The New Layout build: Quick Update – 17 July 2019

Just a quick update on the new layout build. The woodwork was completed before I went back to work on Sunday this week. And the layout was set up in its temporary location until we move back to the big smoke later in the year. Where it will again live on the trestles I’ve built for it.

Between now and then my goal is to get the layout up to operating standards (track laid, wired, tested, trains running etc.). Once we move back to Melbourne I’ll complete the basic scenery such as ballasting and landforms. Then there’ll be the large industrial buildings to build, the junk yard fence and the junk to complete. From there I’ll be detailing the layout.

Today however I want to look at the track plan, and setting that up on the layout board. I’ve been a big fan of working things out on the board now for several years. And today’s exercise has reinforced that.

Here’s a reminder of the version I was working to when I began setting down track today:

Image 1: The original track plan (version 4)

The basic layout design and the track layout are very close. I was happy with the original design on paper (and screen). In the flesh however, it was ‘off’, just not quite right (NQR). So out came some cars, and a couple of extra switches and away we went. I like the more organic look of the track formation now. It is pleasing to the eye, and the camera (see Image 2 below).

Image 2: An overview of the layout design modifications

There’s enough straight lines about this layout (baseboard and the two warehouses – the two spurs at back left). To ensure that the viewer would not be overwhelmed by that I decided to change the 4th turnout from the straight in the plan to a curved turnout. That change to the geometry has created what is now a serpentine look to the layout. By ensuring that the trackwork is ‘going in all directions’ provides a ‘real’ feel to it all. And that pleases me very much.

Image 3: A lower shot showing the organic flow of the track arrangement

So much for a short update! I’ll be posting over the weekend in regard to the layout board and legs; as both are a new way to work for me. All the best. You thoughts and comments are most welcome here and on Facebook. Please share and let me know your thoughts.

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Site Seeing – 16 July 2019 – The Little Critter that could edition

It’s not often that you get to see internal (in-plant) company railway operations today. Thankfully “Saginaw Terminal Docks” (Facebook and YouTube) posted a video from Reid Machinery in Lansing, Mi showing how they use old freight cars to store valuable machinery on their site prior to sale.


Reid Machinery’s internal railroad

Reid Machinery Inc of Lansing Michigan have specialised in moving machinery, primarily in the forging industry, throughout North America since 1992. And while that may not seem like the most worthy thing to write about on the third Tuesday in July – I urge you to hang around a moment longer. You see they also hold their large (as in big – not lots of) inventory on and in their own railroad assets.

Yes – they have their own switching layout.

Thanks to Saginaw Terminal Docks we have a front row seat, and a cab ride on one of these switching moves. I asked him about connections to the rest of the world. He tells me that the in-plant line connects to the JAIL/Adrian & Blissfield on over a mile of old track through Lansing’s south side.

And this is so modellable…


YouTube video

Some of the things to watch out for in the video are:

  • The three person crew (Engineer, conductor, and digger – and yes it’s a guy with  a shovel)
  • Slow switching speeds
  • At around the 18 minute mark – opening the boxcar door with the forklift forks (we often model the result but the actual operation is rarely filmed)

So sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy the show.


Resources

Posted in Boxcars, Layout Design, Loads, Operations, Prototype, Site seeing, Sites of interest, Small, Switching, Switching, Web, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Layout Build – Part 1: Design, Decisions, Ops Method and Track Plan

New techniques, a new baseboard type, and a small footprint are coming together for a simple, yet very operational, small layout.


Design – Decisions and purpose

First off let’s take a look at the decisions affecting the design.

There are several layouts that keep popping up on various feeds of mine including Cleveland Flats (in 1:48 scale O gauge) and the Fort Smith RR layout (also in O gauge) both by Kurt. Along with these layouts and many more like them came a recent post by Lance Mindheim regarding the The “Thirty Minute/Three Hour” operating session guideline.

Lance writes: “When it comes to model railroad operations, I’ve noticed what I call the “thirty minute/three hour rule”. It has to do with how long the average person can run before burnout, boredom, or both sets in and they’ve had enough.

