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Thanks Alan!


I just posted on the "For Sale Forum" an un-built Miller Engineering Parkway Diner Kit. I've had the kit since York in 2006, and with my scratch-build plans constantly changing I want to give other folks the opportunity to build this amazing model. It includes both Miller's miniature florescent light and the electro-luminescent "diner" sign. It's all photo-etched stainless steel.

I appreciate all the nice comments... it keeps me going.


The denizen of the Ravine, hereby known as Cecil the Sea Serpent, is now in a body of water. For those railfans who are old enough, there was a wonderful cartoon in the mid-1950s called Beanie and Cecil. One of the voices was Stan Freberg's, one of my favorite comic entertainers of all time. Cecil the Sea Serpent was a friendly monster like "Pete's Dragon". The kids suggested that my wife's phone fell into the ravine and landed on the back of a Lock Ness Monster. We now have one.


Cecil wo Water


The above pic shows Cecil fastened to the un-wet surface. The head and tail are very over-balanced so I CA's a wooden peg into them and drilled the river bed. I used CA on the head, but used Aleens PVA white glue for the rest.


Then I mixed up the Home Depot 2-part epoxy coating and let it rip. It took about 26 ozs. of mixed material to cover the bottom. After the pour here's how it looks.


Cecil w Water 02

If you look closely at the right side of the back, you can see a pink iPhone stuck on his back. The kids wishes are now granted. I used the hot-air gun on the surface as bubbles rose and ended up with a very clean fill. I had to use the gun several times until it was completely clear. If bubbles are there when it sets, they're there forever.

Cecil w Water 01



Cecil w Water 03


While my dams held back the flow as designed, the river over flowed it banks and started flooding the area in the rocks. I knew these areas were low and thought the berm I built would be high enough, but the epoxy level was higher. I actually was going to wet this area anyway and it now looks really good all by itself.

 Water Leakage 1

It did leak out of the end and I put some tallus rock to stanch the flow a bit. It sort of worked. Again, this is not a problem. I should have used 1:48 sand bags.


Water Leakage 2

It could be cured by tomorrow, and if so, I'm going to add some some motion lines around Cecil with W-S water effects. I also going to start adding foliage and greenery, and then install the bridges permanently.


While all this is setting I went back to making roads, actually parking lots. I can't pull all the masking off the tracks until the final piece of the puzzle is in; the road to the RR station. It means one more crossing that needs plastering and painting, and more Foam that needs transition back to the bare platform. Once that's done, I can get the trains running everywhere. It's also one of the less accessible spots on the layout which is why I've let it go so long.


To make edging for the parking lot I decided to make a planing area framed in 1/8" curbing. The curbing is basswood and the curved curb is cut from 1/8" aircraft ply. They're glued to the parking lot surface with Aleens. I then masked the parking lines. I ran out of my thin line 3m masking so I cut strips of Tamiya masking tape.



Parking Lot Edge 1





Parking Lot Edge 2

These curbed areas will be filled with some cardboard to bring the level up to just under the curb and then landscaped with some grass, foliage and trees.


Parking lots are huge! I was only able to 7 reasonable parking spaces. Our model cars are not 1:48, but are 1:43 and therefore are just a bit bigger than they should be, making parking spaces even larger. I first was going with 2.25" between lines, but parked cars couldn't open their doors. I ended up with 2.75". My wife cracked up... She said I'm building a model with a sea serpent in it and am worried about making an "accurate" parking lot. Unfortunately, she's right. And a 7 car train station parking lot isn't very realistic. No wonder railroads got out of the passenger business.Parking Lot mask

I then mixed up some acrylic gray paint and put a brush coat on the parking lot itself AND the road connecting to it. The road has a white line down the middle.


The color mix is black, white and some yellow to warm up the gray a bit.


Parking Lot Paint 1


After looking at the road with that curved notch removed I realize how little space there is for traffic. That curve seemed like a good idea at the time. I may fill that corner in during the plastering operation. 


These parts need further weathering and then gluing to the platform with the foam adhesive. The blank space to the right is where the station will lie when it's finished. The blank space to the left could be a spot for another building. I'm going to have to be careful on how much plaster I put there. Maybe I won't plaster it at all and keep it open for further real estate development. I know the zoning official...


