Saturday, January 25, 2014

Office Shelf Layout: Ideas and SCARM Layouts

Similar to my nursery wall layout, I am going to get this one started in SCARM (Simple Computer Aided Railway Modeler). I've been playing around with a few ideas based on the footprint I have to work within. It's not very big, but it's looking like there's enough room to get what I'm looking for.

As far as what exactly I am looking for, nothing is 100% set in stone. I'd just like stick with something modern that features a diesel locomotive and incorporates the following items if possible:

      -  Warehouse, engine house, or some type of industrial building
      -  Parking lot with spaces and concrete parking blocks
      -  Road with grade crossing
      -  Switch with switch stand
      -  Utility poles, street signs, etc.
      -  Vehicles and people

Not sure if that's asking too much for a small layout like this or not. I've been doing a lot of searching online and have found some great items, but will wait until I have a complete track plan before ordering anything. To help get that done, I've put together a couple of different options in SCARM.

The first one is uses a Pikestuff distribution center kit as the center piece. It would have two lines coming in from the left that converge into one that leads into the distribution center. It would have a decent sized parking lot with a driveway connected to an adjacent two lane road. I would probably go with a boxcar and a single locomotive on this one with the boxcar being backed into the building.

SCARM layout option #1
The second one is similar, but uses a Rix Products small engine house kit as the center piece. This one would have a mainline that crosses the front of the layout with a single track that leads off into the engine house. I would probably not have any rolling stock with this option as it would make sense to only have a locomotive either just in front of or sticking halfway out of the building.

SCARM layout option #2
The last one I have for now makes use of a Pikestuff 2-bay engine house. It is pretty much the opposite of the first option, here there is one track coming in toward the building that splits into two. I would probably go with two locomotives on something like this, or maybe one and a boxcar.

SCARM layout option #3
That's all I have for now. As far as materials/supplies go, I have the base and back boards purchased and all the straight pieces of track I would need. Other than that I still have to finalize the plan and start buying. I'd love to hear any thoughts or suggestions on these three options. Once I get the plan nailed down, I'll be able to post more frequent updates on the project. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Train Show Pickups: A-Train Show in Auburn Hills, MI

Earlier today I made it out to the 10th annual "A-Train" Railroad show in Auburn Hills, MI. There were nearly 400 tables at one of the local high schools, so there was definitely a lot to look at. Unfortunately, most everything seemed to be Lionel until I found the last section of the show that had a ton of HO stuff. The overall layout was actually pretty confusing. There were tables set up in all of the hallways, in the gyms, and in the cafeteria. I'm used to everything being in one big area. 

As usual I went in looking for more Detroit & Mackinac stuff for my collection and/or future layout. I was lucky enough to come across an older D&M boxcar from Bowser. Got it for just $12.

D&M boxcar #3438 from Bowser
Up next is something D&M related. It's a DMIR (Duluth Missabe and Iron Range) center flow hopper car from Atlas. The reason I bought it is that this car in real life came under D&M ownership at some point. All they did was paint over the "IR" and left the rest the same. This one was $6.

DMIR center flow hopper #5008 from Atlas
The only thing that bugs me about this one, and I didn't even realize it until after I got home, is that DMIR 5008 is actually a 3-bay hopper car in real life, not a 4-bay like I bought. Here is a look at the real 5008 after it had been acquired by D&M:

The real life version of DMIR/DM 5008
So at this point I'm not sure if I'm happy or disappointed with this purchase. On the one hand it's a great looking piece of rolling stock, but on the other it does not match the prototype at all. Oh well, I will definitely hold onto it for now and decide what to do with it later on down the road.

Last but not least was an excellent lot of track I was able to snag for only $9. There are a ton of curved pieces and a bunch of straight pieces. I still need to go through and see what exactly is in all four of the bags. Also, I was told they are code 83, but I need to confirm that. If it is, then that's likely what I will be doing moving forward for whatever project this track gets used for. On the plus side, I like realism so the code 83 should fit perfectly with what I want to model.

Four bags of track, some curved some straight
So all in all it wasn't the greatest bunch of pickups, but still some good stuff nonetheless. I made sure to grab all the flyers for other shows on my way out the door, so hopefully I'll be able to hit a few more of them in the coming months and get my hands on some more great stuff for the D&M and my office shelf layout project. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Testors Amazing Air Airbrush Paint Set

After going through all the hand painting for the structures on my nursery wall layout, I thought it would be a good idea to try out some airbrushing. I didn't want to get too involved in it without trying it out first, so I asked for and received a Testors Amazing Air airbrush beginner kit for my birthday a few months back. Here is a look at what the kit included:

Testors Amazing Air airbrush paint set
It's a pretty basic system with a plastic air sprayer that connects to a canister of propellant. The paint is fed in through a small plastic tube and cap right to the end of the sprayer. I don't really know anything about airbrushing, at least not yet, but this doesn't seem so bad to me. I'm sure there will be a learning curve, but that's half the fun of learning something new like this, especially something I can use for all kinds of things when it comes to model railroading.

