Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Realistic control stand throttle

There is a valid movement for more realistic controls for DCC locomotives.  The DCC control system is 20 years old and yet we do not yet have a throttle that equals the control functionality and ergonomic of the TAT V throttle from the early 90s.  Sound decoders are now advancing steadily with a whole new generation being released this year.  Throttles have not really advanced much in the last decade.  Yes, we have wireless, but there has not been much new since the UT4 from Digitrax.  The new throttle ESU/Piko/? throttles from Europe may eventually gain wide enough distribution to help push the hobby forward, but it is still limited in the analog interface that mimics a real control stand.

I wish to applaud the guys working on the new control stand throttle which may finally advance the throttle to match our decoders and look forward to trying one out in the future.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Weekend Reading Material

Most model railroaders in the dominant scales of HO and N would be hard pressed to name an S Scale layout they had seen in person.  I am talking about S Scale and not American Flyer which is still fun but usually is considered part of the toy trains realm. So when folks hear 'S Scale' they tend to tune out the message.  Perhaps it is time to listen up and look what is going on in S Scale.  One of my favorite publications is the S Scale Resource.  This is a free publication and worth the time to peruse the every other month issues.  The new issue has a large point to point layout designed for operation in it.  This should make us rethink our preconceived notions of what is S Scale.  Follow this link to the current issue.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Modeling the 1920s and frieght cars

Many modelers are rediscovering one of the earlier eras of trains when their were large amounts of trains everywhere and the railroads were the glue that held together the nation.  The real challenge for those in this era is finding appropriate cars.  A blog post at this link give a list of Westerfield models that are appropriate for the era. 

Cobblestone Streets for Scenery or Display

When we present our contest level models at a meeting or show it is common to just place them on a table.  Military modelers place their models on  a wooden base with scenery on top to place the model in context.  Cobblestone streets are not common in most of the US now but were more so earlier in the last century particularly in port areas.  Vallejo (my favorite paints) has a clinic on their Facebook page that teaches you step by step how to make the streets.  Add some rail and you have an excellent place to place that resin or wood kit.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Simplification in Planning

Though I have many friends who want to build the basement empire and it has been my dream it is time to realize that the dream must end.  Something between the one lead and a couple sidings of the recent past and the empire is probably closer to a satisfying reality. 

Even with the issues of wanting a longer run I have come to realize that I will never have in my current a long enough run to implement Timetable and Train Order operation.  The general rule of thumb is that it takes 8 plus scale miles of track with 10 -12 be optimal by my reckoning to give enough distance without introducing boredom of the endless run.

Where does that leave me?  I need to settle on a design that gives more in a smaller space.  This typically means a switching operation using a nodal design.  A nodal design is one main yard where all on layout traffic originates and terminates for all jobs.

Settling this design parameter should make the next step simplify the next step. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Trends influencing my thinking

There are several friends who via email are gently nudging me, well OK they are pushing me, to make a reality check and start building a layout  As with most of us I have O Scale tastes with an N Scale space.  O Scale is like a drug in that you go to a large layout and it just feels so good, operates so well, and is impressive but the reality is the real estate for most is beyond their means unless they are willing to do a switching layout.

This is why most folks end up in HO which is the not too big not too small scale for most folks.  It is just right and why it is the dominant scale today even with it ceding some of its lead to N Scale in recent years.  The HO market is suffering from the dual hit that the seniors in the hobby can no longer see well enough and the younger crowd wants more prototype length trains which require a lot of real estate.

The older crowd is either simplifying their HO layouts, stepping into On30 or even rediscovering O Scale.  This has appeal as I am at the bottom edge of that age range though the real estate beast rears its ugly head again. 

S Scale is really the ultimate solution as the best balance of size and space. It only takes up 33 percent more space than HO but it currently lacks the product depth of HO, N or O.  The demise of S Helper Service as it was absorbed by MTH is a strong point of concern with MTHs real focus on the toy train in S and not scale market even as they venture into HO.

The Sn3 niche includes one major manufacturer which is PBL.  They make some of the nicest locomotives in any scale but the price tag is just more than my budget will allow.  Their car kits make some of the most beautiful recreations of cars in any scale as I will attest from a caboose kit that I have mostly finished before setting it aside.

The N direction has appeal for what one can fit into the space but the ability to see the product and to detail and operate it raises concerns for many and particularly for my self as my vision and motor dexterity should decline over the next 20 years as it does with most as they enter senior status.  Even with these concerns seeing layouts like Mark Dance's Columbia & Western attest to the ability to operate in a prototype manner in N Scale.

What ties all these sections together for is finding the balance to operate as I want with available models in the constraint of space along with availability of models.  Which scale gives me the balance?  Some of that will be answered once the prototype is picked in the near future. 

To use the analogy from the computer world in that you buy the hardware that runs your software in the model train world you buy the scale equipment that allows you to run the trains you want the way you want.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Point Worth Pondering

As I work through this process of deciding what to do next I keep reading various blogs about layouts.  Lance Mindheim wrote recently some advice in his blog that a smaller layout in closet in a smaller scale is better than no layout at all.  In addition building something sooner is better than waiting for the perfect plan and combination.  Take a read by following this link