Links to Some of My YouTube Videos

Here are links to some of the garden railroad videos I have posted on YouTube:

Garden Railroad Magic

Building ther Water Features

 Building Trestles

Building Red Rock Canyon

Building the Railroad Shop




Posted in Bridges, Layout Plans, Ponds, Roadbed | 1 Comment

Super-Detailed Modeling

Some of you folks have told me that I build super-detailed models.  I appreciate the kind words, but – in all honesty – I have to let you know a little secret.  I only build models that make you think they are super-detailed.

Sure, I put a lot of details into a model that will catch your interest.  But, in the big scheme of things, what I really try to do is create an illusion of super-detail rather than to create the super-detail itself.  It would be nearly impossible to create a model that faithfully replicated every item in a prototype.  There aren’t enough detail parts available – or money to buy them – or time to make them.

I attempt to divide a larger scene into smaller view bites; and to concentrate on detailing those individual bites.  When you see the model, your eyes jump from bite to bite.  The details within each bite are like candy to your senses, saturating your ability to take it all in.  I hide little things within the bites to generate extra sensory excitement; I think of these hidden items as “Easter Eggs”, just waiting for you to discover them.

I try to play other tricks on your sensory perception as well.  I use lighting and sounds to either reinforce or disguise certain aspect of the model.  If I want you to concentrate on a certain bite, I will use colors, textures, repetition, or other queues to guide your eyes there – “look at me!”  If I want to hide some area with little or no detail, or where I have had to make modeling compromises, I will use sensory queues to distract you from looking there – “move along, there’s nothing to see here.” 

I use your own imagination to multiply the effects of the actual details.  If I show you a few strategically placed NBW castings, you will automatically assume they are everywhere – same thing with nail holes, or knot holes, or just about anything else.  I give you a stage with a few major actors and your own sense of reality populates the supporting cast for me. 

Bottom line … it’s all a mind game.  You only see what I want you to see, what you expect to see and what you think you see.  It’s all about your perception, expectation, and imagination; and my ability to influence them.

Sorry to disappoint those of you who thought modeling was an art;  turns out it’s just science after all.

Posted in Editorial, Reference | 1 Comment

55-Ton Three-Truck Shay Conversion

I have just posted a new article in the ARTICLES section explaining how I converted a Bachmann 55-Ton Three-Truck Shay for R/C battery operation.

Posted in Electrical, Figures, Locomotives, Sound, Weathering | Leave a comment

Airwire G3 / Phoenix P8 Battery Conversion Article

I have added a new article in the ARTICLES section detailing how I did a battery conversion on a Bachmann Rail Truck using AirWire G3 and Phoenix P8 decoders.

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Red Rock Canyon Article Has Been Updated

I have added a few more photos and some explanations to the Red Rock Canyon article in the ARTICLES section of this web site.  This article shows some of the earliest construction on the layout.

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Girls Can Do Roadbed Too!

This past summer when my Granddaughters were visiting from California, they helped extend the track above Red Rock Canyon by putting in some new roadbed.

Putting Down Roadbed

Here you can see Chloe carefully brushing the ballast material between the ties on a siding, while Tayler and Jocelyn sift the raw material.  The ballast material does not actually support the ties.  The ties are attached to PVC lattice stringers that run directly beneath the rails.  The PVC lattice is supported every two feet by a vertical PVC stanchion driven into the ground.  The ballast/fill material is for appearance only.  You can see the stringer and stanchion arrangement in the header photo at the top of the page.

Sifting the Fill Material

I use Pavestone brand crushed paver base for the basic roadbed fill.  It is the material recommended by the manufacturer for putting down a base layer under concrete pavers and landscape blocks.  It ranges from very fine grains to large chunks.  The girls are sifting the finer materials into the plastic container and dumping the large chunks on the ground.

Extending the Main Line

 Here Kamryn is placing material on the main line runing from above Red Rock Canyon up toward the Ophir Loop area.  You can see on the left where the fill has already been placed on the siding.  After they finished the ballasting, I went along and spiked the rail to the ties.  I think that by next summer, they should be ready to start spiking the rail themselves!

Posted in Roadbed, Track | 1 Comment

A Water Feature for the Layout

I decided to incorporate a water feature as an integral part of my garden railroad.  The water feature consists of four separate ponds linked together with streams and a waterfall. They are named for four of my grand-daughters. All four ponds and the streambeds utilize EPDM rubber pond liner.  Approximately 12 tons of various sized river rocks and landscape boulders were used during construction.  Here is a map showing the relative positions and sizes of the water feature components and a pond system schematic showing how the various components are plumbed together.

Water Feature Map

Pond System Schematic

The total water holding capacity of the system is approximately 4000 gallons. Lake Chloe, the largest of the ponds, is at the lowest level. It contains various water plants, both floating and rooted, and is home to a sizable goldfish and frog population.  Three pumps located in Lake Chloe circulate water to the three smaller ponds. Two of the pumps are located in skimmers which clear debris from the pond surface. A bottom drain about four feet below the surface also supplies water into the main skimmer. A valve in the main skimmer allows the adjustment between water drawn from the surface and the bottom.