Images (10)
  • Cecil wo Water
  • Cecil w Water 02
  • Cecil w Water 01
  • Cecil w Water 03
  • Water Leakage 1
  • Water Leakage 2
  • Parking Lot mask
  • Parking Lot Edge 2
  • Parking Lot Edge 1
  • Parking Lot Paint 1
Last edited by Trainman2001
I certainly remember Beanie and Cecil.  Help, Cecil, help!  I'm coming Beanie Boy!

I think your Cecil looks convincing, and the cell phone story is great!  I'm glad you folks can laugh about a lost smart phone.  They aren't cheap.

Your wife's observation is good, but it is so hard to find space for a convincing parking lot.  I never painted lines on my parking lots or roads.  I thought they made the small area look smaller.  I got away with it because I model '50s or earlier rural areas.  Great job though.

Thanks Mark!


The silver lining of the cell phone story was our contract was up and we were due for an upgrade and I got a $100 rebate on my iPhone 4 towards our two new iPhone 5s's. I always make lemonade when handed a bunch of lemons. I love the 5s' camera to the point that I rarely bring the big Canon Rebel into the basement for these update photos. The 5 has what is a equivalent to a pin hole lens and has great natural depth of field which is great for close up model photography.

Today, the epoxy was rock solid, totally clear and I was ready to remove the foam dams at each end. Between the foam adhesive and some resin that leaked I needed a chisel and soft hammer to remove them. What was left behind was adhesive and some foam which I sanded off with the B & D Mouse sander. 


A coating of joint compound, another quick sanding, vacuuming, and a tack rag and I was ready to put some "jungle green" fascia color on it.


Fascia Prep 1 2


Other than the slop and old newspapers on the floor, the ravine looks pretty good. When I look at it I ignore all that background noise. The camera, unfortunately, does not. The joint compound on one side was dry enough to finish, but the inside fascia was not and that will have to wait until next session. I found out—gladly—that all the spilled plaster on the floor comes off with scraping and washing. That's good since I didn't want to have to repaint the floor...yet.


While joint compound was drying I went back to work on the station area. I put a filler piece onto the road to fix that funny curve. After cutting some foam and then Bristol board I glued it all up with hot melt foam glue and Aleens. I tried it out on the layout to make sure that straightened road didn't run afoul of the adjacent track. It didn't.

 Station Road Fix 1

This fix won't be invisible. I may use some filler to hide the seam, or I may purposefully paint it a different shade and leave it as a road patch.


I put all the stuff back on the layout and took an overhead shot of the station area so I could do some more landscape architecture. The first thing I saw was the loading dock being too wide and extending out onto the road. I went back to Coreldraw and rectified the situation by narrowing the road side loading dock a bit.


Station Area OH


It was through this image that I decided to make the area next to the parking lot paved as a drive and make a planter on the other end. The loading dock in this pic is just the CorelDraw image laid under the station. I'm glad I did this before I spent several hours building that platform only to find that it was a quarter inch too wide.


The planters at the parking lot have thick cardboard fillers, painted earth color and with grass mixture added to the wet paint. When this was sort of dry I added bushes around the perimeter using W-S scenic glue. When this is dry, I'll install them in the curbing and add some ornamental trees. The weight is pressing down on the filler until it dries. Between the water-based latex paint, the water-based scenic cements, and the "wet" water sprayed on it to let the glue penetrate, the piece was starting to warp pretty badly. I'm hoping the the weight will help flatten it out as it dries. (I just checked... it's flat)


Parking Lot Planting 1 & 2


For the other end, I cut the entire thing out of a piece of 1/8" aircraft ply, marked where the curb would be, and then painted the interior earth color and the curb concrete color. I then was a bit more careful in gluing all the foliage to it. This one didn't warp.


This composite picture also shows the coloration of the other end of the station's baseboard.


Station Area


It's the weekend so I probably won't be back in the shop until Monday. Retirement's great! My work week consists of building my model railroad. What could be better than that?


Images (5)
  • Fascia Prep 1 2
  • Station Area OH
  • Parking Lot Planting 1 & 2
  • Station Area
  • Station Road Fix 1

I'll take cheesy any time over criticism... Thanks!


Today was a mixed bag. I finish sanded the repaired crossing—they're waiting for paint. I decided to add some topography next to the parking lot, and while some adhesive was drying got started building the train shelves.


The realigned crossing now has a much smoother approach than it had originally. It will look much better and operate better. I pre-taped the road from the station so I don't have to go back and grind it while installed.


