Summer is upon us, and the distraction of yard work, home maintenance and my family yammering at me to get out of doors leaves me less modeling time. When I do get to the basement, the ongoing projects are not calling. So today I operated.
Far too long ago, I hosted an operating session and the guest operator--Darel???--had to leave before he completed the switch list.
The list has been sitting on the layout for a while, so I checked it against the cars located throughout Leadville, located the stragglers and started switching. Well, before I started, I cleaned the track.
One of my layout goals is to have a smooth running layout and dirty track and dirty wheels seem to conspire to frustrate me. I have operated on a couple local layouts and while the occasional derailment seems inevitable, the railroads run very smoothly. All the plastic PBL wheels on my rolling stock is changed out now, and I have been copiously cleaning paint off the metal tires. The locos are slowly receiving current keepers. I ran an abrasive pad over the track and powered up the 75. Things were off to a good start, but on about the fifth move the loco stalled. The south yard ladder seems to be the culprit: I don't know if there are current issues with the turnouts (there should not be, as the Tortoise throws the power and there is redundancy), or the loco tires need a good scrubbing.
Switching cars also uncovers bug-a-boos with the individual cars. A coal had a low coupler, and the knuckles like to stick. Some CA on the carrier iron solved the low issue, and I need to get some graphite into the knuckles. A flat car needs some more diagnosis: it appears to be a combination of car weight and the wheelsets getting fouled by trussrods/ brake rods. And, a switch motor is not working--the power routing is fine, suggesting I need to troubleshoot the power to the toggle.
Anywhoo, it was an enjoyable hour or so shoving cars about to make up the train for Denver. I marvel at how long it takes to make switching moves: my sidings are about eight feet long, and I seem to run more slowly than C&S hoggers. It also points to the wisdom of blocking the train properly to facilitate switching. It leaves me wondering how the eastbound crew was able to switch Climax and make it to Como. No wonder they complained.
While I had the DCC on, I tried consisting a caboose with the 75. You use a common magnet, and the effect is pretty neat--rail clicks and wheel squeeks, along with an air bleed when you start. Another project is to get my programming track in order so I can change the caboose address and increase the volume some. The locomotive sound tends to overpower the sound in the caboose. It will be a very nice effect as the trains climb the high line.
Keith, I wonder if that was my unfinished switch list from back in October. Had a great visit but had to get to the airport. That was a fine day, up at dawn in Alamosa for a beautiful drive up along the Valley Line and over Poncha, missed the 285 turn so went thru Leadville and across I-70/ Rt 6 to Golden for lunch. Then to CRRM, mainly for photos of the undersides of the C&S stock car and SUF reefer, then to your place for an hour or so. Then to the airport and home in Chicagolandia by 9 or 10 o'clock.
Will be back out in August in Wellington, north of Ft Collins, but don't know how much train time I'll have...
You have hit upon the internal struggle I have had since about the age of
12, .... modeling, and what do you do with it. I really enjoy watching these
threads, seeing the old photos, and all these of making very exacting replicas
in micro size. There are times when I feel the old pangs of desire to do my
own modeling again. But then life comes crashing back in and my one internal
voice yells at the other one "Where the hell do you think you'd have the time
to play with this stuff ?"
I restore all manner of things in 12":1' scale and there is never enough time to
fix all the things I hunt up as it is ! Yet nothing would be as thrilling as to somehow
be able to step back into these old photos and immerse myself in what it was back
on the South Park in 1885 or 1928.
these thoughts are very much in my mind, having recently returned to model-building after 45 years off in the real (if that's what it is) world. What got me started last winter was randomly running across a locomotive on Ebay that I had coveted as a teenager, so it was pure nostalgia at first. But, largely due to this discussion group, I've become re-fascinated with the history of this railroad and all its associated technologies and societal consequences. For me, building a model seems to be all about finding out how things worked, why they were done the way they were, how they affected people. This seems an awful lot easier now than it was 40 years ago, with tremendous resources like the collective expertise of this group, and all the wonderful photographs, drawings and other reference data available online. It's good that people are doing this. We so easily lose memory of earlier times, and lose appreciation for the highly mature and sophisticated technologies, like steam locomotives, that were the icons of an earlier age. I think more and more as I get older that almost any human endeavour, carried out at its highest level, becomes indistinguishable from magic. That's a way of saying that the hidden depth of experience that enabled people to build and run railroads over the impossible-looking terrain that the C&S traversed can look magical. Building models is a kind of celebration of that magic.
Making replicas in 12" to the foot scale would be even better than these little itty-bitty things, yes, but the 100 ft pin-connected truss bridge I'm working on would pretty well fill up my back yard… not to mention bankrupting me. Would be rather spectacular, though. I could live underneath it and boil my cat food over an open fire.
I have time to jump into this railroad world only for short periods, an hour here and there usually late in the evening, and the things I work on live in a semi-permanent (note the optimistic prefix) unfinished state, but I don't let it bug me. I sit down, look at the rolling stock, the loco I started to scratch-build as a teenager, the bridge, the paper model of a handsome small depot on the F&CC that I made decades ago, and I let my eye wander until it settles on a question: how should I do this, why was it that way, how can I construct it… and I'm off to the computer to dig into it. So far, I am continually discovering big mistakes in pretty much everything I've done as I run across more information, but that's all right too, it's the learning that's fun.
So, I second the thanks to all of you for your information and your inspiration.
I think more and more as I get older that almost any human endeavour, carried out at its highest level, becomes indistinguishable from magic. That's a way of saying that the hidden depth of experience that enabled people to build and run railroads over the impossible-looking terrain that the C&S traversed can look magical. Building models is a kind of celebration of that magic.
In the summer of 1977 I stumbled upon the tie-strewn South Park right-of-way as it
fell away toward Salt Springs from Trout Creek Pass. We stopped the car and got out
to look. It was bizarre. The telegraph poles still stood, the place looked like it just
needed rails, and it was back in business. And those tiny ties .... what was this that
I was looking at ? 1977 was a tough time to be researching a long-gone railroad in a
distant state, but the more I learned, the more "magical" it became !
It was a fairy tale story in many ways from the first days of John Evan's narrow gauge
dream. The area and times and microcosm world it fed was indeed a magical place in
While I'd love to restore or scratch build a locomotive like the 1880 Baldwin 2-8-0's
in my ample shop, availability and practical use thereof sadly limits chasing that magic.
I am forced to choose a moderately more practical route of frivolous rejoicing: