Elliot a Happy New Year to you and your family.  am sure with your list of to do's for 2019 you will accomplish them you seem to thrive under pressure as well as pain to various body parts hopefully your better half can design a outfit that will thwart all injuries for 2019.

you have accomplished a lot this past year so 6 atta boys for you hopefully you have patrick and others help out again this year. I'm looking forward to seeing the completed passenger car conversion as well.

as to the building out of masonite board are all the wood strips separate cuts or? thanks for that idea by the way it very well might be something I can use on my layout verses using building fronts as I need about 15 of them and your idea might be a better way to accomplish it.




Happy AND HEALTHY New Year Elliot!

I think most would agree that you have accomplished more on your layout in a year than most of us would in a lifetime. Your layout and upbeat outlook on life is an inspiration to us all.


Three Rails Are Better Than None 

Elliot, if it weren't for bad luck I swear you wouldn't have any luck at all.  Here's hoping the new year brings much better health and luck moving on with the layout.

Thanks for a year end review that gives great human insight into the the highs and lows we each face.  When we're able to step back and tally our accomplishments, with all the roadblocks that Murphy had thrown at us, it's surprising that so much actually got done.  Many a time I have reviewed life's trials only to conclude, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.  

I'm typing this while suffering a huge hangover....I had too much 2018 last year.  Here's wishing you a wonderfully productive New Year, Elliot.


Completely designed with your mind in mind.

Thanks Eliot for another great year end review !!   As others have noted, you really accomplished a lot in 2018, in spite of the really significant hurdles and set backs you had to overcome.  Your perseverance and positive attitude is admirable.   Hoping 2019 is a safe, healthy, happy year for you.   It's inspiring to watch this amazing layout come to life on the forum.   Best Wishes,  Chris a 

For what you have done on your lay-out during the year was great considering your set backs. Here is hoping 2019 will be a better year and because this is a NEW YEAR get out of your funk and be inspired to get started again. Enjoy your posts even if I don't chime in!


Elliott, I will join the chorus on wishing you an injury free 2019.  You have accomplished an awesome amount of layout work in a relatively short time.  Even Superman has to watch our for Kyrptonite in his adventures.  

Layout looks great.  Remember it should be a journey not a marathon or an ordeal.



You keep on rocking it!! You don’t give yourself enough credit for all you’ve accomplished and overcome. Your work is really impressive. 

Like a lot of things in life sometimes it’s the quality not the quantity. I would bet the 13 people who came to see your layout were excited to see it just like all of us on the forum who look forward to your updates. 94,704 views and counting!!!

Thanks for all the inspiration you provide!!

Thank you all so much for all the well wishes, and all my best to you and yours for the new year. You guys are the greatest!!!

I saw posts and likes from a number of unfamiliar people, perhaps newcomers or just previously lurkers. Either way, welcome aboard to year six of this long trip on the Twin Cities Central. If anyone is feeling really ambitious, they can always go back and see how far we've come in all that time. Even I have to do it once in a while to remind myself.

We're only four days into the new year, and a couple things are already getting me more excited about trains than I have been the last couple months. One of my doctors has another patient that has access to BNSF calendars, and they always give him one which hangs on the wall in  his office. I love seeing the pictures each month. This year they gave him a second 2019 specifically for me which I got back in November. Yesterday, he gave me the 2018.

My wife has taken up watercolor painting, just a few months in, and she's gotten kind of good at it. She flipped through the calendar, and decided to try her hand at doing a train. I sat down with her to pick colors after she traced the image from the photo. Here's what she came up with. Not bad for a first attempt really. Trains are difficult subject matter, especially for the "soft"medium of watercolor.


Another thing that has gotten me wound up recently is, forum member Clem K's video of his 200' freight train going around his layout. If you've never tried to run a long train, you may not totally appreciate the magnitude of this feat. Sad to say, it takes a lot to impress me these days. This one does. You can read the topic HERE.

Lastly, my NMRA division meeting is coming up next Saturday. Last May I became the Assistant Superintendent of the division. In August the Sup was having family issues, and was unavailable, so I picked up the ball at the board meeting, and ran with it, setting the programs and contests for this year. I'm really excited about this next one on static grass. I bought all the stuff to do it, hoping to get some of it on the layout for the convention, but never did. Now I have a week to figure it out so I can help present the topic It reminds me of an old joke: What do you have to know to teach a dog tricks? More than the dog. I've been watching YouTube videos. Gotta get my hands dirty now.

One highlight of 2018 that I neglected to mention in the update was the small gathering of forum members Paul2, Darlander and Ray Marion back in July. I held a picnic to coincide with Menard's first annual train show in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, about 60 miles away. A good time was had by all, and the plan is to do it again this July. I didn't take any pictures of the gathering, but fortunately everyone else did and shared them here. The link is just the first of a few posts, so you'll want to scroll down a bit to see the rest

Most of the time I address everyone who posts individually, but there are so many today, I'm just going to take a few. I love you all, and hope you can forgive me if I don't reply directly.

Roman - One of my many loyal readers, good to see you back.

Mike - Yeah, well, the Vikings. I knew they were toast just from looking at the schedule. They were so inconsistent. The local news had a viewer poll grading the season. D's and F's were the top vote getters.

Ray - That Masonite building idea started off with Chugman, when he needed to fill in a gap in a block of buildings. I kicked it up a notch by gluing strips and small pieces together to form a huge wall with windows for one of my mills. I did a separate topic on this here.

Butch - If the forum had a "spoilers" feature I would have used it for the hospital story, but I thought the white text was a neat trick. I'm keeping that one in my bag for special occasions in future posts.

Again guys, I don't think I could do all this without all your support.


P.S. Four days in and I haven't hurt myself yet, but the year is young.


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Elliot, sounds like you have a great start to the New Year! Your wife is doing a wonderful job with the water color painting! I sure hope your going to hang that in the control area of your layout! 

I have to agree that Clem's 200' train is very impressive, what I find extra impressive is the Kadee's held together! I must be doing something wrong! LOL

I hope you get your static grass figured out and give a nice class!

But most of all I really wish you a safe and healthy year! Lots of train running, and quality time with your family!


USMC 5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

That's a great painting your wife is working on Elliot. You both have some serious creative talents!

Glad to hear that you're getting reve'd up again. Looking forward to another year of amazing work.


Three Rails Are Better Than None 

Elliott, I was working on my layout every day even if for only a short time and was getting a lot done.  Then I had a get-together with a fairly large group of my train friends (41) and took a breather.   Now it's a month later and I'm still on my break.  I haven't been able to get downstairs and do anything.

Maybe I need to see you going again and that will give me the spark I need to break this current cycle of mine?  You provided me with inspiration to get off my hinnie and do something, even if it was wrong.  Seeing you working through all your health issues made me feel guilty that I wasn't getting anything done and had no valid excuses.

I have also learned that I work best when I have a deadline.  It doesn't matter what it is, but when I know that something has to get done it helps me overcome my inertia.  I get up and want to play bridge, or work a jigsaw puzzle, or read a book, or just about anything but head downstairs.  Once I get down there and start doing something, I usually enjoy it and am glad that I did.

I guess I'm thinking that we need to push ourselves enough to keep things moving forward, but not so much that we are as obsessed as we were last year.  There has to be a happy medium, the trick is finding it. 

Have a great, healthy year this year.






Thanks guys, I spent the entire afternoon in the basement today, but it wasn't all trains. We had to replace the water heater after 19 years. It kept tripping the breaker, or so we thought. As it turned out it was the lift pump for the basement that had the electrical short that was the problem... dead short. Probably a bad seal. We replaced that thing less than two years ago.

A train buddy of mine has done all my HVAC since we built the house, water heaters aren't really his thing, but he was nice enough to do it for me. I did the original install, but he did the gas hookup.

With all the running around down there, my knee is really barking.

I did get my home made static grass applicator finished, by soldering on an alligator clip to the ground lead. I don't know if you remember I said I accidentally glued the bush button during the conversion from an electric fly swatter. Yup, I glued it. I put the batteries in and the LED stayed on. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. Just remove a battery to turn it off. It runs on two AA's.

I also found my Noch Grass Master 2.0, and unpacked it. I thought the end cap was supposed to unscrew  to access the battery. I couldn't get it open to save my life. Enter Google, and I finally found a post that said you need the strength of a bull to unscrew the cap. This is something I no longer possess due to neuropathy. Using my channel locks, I finally got it. Of course I nicked  the finish a bit. Oh well. This one takes a 9V, I'll have to bring one down. Testing on Tuesday.

