Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gonou Gonou... gone

The deed is done.
As true as my word I've just finished dismantling Gonou.
Everything on the layout was saved. The petrol station, the lighthouse, the bridges, the entire lot.
The task only took about half an hour and in that time I managed to strip the layout all the way down to the cork noticeboard base. The layout has stripped down pretty cleanly so perhaps the base can be used on the sucessor layout.
Where to next?
Watch this space.

Friday, November 18, 2011


(posted from small model railways)
Here today in the USA its National take a model train to work day. The organisers bill it as a great chance to spread to word about this great hobby. A great idea. When you consider that computer gaming is all the rage. A down to earth low tech hands on presentation of the hobby seems like a great idea.
Until you get ridiculed at work.
Like me.
I though people were better than that. I could take it when I was a kid at school. You know kids don't care what they do or say. But in this world of mature responsible adults, especially here in the USA where political correctness and respect for all is preached from all angles of society. To be greeted with derisive laughter is kind of upsetting. Deflating to say the least. It definitely bothers me otherwise I wouldn't be posting this.
I was really on a good high with the hobby after the success last weekends Granite City Train show so this idiots reaction is doubly painful.
I might just take a break for a while...
Still it is only one idiot.
But still...
I don't know...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Granite City Train Show with video

Once again I return stoked and inspired, full of enthusiasm for T scale. The Granite City Train show seems to do that for me. The trains ran perfectly.
Incredibly so.
A few days before the show I had cleaned the track and coated the rails with the Energizer/Stabilizer pen available from TrainAidsA. If you have not bough one of these yet. Do so. Especially if you are running the regular battery pack. The improvement in performance is marked. On previous trips to the show I had been cleaning the track pretty much every hour to 90 minutes or so and went through up to four sets of trains, the wheels would get so dirty. However with the rails and wheels given a coating from the magic pen, I never cleaned the track. This is amazing for I even clean the rails on my HO scale and Gn15 layouts during shows in the past. My Z scale layout was alongside Gonou and I had to clean sections of that during the show more so as the day went on. The trains themselves ran so much better too. I only used two units during the show. My KiHa 47/48 and a CCE models RDC railcar on an unmodified KiHa chassis. Incredible.
So for those of you who've never seen Gonou in the flesh, so to speak enjoy these videos, shot on my iPhone at the show .

So what now for the future? Gonou has been seen three or four times locally so I think its time for a change. Something new. What will that be?
I don't know.
You'll just have to keep watching the blog. One thing is for sure it's not going away just yet.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


This weekend Gonou was tested. The track was cleaned and given a coating from the magic electroconductive pen and trains were run.
KiHa 40, 47/48 and Hankyu all ran fine. Which surprised me as the 47/48 and Hankyu were on their last legs at the Easter show with dirt on the track and wheels. The electro-magic pen must work.
So I'm looking forward to more amazed comments from show goers on November 12th. If you read this blog and come along say "Hi".

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"T" minus 35 and counting

Days to the Granite City Train show that is. I received a new railcar set from Train Aids A today. The KiHa 47/48 two car train. Very nice it is too. Basically it looks to be a two car version of the KiHa 40 single car unit that I already have. It's the kind of train that is perfect for the Gonou locale. Having spent some time working on my 1:1,000 scale Nano trains I can at last say that this stuff looks BIG!
The other item I received was the energizer/stabilizer pen. Sounds very high tec doesn't it. What it is is a dispenser containing some kind of electrically conductive fluid that you put on the rails and the wheels of your trains to improve performance. Those who have used it have spoken quite highly of it. Running trains in a dusty exhibition hall takes its toll on the running quality of the stock so any trick I can use to improve performance I'll take.
So clean the track spread on the magic fluid and I'm good to go.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wanna see the show?

The Granite City train show is coming up soon I think I'll get Gonou out again and show it off. People like it.
So if you're in Minnesota and want to go to a good train show you can't do any better than this one. See you there.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rumours of my demise...

