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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Railroad photographer Richard Kindig passes

I just read a note that says noted Colorado railroad photographer Richard Kindig passed away on April 7. Earlier this year, the governor of Colorado in a ceremony at the Colorado Railroad Museum, declared March 1, 2008, to be Richard H. Kindig Day in recognition of his work photographing the railroads of the state. There are a few mentions around the web on railfan and modeling sites...

He was 92 and will be missed. May the eternal dispatcher always give him the clear signal.

The 2008 Olympic Torch travels by rail too

The Olympic Torch is on a Eurostar train today traveling from London to Paris.[1] In scanning around the web for news of other train rides, it appears that the Torch Relay will ride the Qinghai-Tibet Railway (now the highest railway in the world) in June,[2] and will also ride the Indian Pacific across Australia (a route that traverses the longest stretch of straight and level track in the world as it crosses the Nullarboor Plain) in July.[3] What I don't see is any mention of rail travel over North America. I've seen photos of the 2002 relay car that Union Pacific built, and I got to see Canadian Pacific carry the torch through Wisconsin, but so far it doesn't look like any American railfans will get to see it on a train this year.

Modeler's Moment - Repaints and fallen flags

Double CNW logo on INRD 43429

When equipment is sold to another railroad, the buyer will often paint over the car with the new owner's official colors. Sometimes, the original owner's logo and paint shows through, giving us a clue as to the equipment's heritage. The same effects can be seen when a railroad upgrades its official paint scheme as can be seen here on this former Chicago and North Western Railway hopper. The old and larger CNW logo outline is clearly visible under the new and smaller logo, which thankfully has not been itself painted over yet. This car and another of CNW heritage were spotted behind the MG&E power plant in Madison, Wisconsin today.

Modeler's Moment - Avoid a "rippled" sky

Through the trees

Backdrops are good, sky-colored backdrops are better. Even better yet are sky-colored backdrops that don't have large wood grain in them like can be seen in this NTrak module. The ripples will stand out quite prominently in photos using small apertures (which means a higher f-stop number and therefore larger depth-of-field like this image). There are a couple of ways around this problem, with the most simple being to use a smooth material other than wood as your backdrop material. Styrene sheet is available in large sizes up to 4'x8' at specialty plastics stores, and if you don't have a plastics dealer nearby, your local hardware store or lumberyard may be able to order it for you. Another option is to cover the backdrop with another material, which could include any of the preprinted backdrops that are easily available at almost every hobby shop, photos cut out of calendars from past years, or printed from your own printer on photo paper. The key to any backdrop cover is that it needs to be thick enough to hide the wood grain beneath it, so papers should be somewhere around cardstock thickness.

Modeler's Moment - Plan your estate now

I just got word that a model railroading friend of mine passed away early this morning. She was an active model railroader, and was a regular attendee at many of the shows that I attended too. We will miss her. Wherever she is, may the dispatcher always give her a clear signal ahead.

It may sound callous this soon after hearing about her passing, but at least I know that her models will not be simply thrown away; her husband is also an active modeler, so the equipment will remain in use for a while. But the whole thing got me thinking about the work that we leave our family members when there aren't any other modelers in the immediate family. Another model railroad friend of mine passed away a few years ago in such a situation, but members of our NTrak club (myself included) were able to help my friend's family sell his model collection, with several of us putting down significant amounts to purchase items ourselves. Another modeler that I heard about in San Diego willed his house to the San Diego Model Railroad Museum so the clubs there could continue after he left them. If there aren't any other modelers in your family, make sure that they know who to contact (be it your local hobby shop, model railroading friends, local clubs or whoever) to help sell your equipment after you pass away yourself. My local NMRA division has an estate committee, and it's likely that there's someone in your local division who is also familiar with estate dispositions; if you're going to the national convention in Anaheim this year, there's also an estate planning clinic scheduled. Talk to these people and talk to your family today; make sure that your wishes are known and that your family knows what to do.

Modeler's Moment - A very useful engine

Here's a quick twelve second video I made at the 2004 Trainfest in Milwaukee. Amtrak's Empire Builder needs a little more power to get over the Rockies today while the US Army train goes by in the opposite direction...

Modeler's Moment - A strange looking hobo

Strange looking hobo

As we all recover from the hide-and-seek games that occurred over the weekend (you did find all of the eggs again this year and didn't come up with any extras, right?), it's time to take a lighter look at our favorite hobby. You've probably seen a layout or two at a model train show that has a list of details to find on the layout. Here's a photo of one I found at the NMRA's National Train Show last summer in Detroit. Isn't he a little short to be a stormtrooper? (bonus points if you know the scene that comment comes from) Like the show in Cincinnati, the Lego layouts were absolutely amazing. What made it better for me was that so many of the Lego train modelers actively added humorous scenes to their modules and trains. With all the model builders in Los Angeles that work in the entertainment industry, I'm really looking forward to some fun scenes this summer at the NMRA convention in Anaheim.

Modeler's Moment - Be careful with mirror placement

Mirror placement matters

So by now we've all heard that putting a mirror at the end of a yard can help make the yard look much longer than it actually is, right? Well, be careful on what you place next to that mirror, because everything will be reversed in it. The model in this picture is on display at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Sure, the mirror makes the small scene look much larger, but seeing ACME reflected in the mirror as EMCA detracts from the overall effect. However, this property can also be used to your advantage; the late John Allen placed mirrors inside a building in a box shape with two vehicles within the box. The vehicles had different paint colors on each side so when the viewer looked in through the building's window, it looked like an infinitely large auto dealership.

Modeler's Moment - Recess some doorways

Storefront under construction

When you build your layout's city center shopping district, break up the walls on some of the storefronts to recess the doorways. In colder climates, this was often done to provide customers with a place where they could make necessary adjustments when entering or leaving a store to account for the weather outside. The DPM kit shown here already has the doorway molded as a separate piece so adding a couple walls is a trivial matter, but don't be afraid to cut into the kits you're building to add such an alcove. Sometimes the doorways could be recessed as far as 10 feet with large sheet glass windows on the sides to give the stores some additional display space. Look around your city's shopping area and use your imagination here.

Modeler's Moment - Seldom modeled details

freight car truck details

If you're going for a merit award with your rolling stock models, take a very close look at the prototype you're modeling. Most cars have quite a bit more detail than ever get modeled, like on this detail shot of an airplane parts car. The brake chain is probably on the model, but is the AEI tag (in the upper left corner of the photo) on the model? Did you add the embossed numbers or the car's reporting marks to the truck sideframes? Also notice the different shades of rust colors on the truck parts; most of the sideframe is a fairly even dark gray color while more orange and red appears around the axle bearings. In NMRA Achievement Program judging, the AEI tag will help with the detail grading while the color variations and reporting marks will help with the paint and finishing grading. These aren't big additions to a model, but they could add that extra 1/2 point where it's needed.

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