Trolley Modeling in N Scale

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Merry Christmas ~ Thursday, December 24, 2009

And have a trolleyriffic 2010!

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A Building I Need to Model ~ Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The San Francisco Chronicle prints occasional articles about architecture in the City, and this one, about a 1909 department store building on Market Street, caught my eye.

The article probably won't be up on their site forever, so I'll copy it here.

Cityscape: This false front can hold its own

by John King

Architectural overstatement can be a virtue - at least when you're bidding for attention in the middle of a block, and you strike your pose with stylish force. The department store that built this is long gone, but there's still something wondrous about the monumentality of a single broad five-story bay framed by ceremonial Corinthian columns. Equally impressive: This masterpiece of self-promotion maintains its dignity on a tawdry stretch of Market Street that civic forces have let fester. Let's hope that soon, finally, there's action instead of talk.

1019 Market St.

Architect: George A. Applegarth | Style: Greek revival | Size: 6 stories | Date built: 1909

Here's a Bing Maps link, which lets you see the front and roof of the building (if you click bird's-eye-view and rotate), and here's a link to Google Maps street view.

This is a building that needs to be moddled--but keep pictures handy for any nitpickers who don't think there's a real one that looks like that!

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New Recruit ~ Monday, November 16, 2009

This is my friend Loic, from Z├╝rich,

trying out my trams. He's reportedly been asking about trains ever since.

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Intermodal Urban Traction ~ Monday, October 19, 2009

Here's an interesting prototype: The transit system of Stuttgart (a quite hilly city) includes a cog railway, the Degerloch Zahnradbahn, which has a special open-air bike-rack trailer car.

More information on this Stuttgart Transit site in German, and in English in this Cyclelicio.us Blog post where I found out about this.

Gold Medal Models makes some photo-etched N-Scale bicycles. Hmm!

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High-Speed, Narrow-Gauge, Low-Floor, Under Wire ~ Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This new train is the fastest narrow (meter) gauge train in the Swiss network.

It runs at 120km/h (=75MPH).

Original story in German, or in English via Google.

Like this one, a lot of Swiss regional trains look like slightly scaled up versions of what we consider Light Rail vehicles in the US.

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Best Father's Day Present Ever ~ Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's a Trolley X-ing Sign!

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New at Washington-Mason ~ Saturday, June 13, 2009

This is the latest creation of the craftsmen at the SF Muni's cable car shop, just delivered to the barn for its test run.

Thanks to gripman Val Lupiz for letting me post these pictures here.

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A Micro-Layout Staring me in the Face ~ Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Five days a week I wait for a train home on the northbound platform the CalTrain's Mountain View station, which gives me a good trolleyfanning view of the adjacent VTA light rail station.

This is the western terminous of the VTA's Tasman West line. During rush hour, light rail trains do an interesting dance--one train will arrive, another will depart (they have to be syncronized because the last few miles of the line are single-track). And sometimes trains pull in and out of a pocket track. The track arrangement is a double X-over, like this:

Or scroll around a satellite view via Google Maps:

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Anyway, it recently occurred to me that this whole terminal could be an interesting micro layout. For a little bit more interest you could build up the pocket track into a small servicing area (a minimal barn with room for one or two cars plus some work equipment--maybe squeezed into some into some random unused urban space, like Portland Streetcar's under a freeway) and let the rest of the system be "off layout staging".

I've posted a few pictures and movies of the VTA here over the years, mostly centered around Mountain View; you can find them all under the Contemporary tag.

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PCC Body Design Patent ~ Monday, June 08, 2009

It is US Patent 110,384 "Design for a Rail Car or Similar", invented by Dan H. Bell, assigned to the Transit Reseach Corporation.

I hadn't realized that the body design itself was patented (though I have heard that Brill was forced to pay royalties for their look-alike Brilliners).

Searches for Transit Research Corporation lead to other interesting patents. Enjoy!

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New P&SR Book ~ Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fresh from the presses of Arcadia Publishing:

Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railway, by John & Kristina Schmale

Check out the Google Book Preview.

This is the first full-size book about the Petaluma & Santa Rosa (not to knock the writeup it got by Stanley Borden many years ago, in a special issue of Western Railroader Magazine--which any P&SR fan should still nab a copy of if they can...)

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Tomytec Toyama Articulated Tram Available ~ Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Here's a flyer.

I'm putting in an order with HobbySearch--one to build as-is, plus a few extra body shells to kitbash a Zürich Cobra (some day!)

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Relaxation ~ Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today I...

- Was in so many meetings actual work seemed like a break

- Discovered my bike had a flat at quitting time

- Couldn't get on the train because the bike car was full (@#%$& bike-to-work day brings out all the newbies)

- Got lectured by a cop for crossing a street in the crosswalk against a flashing red-hand/don't walk sign

Seemed like a good night to try out my new Arnold/Duewag articulated tram (thanks, eBay.de). Yes, it can make it around the curves of the Tomix finetrack (103mm radius) track on my layout (whew):

Note "Cuddlecat Mountain" and the Salt and Pepper storage silos of the condiment factory in the background.

Going out with the kids for pizza helps after days like this too :)

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Quake and Rebuilding: An Archive of Streetcar Pictures ~ Friday, April 17, 2009

San Francisco's major transit provider at the time of the 1906 earthquake, the United Railroads (later reorganized as the Market Street Railway, later merged into the Muni), kept meticulous photographic records. Some of the have recently emerged from the City's archives, and show both the devastation caused by the earthquake and fire,

and hurried rebuilding:

Here's an online SFGate/Chronicle story with more pictures.

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Nathan's New Toy--A Rotary Converter? ~ Friday, April 03, 2009

This is a pretty cool toy; kids can spin it, it sings, and says a letter or animal that it ends up on (like a roulette wheel).

But it reminds me of a rotary converter:

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Worlds Largest Model Railway Video ~ Sunday, March 22, 2009

Here's a video of Miniatur-Wunerland in Hamburg, Germany.

Some of it's under wire. I actually thought some of the animated non-rail vehicles were pretty cool, too.

I can't believe a train layout actually has a bigger control room than we have at my (telecom/internet-oriented) work!

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And Another Link ~ Saturday, March 14, 2009

West Texas Joe is another blogger writing about trolley modeling, this time in N scale.

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Some Recommended Reading ~ Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm not going to have any model building to report for a while, but I've recently discovered Dan D. Spark's (HO) model trolley blog, and thought you folks might enjoy it too.

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Light Rail Work Equipment ~ Saturday, March 07, 2009

Like the trolley lines of earlier days, modern light rail systems have their share of work equipment. It generally isn't electrically powered, but can be funky and interesting nonetheless.

Baltimore's light rail gets points for both style and saving taxpayers money by using this classy vintage centercab diesel:

Here's a tamper machine on the (San Jose) VTA:

The crew seems to be deciding what to do next:

They also have a Hi-Rail truck:

Hi-Rail trucks are familiar sights on mainline railroads like CalTrain:

Commuter railroads also use full size trains for work equipment, like this ballast train on CalTrain:

SF Muni keeps vintage equipment in active duty in the non-revenue department, just as it does with its more visible streetcar equipment. This line car was inherited from predecessor Market, and has been rebuilt significantly over the years (especially for work in the subway), and is still giving good service as it approaches its 100th birthday.

New Orleans RTA keeps this even older (1899) single-trucker on the property as work car:

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Tramways Monthly--A New Online Magazine ~ Thursday, March 05, 2009

Visit (no domain name, apparently) to download current (#2) and back issues in PDF format, and/or subscribe to get future issues by email.

The coverage is international but seems to be UK-centered.

You could read this online, or since each issue is a PDF, if you have a color printer and don't mind blowing through a lot of color ink <cough>print it at work</cough> you could read it like a physical magazine.

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Trolley Shopping on eBay ~ Monday, February 23, 2009

I do a lot of that, but mostly the 1:160 variety. Here's one in 1:1.

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Tram Mug ~ Saturday, February 21, 2009

One of our other hobbies is pottery painting. Our local studio of choice is Laurel Street Arts, in San Carlos, CA.

Expanding my appreciation of streetcars to another medium, on our last visit, I made this wraparound Zürich tram mug. It's vaguely like a Cobra (but not nearly long enough).

Today I tested it in a suitably Swiss manner, with our fancy automated espresso machine (though this seems like the hip brand over there).

It works!

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Cortland & Folsom ~ Thursday, February 19, 2009

This is a 1937 B&W photo by noted old-school SF transit historian Charlie Smallwood, colorized by noted modern SF transit historian Emiliano Echeverria:

The location is Cortland and Folsom, where the Market St Ry ended it's Cortland St line just before the Cortland begins a steep descent down the back of Bernal Heights (the hill I used to live on).

I used to cross the street right here to get to school, unaware that there were ever stretcars here.

The same little house is still there:

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The neighborhood is physically unchanged, it's just gone a bit upscale since 1937 (or even the 70's when I was around)!

Cars did occasionally overshoot the end of line, and I hear from Emiliano that in 1945 one slid down the hill sideways!

Colorization is a venerable technique, btw--all the vintage "color" postcards from the streetcar era are colorized, rather than actually color pictures.

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San Pedro Red Cars ~ Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We made a family trip to southern California last weekend and went for a ride on the Port of L.A. Waterfront Red Car in San Pedro, a re-electrified piece of authentic PE trackage, which uses a restored (sort of full-scale kitbashed) PE "ten" and two replica "fives" (these are the ones usually running).

The cars are really wonderful.

The world's most beautiful trolley?

This was Nathan's first trolley ride!

The cars are painted a really dignified dark red--much darker than I'd imagined for PE, based on color pictures I've seen. The crew assured me the shade was authentic, but that the paint tended to fade into a red over time in the sunlight; and in fact, since the cars are never turned on the waterfront line, one side (west?) that gets more sun was already looking lighter than the other.

Then, too, maybe the PE was painting its equipment a more conventional red by the time railfans were taking color pictures of last runs in the 50's.

At the north end of the line there is a cool fountain that shoots jets of water to music, designed (again according to our conductor) by the same people that did the fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

We first approached it while it was between runs... and got more than a little wet when it started its next show! You aren't allowed on the trolley soaking wet, so we had some time to kill. It was a surprisingly warm day for January (still winter, even in LA!) so getting dry was no problem. A stand nearby sold snowcones and roasted corn. The corn was pretty good, actually.

We got off at the Downtown/6th St. station for lunch. At our conductor's recommendation, we went to Green Onion, a reasonably kid-friendly Mexican restaurant up 6th St (he also said that Acapulco was good, but would probably be crowded--we saw it, more directly on the waterfront, and it looked kinda trendy; still, if you want a view of the harbor, it'd be nice).

I'll close this out with one more quick video (if you watch it, YouTube will suggest lots of other Red Car videos, too).

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Zürich Tram Drawings ~ Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The VBZ also has a page of scale drawings of their trams (and busses).

The files are in PDF format and look like they would resize nicely (i.e., they are actual line drawings rather than scans/bitmaps), so it would be possible to print out copies scaled perfectly for building a model in whatever scale you like.

I wish more transit operators were so considerate of the needs of modelers.

Many thanks to Andrew Moglestue, author of the Trams of Zürich website, for directing me to this.

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Sondertrams (Special Trams) and Bears! ~ Friday, January 16, 2009

Zürich's VBZ (city transit) web site has a gallery of specially decorated trams, like this Zoo tram:

I wonder what the story is behind this tram full of bears...

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Modelling Time is Limited ~ Monday, January 05, 2009

But I'm recruiting a new junior motorman!

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