Tuesday, January 30, 2018

In the Spirit of Sharing: "Tehachapi Loop Layout - Test Train"

Vince sent me the link to this video with the request that if I liked it I should share it. I did and I am. Mr. Nadolski's work is excellent and the smoothness of operation is highly impressive. I like the sound on this video. And it's all in N-scale!

Monday, January 29, 2018

A closer look at the EVRR's Rocky Ridge

I've been having some fun the last few days trying some scenery making on the left half of the EVRR, but I thought I'd get serious and check what I was doing a little more closely against a reference photo. Under the ridge, over on the left, you can see two stone tunnel portals. One is over the inlet to the stream that feeds the lake. The other is a little harder to figure out what it's for. I'm thinking it's for the roadway that parallels the lake's far shore. My guess is that both those portals are made by scribing a stone pattern into some balsa with a hot knife.
The other item I need to add is that rock wall that runs parallel to the track on the upper level and also runs behind the Rocky Ridge depot. Now I need to run and start carving some more foam. And maybe some balsa :-)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Magazine heaven is in London? Who knew?

According to this NYT article, All Good Magazines Go to Heaven, the world's largest private magazine collection is the Hyman Archive in London, located in the 18th-century Royal Arsenal complex in Woolwich. Over on the left is the beginnings of the 30 Squares Model Railroading Archive  :-) That stack contains Railroad Model Craftsmans from when Model Craftsman changed over to being RMC in 1949, through the '50s, '60s - Vince has the '70s and '80s - '90s, '00s and into the '10s. Although, there are many holes in the collection that need filling. And one box in the stack is the complete run - no holes other than a couple missing special issues - of Railroad Modeler. Off camera is a miscellaneous collection of other model railroad and model building titles. If I ever win the lottery, watch out Hyman Archive, there'll be competition from over on this side of the pond :-)

AHM Birney Trolley Data Sheet

I think my powers of investigation are slipping. I was so happy that I found the box for the AHM trolley I forgot to open it to see if there was anything interesting inside. It turns out there was.
The data sheet was right where it should be: tucked inside the bottom of the plastic insert used to hold the trolley in place.
And maybe more importantly was some code that was stamped on a box flap. It looks like April 1975 was part of the code, but I'm not sure what the rest means. So, maybe it wasn't released in Feb '76, but earlier in '75. The signs so far point to sometime in '75 or '76, so maybe I bought mine a little earlier than I thought.
Oh, and one other thing, Vince suggested I look into the work of David Voice. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't heard of him, but I found his book for $5 at an online book seller, so I ordered it. It's quite a charming look at tram modelling circa 1982. Interestingly the first kitbash project it discusses is a conversion of the AHM trolley to a British prototype. From the text, it looks like the Birney was manufactured by a company called Mehanotehnika, now called Mehano, located in Slovenia. So, this lines up with the box stating the model was imported from Yugoslavia back in the '70s. Well, I'm off to see what other tidbits Mr. Voice has for me :-)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A start on some EVRR landscaping

[Current state of landform shapes in the valley end after an initial round of filling and sanding.]

I thought I'd try my hand at a little landscaping on the EVRR. To get started I decided to have a go at defining the landforms in the valley end.
[Before starting...]

Before starting I wrapped the mountain end in a garbage bag and put masking tape over the track where I'd be working.
Voids in the elevations were filled in with scrap foam blocks and gaps were puttied with a non-volatile wood filler. Once dry, the Dremel was carefully used to grind and smooth the foam into a seamless shapes. There's a lot of dust, so I wore a dust mask and used the Shop-Vac to make regular debris cleanups. A few more rounds are going to be needed before the landscape comes into focus.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Time travel makes inflation no less shocking

Did we get the time machine out of the garage? No. Did we find strange journals in an alternative universe? Well, sorta. Did I find an old ad for the AHM trolley? Yes.
It appears that the AHM trolley was introduced in early 1976. That ad was snipped from the February '76 issue of Model Railroader and it looks like there was also one that month in Railroad Model Craftsman. $8.88 US; an internet inflation calculator tells me that translates into $38.20 US ( ~ $47.25 CDN) in today's money. What did I pay in either '76 or '77 when I bought mine at George's Trains old Mt. Pleasant store?
$16.50 CDN = $67.45 CDN today!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

E. L. Moore stores on the Losantiville Street Railway

[A photo snippet of a short row of E. L. Moore store  kits along main street of Ed Strauss' Losantiville Street Railway featured in the March '79 issue of Railroad Modeler]

A few weeks ago I came across an article in the March '79 issue of Railroad Modeler called Losantiville Street Railway by Ed Strauss. It leapt off the pages to my eyes because nearly half the photos contain those E. L. Moore kit stores. I wasn't going to post about the article since E. L. Moore kits were quite common at the time and appeared often on layouts, but with this recent talk about the old AHM trolleys I went back to see if there were any in the article. No, none. Mr. Strauss used much higher quality trolley models on his layout.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Do all roads lead to E. L. Moore?

