Sunday, May 17, 2020

In Other News: Celebrity Model Kit Maker Closes Doors

Interrupting our usual coverage of big ol’ electric railroads and their models: interesting story about the recent demise of Wingnut Wings, beloved maker of 1/32 WWI airplane kits founded by Sir Peter Jackson of epic movie fame. The hobby business is tough and certainly not immune to the laws of business or the tragedy of human folly.

Also, any actual reporting on how the hobby business actually works is catnip to me.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Focus Stacking Experiments

These are my first tries at using focus stacking for photographing the Old Line Corridor. The foreground marsh is in as good focus as is the background. I've also got my new light set going here as well.

Another focus stacking experiment-again, everything appears to be in good focus throughout the image. I used the focus stacking feature built into Photoshop. There are other software solutions for focus stacking, such as Helicon Focus, but for this initial test I used what I had at hand, which was Photoshop.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Year Old Line Corridor Video

Testing out a new light set, running trains, thought I would shoot some quick video on my smart phone.

Monday, December 23, 2019

What's new on the Old Line Corridor

Junk and vehicles add life to the big factory

Signal heads and right-o-way clutter

More signal heads, dumpster bodies and a port-a-potty

Piles of stuff 

More stuff

And even more stuff.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Michael Murray’s Classic Photo Take on Modern Electric Action

Amtrak ACS-64 639 leans into the superelevated curve at Newport as it overtakes a Norfolk Southern tank train near Wilmington, Delaware on November 11, 2019 in this excellent photo made by Michael Murray, who originally posted it to the Amtrak Northeast Corridor Railfans Facebook group. Michael’s dramatic photo is reminiscent of the Pennsy-era photography of that famous chronicler of electric railroading, William Middleton. When this image surfaced in my Facebook feed earlier this month, it inspired me to reach out to Michael, and now I look forward to seeing his photos on the regular. Photo used with kind permission of Michael Murray

Monday, November 4, 2019

New Takes on the Ol' Helix

The World's Lightest Helix on display at the recent train show in Timonium, Maryland. The subroadbed and vertical risers are laser cut from Gatorboard, making this helix very light and dimensionally svelte. The smoothly operating helix sports 11" radius curves and an approximately 2 percent grade, and is roughly the size of a laundry basket.
Track helices and multi-level layout plans have always seemed too complex for my typically minimalist approach to model railroading. I'd never seen one in real life until I visited fellow Rockville Model Railroad Society member Ben Sullivan's Georgetown Branch layout, and his helix confirmed what I had noticed in the magazine depictions helices: they typically require what is arguably among the most elaborate and dense possible benchwork of any layout feature. Model Railroader magazine's recent N scale Canadian Canyons project layout--which features a helix--required such complex benchwork that the project went over the magazine's production schedule. In short, a helix seemed like a daunting prospect, with a very specific payoff in terms of modeling satisfaction. As a result, I was cool to the idea of ever incorporating a helix into my own layout construction.
But helices have repeatedly worked their way into my model railroading ideation over the past few months. Most significantly, Ben pointed me to an innovation that addresses the complex and dense construction challenge of a helix: the use of digitally-cut Gator Board for helix construction. Ben passed me a link to this entertaining video demonstrating a compact HO helix built from Gator Board, which also links to the makers of this helix. Then I encountered both the HO and also an N scale version of the "World's Lightest Helix" featured in the video on display at the train show in Timonium, Maryland. The light, elegantly constructed, and reliably operating helices have caused me to reconsider how I might actually incorporate a helix into a future layout.

* * *

MIBA Special 122 - "Pro-
jects with Flair" image 
courtesy MIBA/Verlag
Gruppe Bahn
Meanwhile, Trevor Marshall planted another helix idea in my head during a conversation on my growing interest in European narrow gauge, specifically the electrified Swiss narrow gauge Rhaetian Railroad, or the RhB. He mentioned that he had helped a friend plan a multilevel RhB layout, but that the multilevel concept was ultimately shelved due the complexity of helix construction. RhB operations, with short-ish trains and mountain goat-like locomotives, would have been particularly well-suited to small, steeply graded helices.