... are greatly exaggerated as the quote goes.
I'm not dead, or like the Norwegian Blue* just resting. I'm still modelling, just not in T. Plus its summer and no self respecting person would shut himself in the basement and model unless the temperatures felt like 115 degrees. Which it did a couple of times.
I've passed through the T scale world every now and again and came across this posting from David K Smith on his blog. Very disappointing news if it turns out to be true. There is a lot of very exciting stuff out there. I guess things will remain available for a while. But new things? It doesn't look good. I was feeling quite depressed.
Then I saw this, another David K Smith tiny project. Moving cars in T? This is fantastic! This kind of fires me up again. I feel the need to build a small layout with a train and moving roadway on it. I've ordered a couple of kits of parts to see what I can do with it. I have plenty of road vehicles to try it out on.
What will happen?
We'll see...

*Dead Parrot sketch - Monty Python

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Adding to the display

I shall be adding a new layout to My T scale display in the near future you can read about it here where I explain a bit about the history and reasoning behind it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Grain elevator comes along some more

Bit of a progress update on the Grain Elevator Project. The model has been painted, though the weathering spray is a little bit over scale. The pipework adds some character to the model.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Some inspiration

Something a little special. Not Model Railroad related mind you. But inspirational nonetheless.
Whilst away in Red Wing this weekend I was browsing in a secondhand book shop and I spied this Chinese Cork picture on one of the shelves.
I was immediately captivated by it. It is no more than 3 1/2 inches wide but is incredibly detailed. Just look at the tiling and the latticework on the pagoda, the leaves on the trees.
It's amazing to think that this was all carved by hand out of cork.
What can I tell you about cork pictures?
Very little really. There is almost no information about the art on the internet. All I can tell you is that the elements in the scene. The trees, the cranes, and the pagoda shelter are all standard elements of the art. They eminate from the Fujian region of SE China and seemed to have started in the early 1900's and that's about it. So if anyone knows anymore I'm all ears.
What I do know is that I find it very inspiring to think someone did this by hand. Perhaps when I'm struggling with some T scale items I'll look at this and be spurred on.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Research Pictures

Safely returned from Red Wing. Here are some pictures of the Grain elevator. Though I found plenty of pictures on the internet that got me started on constructing the model. It was very useful to see the real thing. I discovered quite a bit that I couldn't see from the photographs, but I could also see that it didn't really matter if I missed them out or not. There are a lot more windows on the structure than I could see in the photos. As I plan on adding the windows as decals after I've finished painting I don't have to fret about cutting them out now.
This picture above clearly shows how much narrower my head tower needs to be compared to the prototype.
It clearly would be folly of the highest order to try and get all that detail in the cyclones shown here in T scale but there is no reason why I can't recreate them somehow with a selection of styrene rods and tubing and strip with a little bit of filler and some filing here and there.
There's several nice long down pipes there worth modelling and there is a part of me that wants to recreate those tall folding doors...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Site report

Courtesy of a weekend away. I am writing this entry from a hotel in Red Wing, MN not too far from the site of the subject of my current structure modelling project, the grain elevator. Having looked at it and photographed it I have quickly come to the decision that the head house tower is too fat. It needs to be thinner. Not by much, but it is obvious to me that the proportions are wrong. Other than that things look pretty good. Got to see some angles that I haven't seen from the photos I have purloined from the Internet. I have Monday off work so I'm looking forward to finishing the model off.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hop(per) to it

So, there I was, quietly contemplating a T scale model of Super Target in Rogers, MN when a totally unrelated discussion about graffiti on railroad cars reminded me about the well known, (well to Minnesota railfans anyway) Gondola car that plies its trade in unit trains between the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and the power stations of the Midwest. Lionel are even producing one in O scale. I shared this news with members of the outstate Minnesota Rail group on Yahoo and the upshot of this is that a good friend of mine Jim Ramnes suggested that I make one in T scale. Even going so far as to provide drawings of the Bethgon Coalporter.
I don't know about you, but I took that as a challenge. So, in a quiet moment this afternoon I sized up the drawing for a T scale model. It works out at 32mm long x 8.5mm high, quite doable, methinks.
The Whale paintjob however might be another issue...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Just popping down to Target

This post from David K Smith on his Z scale blog has always stuck in my memory. About using the internet for model railroading purposes. So last night whilst mulling over a new structure modelling project, once again this post jumped into my mind. So I opened up Google Earth and Bing Maps and "flew" around my locale looking for interesting large structures to model.
How about Superstores? They're big. Menards, SuperTarget, Wal*Mart, Home Depot, Lowes. All have a huge 150,000+ square feet of selling floorspace.
So I stopped my flight in Google Earth over the SuperTarget in Rogers, MN. A building I drive past at least 5 days a week and I measured it. It was some 500 feet long by about 350 feet deep.
Now in T scale we are used to buildings being small but do you know the size of this structure in T?
Thirteen inches by Ten. Not small. Not at all.
Then I thought about the height. No more than three quarters of an inch tall. A T scale model would look like a slice of bread!
I'm most definitely curious about recreating such a structure in T. I did think about a bit of selective compression of the subject. But that's not what T should be about.
This is a structure that would be about SIX feet long in HO. Compromise there. But not in T. It might mean a change in the design of my new US Outline T scale layout, but that's not set in stone yet. I'll keep you posted with thoughts.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Grain elevator comes along

I've spent a couple more hours here and there working in the elevator project and I think its starting to look like the real thing. It's all styrene sheet, strip and tubing. The head house tower stands 135mm tall thats about 200' scale feet to give an idea of the size.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

just for fun (part 2)

Did you guess what it was?
Given my location in the USA it was probably pretty easy to work out that it would be a large concrete grain elevator. This one in Red Wing, MN to be exact. The real thing is about 200' tall so should present a pretty impressive model even in T scale. I've made a start.
Here, just for fun is a picture to give you an idea of the size of the structure. In this picture you can see, from right to left: A kit of a US false front store made last year. Next to that is my rural wooden grain elevator from last year also. Then next to that is the progress on the Red Wing elevator. On the track in front is the ongoing RS-1 model if you can't see it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Everything in Moderation

Earlier this week I was approached by T scale pioneer David K Smith owner of and asked if I would consider becoming co-moderator of the Talking T gauge forum. As T scale grows in popularity and the forum membership grows he finds himself with less time time to watch over the forum. Not there is much to do. It is one of the most well behaved forums on the internet.
I was honoured to be asked. I'll see you over there.
Oh and behave yourself... :-)

Just for fun

Last night I embarked on a new T scale structure modelling project. I'm not going to tell you what it is yet.
All I will say is it is using three unopened packets of 12.7mm diameter evergreen styrene tube for starters.
In the words of the immortal Rolf Harris.
"Can you guess what it is yet?"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wither Japan?

The world of scratchbuilding in T scale has been on fire over the past few weeks. This weekend particularly so. Not only was there my Alco RS-1 project underway. But there was also (are you ready for this list?)
A Fairbanks Morse H24-66
A Stanier Jubilee class steam locomotive
Experiments with T scale British outline tank engines (yes, engines two of them...)
A Finnish class SR1 o/h electric locomotive
I did also make a start on my Geep Project but got carried away with the Alco.
In addition to this there is some very impressive 3-D modelling being done for a British Railways Class 42 Diesel hydraulic loco project.
You have to be impressed. I know I am. The enthusiasm and abilities of all T scalers never seems to amaze me. I'm proud to be associated with all of them.
But like the title of this post says. Wither Japan? What are they doing in T scale? All the projects outline above are taking place in the US, Canada and Europe.
What are Japanese T scalers doing? I and many other T scalers would love to know.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hankyu chassis mods

The key to the RS-1 (and indeed my up coming Geep) model is being able to place a shorter body on top of the boxy chassis. A couple of simple cuts make this possible. It is something that even the most hamfisted modeller could do.
The H9000 chassis has a pair of locating pins on one end that engage into a pair of holes on the car body. At the other end the electrical contact strip folds down to make contact with terminals on the LED's that illuminate with the direction of travel. It is simplicity itself to slice the locating pins off with a sharp modelling knife and cut the folded down pieces of contact strip off with a track cutting disc and then slice of a couple of plastic ribs behind them with yuor modelling knife. Doing this you can shorten a body by approaching 6mm or about 9 scale feet.
Above: Finished chassis with pins and contact strip cut off.

