Friday, December 18, 2015

900 switching, sounding off..

I'll hopefully post an update on progress on the Baldwin AS16 soon. In the meantime, spent some time tweaking the Cvs on the Tsunami chip I installed into the Atlas RS36 and I'm enjoying how it sounds.. I took it for the latest train on Brett and posted a video here..

Sunday, November 29, 2015

testing the 'look'

I've been trying to decide what to do with the various locos of my small fleet.. Originally my plan was to re-patch everything for the Yellow Pine, but the advent of the Midland Belt RR, and fear of cocking up, have delayed me.

So - I have decals for another Midland Belt loco and was trying to decide which one to pick for the new livery. (900 being almost ready).

My instinct was the recently purchased Bowser AS16 just wouldn't look right with the very modern style of the MBRR logo, and started to think about perhaps either applying something more vintage in style.. or stick to Yellow Pine.. but last night I thought it might be worth printing off some mocked up stripes to mimic the decals and see how they actually look.

The B&O AS-16 with mock up decal and stripes

As far as an exercise goes, it has been really useful.. I was surprised how actually the AS16 might look quite well.. it also confirmed for me that my little Baldwin switcher (which I love, especially with the Loksound noises) is probably not a contender..likewise the Bachmann S4. (Which does need a repaint  but I think will stay Yellow Pine)


I am undecided about the SF C30-7. It would really need taking apart, stripping and repainting, and I'm not sure that I'm keen enough on the loco to do all that really.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

New Premises for Wolowitz & Hofstadter

I quite enjoyed building and painting the brick building for 'Wolowitz & Hofstadter'.. the industry on my Freemo module 'Cooper'. However.. I've felt from the outset that it looks a little out of place. It's the kind of building I imagine to see in perhaps a more built-up area and the Freemo modules do have a rather more 'out of town' feel to them generally.

I decided to act on this nag and to modernise the premises for W&H.

The original building

New building starts to take shape

Despite initial worries about the ubiquitous Pikestuff kits all looking the same, Google Street view at least does seem to suggest that these buildings are indeed all over the place and quite often look exactly like the kits - colours and all!

I picked the 'Diamond Tool and Engineering' kit but knew that it would probably need some surgery in order to fit the space on the module.

In fact, I ended up halving the width of the building.. which lead to a slightly long and thin looking shed, but I think it looks plausible enough. I also cut a couple of extra doors, so that railside would have some loading facility.. I intend to relay the concrete/asphalt area around the industry so care will be needed to ensure the height is right.

Although it's unlikely to be seen, I've added a very basic interior to the building where the two story windows are to suggest an office above a reception area.

It would be quite nice to add a couple of security lights to the walls, I'll have to see if I can bodge something.

the front


Once the glue has dried thoroughly, I'll paint the concrete base and perhaps add some very light weathering before adding signage, then it's to the module to get it set in position.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Brett from a different viewpoint

Well, a couple of different viewpoints actually..

A view along the layout, as the local arrives
From the left hand side

Although it highlights the code 100 track, I like this angle

Boxcar ready for collection at Smith & Hogg

Getting the order ready in Northwest Lumber

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Midland Belt Railroad first loco

Well, the big Freemo event has been and gone. And it lived up the anticipation.. absolutely brilliant weekend.. I'm aware that I haven't posted here but I don't think that there actually that many people who read my blog anyway, and lately I've been using Youtube a little more.. I posted a slideshow here..

Our 'local' Midland based Freemo group has taken on the name of the Midland Belt Freemo group. We've decided to run our own shortline too - the Midland Belt Railroad.

Although we haven't really fleshed out the detail, Chris Gilbert has sorted out some decals in a similar style to his Florida Central locos, so we hope to get a few locos re-painted and patched for the joint RR, that way there is a sense of consistency when we run our trains at our Freemo get-togethers.

Although we are probably going to 'allow' some other plain colours - the consensus is that the ideal livery will be black with the yellow branding and striping of the MBRR.

I recently picked up an Atlas HO "Trainman' RS36 from eBay and this week managed to get the loco fitted wth  a Soundtraxx chip as well as getting the decal job started.. as the loco was already black with a red band, I decided to paint out the 'Iowa Central' and replace with the Midland logo. I also added the yellow line to the footplate.

