Monday, December 31, 2007

Marklin catalog cover, 1978...


Pacific Fast Mail ad from the late 1960s...

it was the end of an era when these folks went out of business. I lusted over many an offering of their's as it called to me with its siren song in that field of sky blue. They used the late John Allen as one of their photographers for this particular piece. It also features a bit of his weathering and layout. John was one of the first to incorporate weathering on his models back in the late 1940s.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Matthew 2:1-23

(1) Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

(2) Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

(3) When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

(4) And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

(5) And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

(6) And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

(7) Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

(8) And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

(9) When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

(10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

(11) And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

(12) And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

(13) And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

(14) When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

(15) And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

(16) Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

(17) Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

(18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

(19) But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

(20) Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

(21) And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

(22) But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

(23) And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.


1: As wicked as he was, Herod knew that the time was right for the Christ to come.

2: Archaeologically easy to confirm names of historical places, times and figures are given.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tyco #244 HO scale Alco Century 430 Bicentennial circa 1973-1976


Soooo...ya wanna be a model railroader, eh?

This probably isn't the place to start. I practice the hobby on a different level then the one touted on The World's Greatest Hobby website.

While I enjoy many of the new innovations, models and technologies that are available, I prefer to keep it simple. Life is hard enough without pondering whether the Santa Fe owned that particular model freight car, whether it has the proper doors and ends or whether the wheelsets are the right diameter and in the right type of truck. I am not really itching to fork over $42.95 for a freight car either---out of 55+ locomotives in my stable, only 2 have cost me more than that.

With that in mind, I offer up these suggested readings, all out of print but fairly easy to find on Ebay. I bought three of them at a swap meet for $1 each, two came to me through Paperback They will take you thoroughly through the basics of track, locomotives, cars, benchwork, wiring and scenery, and will do it without suggesting a second mortgage or doctorate in history.

The first is "The Model Railroading handbook" volumes I, II, and III. Written in the mid 70s by Robert Schleicher and published by Chilton (yup, the car repair guys), you will find no more complete work on the hobby.


The other two, "HO Primer" and "N Scale Primer", will depend on your scale of choice and were offered by Kalmbach Publishing back in the late 60s/early 70s. They are more abbreviated but no less valuable to a newcomer to the hobby.


Crank it up...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Avarice can be a nasty thing...

...and apart from the indwelling spirit of God guiding me, would be an easy thing to fall prey to in this hobby. I am blessed with an understanding bride who fully supports my interests. I do my best to spend very little on it. I despise those I've known in the past who wink at me and say, "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission..." as they plunk down four bennies for the latest creation from Broadway Limited. No hobby is worth that kind of grief in the house.

Still, there are some items on my wish list. This O scale Westside Models Virginian 2-8-8-8-4 Triplex from 1979 would sate my thirst for big brass, though it's highly unlikely I will find it on a yardsale table for $25.


Another locomotive on my list of beasties I would like, should the Lord tarry and the Gospel is preached unfettered financially, is this N scale Con-Cor Veranda Turbine with fuel tender. Con-Cor's equally impressive model of the U50 would also be welcome. That they cared little about prototype paint jobs make them all the more desirable...would've been a hoot to see one in Auto-Train white, red and purple.


Should you happen upon one of these fine beasties at a yardsale in the $20-30 dollar range, I'd be much obliged if you'd pick them up and mail them to me...I would be most grateful.

Pop quiz answer...

The artist who drew the switches made the frog on the front turnout impossible for a car or locomotive to navigate...not a good thing when your pushing a product that is supposed to enhance your rail ops.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Kitbashing 101...

Rule #1: Do what you can with what you got.

My son can be rather hard on his toys. When he came to me some time ago with his newly received Crayola truck bank that was found unable to withstand the rigors of boyhood, Dad had to make up his own episode of "Monster Garage". With bits from another victim long since cast to the dung heap of toydom, I came up with this. Needless to say, I reached new levels of esteem in my son's eyes with this rescue.


Pop quiz...

In March, 1975, Kadee created a bit of a stir with this ad. Can you figure out what the problem was? Answer tomorrow...


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tyco #903 Piggyback Loader/Unloader...

One of the nicer Tyco accessories I can think of, this one is complete save for one hand rail and the cab-over tractor. I did get an extra trailer with it and all for the princely sum, zero, nada.

Appreciating Tyco only came about this year when I needed a part for a locomotive I was rescuing. In my search I found the folks over at the Tyco Collectors Forum and the rest, as they say, is history. Because Tyco is shunned by most modelers today for its many technological and material shortcomings, it is easy to find and afford. A sad thought to consider when much of model railroading owes its existence to these admittedly shoddy but innovative models. There was in fact, a day when Tyco was a contender in the hobby and its ads could be found in all the major modeling publications.


An ad from 1966...


Monday, December 24, 2007

For unto us a child is born,...

"...unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel."


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Luke 2:1-19...

