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 http://riptrack.net/dev.

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Modeler's Moment - Paint the backdrop

Backdrop before and after

If you do nothing else to your backdrop, at a bare minimum, go down to the local paint store and buy a quart of mistint flat sky blue paint and a wide brush. The exact shade isn't important, just get something that looks like a sky blue. By looking through the mistint (the "rejects") shelf, you'll often get the paint for very little. Most skies that occur naturally don't have wood grain, so a simple step like this can immensely improve the appearance of a layout in its beginning stages. While you're at it, get a grass green, dirt brown and street grey for the rest of the plywood plains too.

Modeler's Moment - Happy Birthday, London Underground!

Blackfriars station

The first section of the London Underground opened on January 10, 1863, connecting Paddington Station to Farringdon Street. Since then, the system has grown to cover 253 miles of track on twelve lines. I can only imagine what it would have been like riding the Underground when it was still powered by steam engines; it certainly would have been quite a bit dirtier and darker in color than scenes from today, like this view of Blackfriars station.

Trying to catch up on updates here...

So what's with the flood of four new Modeler's Moments today? I've been putting off updating this page for way too long again and I need to get back into putting up information for this to be a truly useful site. Yes, the amount of work needed to handle the holidays played a part in my lack of updates, but we're now officially past the 2006 holidays, so I hope to pick up my posting frequency here again. I've got some new photographic equipment on the way, and I hope to get down into the train room to try it out later this month. I've also got a few shows coming up before the end of the modeling season, and of course there's the NMRA national convention in Detroit to look forward to as well, so there will be no shortage of material and potential subjects for the site. However, if you've got an idea or materials that you'd like to see here, you can send me an email or add a comment here.

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...

Trainfest 2006 preview

So I'm here in Milwaukee to setup for Trainfest. We got our NTrak layout up and fully assembled, we just need to test out the electricical in the morning, but the real news here is the manufacturers section. I got a quick look around there and talked to a few of them today. Read on for some news and initial thoughts...

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