Modeler's Moment - It's not always the mainline that is higher

Mainline and siding tracks at different elevationsSo we're always told as model railroaders that the mainline is always at a higher elevation than the sidings.  We should also be told that once someone says that something never happens on the prototype, someone else will come up with a photo to prove him wrong.  The latter principle was proved again today as I found this mainline and siding pair in Madison, Wisconsin, today.  The mainline, on the right in this photo, is at a slightly lower elevation than the siding, at the left.  The wear pattern in the switch frog at the bottom of the image confirms which alignment is the mainline here; the shiny rails are clearly the rails on the rightmost track.  The question then falls to why it is this way at this location.  Well, the area to the right where the Kohl Center is now located, used to be part of the Milwaukee Road's main switch yard in Madison, so it stands to reason that the mainline bypass around the yard

Quick and simple track ballasting

If you've never ballasted track, the process can seem a bit daunting. But it really isn't that difficult after all.  This video shows one quick and simple method for ballasting track. My teenage son, who has not ballasted track before we shot this video, is the demonstrator here. If he can do it, so can you.

One quick side note, this video does not deal with the problems of ballasting around switch points.  That will be addressed in future posts.

Modeler's Moment - Pinch points can cause trouble

A buyer for BNSF???

There have been many stories in the past from reputable news sources about Warren Buffett's investments in BNSF Railway stocks.  Today, his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, cranked it up to 11 and announced plans to purchase the remaining 77.4% that it didn't already own in a deal valued at $26 billion.  Here are a few links to articles with more information:

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RIP: Blue Box kits (1948-2009)

Athearn sent a special announcement to their email list today with sad news for kitbashers and modelers with lower incomes.  Rather than paraphrase, here's the important part of the notice:

Modeler's Moment - Don't put off getting your reference photos

Sturtevant depot on August 3, 2009I've said it many times before in Modeler's Moments and in the podcast, but if you're thinking about going to photograph something, go get your photographs now because your subject won't be there as long as you think.  This credo was demonstrated to me again this past weekend when I went to watch SP 4449 work through southwest Wisconsin (I expect to have a little more about the history of the locomotive and Daylight trains in the next podcast episode).  I wanted to photograph 4449 as it passed the former Milwaukee Road depot in Sturtevant.  What do I see when I finally get there on Sunday, but the depot has been cut into sections and lifted onto steel beams so it could be moved away from its original location.  What I was able to see from the tracks is just the center section as shown in the photo here; the two wings of the depot wer

Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad

DME locomotives
DM&E locomotives 4000 City of Dodge Center and 4004 City of St. Lawrence resting between assignments at Davis Junction, Illinois, in 2007.

Modeler's Moment - Making push rods turn corners

Bell cranks on turnout push rods

Turnouts that are far from the operating aisle can sometimes require some special treatment to use manual turnout controls. If the control can be mounted in line with the throw bar, a simple push rod is all that's needed. But if the turnout is at an angle other than perpendicular, you will need to use something like a bell crank to change the push rod's direction of travel. The crank can be made very simply with a scrap piece of brass sheet like we see on this HO scale layout. For this purpose, brass is more highly recommended than thick styrene because the holes in the styrene where the push rods attach will wear out much too quickly. If you're not adept at working with brass, check at your local radio control hobby shop for commercial bell cranks.

Modeler's Moment - anything can be a statue

Monkey statue

We've all got items in our junk boxes that just don't fit anywhere in any of our model building projects. Take a closer look at them. You may find that they would work in a park as a statue, like this monkey statue on an HO scale layout that I recently visited. The thing is, when you create a center of interest on your layout, make sure that the model people around it are all upright and not tipped over like in this picture (especially not flopped over on their faces like the gentleman on the right).

Modeler's Moment - Quick structure building

A construction site office

Large construction projects will usually have temporary on-site offices to coordinate the work that is involved at the site. Often these offices consist of a single trailer based on a mobile home design, but for larger construction projects, larger offices may be needed. The office structure pictured here is currently up in Madison, Wisconsin, to coordinate several construction projects on the University of Wisconsin campus. The offices are made up of four 20-foot containers on the lower level and two containers that appear to be at least 48 feet long. A structure of this type would be rather simple to build in model form, especially considering the number of container models available in almost every scale. The hardest part would probably be the stairs to the upper level entry, but a quick search through your spare parts bin may reveal ready-built stair runs from another kitbashing project.

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