Category Archives: Layouts

All layout subjects

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.

 

Evans Hollow Industrial: Build Update

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.

Site Seeing – 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.

Site seeing – 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.

Site Seeing – Last mile switching on the Florida Central

Danny Harmon spends a day out following a railfan friendly switch crew of the Florida Central as they switch customers around Orlando, Florida.


First Mile / Last Mile

This is where I believe that real railroading happens. It is where the customer meets the railroad. It’s also where modellers with small spaces, budgets and time allocation get the most bang for the buck when designing and building a layout. There’s a lot of great locations and close up detail shots of the crew working and the locations for inspiration.

Sit back, put on your headphones and enjoy the sights and sounds of a couple of vintage locomotives as the train crew prepare their train, run out to, and then switch, the customers spurs. (Clickable video below)



Make sure to like and subscribe to Danny’s channel. Recently he’s been doing a lot of switching videos. I hope he does a lot more to come. Supporting him might just get him to do more too.

Site Update – RailBox XAF10 Modelling pages updated

The modelling article on the RailBox XAF10 class cars have been updated. There is new content and the first step into the rebuild article promised quite some time ago. There’s more information below.


What’s happened

The XAF10 class RailBox boxcars (the first of the fleet) built by ACF from late 1974 through mid 1975 are my favourite North American railcar. I’ve been working away on collecting information for the rebuild and upgrade to the Athearn Blue Box models since 2010.

I first mentioned rebuilding my XAF10 model fleet, in this related post, back in 2014. Since then a tightening of the modelling budget (due to being laid off, and being over 50 and it taking a long time to find full time work again) has slowed the build process down, although it never stopped completely. I’ve worked in fits and starts as I could afford to buy bits and pieces. The test boxcar is very close to being finished. I’ve tested updates and processes as I go to find what works best for me. Once the test car is done I’ll get stuck into the other 5 cars and knock out at the one time. And that should be over the next 10 days (I hope).

I’ve updated the main page, and added the first page of the process. I’ve got a couple of tasks left to model on the on the test car tomorrow. Once that’s done I’ll upload the work to that point.

Resources

XAF10 Class modelling updated pages:

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 – the “I love the Yard” edition

Imagine an industrial 7mm narrow and standard gauge model railway with radio controlled crane and lorries. Then look at a great video and see it in action.


The Yard

Built by a group of four during a three-month period for a club exhibition. This layout is in 7mm scale and uses both 16.5mm (3.5mm HO standard gauge) and 32mm (7mm O scale gauge) track. Scenic area is only 2’2” x 6’, with an overall size of 2’2” x 9’ including fiddle yard.

Of particular note are the working features of the layout including:

  • standard and narrow gauge trains
  • working gantry crane, and
  • radio controlled lorries

The gantry crane had apparently been on another layout and manually controlled. When moved to the yard it was converted to radio control. The lorries, which I believe are the work of Mr Giles Favell, (see the resources section below for more) were in use on other layouts. The rolling stock came from other layouts also.

Control of trains is by DCC, while point control uses MERG canbus.


Resources

See more about the wonders of Giles Favell’s radio control 7mm scale lorries and his layouts at: