Saturday, December 11, 2010

CA&E - Rte 53 Overpass in Lombard

The contest theme for our local NMRA Division for December 2010 was "Diorama", which had to include a structure and a revenue piece of rolling stock. Diorama building is of course right up my alley as I always have a need for such things for my IoFV display, something to put the cars into a scenic (and hopefully somewhat) accurate setting.

As per my typical route, I waited until pretty much the last minute to do anything. In my defense, the workload at the office is still pretty daunting, but I looked at Thanksgiving weekend as my key piece of time to get something done.

First up was finding a suitable scene. I had done a couple of AE&FRE scenes in the past, it was time to do something CA&E, and try something with third rail. After going through many many books, pictures, ideas, I settled on a color photo in the Morning Sun book "The Insull Chicago Interubans (CA&E-CNS&M-CSS&SB)In Color", by Gordon E. Lloyd.

The scene depicts the Rte 53 bridge in Lombard, Il.
A two track, concrete, Art Deco styled overpass

This is the photo from the book, it was lifted off of someone else'e webpage where I suspect they scanned it from the book, so chase down that guy first. In any event, of course the photo credit goes solely to Mr. Lloyd, and I will remove it if asked.

Back to the model. I didn't have any measurements, and frankly was just to damn lazy to go to Lombard and do any measuring. The overpass still exists as part of the Illinois Prairie Path Bike Trail, or at least I assume it does since I haven't been that way in about 10 years, and I remember seeing it back then. Maybe I'll look at Google Earth when I'm done here, ah the internet, world traveling from your desktop.

So, based on (a) the size of the piece of foamcore I had handy to use as a base, and the generalized measurements of the Pullman and St Louis cars in the photo, I came up with a typical model railroad "selectively compressed" version. The bridge/overpass itself is built from styrene, the colums are simply long narrow boxes built up from strip styrene, edges sanded smooth, and the tops filled in with modeling putty and sanded smooth. In point of fact, this was an incredibly easy build, really suprising just how dynamic of a scene it creates given the honestly minimal amount of effort needed to put it all together. The basic scene and the overpass were built in one day, the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2010. The scenic elements (the two hillsides) were done the following Saturday, and the track was laid and ballast added the first Monday and Tuesday of December. All just enough to get things to set up, and dry and be ready to be handled for the Division meet on Sunday the 12th.

The scene has two failings, one is that it doesn't have the railings in the photo. I may add those at some point, I really left them off because (a) I was lazy, and (b) they'll end up being pretty fragile, which will simply irritate the hell out of me when I snap one or more of them off somewhere down the road, most likely just before a train show starts. The other failing is that it has Code 148 track which is a bit big. I purchased some Micro Engineering Code 148 track for my O scale layout about 9 months ago, in typical fashion, once the damn track was laid, then ME announced that they were coming out with Code 125 ! Oh well, it looks okay and given that I have an interest in older "historic" models that were built in the days before fine scale standards and such, it's not such a bad thing to have something a bit heavy handed that can handle those cars and deeper wheel flanges.

In the very likely event that I won't get around to posting anything else in the next 14 days, consider this my extended wish to you and yours for a safe and happy holiday season, regardless of your religious preferences (or lack thereof) and credit card limits !

*** UPDATE - After posting all this, I just couldn't leave the thing without those railings, so,, after a couple hours of hacking up some more innocent, unsuspecting styrene, here you go.

It makes for an obvious difference, and was well worth the effort, I would have seriously short-changed myself by letting it go without those railings.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Elgin Aurora and Southern

Two updates in two days,, what, did he lose his job ??

Anyhow,, for those of you faithful readers playing along with the home version, you may recall the saga of the Aurora & Geneva Rwys #2, a brass GHB Brill Semi-Convertible car in 1:24 scale. For those of you not playing the home version of our game, or those that can't remember, check the older posts, I'm far too lazy to rewrite the story again.

The Aurora & Geneva Railway Company #2

Fast forward to September 2010
Another one of these relatively rare cars found it's way onto eBay. The car was listed at a much higher price than the original 25+ year old price I was able to get mine for, and the car didn't sell. I sent the seller a friendly FYI email advising of market conditions and what I paid for my car, and sure enough, a day or two later, the car was relisted with the lower price I paid for mine.
I posted a notice on the Yahoo Large Scale Trolley Group in case anyone else might be interested in the car, and luckily no one bit. We'll get to the luck piece in a minute...