Lance’s 30 minute Op session applies to the single operator, while the longer time period applies to the group operator on a larger layout. Most of my layouts (including this one for which I’ve not yet come up with a name) assume that most people will tire of operating within the 30-45 minute range and thus can be operated in as little as 15 minutes or as long as 45 minutes by a single person or a two person crew – working as engineer and conductor. An Op session includes arriving at, switching in before clearing up and leaving the modelled scene.


Design – Operation flexibility

I wanted a layout design which allowed varying lengths of work. That work length  depending on how much time I had available. I’ve come up with three scenarios that fit within three session lengths of 15, 30 and 45 minutes as follows:

  1. A single customer with one or more cars  to switch for those times when you just want to switch something – let’s call it the 15 minute session,
  2. One or more customers with one or more car(s) at each location, for those times when you want to spend a little more time switching, but not have a full operating session – let’s call it the 30 minute session, and
  3. Two or more customers with one or more cars at each location for those times when you have between 45 minutes and an hour and two operators. There is added complexity where cars being held at the customer’s site may require re-spotting during the switching activity- let’s call it the 45 minute session.

I wanted operational flexibility since the time I have available may change in the middle of a session. So what may start out as a 45 minute session may end after only 15 minutes (perhaps something has come up to which I need to attend – the washing or ironing for example).


Design – Operating Method

To allow for operations flexibility I’ll be using switchlists as the operating method on the layout.

Switchlists allow for a series of moves that can be ticked off by crews as they complete the work. Meaning that should someone else decide to continue an interrupted Op session they mark off their moves as they’re completed, before shutting down the layout, ready for the next operator to come along and continue the Op Session, and so on.

My switchlist will mimic the prototype in their look, but will have an activity column to let operators know what they are to do at each industry (for simplicity’s sake) and a checkbox column to allow crews to mark completed switch moves.

The activity column will provide for three activities:

  1. SETOUT – where a car is set out a named location and spot (where applicable) which for example may be “Industry 1, spot 3”,
  2. PICKUP – where a car is picked up from a named location and spot (where applicable) which for example may be “Industry1, spot 1”, and finally
  3. HOLD – where a car is still being unloaded at the named location and spot (where applicable) which will require the car to be respotted after any switching moves that require the car to be moved. For example at “Industry1, spot 2” the car is not finished unloading. We need to setout a car at the same named location spot 3, which is further down the spur for a specific commodity. So we would pull the car from spot 2, setout the incoming car at spot 3 and then respot the partially unloaded car at spot 2 before finishing switching.

Since I intend to use blue flag protection at each location where we are switching into customer premises. I’ll eventually build a bill box for each location to contain details of car/spot assignments. Initially though I’ll be using A5 clipboards with the customer’s spotting requirements.

I’ll delve more deeply into the operating method in a later post during the build. Suffice to say that switchlists as I envisage them allow simple, easy to understand instructions to crews who may be operating for the first time. They also allow start/stop short operating sessions by many operators over different days (so long as crews mark cars off as they go).

My goal for an operating session of any length is to focus on switching action, not on the paperwork. That can happen in the background during the Ops setup session.


Design – Track Plan

Right now I’ve completed up to version 4 of the track plan – the first one that I’m really happy with. The next step is to play with the thing for real on the layout surface to check for fit and to see how things will look.

I’m trying something new in the design as there is no runaround on the scenic area of the layout. I’ve moved the runaround outside the scenic area by using a fiddle-stick to contain the runaround/rest of the world. By doing so I get more switching on the scenic area while still allowing the train to be turned (the loco running around the train).

Also by varying the length of the fiddle stick you add flexibility to train lengths and thus the scope of the operating session – such as how many cars you can switch in a complete session. Version four’s plan is below:

I’ve recently begun using SCARM and find it to be refreshingly simple and easy to get used to. I had my first layout up and running in 10 minutes from installing the software. For a free piece of software (for small and simple layouts – if you want to build larger more complex layouts you can purchase a license to unlock more features) it works very well. It get’s the Andrew’s Trains tick of approval.


