Thursday, December 27, 2012

So what's next?

One of the first track plans I bumped into when I decided to start railroading again was Marty McGuirk's Carolina Central featured in the December '96 and January '97 Model Railroader as well as covered in his book N Scale Model Railroading: Getting Started in the Hobby. There is a second edition of the book available now that covered the Androscoggin Central, a similar but larger plan.

The Carolina Central has a bit of a cult following around the Internet, searching for Carolina Central N Scale returns tons of information. There are a number of forum threads including a very lengthy one, and even a series of YouTube videos on someone's version of it. It's been rehashed in recent years with a Kato Uni-Track version.

As appealing as Uni-Track is, that version of the plan is a bit condensed for my taste, and being I already have a boat load of non-Kato track I can't really justify spending a bunch of money on more. In addition to wanting a roundy rounder to run trains on, I'm also trying to keep the cost manageable. Health, family things, other interests, and (sorry) the unstable economy all factor in.

I really like the original plan, it offers continuous running, a clever place to hide a train, no hoaky tunnels, grades, or mountains. It has opportunity for good scenery, photo ops, and as much switching as I care to do. I don't care for the switchback, but can work with it, and it does maybe offer a good reason to have a small switch engine assigned to the town. It's also got places for a bunch of DPM buildings I have built over the past couple years, as well as a good place for the obligatory scrap yard (can't have a railroad without some scrap metal can you?).

Over the next few weeks I'll have to dig out the box of track and see what parts are in there, I'm thinking there are enough usable pieces that I won't have to buy much if any. Sorry no pictures this time, just the blob of text.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What's This All About?

A few years ago I dug my N scale trains out of the closet after having been in storage for, oh, about 20 years. My skills haven't improved much at all and that box full of stuff hasn't improved much either. Thankfully the quality and quantity of N scale things has improved greatly in that time.

Right away I joined a bunch of message boards and forums and made alot of friends(and a couple enemies I'm sure). It was great for a while but a guy can only read so many forum posts on which coupler mounting is correct, which brand of track is correct, how terrible some new product is, and how this diagram showing a maze of track is sure to operate "prototypically" because it includes a Timesaver that is going to be all kinds of fun. It all runs together after a while and every couple months it repeats like a broken record with all the usual suspects injecting all the usual comments.

To get me going a big box of track was donated by my uncle. A lot of really old Atlas track, some old Atlas switches, some really really old Lima and Model Power flex. He's an HO'er and didn't really have any use for this stuff. It supplemented my own collection of really old Bachmann track well. I cut it all up, tried a hundred different arrangements on all kinds of different benchwork types and took a lot of (bad) advice from other people. In the end I trashed it all, spent a bunch of money on Atlas code 55 track and threw together a switching shelf based on Bryon Henderson's San Jose Switching Layout. I investigated body mounted couplers, scale profile metal wheels, and fiddly etched detail parts. I would surely be able to wow everyone with my intricate switching maneuvers and super detailed trackwork. Heck, I was nearly convinced to rip up the Atlas track and start hand laying, joint bars and all!

San Jose Switching Layout Variation

I dreamed up a really sweet waybill operating scheme where I roll a dice, draw waybills from a deck, assemble the train, and head out for some serious switching operation. Oh what fun. Don't get me wrong, it's a cool plan. It operates well, and some day it will look real good. Trouble is it's not at all what I want. It deviates from my original goal to run trains. I'm a roundy rounder at heart and this thing just doesn't do that. I do want to finish it some day, or plug it in to a larger system (something that goes around and around), but for now it's been put on hold as I get back to basics and build what I want.