So far I've been doing a bit of playing around with it and I like the results so far. I have an old Athearn Soo Line SD40-2 that's pretty beat up and missing a few parts, so I thought it would make a good candidate for my first loco repaint. Here's what it looked like before doing any airbrushing to it. 

An old Athearn Soo Line SD40-2 as my test locomotive
Before I started any painting I made myself a quick paint booth out of an old cardboard box. It didn't need to be fancy, just something to keep paint from getting everywhere. In the next picture you'll be able to see this and some of the yellow I tried out on the SD40-2. I even threw some blue painters tape on there to see how it would work. If I'm going to try and customize my own locos someday, I'll have to find a good way to use multiple colors and this seemed like a good place to start. 

My simple cardboard paint booth and some trial painting
You can also see an orange box car in the above picture. That is actually the old San Jose Sharks boxcar I showed off on the blog a while back. It didn't come out as well as the loco, but I think that's just because I was still trying to figure out what the heck I was doing with this whole process. 

Not sure what else I will try to do with the SD40-2, maybe throw on some of the remaining red and blue paint that came with the set. After all, this is basically a throw away locomotive so I will get as much use out of it as I can as a test subject.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Detroit & Mackinac: Childhood Recollections

One of the things I want to do with this blog moving forward is gather and present as much information as I can about the Detroit & Mackinac railway. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I grew up around the D&M at my family's cottage in northern Michigan. Well, the other day I was at my parents house looking through some old photo albums and came across some great pictures. The are from all different years of the early 90's and cover places like Tawas, Harrisville, and Alpena, MI. 

The first one is a great shot of DM181 approaching the main street crossing in downtown Harrisville. I probably saw hundreds of D&M trains pass through this area as a kid. These trains were usually going 10-15 mph through there so it was perfect for watching them go by just beside the tracks. 

DM181 passing through downtown Harrisville, MI. 
Up next is great shot of DM974 approaching the same crossing on a different day. Too bad there was a random lady standing between the camera and the train, kind of takes away from the image a bit. 

DM974 passing through Harrisville. 
Here is another shot taken just after the last one. In this one you can see the engineer waving to us and the random lady standing in the shot. Gotta love seeing them up close like this. 

DM974 passing through Harrisville. 
Up next is a great shot of DM975 doing some street running through downtown Alpena, Michigan. This was another cool thing about the D&M lines. There were multiple places where the trains ran right through the streets like this. The two that come to mind for me are Tawas and here in Alpena. 

DM975 traveling through downtown Alpena, Michigan. 
This one is a bit newer and is from after the switch to the Lake State Railway (LSRC) for all the D&M Alco's. It shows 381 in dowtown Tawas, MI as part of the Railway Days event in September of 1997. What's cool about this one is that we actually rode on this train as part of that event.

LSRC381 in downtown Tawas, MI for Railroad Days in 1997. 
Up next are a couple of shots from the D&M/LSRC Alpena yard during the summer of 1994. The first one is a great side view of DM646. That's me on the left when I was six years old. I don't even remember this, so it was pretty cool to find.

DM646 at the D&M/LSRC Alpena yard in 1994.
Here is a picture of the front of DM646. The patterns on the front of this locomotive are pretty interesting. The yellow stripes really stand out over the maroon and grey paint scheme.

DM646 at the D&M/LSRC Alpena yard in 1994. 
The last one from that day has an excellent look at the front end of DM469. There's me again on the left. Looking at this, its amazing how big these things really are. It's really hard to grasp until you are actually up on one of them like this.

DM469 at the D&M/LSRC Alpena yard in 1994. 
Last but not least is a picture of me on D&M caboose #207. This was taken in Grayling, MI during the summer of 1995 at the Grayling depot/museum.

DM207 Caboose at the Grayling depot/museum in 1995. 
That's all I have to show for now, but there may be some more photos hidden at my parents house. If I do find some, I will be sure to post them here. Now that I have these, it really makes me want to try and come up with a layout modeled after the D&M. There is just something neat about having a personal connection to a specific railroad like this.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Project: Office Shelf Layout

Now that I am done with the nursery wall layout, it's time to move onto another project. Initially I thought I would jump right into a large table layout, but have decided against that and will go with another small scale static layout. This one is intended to go on the bookshelf in my office at work so I can have something there showcasing my interest in trains and model railroading.

I've been thinking about a theme for this layout and am leaning toward something that has more of an industrial feel to it. I'm thinking about having a mainline run across the front of it and then have a siding that leads into a warehouse type building. Or something similar.

Here is a look at the space I have to work with:

The footprint of the space is about 32" long and 10" deep. There is also about 12" of height to work with. It's kind of a small space, but I think I can get something to work with the theme I'm going for. Right now I'm just doing a lot of research on what's out there that will fit and what little details are available to go with it. I am definitely open to any suggestions, so let me know if you have any.