The state of play

I’ve completed the layout board, glued down the foam and built the supports. Most of the wood was what I had on hand. There were a couple of purchases, along with wood, screws, and other bits and pieces I had on-hand. There’ll be a post next week on that process. I’m about $110 Aussie in so far on the build process. I have all the track I’ll need (including turnouts) but have to complete the work to get them ready for DCC. We’ll discuss that in the next couple of posts.

For now I’ll sign off. If you would like to see more of these types of posts on the blog and on Facebook make sure to like and subscribe as appropriate. I’m looking forward to reading your comments and keeping you up to date on the build process.


Resources

If this is the first time you’ve come across operating methods as mentioned above there’s a great primer available at Freight Train Operation and Model Car Forwarding Methods by Dave Clemens.

Available as a PDF download it covers many operating schemes with short explanations of each. (If you head to the Pacific Coast Region NMRA’s clinic page you’ll find a bunch of other useful clinics and handouts for your reading pleasure too).

Don’t forget that I’ll be covering the paperwork to be used for this layout in a future post.

All the best and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Andrew

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Site Seeing – 10 June, 2019 – the Realistic Rust edition

I’m always looking for better techniques to model rust weathering. This video comes courtesy of a post I found on the MRH website by YouTuber MarklinofSweden. He shows how to create a realistic corrosion effect very simply. Take a look at the video I’m sure you’ll be impressed.


Modelling realistic rust


Got another technique that works for you? Please share it with me and if you found this post useful please like and comment. I’m really interested in what you’re up to with your weathering journey.

Posted in Acrylics, Liked off site, Modelling, Paints & Painting, Pastel Powder, Powders, Site seeing, Sites of interest, video, Weathering, Web, YouTube, Youtube | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Site seeing – June 6, 2019 – the ‘Barmouth Junction’ edition

This video came to my notice thanks to a post on the Australian Model Railway Magazine’s (AMRM) Facebook account. And while not Australian in any way shape or form, Geoff Taylor’s Barmouth Junction layout is a visually stunning model.


Barmouth Junction

Well worth the time to travel over the line and listen to it’s creator tell you about the layout. It’s a masterpiece and while not a small layout it is so well modelled and I imagine it is just as good to operate on that I wanted  to share it with you.

Well done Geoff and the thanks also to British Railway Modelling (BRM) magazine for showing us the layout.

Posted in Large, Layout Design, Layouts, Liked off site, Modelling, Motive Power, OO Scale (4mm:Foot), Scenery, Site seeing, Sites of interest, steam, video, YouTube, Youtube | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Site Update – New Gallery – Pyke Brush Cutter

A new gallery has been posted covering a very unique piece of UP M.O.W equipment I found back in 2000 on Austin’s Bergstrom Lead. This comes about because of a post on the MRH website where member cr9617 is modelling one in HO scale.


Not something that you see every day

Maintenance of Way equipment is a fascinating field of study and I was very pleased, as well as lucky, to have caught this piece of equipment on the Bergstrom Lead back in 2000.  (It is hard to believe that these digital images are almost 20 years old as I write this – where has the time gone?)

To view the gallery click here, or use the menu and hover on the Galleries > USA > Austin, Texas, Pyke Brush Cutter and click the last pop-out. Enjoy and leave a comment if you can.

Posted in Class 1, MOW, Prototype, Site seeing, Sites of interest, This Site, Web | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jack ‘Shortliner’ Trollope – RIP – April 27, 2019

For those of you reading, who did not know Jack “Shortliner” Trollope, AKA Shortliner Jack, you really missed out on an experience. Jack was a courteous and caring man, modeller and mentor. Always giving of his ideas, and time, with many across the world of model railways.

His passion for small space railroad modelling ignited my passion. It wasn’t until today that I realised I have been in touch with him regularly for most of the last 20 years online, in forums and through the Model Trains International magazine and website. He was the person who first took an interest in my designs and got me to write several articles for MTI over the years.

His most enduring design (I think) was Box Street yard. A timeless design along the lines of Cyril Freezer’s ‘Minories’, Alan Wright’s ‘Inglenook’ and John Allen’s ‘Timesaver’. To have a layout design spoken about in that august company should by anyone’s model railroading standard be considered an honour. I’ve included an image of Box Street below (image courtesy of Carendt.com) . Click on the image to get taken to the site for a full review of Jack’s layout design. A fitting tribute to the man and the modeller.

