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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Podcast: Episode 11.2 - More announcements from Trainfest

Listen to Episode 11 Part 2

N and HO scale covered hoppers from North American Railcar CorporationIn part 1 of this episode we heard from a few manufacturers who were showing new products at Trainfest 2009.  It's time to pick up where we left off, so let's jump right in and hear from some more manufacturers.

Podcast: Episode 11.1 - Announcements from Trainfest, part 1

Listen to Episode 11 Part 1

preproduction SD70ACe locomotive from AthearnThere are three major model railroad shows in North America that have become known in the hobby as shows where many manufacturers announce and debut new products: the National Train Show held in conjunction with the NMRA's national convention, the International Hobby Expo held every October in Chicago, and Trainfest held every November in Milwaukee.  Last weekend, I went to Trainfest and recorded quick interviews with as many manufacturers as I could to find out what we can expect from them this model railroad year.  I was able to talk to so many different companies that each had so much to say that Episode 11 is the first mulitpart episode of The Rip Track Podcast.  We'll hear from several manufacturers in each part of this episode, and each part will have photos and links in the show notes that relate to the announcements that were mentioned therein. 

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:

While the news outlets are all pondering what this means for the company and various BNSF forums are rabidly discussing how this will affect operations, I'm left to wonder if Mr. Buffett is secretly a model railroader at heart and hiding a closet full of Thomas The Tank Engine toys.  Just like the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.

The click's revenge

A little over a year ago, I took a look at the logfiles for this site and posted a story aggregating my findings.  It's time to do it again and get an idea of how things have changed in a year.  To make the comparison easier, I will look at the logs for August 2009 here.

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:

Effective immediately, we here at Athearn have made the difficult decision to discontinue the production of our Blue Box line of kits.  There were several factors that contributed to this extremely challenging decision however, the primary issue revolved around affordability and ensuring that our Blue Box kit pricing remain aligned with what the market can bear.  Unfortunately,  due to increased manufacturing and labor costs it has been determined that we are no longer able to continue offering kits at competitive price points as compared to our already assembled products.

That means that you won't be able to buy new kits from Athearn very soon, and will instead have to shell out more money for a fully assembled product.  One consolation in this is that Athearn's line of assembled models is one of the better quality lines that I've seen in the industry, and their production runs aren't always quite as limited as some other manufacturers that I can think of.

Podcast: Episode 10 - Model railroad tips from show exhibitors

Listen to Episode 10

People installed on an HO scale moduleSome people installed on an HO scale module.

For this episode of the podcast, we're going to focus on model railroading and save the prototype history and data for a later show.  It's October, and now that the days are getting colder and the nights longer, that means that model railroad season is well under way in North America.  Model railroaders are home from summer vacations and are getting together to build, operate and just talk about their layouts with each other.  Also, model railroad shows are increasing in frequency as we head toward the end of the calendar year.  Last week I spent some time asking exhibitors at the Green County Model Railroad Club's annual model railroad show here in Wisconsin for their favorite model railroading tips.

Podcast: Episode 9 - A couple of railway labor unions and model railroad jobs

Listen to Episode 9

An engineerAn engineer on the Riverside & Great Northern Railway in Wisconsin Dells, WI.

It's Labor Day weekend here in the United States, so in this episode we'll look at some railroad labor unions and discuss some of the jobs in model railroad operations.

Podcast: Episode 8 - Daylights, porters and passenger train consists

Listen to episode 8

4449 in Sturtevant, WI, on August 2, 2009Southern Pacific 4449 running past the former Sturtevant, Wisconsin, depot on August 2, 2009.

Today on the podcast, we're going to take a look at the history of Southern Pacific 4449 and some of the trains it has pulled.  We'll also hear a song about some "difficult" passengers that porters have to deal with.  After that, we'll talk a little bit more about passenger trains and how you can model them.  So, all aboard!

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 were already moved around the corner and behind a tree line.  The station will be preserved, but in talking to local railfans in Sturtevant, this depot is going to be moved a few miles northward to the town of Caledonia later this month where it will be maintained as part of a park.  So I say it again, go get your photographs now because the subject you want to photograph will likely not be there next week.

Podcast: Episode 7 - The "Father of Railways", two junctions and selective compression

Listen to Episode 7

Selective compression applied to a model building.A model of the Compressed Manufacturing Company in HO scale.

Never more than a day late, here's the next episode of the Rip Track Podast.  In this episode, we take a look at the life of George Stephenson, "The Father of Railways."  Then we hear the final installment of Randy Garnhardt's discussion of interesting juctions with a look at Clinton, Iowa, and Nelson, Illinois.  Finally, the Modeler's Moment describes the princile of selective compression as it is applied to model railroads.

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