[Image snipped from the Feb '79 issue of Model Railroader article, It sure doesn't look like a powder works, by George P. Landow]

Thus far I had built a Campbell wharf, a few other scratchbuilt docks and buildings in HO scale, and was trying to devise a good plan for a marine supply company when I opened the pages of the April 1977 MODEL RAILROADER. There I encountered E. L. Moore's Cannonball & Safety Powder Works. Granted, it does not look that much like my completed structure. But those of you interested in the way one kind of model can be developed into a very different one will be able to apply some of these construction techniques to your own modelling.
And so begins George Landow's article on how to build the Frary & Hayden Marine Supply Co., appearing appeared in the Feb '79 issue of Model Railroader, that was based on E. L. Moore's Cannonball & Safety Powder works that appeared in the Apr '76 issue of Model Railroader.

As I thought more about those AHM Trolleys, I remembered that Art Curren's Kitbash a rail bus article that appeared in the June '79 issue of MR used a trolley as its basis. It turns out it was a Tyco Trolley - which maybe is the AHM trolley - but his article stated he also did a doodlebug kitbash in the Feb '79 issue, and following the trail to see if that also used a trolley, I stumbled across George Landow's excellent marine supply based on E. L. Moore's powder works. Do all roads lead to E. L. Moore? Apparently when you ride with me they do :-)

AHM trolley couplers

If you saw the video in the previous post you'll have seen the segment where the old AHM trolley and trailer got stuck in the Neville Park Loop. The curves have a 7" radius - which is ok for single-car operations with the fleet - but cause a problem when the trolley is pulling a trailer. I think the problem is with the coupler - which is just a short metal bar that pivots on posts moulded on each trolley. The bar isn't right for such tight radius track. I need to replace it with something that has more free-play so the trucks aren't forced into odd angles against the rail during turns. An interesting problem.

Power at the Alta Vista TC Electric Street Railway!

I had some pleasant time wiring up the new streetcar layout. I’ve been meaning to do that for a long time and now that I was sort of in the groove with things electrical on the EVRR, I thought I’d do the long postponed Alta Vista TC wiring.
[That power plug on the front connects to a terminal strip where each track section gets a feed. The end panels are connected to the strip via plugs so that they can easily be disconnected for transport - that's one over on the left.]

Ok, well the Alta Vista TC trackage is just a big, thin loop with funny shapes on each end, so not much wiring. All I did was add power leads to each track section on each panel so that power wasn’t dependent on good inter-panel connections and power drops were minimized. Also I wanted to make it easy to plug in my DC power pack as well as my DCC so I could quick change from running DCC equipment to DC stuff. So, nothing really exotic, just making sure the solder joints were solid and that the panels could be easily plugged and unplugged from the main power terminal. I used 2.1 mm jacks and receptacles for all that.

Once everything was done, and some DCC streetcar runs were made, I pulled the old AHM DC powered trolleys from the shelf and gave them a try. It's a good feeling to have some track ready-and-able for testing and playing with streetcars again.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

New track in the Valley

I've been staring and staring at the potato-shaped loop in the inner valley over on the right side of the layout. Trains ran ok, but it looked wrong. I decided to remove it and replace it with a smoother loop. I did and it's done! Looks better and there won't be as much strain on the trucks and couplers as trains roll through.

A mountain lake

I was happy to finally find the lost lake photos I took in Utah. Geologically speaking, I don't know if this body of water is actually referred to as a lake. Maybe a pond? Maybe something else? The photo's composition isn't so great, but it gives an idea of what it looked like. And it's Kodachrome too!
Now, this is a lake in a western mountain - Mount Timpanogos in Utah's Wasach range I believe - and I think E. L. Moore's Elizabeth Valley lake is similar to lakes he saw in The Great Smoky Mountains in the east.

For comparison, during the search I found I had this little video I shot of a July day on a lake in Ontario. Clearly bigger than Mr. Moore's EVRR lake, but maybe visually in the same spirit. It's -25C today, so those lake memories are particularly good right now :-)

"Toronto Railway Lands, July 1988"

In the last post there was a little discussion in the comments section about modelling water. Since E. L. Moore was modelling a small mountain lake, I thought I'd try and find some slides I shot of mountain lakes I saw while hiking through Utah a long time ago. I haven't found those slides yet, but I stumbled across a sheet of Kodachromes where I penciled "Toronto Railway Lands, July 1988" in the title block.

For some reason, I can't recall why, my cousin Ken and I went down to those "Railway Lands" for some sort of trade show. After we were done he told me he knew some secret way to sneak down to the tracks. It was no doubt trespassing, but we were pretty stupid then. I had my trusty Minolta with me and I couldn't resist. I don't recall much of anything about the background or circumstances of these photos, but here they are in lovely Kodachrome.
Looks liked we poked around the old John Street Roundhouse.
I believe this is that roundhouse. Strong backlighting that I can't seem to correct has obscured a lot of foreground detail in this shot.
Some sort of equipment we saw while wandering around.
That looks like the SkyDome - called the Rogers Centre today - under construction in the background.
That looks like one of the TTC's Peter Witt streetcars. I have no idea where I took that, but it was in the sheet.
This one looks more July-like.
And it wouldn't be Toronto without a shot of the CN Tower. Well, the search goes on for those Utah slides.