Crossing repair 5


I'll paint these crossings when I paint the remaining ones leading to the station. 


Instead of piling up cardboard strips I decided to use some old Masonite that was laying around and build up a topographical "stair-step" to make plastering go faster. I shaped each piece to taper smaller and then beveled the edges to make the transitions even smoother.


Topo 1


The bevel was put on using a belt sander and the initial cuts were done with the saber saw.


Topo 2

The first piece was glued to the table with foam glue because what's beneath is mostly foam with a little OSB around the edges. I also wanted to strengthen this area a bit since I had already put my elbow through the foam once and didn't want to do it again. It took a lot of weight to get it to lay flat since the foam was marginally thicker than the surrounding OSB. Now that I'm going to have some contour to that wedge-shaped area, I probably won't put a building there, just landscaping.


Topo 3


Since the foam glues takes overnight to cure, I needed to work on something else so I got started on building the train shelves. These are not going to be your furniture quality shelves that some collectors use to line their train rooms. Nope! This is cheap, pragmatic, get-some-shelves-up-on-the-wall, down and dirty train shelves. The reason I'm digging into this now is simple. I took my T1 off the track to replace the traction tires. I didn't have a tire for this engine and had to call 3rd Rail. So where to put the engine? Nowhere, that's where! I still have four engines that aren't even unpacked yet, plus a load of passenger cars. I need a place to put trains that aren't currently on the layout. I also have too many engines parked. I would like to have one engine per siding. It makes it much easier to operate the layout. I can only manage about 12 engines on the layout at one time. I have 17. Shelves will help.


The wall isn't even sheathed. It's just open studs enclosing the space under the cellar steps. Instead of spending the time and money finishing that one part of the basement, I put a 5" strip of Masonite behind each 1 x 4 that makes up the shelf proper. The Masonite acts as a backstop to keep trains from falling through the studs. It will also effectively hide the open wall behind.


Without a table saw, I relied on the saber saw to cut the strips, using a 1 X 3 as a fence. In retrospect, I could have use my Skil Saw to cut the strips. It would have cut faster and made a straighter line. Oh well...


Anyway, to speed up setting the fence, I've made two spacer blocks (2" and 2.25") to use to offset the fence by the distance the blade is from the saber saw's edge. I use quick clamps to hold the fence in place. Since I was using Masonite scraps to make these strips, I had to set up the fence many times. 


Saber Saw Aid


All the shelves are assembled with their Masonite backers, and I started fitting track to it. I have a lot of Atlas straight sectional tracks left over from when my railroad was essentially a display of trains on shelves in the office of our house in Germany. I also have a bunch of Ross straight tracks that can be pressed into service, so I shouldn't need to buy anything more. I'm using simple 90º steel angle brackets to secure the shelves to the studs. Don't need a stud finder here. They're staring me right in the face.


Train Shelves 1


The shelves will be up on the wall probably tomorrow. Then I'll finish up the station area terrain work.


Oh... and one more thing... Remember those Grandt Line doors that I knew I had and couldn't find. That led me to make a bunch with manila file folders and styrene. Well... they finally showed up. When I was emptying the shelve unit to move it across the room in preparation for the shelves, I had a NWSL box from the sander, and it rattled. In it was all the missing parts from the Station. I'm going to use the Grandt Line parts since I want to have some doors open and they have details on both sides.


Missing Doors - Found

 I knew that I had them, I was just unsure that they made the move. They did. There was also extra porch posts, which I had already re-bought. Oh well.



Images (7)
  • Crossing repair 5
  • Topo 1
  • Topo 2
  • Topo 3
  • Saber Saw Aid
  • Train Shelves 1
  • Missing Doors - Found
Last edited by Trainman2001

I thought I had all the crossing problems solved, but found that freight car truck journal boxes were hitting high spots on some of the crossings that I had reworked. Now I will. The grandkids found one and I found the other. They're having an overnight and will work on the trains with me tomorrow.


Crossing Problem


The kids said if I just let them keep hitting it, it will eventually wear away enough to clear. That's not how I do things. I'll fix it.


I think I figured out the Block 11/20 interaction problem. After looking at the actual track, the diagram on the control panel and the original RRTrack plan, I don't think I put an insulator between those two blocks. It's one block with two controlling DPDTs. When they're together it's no problem. When they're opposing, If one throttle's off, the voltage feeds back through the line to the off channel and energizes it. The fix. I make an insulating cut someplace to isolate them.


