Saturday, November 26, 2022

Operations November 26, 2022

A few crew members ventured back from the November 12 session. We had another 6 people for 3 crews. Here we have Dan making a move at Allatoona Pass as Ed and Jim await to proceed. 

Bill and a new operator Andy on a break.

We had many more mishaps on this run. 4 turnouts decided not to throw completely. YOI! However, immediately after the session, repairs and adjustments were made. And once again, most folks had a good time. I realize that my connection to the period can absorb frustrations. This was confirmed from a few others who shared mishaps and instances that were plausible, anchored in this time frame's circumstances. Derailments, for example, we very common among a host of other unforeseen incidents. As a result, the mishaps they experience are absorbable.

Continuing discoveries include seeing that rules of the 1860's were quite different than those as close as the 1870's. There are a few simple ones I can include in the next session.

A huge part of the game of operating in this era is how to operate as prototypical as possible, i.e., link & pin couplers and some acceptable  mechanical breakdowns (electrical issues are not an option, 'FIX IT!' I say to myself). 

Interesting outcome was the conversations we had after lunch. We shared knowledge and perceptions of many aspects of prototype operating. Like, what did brakemen do with an extra link or pin? The history is the juice for me. Learning and then applying what is reasonable. 

Operations 11.12.2022

For many model railroaders, running trains in a similar fashion to how they operated in real life is an objective to building a layout. Prototype, prototype freelance or freelance, makes no difference. I worked with period information on way bills and schedules to create an experience for friends to visit and work in crews of two. 

Here's the crews from Nov 12...

Dave and Ed changing out cars in Kingston. Dave and I go back to high school. Ed is a member of our local Garden State Central Model RR club in Wall NJ.

Dan and Bill are picking up empties from Camp McDonald at Big Shanty. Both are members of our American Civil War RR's Historical Society. Historians to modelers participate in our monthly zoom meets.
Aside from the occasional, and in many cases prototypical mishaps and breakdowns, there were issues with derailments and decoder learning. Derailments were found at one turnout which has been rectified. But this is something that does occur. It's 1863. Trackage was rough to begin with. The key is not doing anything about the mishap and excusing oneself with "well, that's prototype". Repairs and fixes are part of the equation.    

Ed and Dave come to the end of their run. Truly, a good time was had by all.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Turntable Discussions with George Bogatiuk from Soundtraxx

I had the great opportunity to have George come to my layout and assist, in a huge way, programming my locomotives. This aspect of the hobby has confounded me as I am so not tech savvy. However, George with his unparalleled expertise guided me to programming 5 of my 4-4-0's . Hope you enjoy our conversation.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Annual Civil War RR's Meet in Baltimore

We are known as the American Civil War Rail Roads Historical Society, created in 2003. For many years we would rendezvous at a location with ACW RR history. We've been to City Point, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Memphis (2x), Alexandria, Savannah, Harper's Ferry, Gettysburg, Hanover, now Baltimore, for a second time. Prior Baltimore trip was 2012. The trip covers about 3 days, Thursday evening through Sunday morning. Typical trips include site visits, clinics, speaker(s) and ideally operations sessions at a local model railroad. Here are some photos of our trip. Hope you enjoy the ride...

This was at the B&O museum in Ellicott (pronounced Elikit) City. Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable. Being of Irish decent, he was very familiar with the B&O as one of his ancestors was a railman. 

Left to right, Charlie Taylor who models the M&C, O scale, and lives in Tennessee. DC Cebula, living in Delaware, models an HO freelance layout, the Del Central. The back of John Bopp who models in HO scale and is an historian of locomotives.

Here we all are in front of the William Mason 4-4-0 in the B&O RR Museum Roundhouse. This loco was leased by Disney for the Great Locomotive Chase and used as the Texas. Jeffrey Hunter, Slim Pickens and other actors rode this baby! 

Left to right, Charlie, Ken Bruns, Paul Ciesmelewski, DC, myself, John Bopp, David Bjorkman, Phil Ruehl and Marty Vaughn. 

I was able to get a peek into the cab. Later found out that this is verboten! 

Here we are at Bernie Kempinski's O scale USMRR Aquia Line participating in an operations session that Bernie had arranged for us. This is the highlight for many of us!

Until next time... Happy Rails!

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Flat Figures by Brian Kammerer

Many, many months ago, I needed to scenic the area that increased in size as a result of opening up the aisle just south of Kennesaw Mtn. This area is at the top left corner between Kennesaw and where "Mill" is noted. The entire table of the Atlanta area is now parallel with the back wall and allows for a pleasurable 3' aisle.

