The Tangled Webs We Weave...

Heck, if your existing backdrop is going to interfere with your enjoyment, why not just cover it with some plain white poster board hung by some tacks.  Easily removable later on, not too expensive, and should really let your imagination run wild after you get some track down.


Columbus, OH Union Station
Columbus, OH Union Station



LOL Chuck!

Yup, I could do that... or simply pull them down. (They're held in place by reusable "Tacky Tack", except the big one is covering a window so I used Velcro on it.)

BUT... that would take from the business at hand: After many years of absence from hands-on layout work in HO, see where I'm at NOW with HO at age 66.

As I type, I just noticed the DCC/sound equipped diesel idling on the powered track has a noticeable "loop" in the idling sound. I find it a bit distracting after a hearing it for several minutes. Boy... I am really in a "Review Test" mode!! (Can't be TOO critical... I just need to be practical and determine what elements I can be okay with, and what elements can be deal-breakers.)


NOTE: Fasten your seat belts. You have now been warned.

Well, this test layout idea has proved to be a very sobering and enlightening endeavor. It also proved to be rapid in delivering input data.
I've quickly learned a lot about "where I am" now with this hobby in view of my current stage of life. I think I've also learned a lot about what I want out of this hobby.
I'm going to try to keep this from becoming a novel, so I'll try to hit the high points:
* Working with HO track is NOT like it used to be. The smallness and fiddling nature of it (think small rail joiners that don't fit easily/etc, having to cut/file flex into small track pieces, etc, etc) creates frustration very quickly in me now. I used to hand lay track for relaxation and work with HO flex track, and it was  "fun". It is no longer fun.
* The little steam engines are more finicky than I expected when actually trying to operate. VERY sensitive to rail contact. Trying to improve the contact situation will require more tedious work on all engines. (Adding additional contacts, wipers, etc.)
* The steam era cars were more susceptible to derailing. I think that's because of the pop-in trucks on the offending train set cars. To fix all cars with pop-in trucks will be yet more time consuming (and tedious) work.
* The diesel era equipment performed as expected: Essentially flawless, even though the wheels on the diesel have never been cleaned since ownership. (3 years?)
* Placing cars on the rails was easier with the diesel era cars. (The code 88 wheels on the steam era cars are more finicky.) There were no derails switching with the diesel era equipment.
* Looking at HO diesels and HO rolling stock again was rather bland. Been there, done that... for decades.
* The thought of putzing with HO scale track no longer looks like fun. (I think it is much easier for things to frustrate me now than it was twenty years ago.)

* The time spent with the steam theme was, overall, a downer. I can't imagine facing such daunting "track and wheel hygiene" standards for a layout/equipment that is intended for relaxation.

* The thought of going back to HO diesels doesn't really sound like fun. (I would be insufficiently motivated to do the sizeable work ahead that would be needed to produce a layout-ready roster, a layout ready fleet of cars, and even the layout itself.)
* The tedious work needed to produce a "scale" layout no longer appears to be fun to me. Instead, there's a sense of dread about MANY of the aspects of same. I don't think a hobby is supposed to create the feeling of dread within one's self.
* The hassles of DCC don't look like fun. (I don't WANT to HAVE to learn how to program, okay?)
I think I'm to the point that:
* I want to simplify my hobby of model trains. I'm tired of all the tasks I still face that needs to be done in order to do the things I had hoped to do. Tasks that will require LOTS of tedious work with significant magnification, tiny drills, bending tiny little brass wire (like drills and brass wire .009 thousandths of an inch, etc, etc.), ad naseum. Apparently 40+ years of such modeling is enough. I think I've got my gut full of it.
I'm to the point I'm going to kick back from my current situation and seriously consider the implications of all of the above.
Frankly, at this point I don't think it will involve HO "SCALE" modeling.
We shall see.

Andre, I hear you on all counts.  I tried my hand at N scale steam in the ‘80s because of space constraints.  A disaster for reasons you cited.  A diesel era only roster doesn’t excite me either.  I’m 62, and I don’t want to work with tiny parts all the time either.

Well take a look at it tomorrow or in a few days and see how you think then.

I'm with mark and Andre on this one.  I had more patience when I was young.  Thoughts of building a highly detailed layout, like I did forty years ago are a non-starter now.  I too tried my hand at N scale when I was in my 30s.  It didn't last long for all of the reasons pointed out by Andre.  Now that I am in my 70s more play time gives me the relaxation I need.   

Dan Padova


"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill


Hi fella's!


Absolutely: It will be given a "test of time", I always do.

However, I suspect nothing will change. I've been sensing for quite a while now that the passing of time had caused some changes in me. Deep down inside, I begin to suspect that it was very possible I no longer possessed the patience and perseverance to dutifully accomplish what it takes to build "fidelity" type scale models and layouts.  That I can do so is not a question to me. (I still have the first/second place plaques I can remind myself of!  )  However, the ability to build such models really means squat to me now.

Simply put: I miss the fun that can be found in model railroading. Back when my life was before me and time was infinite, I had time to explore, experiment, and do lots of dreaming. Along the way I got four layouts up to the operational stage, most had some form of scenery on them. The last three all involved hand laid track, contest winning models/etc.

It was fun then.

It's not now.

Sadly, I haven't been able to sustain the Fun Factor in model railroading for nearly two decades. It wasn't until the past year or so that I began to wonder if model railroading was over for me.

However, now I don't wonder that. Instead, I now think what has been needed is a radical change in my approach to the hobby of miniature trains. BUT, it took me a while to face up to that. Putting it to the test via this switching layout simply exposed and confirmed the problems I was feeling internally.  It didn't take long today to see what I needed to see.

Frankly, I've already given this a LOT of thought, but I always figured such a change would be "one of these days when I get too old". Well, as we can see, "one of these days" arrived quicker than I thought, but the upside is it happened while I still have the energy and resources to make the change.


I was a bit surprised at how much less patience I have. Yes, I still have the skills to ACCOMPLISH the work needed to produce "fidelity" models/layouts... but I no longer ENJOY the process. I get frustrated too quickly now.  Just the THOUGHT of all the small tedious work needed to produce fidelity models and a fidelity type layout makes me want to run out the door in a wild-eyed screaming fit. I guess it goes back to that patience thing.

Simply put: The Hassle Factor had risen WAY above the Fun Factor.


What I want to do now is step back, and look at how I want to SIMPLIFY my approach to model trains. I've elaborated on this thought previously here (and in other threads), so I won't go into it in detail again at this time. Suffice to say that I don't want to drill tiny holes with itty bitty pin vise drills/etc, and I don't want to hand form .009" pieces of brass wire to make railings and such for my models. Been there, done that... apparently I'm sick of it.

Sure, I want some "piddle factor", for I enjoy SOME piddling... just not in the quantities it takes to produce "fidelity" models and layouts, and certainly not at the intensity/tedium levels that my previous approaches to modeling have required.

SO... it's time to kick back... look at my options... and formulate a plan of attack.

Hey, I've got a 16' x 20' out building that needs a railroad in it. Not just any railroad, mind you, but one that is aimed at fulfilling what I want model trains to be for ME, one that is aimed at being laid back and relaxing, and most importantly, one that is aimed dead square at shooting my personal Fun Factor up off the scale. It's like this little illustration I saw for the first time as a lad so many long decades ago.

Yes, this little illustration from Bantam Book's small paperback "Model Railroading" book stirred my imagination and stoked the fires of my dreams and schemes. I simply couldn't fathom someone having an ENTIRE basement to fill with trains! That the trains are 3-rail simply added to the appeal...


Well... I may not have a basement... but I've got a building! And I just might put some 3-rail in there!

All fer now!



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IMG_2077Hey..I'm 67..used to do the HO thing but way below your level.  Now I do pre/post war 3 rail with halfway decent scenery. K.I.S.S. is my mantra.

If 3 rail is your future, you have the artistic ability and License to do it your way. Make it unique.

Have a good one.




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Hi Fendermain!

Decent indeed!

I basically think we're all wanting to find our "happy place" in this hobby. Sounds like you've found yours.

My new "happy place" is still out there waiting for me to create it.

You also said:

"If 3 rail is your future, you have the artistic ability and License to do it your way. Make it unique."

Very insightful, there Fendermain.