Looking at it now, I think that I may replace the numbers too, I may stick with 900 but use the decals for a more consistent look.

Hopefully once it's done, a light weathering will help to tie it all in together.

A short video showing how I bodged the speaker here..

Sunday, September 20, 2015

September.. Revving up for Freemo

Not been posting regular updates on this blog, I know. However, I do try to occasionally post on Youtube too.

I recently uploaded one to show my two latest loco purchases..

At the moment the focus is mostly on getting ready for next weekend - Big Freemo meet in Armitage, home of the TVNAM show.

Here's a plan for the meet.. Sheldon and Cooper are both there on different branch lines..

Hopefully will have lots of pictures and some video to post after then :-)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cooper gets greened

I decided to concentrate on one Freemo module before I move on to the other. Over the last week or so I've been scattering grass material, drenching in PVA, cursing, making buildings, painting, sanding, filling, cursing, and nearly giving up..all over "Cooper"

My intention originally was to hold back, keep things fairly sparse, as that seems to work best in the Freemo environment overall. I've been spending a lot of time in Google street view around the midwest - noting the lack of fences and number of trees around the lines I was following. However, as I was bathing Cooper in a shower of green material..I was worried that the module was all getting too busy, with the trees and different textures, but today I'm fairly relaxed about it. 

I certainly don't intend to do too much more.. it's just a case of finishing off the ground colouring in the areas of hard-standing, and a few small bits like a bit of clutter around the warehouse, signage etc. Then clean up and test the track again before putting it away and starting on "Sheldon".

Cooper is supposed to be on the edge of town. One spur feeds a team track, from which I removed the ramp as it just didn't look right. On the other side is Wollowitz and Hoffstetter, I hope to get a semi or trailer to park in the yard, along with a few dumpsters. Next door to W&H is a small house with it's lawned yard and swimming pool.

A few pictures of progress so far..

overall view

Wollowitz and Hoffstetter

Along the module - team track to the left

Approaching Cooper

Too many trees?

The team track

Saturday, June 27, 2015


People are rare sight around Brett, it's such a quiet little backwater. This morning however I caught the YPRR crew switching the elevator. They were running no 36, the BL2, newly out of the shops at Fiddle Creek..

Sunday, June 21, 2015

TVNAM 2015

Yesterday I was at 'the' show for American railroad modellers, held each year at Armitage, TVNAM.

I've been to the show a few times and always enjoyed not only the modelling, but the almost social club aspect.. as Nick, the organiser put it, it's a show for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts.. not really one to compare with your typical club model railway exhibitions, run in scout halls and sports halls up and down the country every weekend.

The main room

Midland, Ohio. Nick's O Scale layout

Midland, Ohio. Nick's O Scale layout

Midland, Ohio. Nick's O Scale layout

Florida Springs and Hacienda Avenue

29th Street Wharf

29th Street Wharf

29th Street Wharf

West Allen Street, micro layout

I didn't get many pictures of the great layouts on show I'm afraid, I don't tend to bother too much these days as my camera skills aren't really up to it. Much better pictures will be up on RMWeb and other blogs today, I suspect.


Anyway - this year, our little newly formed loose band of "Freemo' enthusiasts arranged to display in the large side room. In the week leading up to the day there was a series of emails and rough plans drawn up, trying to work out how to best arrange the various modules that we now knew would be there in the room, to give us some kind of running and be accessible to the paying public.

We starting setting up around 8 o'clock, an element of shuffling and seeing how things fitted came into play. By the time that the doors opened at 10, we had the modules up. It took a little longer to fully work out some electrical issues (one of the modules was built to a different standard and a bit of electrical tinkering was required), but we were running trains and answering questions all day.

The Freemo Room!

Very tiring, but good fun. Hopefully may have sparked the interest of one or two visitors.

Personally it was a relief to know that my modules worked ok, although it also highlighted a couple of minor things for me to adapt (checking the rail ends height on Cooper and perhaps arranging to bolt the legs in place rather than relying on the push fit.)

I put together a short video here:

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Freemo modules get 'tested'

Actually, this was a genuine testing session, rather than just an excuse to play trains!

