Saturday, July 30, 2016

Rawa Island

We spent two nights on Rawa Island, basking in the sun, exploring the island, and just plain hanging out with Wolfram's family.

"Ich will hier nicht mehr weg" - We really didn't want to leave 

The next round of guests arrives

There were peacocks everywhere
Sadly, on Sunday we really had to leave
On the drive through Malaysia back to Singapore we were greeted by showers

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Afternoon at Cloud Forest

This afternoon we spent a couple very enjoyable hours in the Cloud Forest conservatory at Gardens as the Bay. We survived the day on coffee and walking to avoid falling asleep.

Gardens by the bay. Super Trees on the right, Cloud Forest conservatory in the distance on the left.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Grocery Shopping

We landed in Singapore at 6:15am. Since we need to fight the jet lag like there is no tomorrow, we joined my brother on his weekly shopping trip to FairPrice. I was quite surprised how many well-known products are on store shelves.

"I'm ugly on the outside but sweet and crunchy on the inside" --- Those things are also known as pears.

German juice. Though I'm suspicious of this beetroot flavor.

We found Earthbound Farms salads in the cooler section 
As well as Driscoll's raspberries from Watsonville, CA

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Leaving the city

Our turn

And tonight it's my turn to hop on a plane. Tatjana is coming along, too.

It's impossible to take a photo of the plane at gate 101 in SFO, because a) it's dark, and b) the jetways block the view, so you'll get the escalators instead.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Welztalbahn Solo Ops on a hot summer evening

It's been a hot day, and I retired to the garage for a solo ops session with hot freight and a cold beverage.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Eurowest 2016

As in many previous years at the end of July, today I made the trek to San Carlos for Eurowest 2016 organized by the West Coast chapters of the European Train Enthusiasts (ETE). I keep going there primarily because this is the only opportunity to find used, or low-priced, european-themed model railroad equipment and supplies in a non-online setting. While there is EBay and several online stores, they don't compare to seeing the actual thing before buying, especially for used equipment.

The second-hand tables, as well as the very large table of AC Eurotrains in Sacramento, and chatting with various people kept me busy for a couple hours.

There were modular Maerklin layouts from the San Francisco and Southern California ETE chapters.

A very nicely done loading scene on the SoCal modular layout. 

Maerklin's model of a DB Gesellschaftswagen ("Entertainment car") was parked in a siding on the modular arrangement of the San Francisco chapter. The car has built-in, digitally controlled LEDs and speakers to simulate a dance floor with lights and music.

A nearby campsite -- probably railfans -- right next to the tracks.

Bauernhofszene on a SoCal module

I very much liked how this scene with lots of junk behind the roundhouse is coming together. I'm planning something similar (without crane or track) for the area behind the roundhouse in Emsingen.

Today's catch. A bit more than planned, a couple impulse buys, and I ended up not buying several items that were in the wrong era or locale for my layout. Pricing was very fair on most items.
I could not resist the catenary repair car set ("Turmtriebwagen"), even though the model is from the wrong era and locale. I just say the Turmtriebwagen hasn't been repainted to yellow yet.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Gbkl 238 (ex. Glr 22) - Maerklin 46163

Another addition to the freight car fleet on the Welztalbahn is Maerklin's new rendition of a Dresden Glr in Epoch IV as type Gbkl 238. Comparing the car to the drawings in Stefan Carstens' Gueterwagen book series ("Gedeckte Wagen, Band 1") shows that Maerklin did a pretty good job to capture the prototype. Not many of these cars survived into the 1970's, since their parts were used as basis for a rebuild program into type Glmms 61 and Gltmms 62 in the early 60's. Thus, this car will remain the only one of its kind on the Welztalbahn. This should be a fun weathering exercise at some point in the future, since by the time the layout is set in, the car should look fairly shabby ...

Since I have reached the maximum number of cars that this layout can reasonably handle, I will need to decide which other cars will be replaced by the new additions and taken out of service for now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


KL 606 is getting ready for boarding
 Franziska is going to Germany for the next few weeks. This year it's her turn to fly unaccompanied.

Guten Flug!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Wildlife on the Commute

Hey, what's that? ... A wild pig in broad day light.

Looks like a large boar. Hanging out at Hellyer and Silver Creek Roads.

Not quite as exciting as bears in Yellowstone, but still nice to see. I guess, the hills are getting dry ...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

SVL S4 ready for operations

For now I'm done with the S4 switchers for Silicon Valley Lines and will take them down to the club for inspection and approval to run on the club layout.
I used Pan Pastels to give the units a tad of weathering, but found that Testor's Dullcote reacts with the pastels and tones them down dramatically when applied at full strength. Light overspray results in visible blobs when looking closely. The rattle can also has a tendency to "spit", and I now have a fat blob of Dullcote on one of the engine hoods with does not make me happy at all. I had good results with Dullcote so far, but in the future I will use an airbrush to get a finer, more consistent spray.

The weathering on the greens and the trucks is much less visible than on the yellows. After re-reviewing prototype photos on, I noticed that the sides of these units tend to be cleaner than I had them, so I ended up toning everything down a bit.

Below are some more in-progress shots.

The front unit has its first round of weathering applied, the rear unit is still untouched.
Both units weathered. Time for Dullcote to mess it all up.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Best of Yellowstone Animals

We took a lot of animal photos during our Yellowstone trip. Here's a selection of the better ones. Yes, it is a good idea to bring a tripod, and when I go again, I will do that.

We encountered this Grizzly mom with her cub one morning along Dunraven Road, just before Dunraven Pass.

We saw bisons on the street every time we were on the road early in the day.

Nice shots of deers were rare.

The tricky part with photographing bison is -- just as with steam locomotives -- the contrast of the dark animal to its surroundings. The morning sun helped tremendously in this photo.

Just as with deers, we rarely got close enough to elks to get a really nice picture.

Whereas bison are everywhere, here at Sour Lake near Mud Vulcano. 

On one day Hayden Valley was full of bison. We counted at least 200 animals. The next day we saw only a couple here and there.

A group of Trumpeteer Swan could always be found on the Yellowstone River at Alum Creek.

Canada Geese, too.

Elk herd at dusk at Alum Creek.

Here's an example why binoculars and a tripod are really helpful when visiting Yellowstone. Most of the time the action is a little bit further away, like the Bald Eagle on the tree branches down by the river, and the Elk herd in the background.

We did see a wolf, but she was so far away that she's only a shaky speck in the photo ... tripod ... long lens ... helpful ... just sayin' ...