It will likely be unique. I don't think I've really seen anyone doing what I'm thinking about doing. I'm not thinking about doing it "my way" intentionally to be different... but instead, if there's any uniqueness in what I create, it will be the result of me trying to mesh the things I like about trains with traditional 3-rail in  a layout environment I would enjoy creating and playing within.

I foresee a mixture of PW, PW-wanna be's, some custom painted stuff... shucks, maybe even some kit-bashed stuff... and some of it (eventually a lot of it?) may be weathered.  BUT one of the really neat things about 3-rail is that one can start running some trains pretty quick using what one has available, and the layout can continue to grow, and when a change of pace is desired, well... pull off a piece equipment and do your thing... put it back and grab another, repeat.

Now that I'm seriously considering pitching my hat into the 3-rail ring... I'm pretty excited about what it can lead to.

OH... and I already have created a scale render of the building dimensions... and some basic bench work confines scaled in. I'm just now starting to think towards the design process. The design phase may be a while. BUT, again, IF I commit to this... there will be quite a bit of time to design and plan, for there will be LOTS of selling-off to do for I intend to only retain keepsakes from my expansive HO hoard. Fully 99% will hit the auction block. Now, if I go all way through with my intentions (as of this minute), when the selling off is done, I will only have a handful of HO for wall displays, so I will be tearing down this bench work that's in this computer room and reclaiming the entire room for reading material, and my computer/etc. I'll then have WALL SPACE again in which to display some of my favorite railroad art, too!

Lots ahead of me now.



My layout was converted from HO about two decades ago...just last month I took two boxes of remaining HO to a train show...swapped it for some prewar.                                                                                                       Everyone has different ideas about what they like about their's all good.  I don't have the skills to do super fine detail work like some folks here...instead I view mine as semi-abstract art in an off white frame.



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laming posted:

Now that I'm seriously considering pitching my hat into the 3-rail ring... I'm pretty excited about what it can lead to.


I can tell you one thing Andre, back in the 1980's I built a "traditional" display layout.  It was designed to take to train shows, but I left it set up in my parent's basement in between shows.  We would run Lionel/MPC,(some of it repainted)  Postwar and Williams on it.  It was the most fun I had with Model Railroading either before or since.

scan0012scan0014scan0015Pundit 0281 005Pundit 0281 009Pundit 0281 010

Pundit 0281 003Pundit 0281 004

My dad also enjoyed it...(He really enjoyed my rebuilt 736 because it could lay down a smoke screen.)  When I came to visit on Saturdays, I would always find the trains in a different spot than the previous week.


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Good morning everybody!

I've slept on this idea... and I think I'm doing the right thing. I think that IF I want to truly enjoy model trains (and a layout) again in my lifetime, such a change is needed. It's a shame it's taken so much time (many years, literally) for me to finally ACKNOWLEDGE that I simply no longer have the patience for "fidelity" modeling... but perhaps it TOOK that (years of no meaningful progress) in order for me to finally connect the dots and accept the results.


You've done an excellent job creating a layout and environment that reflects your own personal "fun" place. Your overall picture of your room/layout looks very inviting and like a place that can pull you toward wanting to spend time there. Well done!


Love the pics, and LOVE those repaints! The baby Hudson and the Berk look fantastic.  This statement you made really grabbed me:

"It was the most fun I had with Model Railroading either before or since."

Hm. I had to think on that one. So far, each layout I've built has been more fun than the previous. Mistakes learned were corrected, and new mistakes discovered. However, overall, I would have to say that each one surpassed its previous ancestor.

I hope that will be case yet again.

Without trying, I managed to make model railroading quite complicated: DCC, torn between two lovers (HO TOC19 vs HO Diesels), on and on, and amidst all that, somewhere my patience level got up and flew 'da coop on me. It's been a real soap opera. ("And now it's time for ANOTHER episode of"... enter corny organ music here... "As The WHEEL Turns!"... organ music crescendos.) Spare me, please. What a drama queen I've been.

Now I want to vastly simplify and get back to the basics of having fun with miniature trains.

Seems do-able.

All in good time.

Hm (again). It might be time for me to resurrect my "PW Questions" thread, 'cause I've got a ton of questions about some things I need to relearn and/or learn.