I relayed  your messages, about the painting, to my wife. She says thank you. She posted the picture to her watercolor group, and it got over 150 likes in a group of around 3000.

Mike - Kadees are one of the reasons Clem was able to do that and keep the train together. I didn't know you were converting your fleet. I decided long ago that it wasn't practical for me. What kind of problems are you having?

Bob - Thanks, I'd be even more reved if this knee would stop hurting. Today was kind of tough on it.

Art - It's tough getting going again after you stop. Maybe I can crack the whip on you from my couch? I get those "anything but trains" distracted feelings too, but just like you once I get going it all gets better. Just say to yourself, I'm going downstairs. Then stand for a few minutes and look at the layout, and the ideas of what's next will pop into your head. Then your body will follow. After a couple times doing that you're on a roll again. Just like that. Deadlines also work well, even when self imposed. One last trick I would suggest is, get yourself a train calendar, and write down your hours each time you work. That'll get you going! It's kind of like exercise (or so I'm told). The more you do, the more you want to do. Now get going!

Dave - When am I going to see you next? Isn't your swim meet coming up in a month or two? We went down to Rochester last fall for an auction, but it was when you were out of town. Nice drive down  52.

Mark - Me too, fortunately I'm not flying solo on this. It's kind of going to be a group effort. I'll be trying my hand at it Tuesday.

Elliot, There is always something when you own a house.  My bad knee and leg would be barking too.  Those are good ideas you gave Art and the rest of us when you get bogged down being away from the layout.  I think it happens to most of us.  I'm not sure why.  Once we get back at it, we are usually gung ho!

The state meet is April 13-14.   Would like to visit the afternoon of the 13th unless we get a repeat snow storm - remember last year?   Also, next time you are in Rochester you need to give me a heads up and stop for a layout tour.   Now get back to work on the layout!   Dave

Elliot, even though you had a set back or two this year 2019 will probably go better with getting things done the 2018 and by God you got a lot accomplished. Saw the engineTammy painted and I think she will be adding some nice backdrops to your layout. Take it slow and steady. Hope to see you again in Jukly maybe and see your layout in person again...............Happy belated New Year...............Paul

Elliot, sorry about your water heater! It sure is nice that you had a friend able to help you out! As for my Kadee's no real problem, its just that half are Kadee and the rest are claw. I have about 50 more cars, and probably 6 engines to do! I think I will wait till I get more done one the layout before I get back to changing everything over to Kadee!


USMC 5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

January 2019 Update

I'm actually starting to go downstairs on a regular basis again. The knee is getting better, but I haven't really been pushing it until today. It still hurts when I have to kneel and rest on it, but at least I can get up after I do. 

I've really only done a couple projects this month. The first was learning how to do static grass. The second was a much larger project, and has been going on for the last week, and I'm still not done. I ordered nine new Legacy Bluetooth diesels from the 2018 volume 1 Lionel catalog. Over the last two months, they all showed up. I've been unpacking, programming and incorporating them into the fleet.

It has been exactly nine weeks since I tripped on the electrical cords and did my knee. I'm pretty sure that it was the white one that was my downfall, literally.

IMG_8662 [2)

Static grass: This is the Noch Grassmaster 2, cost $159.95 on sale at Scenic Express.


This is my homemade applicator, made from an electric fly swatter and a kitchen strainer. Cost, about $11.


I decided to do a side by side test of the two applicators, while I learned the process. To the left of the nail was done with my homemade unit.


The area to the right was done with the Noch. Both units did well with short grass, 2mm.


The real test came with 10mm grass. Again the homemade unit.


The fancy commercial unit. My wife said this looked more like mown hay. It just didn't stand up like the fly swatter application.


My theory as to why the homemade unit out performed the Noch is that it applied a greater static charge to the fibers, making them really stand up, and look more realistic.


On to the unpacking project. I don't use a cell phone or tablet, so Bluetooth isn't really my thing. But I managed to get my wife come down and try it out. It works great. It's nice because it doesn't rely on the track signal when it's being controlled with BT.


So I bought these two SD70ACe's.


A U33C.


Two GP9 Torpedos.


We took this one for a spin over at Hiawatha and did a little switching.


One thing I found out was some of my roads were a little too high, causing the wheels to ride up off the rail, and lose power. I took an X-acto knife and shaved down the high spots. I have a lot more of these crossings to check and possibly fix. I need flawless running if I want to get people to operate on the layout.


