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Trolley Modeling in N Scale

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Backyard Fence ~ Tuesday, April 01, 2014

After a partial hiatus (some other work has gone on in the meantime that isn't ready to show yet) the green house+garage project is moving forward.

The two structures are planned to go together, mounted on adjacent lot-sized bases, with a back yard between them, on the lot containing the garage. It's a small yard right up against the sidewalk, and the occupants need some privacy, so I built a 6' board fence from styrene.

The individual boards were cut from evergreen strip with an NWSL Chopper, and glued onto horizontal beams. The bottom beam is right at ground level, which is not advised for real-life fences, since the wood will rot, but made the fence a lot easier to glue to the base. The fence boards were distressed with a steel weathering brush from Micro Mark (we'll see if that's actually visible after painting) and glued to the beams with intentional hairline gaps. The length of the fence didn't turn out to be an exact multiple of board-widths, so I split one in half... I can actually see an example of this on the fence around our house from the garage window by my workbench, so I'm pretty sure this is prototypical!

At the end closest to the house, the fence jogs inward because the back of the house (bathroom addition) is set back a bit. This has the extra advantage of anchoring the fence to the base in two dimensions. For the same reason, and also just because it's more interesting, I made the gate (at the garage end) open, and glued it down.

This is starting to make the bare model street look a bit more like a neighborhood--and it'd be a nice place to live, too, if it weren't for marauding dinosaurs!

Maybe it's a movie shoot.

Incidentally I am gluing all this together with the new-ish Testors liquid cement in the square-shaped (sort-of) container with the pointy dispenser, which I have not used before. It is somewhat thicker than the pure solvent that comes in jars, but much thinner than the "model airplane glue" stuff that you squeeze out of a tube. Seems to be working fairly well here.

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Railfan Photography by Nathan ~ Sunday, March 30, 2014

Nathan got a little "kid camera" for Christmas, and has been having fun with it, taking pictures of whatever strikes his fancy.

My messy garage, for example. Thanks, Nate!

And what modern kid doesn't take selfies?

He also likes finding the ß's in German books.

Today we took off for one of our adventures, and he brought his camera along.

We passed Facebook Headquarters.

And cross the Dumbarton bridge, which parallels the currently-unused Dumbarton railway bridge.

We went to the Fremont/Centerville Amtrak depot, and the railfan-photography began.

He told the semaphore to smile :)

About a mile east of the station we passed the Fremont Heisler that I've written about before.

A little farther along is the Fremont BART maintenance facility:

We arrived at Oakland/Jack London Square station, and took a few more picture of our train and others:

The snack car is a major advantage of Amtrak trains in Nate's opinion!

I'll close with a few artsy shots.

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Łódź! ~ Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tomasz Adamkiewiczs, of Łódź, Poland (the 3rd largest city in the country, which incidentally, is pronounced "wootch") is living his childhood dream of owning his own tram. He found it in dilapidated state in a community garden, spent 12 years restoring it to operating condition, and christened it "Marilyn Monroe". The city transit agency certified it for operation, and after training, certified Tomasz as a motorman (although he does not have a drivers license). He now gives guided tours of the city, and has several more restoration projects in the works.

I haven't found this story in any English media (making this an "NKNCat scoop"!), but here's a link to a German story with video. Direct link to video is here (in larger format).

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"Entartete" Straßenbahn ~ Tuesday, November 12, 2013

There is a story in the news about a huge cache of modern art found in an apartment in Munich. The collection comes from a show of modern "degenerate" art put on by the Nazi regime in 1937, with pieces confiscated from museums and from Jewish and/or left-wing collectors, intended to shock the public and make them associate aesthetic and intellectual freedom with mental illness (modern art was shown side-by-side with pictures drawn by inmates of asylums).

Ironically, official disapproval of the works did not prevent some of the organizers from appreciating them (at least their value), and the recently discovered cache (worth probably in the billions) ended up in the possession of the son of one of them.

