Category Archives: This Site

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:

Site Update – The Reader’s Write (thanks Steve Hanson) edition – January 27, 2020

Steve Hanson read through the updated Bergstrom Spur line overview recently and got in touch with more information. Being a local who’s seen the spur change since he moved to South Austin in 1981 he has more to share…


A new page added to the Spur’s section

After reading the updated Bergstrom Spur page earlier this month Steve Hanson of South Austin got in touch with some memories of his own. They included industries and additional spurs that are now long gone along the line (due to TX Highway 71 becoming a freeway in the 1980s).

Read all about them from the menu or use the resources section below to deep link straight to the page.


Resources

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

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 Update – Redesign underway

Hello regular visitors. If you’ve not visited recently you’ll note that I’ve redesigned the menu structure, as a start to a major redesign of the site…


Change is in the air

We’re moving from the country back into the city, I’m looking at new opportunities and trying to understand the future for this site. While I’d like to put more time into Andrew’s Trains, I need to make sure that I’m feeding, clothing and ensuring the emotional and financial survival of my family first.

My goal was to have grown Andrew’s Trains well beyond where it is at the moment. Over the last month I’ve put a lot of research into the site’s numbers to see whether it is time to put Andrew’ Trains on the back burner and work on other ventures. My time is a finite and highly valuable resource and I simply cannot afford to spend it here when the returns just aren’t coming.


Survey

To see how invested you are in the Andrew’s Trains concept I’ve created a quick survey (available here https://survey.fm/E327EDAC92673EDA). If you’re interested in Andrew’s Trains take the survey and let me know what I need to do to make this information channel a better value to you.

The Andrew’s Trains channel won’t go away. But the level of work to post and update won’t be there while I move onto other things. Let me know what you like or don’t like through the survey.


Menu Changes

I’ve simplified the menu structure to make less upper level items, and deeper menu options underneath. Everything is still there, grouped logically under either:

  • Articles
  • Galleries, or
  • Layout Designs

If you are looking for something in any of these categories please choose one of the three and drill down to what you are looking for.


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

Wanted to share some photos of the new layout build. I’ve been preparing, and where I needed to, buying wiring materials to complete the major wiring. More…


The layout – as built

Here are some more images of the layout build as it stands at the moment. You’ll note that the layout is freestanding, resting on trestles (hand built with simple woodworking tools in my garage – more on that later in another post).

I’ve included the final trackplan; it’s important for me to point out that you can plan forever on screen, but while ever you don’t take the plan to the baseboard I really cannot see what I have and what I need to do to make the layout visually appealing (well at least that’s how it is for me).


Track laying

When I begin to lay out the track I print out the track plan, and using a grid marked out on the plan and layout board, begin to match up the plan to the layout.

Then I mark up the top of the layout surface (in this case 2″ blue foam) using a pencil to mark the outside of the ties. This enables me to positively place the cork where I need it to be once the track is removed, drill holes for feeds and frogs, and although not shown in these photos mark out the sub-terrain ‘rod in tube’ locations from the tie bar to the front fascia of the layout.

These markings allow me to dig out the foam before installing the cork, drill the holes in the fascia and install the tubes in place using hot glue. There’ll be a post on that too in the not too distant future for those that may not know about this switch operating method.

 


Wrap up

That’s it for this post.

I’m finding that time to write posts is really short at the moment – work is an all consuming animal as we live 120 Km from where I work – so I’m adding 4 travel hours a day to what is an already 9-10 hour day. Looking forward to moving back into Melbourne later in the year which will give me a lot of time back in my life.

I have three weeks of holiday coming up in 1 week batches over the next 6 weeks – looking forward to that and to getting more photos and posts out to you all.

Next week I’ll be working broken shifts and will be working on posts covering these topics:

  1. Layout Build Part 3 post on building Trestles,
  2. Track laying,
  3. Switching infrastructure (rod in tube), and
  4. Wiring.

I hope that you’ll ask any questions that you have either here through the comments, or on the facebook page.


Resources

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas? Connect with us on the

Andrew’s Trains page on Facebook

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.