About a week later, the seller sent me a private email and offered the car at a much discounted price from his lowered asking price. Fool that I am, a fool and his money were soon parted !
And for the record, I don't know why I do this to myself. I had no interest or desire in having two of these cars, even with different car numbers !
In any event I ended up with the car. I'm glad it was me and not someone else, because I had mentioned the car to any number of folks, and it was NOT as advertised on eBay, the car was a far cry from the "Excellent Condition" it was listed at. Even with my discounted purchase price I was left feeling a bit cheated, and I can only imagine how someone might have felt getting this thing at full price. I bit the bullet and kept it, deciding to make lemonade out of this lemon.
(Dumb idea, I like beer, not lemonade !)

Anyways, the problems with the car weren't overly bad, just very frustrating and time consuming. I made the decision to work around the issues and build something different, settling on Elgin Aurora & Southern Brill cars of a similar era. The major differences were wood front ends, and Brill Model 77 trucks. A fellow LST member had a use for the original Maximum Traction trucks and a deal was quickly struck, further lessening the sting of the purchase !
I had just enough time the last week or two to get the car semi-presentable for Trainfest. New poles and hooks from Light Rail Products, new Brill 77EX trucks with NWSL Carpet Drives, some other minor detail changes (Car is no longer convertible). Much more to go, needs steps, final truck mounting, clean up, re-install the interior, etc.

The new trucks

Updates when it's all done !

Friday, November 19, 2010

Trainfest 2010

Slowly but surely getting back to modeling..

Had to scramble a bit last week to get everything finalized for Trainfest 2010. Several new models which I'll detail in the next week, including a conversion of the brass GHB Brill Convertible car (not the one I originally post about, a new addition). Several new memorabilia additions as well, including an original AE&FRE rollsign (cut in two unfortunately, but the cut is clean and centered between two destinations,, best part is it's cut perfectly for display purposes, probably the reason it was cut to begin with), and a CA&E headlight.

So, here's what we had last weekend, (Sat/Sun - 11-13, 14)

As always, thanks to those that stopped by and visited,
and especially those with a kind word or two !

Saturday, October 23, 2010

At long last, summer is gone and an update

What started as a promising summer of sun, fun, and enjoying life and the new CA&E cars out at IRM came to a pretty loud crashing halt by the end of July. I find myself torn between bitching about working so hard/so many hours, yet juxtaposing that with the realities that our national economy is still struggling to get back and a lot of the work I have done, has been translated into lots of new toys ! Ahh, perspective.

Anyways, it seems like the worst of the worst is in the rear view mirror and life can return to normal (or what passes for normal for your friendly host/blogger). I really got back into the thick of things last month with our first monthly NMRA meeting of the new season. I was fortunate enough to take first place in our monthly contest which was "New", something with a fresh/out of the paint shop finish. I painted up the nice custom built brass CA&E Miller car I purchased earlier this summer. I said it then, and I'll repeat it now, I don't think I truly deserved to win, but I ain't giving it back ! Anyone truly desperate to see the car can see it on our Divsion webpages in the Oct 2010 Semaphore newsletter. Go to, select the "The Semaphore" tab on the left and pick the Oct 2010 issue.

Anyways, now with what I hope is the worst of the workload at the office behind me, I can concentrate on getting back to business. Of course a quick look at the calendar reminds me that I now have slightly less than 3 full weeks to get done the 8 weeks of work that I need to accomplish before Trainfest ! Typical, typical.

So, at long last, an update, short on goodies, but better than nothing.
More within the next week at most, I PROMISE !

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Updates - Finally

It's been a couple of overly busy weeks, so both the promised updates (and any real modeling) have been in short supply. So, somewhat spraying to all fields, here's what you missed, and the "plans" for the near-term future. If memory serves, the last time I left you, the faithful reader, I was swamped with work, which really screwed up my typical last minute push to get things ready for a show. Anyone who feels the need to ask why wait till the last minute, clearly doesn't understand model railroading !

