Category Archives: Modelling

Everything to do with modelling

Every day’s the same, just different

A recent Facebook post in the Micro/Small Model RR Layouts group regarding problems with a member’s switching layout prompted me to write this post.

Here in essence is what was said:

I built a switching layout based on Lance Mindheim’s “One Switch Layout” plan. The first time I ran a switch job it was very absorbing. The second time (different switch list), I realized that I had figured out the “trick”, and it was more tedious than interesting.

Working in the rail industry this is the standard operating procedure. The first time you do a thing is often stressful if not outright terrifying, and then the tedium sets in as you make this just another part of your day. And perhaps, that is the difference between knowledge and understanding.

Most days are going to be the same. You drive a train. You deliver and pick-up. You go back to your starting point and berth the train or hand it over to another crew. And this is a good thing. When things get very different there is a problem and that can ruin your day. Each industry may be simple to switch or there may be gyrations required to get cars fettled into the right spots. You don’t know until you get on-site and check the tasking from the receiver or shipper. Same but different. That’s the nature of the business.

In the same vein, the model should be much the same. Every time you operate the layout, the track and switches won’t change (unless they break). However, with an interesting industry, with more than one spot, nothing will ever be the same twice. This is where the interest comes in for me. It is the troubleshooting required to get a car out of spot 2 of the 3 on the spur, get another car into that spot and work with the industry to get it out that makes it interesting.

So what do we take away from all of this? Tedium is a daily part of any ‘work’ task. Adding interest is the job of the layout designer and builder. Ensuring that you have industries with more than one spot and that at least one of those spots requires a certain car on occasion will ensure that you have operational interest in all of your operating sessions.

Your takeaway

Working with the industry is how you make sure that your layout does not go stale. There are resources available for understanding this concept. I’ve linked to Tony Thompson’s outstanding website (see resources below) for more on ‘Sure Spots’.


Resources

  • Visit Tony Thompson’s excellent website “Modelling the SP” using the link to get to part 1 of 4 on Sure Spots. I’ll quote Tony here on what a Sure Spot is: “The concept of a “sure spot” means a particular point at which a car must be spotted, such as one particular spur, or a particular loading or unloading facility along a spur, or even a particular door at an industry.”

Staying in Contact

Got a comment on this topic? Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas?  You can do that in several ways:

Site Seeing – More on Grain at Kensington

I’ve written previously on the Allied Mills facility at Kensington (inner Melbourne, Victoria, Australia). Marcus Wong I’ve discovered has a great blog post on his site about the facility that goes in-depth about what it is, what it does, and where it is headed.


Visit Marcus’ site

First off here’s the link to Marcus’ site

So visit there for an in-depth review of how things get from A-B.


Resources

Visit the previous post on our site:

Staying in Contact

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas?  You can do that in several ways:

Site Update – June 14, 2020 – The “Not dead – Just Dead Tired” Edition

Life’s been more complex since the COVID-19 outbreak and being an essential worker has meant no time off and more work to stay safe. I’ve been quiet I know.


Holidays

It’s been a long few months.  And with all that has been going on in the world, I’ve had to do a lot just to cope with it all.

Working in the public transportation sector has been very stressful.  With extra cleaning and social distancing and so on I’ve been mentally shot at the end of every day. It’s exhausting to do what I do without getting sick.

All of the drivers, customer service and other staff at work have done our best to stay COVID-19 free despite the time spent in, around and with the public. So far no-one has tested positive which is a testament to the efforts we’ve all taken. In addition, I’ve taken on the role of OH&S rep for our work site adding complexity to the already complex. It is good though to be back in a leadership role and being able to assist others when they need guidance and assistance.

Days off have been about family. They’ve been doing it tough too worrying about me. So a big thanks to my wife and children. They’ve been outstanding and steadfast during the pandemic. I could not have done it without them.

My silence? It’s been me, and not you. Seriously. You do what you have to when times get tough. I’ve not forgotten about you or the mission of Andrew’s Trains though. Speaking of that…


Where to from here?