(1) And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

(2) (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

(3) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

(4) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

(5) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

(6) And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

(7) And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

(8) And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

(9) And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

(10) And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

(11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

(12) And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

(13) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

(14) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

(15) And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

(16) And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

(17) And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

(18) And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

(19) But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.


1: Historically confirmed events and figures are noted.

2: Shepherds are the lowest social class in Jewish society at the time, yet are the first given the news.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

AHM/Rivarossi HO scale 4-4-0 "Genoa"...

For years as a child, one of these with two coaches ran around a loop of track under our Christmas tree. On one side there was a residential neighborhood made up of dimestore paper homes painted pastel colors and frosted with glitter. The streets were made with Morton's Table Salt carefully poured out to connect them all and traversed by TinkerToy cars.

On the other side, 1:48 scale Union and Confederate forces fought at Antiedam over a Plasticville wood truss bridge nestled in a Life-Like lichen forest and Life-Like green sawdust grass.

While not a model father, Pop did pass on a love for our country's history and model trains. This is posted in his honor, the fifth Christmas since his passing.


Athearn HO scale RDC1 with Hi-F (rubber band) drive...

I've pondered replacing the drive with an Ernst retrofit kit but...when I hit the brake on my throttle, the boing as it springs back and forth is such a hoot that I don't have the heart.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Con-Cor/Rivarossi N scale N&W Y6b 2-8-8-2 Mallet...

Pronounced "Mal-LAY", in February 1970, Model Rectifier Corporation offered the first mass produced N scale articulated locomotive, a landmark move in a still very much up and coming scale only four years old.


Eventually Con-Cor got the locomotive and had the well respected engineers at Rivarossi go over it, finally offering their version around April 1977.


My Con-Cor model was picked up at a train show on the bargain table. While one of its previous owners had a little fun with some paint on the cab roof and firebox side, it only required a little cleaning---and larger radius curves than I can offer...sigh...---to become part of my small N scale stable.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

AHM/Rivarossi HO scale 4-8-8-4 Union Pacific "Big Boy"...

AHM/Rivarossi was known as "Poor Man's Brass" for its affordable and beautifully rendered steam locomotives. This one was received damaged in shipping, one of the very few locomotives I didn't barter or swap services for. After a year and a half pursuing the necessary repair parts and my first weathered steam work in many years, it graces my layout, a subtle reminder that God allows me to enjoy this hobby on His terms...He will not allow me to pursue it to the detriment of our eternal relationship.


The original ad announcing its release found in the December 1966 Model Railroader magazine---note the wheel configuration error that got past the editors---...


...the original product review found in the June 1967 Model Railroader Trade Topics...


...and finally, a clip of it running light on the club layout.

12/21/07 UPDATE: Here is one scratchbuilt in 1:220 Z scale.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Live steam rover...

My photo studio...

...still leaves a lot to be desired when used indoors. Lighting with my Fuji FinePix A210 is a testy subject that isn't necessarily one of quantity of light vs. quality of light. Natural outdoor lighting is a snap. Indoor lighting comes out pink or just plain dark, focus is fuzzy and erratic...I'm flooding the subject with death beams and it just doesn't quite come out.

If that's as bad as it gets for me, I do well to consider myself blessed well beyond what I deserve.

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An HO scale Joeuf Co-Co SNCF CC 6505 circa 1985.

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Atlas N scale Union Pacific 0-8-0...

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For those not familiar with N scale's small size, here it is compared to a nickel...

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Monday, December 17, 2007

You know you want one...

How to model trains on a budget...

Rule #2: Why buy when you can barter?

Mantua HO scale 0-4-0 "Shifter" with slopeback tender circa 1960.

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I owned one in the eighth grade that had a missing motor and smokebox cover. It was my first weathering victim and I longed for the day I could get the parts to get it running again. Sadly, I lost it many years ago in a move. In a recent online trade with another modeler who needed a particular parts locomotive, when he asked what I would like in return, I said, "Surprise me." He did.

From the "It's Amazing What People Throw Away" files...

#374 Marklin HO scale tinplate Esso tank car with brakeman's doghouse circa 1949.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Living Water Stop...

Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.---(Isaiah 7:10-14)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.---(Matthew 1:18-25)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bachmann N scale Santa Fe 4-8-4 Northern...

...and the original two page ad from the February '72 Model Railroader magazine. From time to time I will be joining models I own with their original ads as I find them. This beastie was a surprise gift masterfully rebuilt by Ray over at 2 Guys.

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Bachmann HO scale N&W Class "J" 4-8-4 circa 1985...

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It's not often you can find the original Model Railroader magazine Trade Topics review on a particular locomotive. Here is this one's review from the May, '85 issue...

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How to model trains on a budget...

Rule #1. Aim your sights a little lower...

An early Tyco 2-8-0 "Chattanooga Choo Choo" that needs a bit of TLC. Many of my projects start just like this one...

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Friday, December 14, 2007

I enjoy all manner of miniature machines...