And for the record, all of this last minute push was done to get ready for the July 4th Trolley Pageant/Yahoo Large Scale Trolley Mini Meet at the Illinois Rwy Museum and I can happily report that the big guys do the same thing, they were feverishly finishing touch up paint and final lettering to at least 3 newly acquired CA&E cars (the full size ones) on July 3rd !

This year the Yahoo Large Scale Trolley Mini-Meet featured something not done previously, a contest, or "challenge". It was thought of pretty much last minute, 98 days out from the 4th of July. The challenge, starting at that moment, build something new that would be finished and operable on July 4th. In typical fashion, I went immediatlely for the kill-shot and started on something big, flashy, and frankly, inappropriate,, an Illinois Terminal Streamliner.
I got a really good start on it, before deciding that it wasn't really in the "theme" of things, and stopped and scaled back my plans. It will be finished at some point because it's simply too damn big and cool not to complete, but as it turns out, it would have had problems clearing even the biggest loop we had set up with 6-7 foot curves, this thing is big.

Scaling back (and really having to build something that would fit any available on-hand power trucks), I decided to keep with the Interurbans of the Fox Valley theme, and built a single truck line car, Aurora, Plainfield & Joliet #3. Yes, it is a prototype car, circa about 1885 or so.

In progress, about 2 weeks before the 4th

And the finished car, such as it is. I was fortunate enough to be named the winner of this year's competition, although I think the judge's decision (Jan Giradot, the Yahoo LST list owner) was based on his collective idea of how much effort I had put into making the event work out, and how much he enjoyed the Interurbans of the Fox Valley display I put together for the event in the depot, but that's another story, I won, and I ain't giving it up, so there !

Some of the happy Yahoo LST group, from left to right, we have:
Rick Hannegan from Pennsylvania, Bob Kutella, from Illinois (and IRM)
Jan Giradot, from Colorado, Bryan Anderson, from Iowa, Charley Sheets, from Ohio, and on the end, the incredibly svelte looking one is yours truly.
Cliff Burnstein from Kentucky was clever enough to avoid picture taking !

All in all a very successful weekend, we set up on Saturday the 3rd, and operated some of the afternoon on the 3rd and all day on the 4th. 4 operating loops, including one with live overhead (supplied by John Nelligan, who graciously offered the layout's use even though he was out of town), and we had operations with 2-rail and battery power as well.

A special note of thanks to some of my local NMRA Fox Valley Division members. The call for help went out in mid-June, and Jim Allen stepped up immediately, offering not only to help with setting up and tearing everything down, but also brought his "Action & Reaction RR" display, which is a HO scale train that operates on a bicycle wheel. As the train moves, it turns the wheel, so there is motion, coupled with a sense of being stationary. Has to be seen to be believed.

Jim also brought along Mike Hirvela, and both guys stayed much of Saturday and all day Sunday, helping with the day's events. We were also joined early Sunday morning by Jim Osborn who also helped with some of the last minute set-ups.

I also set up a version of the Interurbans of the Fox Valley display in the depot.

Couple new additions, most significant I suppose is the original Fox River roll-sign I got earlier this summer. One special/strange moment,, someone was viewing the display, and then seemed to get all excited. They took off, and then came back a few minutes later with a friend and the latest issue of First & Fastest magazine (which the IRM bookstore has on sale). I was lucky enough to have the IoFV display noted in the current issue and this person had apparently been thumbing through it in the bookstore and then realized he was able to see the same thing in person. Funny, weird, strange. And no - I'm not signing copies !

The display inside the depot (Jan Giradot photo)

I'll wrap up the July 4th reporting with a final thank you to the folks at IRM, starting with Bob Kutella who is the defacto host, and all the people who helped make the day successful. Of note, Barb Lanpheir, Buzz Morrisette, and John Faulhaber come most quickly to mind. I know I missed many more names than I included, and my apologies, feel free to contact me to edit this post and include the missing !

I wrapped up the July 4th weekend by getting some measurements of display cases out at IRM. I was asked to put together a semi-permanent display of the Interurbans of the Fox Valley.

Got my info and then spent the following week trying to visualize the whole project, spent the following Saturday building displays, mounting materials, and then finally spent the better part of Sunday the 11th setting it all in place. The finished display is up now and available at no extra charge to IRM visitors. I'll likely take it down sometime early-mid October in order to use some of it at Trainfest in November and store the rest for the end of the season.

