The home of The Rip Track podcast, disseminating information about model railroading and worldwide railroad history.
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As model railroaders, many of us are trying to duplicate the real world in miniature. The ready-to-run rolling stock that we purchase at the hobby shop is better than ever, but then it's up to the modeler to make it really look real. We have to have a firm understanding of what kind of weathering occurs to freight cars, both what it looks like and how it occurs, to know what we need to add to a car to make it look less like it's straight out of the paint shop. Let's take a closer look at one specific covered hopper car that I found today to see what we need to duplicate on our models.
I've mentioned before that you need to include a bridge support at the end of every bridge section. I've shown you an example of long spans with inadequate supports. Well, here's one where the modeler actually did it right. This HO scale bridge has a long section made up of three spans crossing above another track. The modeler was careful to include a bridge trestle (vertical support) for every span end and designed them so as not to block trains passing on the track below them. The modeler has also included a cement foundation under each of the trestle bases as well as appropriate cross bracing between adjacent trestles. On the prototype, a bridge like this could have been built in the 19th century, but in later years would likely be a candidate for a redesign to use a single long span instead of these three short spans to eliminate the complex trestles over the lower track (which in turn would provide increased clearance for larger rolling stock on the lower track).
I like to joke about writing articles here at The Rip Track for "all three of my readers." Well, yesterday I got curious and checked the server logs for this website. According to the logs, there are quite a lot more than three of you out there. I spent some time going through the analysis and will try to adjust future content based on what I've seen there as popular requests (since nobody emails me [the usual webmaster email address works here] anything unless I email them first). But, as a Linux user myself, I found another set of statistics interesting...
Want to add a little variety into your locomotive fleet but still keep with a prototype modeling scheme? Try adding a leased locomotive to your roster. Leased locomotives will often be painted in the colors of another railroad, sometimes still wearing the livery of a fallen flag. In this photo, we see DPGX 2000 at the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad locomotive facility in Janesville a few years ago; this locomotive is painted in an early scheme of Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad.
Okay, so you're probably like the rest of us where we start building benchwork without a definite plan for where the track will go on the layout. Or maybe you have a track plan and want to see how it will work in something more closely approaching the model's full size. In some of the more common scales, you can use masking tape to quickly lay out your track plan and more easily locate potential trouble spots. In N scale, like this photo (from a layout tour during the 2007 Midwest Region convention in Muncie, Indiana) shows, the standard 1 inch size of masking tape is a close approximation to the width of the track; in HO, 2 inch tape will work well. Once you've got the tape down, you can even put some rolling stock on it to see how it fits and "operate" it by hand before you cut any track. You can also set out any structures that you've already built or create mockups to see how they will fit into the scene too.
Tower 55, sometimes referred to as T55 Products, has sold its tooling to Horizon Hobby, the current owners of Athearn and Model Die Casting. The announcement came out on Saturday, September 20, through the Athearn email list and on T55's website. While this could mean that we'll see T55 models in greater supply under the Athearn name, there's also a little bit of bad news buried in the releases. If you had anything on backorder at T55, Athearn has announced that they will not be honoring backorders of T55 products. I personally dislike this decision (even though I didn't have anything on order from T55), but I look forward to seeing what Athearn does with the line.
It seems that there's always a modeler that is participating in the hobby who is a little less exacting when it comes to prototype fidelity in his model building. Here's a video from Trainfest 2004 in Milwaukee where the modeler was clearly following rule number 1 of model railroading...
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......
One of my long-time research projects has been to collect a list of all named steam locomotives that have operated in North American nations. I began collecting the names and basic information about the locomotives some time in the mid 1980s, long before I had an internet connection. The names were stored in a simple MS-Word (version 2!) file and added to through the mid 1990s. The project took a back seat to life for a while from then until a couple years ago, and now it's time to show off the work to the world.