Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Emsingen town arrangement -- first experiments

I cut a base board for the town of Emsingen the other day, and have been playing with house arrangements. I clearly need more houses, but this is starting to go somewhere now..

It's quite interesting how things appear more complete at eye level. Compare to this overview shot...

There will be a street leading up to the town roughly where the blue clamps are, as well as more houses in the back and to the left. The area near the stub track will get a loading dock, access road, and the Emsingen freight house.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

4 story houses in Emsingen ... or not.

I'm currently building more houses for the town of Emsingen. One of the kits I got for this a while ago is Faller's 130436 half-relief, background houses. I like the idea of half-relief houses since one doesn't need as much space as for the complete house, while still giving the impression of "there's more".

These two houses are the 4-story variant. The kit was an impulse buy, and I didn't really consider how high 4 stories is, nor the feel of Emsingen town. As time progressed and first houses were set on the layout, I took another look at that kit and mused that 4 stories is quite high. When I started building the kit I kind of spaced on this earlier insight. After the ground floor was built and I placed the house on the layout, it felt like a sky scraper, and completely out of place. Some kit-bashing was in order. Of course, by now I already had glued together the ground floor, so I couldn't go the easy route and do a nice straight cut along the bottom of the side-walls, instead I needed to cut at the roof line.

In the photo below I already shortened one of the two side-walls, and am test-fitting the facade, while the wall in the rear is still the original height.

Here's a view of the almost completed kit with other houses in Emsingen...

Yep, that works much better. Just imagine there were another floor in that house. It would be almost as high as the church steeple.

Our annual two weeks of fall

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gobble, gobble

Wild turkeys on my way to work...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thursday, November 08, 2012


New office location. Different breakfast options. Same sun.

More box cars

I was lacking a sufficient number of "real" box cars ("Gedeckte Gueterwagen") so Maerklin's new 2012 release of the 00776 display set came at the right time. Robert Frowenfeld from rjftrains had a good pre-order deal so I jumped on it in February. The shipment came in today.

These are Gbs 256 sheet piling wall box cars, not exactly one of the most common cars around on the prototype, but a good example for modern cars in the late 60's and early 70's.

The cars look really good as far as brown freight cars go. The molding is nice and crisp. Lettering sharp, legible, and as far as I can tell correct. Grab irons are present and iirc in the right places. Maerklin also molded the brake handles, though as usual didn't get the release valve handles correct (they are mirrored when they shouldn't be). I'm sure the rivet counters will be all up in arms about that. Some cars in the set are factory-weathered. The weathered look is nice, but I'll hold judgement until I see them on the layout.

I can now retire some of the really old box cars I'm running on the layout, but will need to revisit maximum train length. The new cars are quite a bit longer than the somewhat compressed cars from yesteryear. It might turn out that a 9 car train is now too long for the sidings and storage tracks.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Timesaver in N-scale

I've been toying with a timesaver module before using Bauspielbahn parts.

Last year I started to build an N-scale version. That project fizzled after a while, and the module was stored in the garage for most of last year. The baseboard is only 1 x 5 feet, so it wasn't much in the way, and, as can be seen on the photo, that leaves plenty of space for "scenery".

The module is fully wired up and operational. The Rapido couplers on my existing N-scale cars were not very good for switching, so I installed Microtrains trucks with knuckle couplers to match the little Diesel switcher. Replacing the trucks was reasonably easy on most cars.

This afternoon I sat down for a little while, cleaned tracks, hooked up power and indeed, the little thing actually works. It has some minor connectivity issues that should be easily fixable with some soldering and a couple extra power feeds.

Now, ... the point of the Timesaver is to act as a switching puzzle. I needed a way to define where cars are supposed to be spotted. I used Lego bricks on the Bauspielbahn-Timesaver a few years ago to give each car a color identity, and randomly placed matching Lego bricks at the loading spots.

For the N-scale version I wrote a script that shuffles assignments and delivers the result on a Web page in ASCII art. Not pretty, but functional and perfectly sufficient for the purpose.

Each car has a distinct color, which makes spot assignments very simple. Using the switcher locomotive the operator moves cars to their assigned spots. Then we start over.