Modelling the Undec & Western

Undecorated N scale RSC-2

Undec & Western??? Yes, the Undec & Western. It's another term for freelancing. But why would anyone want to build a model railroad that never existed? The best answer is that the modeler likes too many different models to restrict himself to a particular prototype or era. But how do you make all that stuff up? Well, let's find out......

RPO service in the US turns 148 today

Modeler's Moment - Need a project? YVRR Bagby station

Today, August 24, 2008, is the 63rd anniversary of the last regular operations of the Yosemite Valley Railroad. The railroad's last scheduled passenger train operated on August 24, 1945, from Merced to Merced Falls. If you're in need of inspiration for your next model building project, why not try one of the structures along this short line railroad? There is a fairly large amount of data to help you in your endeavors, including some in the public domain available through the National Archives. The image here is one of three images that contain plans for the Yosemite Valley Railroad's Bagby station. There is enough in the plans for any good model builder to create a reasonable model of the station. So let's get building (and if you do build this, send me a photo and you could be featured on this site too!)

Modeler's Moment - Are your structures missing something?

They missed their orders

I saw an ad on television recently that touted the importance of a good foundation. Just like the prototype, your model structures could be quickly and easily improved with a good foundation too. Look around at the buildings in your neighborhood; the foundations are usually visible as a narrow strip of concrete below the wall that makes up the side of a building. Sometimes the foundation is painted in the same color as the rest of the wall, sometimes it's left bare. Whatever its color, a quick box of styrene strip material will easily simulate such a foundation. If you don't add a foundation, you could end up with something like this image where the structure appears to be floating above the ground.

Modeler's Moment - Connecting the mainline to the yard

Interesting trackwork

Connecting the yard tracks to the mainline tracks on a model railroad can be a confusing problem for some modelers. For this problem, like others in the hobby, it's often best to follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!). This example, which was used on an HO scale modular layout, uses four standard turnouts, three small-angle crossings and one double-slip switch. With this configuration, it's fairly easy to tell which route a train will follow through the junction, and by using only standard switches and crossings on the three mainline tracks, it is much less likely to derail a train already on the mainline. One other thing to note with this configuration is that the number of S curves a train needs to negotiate to travel between the yard and the mainline are minimized, further reducing the chance of derailments through the junction.

Modeler's Moment - The numbering doesn't have to be neat

Modeler's Moment - They put their mark on everything

BN SF marked tie

By now we've all seen brakeman's lanterns with railroad names stamped into the metal or etched onto the globes. Why did they do this? Technically the lanterns were the railroads' property, so if one went missing and was found by someone else, they would know where it was supposed to go for return. North American railroads put their names on everything that could be easily carried for this reason. But did you know that some railroads are even going as far as stamping their initials onto the ties they use in their track? This BNSF tie found in Glen Haven, Wisconsin, this past weekend is evidence of this. Have you found a railroad name where you weren't expecting it yet?

Modeler's Moment - Another short bridge idea

Bridge over a cut

When you're working on your Master Builder: Structures certificate, don't forget that you have one bridge to build. The requirements don't say anything about the kind or the size of bridge that you have to build, only that it should be prototypical. A short bridge like this one, which is on the N scale layout of a friend of mine, would work wonderfully for this requirement.

Modeler's Moment - How fast does it go?

At every model railroad show that I attend where I show NTrak modules, there is always someone who asks how fast the trains can run. I always try to operate at prototypical speeds, but there are a few times when we put out our TGV and Shinkansen models and turn the throttles to 11. At Trainfest every year in Milwaukee, there's a Lionel operators club that sets up this train race layout and invites kids to run the trains fast...

It may not be prototypical, but I don't think any of the kids were complaining about prototype accuracy here.

The evolution of railroad graffiti

WP 67033, Rochelle, 2007-03-11

Graffiti, whether it's called art or vandalism, is a fact of modern railroading. But it didn't always look like what we see on the trains passing us today. Railroad graffiti has evolved over the past century and a half from simple chalk marks left by railroad workers to notify other workers of issues to marks left by hobos to vanity tags made in permanent ink to the elaborate and often enormous painted "pieces" (as they're termed by those who create them) of today. Let's take a look at how these markings were developed and, for those interested, how to model them.

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