All fer now!


Quick question:

What's the LONGEST PW combination for a PW Berk? That is, the engine and the 6 axle PW traditional size tender? (I guess over the wheels... 'cause it will need to fit onto a turntable.)

Need to know the length over the engine/tender wheels so I can allow for same during the track planning stages ahead.



Andre, Yes it seemed this would be the direction you would start to emphasize soon.  Back in the ‘80s when fighting N scale trackand steamers, I did a good bit of scratch building.  I have a diorama of what I call the Boyce Homestead where I grew up and we still own.  Two story frame house, three out buildings, and all the trees and hedge from what it looked like when I was growing up.  There is no way I could do it now.  Bigger models are better.

I can’t help on the PW question, but you will soon get your answers 

I like reading your comments.  Keep them coming.  Both daughters would ‘discuss’ a problem at college or now work with me, and I would hardly reply.  They worked it out just talking to a listening ear.

Hi again Mark!

Yup, it helps to talk it out. Lots of good input was received along the way.

In retrospect, the biggest impact came from that idea of a test track w/hands on switching.

I'm still floored about what I learned about myself, and my previously chosen mediums, while performing those experiments. I was also shocked at how quick it happened!

All fer now.


Cutting straight to the chase:

I'm following advice I've received by several. I've slept on all this heavy cogitating (ad naseum) for several days, now.
I have a long time friend that started out as a model train friend, but our friendship long ago left "train friendship" behind. Over the decades of our friendship, we have used each other as sounding boards in which to bounce our ideas and decision points off each other, both model trains and life in general. Over those years, his input has proven very valuable. My friend knows my train likes, dislikes, habits, tendencies, etc, as good (or possibly better) than my wife. (As a wonderful helpmate in life, she also offers good input, by the way.)

They BOTH raised some VERY valid points about my impending decision to try again with traditional 3-rail. The points they raised caused me to stop in my tracks (sorry for the unintended pun, there) and seriously rethink what I was intending to do.

They are correct: It will be DIFFICULT for me to accept on the LONG TERM, that there isn't a realistic possibility for traditional sized Geeps (GP7/9) and RS Alco's. (Geeps have been a diesel modeling essential for me since forever, and RS's have become the same to me over the course of the last 30+ years.) The only options for GP7/9's and RS's that I see are SCALE proportioned, even though marketed as "traditional", or under the "Railking" label. SO... obtaining "traditional" sized GP7/9's and RS Alco's are NOT a "realistic" possibility. To create examples of traditional GP7/9's and RS's (models that would fit proportionally with 6464 type boxcars, Lionel PW cast frame Alco's, and RK's F3's) would be absurd:
* GP7/9: Take a donor Lionel GP unit and HEAVILY kit bash the hood/cab AND frame into a traditional sized Geep that will look proportionate beside Lionel FA's, 6464's etc.  
* Alco RS series: Ditto above by use a donor Lionel or MTH RS and HEAVILY kit bash the hood/cab and frame.
Uhh... I don't think so on either count. One of the KEY reasons for moving to traditional 3-rail was to SIMPLIFY, wasn't it? So, traditional sized GP's and RS's are a wash.

In time, I can GUARANTEE the lack of traditional sized GP's and RS's would be a SERIOUS blow to my enjoyment of traditional model railroading, for I could be satisfied looking at PW-type Alco's and RK F's for only so long. (To say nothing of the actual shortage of truly traditional sized recently marketed engine offerings.)

In addition to the above, more valid points by both were raised that eventually sunk into my thick skull and caused me to take pause with a long "hmmmmmm."

SO... essentially I'm almost back to almost where I was at the start of all this. EXCEPT...
I have learned the following by virtue of my hands-on experimenting:
* There are reliability issues with my TOC19 equipment "as is". More time and tedious work would be required to address said issues.

