Friday, December 28, 2012


As it draws to a close, all I can say as this has been one epic month.  A time of changes and confrontations it seems.  Maybe a chance to put all the bad karma to rest before starting a new year and a new business, or maybe everyone is just in a bad mood.  In addition to the drastic work changes for me, we, well primarily my wife, have been dealing with elder care issues. Well to cheer myself up I could always go to the Yahoo Steel Group - oh no, wait, that won't be a pleasant experience either (more on this later)
Hakko fx-888 Soldering iron - sweeeeeet
We did manage to fit Christmas in and I got lots of train goodies from my wife and family.   Usually my wife never listens to my detailed instructions - either because she doesn't like being told what to do, or just as likely she tunes me out while I ramble on with  fifteen minutes of exact instructions.   If I ask her to stop and get flour, she will bring home sugar and insist it's a white powder so it will work just as well.   It's become a running comedy routine during our 29 years together.   So, when she asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said a good electronics soldering iron I figured I get something between a $5 radio shack special and an oxy/acyetelene rig.    To my surprise I opened up my gift to find a Hakko fx-888 soldering iron, which was ideally, exactly what I wanted.   I think maybe don't give instructions from now on,.....     I also received a Panavise, a new airbrush, a New York Central RS-3, and another sound equipped Alco S-4, amongst other things.
How it all started,....  1984 - 18 years old - taped together blown up photocopies to HO scale of a blast furnace drawing I was going to model.
December has also been a month of upheaval in the online steel mill world.  There was a very embarrassing public online feud concerning the future of the Steel Mill Modelers Meet.   Generally I supported the new mid-August meet in Kent, Ohio as that was what was laid out at the the previous meet here in New Jersey.   The feud was caused by the meet's organizer detaching himself and setting everything up on his own.  All kinds of copyright and ownership claims were thrown about and it frankly got ridiculous and some people made fools of themselves.  I tried to logically explain what was happening and how we could work it out, based on my experience as a previous organizer of this event, and without taking sides.  The result was being attacked personally (via private email, not online so much)  and accused of having a hidden agenda.  I just want to go hang out and talk about steel mill models for four days - that is my only hidden agenda.    I've been through this all a few times before, posting my opinions online, so you think I would have learned my lesson.    Not really at all, because a week later when there is online chatter about the "steel fan" event and seminars on basics of steelmaking, railroads around Kent, and who knows what else,  I stupidly go online and post my opinion that this event should be limited to steel mill modeling, and I'm told to bud out, that they can do whatever they want since it isn't the same event, and how dare I tell someone they can't speak that has taken countless modelers through mills and photocopied them plans, blah, blah, blah.    So, I hope, after the fourth time this nonsense has happened to me I will finally learn not to post anything on an online forum, ever.    Anyone is always welcome to email me with a question, their opinion, or to ask me my opinion, or even to tell me to go f___ myself - without judgement.
Young Padawan Learner
Starting up my new business has forced me to finally clean up my home office.  As usual during these clean ups  I come across all sorts of things I forgot about.  One is a blast furnace drawing that I had photocopied and blown up to HO scale when I was 18, with plans to model.  The next photo is of an addition I built when I was 17 to my fathers original basement sized layout.  It was a 2x10' branch line with hand-laid code 70 rail.

Didier March Co - Clay Mining 1918 - Perth Amboy, NJ
 And I'll leave you with a neat photo of a tiny narrow gauge engine from Perth Amboy, NJ - one of many many lines.  I'd unscientifically venture that a 10 mile radius around Perth Amboy, NJ had the highest density of narrow gauge tram lines and industrial railroads in the country.  It's from one of the clay railroads of the Didier-March Company from September of 1918.   You can see the dotted lines representing the different strata.  The clay layer is under the lower dashed line.  In this area that layer would be mostly higher grade fire-clay used in making refractories.  If you look close you can see the marking on the clay bank from a rotary mechanical excavator.  Clay was mined in solid chunks by hand or machine and done so while the clay was mostly dry.  You can see the chunks of clay in the tipple cars.  From here the clay would be taken to a plant and ground, washed, and then dried for in-house use or shipment elsewhere.

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