Alco RS-1

So, with my rediscovered enthusiasm brimming I set about on a construction project. Not the Geep I thought I might do. But an Alco RS-1. There are many pictures of the class in Don Hofsommers book on the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad and plans are easy to hand in the internet so I was well sorted with reference materials.
For the project I chose to covert a Hankyu 9000 power car. I had a "kitbashers set" that I had bought from Train Aids A quite a while ago. They sell units specifically for the crazy kitbashers in the T scale world who want to scratchbuild. Yes the loco will be a bit oversize and the bogies will be in the wrong place. But even in the early days of HO, N and Z there were models around that were not scale reproductions of the real thing. So as long as this looked like an RS-1 and folks recognised it as such then that was fine by me.
Above: The first task was to shorten the passenger car body. About 6mm was cut out of it to get closer to scale length. I also filed off some of the details on the bodywork along the way.
Above: Next came the addition of the cab. The sides were represented by some lengths of 4.5mm x 1.5mm evergreen strip and the distinctive roof profile was cut out of a section of 12.5 mm evergreen styrene tubing.
Above: The next task was to set about the body with some filler putty, filling in the cab and the roof to change that to a better profile. The final piece of work for the day was to add the walkway around the side and a little below floor detailing, representing fuel tanks, to hide the Eishindo chassis.
So far, so good. I'm pretty pleased with it. It has already been recognised as an RS-1 on Talking T Gauge so my aim has been achieved. The next task will be to give it a light coating of primer so I can see just how it really looks.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Just looking

I've just been taking a look at some of the pictures of Gonou with regards to seeing if I could "Americanise" it. That is, with the replacement of a few buildings make it look like something that viewers at the upcoming Granite City Train Show could relate to.
As I was looking at the pictures I began to realise that I've never actually looked at the layout. I've always studied it. That's different. I've been deciding where to place things, deciding what looks right. "Should more trees go in here" for example.
I've never looked at it like a person at a train show looks at it. I doubt I'll get that same sense of wonderment again that viewers get when they see the small trains for the first time (I do well remember what it was like for me the first time I opened the box though).
But just looking at it as a model. I can do that now. Probably because I haven't studied it for a long time. I can look at it with a fresh pair of eyes.
You know what? I think it isn't half bad.
You know what else? I don't want to Americanise it.
I guess that means I'll have to build a new layout...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Done it now.

I just mailed in my confirmation to take a layout to the Granite City Train Show and in the space that said "scale/gauge" I drew 2 lines.
A vertical line topped with a horizontal one. T.
I'm not saying I'm taking Gonou, though I more than likely will. It's just that the track plan gallery over at the T gauge website was a little bit inspirational and I've been messing around with track parts seeing what would fit on the 20" x 30" piece of 1/2" foamcore I happened to buy over the weekend.
Not content with that. In order to get myself back into the T scale frame of mind I was looking at my spare H type chassis and contemplating fitting a GP7 body over it. It would be a bit long of course and a tad over wide but just how much over wide would depend on the thickness of material I would use.
This is what I mean about the T scale frame of mind. Because the scale is so small (.677mm to 1 foot) the very thickness of the material you use can have a very pronounced effect on the scale accuracy of your model, .75mm styrene sheet has a prototype thickness of about 15" in T scale. So to a certain extent (for me anyway) scratchbuilding in T has to be about creating the right effect. So if my GP7 turns out to be three feet too wide and eight feet too long so be it. It will be worth it when someone recognises it for what it is.
Alas, I have nothing to show for my efforts this afternoon other than some good ideas and more importantly a belief that a GP7 is a goer.
I think it's safe to say I'm back.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Thats the T scale bug biting.
I thought I was done with T. I really did.
I couldn't see the road vehicles and my power pack gave up the ghost just before the Saint Cloud Christmas Train show. I was pretty convinced it was all going against me. I'd had a couple of good showings of my HO scale layout I was figuring it was a sign to stay with HO. I could see everything and the trains ran well.
Then the St. Cloud train show came and even though I took the HO layout and had great fun with it. People missed the T gauge. I was taken to task about it by several people. The local radio interviewer even asked me about it on air.
Now it also turns out that fellow T scalers miss me. It's all rather humbling. I certainly don't consider myself anything like as skilled as many of the other T scalers out there. Those guys who are using their skills to make locomotives and cars to pop onto Eishindo chassis even cutting up chassis in the process. People making laser cut building kits that are beautiful.
I am not worthy.
I'd better get working again to catch up. Things have really moved on even in the couple of months I've been absent. The building kit, the locomotive and freight cars, the new layouts.
A track plan library. This is as inspiring as anything out there. I just can't think in set-track terms when planning. This may well help me come up with a new layout idea.
I've got a lot to do. I really do.