Tuesday, September 29, 2015


When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to change your plans...

So, there I was last May, minding my own business, when I had a heart attack. No seriously.

It was mild, but bad enough to cause damage. I had two hospital stays; one in early May to assess the damage, one in late May to fix it (quadruple bypass). A few days before my surgery, we had to put our beloved dog Rosie to sleep.

Needless to say that nothing got done on the modules (or much of anything else) this summer other than me recuperating. We did add a new family member in July, Bennie the puppy. More on him in the future, perhaps.

Now that my meds are fairly normalized and since it's still warm enough to work outside, I'm getting back to the drawing board. Literally.

Below, my "refinements" to the two primary Naugatuck modules (north and south). Moved a couple of industries around and added a spot for a team track. It's a universal industry, easy to add minor infrastructure to the site and it's a sound addition to the plan. Worth the time I spent in Illustrator.

 The tail to the north end of the module (above) is a tail track to let me run-around an engine and car when the module set isn't part of a larger setup. It'll be removable, of course. I moved Sprague Meters to the spot previously held by Fox Theater Scenics (which goes on a later module) and used the remaining space for the team track.

Not any real changes to Naugatuck South. I'm happy with the design.

So, the plan is to hit Home Depot this week to get more 1/2" plywood for tops and sides and some 2" X 2" for legs.

If I can get Naugatuck North updated, and Naugatuck South built, I'll work on module number three: Naugatuck Center.
One more industry (moved from the Naugatuck Chemical Module), space for my growing collection of shops and a four foot extension to the siding, making it quite usable for larger setups. Moving Kuch Packaging here allows me to create a Naugatuck Chemicals module that's more prototypically correct.

So - on to the 4:26 and the hope that I can get to Home Depot tonight :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Few Good Photos

Thanks to Mike McNamara for taking these shots of my module at the NE Free-mo setup during the 2015 Amherst Model Railroad Society Show at the Big-E in West Springfield. The second photo is particularly amazing in that it hides the bald spot. :)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Plans, I've got plans

Now that I've had a couple of weeks to think about the Springfield show, I'm really pleased with how things turned out. Thanks to the help of a few people at the show, the module fit right into the setup and operated exactly the way it was supposed to.

I did, however, want to make sure that the track on the module was capable of being changed in case there were issues; so, I used track nails to attach it to the roadbed rather than using Liquid Nails to permanently attach it.

After further review, I think I do want to change the plan. I want to add a spur, in preparation for turning the western spur into a true passing siding with the addition of the second module. More on that in a moment.

So - here's the module as it existed for the Springfield show in 2015.

The spur used for Abel Porter and Sprague Meters will become part of the passing siding, we add a spur, the shops go away, we add a passenger station and Fox Theater Scenics (one of the industries named in honor of friends) juggle a couple of other businesses and we have Naugatuck North, version 2.

Immediately to the south, we will add Naugatuck South, giving us a complete, functioning switching layout when not part of a larger Free-mo setup.
Naugatuck South adds the Naugatuck Freight House (at least 3 car spots), a house track (or yard track) for storing off-spot cars, a larger space for United Rubber Footwear (Keds) and a dedicated space for Ide's Radio (another named-for-a-friend industry). The passing siding will serve as a run-around as needed. It's not really long enough for a full passing siding, but once again, Free-mo comes to the rescue. Introducing, Naugatuck Chemical!

The original Naugatuck Chemical was at the south end of the town. I've taken a little liberty planning this module so that when placed in-between Naugtuck North and Naugatuck South it can extend the passing siding as well as provide providing a space for another one of my named-for-a-friend industries.

So - a three-module set providing nearly two dozen car spots, a passing siding and plenty of opportunity for structure placement.

Am I forgetting anything? Absolutely. Stores? Houses? A place for Valley Aggregates and Peter Paul Mounds (an actual industry in Naugatuck, but not rail-served in real life)? So - at least two more modules beyond the three above to be planned and built. I'm envisioning that stores/houses exist on a curve and the two remaining industries could be on a fourth straight module. However, there's plenty to do before I start planning those.

My goals. Update Naugatuck North before the summer. During the summer, cut out the wood for and build/wire/scenic Naugatuck South. It would be great if I could get Naugatuck Chemical built as well, but I'm trying to be realistic.

Sounds like a plan!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Amherst Railway Society Show 2015

So much to talk about - an amazing weekend spent with a lot of amazing people.

My module was functionally completed on Thursday night (1/22/15), the night before the setup for the show. Track feeders soldered to the track and then tied into the track bus, legs built and tested, sides and top painted. Even put down a little grass in the space between the tracks for the future passing siding.