To his wife and family you have my deepest sympathies. I’ve shed a tear, and to his memory I’ll raise a beer shortly. RIP Jack. You’ll be greatly missed. You’ll not be forgotten.

Andrew

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Site seeing – April 13, 2019 – oh the useful things you find on YouTube edition

I enjoy going down the rabbit hole that is YouTube, on occasion, just to see what there is to find.

Recently I came across Marty’s Matchbox Makeovers where Marty (obviously) reworks classic Matchbox vehicles, bringing them back to their showroom best. In a couple of recent videos he’s increased my knowledge on two topics that have been on my ‘get to know about‘ list:

  • The use of Brake Fluid (which I’ve always wanted to try but had been afraid of using) to take hard to remove paint off a model (in this video uses it on a clear plastic piece) and provides a fair bit of information on the types of brake fluid (who knew there was more than one – I’m no car guy…), and
  • Polishing clear plastic parts using Aluminium Paste, and in the same video he showcases a silver rattle-can paint, available from our local car parts stores here in “Straya’, that gives an outstanding finish that I have a use for in the near future.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to use these interesting techniques I can recommend Marty’s videos. He achieves great outcomes with commonly available products (if you’re not in ‘Straya’ then you’ll have something similar available. Enjoy watching and talk to you all soon.

Posted in Information, Modelling, Site seeing, Sites of interest, video, Web, YouTube, Youtube | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Site Seeing – 04 Feb 2019 – The scratchbuilding masterclass edition

I enjoy scratchbuilding. It’s a mental as much as engineering or artistic endeavour. I recently found the site highlighted today and just had to share this for those of you unsure how to begin or for those who’ve begun but need along their scratchbuilding journey.


TamiyaBase.com

While this site deals with cars, and car related projects, the series of tutorials provide a great set of skills totally applicable to all modellers.

It includes extensive styrene tutorials in both flat and curved surface projects and there’s another outstanding tutorial on a project in brass. And this guy knows his scratchbuilding business.

There are downloadable templates, lists of tools and supplies to complete the model; in all a very comprehensive site and full of ideas for those of us interested in bettering our scratchbuilding skills. I learned a lot from reading all the tutorials.


Resources

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Site Update – The 2018 year in review edition

Earlier this year Andrew’s Trains passed the 100,000 individual views mark. I was very pleased at that result. You can read more by clicking the link above. With the start of 2019 I wanted to review the year that was at Andrew’s Trains, and see what insights came to light.


The year that was

2018 was a good year. Of note have been that the small layout designs have been of greatest interest to those visiting. Of note:

  • Just over 32000 hits on the blog, and
  • Almost every month was bigger than the year before (which is good)

Insights show that most people are still looking at the layout designs. So that will give me the focus for this year.

The year that will be

During 2019 I’ll have a couple of projects that I want to complete. These are:

  • More modelling and scratchbuilding – kitbashing/modding – articles including completing all the outstanding/started but not finished freight car projects,
  • Updating all the small layout designs with their own pages and a written operating plan to help readers understand their design and operation, and
  • Chronicling the design and build of my own small layout (8′ x 1.5′  – 2400mm x 450mm) shunting layout, with off-board staging.

I’ll be uploading more sketched ideas, and less of the computer generated designs than I have in the past. This is simply down to time, as in I don’t have enough of it to spend on learning new software packages while not having enough time to model. With my work as a tram driver I just don’t have the spare time to devote to any hobby that I’ve had in the past working regular 9-5 jobs.

I’ll be finishing the current XAF10 Railbox series of articles and complete the build articles that I’ve been working on for quite some time for the Victorian Government Railways ‘GY’ wagon build, and any other outstanding articles completed too.

Thanks for coming back and thanks too for those of you following the channel. You are the reason I’m doing this. I love sharing my skills, tools and ideas and all I hope is that you get the bug and start to build and operate. All the best.

Andrew Martin

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