The home of The Rip Track podcast, disseminating information about model railroading and worldwide railroad history.

I'm working on an update to the site; check out the public beta at

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Layout pics from Trainfest 2007

It's November again, and in Wisconsin, that means it's time for Trainfest. This year, the show took place on November 10 and 11, and stayed open a little longer both days. It may have been the warmer weather or it may have been all the billboards that I saw around town and on the way to the show, but this year's attendance set a new Trainfest record with almost 21,000 tickets sold (and that's in addition to all of the vendors, exhibitors and volunteers who were working the show). I was there with the Capitol City "N"Gineers again this year and I found some time to wander around and get some photos and talk to the manufacturers. Today I'll show you some of the layouts and people that were there...

Site maintenance going on

You may have noticed a number of images not displaying properly on older stories now. Well, I've upgraded the software and the upgraded removed a bunch of files that I wasn't expecting to be removed. I'm working on locating the images on my hard drive to reupload them. Also, for the moment, for users who are not editors here, and unfortunately that's everyone except a couple people that I know personally, comments are now officially disabled. The only comments that have been added for the last several months have been spams; I may re-enable adding comments again in the future, but I'll have to get back into the habit of posting more myself first (I desperately want to get back into daily posts here, but life is getting in the way right now; there's just too much happening for me to make an update as often as I want to).

Modeler's Moment - What's wrong with this bridge?

What's wrong with this bridge

Can you tell me what's wrong with this HO scale bridge? Sure, on first glance, it looks like a fairly typical through girder bridge. But take a closer look. It's not completely prototypical. What's wrong with it? Read more to find out.

You'll have to pick better names than that.

Okay, so how many of you really believe that login names like lBVBSzkENtvhfOFT, mAODiwoTHGbjHpAV, esyEoOjMpZtyj or XFcoRCVbFjxg_SIy really belong to readers who want to participate here with intelligent discussion about rail transport and model railroading? That's what I thought. These and many more were created here recently, presumably in order to add comments filled with spamvertised website links. When you create a new login name here, I see a record of the update. When you post comments, until I upgrade your individual permissions, all your comments go into a moderation queue so comment spams are seen by exactly one person - me. If you put in 500 comments filled with this spew, I will just pop into SQL and delete them all in one swell foop. So, all of you who try to use this site for spamming, I'm not just some dumb blogger, and names like those above are blocked on sight.

Oh, and before you make another login name that almost looks real, the user registration logs store the IP addresses when you create a new account.

Modeler's Moment - Putting a bridge against a backdrop

No outlet
So you've got a small rail bridge that you really want to use on your layout but the track is right up against the backdrop. How do you blend the road under the bridge into the backdrop while keeping it realistic? Block the road! I spotted this former bridge and road underpass yesterday in Waupaca, WI; the road used to go through under the bridge, but has since been blocked by fill material. My guess is that the bridge itself is rated for lighter trains than now run over this line and it was cheaper to just close the street and fill in under the bridge than to replace the bridge.

DM&E sale may be imminent

Here's something interesting for those in the Midwest. Trains magazine is reporting that the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad may be sold by Cedar American Rail Holdings, its current parent company, to raise the funds needed for its Powder River Basin extension. The short list, according to Trains, is now narrowed down to three likely bidders: CN, CP and an undisclosed shortline operator (ed. could this be RailAmerica or maybe Railroad Development Corporation [current owners of Iowa Interstate]?). The bidders have until the end of the week to respond, so we should know more about this transaction next week. The Associated Press has picked up this story now, so check your sources when you look into this one.

New toy, trying to get back to posting here...

Okay, so I've been busy and not getting anything posted here for quite a while. Well, a new toy arrived in the mail today. It's called "Lens in a Cap" and it gives me a near pinhole aperture on a very small lens. The entire lens is about the size of a body lens cap and it has a setting for f/64. While it's almost impossible to see through the lens to compose an image with the aperture so small, using that and the optional Lubot 10x loupe, I got some amazing macro shots of some models....

Where are the updates?

I must apologize for the lack of updates here in the last three months. I'm sure you've all got stories about getting so busy that you've barely got time to breathe; well, right now is my turn. Rest assured that I haven't forgotten about this site, nor have I abandoned it. My time has been taken up with so many projects this year that... well, you get the idea. As I type this, I'm sitting in a hotel room in Muncie, Indiana, waiting for a couple friends to call me so we can go out exploring the local railfan scene; tonight is the opening of the NMRA's Midwest Region convention here, and as the region's Model Contest Chairman and a Director-At-Large for the region, my weekend is basically set for me. I should be able to find some time tomorrow during contest check-in to put up some images from the convention and from what I've seen so far. Until then, happy modeling!

Modeler's Moment - A source for window tints

light gel samples

Are you building a model that includes tinted windows? If you know anyone who deals with professional lighting equipment (think about the people you know at the local performing arts theater), you may have a source for low cost window tints. This image shows a sample pack of light gels from Roscolux. A light gel is basically a colored filter on a thin sheet of plastic. When the light gels wear out or get damaged (like if there's a hole melted in the center), they need to be replaced. For model building purposes, the rest of the damaged gel still contains enough material to use for your window tints so ask your friends to hold on to the damaged gels for you.

The Rip Track banners and link buttons

So you've been reading the articles and tips on this website and now you want to link to it from your website. Great! Here are some graphics you can use for that purpose.

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