Friday, May 7, 2021

A Work in Progress

The California Grand Palace's streetside view and main entrance.

The Oakdale trackside area has had a blank spot in it for far too long. Part of the reason it stayed vacant is because I had not yet decided what might go well in that spot. Several weeks ago, I finally reached a decision had began building a suitable structure. I wanted a large saloon with a detailed interior including a stage for entertainers. This saloon would also include a sound track. As of this point, I have completed the exterior structure of the building but the sound and detailing the interior still needs to be accomplished.


The Long Bar is ready for customers but standup ones only. Tables and chairs are still to be added. The stage curtain is typical of early theaters which put the advertising space to good use. The "kerosene" lamps were made from plastic beads and very small leds. 

The saloon is totally freelanced and not based on any specific structure. To be honest, real saloons were generally  built with a narrow front entrance but a long depth, just enough for the bar and a few tables. The Grand Palace has more in common with the huge edifices often seen in Hollywood western movies. It's not particularly prototypical but it is what I was looking for.

    Construction is with acrylic sides with styrene siding laminated to them. The window and door casings were cut using my laser cutter. Other parts were styrene shapes plus detail parts from Tichy and San Juan Details.

     The interior of the building has a stage with a working curtain and a number of LED lights. There's much more to do but the drinking class of Oakdale seem to be looking forward to completion. 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Cemetery at Milton

Funerary services are being held for one of the citizens of Milton. All of the items used in the scene are commercial products readily available.

Wandering through the cemetery at Milton (the prototype, not the model) is an interesting look at the past. Some people died young while others lived into their 80s. It seemed appropriate to provide a cemetery for my model Milton. I was able to put together a small cemetery which was not kept up real well but was still serviceable. The mourners, casket and minister came from a Langley (British) figure set while the tombstones were from Woodland Scenics. The fancy fencing is made by Tichy. The sign over the entrance was cut out using my laser cutter. The hearse is a Jordan product.


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Fifty Years and Counting


While I know I've been in the model railroading hobby for quite a while, it was a surprise to receive a certificate documenting that fact. That would be mean that I joined the NMRA in 1971 which seems about right. Even though I had been reading model railroad magazines throughout my teen years, it wasn't until 1969 when I finally purchased my first car kit and actually moved out of the armchair. After a few kits, I thought it was a good idea to join the NMRA. It's been a fun time and, for me, just the start of more fun with the hobby.

I guess it is fitting that, after 50 years in the Association, it opened its Magic of Scale Model Railroading exhibit at the California State Railroad Museum (as though my tenure in the NMRA had anything to do with that). I found several photos on line showing some of the exhibits in the museum. It looks like it's well worth a visit if you find yourself in California. I'm not sure when the CSRM will reopen but, hopefully, it will be soon. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

New Boxcar Added to Fleet

My Gorre & Daphetid boxcar at Peters. The decals had dimensional lettering for a 36-foot car which is perfect for a Model Die Casting kit and fits right in with my era. 

Every model railroader has a beginning. Mine started in the fifth grade when I discovered that the local library had Model Railroader in its collection. From then until the end of college, my activity in the hobby was limited to reading the magazines. In those days, one of the real treats was admiring the photos of the Gorre & Daphetid Railroad as modeled by John Allen. As most of you probably know, his railroad was then, and still today, a scenic delight. 
      In 1970, I had the opportunity to attend a mini-meet of the Pacific Coast Region of the NMRA in Santa Barbara. Upon my arrival on Friday night, I ran into John in the hotel lobby. We spoke for a while and then, he invited me to join him on the layout tours. I spent the next few hours looking at the area's railroads. Later, he invited me to come up to his hotel room for a discussion of model railroad topics with Cliff Grandt and Charlie Trombley. I mainly listened.
John Allen as I knew him. 
     John was a very nice person and answered my questions and listened to my opinions as though I had years of experience in the hobby. I saw John once again a few months later at another model railroad event. He invited me to come to Monterey to see his railroad. I put off the trip and then, in 1973, John passed away and the railroad was destroyed shortly thereafter.
     Recently, I saw an offering for G&D decals on ebay. On impulse, I purchased a set and applied them to an old Model Die Casting kit. It's not prototypical but model railroading is supposed to be fun and I have a few unprototypical cars on the railroad which remind me of people or moments in my journey in this hobby.
     Every model railroader has a beginning. Fortunately, mine started out with some enthusiasm generated by one of the best modelers in the hobby. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Railroads, Models and the Quilts They Inspire

