1. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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    Hey, guys,

    Well, I have a few other ongoing threads, on a couple other railroad forums, I thought I'd start one here, too.

    As I've mentioned on the board here before (in the Milwaukee Road forum), I am a Cancer Survivor (I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer in December 2008) and I am currently building a 4' x 8' HO layout that I'm going to put up as an auction item for a local Cancer charity (the Relay For Life).

    The track plan is based on the Black River Junction that is featured on Kato's website, and will feature a shortline railroad - the RF&L - serving a number of agri-businesses (a grain elevator, LP distributor, fertilizer, feed/seed, etc.). The RF&L will also reflect the railroad heritage of Minnesota's Fillmore County (where I grew up), which was served by both the Milwaukee Road and the Chicago & North Western.


    There isn't a whole lot to the layout right now, it's basically the 1/2" thick, 4x8 slab of plywood with the 1x4 framework beneath it and a coat of primer on everything. (I also have the legs cut, as well as the parts for the lower supporting framework and storage shelf.)

    I also have the cork roadbed down for the layout and have track laid for the outer oval, the switching lead and the track for the engine servicing area. I still need to lay track for the LP/fertilizer dealer and spur for the grain elevator.


    Seeing as Friday was "National Take Your Model Train to Work Day," I put the layout (such as it is) on display at the local grocery store where I work not only to promote the hobby (November being National Model Railroad Month), but also to draw attention to the Relay For Life and Testicular and Prostate Cancer (November is also National Testicular and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month as well).

    A news team from Austin, MN (KAAL) came down to do a story about the layout and the Relay, as did one of the local newspapers. I'm also going to do a write-up in one of the other local newspapers too. I even raised a few bucks for the Relay in the process (as well as a little bit to go towards further construction of the layout).


    Anyway...

    I'll keep you guys up-to-date on the construction of the layout and I'll post some pics here in the next day or two.
     
  2. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    My wife is a multiple cancer survivor. Several different varieties. Hopefully there have been enough such experiences for a lifetime by now.... She keeps active with the Relay For Life and more.

    Your layout sounds like a great idea. Hope it sells quickly. Christmas is coming, too!

    Boxcab E50
     
  4. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

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    Here's to the survivors and their families!

    I lost Dad to Colorectal going on 7 months here soon. All I have so far is a boxcar though, and it's only partially finished. Way to go on the layout initiatve. I hope it does well, but I;m sure it will.
     
  5. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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  6. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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    Here's a few shots of the construction, thus far...

    [​IMG]
    The 1x4 framework sitting on my work tables. Not much to look at, but it was a start. (You can also see my bigger project in the background... the basement remodeling. Also, if you look in the background, you can see some 1x4s leaning up against one of the stud walls... those are parts of the frame for my On30 traction layout.)

    So, after a 4x8 sheet of plywood was donated by the local lumber yard (Preston Lumber LLC, Preston, MN) and some primer...

    [​IMG]
    I began the process of figuring out the track plan for the RF&L. I used 22" radius sectional track to lay out the curves and a yard stick to figure out the straight sections (I also used a few bits of flexi-track to "fudge" a few sections here and there...).

    [​IMG]
    A little white glue secured the cork roadbed to the plywood. Push-pins held them in place while the glue dried.
     
  7. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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    ON DISPLAY!!!

    [​IMG]
    Here's the layout (as it was) on display at Preston Foods grocery store on November 19, 2010. Definately a "work in progress."

    [​IMG]
    And a shot of me, with the layout. I know it's a little kitschy, but I dressed like an engineer for the media.


    I got some good feedback in regards to the project, and hopefully I was able to raise some awareness for the Relay For Life, Prostate/Testicular Cancer and do some good PR for the hobby.
     
  8. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Very nice of the store to provide space. I hope this is true for your entire community.

    :thumbs_up:

    Boxcab E50
     
  9. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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    Just to show you how out-of-touch I've been with things (at least with HO stuff, I've been enamored with O and On30 for the past few years)...

    I know Athearn had been talking about discontinuing the Blue Box line for a while, but the last I heard, they were going back and forth on whether or not they were going to follow through and kill it off.

