Category Archives: Information

Modelling information

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:

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

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

Site seeing – 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.

Site Seeing – 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

Insight – Why am I modelling the way I do?

A recent conversation with a fellow modeller has bought me back to thinking about why I’m modelling, and what my modelling should represent. Let me explain.


I have a lot less modelling time now than I ever did before, due to my work commitment, which is driving the nature of my modelling in different (if interesting new) directions.

Among the changes I’ve had to make is in the scope of the work. Because it takes longer to complete larger and more complex projects I’m focusing on smaller easier to complete in a day projects as my primary goal. I have some large projects that remain on the table. These will be for items I cannot buy, kitbash or otherwise make out of something else.

Will this change the nature of posts that appear here on the Andrew’s Trains blog? No, I don’t believe so. This blog has always been about small layouts with lots of operational potential, and that is in line with what I am moving to in my modelling.

Weathering will continue to play a large part in my modelling, upgrading blue-box style kits to better reflect the prototype is where I found real joy in modelling as a young man. And I’m going back to that in a big way this year. There’ll be more posts along these lines to come over the next few months as I get my modelling life back in order.

With a demanding and hectic work life simplicity is my goal. Modelling simplicity likewise has to be the case. Simple projects that can be done with:

  1. tools I already have,
  2. resources I already have, and
  3. that can be completed in the time I have to give them.

This is the focus of my modelling going forward. Likewise to layout building. I have a couple of projects that I want to complete, one of which is a Supernook, a new design I’m working on now that will begin with the baseboards build before we left the USA 13 years ago. I’ll be continuing on with the US-based shunting layouts, but I’m interested in building a Australian/UK-based Minories layout soon as well.


Takeaway

I’ve made modelling a complex and often difficult endeavour. I’ve lost my love of producing models that I enjoyed building and that I am proud of. Life is short, and more so as I near my mid 50s. Time with my family and enjoying what I do is not limitless. So the time is now to make the changes that keep me happy, healed and enjoying what I do. I hope that you will stay along for the ride. With almost 100,000 unique views over the last 3 years I’m hopeful that you will stick around and see what is coming.

Site seeing – Op till you drop – Blue flag “Video” edition – August 26, 2018

In my August 18 post we looked at modelling and using Blue Flags for your operating sessions. Thanks to Charles Malinowski’s timely reminder, there’s an additional video for context.


MRR Video Series – Taking Care of Business

Model Railroader magazine has a series of videos (most are pay to play). However some of the best of them are free for you to watch. One of these focuses on the SMS Rail Lines industrial park in New Jersey.

I did try to embed their video (as they offer this as an option – like YouTube) however, it didn’t work. Instead you’ll find below the link for the video. THis will take you straight to the page and then play away.

The video is narrated and professionally shot and edited. It is really well done and shows the operations in the Industrial Park and the blue flag in action. Thanks to Charles for reminding me of the video. I hope that you all enjoy watching and learning.

Don’t forget to comment on and share this post with your friends.


Resources

Taking Care of Business: SMS Rail Lines