When I got to the show, they did some tests on every module to make sure that the electricals were up to snuff. My module needed a little work (a couple of wires had to be swapped) but otherwise, everything was fine. Trackwork? Check. DCC? Approved. Woot woot! My module was placed on the branch between a couple of curves and two excellent, larger module sets; Mike McNamara's Woodstown Junction and Dan Picciotto's Aliceanna Yard/Baltimore.

Setup was amazing, one module set (Bill Gibson's remarkably prototypical Cedar Hill) was used as the 'keystone'. Once it was in place, we starting building out in two directions -- to the Eugene loop and to the wye. From the wye, one team built the main line to the St. Cloud loop while another built the branch.

Here's how the track plan for my module ended up:

We ran opps both Saturday and Sunday; the modules on the branch (including mine) got a lot of switching.

Here's are a couple of photos of my module covered with structures:

And here are a few photos from the setup:

Looking from First Avenue to the wye during setup

The electronics underneath the approach to the St. Cloud loop

Looking down the branch during setup; Surburban Propane to the right,
Woodstown Junction to the left.

My New Haven passenger train outside of Boston, Mass. on Sunday

The 'caboose train', a traditional last train of the show, led by my 'dinky' New Haven S1. Thirty-three cabooses in this train representing railroads from all over the country. And yes, the S1 pulled the train without any problems.

The layout was huge - 62 module pieces; a mainline run of about 150 feet and a branchline of approximately 50 feet. We had participants from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Toronto, New Jersey, Maryland and Ohio.

Here's the layout plan (.pdf)

It was truly an amazing weekend. I learned a lot, made some great friends and didn't buy a lot. Can't wait to get back to work and complete this module (scenery) and build the second part. Thanks to everybody for all of their help and support!

Going around in circles?

Does Model Railroading make you feel like you're going around in circles?

Watch this!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Round Two

Kinda quiet here Wednesday and Thursday. Yesterday, I did fix one structure but didn't get anything done on the module itself the past three days.

However, nothing like a Saturday to give me the time and energy to complete a lot of tasks on my first 'real' Free-mo module.

Today saw:
  1. both sides attached
  2. hole for UP5 cut
  3. both ends cut and attached
  4. all three supports cut and attached
  5. RJ12 sockets attached to both ends
  6. 6p6c cables with plugs run to location of UP5
  7. barrier strips installed and wires run between them
So, for all intents and purposes, the module frame is constructed and a lot of the wiring support work is done.

Here are a few photos of the day's accomplishments.

 Front side being glued in place

End pieces and support pieces all in place - the module frame is complete!

 RJ12 socket in place

 Wiring in place

 A little fuzzy, but another shot of wiring

 Wiring going through the access hole

Tomorrow, the focus is on making changes to a set of legs so that they're Free-mo compliant. My goal is to have the module standing on its own tomorrow and maybe even have the roadbed glued down and drying.

Other tasks to complete before the show:
  • Build 4 Cinch Jones plugs for power and connect them to barrier strips
  • Build 2 accessory cables and connect them to barrier strips
  • Build 2 2' Loco-net cables
  • Buy primer, paint and wood filler, then fix, prime and paint the front and back sides
  • Install roadbed
  • Install Free-mo end pieces
  • Cut track and test it
  • Lay the track
  • Solder track to Free-mo end pieces
  • Wire track to the track bus
  • Test some trains
  • Scenic the module
  • Ballast the track
  • Fix a couple of more structures
The good news is that I still have about 10 days to complete all of my tasks and it looks like it could get done.

More to come!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Round One

Chronicling building my first Free-mo module in preparation for the Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show - January 24 & 25, 2015

I've started! For real!

Tonight's tasks were primarily organizational in nature, but I did get a few other things accomplished.
  1. Located nearly all of the supplies and tools I'll need to build the module.
  2. Started organizing DCC gear
  3. Started organizing rolling stock
  4. Set up sawhorses and placed the module top on it.
  5. Drew the center line and placed track in approximate locations
  6. Reviewed all of my structures and after several years in storage, several need repair
  7. Started placing structures on the module top to get an idea of what will work
  8. Glued one side to the module top
  9. Repaired one structure
Goals for tomorrow:
  1. Screw in first side
  2. Cut out hole for UP5 on second side
  3. Glue second side to top
  4. Cut out end pieces
  5. Fix one more structure
Center line drawn

 Initial track and structure placement

First side glued and clamped