My Model Railroading, August 3, 2015
The name of this website has been changed and this homepage has been streamlined by archiving about half of its former contents at Fantasy Model Railroading is explained on my new wiki (defunct), which is now relegated to the single file http://modrr.net/modrr.wikispaces.com.htm. My principal interests on the web are at http://dematerialism.net/home.htm for my own quick reference. This gets so little traffic that I feel justified in using it to deliver private messages.. is the name of my new blog while
Tom Marsh’s photo of train yards in Atlanta
Many model railroaders have made large numbers of detailed layout and track plans that are never built. Hence the term “armchair model railroading”. But, these railroads are intended to be built – someday. Suppose, however, that I use Winrail 11.0 to draw fantastic plans that from the outset were never intended to be built. The drawing is the end result. I have borrowed the term “fantasy model railroading” from fantasy baseball etc. A few of the track plans of my favorite fantasy model railroads will be shown here; but, the new versions of my gigantic Houston ship channel complex will be added to the blog at http://modrr.blogspot.com/ in the daily posts. The October 27th, 2013, version is shown below.
And, for my own amusement, here is Winrail’s 3D rendering of a different version of the above:
And, here is a version with no grades. The tracks cross at grade.
This could be extended by placing the petroleum refinery module between the two ends. The track is at grade; but, the structures and roads are above and below grade. Some of the industrial sidings have been removed to accommodate distillation equipment and oil tanks. The view of the ship channel from Google Earth suggests how to model the nautical module that for Free-Mo N replaces the background picture.
However, as it is nearly time to start a Free-MoN module for my petroleum refinery (under construction), here is one of the latest track plans employing WinRail, Google Earth, and Paint.NET: (It is very rough, but shows the idea.) See, also, the Free-MoN section of this homepage.
Imagine this labyrinthine bench work that would require 26 feet by 22 feet to provide a two foot outside aisle. What? You think I need three foot aisles? How about scene breaks throughout like the Bayou City and Gulf peninsulas with panorama photos on both sides?
Also, employing two variations of John Armstrong’s stub yards and almost no other non-main-line track in a true point-to-point layout with a scenic break throughout, I drew this layout for a rectangular room 18 meters by 9 meters. I got tired of converting inches to feet; so, this is in metric. N scale, after all, is a metric gage, namely, nine millimeters. Multiply meters by 3.28 to convert to feet. It turns out that Print Screen gets the best rendering of this layout; so, I might as well let you see the Winrail 11.0 screen as it appears to the user.
And, here is the same layout copied from Winrail: (I have considered copying the industrial sidings from Gordon Bliss’s track plan (N Scale Railroading, May-June, 2010) so that his operating schedules can be reused here with different cars and car numbers.) I wonder if anyone has bothered to write software for practicing operations on a giant fantasy (virtual) layout. Please inform me if you know.
No track plan should be deemed final until every conceivable operating circumstance has been envisioned on its arrangement of track. A few weeks ago, I began once more to think about operations. I was disturbed by the huge amount of preparatory work that Eddie Aycock has to get through before every operating session on the Bayou City and Gulf Railroad. I began to be convinced that the software was part of the problem. I wrote as follows
I have been thinking about the operating sessions somewhat over the last few months; and, I believe I can help a little with my personal reasons for giving the operating sessions a pass. First of all, I wish to express my thanks for the efforts you and Gordon have put into this initiative. I appreciate, too, the personal instruction I have received from Gordon, including his hospitality on his home layout. That said, I must mention three aspects of the sessions that discourage me enough to stay away:
1. I realize that you have put a great deal of effort into preparation for the sessions. Regrettably, that increases my anxiety to do well lest I fail to justify that effort. I wish you could take much less trouble to set us up. In fact, a session that required no preparation at all would be better from my view. I am just beginning to give a little thought to a plan that would utilize the state of the railroad as we found it at the beginning of the session to determine what the operations should be once a few initial goals were predetermined by the participants*. This leaves the maintenance of the railroad to be done in a much less painful manner. By now, it seems that there should be no further difficulty with dead spots. I hear that DCC is supposed to be simpler than DC. It seems that the wiring system we employed was flawed. This could be remedied. Finally, the cleaning of the track should have been achieved during the regular running of trains by using the Aztec system and placing a few restrictions on the sort of equipment the members run informally – and its condition.
