To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"I've Been Working on the Railroad . . . !"

A model train layout is never completed. My layout was built during 2001 and 2002. After 10 years it was time to spend some time on the various problems which had sprung-up and to finish work started many years ago.

The wiring up-grade has been taken care of. This included -
  •  making 4 smaller control panels instead of one large one,
This is 1 of 4 smaller control panels. The toggle switches control either electrical blocks or track turnouts. The toggles with the bat handle painted red turn an electrical block either on or off. Nail polish was used to paint the bat handles.

  •        fixing the way a voltage control is attached to the layout,
A CA&E GE C6A controller is set up to control the speed of models on the layout. At the right center can be seen a plug and jack used to attach the controller to the layout. This is an idea first put forth by Don Bruno an fellow modeler. Any control device with a same type of plug can be attached to control the models.

My layout is a one man operation with the possibility of running one model or train at a time. It's impossible to run 2 models in opposite directions at the same time. If need be a small power pack can be plugged in instead of the CA&E controller.

DCC has not entered the picture as a form of operation for the layout. Using prototype controllers have been more interesting.
  •         splitting large electrical blocks into smaller ones,

These 2 photo of control panels with give you an idea of what was done.
The top photo needs to be placed to the left of the bottom photo. The straight yellow line going from left to right was one long electrical block between the track turnouts. Splitting the long electrical block made it easier to move models in and out of sidings.
No more 5-finger crane to move a model.

·         covering electrical wiring under the layout,
This photo may be hard to discern what you are seeing. It's taken from under the layout. A piece of thin plywood is covering a section where a number of electrical wires interconnect. The plastic cable covers (black tubes) cover a number of wires between cross supports.

·         installing trolley wire over 3 yard tracks, and
This shows 2 tracks with newly installed trolley wire. The trolley wire had originally gone only to the beginning of the fencing (top left). The 3rd yard track with newly installed trolley wire is next to what had been the diesel shops (not shown).

·         installing or replacing line poles for supporting the trolley wire.
New line pole with nut showing at base.

New line pole with nut camouflaged.

More line poles were added in other locations around the layout mainly to prevent the trolley wire from sagging. While the main line trolley wire is tight,  the wire over sidings needs additional support.

Just in case you want to ask, both metal and wood line poles have been used on my layout. How else can this effect be gotten - notice how straight the line poles are!
The "head" (bottom center) is part of a headstone in the cemetery.

The electronics of at least 1 of the 2 sets of crossing warning lights has been figured out. Over time these should be brought "on line" so to say. It's been 8-9 years since the installation of the 2 sets of crossing warning lights was started. A few months more matter, more or less.

Once the balance of the plywood covers are made and installed then we will be back to the AEFRE 49!


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jean Deschenes Retires From Scratch Building Trolleys!

On June 6, 2012, the following email was received.

Ed - Good morning!!!
Since starting scratch-building back in 1965, I finally want to "retire" from trolley building and get back into some carving and ship model projects for myself I have particularly enjoyed building the various cars for you-some unique and different stuff! So I hope you keep building the fine quality cars you have!
Take care,
Jean D.”

Jean is an award winning, master trolley model builder. He has built trolley models for himself and others. He has also built models of boats and ships plus some of the mills and other buildings found in the towns near where he lives in Grafton, Massachusetts.

Jean would build a trolley model with wood by starting out building a box with reinforced corners and holes for windows. His cars were built with the roofs attached and the floors removable. Jean would hand paint his models with acrylic paint using a brush. He must have built hundreds of trolley models this way.

I first met Jean about 10 years ago. He had built a model of the CSS overhead line car 1100 and accompanying reel car for himself. His models were of a newer era as the 1100 had a Farley single arm pantograph. The 1100 has a full interior.

I approached Jean about building a model of the 1100 for me with the following exceptions:  my model would be of an older era with the older style of pantograph plus the floor would be attached to the body with the roof removable. The trucks, parts, and decals for the model were gathered together by me and shipped off to Jean. This is the model Jean built for me. Beautiful!

Over the ensuing years, Jean built other models for me. Having Jean scratch build models for me allowed me to build other models plus work on my layout. With each model Jean built, since he left the roof loose for me to attach and the wiring left for me to finish, I was learning more and more about Jean’s methods of scratch building models plus his quirks, for example, Jean did not like to solder together the individual parts making up a lost wax cast detail part. To make things easier for Jean, I would make sub-assemblies of cast brass parts.

Two model Jean built for me are a CSS caboose and a CSS express car.

To demonstrate how well Jean would research the building of a model, note the offset in the distance from the truck centers to the ends of the express car. He would catch every detail.

One of the more interesting models Jean built for me was the CSS 23, a Pullman Car Co. coach with a “Pullman style smoker”. I had obtained a professionally painted and finished Max Gray CSS coach. This was to be the lead car of the CSS Duneland Limited pulling the Joe Fisher scratch built CSS solarium car. My challenge to Jean was to build the 23 to match the Max Gray model.

The Max Gray model was shipped off to Jean along with parts to make the 23. Here’s a photo with the Max Gray model on the right and the 23 on the left. Jean did an excellent job.

This is a photo of the 3-car Duneland Limited in O scale!

Another interesting model Jean built for me is the CA&E 11, line car. The prototype car is at the Fox Valley Trolley Museum. The model has working side doors and elevating work platform on the roof plus a full interior. Unfortunately my camera will not take good close-up photos to show off the interior.

There are other models Jean has built for me. I have to finish them off with minor details. Some time in the future more of Jean's work will be featured.

Like many trolley modelers Jean started as a model ship builder. He is planning to work on ship models in his retirement from making trolleys.

Jean, may you have fair winds and following seas. Thank you for your patience and the models you have made for me.


Friday, June 1, 2012

A Ride on the Fox River Line

My friend Eric Bronsky, Mr. Electropickle Productions,  has made a video of his ride on the Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric 304 operating on "home" rails.

The motorman is Joe Hazinski who has graciously allowed me to use his drawing for building the model of AEFRE #49.

An interesting modeler's note about the Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric 304 seen in the video. After the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit received the Fox Valley cars, the vents on the roofs were changed. Very careful inspection of photos will show the differences in the roof vents.

When modeling the cars as they were on the Fox Valley Electric, the vents available from Precision Scale Models #5322 are correct. If modeling the cars as they were for the Shaker Heights or Speedrail, the vents available from Q-Car Company CS155 are correct.

In the meantime, besides the work of upgrading the electrical parts of my layout, some problems with the electric switch machines have cropped up. It's easy to fix but time consuming. My plan is to have everything taken finished by the end of next week.

Then it's back to building the #49.