Friday, November 20, 2015

Take a model train to work day 2015

This has nothing to do with the layout, but it's still fun and gives me a chance to run a lot of my non-Pennsy equipment guilt free. Each year on the Friday before Thanksgiving, the publisher of Model Railroader magazine and the World's Greatest Hobby campaign hold Take a Model Train to Work Day. Since I work in customer service, this is a great oportunity to share the hobby with others.

I have a small portable layout that's base on the John Galt Line form Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged.

Here's the layout at the entrance to our lobby.
Since I work at a South Carolina Welcome Center, I tried to tie things in with our mission by putting out information about our state's railroad-related attractions.

Given the display's location, I decided to feature motive power from railroads that served the Palmetto State. The real Hmapton & Branchville #44 lives at the state railroad museum in Winsboro, SC. Since being built by Baldwin in 1927, she's only left the state once to be used in a TV show.

Monday, November 9, 2015

More Progress at Gallitzin

It is definitely full steam ahead at Gallitzin. I started thing off by getting the piece of foam in between the Gallitzin and Portage Tunnels to the correct height. The I set about hacking away one end of it with my hot knife to form a gradual slope down to track level. I also test fit some of the structures I plan to use there including Model Power's Railroad Hotel, Cornerstone's Jim's Repair Shop, Woodland Scenic Filler' up and Fixer'up and a few DPM buildings.

While I was at it, I situated another Rix Early Highway Overpass across the westbound tracks. Again, this is merely a mockup at this point, but I think it looks darn good. Rather than use the supplied pier, I opted for a pair of Chooch Enterprises stone abutments. These will need to be weathered before being situated.

On the subject of weathering, I weathered the Route 53 overpass. I mainly used black chalk, since this thing would be covered with cinders and soot from passing steam locomotives. It's hard to tell from the above photos. Also hard to tell from the photos is that I painted the rails underneath bridge. Always a laborius process, yet it yields awesome results.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mocking up Gallitzin

These past few nights I've been busy slicing and dicing pink styrofoam and mocking up the two ends of Gallitzin.

The first area I worked on was the area around the tunnels. I started by taking all those Model Power house kits I've assembled and cutting some foam steps for them to sit on. In Gallitzin, many of the houses are set into the hillside. While I'm trying to take a more impressionistic approach, this was something I definitly wanted to recreate.

At present, I'm not sure if I will keep the two rows of houses coming down the hill or go with just one. But that's why I do a mock up first. After I live with it a while, I can change things.

The slab of pink foam in the foreground of the above photo will be raised up so the buildings are about two inches aboove the tracks and a Rix "Early Highway Overpass" will carry the road across the tracks. 

The second area I started working on was the western end of Gallitzin, where PA Route 53 crosses the tracks on an overpass. Aside from being a popular railfan location, the bridge provides a very nice scene transition. 

Rather than try to model the prototype bridge exactly, I used another Rix kit, well two of them actually. The bridge itself is still a work in progress and needs to be weathered. However it's a very nice fit for the area and even mocked up looks great in the setting. The Rix kits themselves are quite nice. They go together in about five minutes, the pieces have very little, if any flash on them and they are quite flexible. You can build a bridge to just about any length. 

My next project will be to get the rails painted, ugh. Then I will start making things permenant.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2014-15 Layout Progress Report

I can't believe I've been at it for two years now. I must say, I like how the layout is turning out. At this time last year, I updated you on the layout progress and set some goals for the next year. So in that spirit, here's this years progress report:


Yard Tracks: 100% Complete

Industrial Sidings: 50% Complete. All that remains is to lay the track in Gallitzin. The Johnstown sidings and Southfork Branch are in.


Last year I set a goal of completing Horseshoe Curve and the Altoona Shop complex. I'd say Horseshoe is about 95% complete and the Altoona Shop about 75% complete.


Main Lines, Altoona Yard, Southfork Branch and Johnstown Industry sidings 100% Complete

Last year I also set a goal of installing additional cabs for operation. As you well know, I decided to dump cab control in favor of DCC, rendering last year's goal a mute point. So on that note...

DCC Conversion:

System Installation: 95% Complete. I would like to add additional UP5 panels at various points around the layout and eventually go wireless.

Locomotive Conversion: This depends on the fleet.

Pennsy Fleet: About 70% complete. All road locomotives have decoders. the switch engines still require them.

Conrail Fleet: 0% Complete. These are older locomotives that are hard to convert.

Norfolk Southern Fleet: 80% Complete, all but three locomotives equipped.

Goals for Next Year:

My primary focus for the forseeable future will be on Gallitzin. I'm confining the area of focus to between the Western Portals of the tunnels and the Route 53 overpass. I would like to have all structures in place, lighted and general topology in place by this time next year.

I would also like to get on with the DCC conversion and get the rest of the fleet equipped as time, money and patience allow. I also want to acquire more throttle.

Another goal I have is to finally start planning the operating scheme of the railroad. As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, realistic operation and the ability to host operating sessions were two of the original design goals. 

So that's about it for this year's progress report. Let's see how things shake out over the next 12 months.