The IRM Display. This is in the Art Train car, which is parked just south of Barn 4 where the Electric Car Department does much of it's work. Next to the Streamliner cars which are also open for display. (Special note, both the streamliner cars and the display car are air-conditioned,, this is the single best-kept secret at the whole museum on a hot summer day !)

So, other than all of that, my personal modeling hit something of a wall. Just too much needed to be done to keep up with shows/museum/displays/etc, and way too much going on at work. In the interim, I've done the next best thing, spend some of my hardly-earned income on new toys.

I've really built up the O scale fleet the last couple of months, it's really been something of an embarrasment of riches. Lots of goodies finding their way to the marketplace at very favorable prices !

In no particular order :

The Illinois Terminal C-Class motor. My plan was always to expand the Interurbans of the Fox Valley concept to Interurbans of Illinois, so this will come in handy. Keeping the theme of expanding to Interurban of Illinois, I also grabbed 3 Clouser North Shore cars (already in preliminary Greenliner paint, just needs finish details and lettering), a little GE 25 ton steeplecab, also destined for North Shore paint, a B/W steeplecab which will be paired with a sister in CA&E colors, and a great CA&E modernized Kuhlmann coach. I also picked up another CA&E Pullman car, one of the new Bachmann Peter Witt cars (Indianapolis Rwy maybe ??) and as of today, compliments of Ed Skuchas, the final Fox River 300 series car is on it's way to me, giving me all seven in the series.

Needless to say, plenty of projects, painting, and building for the next few months !

The plan for this weekend is to chill out a bit (no pun intended as we're in the middle of a two week 90+ degree temperature run in Chicagoland) and sort things out, get resettled and rearranged. Hoping to get the track in place for the GS layout and maybe even ballasted !

Will update that series as we get back on track !

Friday, June 25, 2010

Updates Coming this Weekend

I realize I've been somewhat remiss in updates, especially in light of the grand announcement of the new layout beginning. I of course have fallen victim to a lot of work at the office (hard to complain since that's what pays for all the toys), and more importantly, my own version of MRADD, or Model Railroader Attention Deficiency Disorder. More readily translated to,, when a new train catches his eye or attention, it derails everything else.

So, I will get back on track (and stop with the pathetic rail inspired puns) this weekend and update the varied ongoing projects. Amongst the coming highlights,, new power in the O scale world (Three new Clouser North Shore cars, a new brass CA&E Kuhlmann car (modernized) and a B/W steeplecab destined for CA&E livery). Progress on laying track on the layout, and the official unveiling of the Yahoo Large Scale Trolley Modeling July 4th contest entry. A hint, it's a single truck line car originally built for the Aurora Plainfied and Joliet. (1:24 scale)

Before I sign out here, it's come to my attention that this nonsense has begun to reach an audience beyond a few local friends/family. I apologize in advance for the random nonsense, frequent changes in direction and ideas, and also,,,

Thank you for reading and getting in touch !

Your words and especially compliments have driven me on to bigger and better things.

Well, at least more of the same anyways.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Golden Spike Layout - Update 5-29-10

After a few weeks of plotting and planning, I decided to simply grab the bull by the horns and jump in. No pain, no glory. Went for a very simplified modular design, simple uprights made of 1x2" Poplar (Good grained lumber, a bit more expensive than common pine, but at least you know you're getting something straight!) Uprights support standard 12" wide hollow core closet doors. Whole thing designed to be quick and easy to set-up and maintain, and is designed to straddle the bookcases in the train room. All in all, it's a fairly flimsy design, but like many things, once you put it all together, it becomes very self supporting.

The overall design is perfect for smaller scales (at least to my mind). Using this in O scale is a bit of a stretch, but for my purposes, typical one-two car interurban trains, 40-50 ft long cars, it'll work fine. Would be great for ON30 as well. Even the lightweight nature of things could be bolstered by simply adding more uprights and bracing, these doors are pretty sturdy really, I don't see much chance of flex/sag in them unless you're putting some big O scale steam engines on it with some substantial weight.