* I would dread trying to paint/create Colorado backdrops and scenery.
* I didn't exhibit the patience I used to have when working with HO track the other night.
* Handling the HO diesel era cars/engines resulted in ZERO issues for my dexterity.
* As mentioned in a previous email/post: The HO diesel era equipment performed flawlessly. (And sounded GREAT.)
* Though barely into the impending decision to retry traditional 3-rail, serious doubts concerning committing to same have already surfaced with a vengeance.
Yes, there IS the 3-rail "Hi-Rail" approach... but I'm so leery of that because "back then" that's what caused me to leave 3-rail to return to scale 2 rail. How can I know that wouldn't try to happen again? I can't. So... I have SIGNIFICANT trepidation as to following the "Hi-Rail" option.
Result: I am not going to do anything for a while. (i.e. Selling off HO diesel stuff or acquiring 3-rail.) Instead, I'm am giving this the time it needs before committing to a direction.
I will say AT THIS POINT... I'm considering trying one more time for an HO diesel layout, but a layout and approach that is more simplified. Also, a layout that would be built using readjusted sets of "exacting/fidelity" standards. Standards that will be adjusted to be more in keeping with the paramount goal of "FUN". (As opposed to trying to make everything as "realistic" as possible, or feeling self-imposed pressure to keep up with today's modeling standards/etc.) So, IF I go back to HO diesels, I will need to discover what my NEW level of "good 'enuf" will be. (A new "good 'enuf" level that keeps the "Fun Factor" several points above the "Hassle Factor" on the "Fun Factor Scale".)

As for testing with time: I will need to revisit my previous out-building HO diesel track plan to see if I can simplify it as well as reconfigure it into something that I could more easily attain, as well as something that I could enjoy more. IF it turns out that the resulting bench work for same could be usable for either the HO diesels OR 3-rail... then so much the better. (But dual-purpose bench work would NOT be a "set-in-stone" goal.) The track plan process in itself will result in more time being spent (and no money) up until I'm ready to commit to something and begin doing it.

So, there you have it.

Sometimes it really sucks overthinking things. Wish I could keep from it. It's that darn "personality type" thing again.
All fer this 'un.


Andre, I can relate to the issue of scale GPs and RSs.  I bought a Railking semi-scale diesel when I first got into O gauge 3-rail.  I don't even remember what it was now, but I soon realized I was not into shrunk down semi-scale.  I do have a couple Railking diesels, but they are scale.  

I'm glad you have good support from your wife and long time friend.  My wife is a great support to me!  Yes, I agree, you need to keep evaluating this and not make any purchases yet until you get a good handle on it.  On the other hand, I know you realize you don't want to get into analysis paralysis either.  I tend to be the same way!


I, too, am addicted to GPs.

Lionel did make several types of rolling stock which are in the neighborhood of 1:48. Most of them were introduced in the mid-50s, and therefore were not produced in great quantities in the postwar era, but that tooling was well utilized by MPC and LTI. There are two sizes of refrigerator car, and even the smaller one is noticeably larger than a 6464 boxcar. There is the quad hopper, the large stock car, the chemical tanker and the 3 dome tanker (and the early postwar single dome tank car lettered for Sunoco). Flatcars and gondolas would be about 40' long in 1:48. Even the tiny 2-bay hoppers are not that much undersized compared to the tiny real hoppers of the time, at least in terms of length, though they are definitely too narrow.

Even the 6464 boxcar could pass as a scale-ish 36-foot car: MoPac, for example, resheathed a large number of old 36' boxcars in steel and painted them for LCL service. These cars were only 9 feet wide at the eaves, and 12'10" from the rail to the top of the roof walkway. They served until 1960. The MPC 6464 clone boxcars (all I have) are only about 3 scale inches shy of these numbers. I don't have stats for length, but the Lionel car scales out to 39' (including the roof walk), which I imagine is about right for the 36'6" interior length of the real car. So, in overall dimensions if not in detail, the 6464-150 MoPac Eagle car is actually close to scale.

If you want a scale 40' boxcar, you could use Menards'. Or use older Lionel Standard O, though these sit annoyingly high - I've often contemplated lowering them by replacing the "detailed underframe" with a recessed block of wood, but I'm too much of a "collector" at heart.

Cabooses will be a little tougher, since you can't use the ubiquitous SP type. The porthole and bay window cabeese are close to 1:48 (though the bay window is based on an Erie prototype, which is admittedly narrower than many other real bay window cabooses). You would definitely have to go with modern Lionel (or even non-Lionel) to get a 'typical outline' caboose that really looks right with a GP.

