New direction for site

Well it has been a little over 13 years since my last post but not much has changed. I’m a slow builder.

Originally this site was focused on modular railroading, predominately in On30. Most of the posts and a long entry on the Tombstone and Quaymas Railroad were the result. The idea was to build a sectional/modular railroad where one piece of the layout would be a module for use at shows and would be part of the layout at home. The reality is that I very rarely go to shows and don’t really have the flexibility to schedule going to one. The entire idea has been mothballed.

In 2011 I built a small Christmas Village layout for display during the Christmas season. Since then the layout slowly evolved to be more of a ceramic building layout with the only Christmas part being some of the decorations on the buildings, a skating rink and the ability to add a dozen or so Christmas season little people to the layout.

The layout is now evolving into a small layout with laser kit type structures and will serve as a platform to improve my modeling skills. This blog is meant to help keep me motivated.

Fairbank, AZ – Part 7

I ordered the first three volumes of Railroads of Arizona from Mike Dreiling (a member of the On30group site at Yahoo!). They came today and they were better than advertised and packaged very nicely. If you need an out of print book, check with Mike on the On30group site. Highly recommended.

Now I have a lot to read before I go much further with the module. I am not trying to do historical modeling but I do want to be true to the area and era I am modeling as far as building techniques, major landforms, and the general political/cultural climate.

Fairbank, AZ – Part 6

If you read part 5 on the Fairbank module you’ll notice that I ended up needing a very long module if I wanted to accurately model a crossing of the San Pedro at Fairbank.

To just model the crossing without any land other than abutment areas would require a module over 28 feet long. That is a little long to fit in that 46″ box and could prove difficult to get through doorways or in the back seat of a compact car.

Now first, we rarely accurately model any structure or terrain because real world distances just overwhelm a model quickly. If I use selective compression the module will be more manageable but first I need to make some corrections.

Continue reading “Fairbank, AZ – Part 6”

Fairbank, AZ – Part 4

I was starting to wrap myself around into a tighter and tighter circle over how to determine the maximum dimensions for the module. The circle was getting so tight I was in danger of becoming a personal size black hole.

I decided to regroup and keep it simple. The maximum dimensions and weight for shipping something through the US Post office is (I also checked the Canadian import regulations and their box dimensions are the same):

  • Length – 46″
  • Width – 35″
  • Height – 46″
  • Combined Height and Girth – 108″
  • Weight 70 pounds

So my module will have to fit within those dimensions, including shipping materials. I guess that means that if it is to be 48″ long, which was my initial intent, it will have to fold, or spindle, or mutilate to fit within the shipping box.

I still can’t talk too much about the standard I am building to since it is still under review but here are the basics:

  • Width at interface (including fascias) 12″
  • Track centered at interface
  • Interface 4″ deep at track
  • Height floor to rail head 36″ to 56″, adjustable

So now I have my basic parameters for the module. I just need to design a 48″ x 12″ module with adjustable 36″ to 56″ legs to fit inside a 46″ x 35″ x 46″ box. Actually, smaller than that because if I make the box 46″ long the box will be less than 8″ wide (girth = 2 x length[the longest dimension] + 2 x width) and the box must be no more than 108″ combined height and girth.

This isn’t really any different from what anyone goes through building modules. You have to take into account the interior dimensions of the transport vehicle, and how many people there are going to be to carry it at the least.

Continue reading “Fairbank, AZ – Part 4”

Sources of Inspiration and Materials

Want some inspiration for building lightweight yet rugged units? Look to the R-C Airplane modelers. They have been researching and developing methods for lightweight units for years. To say that they need to also be rugged is obvious. When is the last time you crash-landed your module from 100 feet?

The aircraft industry, mainly the Experimental Aircraft crowd is also a good resource. Not only can you gather ideas and construction techniques but their suppliers also carry many, if not most, of the more esoteric supplies you could need.

Fairbank AZ ? – Part 3 of many

I have had a serious set-back in the design of the Fairbank, AZ module. I have gotten totally immersed in the whole endo-skeleton idea discussed in The Origin of Portable Model Railroads: Or the Preservation of Favoured Techniques in the Struggle for Acceptance. The reason is that this also kind of supports the ideas in Something a Little Different.

Building a spine for a flat piece of track is one thing but the Fairbank module is, at least currently, supposed to be primarily a truss bridge over a river. This is going to call for a very different kind of spine that I have not even begun to figure out. Any ideas?

The Origin of Portable Model Railroads: Or the Preservation of Favoured Techniques in the Struggle for Acceptance

There are a few other Model Railroaders that I exchange emails with on a regular basis. Sometimes the most innocent remarks lead in interesting new directions.

We were having a discussion about buss wire size and feed wire size relative to layout size and control system. In other words we were re-hashing the old “how big should my wires be” debate. Now, all of us are of the “bigger is better” camp but the question comes up “How much bigger?” If you talk to different groups or even different control system manufacturers (read DCC for all our discussions), you will get several different answers.

Anyway, one of the guys decided to offer the tongue-in-cheek idea of using code 125 rail for the feeders brazed to a copper pipe filled with 10 gauge wire. Things digressed rapidly until one of the members offered that the idea was not as ridiculous as it first seemed. By using a pipe between the interfaces with fittings for the legs you could have truly free-form scenery.

So, a new thought to ponder in the never-ending quest for portability: should we build invertebrate or vertebrate units? Most (all?) of the portable units/modules I have seen have an exoskeleton. What about units with an internal skeleton and a flexible epidermis?

Darwin would be proud.