2. The Rail-Ops software may be conceptually ingenious; but, it leaves absolutely no choice to anyone but Eddie and Gordon. Suppose each of us were assigned an industry on the line and were allowed to place a certain number of service requests to the BC&G that would determine freight operations. The operating session could be divided into a small number of periods each representing a business day. If I am the lumber yard, I might place an order on three of the five or six days. Furthermore, I might purchase a block of passenger train tickets to go from Austin to Bennett on the first day, from Town C to Town D on the second day, and whatever I wish on three or four of however many passenger train trips the session can accommodate. I may not be calling things by their correct railroad names; but, that brings me to my third difficulty with the sessions.
3. By this time, my principal goal for each session is no longer to have a good time but to avoid humiliating myself with my inexperience or the diminution of mental agility that seems to accompany old age. Sometimes I feel that certain club members are involved in a competition - one with the other – and, quite simply, this makes me nervous. I can’t approach a task with the fear of making a mistake uppermost in my mind. I wonder how this ever came to be an issue; but, for certain, it makes mistakes MUCH MORE LIKELY.
* If I can specify the space in one box car, say, I might need for equipment from which industry on the line or which freight station if the source is remote for my lumber yard and the number of flat car loads I may need to haul lumber from my yard to the Budweiser brewery and for some number of additional purchase orders, the dispatcher can determine how many cars of what description must be taken to the appropriate sources and to the lumber yard to be loaded at the beginning of the Nth day for delivery during that day – or, for that matter, to be stored in a yard somewhere for delivery on the a later day of my choosing. This might be enough work for the entire operating session. (1.) A designated member will have made up train orders before the session starts because the various industrial and personal requirements will have been shared on the club mailing list. (2.) Early in the operating session, one train or more must circulate on the railroad and pick up the necessary cars and deliver them to the sources and the lumber yard. These determinations can be facilitated on the fly by a designated member who is responsible to determine where the required number of cars can be found at the beginning of the session. Since the location of rolling stock changes during the session, adjustments might be necessary that require communication with yard operators and/or other dispatchers. Quite generally, though, we have plenty of rolling stock everywhere. ….
It’s the middle of the night. I’ll stop for now. We need to think about this much more, that is, if there is any possibility of change. The idea is to involve the members in what happens. I think the authoritarian way in which railroads used to be run is no longer feasible.
Membership in the National Model Railroad Association entitles one to be a member of the San Jacinto Model Railroad Club, which has just this week enhanced the privilege of membership by starting a Yahoo! forum at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SJMRRC/. The photography section already has Texas State Railroad photos and should have plenty more very soon. I hope to do my share.
Judith Neufeld entered the diorama shown below. The photo will be replaced with a good photo soon. How she won four prizes will be told in this space as well.
Tom Marsh took this picture of Tom Wayburn’s Bayou City and Gulf Stone and Gravel Company from ground level in such a way that with just a little editing Terry Hooks’ sky made it look like an out-of-doors photo. Tom (Marsh) tried to copy Charlie Aselin’s earlier photo that was made before one or two flaws in the model were corrected.
Amy took some pictures of the N’ Crowd club layout in the back of Papa Ben’s Train Place just last October and a few of the best are posted at http://modrr.net/bayoucity.htm. For people who really like layout photos, I made an MS PowerPoint slide show with about 20 photos of the Bayou City and Gulf N Scale layout that takes about a minute to download from http://modrr.net/bcg.ppt with broadband. The Houston N’ Crowd website is hosted by Tom Marsh at http://houstonncrowd.org. Here is the upper level of the BC&G track plan drawn approximately by Winrail 11.0. There are many mistakes that I know about and will soon be fixed. As of 01.18.2013 most of the mistakes have been fixed. Clean copies of the latest Winrail 11.0 rendering of the BC&G will soon be found at http://modrr.net/BCG-winrail.htm and http://modrr.net/BCG.02.01.13.pdf if you prefer PDFs.
