I'll publish a show schedule, and update as the given dates get closer with more details. None of these shows are a one man operation, there will always be far more to see and enjoy than just my humble display.

November 2009
Trainfest 2009
Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, West Allis, WI (Milwaukee)
Sat, Nov 14th & Sun, Nov 15th CONFIRMED

December 2009
No Shows
CONFIRMED (Thank you Mrs. C !!)

January 2010
Great Midwest Train Show
Dupage County Fairgrounds, Wheaton, IL
Sun, Jan 10th TENTATIVE

February 2010
Great Midwest Train Show
Dupage County Fairgrounds, Wheaton, IL
Sun, Feb 14th TENTATIVE

March 2010
High Wheeler 2010
Harper College, Palatine, IL
Sat, Mar 6th & Sun, Mar 7th SCHEDULED

March 2010
Great Midwest Train Show
Dupage County Fairgrounds, Wheaton, IL
Sun, Mar 14th TENTATIVE

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Quick post, getting ready for Trainfest

Another shorty post, lots of prep work getting ready for Trainfest 2009 in Milwaukee.

Couple weeks ago, as part of the push at IRM to raise funds for the new ex-LSE museum cars and their return to Chicagoland, a very generous member of the museum offered up a number of personal brass O scale models for sale, with all the proceeds going directly to this specific IRM fund.

One of the cars offered, was an MTS O scale, 14 bench open trolley. A beautiful car, and it fits in with my overall IFV theme as cars such as these were used in great numbers by both the Fox River Line and it's smaller connecting cousins.

While I'd already made a decent sized donation to the IRM fund (first of a planned total of 4 donations, so now I'm on record, and therefore on the hook), as well as to FRTM for their new acquistion, this was too good to pass up, a beautiful car and the money is going to bring some real treasures to IRM. A great thanks and a tip of the hat to the donor of these models who has preferred to remain anonymous, although I know who you are, and you have my personal thanks, for the car, and the efforts to IRM, past, present and future.

Once the car was in hand, the question became how to paint it. This car is pretty unique, it is apparently completely soldered together. Had it been able to be disassembled on even a minor level, I could have done the painting justice, as it is, the amount of masking needed to do the job right is frankly beyond my abilities and patience level. Having said that, I figured I'd give it a basic color scheme, hope for the best, and see how it looks. One man's opinion, it's not bad, could be better, but could be a hell of a lot worse too. I can live with it as is until someone offers us a repaint solution.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Model Railroading vs Railroad Modeling

Having returned to a more "public" and involved level of modeling of late, old friends and new acquaintances are often curious about the way that I describe my current modeling pursuits.

I most often will describe what I do as "Railroad Modeling" as opposed to the more traditional, "Model Railroading". So what's the difference you may ask, really not much more than semantics in reality, but being the anal retentive type at times, it seems an important distinction.

I think of model railroading as what most model railroaders do, someone actively involved with model trains, and the building of an operating layout (or participation in a club type environment) The trigger here is the word "railroading", which to me indicates operation or at least planned operations.

I've lived in a townhouse (actually 2 different ones) for the last 21 years. Both are slab construction, no basements. Both have/had a one car garage suitable for storing a single vehicle if you had no specific need to get in or out of it, or storing all the typical junk a homeowner has (ladders, tools, gardening supplies, lawn chairs, holiday decorations, etc, ad infinitum), but not both. In both cases, the homeowner junk has always won out, thank god for remote car starters in our Chicago winters. In the end, the garage, not an option (Even now that I got rid of my motorcycles !)

So, I've been relegated to taking over a standard 10x10 foot bedroom for my modeling efforts.
In most scales, 10x10 doesn't give you much to work with, when you're doing 70% of your modeling in 1/2" scale, and a typical interurban car is over two feet long, if you opt for that operating layout you get a few short runs and a lot of turns. Not very believable in my view, sort of defeats the whole purpose of modeling something like the car itself as prototypically as possible.

With that in mind, I've turned my focus to strictly railroad modeling. Much like the modeler who goes to the local hobby shop and either buys a kit to model a car, truck, plane, boat, etc (or buys the raw materials to build it from scratch), the model is built with the ideal as a static, stand-alone display item, not intended to be driven, flown, floated, etc. Similarly I build my railroad themed models in the same way, as static models.

Having said that, I have built all of my cars so that the "dummy" trucks on any given car can be removed and power trucks can be installed fairly quickly and easily. Similarly, power can be run from the roof mounted trolley poles or pantographs to the the trucks for overhead operations.

This allows me a couple of advantages.
First, I'm not laying out sizable chunks of cash for motors, gear boxes, etc. Quite the practical stance to take not having a regular place to operate anyways, at least in my humble opinion.

