Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Columbia Branch Book


Marty Paten has written a book on the Columbia branch. The timing couldn't be more....interesting. Just as I thought I was ready to move on to new theme for the next layout something like this comes along and makes me think about the possibility of Wabash Columbia Branch layout V3.0. I have my copy on order and anxiously wait.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Braking the analysis paralysis




Over the last year or so I have been researching and thinking about different themes for my next layout. Sketching track plans, collecting some rolling stock, misc. building kits, reading forums and websites, etc. But very little actual modeling.  My goal was to have the next layout come out at least as good as the finished portion of the last one. The down side is that in the same amount of time I could of built two or three bad layouts and learned more and at least had a layout while I did it.  So with that said, I think it is time to build something, anything, while I contain to work on the bigger plan. Something simple, something small, but something that gets built and runs and I can experiment with different construction techniques.  I spent Sunday along the Michigan Southern, a short line in south central Michigan. It seems to be a little line just begging to be modeled. I think it is time to start building.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I’m finally getting settled in the new house to the point I can really start thinking about the next layout. I have been exploring a couple different themes and evaluating my potential layout space. I have also been researching different brands and construction methods for track. I think I’m about ready to start on a small test bed layout. Something simple, just a short shelf, Central Valley tie strips and turnout parts, code 70 and 55 rail, and gasp…..maybe modern era industrial park. We’ll see.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

All good thing come to an end.

The decision to dismantle the layout came about for a couple reasons:
We are moving to a new home with a finished basement. While the layout was planned and constructed to be moveable, the new space isn’t near the same size or shape.
From the very beginning this layout was planned as a chainsaw layout, it probably lasted longer than it should have. The only reason it lasted so long was because the track work ran flawlessly.

The good and the bad:
Bench work, track work and my DCC system all worked better than expected and where a great learning experience that I can carry on to the next layout. I’d use hardboard for the backdrop next time so I could curve the corners, other than that I’d give all of that a B+ grade.

From a design standpoint it was ok but the duck under proved to be a problem. Not so much for me but for older guest operators. The track plan met the goals of representing Columbia, Mo. In the mid ‘60’s but because I uncovered more accurate track charts after I had the track work done it always bothered me. I’d give the overall plan a C.

Atlas, Athearn, Proto200, Digitrax, Tsunami, and NCE. All of these companies products I give high marks too. My locomotives from these manufactures ran excellent with little to no tweaking and I was able to install decoders/sound decoders with no problems and once I started using JMRI to program them it was a snap to get them just how I liked them. I’d give the electronics side of the layout an A. The only product I was ever disappointed in was some MRC sound decoders. While MRC was more than happy to keep repairing or sending replacements I grew tired of it. The MRC’s are the only decoders I ever had fail. I can only assume that the newer ones are better.

Modeling Columbia, Mo. In the mid 1960’s. This ended up being more of a problem than I had thought it would be. My goal was to make a reasonable accurate representation. The problem with that was to do this right would have taken more scratch building than I really had the time to do. And representing a time period before I was born just didn’t work either. I felt like I was creating more of a caricature than an accurate model. While I was just getting started with the details, it would of ended up more generic mid-west in the 60-70’s than Columbia, Mo. In 1964. I’d give myself a C- on that.

Will I model the Wabash again? Not sure of that. Like many I currently have the more modern era bug. I have a pretty substantial investment Wabash motive power and 60’s time period rolling stock so we’ll have to see. I salvaged all the structures, details, and turnout from the layout. We’ll just have to get settled into the new place and see what’s next.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stored, serviceable.



Like many steam locomotives at the end of steam they went into storage and later the dead lines in serviceable condition, so too has my layout. When some major home renovations started I removed all the rolling stock and details that where not glued down from the layout and covered it to protect it from all the dust best I could. Now with a move to a new home on the horizon the layout will be dismantled soon. It was designed and built to be “moveable” but the new space is a different size and will now be in a more finished space, something I had wished all along. It may simply be time for the chainsaw.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Radio Equipped

Like an Erie Lackawanna E unit displaying the “Radio Equipped” lighting bolt under the cab windows the Wabash Columbia Branch is now Duplex Radio equipped. Up until now the layout has been operated using tethered Digitrax UT4 throttles. I recently installed a UR92 panel and added UT4D throttles. The system works flawlessly and has zero delay, unlike the infrared systems I have used. Dose a small layout like mine really need Duplex Radio? No, but if I’m going to spend the money to upgrade to wireless I might as well do it with the most current technology.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Summer Time

This summer has not been kind to model railroading. All of my free time has been taken up with home improvement projects and an above average amount of work. Oh well as summer winds down I should be able to get back to the basement.