Tracks, Issue #003 -- Model Railroading Newsletter
December 1, 2019
Articles in This Issue:
WELCOME to the December issue of our new newsletter called Tracks - a monthly newsletter published by Building Your Model Railroad, devoted to providing breaking news and tips to model railroaders of all ages and all scales in a quick and easy-to-read format. Resources are always credited where appropriate.
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One of the most fun things to do for your model railroad room is to set up different lighting effects. This is sure to get some "Ooh's" and "Ahh's" out of your visitors. And it's very easy to do.
I purchased a pair of LED multicolor indoor/outdoor floodlights and installed them high in the corners of the train room near the entrance. That way when you walk in the room the lights are not staring at you but rather are shedding light on the railroad. The color can be easily changed by a remote control device. So if you want a dusk ambiance, you can select blue or red-orange to indicate a sunset, brighter yellow to indicate sunrise, or whatever color or level of brightness you want. It's really cool to be able to turn the overhead lights off and to turn on the blue floodlight and watch the lights of your locomotives and passenger cars as they travel around the layout and to actually see the lighted buildings, signals, search light, street lamps, billboards, etc. that you can't really see when the overhead lighting is on. Since they are weatherproof, you can leave one in the train room and put the other one outside during the Holidays to shine a red or green color on the house. You can also set it so that the lights flash or change from one color to the next slowly.
Also, since I use Echo devices and have one in the train room, I can tell Alexa to turn on or off the switches to the Floodlights. [You first have to connect a WeMo (or other similar) Smart Plug between the power cord and the wall outlet.]
But that's fun also - to be able to magically turn on or off power switches in your train room just by using your voice!
Setting up a motion-controlled battery-operated, rechargeable minicam is a great way to create video tours of your model train layout. I've used this little device in a number of ways. You can velcro it to a flatbed rail car and push it around the layout with your locomotive. Facing the camera forward gives you the engineer's perspective. However, if you turn the minicam about 45 degrees to the right or left, you get the passenger's viewpoint. You can also pull it behind the train on the back to get the rear view.
I had to force myself to slow down the train when I was taking videos. If it goes too fast, you don't really get to see the scenery and other trains as well.
The other thing you can do is just place this little camera on your layout in a stationary position and record trains going by. You can change the placement anytime you want, or you could just have several of them placed in strategic positions on your layout. Afterwards, take the mini SD card out (that's required for the device to record). Then insert the card into your computer and, using your video editing program, you can cut and splice the video on your computer to get rid of the scenes where there is no action.
Christmas and Trains go together like apple pie and ice cream. One without the other is just not as much fun.
Setting up a model train around the Christmas tree during November and December every year is a very common tradition and adds to the whole family's enjoyment of the Holidays. √Lionel trains, or the so-called "√toy trains" in O scale are the most commonly used Christmas trains - and especially the Polar Express in recent times, although the Hogwarts train has attracted a lot of attention as well. They are big and impressive and are just the right size for the average Christmas tree in most everyone's living room this time of year. A friend of mine has five sets of Lionel oval tracks around his family tree, one inside the other, each one with a different Christmas train running on it. The kids love it and the adults love it even more (even if they don't say it!)
If you have a model train layout, don't forget to decorate it for the Holidays. There are all kinds of things that can be added to a train layout temporarily and then removed or hidden later until the next Holiday Season rolls around. You can use green and red √pipe cleaners, for example, to make small wreaths for the front of your locomotives or the doors of some of your model buildings. Add a short string of √fairy lights to some of your evergreen trees. Buy a couple of √model Christmas Trees in your scale and add lights. Get a few √people figures depicting the Holidays - like Santa, elves, reindeer, ice skaters. You could also buy some √miniature Christmas houses to put on your layout temporarily.
You could even create a small temporary Holiday layout in HO or N scale on a shelf or a bar in your home with a Trolley running back and forth as I did here...
So while the rest of the family is decorating the tree, you could be adding to the decor with √Christmas trains.
And, of course, if you do have a model train layout in your home, make sure your trains are operating well, because the family will surely want to see them when they come to visit! Visit the Troubleshooting Page.
One more thing - Don't forget to take the family to see the local Holiday train displays in your area. Very Important!!
I recently had a great opportunity to visit the Lehigh Valley Model Railroad, Wyoming Division and received a personal tour from Chuck Davis, the designer and builder of this wonderful display of model railroading and operating expertise. The LVRR is based on the prototype in Northeastern Pennsylvania where Chuck grew up just three blocks from the railroad and the Wilkes-Barre coal mine that it served. His memories of that time greatly influenced the development of this railroad since many of the scenes are depicted exactly as he remembers them. I am truly grateful to him for the tour and for allowing me to write about it.
Northern Hills Railway Society by Jack Anfinson
KCS&P Fast Freight Railway by Ted Dimone
Vol 1: Howard Zane's Piermont Division - from Nace's Videography LLC
Lots of model railroad displays will be available to see during the Holidays. Don't miss the ones in your area! Or, If you're traveling, make sure you include a train show or museum in your itinerary. The best way to find them is to enter an Internet search in your favorite search engine for "Train Shows" or "Train shows near _____".
Or go directly to the Trainshow.com website
This is sure to be great fun for the entire family!
Hope you enjoyed this issue of Tracks. Feel free to pass it on to your friends, family and other model railroaders. If you have a great tip or article that you would like to publish on the website, please let me know - The more, the better. Any comments or suggestions are always welcome. You can either go to the Comments/Contact Page and enter your suggestions there or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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