TVNAM is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I want to make sure that the modules are working okay - track clean, no electrical foibles.. that they join up alright etc. 

I did need to re-solder one of the track ends. (Which involved nipping out to buy a new soldering iron!) Why I chose to solder to screws I don't know.. never done it before and eventually I'll replace these with copper clad instead.

Anyway - clearly a lot more to do as regards scenics.. and I'm not 100% about using the brick building for Wolfowitz and Hoffstetter, but for now they are working and that's what matters most.

No pictures today - just a video..

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Wobble up and down..

Looking at Static Grass Applicators on eBay, I noticed that this one from the Far East had instructions in the description. I'm guessing that someone used Google Translate...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Passing on August Yard?

Some time ago, I built a little American N scale layout called "August Yard'. Although I get rid of most of the layouts I've built, this one has stayed with me as a favourite. Looking at it now, it's not fantastic I know, and with the things I've learned since that time, I think I could improve on it - but it was fun to build, the first American themed layout I had built, and one that gave a lot of pleasure to operate too.

All 4 feet of August Yard

If I remember rightly, the train consisted of a loco (my Rutland RS1) and three random cars,which entered the scene from the hidden fiddle track at the rear. These were spotted, and cars removed, according to dice throws.

It is only 4 feet long by around 8 inches deep, originally built on top of a pine shelf from the local B&Q. As such, definitely a 'micro' and was featured by the late great Carl Arendt in his book 'Small Layout Scrapbook' (for which I was incredibly flattered).

Anyway, I have sold all of my N scale stock, including the Rutland RS1 which started it all off, and the time has come to part with the little layout. I'd rather not break it up for scrap, so I'm offering for free to anyone who is interested and can collect from Nottinghamshire, or the TVNAM show at Armitage in June. 

Hopefully somebody might like to get some play out of it before it meets the great layout scrapheap in the sky.

I can't test it but know it was all working fine last time it was used and it has been stored in a dry garage in it's dust box since then. And anyway, it's free!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Freemo Modules progress

I've spent a few hours in the garage today (feet are killing me!) I could see a milestone in sight and wanted to crack on and get there. 

Track laid and wiring completed. I've just run my first test train across my two modules. It was DC, a quick hook up, and the little tank engine wasn't too happy with the Peco insulfrogs, but I have used them on Brett and I hope that the American stuff should be fine. Otherwise, not too bad.. everything works as it should.

Obviously a lot to do yet - mostly scenics, but the next step is to decide on / acquire the point controls. I am fairly certain that I'll be using Caboose Industries Ground Throws. (I've drilled holes under the tie bars in case I change my mind).

As you can see, the plan, such as it is, is simple.. but this isn't a layout, there are two separate modules here. The closest one will have an elevator on the spur, and a factory over to the right with some disused track. The further module will have a generic warehouse on one spur and a team track on the other. Obviously quite short, only two or three cars each, but it's all about getting something built!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

First-time Freemo fun!

As I mentioned in my last post, I drove over to Armitage to join up with the newly formed Midlands Freemo group for our first 'meet'

(Armitage Village Hall is also the home of TVNAM, a cracking little show which focusses on North American rail modelling)

Considering this was the first go at this, the weekend went very well - it was a two day affair, although I could only make the Saturday. Most of the morning was taken up with physically erecting and connecting the modules. Colin stepped up to sorting out the electrical and control stuff. We used NCE, although there were Digitrax and Lenz panels in use and some small issues around compatibility to get around.

We hadn't got any formal 'ops' planned, so the afternoon was spent pretty much making it up and playing with trains. I spent much of the time working Nick's Foxley yard with my new Baldwin switcher, although I did make a point of taking a train out once at least, to get the experience of moving around the modules.

Not knowing what to expect, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was interesting to me to see how this compared to wargaming, where there is inherently quite a degree of interaction with your fellow hobbyist. It probably helped that this particular group turned out to be a decent bunch of blokes and very easy to get on with!

Anyway, the bug has bit (!) and I've been cracking on with my two modules. I shall post something on that some time soon.

For now, a selection of photos from the day, and a video on youtube..