Things I’m Thinking About

Years ago I used to read the sportswriter, Peter King’s, Monday column online after the Sunday football games.  I remember him having part of the column titled “Ten Things I think I think”.  With lots of different irons in the fire, I thought I would share a few different things I am working on or thinking about here, maybe not ten, but in a similarly disjointed manner, just to provide a catch-up on several projects.

  1. Your Library Is Your Friend When Modeling

I love books, and books about railroad topics are without question the most numerous books in our library hands down.  In prepping to work on the USRA gondola project that I am trying to finish up by the end of September,  I found myself needing lettering information.  I had intended to paint the car as an El Paso & Southwestern (EPSW) car, but after discussing things with Tony Thompson, it was decided that the Southern pacific acquisition of the EPAW in 1924 would have produced repainted cars by 1928, and I changed focus to reproducing a SP lettered car.  There is a photo in Tony’s Southern Pacific freight cars book on SP gondolas showing one of these cars in San Francisco in 1934, but that is a little later, and if the cars were repainted by 1928, they would likely have been shopped at least once more time and repainted again by 1934.  To get close to the right lettering on this car, I turned to another book that I had received as a gift last year for a future PFE reefer project.  The book, “Southern Pacific Painting and Lettering Guide” has a 1925 GS gondola lettering guide included.  Using that guide, the 1934 photo from the other SP book, and several sheets of different decals from Protocraft, I have assembled as close as I think I can a plan to letter the model as it might have appeared in 1928.  Without multiple references, I would have been floating without a guide.  I’m thankful for the books that I can reference for photos and information.  They allow me to model to the best of the ability of the information and my skills at the moment.

2.  Getting the Most out of 3’ x 18”

A single track on the 36″ long photo diorama
Two tracks is better use of the space.

The photo diorama that I created is still standing in our garage without much progress being made there.  The weather in the Midwest has been hot, humid, or just generally bad for working out there. My initial plan was to lay a single track down the middle of the board.  At the same time, I want to use this small board to learn a few things, most importantly, how to hand lay Proto48 track.  With that in mind, I have decided to lay two lines of track on this project, one as a mainline and one more as a siding, allowing me to experiment with tie spacing, ballast, grass, etc… and really prefect the look of the track before moving on.  As the weather cools a little this next week, I am hoping to get roadbed down and some basic scenery texture in place to get rid of the pink foam.  I’d like, by the end of September, to have fascia on this project all the way around, the basic mud down and dry for the scenery, and be at the point where I’m sorting out rail, tie, spike, tie plates, and other track details for the Fall.  Doable?  We’ll see.

3.  “Mill Road” is the e-book I’ve Been Looking For

OST Publications, and Mike Cougill, have produced another fantastic e-book in their new release, “Mill Road”.  The book discusses Mike’s journey with his Proto48 Cameo layout and his thought process on the design, what is important, and some of his ideas on construction of such a layout.  It’s a well written, well thought through, and inspiring guide to this kind of layout design philosophy.  This is a similar road to what I’ve been finding myself drawn to, and Mike has put it in writing better than I could.  I highly recommend buying a copy if you’re interested in the Cameo layout concept, or how one comes to focus on what is important to you in modeling.  Bravo, Mike!

4.  Endings

This December, my subscription to Model Railroader Magazine will come to an end.  I have subscribed to MR since 1987.  Even with a small HO scale switching layout stored in the closet to work on this winter, the content in MR has become irrelevant to my modeling interests and sadly the magazine has become a quick scan monthly when it arrives and is then recycled.  I haven’t saved an issue in several years.  When the current subscription ends, I may occasionally pick up a copy if there is an interesting article, and I’ll likely continue to add to my shelf of Model Railroad Planning special issues, but my subscriptions to Model Railroad Hobbyist, Narrow Gauge & Shoreline Gazette, and O Scale Magazine will continue, and reading and support for O Scale Resource will as well.

5.  The Right Builder

Parts for YV 29

As many of you know, my vision is greatly limited (I’m legally blind).  When I switched to Proto48 from HO scale, and decided to keep on modeling the Yosemite Valley Railroad, one of the biggest losses for me was the locomotive roster.  The Beaver Creek YV moguls are a real draw to modeling the YV in HO, making it possible to have 5 of the 7 locomotives rostered in the late 1920’s, 1930’s, and up to abandonment, essentially ready to go in brass, and Jack Burgess having had an excellent article on modeling the two 4-4-0 American’s on the roster in Model Railroader, built from the excellent Bachmann modern 4-4-0 models.  After doing the research on building a locomotive model, knowing the skills, the tools, the materials, and incredibly importantly, the vision, I decided to take some of my own advice that I give in clinics on modeling as a low vision person, and look for help.

After an extensive search, talking to a large number of people, I’m very happy to share that Bill Meredith of Leadville Designs ( has started work and made fantastic progress on building a custom Proto48 model of YV29 as it would have appeared in 1928.  Pictured here are some of the parts for the model.  It has been a pleasure to develop this project with Bill, and I’m very excited about what is happening.  YV29 will be sound equipped, battery powered, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of the project as it progresses.

With that, it’s time to get back to work on projects, and hopefully I’ll have some progress shots to share with you soon.


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