What seems like a lifetime ago (only several months) I began to change the look and feel of the site. Either moving or changing many elements here. The core of the layout design and similar works remain. They always will. That’s what I’m about. But in thinking on my mission here’s what I feel is the right place to go to next:

  1. Focusing on getting you to build your first layout (if you’ve not already done so).
    • A simple straightforward task-driven format such that over one weekend you can build a simple module (I’m going to focus on a 2′ x 4′ foot standard (or their metric equivalents) and show you how to go from idea to construction, to built and work-ready layout in a weekend.
    • That’s right, something nice and simple (like an Inglenook) that you can build on Saturday and Sunday and operate from Monday.
    • I’m looking at a multi-part short and focused video series for these using common components (for those of you in countries outside of Australia). These will be a subscriber series with a written version available for free here on Andrew’s Trains.
  2. Working with others in the same area to share thoughts and ideas.
    • I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve loved the work being done here in Australia by Luke Towan over at Boulder Creek Railroad.
    • He’s a gifted scenery artiste whose techniques I’ll be using. Scenery is not my strong point Thanks to Luke it doesn’t have to be.
  3. I’ve got a couple of changes yet to make to the site.
    • There will be an update to graphics (thanks to my son’s outstanding design and video skills).
    • The other change will be moving the posts from the front of the site to their own dedicated page, and making a static page the entry point to the site. In addition, I’ll be adding an email list option for those interested in joining.  All of this to be completed by 28 June before I head back to work.

Takeaways

  • More change is coming to Andrew’s Trains. But in a good way.
  • The focus is on basic layout building technique, using simple tools to build a layout in a weekend that you can operate from Monday.
  • There will be paid and free content. Paid content will be in-depth, and interactive for those needing more help or greater insight.
  • Free content will provide the same content but without interactivity and the deep dives into specific areas.
  • Posts will be moving to their own blog page and a new front site page will appear with access to an email list for those interested in signing up to new content.

Staying in Contact

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas?  You can do that in several ways:

January 19, 2020 – The where did the modelling go edition?

Some of you have asked where the modelling, weathering, prototype and related articles (formerly on this site) have moved to. Here’s the answer…


With the redevelopment of the Andrew’s Trains site to focus on small, easy to build, practical and operational layouts I moved the modelling articles, which are outside of my mission to bring a layout into your home this year, to my other site. That provided clarity for this site and for my modelling interests outside of layout design.

To find those old articles, and the newer ones already added, head on over to the >>modelling site here<<.

All the best

Andrew

2019 – The Year in Review

Regular readers will know that change is afoot at Andrew’s Trains. Content change, overall direction change and a focus on small railroad layout design is coming in 2020. At the start of the new year it’s time to look at the direction I’ve set to see if I’m on target.


Overall 2019 was the best year yet in regards to total views. Visitor numbers were down a little bit. But I’m expecting things to get better this year with the focus changing to better meet what you want to see.

The numbers

So at the end of 2019 here were our main numbers were:

  • Total Views: 33425
  • Total Visitors: 6431
  • For an average of 5 views per visitor

Views by Nationality (Top 10)

United States 48.37%
United Kingdom 13.82%
Australia 10.54%
Belgium 5.32%
Germany 5.13%
Canada 4.65%
Netherlands 2.50%
Czech Republic 1.80%
France 1.14%
Romania 1.00%

And a big shout out to the individuals from:

  • Costa Rica
  • Kazakhstan
  • Egypt
  • Belarus
  • Latvia
  • Colombia
  • Cameroon
  • Isle of Man
  • Cyprus

To each of you who dropped by this year: I hope you took something away of use , and I hope to see you more often in 2020.

Who referred you to Andrew’s Trains

Most people were referred through Google searches. Followed by Facebook, Pinterest, Bing, TheRailwire.net and model-railway-hobbyist.com.

The top 10 looked like this:

Google Search 30.10%
Facebook 3.44%
Pinterest 2.02%
Bing 1.84%
therailwire.net 1.79%
model-railroad-hobbyist.com 1.42%
diskuze.modely.biz 1.16%
hobsonsbaynorth.blogspot.com 0.82%
Yahoo Search 0.59%
duckduckgo.com 0.37%

Most popular sections

 

  • Small Layouts  – 2,128
  • Brett – a great small layout you can model – 731
  • Layout Designs – 477
  • Kendallville Terminal Railway Co (Kendallville, IN) – 372
  • Corio 2016 GWR Micro Layout – 361
  • Layout Ideas  – 289
  • Medium Layouts  – 250
  • Track Plan Ideas  – 211

By far the biggest items on the list in all categories are small and micro layout designs, build reports and reviews. This backs up what I’ve been seeing from the currently running survey. If you’ve not taken part in the survey would you mind helping me out and providing me with answers to some simple questions. It takes about 3 minutes of your time and will help me make this site better suited to what you want. Click here to go to the survey


What’s happening in 2020

Well…

First off all the unrelated content, that is not layout design and build related, has been removed from the site. It will be appearing on my personal site and will be available there in dribs and drabs as I get to it. Mainly this is the modelling and image gallery pages. More on that here once I get all of the pages and the content uploaded and setup the way I prefer.