 As I have mentioned occasionally on this blog, my wife, Becky, is an ardent quilter. She enjoys her hobby as much as I do mine and is very good at what she does. Over the fifteen years we've been married, I have been the recipient of several quilts she has made. Of those, the best were two railroad-related ones. The latest one, pictured above, is almost finished, lacking only the actual quilting. Becky had discovered this panel and, since it fit my era, bought it for this project. The various blocks surrounding the center image were all made using other images of locomotives of my era. Surrounding the entire project is a set of railroad tracks.
     The second quilt was made on the occasion of our first Christmas in 2001. The images were taken from a website I had about my last railroad, the Moraga Springs Northern. As you can see, the quilting follows the subject of the photo, outlining, locomotives, structures, etc. 
     What do these things have to do with the Stockton & Copperopolis or model railroading? Perhaps nothing but it does have a lot to do with keeping my interest in our hobby alive knowing that I am supported in my endeavors.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Two New Additions

The "Gray house" in its temporary location at Farmington. It will eventually be moved to the residental area.

A few weeks ago, a favor was done for my friend, Doug Taylor. In return, he volunteered to build up an old Classic Miniatures kit I had not gotten to. The Gold Hill House, as the kit is named, is now sitting at Farmington awaiting its final location, adjacent scenicking, etc. Doug substituted styrene for the kit's cardboard siding otherwise it is pretty stock. As usual, Doug did a great job and now it's up to me to follow through. 
The disassembled Unimat on the workbench. I am still awaiting a part and drive belts so it can be put back together again.

On the workshop front, I bought a Unimat lathe through ebay with the thought that it might be better for some of the smaller parts that we tend to make in this hobby. The lathe had not been cleaned so it was disassembled, scrubbed and de-rusted. Now it's sitting on my workbench awaiting a part so I can reassemble it and get it working. The Unimat is a versatile machine but only for relatively lightweight projects. I have a 12-inch lather I can use for the bigger stuff. With the small machine, though, I can convert it to a drill press, mill or any number of other things if I find the right conversion kit. It's sort of a miniature Shopsmith. 
     There are slightly larger but more expensive lathes available from Sherline or Micromark but the Unimat has a special appeal for me as I had one in the 1970s. Back then, my interests tended more to the manufacture of antique car fittings so the Unimat was deemed surplus to needs and sold. I wish I hadn't done that but now I can try again.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A Look Back

The old Forbe's Crossing depot now doing service at Holden on a temporary basis. Maybe a little repair work on the roof would be in order.

     While rumaging around my railroad room the other day, I came across a depot I built back in the 1990s. It really wasn't lost as it was sitting at Holden as a place-holder for the real depot to be built sometime in the indefinite future. Originally, the depot served the community of Forbe's Crossing on my Moraga Springs Northern Railway when I lived in California. I built it from a Period Miniatures kit and then detailed the interior. On that MSN, the structure was right up front and it was easy for visitors to look at the interior. Now, it sits back about two feet away from the aisle waiting for a location.
Interior details are by SS Ltd. and others. I think it needs a couple of passengers, maybe an agent.

The depot in its old location of Forbe's Crossing on the Moraga Springs 

I took the time today to take another look at it and snapped these photos. It looks pretty much as I remember it from about 25 years ago. It needs a better home than it has now. The town of Ione on the narrow-gauge Stockton & Ione RR needs a depot. I think that it where it should go. I need to get that part of the railroad operating anyway.