Problem with Block 11 & 20 - 2

Problem with Block 11 & 20 - 1


The Yellow squares with the X in them is the insulator. Notice that between 11 and 20 you don't see one on the diagram or track plan (two circle bulls eyes are the insulated joints). I hadn't noticed this problem before since I was usually running the entire inner loop set on one throttle and outer on another. In this one instance I was running just the inner loop and just block 11 to test the Allegheny and saw voltage on both channels. I'll double check this tomorrow and make the gap if necessary. I really don't know how this one slipped through.


I put up three train shelves today and will have the remaining two up tomorrow. The 1 X 4s I bought have a lot of twist in them. So much so that one end of the shelves tilts inwards and the other tilts out. It's actually bending the angle brackets. But the trains are falling off. I tested it.


Images (3)
  • Crossing Problem
  • Problem with Block 11 & 20 - 2
  • Problem with Block 11 & 20 - 1
trainman I have a question.

You show track plan and talk of isolating blocks 11/20 far as I can see the switches are the Block or am I missing something here?

I am used to Ross switches but assume the other track manufacturers have same hot rail segregation.
thanks for clarity if you can am really curious.

I look forward to your updates as I never know what you will be doing next.

hope you had a great grandkids and train day those are priceless moments.

Last edited by $oo Line

I haven't made the repair yet. Instead the kids were here yesterday. The younger was working on a clay stone wall that will be in front of Serpent Gulch. It was over this wall that my wife lost her cell phone.


Older grandson glued the remaining three pieces of the topo stack next to the station parking lot, and then made a barren ground-covered area into a nice meadow.


Landscaping 03


He's good at this, and I don't necessarily enjoy it. Good deal!


I was putting up the train shelves. It was a great use for lots of Atlas track that I had since Germany. I used it for my train shelves there before I had a layout. I had enough to fill 4, eight foot shelves. For the last shelf I used lots of little chunks of Ross straight track that were taking up space in a box. I didn't use any of the intact 29" straights that I had since I have future use for them when the coal mine goes in.


Train Shelves 2

This clearly isn't a fancy train room project. I mean the wall's not even paneled, but it is pragmatic and utilitarian. the Masonite keeps things from falling into the space under the stairs. In a different world, I might have had the basement finished before building the trains, but since this project was done as I was entering retirement, pragmatic had to lead the way.


The track doesn't have end bumpers. While I could have gone pragmatic, in this case, I'm going a little goofy; building bumpers out of Ross railroad ties, and making them sort of scale like. I'm not sure this decision is making any sense since I have so much other stuff to do, but... I like building stuff.


The bumper has 8 parts.


Bumper 02


Ross ties are basswood. Half the cuts are done with a razor saw and miter box, the others are done on the scroll saw. After cutting I true up the edges with a sanding stick and/or the NWSL precision sander. Tight fits make gluing much easier.


Here're the assembly just hanging together. After gluing, I think I'll use some brass rod on any critical joints to make sure they stay together. Engines can roll due to non-reversible worm gear drive and traction tires, but cars are different story.


Bumper 01


I'm not sure if this design is even prototypical, but it has to fit between the track and the edge of the shelf, especially the one with the Ross track. I extended that track a little closer to the end then the other ones.


BTW: I found Atlas track a real pain to cut. Ross track is much easier to make custom cuts, IMHO.


Since there's 5 tracks I'm going to need 10 bumpers. At 8 pieces per, I need to cut and shape 80 pieces of basswood. Like I said, this is a goofy project. I'm setting up a mass production approach, cutting the entire needed quantity of each piece in one go, and then assembling the whole lot of them. There's no rush...I may do some each day and take a break doing some plastering, landscaping or whatever.


If these work out well, I might substitute those Lionel plastic ones currently on the layout. In the engine house, the bumpers may be concrete or structural steel affairs.


Images (4)
  • Landscaping 03
  • Train Shelves 2
  • Bumper 02
  • Bumper 01

While I really didn't want to, I got back to plastering today. I finished the last crossing next to the train station, added Sculptamold to the topo area next to the station parking lot, and modified the other crossings that were still exhibited problems. I also cut the insulating gap between blocks 20 and 11 and solved that seemingly perplexing problem. The rule is, "when you rule out all the possible causes, all that's left is the impossible ones." There's no way I built the layout with two blocks connected, but I did.