This is the basic design, 1x2" uprights, with more 1x2" cross pieces. One at each end (doors are typically 68-70" long), door simply sits on top of the crosspieces as seen below. All of this can be fastened together as loosely or tightly as desired. The design show here, with the support legs to the inside and outside, which leaves a gap along the back, is intentional. It will leave room for a drop in, combination spacer/backdrop.

Here you can see how the door/table top sits on top of the uprights.

All in all, including going to Menard's for lumber and supplies, what you see here was constructed in less than 2 hours. It's a small room, a standard 10x10" bedroom which actually has a bit of it cut-off due to an offset door. Just enough for a small point-to-point operation, just enough to run the rust off the wheels. Think of it as a nicely detailed (eventually) test track or an operating diorama.

And now, the tour (like any other like-minded modeler, once you have that bare benchwork, you start throwing track on it to see what things will look like) This is all temporary, a little salve to run a train back and forth and reward myself, as well as a template of sorts to see what will fit, and how. Waiting for the shipment of vinyl roadbed to arrive, I'm pretty satisfied with the layout of things, and once the roadbed is here, I can lay the track and start detailing this thing.

Starting just inside the door of the train room. This station is here for mock-up purposes only, it will be replaced with a semi-scaled down, scratchbuilt version of the Elgin & Belvidere's station/substation that used to be in Union, IL.

One of my fleet of early 1960's Ken Kidder Fox River cars at the ready.

Same spot, viewed from the other way. The station will have a short team track, LCL loading platform for LCL, milk, newspaper shipments. Typical midwest interurban stuff. A pair of Clouser North Shore cars (on shop trucks) occupy the siding at present.

First corner, the track will run under a steam road overpass (something to hide the corner effect), and run into "town", this will be just the proverbial wide spot in the road kind of thing, couple of storefronts, gas station, a blink of the eye, and you missed it.

Out of town, down the back wall, about to turn again for the next corner.

Into the corner, and the final leg

(at present, we're going to have a simple U-Shape)

Not sure what's going to cover this corner yet (a gas works like there used to be in Aurora is a strong possibility) Also want to work a small stream or culvert somewhere in this general area, either just before or just after the corner. Track flows into the last leg, and will end at a double sided, high platform station (This will be patterned after the CTA's 50th Ave station at IRM.)

The Rich Yoder GE 45-tonner (soon to be lettered for AE&FRE #5) with a couple of Atlas freight cars stands at the ready, and a mock-up of an IT freight trailer on the other track.

PS - These are all Jason's Brass Poles, another "expedient" to get things up and running ASAP.
More to come,, just waiting on that damn roadbed !

Let's do a quick checklist, where do we stand with Golden Spike requirements ??

Layout needs to be at least 8 square feet.
CHECK - Current configuration is approx. 23 square feet

Layout needs to display six units of rolling stock
CHECK - This is the easiest part, I have WAY TOO much stuff.

Layout needs to display 5 structures.
This one is in progress, plotting and planning exact structures here, but the ideas are in place

Three types of trackage (special work) are required
CHECK - Three turnouts in place, will also include a crossing, and possibly a gauntlet track on the steam road overpass.

Track needs to be properly ballasted, raised roadbed, etc
Also in progress, basic trackplan in place, waiting on the roadbed to get this underway

Layout must be wired so two trains can be operated simulataneously.
In progress, plan will be simple DC, block control

Layout must have one additional electrical feature, signals, powered turnout, lighted building, etc
Small interuban like this would not have signaling, turnouts will be either push rod or ground throws (still considering this one), so we'll go with lighted structures, streetlights in town and yard lights at the stations. In planning/progress.

All in all, not a bad start.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mystery Car - CSL 250

Attended the monthly meeting of the Kishwaukee Valley & Eakin Creek Model Railroad Club this past Monday evening (May 1oth) This club, which hosts 4 separate layouts (one each in N, HO, 3-rail O scale, and a large outdoor G scale layout), is based in the Del Webb/Sun City development in Huntley, Ill.

Jim Osborn and I gave a brief talk about the NMRA, membership, and the upcoming NMRA 75th National Convention. After the meeting, we adjourned to the layout room and viewed the layouts. I was presented with this large scale model of a Chicago Surface Lines "Big Pullman" car.

This is an old, scratchbuilt car, which has seen a bit of rough handling over the years, and needing a bit of TLC. Given my experience and "knowledge ??" of traction, and large scale, I was asked to undertake the restoration effort.

