January – It’s Been a Busy Month

January has been a great month for railroading.  I’ve been attending events for the past three weekends, and have yet another this Saturday coming.

The Crescent City Model Railroad Club in New Orleans held their annual open house early in the month.  They’re in the process of converting their layout to DCC operation, and since the layout would be down, they decided to remodel several major sections.  Wayne Robichaux and I went down to inspect their progress and also to hit the few remaining hobby shops in the area.  Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a single decent model railroad shop left in south Louisiana.  A few shops we hit had nice selections of Lionel and similar, but us “scale” guys are left in the cold.

The following weekend Ron Findley and I drove over to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to attend the annual banquet of the Mississippi Great Southern Chapter of the NRHS.  Those folks put on a fine get-together.  There were several vendors displaying their wares, the dinner was good, and the guest speaker was quite interesting.  It was good seeing old friends and acquaintances over there.

This past Saturday several of us drove over to Covington to operate on Lou Schultz’s C&O layout.  Overall the session went well, there were plenty of snacks to chow down on, and as usual, it was good to meet with fellow model railroaders.

And finally, this Saturday, January 26th, there will be the Train Day at the Library event at one of the local libraries here in Baton Rouge.  There will be numerous displays about railroading (prototype and modeling), possibly a display layout, and many slide presentations by Forrest Becht, a noted railfan and photographer.

Oh, BTW . . . I actually managed to get a bit of track laid on the Louisiana Central.  I’ve been struggling back in the corner of the room it seems forever, but we’re finally getting rail down.  I’m using Atlas code 83 track and switches for my hidden track (which is what I’m laying presently), and I’m not too impressed with the construction of the switches with regards to soldering jumper wires to them.  Soldering rail feeders isn’t too big a deal, but soldering jumpers to the points is!  They’re just formed sheet metal and I found it quite difficult to tack a wire to the lower portion of the point so it would clear wheel flanges.  Despite my efforts, I had to do considerable filing afterwards to clear the NMRA gauge nubs.  And the frog . . . what a pain!  The frog doesn’t accept solder well, but there is a small tab with a hole sticking out to one side of the frog.  I couldn’t find my taps, so drove to a friend’s house for him to tap the holes for me.  Then I screwed a 1-72 screw to each and added a nut to the bottom.  I placed a dab of solder below the nut so it will never come loose, then soldered a jumper to the screw.  Despite the precautions I took (good hot iron with freshly tinned tip, and a fast in and out technique) the thin plastic surrounding the tab melted away and the cast frog on one switch came loose from its mounting in the switch.  Now I need to figure out what kind of adhesive I need to use to adhere metal to slippery plastic so as to permanently reattach the frog on that switch.

That’s about it for now.  My main focus on the layout will be to get track laid, hopefully at a steady rate.  Leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.

-Jack

It’s Fall …and it’s Railroading Time

We’re getting into my favorite time of the year for model railroading and railfanning.  The temps have come down and the rains have slacked off . . . we’ve had some beautiful days these past several weeks.  Last weekend was the annual open house for the railroad club up in Jackson, Louisiana.  As usual, they had all of their layouts on display and operating.  I don’t think many clubs can boast of having an operating layout in each of the major scales.  And the outdoor operations are fun to watch also.  Their G scale garden railroad is pretty cool, and of course, the operating live steam loop always has some really nice equipment under steam.  I got there about lunch time (and consumed one of their complimentary lunches), but ran out of time before I got to visit all of the layouts.  It appeared to me that they had a nice turnout for the event.

This weekend coming Lou Schultz over in Covington will be having an operating session on his C&O layout.  There is also the annual railroading event over in Meridian, Mississippi this weekend.  It’s too bad that it conflicts with Lou’s session, as I would like to do both.  And the weekend following this will see another operating session down at Art Houston’s layout in Houma.  This is also the time of year that we occasionally have a train show, either in Covington or Gonzales (unfortunately, there is no show scheduled for this year).

It’s also a great time to spend next to the tracks, with the mild days and crisp weather.

I’m still working on my layout, though at a bit of a reduced pace.  As I reported earlier, the basic framework of the benchwork is all but complete.  I’ve turned my attention to the sub-roadbed and risers this past month.  I am working in one corner of the room where several of the tracks going into the hidden staging area will be located.  It turns out that this is a difficult area to lay out and build.  A couple of the tracks at the rear are on curves and are descending at the same time.  They start at different places, but ultimately end up on the same hidden roadbed.  It is challenging to say the least.  I would have rather started in an area of straight, level track to kind of ease into things, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be much easier in the long run to install this complex area, then build out away from it, than to do it the other way round.

I haven’t posted any pictures lately as I want to wait until I have some track actually spiked down.  Trackwork in place signifies to me that the section is complete, thus ready to photograph.

I have my vacation time coming up later this year, and I hope I am able to use some (most) of it working on the layout.

-Jack