    So, when I called Bill over at ABC Hobbies (in LaCrosse, Wisconsin), to ask about some inexpesnsive rolling stock (mainly locomotives) he informed me that the ol' reliable Blue Box line was no more. That... bummed me out, actually. I don't know what the Blue Box engines were going for before they ceased production, but I remember buying a SOO LINE GP-35 back in '89 or '90 for about TWENTY-ONE BUCKS!!! It's pretty crude, detail-wise, by today's standards, but it was a HUGE step up from the Bachman and Life-Like locomotives I ran for my first three years of the hobby. And, even though I haven't ran it in a few years (it's been in storage), chances are that all I would have to do is clean the wheels and it would run as good as the day I brought it home from Moon's Hobby Shop in Rochester, MN.

    Thought I could score a couple inexpensive GP-40s (or something like that) and/or some rolling stock kits, but, well... Yeah.


    I also mentioned a couple types of locomotives that I was otherwise looking for... and he said he had one in stock! Cool! Was even DCC ready! Awesome! He wants a hundred bucks for it...

    Darn.

    Now, this is a USED locomotive with an aftermarked DCC decoder chip in it. Which I have NO problem with. It's also painted for another railroad, and NOT the Milwaukee Road, which is no biggie, as it can be repainted into black and orange with little difficulty. And considering that a new DC locomotive and an aftermarket DCC decoder would be around the same price, if not a little more expensive, and a factory DCC unit would be twice that... I have no problem with that either. What I do have a problem with, is the fact that my coffers for this project are bare at the moment, and I don't have the cash to put towards the engine... let alone the second unit I'd like to have for the railroad, or freight and passenger cars, structures... etc.

    So, hopefully, I can scrape together some funds and acquire said locomotive before someone else snaps it up. (Maybe I can find a few benevolent contributors who will make a donation or to towards the cause...)


    But...

    That's the latest update on the RF&L. Updates to come as they occour!
     
  10. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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    It is, actually. One of the upsides of living in rural America. We look out for one another. (Preston has a population of about 1,450 people, so it's kinda lives up to the stereotype of everybody knowing each other... more-or-less.)

    And I was VERY grateful that our manager at the store was kind enough to let me put the layout on display. (I even emphatically stated it on one of the signs I put on the layout thanking those who had contributed to the layout's construction thus far.)
     
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I've lived in essentially rural areas most of my life. Nothing else like it in the world. Nice to have complete strangers wave and smile as they pass.

    BTW- You aren't alone. I have dabbled some in On30 recent years. Neat stuff!

    Boxcab E50
     
  12. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    For inexpensive engines.
    I wouldn't turn your nose up to some of the Bachmann DCC locos. These aren't the spectrums, but the standard w/ DCC engines.

    They run about $40-$50 or so new which is about what an Athearn BB SD40-2 was last time I bought one in the late 90s.
    Their detail level is, to my eye "Atlas/Roco" quality. Which means a little beneath good Blue Box, but not by much.

    I've heard mixed reviews on their running characteristics and the DCC decoders aren't great, but they're 8 wheel drive 8 wheel pickup, so they'll work as a starter engine.

    Another option might be some of Bachmann's small GEs which are really well liked and also inexpensive.

    The quality at Bachmann has gone up quite a bit in recent years.
     
  13. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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    YoHo,

    You know, I've heard a lot of good things about Bachman the last few years. I can't speak for the newer stuff, but the Bachman locos I bought back in '87 sure weren't worth writing home about.

    I like my Atherarn and Atlas and can speak for the quality of those products, so I am biased in that respect. However, I'm not going to snub suggestions to alternatives and may just scope out some Bachman stuff the next time I go to the hobby shop.

    I appreciate the suggestion! :tb-biggrin:
     
  14. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    Bachmann is the place to buy inexpensive steam of decent quality right now. They make solid stuff.

    Their little GE engines the 44tonner and the 70tonner are solid little engines.
    As i said, their basic DCC line is intro quality, but it's not a single truck drive pancake motor anymore. It's a significant step up from that.
    Their Spectrum Diesels get mixed reviews. Best to read up on an individual model.

    One thing Bachmann wins in hands down is their customer service policy.
    If you have a problem with an engine needing repair, even if it's out of warranty, they bend over backwards. The worst case scenario of a unit that is no longer stocked and out of warranty is that you pay $20 and get something as close to possible to what you have and that's often a much higher quality item.

    They don't beat modern Athearn or Atlas in general, but the company is a lot different from the bad old days.
    Much like Life-Like (now Walthers) has also really improved it's quality.

    I can't specifiy a vendor per forum rules, but a quick glance found me a Bachmann GE 70 tonner in SP colors, DCC installed for $52.
     