I now had 3' feet of new real estate to scenic which I found artistically challenging and was a good thing. I had several ideas including a small farm, dirt road, double post and rail fencing. Mock up  structures were placed in the area. However, it all felt too busy.  Trains would be passing the Redoubt which has perspectives then a farm then mountain... So I just sat and pondered gazing into the bare benchtop. I would come back over a period of about 4-5 months. Interesting how the idea finally lands. I decided that I would create a deep perspective with distance. The backdrop / ridge line is foam core with a couple of layers of flocking. I would  need to show a 1000 yard or more distance from the ridge line to a full size (HO) foreground. 

This photo below shows the first steps to bridging the distance. At the base of the ridge line is a dark tree line. The intent is to show a tree line closer to the viewer and enhance the perspective experience. There are two figures in the middle ground. This is what I call "concept measuring" to ascertain plausibility for the entire scene. The cluster of trees is meant to be a view-through element. Once painted and flocked, I want the viewer to peer through the trees to help distribute the perspective as they see the scouts. The stream, and of course the house car, are the foreground. The fun of creating this scenic element is assessing what to place between the stream and the ridge line to foster the sense of distance.

Close up of the above photo...

Even closer image below. The figure is another Brian Kammerer creation. His film "The Other Great Locomotive Chase" is populated with a plethora of flats. When I mentioned to him what I was doing he suggested flats. I had hoped he would. He graciously created a few sheets of infantry, cavalry and artillery figures. Everyone who has viewed this scene could not tell the scouts were flat.

One of the figure sheets Brain created is below. All I did was reduce the size then print a sheet. After cutting the figures I wanted, and adding a thin sheet of cardboard backing for rigidity, I simply glued a straight pin to the back. The bench is blue insulation foam, making installment of the figures very easy.  

I am getting ahead of my process.

While still in the imagination phase, and driving around on different days, one day as I was passing a field. I saw exactly what I was wanting to build. In the middle distance from the road there was a cluster of trees. The added component missing in my scene was the vegetation among these trees. Small, wild growing shrubs, bushes and some vines. Here is the nearly final touch, close up...

A more distant view...

I want to add more underbrush among the trees and in the open field. However, for the most part, I am quite satisfied with the results.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Test run with a Soundtraxx Current Keeper

 Locomotives running smooth is what truly matters. Otherwise I have a wonderful diorama. But that is NOT the goal. Here are two video shorts showing the Dr Thompson, a converted and detailed Mantua General, on a test run. My big difficulty was getting them to consistently run through turnouts. So far so good!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022


March 26 I presented a clinic on my Atlanta / Schofield Rolling Mill to the Railroad Prototype Modelers convention in Valley Forge. By the time I realized I wanted a photo, the next clinician had his power point up. At least there is a modicum of proof I was there.

Looked like a terrific turnout. In addition to some outstanding clinics, there were about 6 venders with a variety of modeling products. Of course I found a few much-in-need-of items, like a current keeper, sugar cube speakers and detail parts.

If you'd like to see the clinic powerpoint presentation, it is uploaded to our site, 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Workin on the DC - Delaware Central RR

 This past Tuesday I took a ride to Newark DE to see our good friend DC Cebula and his progress on his period layout. WOW has been motorin! Prior to making this photo happen, he began last year preparing the layout room in his basement. Herculean effort it was. Now his benchwork is completed and track is being set in preparation for permanent bedding.

To our right, your left, is a return loop. His is building a freelance prototype of the DE Central RR. All of his 30 plus turnouts have been built with Fast Tracks templates. One remarkable attribute of DC is his meticulous attention to all construction, from benchwork to track work, etc. During my time with him, as I have made two trips in two weeks, we have built the laser cut throw devices and placed the track exactly where it will be permanently adhered. Visit his website,

Although he has not uploaded layout photos yet, you will see his magnificent modeling skills.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Where Have I Been!?!

Since April I have embarked on a new journey; in addition, have been hosting bi-monthly zoom meets, fine tuning my locomotives and finishing off a new section of the layout with scenery.

As some of you may know of the NMRA, National Model Railroader's Association, they have a program called the Achievement Program. This is to encourage model railroaders' endeavors to develop  their skills, show their accomplishments and further the comradery with fellow modelers. 

The AP is a very structured and in-depth process. There are a total of 11 categories, 7 of which are required if you are working toward your Master Model Railroader (MMR) certificate. I started off with the category of Structures. To give you an idea, here is one form (the SOQ) to note the structures to be judged. 6 must be scratch built. The others can be kits, kitbashed or combination of all three, including scratch built.

 To date, I have four that made the cut: Roundhouse, Chattanooga Car Shed

Schofield Rolling Mill and the Cotton Depot in Kingston

An MMR certificate, however, is not necessarily my goal. I have been learning so much from other modelers to fine tune my skills along with the fun of our conversations and just hanging out with fellow enthusiasts.   
Here are the Mid Eastern Region Division members assessing the Cotton Depot in Kingston... Left to right, Glyn, a MMR, Mike, on his way to MMR, Fred, also an MMR and a lead judge, and Jack. Glyn, Mike, and Jack are also being trained to judge. Next post will cover the new scenery addition.