No one seems to know who built this, or when. It appears at first glance to be nominally 1:24 scale (I haven't had any chance to take measurements as yet). It's built of wood, looks to be made possibly of laminated veneers. It's a very lightweight piece. The car was built with a modified 3-rail (Lionel ?) truck, and is set to run on 3-rail O scale track. Given that, the materials used, the style of construction, it seems to me that this car likely is a minimum of 50 years old, certainly predating the "LGB invasion". The older style of bulbs used, the use of actual house-window, window glass also seems to date this as an older piece.

My plan is to clean the old girl up, make some minor repairs, and basically restore this as a display car. I'll swap out the funky O scale trucks with something gauged out to at least 45mm, maybe the full 1:24 proper gauge. I think the car is too old/delicate to really be used as an operational car. Hopefully, I can also find out who the proper credit for building this might go to.

Golden Spike layout - Update of sorts

The "Golden Spike" layout has been terminated. After all the back and forth with our new O Scale Modular group, I've decided to build a small "executive" sized layout. Also modular in style to allow for removal if need be. Basic around the room, almost a shelf type thing, 12-18 inches wide at max. Just enough to run a car or two.

Had to thing a bit about the setting. Finally reconciled myself to the thought that modeling anything prototypical in such a small setting would only be frustrating and unfulfilling as too many compromises would need to be made. So, just decided on a simple, generic, Midwest, single track line interurban. Start with a point to point thing, around the walls, 7.5' up one wall, 10.5' across the next, down 8-9' on the next side, then later decide what to do with the fourth wall (should I simply loop the thing for continual running ?

Pics to follow later this weekend.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

South Upton Tower (North Shore Line)

Needing to build something for the April FoxValley Division monthly contest, I decided to finally build a 1/2" scale model of the North Shore Line's South Upton Tower. Eric Bronsky did a great article in the March 1985 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, and I've always wanted to duplicate his efforts in either O scale or 1/2" scale.

As usual, stryene was the quick and dirty medium of choice, and equipped with Eric's article, which includes some nicely detailed drawings, the basic building was knocked together in about a week. I started on Tues March 16th and had progressed to the vision in white below by Sunday the 21st. Certainly doesn't hurt to have most of the raw materials at hand to start with.

This thing is pretty big in 1/2" scale, 10x17 inches, by 13 inches tall.

So, here we are, 4-1/2 weeks later, the final push over the last week to complete the tower just ended, and just in time for tomorrow's meet/contest. The finished tower below, complete with interior. A nice touch (my opinion anyway) the tower features copies of the actual track boards from the real South Upton Tower, which have been preserved by the Illinois Railway Museum. Eric Bronksy was kind enough to forward pictures of the boards which I promptly scaled to size and printed for the tower's interior.

One of the photos from Eric, showing the South Upton Junction

The tower interior, showing the track boards, and interlocking equipment

So, we'll see what the guys in the Division think !

Guess I should build something North Shore to pose next to the tower, hmm ?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chicagoland O Scale Modular Club

First semi-official meeting of the newly formed Chicago area O Scale Traction modular club was Saturday, March 13th. We met up at the Clever Models booth/display at 1PM, and adjourned out to a side hallway for some quiet and privacy.

Had a half-dozen folks show up and the interest is very high.
We were also lucky to have Ed Skuchas from Berkshire Car Shops and an active EPTC guy sit in and give his impressions and advice.

Kevin spent part of last week building a prototype table, based on his ideas and modifications to the East Penn standard, which after some discussion we've adopted as our "standard" table.

Basic differences are we've elminated the lip on the ends of the modules which serve as leg pockets for the East Penn group, our tables will be 18 inches wide compared to EPTC' 16 inch width (adding two more inches to the rear) and we'll go with a 3-1/2" track center.

In the unlikely event that a Chicago group/EPTC get-together occur, a couple of transition modules could in theory be cobbled together.

This is the basic design, showing Kevin's concept for raised risers as opposed to a flat tabletop design. This is a really well thought-out design and nicely built. Cabinet grade materials, yet it's still very light weight and easy to handle
(Admittedly without track, overhead or scenery as yet !)