Here is an approximate drawing of the lower level track:
The Northwest Crossing Model Railroad Club (NWXMRRC) website at http://nwxmrrc.org/ took one directly to the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/NWXMRRC where most of the important information on the club could be found including timely Notices. The website now has a limited life of its own; but, much more is planned. The connection to the club’s Facebook page, which is still very useful, is the standard white lower-case eff in a blue square on the About Us and Media tabs.
On Saturdays, between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM, the club’s layout in the Northwest Mall is open to visitors. The club’s new meeting and layout space is next to Macys and around the corner of the hallway from the G Scale layout room, which is to the right of the entrance on the Hempstead Highway side nearest to Macys. The Macys store is currently abandoned.
If you are approaching the Northwest Mall on northbound West Loop 610, take the right-most lane that leads to the North Loop 610 and has the option to go straight to the North Loop and NOT to Interstate Highway 10. (This is the third lane from the left edge of the freeway, I think.) Work your way across about three lanes of traffic entering Loop 610 from Interstate 10 to get to the right lane which exits to 18th Street. Turn left on 18th Street and enter the Mall parking lot, which is now on your left and on the opposite side of the street from HISD Headquarters. Drive around the Mall on the parking lot roads to the Hempstead Highway side and park as close to the Mall entrance next to Macys as possible. Enter the Mall; go past the G Scale layout (on your left); go a few more steps to the corner of the hall; turn right and walk to the end of the hallway (in front of Macys) where you will find the layout room on the right.
If you are on I-10, inbound from Katy, just exit the last exit before 610 which is N. Post Oak (NPO). Keep in mind that the N. Post Oak exit is “bundled” with the Silber Rd exit as well. So when you get off of I-10, you’ll actually have to cruise through the Silber light and continue down the feeder until you get to NPO. Turn left onto NPO going over the freeway, and continue north on NPO until it dead ends into the mall. Cross over Hempstead Highway and continue to the layout room as in the previous case.
Both N scale and HO scale trains are running (but not yet “operating” in the Bliss/Aycock sense) on fairly impressive modular layouts which are much larger than the ones you may have seen at shows and which are growing rapidly. What NWX has in abundance is space for layouts, work, and storage. The NWXMRRC has vigorous leadership; but, the modular concept ensures complete freedom to the individual modeler. Everyone is helpful and friendly. By the way, Northwest Crossing is an all-NMRA club. The home page of the website for the National Model Railroad Association is http://www.nmra.org/.
The club meets at 7:00 PM on the second Friday of each month. Here are most of the attendees in a shot from the podium by Will Gage, the president.
The above looks like the club room on a typical Saturday.
Finally, here are photos taken on October 1, 2013, in the NWX workshop.
Work has begun again in earnest on an N scale petroleum refinery. Several pictures of the crude unit, composed of an atmospheric tower with two side strippers and a vacuum tower made out of junk parts, can be found on this page. I am just about through adding lights and I may now replace a few pipe runs that I removed and continue connecting to the other units, the construction of which may now commence. I shall order such parts as are indicated from Plastruct regardless of the expense – unless I get better information at the meeting of the International Plastic Modelers Society tomorrow night. This model is slated for one of the main four Free-Mo N modules shown in the section on the ship-channel complex (below).
Here are four photos of the crude unit and vacuum distillation unit embedded in a four-cell, seven-story lattice:
Below is an incomplete version of my crude unit model with new pipe supports and a number of pipes removed for replacement, which, coincidentally, provides a slightly better view of the interior structure of the unit. I could offer a much more complete explanation of the project if necessary.
The lights had to be retrofitted with great difficulty and even greater mess; but, I think it was worth it.
In case I get any inflated ideas about how I am doing, here is a photograph of a model in a petroleum museum somewhere:
And, a YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRh8TVEEnZ8 . Other photos of other models will appear here soon.