But, unless you need to have all your rolling stock be Postwar, there are plenty of options which will look good with Lionel diesels, other than the FAs. Of course, all your steam engines will be undersized then. Still, real steamers came in a lot of sizes, after all...


I'm hoping this time I will not get "analysis paralysis". 

For examples, owing to my findings with the "hands on" experience, I have definitely eliminated a big source of distraction: TOC19 steam in HO. That has been a distraction for decades. Way too finicky. It would most certainly be a source of constant frustration when trying to run/operate the trains.

AND, it looks like the 3-rail allure may be sorting itself out, too.

What would remain is to decide to return to my love of Ozark railroading, or return to my childhood roots and reflect Kansas City. I'm confident I could enjoy either. That will help to be decided with pencil and templates (track planning), as well as weighing my pros and cons of the two themes.


You have just outlined what my concerns were, and are about trying again with 3-rail. It is very likely that I've played with scale trains too long to move to 3-rail at this point in my life.

Shame we can't do it all... ain't it?

Off to ship a couple packages of standard S scale rail bundles I've sold to a couple of acquaintances!


Okay... "I feel the need... the need to UPDATE!" (Said with no apologies to that flake Tom Cruise.)

After I experimented, and decided that the finicky nature of the small TOC19 trains would lead to more frustrations than enjoyment, and after giving the thought of 3 rail a very serious look...

I have ended going back to my HO "Kansas City & Gulf" theme. Upon making that decision, the first thing I "assumed" was that I'd pick up my "KC Lines" theme for my layout theme, and model a layout loosely based on Kansas City's West Bottoms area and all would be good. That decided it was "Outta' the way! Move it! Move it! KC in the early-to-mid 1960s here I come!"

NOT so fast there, bud...

Since I essentially have a "clean sheet of paper", so to speak (no lumber has been cut as yet)... then... wonder if I could cram the Ozarks into my available space and return to mountain railroading (that I've loved for a long time)?

The more I kicked around the idea of returning to the KC&G's "Ozark Sub" as a layout theme, it kept sound more attractive. Now, upfront, I'll let you know that IF I wanted to literally fill my out building with LAYOUT, then I wouldn't foresee any issues creating an "Ozark Sub" layout. However, that is NOT what I would be willing to do by a far stretch. No, there are certain things that must be. Those things in mind, I compiled a list of "Givens n' Druthers", to see what I could come up with for a track plan that will be in line with my "Givens n ' Druthers.

The crucial "Givens" are:

* I want open space for my work desk/station. I absolutely DO NOT want to have a small desk under bench work and all the pains in he arse that involves. (Been there, done that. Don't want no more of dat.) Plus, I've learned that (for me) IF my work station is PLEASANT, then I tend to enjoy the work station experience more.

* I want plenty of space BEHIND my work station. I detest scooting back my chair and bumping (usually my head) on the benchwork that's too close BEHIND me. I do NOT want a "cramped feeling" around my work station. In a nutshell, I want my work station area to feel like a small "room" and not something that's crammed into a tiny, tight space that it has no business being crammed into in the first place. (That's basically what my work stations have been in the past.)

* There is ONE window in the available layout space that must be accessible and allowance must be made for it to tilt inward for cleaning/maintenance.

* The HVAC of my lower wall mounted unit (think: like a motel room's HVAC) must be easily accessible for filter/coil cleaning/maintenance AND the airflow cannot be obstructed.

The above pretty much dictates that the BULK of ANY layout I design THAT INTRUDES into the inner portions of the building MUST comply with the above "givens". That pretty much means that all the room intrusive stuff must be to the right of the entryway, for my work station area is on the left.

So, I was essentially looking at having access to: The right front wall (8'), the right side wall (15') the back wall (19') and IN MODERATION, the left side wall (15'). The left front wall is where my work station is located. (All this will become more readily assimilated once you view the track plan.)

My "Druthers":

* Decent staging that can accommodate at least 4-5 trains each way during an operating session.

* An acceptable "crew change" point w/town at the "southern" exit point (where the layout track heads for the stage) of the layout. This would (hopefully) include a couple tracks for any "shorts" that are going to arrive/depart the layout, and (again, hopefully) a very small engine service area. (Think: A sheet metal one  unit engine house IF space is available, or at the least a sand/diesel/tie up track.)

