Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Kato? ... Dare I cross to the dark side?

I think we can agree my posts have been left a little thin on the ground... for a while at least.  This is because life got in the way.  Loss of a job.  Employment under a real sociopath.  Loss of a sibling.  And starting up my own business and focusing on that.  Occasionally I have pulled out my rolling stock and set up some temporary track work on the dining table and before long it has to go away again.  I'm sure we've all been there.  Even the wonderful Jerry of Quinntopia fame is on hiatus (sadly for all of us fans).

I have for some reason started to develop a quiet admiration of the Kato system.  Now let me say first of all I was never attracted to it off the bat.  I was laying track and traditional ballast when I was still a teen (okay that's at least 21 years ago now).  Like many people my initial reaction would be "Eww! ... You cannot be serious?!?!"  But, I have observed many people have taken to it, and the Quinntopia layout was a wonderful example.  But, there are people still who take great pride in weathering and ballasting Kato track in to a life like form.  This raises the counter productive question of then why they bother?

I'm torn in not wanting a fake look that I could have surpassed 20 years ago myself with my amateur skills, opposed to utilising a quality track work that would not be inhibited by my lack of skill (and time) in other areas.  There are other areas I need to completely learn on, such as wiring and basic signalling.

I am looking to build an 8ft by 4ft (give or take) layout, that can be perhaps built on 2 or 3 sections for easy dismantling.  I have fallen for this design from the Kato track plans online.

Richfield & Fond du Lac Railroad

This layout offers everything I desire:
  • Ability to run several decent length consists
  • The ability to modify the bottom to incorporate a decent multi platform station able to properly take five to six passenger cars
  • Ability to move some of the scenic loop track north to expand on the stabling / fiddle yard
My focus is passenger trains with some odd freight focus.  I have always wanted a reasonable run through station and not a line ending terminus.  This is because this is representational of my life growing up around the trains where I live in my environment.  We have a mix of suburban commuter sets and regional inter-city trains passing by.  I enjoy nothing more than the sight of a train arriving, departing, or, speeding through a station on an express pass by.

If anyone can still see this I would love to hear your (experienced) feedback on Kato Unitrack.  The good, the bad and the ugly.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fleet Profile - German DB Class 111 Bo Bo Locomotive (Minitrix)

Currently this little gem produced by Minitrix is the pride of my fleet in all operating measures, including:

  • Speed
  • Reliability
  • Stability
  • Low speed running
  • Noise level

In short this has been one of the best (out of the box) locomotives I have ever bought.

The locomotives in real life have been a signature feature of the German railways dating back to the fifties when the Class 110 was designed.  The class 111 was designed in the 1970's.  High speed electric locotomotives being in high demand in Germany (and indeed greater Europe) they were the locomotive of their day.  227 locomotives were built between 1974 and 1984.  At the time of writing it is believe most of these locotmotives remain in active service.

For more information on these wonderful locomotives please refer to Wikipedia.

Class 111 - Built 1974 - 1984 reamaining in service

Class 110 (aka E 10) - Built 1956 - 1969 retirement commencing 2000

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fleet Profile - Graham Farish, Royal Scot Class, 46159 The Royal Air Force (Pride & Propulsion)

Locomotive 41659 "The Royal Air Foce" in British Railways dark green with 'late crest' lviery of the 'Royal Scot' class of locomotive is the newest addition to my fleet and currently taking centre stage on many runs.

Disigned in the mid to late 1920's by Sir Henry Fowler, 70 of the Royal Scot class (4-6-0) locomotives were built between 1927 and 1930 and named after regiments of the British armed forces.  The Farish (Graham Farish)  model is produced in the locomotive's final incarnation before the withdrawal from revenue service finally in the mid sixties.

Two locomotives are known to survive in (tourist) operating service today, these being:

  • Locomotive 46100.  Class: Royal Scot.  Name Plate: Royal Scot
  • Locomotive 46115.  Class: Royal Scot.  Name Plate: Scots Guardsman

Thus far the loco has proven a wonderful little unit, running extremely smooth and having little in the way of problems what so ever.  The images above simply display some table top running in which it handles tight curves and point switching with aplomb (the front lead wheels never routinely go astray).  It is not the most powerful of locomotives, but given all I am asking is for it to haul a half dozen Farish-made British Pullman cars (which are extremely light weight and free-wheeling) it is proving itself capable and then some.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fleet Profile - Minitrix Orient Express (Heavyweight Series)

Growing up as a kid of humble origins and as an avid lover of railways I soon developed a taste for the great railways of Britain and Europe where the romance of railway travel, in my humble opinion, reached it's zenith with the Orient Express (thanks to it's visionary mastermind Georges Nagelmackers who founded the famous Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits in the late 1800's).  And therein lies the rub, when we think of the Orient Express we must remember to separate the physical train from the journey.  While the journey may be the Orient Express, the actual hardware (the rolling stock) is the product of Nagelmackers and his "Wagons-Lits" company.