Further helix inspiration surfaced in a recent special edition of the German-language model railroad magazine MIBA. In an article that would be right at home in Kalmbach's long out-of-print Creative Layout Design by John Armstrong, MIBA detailed a layout concept featuring a scenicked vignette or stage flanked by two helices built into a Schrank, a large wall cabinet/book case console very common in German living rooms. The helices, and a yard below the vignette stage, would serve as staging tracks.

* * *
Ilustration from MIBA showing the multilevel vignette/stage
concept image courtesy MIBA/Verlag Gruppe Bahn
A minimalist helix might be in my future as a I contemplate my post-retirement model model railroading. For example, perhaps the stage or vignette could be sized to fit T-Trak-compliant modules. The maker of the World's Lightest Helix is currently planning to offering the Gator Board product commercially, but perhaps modelers could produce their own custom-sized helix components with a Cricut or similar digital craft cutting machine. I look forward to seeing the product and design concept evolve in the years to come.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Old Line Corridor on Facebook

Facebook users, I've set up an Old Line Corridor Facebook page. I will be crossposting over there, and also sharing interesting and relevant Facebook-based content. Hope to see you over there!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Quick Snaps: Finishing Touches on Old Line Corridor Scenery

More trees, weeds, vegetation, signs, vehicles. Hard to believe I have finally reached this level of completion on the Old Line Corridor.

More trees and vegetation, plus signs and weeds. 

Looking down the road on the street side of the substation. Trees and weeds and a railroad
 A weedy, swampy area under an embankment, instead of just scrubby lawn
Under the expressway

Another view of the cattails and swampiness under the expressway


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Heritage Units...WITH PANTOGRAPHS!

NJ Transit has jumped on the Heritage Unit bandwagon with Tuscan-and-Pinstripe ALP electrics. Intriguing meeting of old graphics and new lines. Go read about it at Railway Age.

Monday, October 7, 2019

611 Sighting at Strasburg

Norfolk & Western 611 on the nose. The J-class streamliner is doing a "residency", kind of like Celine Dion in Vegas, for the months of October and November. Rachel had railroad business at the Strasburg kickoff event and I tagged along. 
611 oriented the right direction, tiptoeing back into the Strasburg station. This extended visit to Strasburg is reportedly her first venture north of the Mason Dixon line.


The 'other' N&W locomotive that lives at Strasburg, 475, with a string of cars approaches the station/shops complex.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Whirlwind Work Travel + Trains + Interesting Light

CSX action in downtown Nashville at night, captured with my iPhone. I had been cursing the crack-o'-dawn flight that cut short an evening of Broadway honky-tonking, but this scene put a smile on my face. The iPhone excels in low-light scenes like this; I'm surprised at how well this image turned out. 
The destination of my zero dark thirty flight out of Nashville was the New York city area, where a meeting ended late in the afternoon. The Long Island Rail Road was my path back to Penn Station, but the off-peak inbound schedule is thin, occasioning a wait of over an hour for a train. During my wait at Westbury, a dozen or so LIRR trains swooshed past in the beautiful late afternoon light, including these MUs.


In the quickly fading light, a DE30AC screams past with bi-levels, headed to the island's non-electrified territory. Had never noticed that LIRR's DE30ACs and bi-level cars had a more-or-less matching profile, giving these trains a European look. With memories of my trip to the Netherlands still fresh, the look and feel of Long Island railroading is reminiscent of how they do things on the Continent.   

Monday, September 23, 2019

Renewed Man-Crafts Campaign

The Old Line Corridor needed another couple of dozen trees, so I made a few dozen Supertrees. (Some rules of model railroad trees: you will always need more trees than you think; your trees are probably too small) The weather has been particularly nice, so I worked outside. I also used matte medium to bind the foliage instead of 3M spray cement--much neater and more pleasant smelling, as the spray cement seems to get everywhere and is extremely difficult to cleanup and deodorize. The Aqua-Net super duper hold is a final coat to mitigate the inevitable "shedding," and imparts a vaguely hair salon-like whiff to the undertaking.