Wednesday, July 20, 2022

New Haven Heavyweights - New Models Coming

This is one of the projects that has been taking up much of my modeling time...

For those who didn't make it to the New England/Northeast Prototype Modelers Meet, Chris Zygmunt and I were substituting for John Greene of Bethlehem Car Works who couldn't be there. Part of the reason we're involved is that we are working on several new kits with John, that we hope to have in stock by the NHRHTA Reunion on September 10.

The first group of cars are the Deluxe Coaches, Smokers, and Combine.

These are based around the Branchline Pullman core, so assembling the kits will be very similar to building a Branchline (now Atlas) car. 

Yep, many of these heavyweights received McGinnis colors.
This is 8113, one of the Deluxe (or De Luxe) coaches.
Some of them ran into the mid-'60s.

Smoker 6824 was converted from one of the Deluxe Coaches and utilizes the same plan.

Smoker 6813 is one of a second class of Deluxe smokers.
This is a different plan, with only a men's lavatory and saloon.

In addition, there is a Deluxe Baggage and Smoker based on the same design.

These have never been available in HO scale at all, plastic or brass, to the best of my knowledge, and the available kits will cover the life of the cars.

This includes new trucks that will be an upgrade over the Labelle white metal castings (formerly Bethlehem Car Works, formerly Cape Line). In addition, we are producing the trucks after they were modified starting c1948 with the removal of the top equalizers and the addition of drop equalizers. These have also never been available in any form.

The trucks will be available separately.

We also hope to have another run of the excellent 15' Apartment Baggage & Mail cars at Essex to supplement these cars.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Where has the year gone?

Well, after a very consistent 2021, I've been very inconsistent posting in 2022.

Even the NE Proto Meet didn't kick off a flurry of modeling activity this year. It's not that I haven't been working on anything at all though, but I think it's time to take stock of where I am and what I need to work on this year.

First off, I've been able to put in a lot of hours at CNZR since last fall, which has severely cut into my normal modeling time. We're also nearly 23 years in this house (new when we moved in), so household projects have been taking up a lot of the time that has been left each week. This is all in addition to my usual "day job" activities that pay the bills. We usually only take one vacation each year, but for whatever reason we've already gone away once this year and have three more trips over the next several months. It has been an unusually busy year on non-modeling activities.

On the model railroad "business" side, rebuilding the website is still behind schedule, but fortunately Google extended the deadline another 6-months before the old site is shut down. I'm also involved in several model kit (passenger and freight car) projects that will start to be released over the next 6-months or so. In addition to the research and work related to the production of the kits themselves, I'm also working on getting clinics prepared related to them. 

I have also found that with so much going on, when I have had time to get down and work on things, I've lacked motivation or even the energy to do so. Things are progressing, just not at a record pace.

The point is, like most of us, model railroading fits within the spaces of the rest of our lives.

Starting the second half of the year, what are the goals? After watching Bill's layout growing so quickly, operating on Chris' layout and, in particular, visiting a number of new layouts this year, there are two obvious goals that I continue to avoid, despite my declarations in the past.

  1. Operating
    1. Test and glue down remaining track.
    2. Install feeders, including modifying the mainline wiring for signaling.
    3. Install switch machines for the mainline switches.
  2. Base Scenery
    1. Ballast
    2. Ground Cover
    3. Fences/Gates

Operating is key, because I really like getting together to run trains. I've been working on things like passenger cars, some locomotives, etc., because in the long run they are key elements that need to be completed for full operating sessions. But as I've noted before, for a 1953 session all I need are RDCs, two 44-tonners, and another switcher of some sort for Stanley Works. That could easily be the third 44-tonner, so that means getting those three locomotives finished. Not all of the passenger cars, etc.

While not all of the layouts I've seen were completed in terms of scenery, I definitely felt that those that were further along were far more inspiring than the current state of my layout. Even those layouts that aren't "complete" yet, like Bill's and Chris', they have a significant amount of scenery done.

Since most of the time I'm visiting a layout specifically to operate, my focus hasn't been on the scenery as much. I've appreciated the work they've done, but it wasn't as much of a priority for me. However, when visiting several layouts for open houses after the NE Proto Meet, my focus was entirely on the scenery and the layout presentation. 

For all practical purposes, the amount of scenery Bill and Chris have completed on each of their layouts is no more than the space my entire layout occupies. And those are completed scenes, with structures, etc. I should be able to complete at least the basics relatively quickly. I know I can, since I did it on Harvey's layout.

It's not to say I've done nothing this year.

In addition to the passenger cars that I've been working on, I have built several Campbell horizontal oil tanks (2 sizes), a Rix vertical oil tank (not pictured), and a pair of Walthers LP tanks that I shortened. The three tanks on the right will go elsewhere, but the LP tanks, pump houses, and single horizontal tank are mocked up where I think they will reside for Fafnir Bearing. 

The next few weeks look to be just as busy, but I can at least start prepping for some of the jobs that need to get done so I can work through them more quickly.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

In Memory of Craig Bisgeier

In April, I had posted a picture on Facebook of 79-lb rail made for the NY&NE railroad in 1895:

Craig posted that one day he'd like a chunk of rail to make an anvil. 

Easy enough.

I got a short piece of 131-lb rail from our yard. Of course, AJ (the owner of the CNZR) always has more information about anything railroad related. When I asked if I could take it, he glanced at it, then stood it on its end and asked if I knew the difference between 131 and 132-lb rail. Apparently the 131-lb rail had the tendency to crack or break where the web meets the head, so the 132-lb rail has a different radius fillet between them, adding 1-lb per yard in weight.

I always find this interesting, and I know Craig would too. I didn't tell him I had it, and it stayed in the back of my car until I could surprise him at the NE Proto Meet.

All day Friday I was hoping to see him so I could take him to the car to get the rail, and a few other things, and was looking forward to a day of trains, lunch, dinner, and drinks with him. But I never saw him. It wasn't until Saturday that our friend Jim informed me that Craig had some sort of accident at home, that caused a stroke. He had been in the hospital for a week or more on life support.

What little I knew wasn't promising, but then with my own family's extensive medical history, I was cautiously optimistic that he might pull through.

Unfortunately, I've learned Craig passed away yesterday. 

For now, the rail sits in front of my house as a reminder. I'm not sure if I'll do anything else with it, but it's there.

This story is typical of the relationship between Craig and me. We were always experimenting and learning new things. He had a passion for the process, and for tiny details and esoteric knowledge that I share, and not just on trains. We're both in IT and shared lots of other interests too. While we'd chat periodically, or communicate via email, most of our direct interaction was at train shows where we'd have plenty of time to discuss possibilities for producing new models for us and others.

I first found Craig via his website and sought him out soon after. He lived in NJ and I'm in CT, so it wasn't hard to find him at the NE Proto Meet. We operated Rutland Yard together on the final operating session at RPI. We were constantly discussing his perpetually incomplete software program "Here to There" for producing operations paperwork. Even if the program was never fully operational due to technical issues, delving into the prototype's operational processes and how to convert that into something the computer could emulate was a huge help for both of us in terms of understanding prototypical operations and how they all fit together.

Last February, out of the blue, I got the following message:

I've already related the story of this smokestack here, but I brought the model to the Proto Meet and it was to be the first time he would see the completed model in person.

Aside from the projects, models, and ideas, he was first and foremost a great of example of what I love most about this hobby - the people and the modeling community. 

I'll, no, we'll miss you Craig.