As seen below with the sub-roadbed, the design allows the front of the risers to be cut away to represent landscaping and ground contouring, or with a wider sub-roadbed, could also have the table-top style (if needed for a city/town scene, industries with a lot of switching, etc)

We decided to adopt Kevin's prototype as our new "standard" table design, with dimensions of 4 feet long x 18 inches deep. We decided on getting something up and running as quick as practical, so we'll work on getting a number of straight modules together, and then build a return loop at each end, as opposed to a circular layout.

We'll have a double track mainline, starting with Code 148 track, preferably the Micro-Engineering over the Atlas track (although either will work), as the ME has a better look to it.
The consensus was that a tall layout was more appropriate to our needs and our intent which is to have a highly sceniced layout, something that you'd want closer to eye level to enjoy and catch all the details of. Leg height was determined to be 48 inches and a number of design ideas were discussed, Kevin will test these ideas over the next week and come up with a prototype design.

We're also waiting for samples on roadbed, once we have roadbed samples and a leg design, we can come to a consensus and start building tables. I see no impediments to having several tables built and ready to operate (perhaps no overhead just yet), by tax day. Once we have a few tables to work off of, we can design and build the return loops, and we're ready to go public.

As noted interest is very high amongst the handful of guys who showed up, I'm guesstimating we're looking at a minimum of 5-6 tables to be built to start, up to 8-10, somewhere between 20-40 odd feet of running to begin with.

A pretty auspicious start, certainly more than I had dared to hope for.

Sometime in the near future, the scene below (Kevin's prototype with some of his IT fleet on display), will be set up and operating at a show near you !
Thanks to everyone who showed up and expressed any level of interest.
Special thanks to Kevin for all the hard-work and to Ed Skuchas for his
advice and encouragement.

2010 Chicago O Scale Meet

Attended the Chicago O Scale Meet on Saturday, March 13th.

Two-fold mission, looking for goodies to buy, and our first semi-formal meeting/get-together for our new Chicago area modular traction club (Separate post to follow)

Hadn't been to the meet in a couple of years, having focused most of my modeling of late on the large scale stuff. The meet is in a new location, nicely laid out, very well attended from what I saw, and it is truly kid-in-a-candy-store time. All the stuff that no one hobby shop could ever hope to have in stock, all the odd-ball, obscure stuff that you wonder about when you see a magazine ad or something on-line, all laid out to peruse, fondle, drool over, and hopefully for the dealers,, to be purchased ! And of course, so many rare, dare we say collectible, pieces as well.

Like Christmas in March really

I was able to curb my usual impulses, there wasn't anything that I couldn't truly live without, although a NWSL GE 45 ton center cab caught my eye. The dealer wasn't set to take plastic and it was just too nasty out to make the effort to go find an ATM and come back with cash. All's well that ends well,
Rich Yoder has a couple of his 45 tonners left
(and they're more accurate to AEFRE #5),
so I'll get one of his instead.

Some nice stuff in the contest room, this engine house has some
really nice stonework and detailing

Likewise, this scene was well built and detailed, photos don't do it the justice it deserves

I'm a crappy reporter, didn't take names or details, but I know this will all be well represented in an upcoming issue of O Scale News

Amongst the highlights of the day was getting to meet Dave Miecznikowksi of Clever Models.

Dave markets a line of model kits and supplies designed to be printed on cardstock. Again, pictures don't do this stuff justice, you have to get up close and see it to beleive it. And as Dave notes, the cost is so much less than if this were urethane models or something more "traditional"

A couple shots of the Clever Models display below.

The traction category was well represented in the model contest,
with about a half dozen entries

In the passenger car category was this Walthers combine, done in South Shore colors, really a nicely done car, takes a lot to get the old Walthers cars to look this nice.

All in all a good show, well spent day.
Got to meet a lot of people face to face who previously had either been just well-known "names", or online contacts. In particular Ed Skuchas, from Berskshire Car Shops, really one of the nicest guys you can ever meet, and very willing to share his extensive knowledge and experiences.

We also had our first semi-formal get together for the newly formed Chicagoland O Scale Modular Club. Dave was gracious enough to offer his display as a meeting point, and from there
we adjourned to the hallway for a bit more quiet and privacy.
Check the next blog post for details.