I bought three SD45's.



And finally this SW7. Normally I assign channel numbers based on the last two digits of the engine number. Unfortunately I already had a number 11. In order to free up that channel for this engine, I had to do a three way swap.


The BNSF engine near the edge of the layout has the number 1010 on it. Because one of my Amtrak Genesis engines was already number 10, the BNSF became 11. I unwound that whole mess, and now the SW7 is 11, 1010 is 10, and the Genesis became 15 even though it says 10 on the shell.


Here's how that went down. I actually had two Williams six car superliner sets, and two sets of matching Williams Genesis powered and dummy pairs. Well almost matching. Of the four shells, there were three different numbers. One powered unit was wearing 10, and the other had 15. So I took the old number 10 and reprogrammed it to 15 to match the other powered unit. Then I took the two dummies off both trains, removed three cars, and made one big dual loco Empire Builder with an Atlas baggage, nine Williams cars, and a couple express box cars on the end. This is a classic consist for the Builder, and just fits in its hidden yard parking space.


I meant to take a picture of the new train, or even a video, but I put it back down in the yard. As I was working on reprogramming other engines, I was turning the track power on and off. For a while now, the circuit breaker has been popping every third or fourth time I turn the track power on. Out of frustration, I turned the power off, and opened up the electrical box. My plan is to replace both the light switch and the breaker. Saturday is supposed to be warm, as in above 32, so I'll run out in the morning, and fix it in the afternoon, and hopefully that will solve the problem once and for all. 

All of these new engines are really getting me excited to do some running. I started to try and get my Challenger working, just before ripping into the electrical box. I bought it used, and while it's been gathering dust on the layout for years, I've never actually run it. I would like to be able to get out my new UP excursion set and theater car. 

Next up, I have to fix two critical switches in the hidden yard. For months, I've had them locked in place so that I can only run one train on a through track. I would love to be able to access the rest of the tracks and trains down there. I could also make up a few new ones with all these new engines. I have nine open parking places.


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Elliot, you sure got some nice BN/BNSF stuff! Man I love those colors! Things are coming right along, the idea of a long superliner sounds great! As for your 2 switches I know you will get to them, but make sure you take your time with that knee, don't push to much to soon! 

I am going to try to build one of those static grass applicator, I already have the fly swatter for the goodwill for $3 just need to get the strainer!

Good luck as you go and be safe!


USMC 5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

hope your knee continues to heal be kind to it or it will bark at you!  what seems to be issue with those 2 switches I just assumed all in that area was functioning or is this another gremlin that came up? hope your breaker/switch change out fixes that issue.  amazing how the homemade static grass applicator out did the manufactured one we all could save some $ on that item.

so as to BT and new engines are you contemplating on using a smartphone to run them yourself or is this to get more folks engaged to running your layout when you start operating sessions? 

I remember seeing the empire builder with box cars on the end it just so happened the trip we were on from St Paul to Chicago was equipped like that.

lastly I surely hope those cords in picture have been secured out of your way to avoid any repeats of falling again. 


Elliot I salute the static grass. I feel as though I could use the 10mm on my bare spot on my head, that came out great. An Awesome haul of Diesels! Are they new- if its a good dealer please share. I am always impressed with your layout ! Rock on!


Elliot, Yes that looked like a tripping hazard for sure.  As much as both the power company and the telecommunications company tried to beat it into our heads to eliminate tripping hazards over my 43 years of employment, I still can get caught up with one.  I'm glad the knee is getting better and you got some things done in January.

That static grass test was outstanding!  The $11 home made unit out performed the $159 commercial unit!  Wow!!

Since I'm not in the market, I didn't know Lionel was putting Bluetooth in so many Legacy engines!  Wow!  I bought a Polar Express LionChief with Bluetooth a year ago.  The Bluetooth worked slick.  Wouldn't you know, I never even tried using Bluetooth this Christmas.  I used the handheld controller the whole season.

Here is hoping you have a productive February!!

Yep that static grass applicator you made is cool!  And I agree it works better!!    Some very nice engines to test out the blue tooth with also!   Lets see some more choo choos running!!!  


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Mark Boyce posted:
Since I'm not in the market, I didn't know Lionel was putting Bluetooth in so many Legacy engines!  Wow! 

I believe all of them will have BT going forward.

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