Resources

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas? Connect with us on the Andrew’s Trains page on Facebook

Web site redesign – continues – December 27, 2019

Content is moving around, and off-site to my other modelling related website to simplify the purpose and the mission of Andrew’s Trains.


Simplification

I’m in the process of transferring all of the modelling related content off site to my modelling related pages on my personal website. THe aim is to keep layout designs here and all other content including the modelling articles there. That will take place during the first quarter of 2020. I aim to be layout designs only by April 2020.


Where will it go?

All of the modelling content will be transferred in stages to:

https://martinfamilyweb.wordpress.com/go/modelling/trains/

It’s a work in progress. However I’ve written up an new landing page for the VR GY wagon series as well as a part 2 of the build process this couple of days off. So you can head on over there to read more about that process. More information on the build was requested by a couple of readers and I apologise for the delay in getting that completed. Life has been busy, and my time is limited. But it is getting there.

I’ll keep you advised as things change and changes to both sites rollout.


Resources

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas? Connect with us on the Andrew’s Trains page on Facebook

Site Seeing – December 19, 2019 – The Open top car loading edition

Ever wondered how you should load an open top (think gondolas, flats, pulp wood racks, etc…) car. Well now you can answer that question thanks to Douglas Harding. Read on for more.


You’ve got to be a member

To get Doug’s file you have to be a member of the Ry-ops-industrialSIG at groups.io. This group’s primary mission is to discuss railway operations and industries and how to model them and  is the primary discussion list for the Operations SIG of the NMRA and the NMRA’s Industries SIG. So there are some operations heavy hitters here with the answers you won’t find elsewhere. It can get a little esoteric at times, but well worth the time spent here. If you are modelling the North American scene then this group is a worthwhile addition to your modelling resources.

Click this link to head over to the group home page. Complete the sign-up process and once you’re done click the link in the “Get the PDFs section below to download.


Get the PDFs

OK so now you’re a member, it is time to get the 2019 XMAS Goodies. Before you blindly start downloading though here’s what’s covered in the AAR Car Codes Open Top Car Loading Rules as supplied by Doug:

  • Section 1 Rules 1988.pdf
  • Section 2 Loading pipe part 1 1987.pdf
  • Section 2 Loading pipe part 2 1987.pdf
  • Section 3 Road Farm Equipment 1987.pdf
  • Section 4 Misc Machinery 1987.pdf
  • Section 5 Forest Products 1983.pdf
  • Section 5 Forest Products 1987.pdf
  • Section 6 DOD Military 1984.pdf
  • Section 7 TOFC Containers 1987.pdf

If you’ve not fallen asleep yet from too much eggnog, or the technical nature of this post, then Click this link to get to the PDFs. Happy reading and modelling.


Resources

This time around all of the resources are mentioned in the section above. Don’t forget to take part in the reader survey right now! Your thoughts and feedback will assist me in writing and presenting more of the content you want to see.

Click here to take part in the survey.

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas? Connect with us on the Andrew’s Trains page on Facebook

Site Seeing – The Operations Gold Mine Edition

Seeing how others conduct their operations, and their session is a valuable learning tool. Visit the Burnt Hills and Big Flats railroad for some great ideas and examples.


The Burnt Hills and Big Flats Ops Site

Steve Prevette’s layout is a great layout in its own right. Beyond that he’s made it a great example of how to operate also. Of more importance, I think, is his willingness to share his operating information online.

His site (listed in the Resources section below) shows thoughtfulness and planning. There’s overviews, details and instructions and in all it is an excellent site to see how things “should, and “can” be done for a layout large or small.

I hope that you enjoy reading the information presented by Steve as much as I have.


Resources

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas? Connect with us on the Andrew’s Trains page on Facebook

Evans Hollow Industrial: Build Update

Yeah. It’s been a while. Don’t worry, it’s me, not you.