* Acceptable curve radii for the visible track.

* Tighter track radius on the hidden/unseen track if needed.

* Acceptable mainline run length.

* Enough small mountain towns (w/pass tracks) along the way between the "southern" stage area and the "northern" stage area to offer some variety in "meet" locations, as well as adequate "local work".

* Some decent mineral-based industry such as a gravel plant, and maybe a lime plant.

* Provisions for smaller ("peckerwood") sawmills along the way and/or other small operations of some type.

Armed with the above, I used a 3/4" = 1' scale and began trying to see what I could do in regards to a mainline alignment that I could be happy with. IF I could accomplish that goal, then it would be time to migrate over to 1.5" = 1' scale, and start designing in sincerity. (Note: Won't do you any good to suggest a track planning software. I've tried some, and I MUCH prefer the tactile experience of designing on paper with a pencil, compass, templates, etc.)

The idea is: See if I can come up with "Definite Maybe" Ozark Sub layout I could enjoy for the long term. IF I'm successful at doing so, then next would be to push the plan aside for a "test of time, and in the meantime return to the track plan for my KC Lines concept and finish it up.

When a KC Lines track plan reaches the "Definite Maybe" status, I will then take the two track plans and compare the pros/cons of each before I make a final decision. I think I will find:

* The "KC Lines" layout will likely offer more pure "operation" in regards to yard switching and industrial switching, etc. It will also offer the ability to see all kinds of different railroads represented thereon because of the fact there was something like 13 Class 1 RR's in KC back in the early-mid 60s. Bottom line: It is a great concept and would translate into a fun layout. The track work needed for a KC Lines theme would take a bit longer to lay because of the complexity of the design. Typical motive power for operating sessions will comprise heavily of switcher-type locomotives.

* The "Ozark Sub" layout would get me back to my mountain railroading, and in so doing would offer helpers, local work (freights), "turns", small town settings (that I also like) and through traffic on a single track main through the mountains. The fact that it's mountain railroading also brings in the "drama" of same that can be capitalized upon. (Note: Mountain railroading has been my "home" in model railroading since about 1974.) The bench work needed for an "Ozark Sub" theme will be more involved than the bench work for a KC Lines theme, but I suspect it will consume notably less switches than the KC Lines theme. Typical motive power for an Ozark Sub theme would be road and road switcher units. Not much demand for a switcher-type engine, or engines.

So there you have it! This is where I'm at at the moment. Soon to come will be a tentative "Definite Maybe" track plan for the Ozark Sub.




Well, it's certainly like coming home. There's a familiarity when I look at my diesel models: It's the railroading world I grew up among, and worked among. (Though it's been DECADES since I've been aboard a high-nose GP7/9. Not so long ago since running chop nosed versions, though.) Love TOC19 as I do, there never was such a "real life" connection with the models.

Off and on the past few days, I've been taking inventory of where I'm at in diesels and rolling stock. I'm finding stuff I didn't know I had! I'm taking inventory in advance of determining where my modeling priorities need to be once a firm direction is selected. As I've been un-boxing, evaluating, and test running select examples of my engines... man... I simply love the lines of some of them. F's have got to be some of the coolest old diesels ever conceived. This one in particular really hit a chord with me...


Just love the lines of it, and that gaggle of ladder grabs, rails, the MU hoses... all of it. Close as I can determine, that engine is ready for paint!  Wild.

I do know that as I'm slinging templates and drawing pencil squiggles, one of my immediate priorities that I need to start accomplishing is to start sending off my non-DCC KC&G engines in batches of two to my guy that installs DCC/Sound into them. The first pair to get sent off will be the KC&G GP7's #409 and #412. Gonna' get Tsunami 2's installed in them.

OH... and I've assembled all the decorated rolling stock kits I had on hand! Yup, done gone and put six of them together. True, some were "shake the box", but others required time filing, fitting, and fiddling. Ain't I sumpthin?

Ah... typed too long. Need to cut this one off.




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Old habits will not go softly into the night, will they Andre? 

Looks like you've found your "happy place" again. 