Wagons-Lits, apart from fielding rolling stock for the Orient Express, fielded rolling stock for trains all across Europe, including:

  1. Orient Express - Paris to Istanbul/Constantinople (also linking to the port of Calais and the British Pullman service to London as time went on).
  2. Nord (Northern) Express - Paris to St Petersburg
  3. Sud (Southern) Express - Paris to Lisborn in Portugal (by connecting with the Nord Express in Paris, connected St Petersburg to Lisborn)
  4. Train Bleu - Calais/Paris to Nice in the south of France (taking holiday makers to the French coast)
  5. Night Ferry - London to Paris (via a ferry transporting the coaches from Dover to Dunkirk at the narrowest point of the English Channel).  Note the modern Venice Simplon Orient Express transports passengers by ferry to Calais from Folkstone England, but coaches are not ferried on this service.
The Minitrix "Orient Express" set includes 2 CIWL type F baggage cars, 4-axle car with a wood body in teak and a conductor's cupola.  Originally produced in the early twentieth century.  A WR type dining car, such as can be seen here WR Type Heavyweight Dining Car.  And two WL type sleeping cars.  A photo of which is displayed.

The Minitrix set is hauled by a variation of the French SNCF 230 E 4-6-0 locomotive without smoke deflectors.  My locomotive is pictured below.

If someone is able to help me out with a real life photo of this locomotive (without smoke deflectors and the correct cylindrical boiler and firebox housing I would greatly appreciate it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Back on Track ... Blogging that is ...

Woah, two blogs in two days (I'm practically a workaholic?).  While my inspiration levels are up I thought I'd pop in another post in the mean time to say that I will soon start blogging about my current collection (and ambitions therein), given I have little to report on in the way of layout development.  Here's hoping I can stay on track at least with the blogging ...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Procrastination Much ... ???

Sigh ... This blog has become an ode to my own procrastination. Which is really quite depressing. But for anyone out there who has come across my blog let me tell you that the last 18 months have been spent establishing ourselves into our brand new (new build) house. So suffice to say any cash we have had has gone into all sorts of projects around the house including, construction, front yard, back yard, new furniture, vegie gardens, rain water tank, security and so forth. And we still have a long way to go.

Also too at this point I am looking for a new job which isn't a thrilling experience (hopefully something will come through soon). For a long time I had wanted to work from home in my own business (still do) but, as an accountant starting from scratch getting the client build required up is not the overnight job that some people seem to think it is. For example, unlike many friends in other fields I can't readily show people examples of work I have done. Whilst this is disappointing I am refocusing my search for commercial roles within a half hour from home.

However, in the mean time I have recently regained some vitality in my interest and determination to get a layout off the ground. Also too if I return to a commercial role, my home office can be freed up to house a modest layout. So I guess there is a silver lining.

I visited an exhibition this weekend past, the first I have been to in quite a while and I was introduced to the concept of "T-Trak" modelling in N-Scale and the friendship groups that grow out of this. Now this is very appealing to me, as sadly I do have to admit I had more knowledge of railways when I was 12 then I do these days (at the ripe old age of 33). So a network group of like-minded enthusiasts would be a good thing for me to get in to. Not to mention that I haven't done any scenery work since I was 15-16 ... we might as well say I am starting from scratch. In my early teens I had constructed a simple up and over double loop with a couple of sidings and a station (when I say double loop, I refer to the same direction "not" as in a figure eight.

I would like to know what people think about T-Trak modelling. I know it has some strong limitations and some strong opposition from the traditional modelling fraternity. I don't want to make any mistakes in this decision. Whilst I am not about to give up on my (modest) tri-level design, which has been a dream for years, I have to concede it still only remains on paper. My frustrations at my own lack of development are getting to me now. For a while I was able to meet those desires by building up my locomotive and rolling stock collection, but I have more than enough for the moment. Particularly when you consider I have nothing ready to run them on aside from sections of Peco track that have to be taken out, set up, dissembled and reassembled on the dining table.

I am ready for something now a little more permanent. But do I stick with my original plans (which could be somewhat larger than is convenient) or move to the T-Trak method, which seems to lack imagination in some senses and relies on the group effort aspect of exhibiting . If my allotted space is not much more than a door or a reasonable dining table (for example), can I create an inspiring layout on the T-Trak method? Because I can really see at least how getting started on the T-Trak method in itself could be perpetually inspiring ... but simply to run trains in endless circles maybe not so much. What about elevations, yard operations or perhaps a round house?

Well clearly I have some more thinking to do ... if anyone is out there reading this I'd value your input.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Managing an Eclectic Layout

I am constantly faced with the quandry of how to proceed with my layout development knowing I don't have a constant theme set in stone. This is particularly frustrating for me in setting the scene on the layout beore even rolling out the various fleets. The problem is I have a love affair with various trains from the late nineteeth and early twentieth centuries through to twenty first century high speed trains. So the theme of the layout needs to accomodate a 4-6-2 steam hauled heavy weight passenger service from the pre-1920's Europe and Australia through to the modernist Eurostar and TGV's ... without winding up looking ridiculous.

Whilst my love affair harks back to the romance of the rails being founded in passenger traffic,my vision isn't void of freight traffic and yarding activities. However, passenger focus remains the prime driving force behind my motivation to establish a layout... So I suppose this is something of a starting point. This still leaves me with a dilema as to the time period of the layout. Too modern and steam traffic will look out of place and too old and the opposite will be true for modern fleet items, which I must admit there really isn't anything too modern in my fleet at this time.

I'd appreciate any comments from any followers how they have dealt with this same issue in the development of their own layouts.