  15. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

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    For "Cute" I also reccomend the Bachmann 45 tonners. Small engines, and they have the driverods on their trucks. (The 45s in real life had one traction motor per truck, vs the usual 2, so the traction motor on one axle was connected to the other by driverods)
     
  16. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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    Speaking of locomotives...

    Anyone have an ALCo. RS-2 or EMD GP-7/9 (or, the parts to cobble one together) that's languishing on their workbench that they'd be willing to part with? Need some CGW (Chicago Great Western)/C&NW (Chicago & North Western) representation on the layout. My "neck of the woods" here in Minnesota was on the Northwestern's "ALCo. Line," which is why I'm looking for an RS unit, but I also remember a GP-7/9 switching the Bay States mill down at Levee Park in Winona (MN), so either would work.

    Donation would be prefered, but I'm willing to make a deal.

    Not trying to beg, here, but I figured if someone has a spare engine lying around, or parts (shell, frame, etc.) that are taking up space on their workbench, I could put them to good use. And, as they say, it never hurts to ask.
     
  17. cmstpmark

    cmstpmark TrainBoard Supporter

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    The Proto 1000 Alco RSC-3 units are awesome, and you can get them on Fleabay for $50-70. Worth the money. I have the MILW version and it even has the dimples to drill and add details.

    I was in Preston (and parts around the river NE) back in early September. Stayed over at Beaver Creek State Park. Hope you Minnesotans realize what a spectacular State Park system you have. Nice work on the boxcar!

    Mark
     
  18. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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    Mark,

    Glad to know the effort was appreciated! (By the way, did you spy the caboose sitting over in the storage yard of the Iron Works? Still in rough shape, but it's getting there...)

    I must admit, I don't use the park system as often as I should, but I am grateful that the state recognizes the senic beauty we have here and are working to preserve it. (Especially the state bike trail system(s) that run on old railroad ROWs and preserve a little railroad history/heritage in the process!!!)
     
  19. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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    Another LaCrosse run tonight.

    The guys and I made an impromptu run to our favorite eatery, featuring Buffalo Wings and, ah... "atmosphere." ;) I also made a side-trip to ABC Hobbies.

    Picked up a few more sections of flexi-track (my supply ran out!!!) and some Floquil/Polly-S paint. As soon as I get the track done, check for trouble areas, solder the track together, wire and insulate (where needed... if needed) I'm going to be ready to weather the track and then ballast. I figured I would get those items now and be ready for when the time comes to do it.

    Something that bummed me out, however, is that I looked both online and at the hobby shop... and it appears that Floquil has discontinued it's "driftwood stain." It was a grey-ish colored paint/stain that resembled the color of old, weathered wood. Did they discontinue this color, or was I just not looking in the right place? So, "Plan-B" is to paint the ties in successive washes of Polly-S "Milwaukee Road Grey" and "Steam Engine Black" until I get the desired effect. I'm also going to paint the rails with Floquil "Rust" and "Rail Brown."

    Incidentally, for the ballast on the layout, I've decided to go with the C&NW's color pallate, with the mainline done up in "Pink Lady" and the rest of the track done in a dark grey color. I even found a supplier, Dale Kuhn, "next door" (relatively speaking) in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and will be placing an order sometime in the near future.

    So, that's where I am with the layout thus far.

    I have a couple of articles/interviews that will be appearing in the local newspapers, hopefully that will generate a few donations that will allow me to obtain the DCC equipment that I'd like to use for the layout, but we'll have to wait and see.

    Anyway, that's all for now. I'll continue to update as progress continues.
     
  20. Komachi

    Komachi TrainBoard Member

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    Earlier this evening, I nailed down the last section of track on the layout (in the two-track industrial area). So, I've finished test-fitting the track. Now, all I have to do is "tweak" the track to fine-tune it (as well as the afore-mentioned soldering and wiring), as well as figuring out the locations of the uncoupling magnets and figure out the switch machines.

    [​IMG]
    The latest donation to the RF&L was this covered hopper which was donated by the Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology's Model Railroad Club (RITMRC). Here the car sits on the layout, on the spur for the grain elevator.

    I also thought some of you guys would enjoy this...

    [​IMG]
    My security guard, who stood sentinal over the layout while I was attending to business at the store on 11/19. I suppose I could have used Allan Pinkerton's "ugly mug," but I felt Mr. Hill was a more appropriate choice.
     

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