Then I went back to cutting the pieces for all those shelf bumpers. 


More Plaster


Using the Masonite topo molds underneath really limited the amount of plaster needed to build it up, and added strength over an area that was basically paved with foam. When this dries I will put a second coat of joint compound on the crossing itself, and then paint and landscape.


I cut the gap. Immediately I had two toggles that no longer fed voltage back to a supposedly de-energized circuit. Block 20 is a pretty short block, but it's important since it lets me shut it off before that switch if a train is paused at the station.


11-20 Block Fix


This above took most of the afternoon. With the time I had left I did an assembly line job cutting the various pieces to make 10 bumpers. All pieces but one are used in pairs so it means 20 of each piece. My fingers got sore.


Bumper parts 1


These are the cross pieces. I cut the vertical sides of the with a razor saw in a miter box that I screwed to the work surface. This makes it easier to cut things since I don't need a hand to hold the miter box from flopping around. I used a piece of styrene that was half the height of the RR ties as a stop when the saw reached the halfway point for the cross-lap joint. I then knocked out the pieces between the cuts with a very small chisel, then cleaned up the bottom with a #11 blade and finally used a flat needle file to finalize.


This next shot shows the vertical pieces that fit into the lap.


Bumper parts 2


For these I used the scroll saw to do all the cuts after laying them out with pencil lines. To final finish I used a sanding stick along with that needle file. The perpendicular cut was easy since the saw's spring loaded pressure plate could press on the piece lying sideways on the saw table. But doing the longitudinal cut was much more difficult since the piece's skinny end was facing the saw blade, and it was also lying between the pressure fingers. To keep the piece from jumping up and down with the blade was entirely up to the finger pressure I could muster. And that's where the sore fingers came from.


These two piece were the most difficult cuts. The rest will be must easier.


Images (4)
  • More Plaster
  • 11-20 Block Fix
  • Bumper parts 1
  • Bumper parts 2

Plaster was still a little damp... Sculptamold dries in two-stages. The plaster part sets in about 30 minutes, but the paper fiber part takes several days to dry out depending on humidity and how thick a layer is drying. You can't sand it when it's still damp.


So I finished up the bumpers. Since these were all hand-measured and hand cut, there was a lot of variation between pieces. It's the reason that mass production always used jigs, fixtures or computer control to ensure part to part uniformity. What I had was the opposite of that.


Case in point. While the angled end of the back brace was measured as carefully as I could (I didn't make one of my detailed drawings) the notch the brace sets into was not at the correct angle, so the angled brace in about have the cases stuck out past the datum line which mated with the front frame. I glued all the angle braces up using medium CA and then marked a line that represented a true vertical.


3Bumper parts 2


When the difference was large like this one, I first trimmed it off with the scroll saw and then sanded both with the horizontal part against the fence on the True Sander so the angle and straight pieces were in line.


I glued everything up with Aleen's Tacky glue. The frames were clamped when they dried, but I found that clamping the total assembly tended to knock everything out line, so I just applied glued and let them sit until they dried. I then went over the joints with some thin CA to fill in any slight mismatches.


Bumpers assemblyHere's one bumper in position on the shelf. I am going to glue and possible screw them down onto the shelves. I will drill through the angle brace into and through the horizontal brace right at the notch joint, and then screw them onto the shelves. This should stop the casual bump from having a car end up on the floor. If the car is shoved against the bumper with some force, it would probably break the bumper.



Bumper Complete


Note: the glue is still wet in this picture.


Tomorrow, back to the plastering and crossings, and then work on the station itself.


Images (3)
  • 3Bumper parts 2
  • Bumpers assembly
  • Bumper Complete

I may put an article together on making the bumpers. I think that would fit well with OGRR's projects.


All the bumpers are finished, touched up, and fastened to the shelves. I drilled two clearance holes on an angle pointing towards the bumper front and used some #2 self-taping screws to fasten the bumper to the shelf AFTER I liberally applied some Aleens. The screws are really only holding the bumper down until the glue dries. Once that happens you'd have to destroy them to get them off. Good!


