Saturday, December 28, 2013


Happy Holidays to all.   I'd like to report that I spent plenty of cold nights and days down in the basement working on the layout, but alas, I continue to be trying to get through my work backlog.  Christmas Day was the second day off for me this fall (Thanksgiving was the other).  I actually almost worked as I spent the day down at the shore with my family and we have had an ongoing job at a Stone Harbor beach house - The job being only 5 minutes away, I'd planned on slipping out for an hour or two to work on some punch list items, but came to my senses, and relaxed a bit.   Lots of good presents, but on the railroad side - a Stewart AS-616 and a 1/35 scale model of a German WWII Locomotive - pictured above.    The AS-616 is the second that I've gotten in the past month - I plan on converting one into a B-unit 616 (there were a few, and since my railroad is fictional, we have one)    I will paint and decal them in our Amboy Terminal scheme and the two unit lash up will serve as transfer power, especially for drags up the hill from the lower works.     Recently, there was a period of a few weeks,  which was probably the longest time in recent history that I hadn't gone down to the basement to work.   When I did finally get down one night around Christmas, I found myself with modelers block of sorts - feeling overwhelmed and out of touch with trains I guess.  I watched some tv and straightened up a bit, but no productive modeling.   Since then, my second train present, the 1/35 locomotive, has been getting me back on track I think.   It's a straight plastic model, training wheels for hopefully some more productive scratchbuilding in the near future.  This kit is massive - 710 parts.

This is about two long nights progress.  You start with building the frame.    I didn't know much about this steam engine, or any European steam engines at all, prior to this kit.  This locomotive, German Class 52, was manufactured during WWII.  It was a redesign of an earlier locomotive, the Class 50.   It was sort of the Liberty Ship of trains for the Germans.  Designed to be manufactured quickly and with a minimum of raw materials.  The majority of these engines ended up on the eastern front, and ultimately over 7000 were built.    For you military historians you probably will realize the contradiction between Nazi Germany's production of Tanks and Aircraft, which were anything but focused on standardized designs.    The kit itself is by Trumpeter.  Trumpeter and also Dragon Models have issued a good number of 1/35 wartime railroad models in the past 10 years or so.    The railroad subject matter, and the unique modifications necessitated by partisan attacks has interested me enough to pick up a few of these kits, and probably more in the future.   The kits are a pleasure to assemble compared to the crap Walthers and other model railroad suppliers put out.   I will try to keep up with a few updates on this build.

This is what the inside of the box looks like

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I believe this is a new Morning Sun release, but not sure.  Spotted it on the counter of the local train store and it was an impulse purchase.   I had some second thoughts afterwards, especially since my disappointment with the Morning Sun Lehigh and New England release earlier this year.   Not so with this publication - I was quite happy with both the captions and the photos.  Lots of 40's and 50's color photos with plenty of background structures in view.   I would call it an overview of the Lehigh Valley, but it's well balanced and doesn't cover any one subject  in too much depth.  There is plenty of railroading, steel, coal, cement, ...etc.    My only critical comment is that there aren't enough maps included.  I think there is a certain assumption that the reader is familiar with the spiderweb of competing railroads through the Lehigh Valley.   The book is organized into sections or chapters by railroad, and within each section the photos are broken down geographically so there is a natural progression down or up the line.  The first half of the book is devoted to the CNJ and Lehigh Valley, obviously the two railroads that literally followed the Lehigh Valley.   Two more sizable sections follow on the Reading and the Lehigh and New England.   The remainder of the book is devoted to the lesser characters - Lackawanna, Chestnut Ridge Railway (NJ Zinc railroad), the Pennsy (Bel-Del and Green Ridge Branch), Ironton, Lehigh and Hudson River, Northampton and Bath, PB&NE, Dragon Portland Cement, Mack Trucks, and Lehigh Valley Transit (Trolley)        Was fun to look at as many of the photos were from when the railroads were operating full steam ahead.

BASSWOOOD -  That's a 4.5"x8.5"x 10' piece of basswood.   If I cut it into stripwood  I'd have enough to last the rest of my modeling career probably.   I actually bought two of these.   A interior designer I work for had specified "hand hewn"  pieces for a project I was doing for her.   Basswood ended up making the most sense as a choice for the raw materials for a number of reasons - it's light; it machines well; little grain; available in thick pieces; absorbs stain well (needed to look old but not intentionally stained) ;etc.   These two pieces were $360.    How did I make it "hand hewn"?    I have an "undulating" cutter head for my Festool planer.  Just randomly attack the board with it and you quickly get the affect without swinging an adz all day.   Didn't take a photo of finished product.  I still have some nice chunks of basswood to cut up.