A 3300 GPH pump is located in the main skimmer and runs continuously, 24/7, throughout the year. It pumps water through a 2” diameter pipe to a biological filter located at the upper end of Lake Tayler. Water from the filter runs through a 3″ diameter pipe into Lake Tayler.  This pond is fairly shallow (about a foot deep) and contains only plants (no fish). Water exits from the pond over Tayler Falls back into Lake Chloe.

A 3000 GPH pump is located in the second skimmer of Lake Chloe. It typically runs through the day and is shut-off at night. It pumps water through a 2” diameter pipe to a mechanical filter at the head of Lake Jocelyn. Water from the filter runs through two 1 1/2″ diameter pipes into Lake Jocelyn. This pond is about two feet deep and contains both plants and fish during the warm season. The fish are moved into Lake Chloe during the winter months. Water exits from the pond into the Jocelyn River. The river flows slowly at first, and then drops steeply through Jocelyn Rapids before cascading into Lake Chloe.

A 2700 GPH pump is located at a depth of eighteen inches in Lake Chloe. It typically runs through the day and is shut-off at night. It pumps water through a 1½” diameter pipe to a mechanical filter at the head of Lake Kamryn.   Water from the filter runs through two 1 1/2″ diameter pipes into Lake Kamryn. This pond is about two feet deep and contains both plants and fish during the warm season. The fish are moved into Lake Chloe during the winter months. Water exits from the pond into Kamryn Creek. The creek is fairly swift and picks up even more speed as it drops rapidly through the area known as “Crazy Kamryn’s Downfall” before entering Lake Chloe.

I will add an article titled “Building the Ponds and Streams” in the ARTICLES section of the web site to describe how I built the water feature including photographs showing the actual construction process.  The article will also show where the track crosses the water feature and list the plants that I used both in and around the water.

Posted in Bridges, Layout Plans, Plants, Ponds | 1 Comment

Like Kids in a Candy Store

I just returned from the semi-annual SLANG meet in St. Louis this past Saturday.  SLANG stands for “Saint Louis Area Narrow Gauge.”  This is a group of extremely talented narrow gauge modelers from Saint Louis and the surrounding area.  They hold their one-day meets in April and October.  Many different scales are represented and there are always plenty of models on display for “show-and-tell.”  The meets generally consist of clinics in the morning and layout tours in the afternoon.  This is really a great group of people and includes some of the finest model railroaders in the country.

I took a few boxes of my left-over small-scale stuff to give away at the meet.  It was mostly Sn3, but there was a bit of HOn3 and even one or two On3 items in the lot.  This consisted of a few structures, several partially built kits, some rolling stock, rail, ties, flex-track, turnouts, a lot of miscellaneous detail parts, scratch-building supplies, and scenery materials.  I didn’t think there would be much demand for the stuff – most of it was just left-over junk from the past fifty years of small scale modeling on half a dozen different layouts.  Boy was I wrong!

It reminded me of watching my kids open presents on Christmas mornings.  Or maybe more like watching a mob of ladies fighting over the items on the tables at Macy’s during a Black Friday sale.  One would think I had dumped a few boxes of hundred dollar bills onto the tables.

On the long drive up there I had plenty of time to think about all the stuff I had packed into the boxes.  It was kind of sad in a way, to be giving away things that held so many memories.   But I did feel good when I saw how eagerly the guys wanted the stuff.  In fact, on one of the layout tours that afternoon, I saw one of my “junk” box cars running on the layout.  It was the first time that car had been on the rails in twenty years and there it was – once again earning its keep in revenue service.  It made me feel good to know that boxcar will still be running long after I’m not here to see it.

I guess that’s something that all of us need to start thinking about sooner or later.  If you are anything like me, you probably have accumulated way more train stuff than you will ever use.  There’s two things we can do: either hoard it until we’re gone and let our heirs throw it away, or give it away now to someone who can appreciate it for what it is and put it to use.   I’m not talking about giving away everything – I’m only talking about the “junk” we no longer use.  Remember that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.  Think about it – it’s kind of rewarding to be able to go visit someone else’s layout and see something that you personally built being used as you originally intended. Besides – and here is the big plus – getting rid of stuff gives you room to accumulate even more stuff!

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New Article Posted on Trestles – RGS Style

I have posted a new item in the ARTICLES section titled “Trestles – RGS Style.”  This is a portion of the article of the same title that used to be on my old home page.  This was part of the handout for the trestle clinic I presented at the 2000 National Narrow Gauge convention in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Bridge 45-B Article Added

I have just uploaded a PDF copy of an article I wrote back in 2002 about building a 1:64 scale model of the 45-B trestle at Ophir, Colorado.  It is in the “ARTICLES” section of this web site.

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