Here is the track plan for the main four modules of ship channel complex, which will be the venue for my petroleum refinery models and John Hunt’s oil tanker models:
And, to indicate some progress and a commitment to do the work, here are the tables:
This is an approximate Winrail drawing of the layout the Northwest Crossing Model Railroad Club will set up in the George R Brown Convention Center on September 5th for the Big Texas Train Show on September 6th and 7th, 2014.
In case a very large railroad is developed for train shows, the following operating track plan based upon actual railroads late in the Nineteenth Century is suggested.
The latest developments in the Free-MoN initiative at the NWXMRRC are chronicled at http://modrr.blogspot.com/.
Lately I have been working on the model railroad the development of which is recorded in a series of MS PowerPoints that are linked to http://modrr.net/railroad.htm, which clearly has nothing to do with dematerialism or energy except insofar as the Union Pacific coal mining operation in Southern Wyoming was one of the most egregious examples of the violation of both humanity and Nature. (I placed a few private links here for the edification of my friends.) Also, for later pictures, see http://modrr.net/screensaver.htm. Also, I have some pictures with captions on my Houston Chronicle blog at http://www.chron.com/commons/persona.html?newspaperUserId=TomWayburn or http://tinyurl.com/9bkzv7 and a larger collection on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/friends/?ref=tn#/home.php?ref=home but without captions. I will post a few new pictures soon. Finally, my first article for the Houston N’ Crowd Orderboard is posted at http://modrr.net/rocksprings.htm. The most recent photos of this layout have been excised from this file and placed in a new file called http://modrr.net/clouds.htm because of my recent interest in painting clouds.
The track plan of the RS and LC Railroad drawn approximately by WinRail 10.0:
The photo below shows my most recent effort to disguise the seam between two of the three modules with a sand bar in Sweetwater Creek that is covered by vegetation. Also, the background has part of my first effort to paint clouds while the hoppers on the mountain are among the first rolling stock weathered according to the airbrush techniques described by Cody Grivno in the April, 2011, issue of Model Railroader. I will put a photo in one of the hyperlinks where they are in the foreground. Now, if I could just manage to get a decent photo …
This is a dated picture that betrays the seven and a half by six foot nature of the three connected modules.
On May 25th, 2013, the Rock Springs and Lancaster County Railroad (ne.: RS & Sweetwater County RR) finally had to make way for another project. Out of the chaos of the event, three distinct and nearly intact trackage pieces emerged along with assorted large chunks of mountain scenery - in fact, everything but the tracks under the mountain all on a grade that had to be replaced anyway. Pictures of the sad event can be found at https://plus.google.com/photos/112308328489014200644/albums/5882418471837856545 where the last photo shows the Parker Module with one end of a train yard and a few scratch-built and kit-bashed structures awaiting final disposition elsewhere.
New track plan
Mark, John, Will, and Lance set me up with an old HO table that they were going to cut up and put in the dumpster. Parts from the old Rock Springs sit on it at the end of the day. What will become of them? Stay tuned!
That was some aftershock!
See http://modrr.net/jason.htm. Here is a recent photo of Jason’s latest project:
Jason Smith’s scratch-built UP steam locomotive, the first 4-12-2 scratch-built in N scale
The second draft of the short article I wrote for the Houston N’ Crowd Orderboard is at http://modrr.net/aycock1.htm. The photos in this study can be found in the MS PowerPoint at http://modrr.net/aycock.ppt.
My article for The Orderboard, the club monthly newsletter, capably edited by Tom Marsh, is posted at http://modrr.net/visitinghugh.htm.
Richard Wakefield sent me some nice photos. To see his letter and the photos click on http://modrr.net/london.htm.
This is where I will put some nice hyperlinks beginning with http://home.cogeco.ca/~trains/rrlayout.htm. I use a free version of WinSCP with the following log-in page: WinScpInit.htm. Please send me a link to pictures of your layout if you would permit me to put the link here. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy’s photograph of Wayne Weiss (the loco doc) has been archived