I also started cleaning off my disgusting work bench. I didn't completely clean it... no need to go that far, but I cleared enough space to put my engine support stand and finish working on my T-1. This is my favorite engine. It is number 6100, which is the first prototype of Pennsy's T-1 4-4-4-4 duplex series. The engine is fully streamlined by Raymond Lowey (also designer of Studebaker Avanti), and was one of two demo units. 6110 had an added booster on the trailing truck. Here it is on its delivery day from Baldwin Locomotive. My uncle worked at Baldwin at that time. That engine is BIG! Notice too how closely coupled engine and tender are. There was a diaphragm that was less than foot across. Couldn't use that engine on tight curves! Also the rigid frame 4-4-4-4 actually had a fixed wheelbase of a 4-10-4, not a 4-8-4 and this was with 80 inch drivers. More reason for large curves. 


 Here's my engine. 3rd Rail did a splendid job on this engine, especially in the disconnected handrails, and they weren't shiny.


The engine was running awfully. It was stumbling and stalling, even on track that was cleaned, so it was time for a tune-up. The wheels and rollers were filthy, and one traction tire was torn. I thought I had traction tires for it, but couldn't find them so I contacted 3rd Rail and they sent me replacements. THANK YOU 3RD RAIL!\


The traction tires are on the last driver so they're not blocked by cross heads, but that doesn't mean it's an easy job. The main rod needs to be completely removed so it's out of the way. The side rod needs to be removed too.


Tire Job


Luckily, there's enough play in the that side rod so you can bend it up to get over the crank pin. It was touch and go, but it did clear. If not, either the rod would have to be removed on both ends (as it would on the real engine) or the bottom plate would have to be removed and the entire driver axle taken out. As you can see in the pic, the screw for the front part of the side road was completely blocked by the crosshead guide. The drivers would have to be rotated to bring that pin clear. 


The brake shoes and hangers must also be removed to give clearance entirely around the rim to put on the traction tire. Using a small flat-bladed screw driver I was able to manhandle the tire into position. The first side took a while, the second one went much faster. Ahhh... the beauty of the learning curve.


I then finished cleaning the wheels with Xylene and re-lubricated all the moving parts. On the track the engine ran perfectly.


I also sanded all the repaired crossing and added a coat of joint compound to the last remaining one. Tomorrow that will be dry enough to sand so I'll be able to touch up and paint all the remaining white areas.


Images (3)
  • Tire Job
  • T1_color_photo
  • T-1


That was quite a post!  The parking lot and road crossing coloring look great!  It was good to see the finished shelves with some equipment on them, also.  Last but not least, I really enjoyed the video of the Santa Fe passenger train.  It showed your excellent track work, because you were running the passenger train at quite a clip.  You may have posted video before, but I haven't gotten to it yet.  I liked seeing the overall views of the layout.  It is really shaping up.  I was just reading about your control panel planning in the Build Thread, and there it was on the layout!  I am really impressed and very grateful for the effort you have taken in showing us how you did everything and how you solved problems.  You have inspired me to do likewise when I get building again.  I will need a better digital camera than on my iPhone 4.  My photos are too grainy.


One question from the old thread.  Who makes Flexibed?  I did a quick Google search, but did not turn it up.  I saw the Ross Bed listed on Ross' Web site.  Are the two made of the same material?  Could you reiterate on why you selected it.  I have always used cork in the past.  Thank you so much!

As always, Thanks Mark.


Flexibed is produced by Hobby Innovations.


It's their newer product. Their older product, Vinylbed, was used on the first two iterations of the layout. Flexibed is a medium density vinyl foam. It's quite flexible, absorbs sound well and glues well with Liquid Nails or other structural adhesive. You don't need to slice it to bend it around most corners. They make several thicknesses and solid sheets for yards and under switches. Vinyl bed was made out of vinyl granules and was harder to cut and form than Flexibed, which cuts easily with a utility knife.


Ross bed is a rigid urethane foam. In other words it's quite different than Flexibed. It is molded to conform to all of the Ross products. The reason I mixed the two products was the extra time it takes to fit and trim the Hobby Innovations product to fit around all the switches, but Ross bed was too expensive to do the 300+ feet of track I had so I compromised. I put the Ross product under all the switches and Flexibed under everything else. I used the thinner Flexibed product (1/4) since it conformed perfectly with Ross product so there was not height differences at the interfaces. You have to trim the Ross bed in some situations depending on what side of the switch your switch machines lies.


