Thursday, January 22, 2015

It's a New Year at Dunes Junction

All around the model railroading blog-o-verse, new year's resolutions seem to be in fashion. Folks are committing to making regular progress on their layouts and/or posting to their model railroad blogs. Here at Dunes Junction, we'll be adopting this strategy ourselves with an eye to making 2015 a productive year.

I've had an excellent professional year, but that's meant a lot of time on the road away from the layout and Up Dunes Junction.  My plan for my modeling and the blog is to make the blog as much a part of my model railroading the hobby as the models and the layout, and to step up progress with with my modeling.

How will this work? By doing what bloggers like Trevor Marshal at Port Rowan in 1:64 and Mike Cougill at the OST Blog do: by linking, commenting, and reflecting on other blogs and developments in the hobby, as well as their own modeling projects and ideas. Wherever I go in my professional travels, I do end up with significant free time in the evenings and an internet connection--a post or more per week shouldn't be too difficult, and it's a good way for me to stay engaged with the hobby.

But the model railroading community doesn't need another Model Railroader magazine 'Trains of Thought'-style commentary, so Up Dunes Junction will still be focused on my progress on the layout and modeling the South Shore.  Here are 2015's priority projects:
  • Workbench Remediation. To pick up the pace of my progress, I first need to to do something about my workbench.  It tends to become cluttered, and thus discouraging, to progress for short stints of work when I am home from my travels.  Ken Patterson's What's Neat This Week video on Model Railroad Hobbyist's YouTube channel recently covered Ken's workbench. Ken points out that the workbench is the 'nerve center' of his model railroading, allowing us a look at the features that make for productive and enjoyable modeling. Two big points I picked up from Ken: handy vertical tool storage a short reach from the 'main stage' of his building, and smart use of high, back wall storage. I'm workin' on all of this now.

  • Catenary Completion. Dunes Junction needs to start looking' electric, with a web of catenary overhead. The poles are in, all wire and solder supplies are handy--so 2015 will be the year that wire goes up over Dunes Junction.
  • Island Model Works Nippon Sharyo Car(s). One car is nearing construction completion, and another kit and RDC has been procured. Much learned during that first build, but my intention is to have both cars done and ready for paint by the end of 2015.
  • Nickel Plate Products Orange Pullman Heavyweights. This 37-year-old project is where it all began for my South Shore modeling. Now these venerable brass models will be brought into the 21st century, with new power trucks, lighting, DCC, and functional pantographs. Hopefully, these two models will also be ready for paint by the end of the year.
  • Atlas and Bachmann GP7s. The Atlas C&O-based GP7 turned up a couple times here a few years ago, but these models are rare and crazy expensive birds. An alternative approach emerged in the form of Bachmann's B&O GP7, which apparently shares some tooling with the Atlas model. The dudes at Action Hobbies in Ontario show how to turn the B&O geep into a C&O geep, and from there it's just a stone's throw to some South Shore geeps that will put Dunes Junction squarely in the late-70s/early 80s.
  • Freight car construction and weathering. I keep buying freight cars; my strategy is to simply buy the cars I see in reference photos (and my memories) of the late-70s/early 80s South Shore and Northern Indiana roads. Thrall coal gondolas, plug door box cars, coil cars, and covered hoppers are piling up, plus cabooses. Most are re-wheeled and re-couplered but all need weathering, so I plan to figure out how use all these new-fangled and awesome weathering techniques that the kids are into these days.
Ambitious? Yes, sir! But I'm looking forward to a great year for Dunes Junction, and I'm looking forward to sharing it right here on this blog.