I need your questions for a new project

Hi everyone! I'm working on a new project to create more content for the site, but I need your help. I want to make educational videos on railroad history and model railroading. The videos that I see out there are all pretty dry or all put some lousy music over the top of whatever they're trying to show. I think railroad history video can be a lot more interesting than what I've seen so far, and I think I can make it. I've created a YouTube channel where these videos will be uploaded, so please go subscribe there so you don't miss any of them.

Welcome to the new Rip Track

Okay, this is really the same content with a new content management system, but it is new.  This site is still under active development.  There is still some content that needs to be migrated, and I'm working on that too.  Once I've got everything up to snuff, I'll migrate this to be the default site at riptrack.net. The main impetus on getting this new site up was some software upgrades on the back end that made it more and more difficult to keep the existing site running flawlessly.  It was time to upgrade. The new software has some new tools for user interaction, so go ahead and create a login. Leave a comment on this post or send me an email with your feedback.

Trainfest 2015 layout highlights


variants rail-bank
rail bank
region North America
earliest known usage (unknown)
used by railroad managers and government
railbanked track in WisconsinA section of railbanked track in Sauk City, Wisconsin, in 2015. Note that the track has been severed where it crosses the road and the rails have been saved on the right-of-way for its future reinstallation in the crossing.

verb: to preserve a railroad right-of-way for future use by a railroad entity. "This stretch of track has been railbanked for a planned extension of service."


variants high-ball
high ball
region North America
earliest known usage (unknown, perhaps 1830s; documented to 1897)
used by railfans and railroaders

noun: a signal indicating a clear track ahead. "Dispatch gave us the highball."
verb: proceed at full speed. "It's time to highball out of here."

What is form 637?

Anyone who has spent time browsing around this site knows that I am also a philatelist (*ahem*, a stamp collector).  Earlier today I was at Tosapex, an annual stamp show held in West Allis, Wisconsin.  Compared to the model train shows I attend, this show was exceptionally small and quiet, but there was plenty of railroadiana available there, especially in the form of RPO covers and stamps that depict railroad subjects.

I was at this show to find more material for my March 4 collection (which I've blogged about separately), but while I was poking through one box of post cards, I found this one...

Illinois Central Gulf RR post card

The other side of the card looks like this:

Illinois Central Gulf RR post card

Modeler's Moment - Another way to hang a helix

hanging a helix

It seems that helices are always tricky to set up on model railroads.  Every modeler seems to do it a different way.  This week, I was shown a method that I hadn't seen before.  The modeler used long bolts and strips of wood to hang the helix laps from the uppermost section of benchwork.  The advantage here, of course, is that the modeler didn't need to find a source for long threaded rods; the bolts he used are much easier to find in comparison.  However, this method still runs into the issue that there are a lot of places that need to be adjusted to get the helix grade right.

Hale Holden, abbreviated genealogy


Hale Holden was president of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad from 1914 to 1918 and again from 1920 to 1929.  He also served as the USRA's western division director, vice president and director for the American Railway Association and chairman of the executive committee for the Association of Railroad Executives.  After leaving the CB&Q, Holden became chairman of the executive committee for Southern Pacific Railroad, serving from 1928 to 1932, and then as chairman of the board for SP from 1932 to 1939.

Today in history: November 8

Santa Fe and Southern Pacific trains meet at the Tehachapi Loop in the 1980sIn 1874, the Southern Pacific was building its line south from San Francisco through California's central valley.  Construction reached Bakersfield and work began on the line that would include the Tehachapi Loop on November 8, 1874.  The line is still one of the busiest mountain passes in California, and is now owned by Union Pacific Railroad.  In this view from the mid 1980s, we see part of a container car, and under it in the background, the head end of the train of which this container car is part and an opposing Southern Pacific freight at the Tehachapi Loop.

How to build it wrong - basic scratchbuilding and kitbashing techniques

So you've built a few structure kits and placed them on the layout. But what do you do when the structure you want on your layout isn't available commercially? Build it anyway. Often, you'll be able to find a structure kit that is almost just like the structure you want or another kit that has a wall or two that would look right. It's times like these that you throw away the instructions and build it wrong!

Download the clinic handout

Tools required

There really aren’t a lot of tools you need, and you’ve probably already got all of these tools anyway. These are the basic tools that you need for kitbashing and scratchbuilding:


Subscribe to The Rip Track RSS