I'd probably go that way again if had to do it over (never... no... oh please... not that!!).


I'm using the iPhone 5s for most of the pictures and it works just fine. The movies also come from that phone. I had a 4 and the pictures weren't worth publishing. My son in law has a GoPro camera for his skiing movies. He's going to lend it to me so I can shoot engineer's point of view movies. The GoPro produces a very nice HD quality image. I have an iPhone app to control the camera from my phone while shooting. Now that all the tracks are again open, that movie should be coming along soon.


I went looking for movie editing software only to find that I already had it on my HP. Microsoft Movie Maker is packed in the machine and gives basic editing, labeling, effects to put together acceptable YouTube movies. I was able to easily combine several shots into one.

Thank you for the link to their Web site.  I'll take your excellent recommendation into consideration when I build in a year or two.


Our 2 year phone contract comes due in June.  The girls are still on it, and pay for their own phones etc.  I'm sure the younger especially will want the latest and greatest.  Her boyfriend has one.  We will see then whether it is time for Mum and me to upgrade too.  If not, we probably will by the time I get building again.

See... Mark's got it right! About 45 anniversaries ago I found out the hard way that me picking out presents and giving them to her never really worked right. It was much better to go with her and let her pick something she wanted. It was the same with me, really special stuff was often bought together, like my superb Canon image stabilized binoculars or my Meade telescope system. The agreement, as this is also important, is: No Sneaking. I don't buy stuff and sneak it into the house, and she doesn't either. You will always get caught and it ruins the whole deal. My train expenditures are out in the open. I don't hide it.

Had some time in the shop today. First thing I did was replace the blue-white LED head and Mars lights in both A units of the Santa Fe and replaced them with some new 3mm "Warm White" LEDs. Since there were already LEDs installed, I didn't have to worry about voltage or current limiting. When this engine was built in .08, warm white LEDs weren't on the market.


 New Headlight

The LEDs are part of a large order I made from LED/Switch for 3mm, 2mm and 1.6mm warm white LEDs that I'll use in using for all current and future building projects. After uncrating the Santa Fe, I realized that its headlights blue-white just didn't cut it.


Lionel uses a separate circuit board stuffed up in the nose that holds the head light LEDs and the two marker light green LEDs. The head lights are 3mm and the markers are something smaller, probably 1.8 or 1.6mm. 


The head light uses the full-length leads bent 90º in the middle so it reaches down to the lens in the door. One leg has insulating tubing on it. The Mars light is also bent 90º, but is mounted flush with the circuit board. The board has the "+" sign printed on it, so there's no confusion as to polarity. The new bulbs are nice and bright and look terrific with the lights out. It looks so good, over time I may change out a lot of the grain-of-wheat bulbs in many of my other engines. My Atlas SD-35's LED front lamp is not working so I may change that out also. It took is a cool-white LED. When going in reverse the rear lamps do work.


The rear A unit does have a TMCC board in it so I could imagine that under digital control, that headlight would turn off when going forward. Right now, the rear headlight is on all the time.


With this mod finished, I started building the loading dock for the station. This is the last major sub-assembly before painting begins.


I attached the plans directly onto a piece of plate glass, covered it with so polyfilm and built the parts directly on the plan. The 1/8" supports were cut on the Chopper II, but my fence had moved during the cutting and I had to trim and sand many of them to get them back to size. The Chopper uses a single-edge razor blade. While very thin, it is wedge-shaped and there is side thrust when it cuts stock. On thin stock the force is minuscule and doesn't affect things, but with thicker stock the side thrust is sufficient to move the fence. If it moves a small amount at each cut, it starts to stack up and piece #20 was almost a 1/16" too long.


Loading Dock 01

I don't know why the above picture turned itself 90º clockwise.


I'm going to use a piece of 0.020" sheet under the flooring strips. My first design used model joists set a scale 16". While this would have been very prototypical, it would be overkill in the extreme. Unless you're building a house under construction, showing joists is a waste of time. Instead, I going to lay the flooring over a sheet. In fact, I may just scribe some 0.040" sheet stock with the slats and call it a day. I'll see what I feel like. This loading dock is right up front so having individual slats with slight gaps between them would look nice...


It's fun to get back to building again. I enjoy this more than plastering and landscaping. Different strokes...


Images (2)
  • New Headlight
  • Loading Dock 01
Last edited by Trainman2001

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