...and so was more than a little thrilled to add this O.S. Max FP .40 two stroker to my display shelf. A freebie tossed to the wind by its previous owner, it only took a little tinkering to bring it roaring back to life. I plan to make a wood display stand out of red oak for it.

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And speaking of miniature engines...this four stroking V12 just plain rocks...

Marklin HO scale Co-Co E94 "Alligator" circa 1969...

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

I've GOT to get me one o' these....

Today's video...

Brian over at the Tyco Collectors forum having entirely too much fun with a Tyco "Royal Blue", a "Silver Streak", a string of "Blue Coal" hoppers and some big hair 80's tunes...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mehano HO scale 4-6-2 "The Tennessean"...

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Keeping the track clean on your Christmas trains...

Had to address this on my own Christmas layout and because of the large number of newcomers and folks just setting up Christmas trains, I unburied it from another thread... Because THE TREE makes for about an 8' tunnel that's a bear to keep the track clean in, I brought back an old favorite for track cleaning. Using Masonite, I cut myself pads 1 3/8" x 2 1/2" in size. I laid out a center line at 11/16" lengthwise and cross lines at 3/8", then epoxied two 1 1/4" drywall nails centered on the cross lines. While hardening, I drilled two 1/8" holes centered into the bottom of my car 1 3/4" apart. I then set the pad lengthwise on the rails, placed the car over the nails. That's it, there are no fasteners as the pad needs to freely travel up and down. Leave it in your regular consist and you'll never have a problem with dirty rails or wheels thru the holiday. It's also easily modified for Thomas' Clarabelle coach by shortening your measurements. The second pic shows just how much dirt "clean" track gives up after 20 laps.

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For rare tinplate, I came up with the following to avoid drilling into a family heirloom or pricey collector's item. Using the same basic pad, I added a flexible plastic arm attached by sandwich gluing the pad to the arm with cardboard. I added a small lead weight to the end of the pad away from the arm. Then, at the other end, I sandwich glued two powerful magnets copped from those blinky pins sold at Wal-Mart (they come two to a pin) and placed another set on the car floor. Heirloom is now safe and track now gets cleaned as evidenced by the pad after ten laps.

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The final pics show them in action. The train's wheels now stay clean and I no longer have to clean the rails themselves on a daily basis as I had to before.

Some may wish to color them on the sides and tops with black magic marker to hide them.

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Repairing the gearbox to a Tyco Clementine Gold Mine...

I recently set up what I thought was a mint in box Clementine tipple, only to find that two of its gears were cracked, apparently an age thing similar to zinc-pest. I hope the repair may help someone so I thought I'd share it...

After assuming the fetal position, sucking my thumb and wailing like a school girl, I set about to figure out how to fix this problem, using what I had on hand. I first drilled out the rivets holding the gear tower in place and enlarged the holes to accept 8/32x1/4" bolts and nuts. The one under the conveyor shaft was turned downward to keep the nut from interfering with the gear drive. Using two of the larger gears in an Athearn four wheel diesel truck, I found they fit quite snug in place of the original top and bottom gears. The crank needed only bushings added to keep it centered on the middle original gear, the teeth mesh perfectly.

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The middle gear was moved down and back 45 degrees and 1/4" from the original hole by drilling two 1/8" holes exactly opposite each other---much easier with a drill press. After reaming them slightly, the original pin and gear were re-installed into the new holes. A bit of hot glue on either side of the head of the pin holds it securely in place. I then re-installed the gear tower, pushing the lower conveyor shaft gear to the left 'til it aligned with the middle gear.

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Now I be all happy dispensing M&Ms through the Christmas holiday...and doing it without greatly affecting the original piece. I find it interesting that, after 35+ years in the hobby, there was as much satisfaction getting this thing running as any number of much more realistic and prototypical scenic vistas and building projects I've done.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I've often wondered...

...why talk of politics and model railroading don't seem to go well together.

From the Model Railroader magazine Railway Post Office, January 1960...

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Just a place to put...., videos, how-tos and such, primarily for model railroading related items but there will be room made for other model related issues. A Merry Christmas to you and yours and if not...

...From us at Mister Bob's Model Works Emporium to you ("hereinafter called the wishee") Please accept without obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all

... and a financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but with due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures or sects whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "AMERICA" in the western hemisphere), and having regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or dietary preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting you are bound by these terms that-

  • This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal
  • This greeting is freely transferable provided that no alteration shall be made to the original greeting and that the proprietary rights of the wishor are acknowledged.
  • This greeting implies no promise by the wishor to actually implement any of the wishes.
  • This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and/or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wishor.
  • This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be expected within the usual application of good tidings, for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first.
  • The wishor warrants this greeting only for the limited replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wishor
  • Any references in this greeting to "the Lord", "Father Christmas", "Our Saviour", or any other festive figures, whether actual or fictitious, dead or alive, shall not imply any endorsement by or from them in respect of this greeting, and all proprietary rights in any referenced third party names and images are hereby acknowledged.

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A Marklin HR800 4-6-2, circa 1947-49