Secondly, being in large scale for more than 4.9 seconds, everyone is faced with the ultimate question we all have to face,, what scale/gauge are you modeling ? Most people are mixing any number of scales (1:20.3, 1:24, 1:32, 1:29) and running them all on the LGB 45mm track standard, which then, dependent on your scale, gives you a variety of track gauges as well. Which is fine, do whatever makes you happy !!

My swap out method allows me to have the "proper" 1:24 scale trucks with appropriate 4 foot-8-1/2" gauge, yet should the urge arise, be able to swap out a power truck either for the scale/gauge combination, OR, something that will allow my car(s) to run on LGB track as well.

Have to be careful about that last option, 1:24 scale equipment, especially full-sized is well,,, big.

Traction equipment is typically narrow enough that it's not an overly obnoxious or objectionable sight to anyone except the most pure among us when it's riding on track that scales out to somewhere in the 42" range as opposed to 56.5 inches, but you really need a couple of S L O W test runs to check those clearances.

So that's pretty much it in a nutshell, fully admit it's 99.7% semantics, but as always, the devil is in the details. I honestly think everyone should at a minimum consider building something in this manner, ideally in a different scale than you're currently in. It's a good way to flex your modeling muscles a bit, and open you to some similar, yet slightly different ways of doing things. Give it a shot, what do you have to lose ?

And now, time for me to do some real modeling so I have something legitimate to post and publish here,, although this has been a pretty decent way to kill about 30 minutes at the office on an otherwise quiet afternoon !

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Trolleyville/Lake Shore Electric Collection

Some of the rarest and near/dear to my heart traction equipment is finally making it's way back home to Illinois. After an aborted attempt at moving the old Trolleyville museum from Olmstead Falls, Ohio to a new site (and reorganized as the Lake Shore Electric Rwy) on the Cleveland lakefront, the largest number of ex CA&E and Fox River Line cars were made available for sale.The winning bids were announced just a week ago on Oct 2nd, and the results are stunning.

The Illinois Rwy Museum will now be home to CA&E wood cars 36 and 319. Car 36 is from the first order of AE&C cars, and is a sister to Car 20 at the Fox River Trolley Museum. It is believed that both of these cars operated on both the first day of operations in 1902 and on the last day in 1957. Car 20 by virtue of it's number is "older" than the 36, (much like twins, one had to come first), and I believe these cars are the oldest operating interurbans in the US.

IRM will also be home to CA&E Pullman 409, the only remaining car of the first order of steel cars for the CA&E. St Louis "curved side/fishbelly" cars #451 & 460, from the last order of steel cars for the CA&E (and the last "standard" interurbans built), will also be coming to IRM.

This will give IRM a car from each of the CA&E's original steel car orders, a Pullman, a Cincinnati (#431 already at IRM), and two of the St Louis cars.

IRM will also be getting a single truck open trolley, originally from Vera Cruz, Mexico. Similar cars ran on many of the Fox Valley streetcar and interurban lines in the early 1900's.

Not to be outdone, the Fox River Trolley Museum will also become the new home for one of the CA&E St Louis cars, #458. Even more significant will be the addition of former Shaker Hts Rapid Transit car #304, one of the original Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric cars, which will be returning to home rails for the first time in 70+ years. It is important to note that it's quite a rare achievement for a museum to operate "home rail" equipment.
Sometime in the not-to-distant future, this scene below will be recreated in real life as a Fox River car again travels south down the mainline alongside the Fox River, passing under the
former Illinois Central mainline at Coleman.

Life will imitate art !

The other remaining Fox River car, #303, will remain in Ohio at the Northern Ohio Rwy Museum, preserved as a Shaker Hts car. The Connecticut Trolley Museum will be the new home for CA&E 303, and the Electric City Trolley Museum will be the new owners for CA&E St Louis car 453.

I saw the ex-Fox River cars at Trolleyville, but never had a chance to ride them. Sometime next spring, the chance to finally ride a Fox River car should be realized, to realize that dream on the actual Fox River Line is something I honestly thought had little chance to happen. Likewise the CA&E St Louis cars and the CA&E Pullman, I saw them at Trolleyville, but never had a chance to even get inside them, much less ride them. Now they'll be less than 30 minutes from home. (My home that is !)

Both IRM and FRTM will need extensive funds to help with the costs of purchase, rigging, transport, track space, indoor storage, restorations, etc, etc.

IRM is accepting donations online at in increments of $25, accessed through the online store. Both IRM and FRTM also accept donations (no amount too small, every bit helps !) at the following addresses.

Illinois Railway Museum

PO Box 427

7000 Olson Rd

Union, IL 60180

Fox River Trolley Museum

PO Box 315

South Elgin, IL 60177

And with that, I'm looking at the calendar with only a little more than 30 days until Trainfest in Milwaukee. I've acquired a couple new pieces to add to the Interurbans of The Fox Valley display and I need to finish up some of the summer projects to be ready. Can't guarantee I'll be any more timely in posting the updates, but at least when it's all said and done I'll have plenty of new things to show here. Keep tuned.