Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year 2010

As the new year turns folks take the time to reflect on what has happened in the old year and what the new one will bring.
For "Seven day Model Railroad" its been quite the year. Three hundred and sixty five days ago I never even considered building a model railway in 7 days. But I did it and with some considerable success I think you'll agree. Where things will go from here are uncertain. The layout is still on display in Lakeside hobby and I expect it will make a few more appearances at shows in Minnesota in the coming year. To that end I'll still need to do some work on it. Add a proper fiddle yard and add some photographs to the backscene are the main tasks. Anything else would be extra.
So it was quite the year this last one. Who knows what the new one will bring?
I hope it brings you as much fun, enjoyment and success as I hope to get out of mine.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Going beyond the train set

Wingetts recycling has had an effect.
Now Terry at Lakeside Hobby has gone public with this announcement I can talk about it. I will be presenting a series of workshops on building a micro layout for under $100 (or thereabouts). The sessions will cover everything all the way from design all the way through all aspects of building a layout that should end up not much bigger than 4' long. In order to "put my money where my mouth is" I think I should be building a layout along with everyone else.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Support your Local Hobby Shop

Wingett's recycling is currently on (non working) display at Lakeside Hobby in Zimmerman, MN. I'm hounoured that Terry, the owner thinks it worthy of display to hopefully encourage other people to consider small model railway layouts when getting started in the hobby.
But that's not what this post is about.
With the opening of Lakeside Hobby I am now very lucky to have a truly Local Hobby Shop. In these days of internet shopping we all tend to go for where we can get the best deal when buying stock for our model railways and forget about how important the L.H.S. can be. Lets not forget that until very recently most of us bought just about everything from their L.H.S. Then internet traders with no premises and low overheads started to offer things at ridiculously low prices that the L.H.S. couldn't compete with. I've seen hobby shops close to me shrink to a shadow of their former selves in the last 10 years.
But the hobby isn't just about buying trains cheaply and running them on your model railroad. There's the interaction with like minded souls at exhibitions, clubs and hobby shops. Your L.H.S. owner is likely a keen modeller too. Buying stuff at an L.H.S. is a social experience.
"Come in, take your coat off and pour yourself a coffee" is the sort of atmosphere Terry is after. I'm all for that. I might just spend more money that way.

Friday, December 18, 2009

On show (again)

Just a quick post to say that the 7 day layout will be on display at the opening of Lakeside Hobby at 12197 Freemont Lane, Zimmerman, MN this Saturday December 19th.
That's awesome.
A new local Hobby Shop for mid-Minnesota, I mean. I won't have to travel 30-50 miles in one direction to get layout building suppies. This one is so close I could almost fit it into a marathon training run...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Say Hello to the Protocrastinator

(n) Protocrastinator is a person who puts off finescale Railroad (and railway modelling) for no good reason.
That would be me then, and by some incredible co-incidence Protocrastinator is the name of my new blog.
Why another blog?
Well, Seven day model Railroad is nearing the end of its journey. It was planned as a seven day layout and that's pretty much the time I've spent on it. So it fulfilled all my dreams. There are still things to do with it and there will still be a couple of model railway exhibitions it will attend as well as being written up in the model railway press. So there is a lot of life left in the old dog yet.
But I've been a frustrated finescale modeller since I discovered the concept. There is nothing that disappoints me more when I look at this layout and most others than looking at the wheels. Those Steamroller wheels. Then there's the pointwork, those flangeways. They are nothing like what they are on the real thing. As I was building this layout several times I thought to myself.
"I should have built this in P87" But It wouldn't have been a 7 day layout then.
You could ask why I don't re lay this layout with P87 track and turnouts. It would have to be a bigger layout then. Turnouts would have been longer and the layout would have lengthened. Besides I am very attached to this layout and I don't want to tear it up.
So there you go. Seven day layout is not dead, not even sleeping. But there will be 3.5mm scale developments going on elsewhere and you might just want to drop in and check it out.
You heard it here first Protocrastinator.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


In the few moment I had before the start of the show on Saturday I managed to get a few pictures taken. Here's a few. I hope you like them.
Trackmobile rests outside the building
Jack Trollopes "dirty old lady" is glimpsed between a couple of box cars
A view down the layout.

I'm such a Luddite

I reproduce here a copy of a post I made on my 4mmscaleagonies blog. I've changed a few terms to suit the US outline blog.
I have now read through the latest copy of Scalefour News. (A UK finescale magazine)
DCC operation of couplers. Mind boggling.
Blimey Charlie! I haven't even got around to the DCC operation of my locomotives yet.
DCC. Technology marches on.
I suppose I should at least try it out somewhere.But why should I fork out an extra $100 for a locomotive just because it has a computer chip in it (then lets not forget a new controller for another $150) when my straight DC loco's work fine as it is. You should have seen my FDT trackmobile on my US outline layout at the weekend. Ran to a perfect crawl. Same with my Athearn Genesis MP15-AC. So I just don't see the need currently.
(Was there a pun there? Sorry)
What about other features like digital sound? Someone will chime in.
What about it? Say I. Surely the sound coming from our HO scale locomotives should be 1:87 scale too.
How loud is a C-44 throttling up? 90 decibels?
What's 1:87 of 90? 1.2 decibels?
How loud is 1.2 decibels? Would you even hear it?
Just a thought from a Luddite. I'm sure that the subject has been hacked to death somewhere on the internet already.
Ironically the one DCC feature that interests me the most is the one that boggles my mind the most. DCC operation of couplers...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Model Railroader 102 Realistic Trackplans

"Back by popular demand!" it says on the front cover. I must have missed it the first time and been following a different line of model railways.
Still fired up after last weeks show I saw the magazine on the shelves and decided to buy it.
So what follows is a review of sorts.
This book reprints some of the more popular plans from previous issues of the stable of Model Railroader magazines.
In the past I've had mixed feelings about Model Railroader and their track planning books. Sure, they've been nice enough to feature one of my layouts in their pages, for which I am very grateful. But for the longest time their idea of a small starter layout was something on an 8' x 4' board. Judging by this book that fact seems to be changing. Plans start as small as 5' x 3'4" in HO scale that a true beginner could hone his skills on before moving onto something bigger. As to wether or not a loop of track and two sidings on such a small board could be deemed "realistic" per the books title is for your personal opinion. This small layouts section of the book also inclues a couple of very nice 2' wide switching layouts which are very definitely food for thought for me. However the main let down for me in this section is the cliched Z scale in three suitcases.
The book then moves on to cover their ubiquitous 8' x 4' starter layouts which, apart from an On30 layout do nothing for me but that's just my personal opinion.
Then there are three more sections covering progressively larger layouts. Even these larger trackplans contain sections that would work as smaller layouts by themselves.
The sections are broken up by some informative track planning articles to give you ideas on how to develop your own schemes.
All the way though the book I found some interesting planning ideas that I could well try to incorporate on my next model. All in all this book comes recommended.

A change of scenery

Yes, it's that most wonderful time of the year again and I felt I should mark it with a change of header. It should, however, be pointed out that the actually is no snow in my part of Minnesota at the moment. Perversely they actually had some in Dallas, Texas this morning.
A wonderful time of the year. My favourite time of the year. How many of us actually started out on this wonderful hobby of ours at Christmas? I know I did. A Hornby Freightmaster train set when I was 11 or 12 years old and I've never looked back.
So a Merry Christmas to all and I hope you all are getting some model railroad related gifts in your stocking this year.