Trolley Modeling in N Scale

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Recycling a Balloon Clip as a Clamp ~ Sunday, November 16, 2014

If you're throwing a birthday party for your kid with helium balloons, be sure to nab the plastic clips afterwards for your toolbox, because they make pretty good clamps to hold models while the glue is drying.

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Trolley/Bike Bell ~ Monday, November 10, 2014

I put this new bell on my bike last night. It looks cool, sounds nice, and it's *effective*.  My previous bell never got anyone's attention. This one definitely does. Everyone looks when I ring it, and it keeps resonating so obnoxiously loudly that after a few seconds I put my thumb on it to dampen it.

Also, the strap that holds it on is brass instead of plastic, so it's a lot less likely  to fall onto the road than the last one.

Two bells means "go"!

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Riding Muni 578 ~ Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Last weekend the SF Muni and Market Street Railway had a Heritage Weekend in which many seldom-seen pieces of equipment were brought out. I was particularly excited to get a ride on car 578, an 1895-built California-type-car (that is, open on each end and enclosed in the middle) "dinky" (single trucker). It looks like a cable car except for having a trolley pole, and being quite a bit shorter than any currently running cable car, though there were dinky cable cars back in the day as well. (The Muni was founded in 1912, but inherited this car when it bought out the Market St Ry).

I've seen this car before, but we've never gotten to ride it. We rode the first block standing on the footboard, until we were told we couldn't do that. On the face of this seemed kind of silly since they let you do that on the cables, but it's not totally unreasonable considering that it goes at least twice as fast, and that since it's a single-trucker, you get tossed around a bit more when it goes around curves. Of course, back in the day, they trusted kids to hold on, as this picture of a sister car in 1927 (from the White Front Cars book about the MSRy) shows:

This car is the almost-sole survivor of hundreds of cars built to roughly the same design that once went up and down the streets of dozens of California cities big and small (often, starting out in the big cities and finding second careers in small ones). In fact, I'd say probably more lines ran cars like this than didn't. There are some nice pictures on my trolley postcard site, especially for Eureka, CA; here's one of the best in higher resolution:

The 578 survived as a work car, hauling sand, and looked like this in that service (again from the White Front Cars book):

I said the 578 was almost the sole survivor of its type because there is one other nicely-restored example at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, Bakersfield and Kern car #4. I'll take the liberty of hotlinking one of their images:

There may be one or two other unrestored cars in the backlots here and at the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista.

There were also vintage trolleycoaches and diesel busses on display, including this GMC New Look/Fishbowl which looks like ones I rode to school.

Though I'm not sure I like seeing something made in 1969 considered "vintage"!

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Halloween Report ~

We almost felt like decorating for Halloween was superfluous, after this guy moved into our front yard:

But we ended up putting in the usual sorts of ghosts and jack-o-lanterns.

For the trick-or-treaters, we like to set up a game that the kids have to play to "win" their candy. This year's game was "throw the pumpkin into the ghost". Here's Nate helping to make the ghost, and learning some valuable skills:

Test throw! The throwable pumpkins were actually dog squeeze-toys, from a clearance bin at PetSmart.

Kids also had a choice of throwing them into a jack-o-lantern picture with a cut-out mouth (pumpkin cannibalism?).

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Steam Shovel Book on Project Gutenberg ~ Friday, October 24, 2014

Most of what I find on Project Gutenberg ranges from classics to forgotten dime novels in fiction, to obsolete historical and scientific texts in non-.

Today I saw this new listing of a technical book on steam shovels, with a few cool illustrations.


Maybe there will be books on electric railways in the future--one can always make it happen, I suppose, by volunteering time to scan and/or proofread.

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Lunar Eclipse ~ Wednesday, October 08, 2014

I braced the camera on the top of my car to hold it still for a long exposure (flash doesn't work for taking pictures of the moon!), and got this picture of the lunar eclipse at 3:something this morning:

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Mega Double Rainbow ~ Thursday, September 18, 2014

I don't usually post about the weather but it hasn't rained here for a really really long time.

Pictures taken on the way to the 73 bus stop.

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SF Transit Ice-Cream Tour ~

A local tourism website published a list of the best ice-cream shops in San Francisco.

Here's a few highlights and transit-oriented directions. I've only been to a few of these myself. We will try to remedy that!

  • The Ice Cream Bar. Some flavors are alcoholic! 815 Cole St, in Cole Valley, right by the west portal of the Sunset Streetcar tunnel (N Judah). Close to Haight/Ashbury and the eastern end of Golden Gate park.
  • Mr. & Mrs Miscellaneous, in the formerly scruffy but increasingly upscale Dogpatch. 699 22nd Street; a block from the 22nd St CalTrain station, also by a T-Third Light rail stop.
  • It's not ice-cream, but a block away is Just For You Cafe, which I've heard has New-Orleans-style beignets!
  • Smitten. Apparently they make it on the spot with liquid nitrogen! 432 Octavia Street. This location is within a few blocks of Market Street and the Civic Center--you could reach it from the Van Ness Muni Metro Station, or with a slightly longer walk from the Civic Center BART/Muni station, or walk up from Market (F-Market, etc). Be aware that this is an area where various types of urban environments converge (it's much nicer since the freeway offramp that used to be on top of Octavia was torn down).
  • Bi-Rite Creamery. The article lists them under a location on Divisadero, but I've seen lines out the door at their location at 3692 18th Street, conveniently close to Dolores Park, the J-Church, and Market St.
  • Humphry Slocombe. They list a location at 2790A Harrison Street, a few blocks from the 24th/Mission BART station, but they also have a booth in the Ferry Building.
  • Mitchell's Ice Cream, featured several times in this blog, and the best ice-cream in the world!!!. The location at 29th St. and San Jose Ave. is close to Mission St. busses (14, etc) and the J-Church.

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I Note with Approval... ~ Wednesday, September 17, 2014

That the new elevated track structure at San Bruno has provisions for future catenary.

Also, the relocated SB CalTrain station is a < 20 min walk from the Tanforan mall, even at the pace of a 5 year old.

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Bus Token ~ Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nate has a Clipper Card but we found a bag of SamTrans youth tokens around the house, so today he's riding to school old-school.

Not to many transit systems still use tokens these days.

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