The authorities have begun releasing pictures of some of the pictures, and they are shockingly unshocking for the most part (and I'm saying this as someone who has, in fact, seen a few pieces of art that I questioned the merits of--a wedding dress made of used and apparently unwashed underwear we saw at SFMoma comes to mind). Plenty just seem like nicely done pictures, such as the example below which I came across browsing through the collection online, which will readily explain my posting about such a heavy subject in an otherwise fairly frivolous blog!


Bernhard Kretschmar: „Straßenbahn“, undatiertes Aquarell

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Pancakes ~ Saturday, September 14, 2013

Nate fell asleep last night talking about cooking his own pancakes. So this morning we pulled a chair up to the stove...

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Backlots of Sunnyvale ~ Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A year or so ago (a bit more like a year and a half) my office moved from downtown Moutain View, CA, to the depths of "officeparkland" in Sunnyvale, Ca. I can still get to work via CalTrain about half of the time, and get the last part of the trip from the station to the office via VTA Light Rail, or by bike.

On one of my bike routes, I go past what appear to be a couple of old cars from a train ride in some amusement park.

The hardware is pretty much like what you'd find in authentic railroad equipment.

I have no idea where these cars came from. I had a theory the might have come from Frontier Village, a long-vanished local amusement park, but they don't seem to match any of trains in pictures.

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E Line ~ Monday, September 09, 2013

This last Saturday Nate and I took the train up to the City, taking advantage of the relatively recent weekend express trains (just 30 mins from Redwood City to downtown); and no cheating (aka driving part way) this time, we walked and scootered to the station.

The waterfront was kind of crazy with both the America's Cup and a Giants game going on simultaneously. On the plus side, this meant that the Muni was running a demo of the planned future E Line (here is the Market Street Railway's writeup), which meant that double-ended historic cars were running all the way along the Embarcadero down to the CalTrain station. We rode an old favorite, a red-and-cream Philadelphia Red Arrow liveried car.

A few detail shots, inside and out.

Our destination was Nate's new favorite destination for outings, bowling.

On the way back, we rode a classic Muni-painted green and cream PCC.

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OH-to-DC-via-WV ~ Sunday, September 08, 2013

Next our trip turned east again, back across Ohio. We stopped in the Ohio Amish country--we had a good lunch, and are still working through all the jam and apple butter we bought.

We crossed the Ohio River at Parkersburg, WV, which has an interesting criss-crossing network of railroad tracks on several levels of bridges, the kind of dense and interesting 3D network you more expect to see on a train layout than in real life! One of the former lines leaving town is now a rail-trail, with signals still in place and actually lit.

After a long and scenic trip through the mountains, we reached Cass Scenic Railroad, which is long ways from everywhere but worth the trip! We rode a shay-powered train up the mountain.

Nearby is the Green Bank Radio Observatory, which is also worth seeing. To prevent interference, this whole area is in a national radio quiet zone, meaning there is no cell-phone service anywhere near Cass.

Back when we'd first crossed into WV, we stopped at a visitor center, and picked up a flyer for a bed-and-breakfast consisting of several civil-war-era log cabins. In California, B&B generally means (a) expensive and (b) don't even think about bringing kids, but we called up the Jerico Cabins and found that neither of these were the case. Here is the accommodations we had that night:

Breakfast wad good, too. Our fellow-guests were a couple on motorcycle trip through WV, with the intent of visiting every county in the state.

Anyway, the cabins are about 20 mins from Cass, and I would certainly recommend them to fellow railfans as place to stay in the area (just be sure to arrive in daylight or you might never find them).

We pushed on to DC, where we saw family, and visited some of the usual things you go to see in the nation's capital. We also visited the National Capital Trolley Museum, where we rode a Toronto PCC through the woods.

Washington actually has a new streetcar system in the works. We saw tracks being built. The city seems to have finally allowed an exemption to its hundred-year-old ban on overhead wires--no conduit in those tracks.

We worked in one last railroad-related stop on our a trip, a visit to the Bowie, MD, Railroad Museum, which has a restored depot, interlocking tower, and caboose. It's also right next to the Northeast Corridor, so the platform of the caboose is a nice place to watch for Acelas!

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