Modeler's Moment - Eye level is relative

Build an accessible layout

When you plan your layout, think about who will be operating it. This is especially true for people of smaller stature than yourself. The SCWD Youth Group's portable layout is positioned at a level where the group members can see and operate it comfortably with a low backdrop so they can reach their trains. If you're building a multilevel layout, think about the operators you plan to invite and provide footstools so operators shorter than yourself can see the trains they are operating too.

Modeler's Moment - It ain't prototype!

Reporting marks on the roof

Having trouble seeing the reporting marks on the sides of the cars during your operating sessions? Why not put them on the roof of the car too? "It ain't prototype" I hear you say? Hah! Here's a tank car I found in Redondo Beach last Thanksgiving that does just that. Besides, on your model railroad, you follow Rule number 1: "This is my railroad."

Modeler's Moment - Graffiti or street art?

The yard tourist

Not all graffiti on railroad equipment is a gang symbol or overtly offensive. I found this bit of graf on a tank car in San Pedro, California, over last Thanksgiving weekend. The signature next to the ladder is likely that of the person who left the message. If you see this car in your railfanning adventures, leave a comment so we can watch where it goes.

Modeler's Moment - Install proper support

unsupported bridge

When you install a long bridge on your layout, be sure that there's enough room under the bridge to support the ends of each of the bridge girders. This bridge has no hope of staying up on the prototype because of all the unsupported girders.

Modeler's Moment - Line up the cars for loading

lined up box cars

Have you ever wondered how the freight handlers loaded and unloaded box cars at multitrack freight houses when there wasn't a platform beside every track? They lined up the boxcar doors on adjacent tracks and put plates between the cars to bridge the gaps. Essentially, the cars on the outer tracks would become very short platforms to reach the cars on the inner tracks. This view is of the Milwaukee Road's Galewood Yard in Chicago, April 1943.

EMD F-units; on Sierra Leone 1850 (Scott) sheetlet

DRGW 5771

If there is one locomotive series that paved the way for dieselization in North America more than any other, it would have to be the F-series locomotives of General Motors Electro-Motive Division. The first true F unit was the FT, first produced in 1939. F units were originally designed and sold as two-unit pairs of, usually, one cab-equipped A unit and cabless B unit drawbarred together like the Denver & Rio Grande set of F9s at the Colorado Railroad Museum (shown here). EMD built almost 1,000 FT units in the A and B configurations together, while later models were produced in even higher numbers. With their high production numbers and widespread use on both passenger and freight trains up through the 1970s in regular service, the EMD F series has appeared on numerous stamp issues. Let's take a closer look at one set from Sierra Leone...

Modeler's Moment - Happy Golden Spike Day, Canada!

Driving the last spike in Canada

Today is the 121st anniversary of driving the last spike on the Canadian Pacific Railway creating a transcontinental system across Canada. That's Donald Alexander Smith, a CP director, wielding the spike hammer, with William Cornelius Van Horne, CP's general manager, standing behind and to the left of him (with the black beard and moustache). The last spike was driven at Craigellachie, British Columbia, on November 7, 1885. (photo courtesy of the National Library and Archives of Canada)

George Stephenson; on Hungary 2697 (Scott)

George Stephenson on a stamp from HungaryGeorge Stephenson (June 9, 1781 - August 12, 1848) is sometimes considered to be the "Father of Railways" for his pioneering work on British railway lines in the early 19th century. On this 2 forint stamp from Hungary (Scott catalog number 2697), issued on June 12, 1981, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth, Stephenson is pictured with a plan drawing of a locomotive of his design. The locomotive is similar in appearance to Rocket, which he designed in 1829 to participate in the Rainhill Trials. The Scott catalog says that the locomotive pictured is Nonpareil, but it also bears a strong resemblance to Stourbridge Lion, built by Foster, Rastrick and Company in 1828.

Modeler's Moment - Model railroading is fun!

We're getting ready for Trainfest around here. Although I won't have any of my own modules at the show, I will be running trains again for the weekend. Last year we received a blessing from these guys.

I got religion!

Try not to take yourself too seriously. After all, we're really just playing with trains. Keep smiling and keep it fun.

Modeler's Moment - Reporting marks and graffiti

ABOX 51823 detail

Sometimes when a graffitist sprays a freight car, he will paint the reporting marks in a location that doesn't interfere with the main part of the tag. On this car, it looks like the same white paint was used to reposition the car number as was used in the tag. From the patches of blue bubble shapes above the tag, it also looks like the black and white colored tag is covering up a more colorful tag in the same location.


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