I've admired your modeling skills, which are much better than mine.  I tend to get a little frustrated when I try to reach beyond my "good enuf" point.  Heck, I still haven't put handrails on my 30+ year old FP7's, let alone all the nose grabs.


No, they won't, Rusty. Good OR bad habits.

My biggest issue in all my years of model railroading could be summed up in one word: "Distractions".  Traditionally, it's be the urge to model some form of TOC19 layout. But you can also through other scales/approaches into the mix. (S scale, 3-rail, Sn3... even G scale "way back when"!) Guess when it came to model railroading, I had ADD! (Attention Deficit Disorder!)

However, as I said, diesel mountain railroading has been my "happy place" since about 1974. This is not to say that my KC Lines concept couldn't be quite entertaining for me, but just a comment on the fact that since 1974, fully 80%-90% of my model railroad piddling was diesels pulling trains in mountains. The little 3-rail "KC Lines" concept back in the early 2000's launched the idea of modeling urban/industrial KC (and it's a great concept IMHO), and carried over into S scale, and at the first, was carried into my return to HO. The out building caused a rethink, and the TOC19 Colorado & Pacific, was the result: A return to mountains, this time giving in to that siren song of TOC19. Of course, we know how TOC19 in Colorado idea has turned out for me.

SO... I'm am HOPEFUL that I've returned to a dependable "happy place". It would be great if in one year, I have some bench work up, and some track down, and MAKING GOOD PROGRESS.


In the past I've taken modeling to some pretty silly levels. I think I recall back in the 1970s, when the detail parts that were available at the time were very basic, I scratch built "prototype correct" MU stands for the ends of my Frisco GP7's. Each stand had 11 parts, I think I recall... and each unit had 4 such stands. NO WAY now. I try to hit the high spots and add the features that I really want to see... and call it good. The beauty of my KC&G theme is that I can use basic engine types and simply personalize them for the KC&G. Gone SHOULD be the days of extensive kit bashing in order to replicate a specific prototype engine. I'm PLENTY fine with that. (But it probably DOES behoove me to get my engine modeling done within the next few years before Geezerdom really sets in!)

The cool thing about my KC&G is that it can cater to the things that I came to like over the many decades I've been around railroading. For example, I always found junky IN SERVICE engines much more interesting  than relatively clean engines. Sure, brand spankin' new engines are a sight to behold... but it's the junky ones that take on so much more interest/character to me. (NOTE: This "junky" engines appreciation does/did not carry over to my decades of running engines for a living!   Yeah, yeah, so I'm a hypocrite!)

So, it should come as no surprise that I've incorporated many elements of well worn and patched up engines into my KC&G "bankrupt" theme. Here's an example of some of "little things" I notice:


See that missing louver panel?  Saw such a unit on the Frisco "way back when". Thought it interesting and could be an eye candy feature for a model. SO, the above is the result. There needs to be an air valve and some piping inside that cavity, so I will use a plastic triple valve and some brass wire to simulate that.

I've seen slides of tatty old KCS F3's that had various height fans on the roof. No doubt, a high fan failed, and they simply replaced the unit with an available low fan. No biggie... but makes for some variety and interest. Here's the result of that on one of my KCS F's...


(The fading paint comes from pictures of Mop engines, KCS engines, B&M, engines, etc!)

Oh... and there's that replaced number board still in primer, the result of a light "cornering" (see the rusting scratches on the corner?)... to me that's the the sort of "patch up and make do as cheaply as possible" railroading that I came to appreciate "back when".

Wow... done typed another novel. Need to cut this one off and move along!

SO... reckon that's all fer now!



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Got room anywhere for a small RR museum operation?  You can at least have some of those TOC19 engines and a few pieces of rolling stock sitting around for your layout's railfans to visit  as the diseasals rule the high iron across the road ;-)  Maybe one could even make an excursion from time to time. . . .

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO


Well... that COULD be a way to indulge my fetish for TOC19!  (I will always have V scale, though.)

Have to think that over. I've got a lot of $$ (street value) in TOC19 stuff that I was going to use to offset the upcoming expenditures. Plus, I'm wondering (given my tendency) if keeping some of it would be a periodic temptation and even to the point of causing me to second guess myself on my decision?

Definitely food for thought.


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