So what’s been happening on the layout of late? Not a whole lot to be frank. We’re in the middle of packing prior to a move back to Melbourne (Vic not FLA). As a result I’ve been clearing, cleaning and packing, books, models, tools and so on, while still trying to fit in holiday time and work.

I’ve not been completely idle; just short of available time to write and blog and post stuff. I’ve yet to complete Part 3 – building trestles – but it’s close. For now I’d love to give you a quick update on where I’m up to: putting down cork and track laying.

As shown in previous posts the track outline, feed points, frog wiring and so on is drawn on the foam prior to lifting all of the track and prepping for cork to go down. A couple of weeks ago I got the mainline, and the spur into scrappy’s completed one day. Then sanded the entirety of the laid cork to get it smooth.

Here’s an overview of what that looks like to date:

Click on the image to go full size. The spur into Scrappy (lower right) had two separate heights of cork laid. The higher one for the mainline and the thinner one for the spur itself. They were then sanded (power) to blend them in so that the spur drops from the mainline to the spur height and on the end of the spur I sanded it right down to the foam height as I want to have the track disappear into the scenery here.

You’ll note that I’ve dug the trenches in the foam for the wire-in-tube switching for the turnouts. These will be operated by double pole – double throw switches from beyond the end of the baseboard. These will be wired from under the board and will switch frog polarity also. Some more images of this below:

I’ll sign off for now. I’m expecting an enforced period of recovery later in the week, where I hope to get more work done on the layout. I aim to be at running status before we move in late november so I’d better get my tail in gear.

Later gator

Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

Site Seeing – Books on Operations (Real and Model)

I talk a lot about operations for model railroads. There are many reasons for this. Primarily I urge railway and railroad modellers to consider this aspect of the hobby because it allows greater play value – no matter the size of your layout space.

Today while packing for our upcoming move I got to my operations section. Two books on my shelf stood out and I wanted to share them with you. One focuses on the prototype, the other on the model. Both enlighten on their own the mysterious world of operation. Together they provide a great insight (at least to me when I was learning) and compliment each other in helping you understand how operations works.

The Railroad – What it is, and What it does (The introduction to railroading)

By John H Armstrong

Everything you ever wanted to know about railroads (*or railways for that matter) is in this book. Ans as a railroader primer, it gets you inside the industry quickly and explains the why and what in clear easy to read language.

Starting from the absolute basics of how trains evolved to using the flange, through train speeds and the reason for trains, and not individual cars, you’ll soon find that you are on the inside, rather than struggling to understand.

Keep in mind that this is only the beginning of the rabbit hole, that is the railroading industry, but what a great way to start your journey. My version covers me though to my operating period.

The newest version (which I have yet to buy – waiting on some of those books to sell!) covers equipment to procedures and marketing to maintenance.  Amazon’s blurb says: “This book is ideal for novices and experts alike. The easy-to-read narrative presents a brief history of railroading from the coal-fed ‘iron horses’ that helped build a nation to the latest generation of EPA-compliant locomotives. You’ll also find current information on new technologies such as ECP brakes and computer-assisted transportation systems. The fifth edition is a resource for anyone wanting to learn about modern day railroads. The book delves into many facets of the railroad industry including such topics as freight cars, locomotives, track, signal and communication technology, intermodal traffic, operations, labor relations, and design engineering.”

If you don’t have a copy – go get one. Simple as that. It will make your understanding of the railroad and your ability to see beyond the layout so much better.

Operation Handbook – For Model Railroads

By Paul Mallery

This book is (in my opinion) the best of the readily available model railroad operation books. Are there others out there? Sure there are. Tony Koester has one, but I feel it is merely a glossary for the better works of Paul Mallery and Bruce Chubb.

Paul Mallery’s books provides a complete handbook for running a realistic model railroad. It covers every aspect of operations, including timetables, orders, signals, waybills, communication, passengers, freight, locomotives, and MOW.

At 200 pages with a full index I highly recommend it to you if you want to put the learning from the first book, onto the layout.

Resources

The other book to which I’ve referred above for the modeller is:

  • How to Operate Your Model Railroad by Bruce A. Chubb.

I believe that this is the best of the model railroad operations books available. Getting a good used copy is difficult, very worthwhile though.