Sunday, February 28, 2021

 Yet another long  hiatus on this very infrequent blog. Ah, how I planned things to be different and then life interferes with my plans....

Anyway, during these strange times of coronapandemic I'm having relatively few problems. I hear people complain about their (and especially kids mental health) but I'm okay. Had all those problems a decade ago and nothing change for me. Am busy with taking care of my elderly parents since I'm the only one of three children living in the same country (same continent even).

I did manage to buy some Kato Unitrack and was able to run trains at my parents. My mother was quite interested. It seems she found it more interesting than hanging in front of the tv.

Back in late september / early october 2019 I manage to build a small concept module using foamboard in combination with plywood. Apart from glueing the track down wrong on one side the venture was reasnably succesful so I will continue using foamboard with plywood. After all, it did not just survive a couple of train trips to and in Germany going to a Fremo americaN meeting in Bardowick in northern Germany and then to Mammendorf near Munich in the south but it came back to the Netherlands in the hold of a plane and survived that experience remarkably well being transported in a trolley that doesn't have a hard shell. Only damage was a red smudge on the side (made of foamboard) that came from the red plastic bag it resided in (to keep the foamboard lid in place as it wasn't fastened to the module) during its stay in the trolley.

My sister ran into problems with her work permit in the country she lives in and that has a knock on effect for her residence permit so she will be coming back to the Netherlands for a while to get that mess untangled and start again. 

It will give me the opportunity to go back to my regular volunteer work in a museum as well as cleaning up the mess in my house after2 years of barely living here. And I want to get back to building something related to US railroads. Many things going through my mind about that, from a short M&StL freight spur (ex CBQ) in Oskaloosa to the freighthouse area in Ft Dodge or Des Moines Iowa to something different, PRR or B&O in Wheeling West Virginia. Something build in the British exhibition layout style but for home use.

And otherwise I'm working on proposals for the upcoming 20th anniversary of Fremo's americaN. I feel something special should be done. I'm looking at a theme we haven't done yet so I'm gathering information. Always a fun thing to do and at least i can do that from the couch at my parents. Would rather have build some kits etc. but my mother has sensitive lungs and my parents appartment isn't very large. So that is unfortunately a nono. By time I'm home again I need to destress and that doesn't involve building things for my modelrailroading activities as I don't have the energy for that. I would need more time to recuperate than what I usually have. Though with my sister coming back for a while that time might just be there. At least I'm getting excited again about modelrailroading.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fremo AmericaN meeting in Bremen Germany

Recently I went to the Fremo AmericaN meeting in the northern German city of Bremen. The trip took some doing as both halves of the train trip resulted in delays. A signalbox failure in Deventer in the Netherlands on the outbound trip meant my planned route had to be changed. On the return trip there were engineering works in the Netherlands on my route and I had to take a replacement bus. As luck wouyld have it, the one on my route was a local bus stopping at all stations and on the other route it was a fast bus. Oh well.
Luckily both NS and DB were very helpful and no additional costs were incurred. Only time delays and they were compensated by new train routes I travelled.

This meeting was the first time we tried out timetable and trainorder operation. While we had some problems I feel we can overcome them with more familiarity with the procedures. It helps of course when yours truly pays attention to the switching and makes it efficient. Oh well, live and learn, right? I had great hopes for this type of operation which is a bit difficult to do on ever changing modular setups. I was pleasantly surprised by the easy with which everyone adapted to it. Normally we use track warrant control or no dispatcher in our meetings. 

See here for the report, here for a plan of the modular layout and here for Hagen Langbartel's picsYou can even see me in some of the pictures...

Thanks to all who made it possible to have a great time despite coming down with the flu.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A nice moveable workbench

Earlier in the year I lamented that I needed a better work environment. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago and up again pops this video on youtube after a few years.  I'm still interested in it and have asked a woodworking good friend of my parents for advice. I want different wheels so I can more easily drag it up the stairs as the place where i want to use it, living room and balcony, are 1 story higher than where it will usually reside when it is between duties.

More info including the price for the drawings can be found here.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The best laid plans...

often go awry. So did mine once spring was underway. A laptop that stopped working just hours before I was going to make a backup (a lesson there, make backups first, not last) meant I lost access to the drawings of the module of G&M Junction I'm working on. That said me back some, including thinking about continuing with modifying existing modules versus starting from scratch. But money isn't all that more plentiful.

Further, my mental and physical health took a nosedive. Got out of that okay but it took quite a bit of scarce energy, including in therapy sessions. Then I started a 2 day a week volunteer job at the local maritime museum. That takes a lot of energy, a hell of a lot, but it gives me back much too since this is the first time I've been able to work in 5 years.

And now we have a hot late summer with temperatures around 30C which means much of that heat lingers on for days afterwards in my top level corner appartment with walls on the east, south and west sides...

But I found my interest in model railroads again so we will see what I can do next. I can certainly use the diversion from my health problems that might get worse in the coming months due too an incompetent doctor no longer prescribing medication that barely worked anyway.

So, onwards we soldier even if it has to be done without being able to go full steam ahead.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Blood, sweat and sawdust

Today I completed the sawing apart of the modules that will form the core of G&M Junction. Last weekend the batteries of my drill had run empty drilling holes for the jigsaw and by the time they were charged again it was too dark and too cold.
I had some problems today which surprised me a bit. It turned out it was more difficult to make a vertical cut through the horizontal piece of plywood that forms the top than I expected. Wasted 2 sawblades on it. Also, the plywood has internal layers that are much harder than the outer onces, complicating matters. I didn't manage to saw in a straight line but that isn't as much of a problem I hope as it sounds as there will be new endplates that have to be affixed to the sawcut.

Also, some nails vibrated loose and I didn't see one in time so I opened the skin of a thumb on one. Needless to say the offending pieces of metal are now history...

I layed out the pieces on my balcony as I intend to use them and used the parts that once where the lower half as stand in for the new segments. I will try to use those pieces first before I build new segments. Money is scarce so it's worth a try.

To do:
- buy and attach new endplates.
- concurrent with the above, remove some material from existing endplates.
- remove material from the sides.
- track and electrics.
- remove material from the top plate where the tracks won't be.
- build the (boring) scenery: a few trees, a road crossing the railroad and another paralleling it and lots and lots of corn and grassy fields mainly.

Oh, and find a way to upload the pictures I took so you all get an idea what I'm talking about. Can't find the software that came with my digital camera (bought it all the way back in december 2008) and I have never used it on this laptop...

Lessons learned:
- 9 mm plywood is plenty strong enough, these modules were build back in 2009 and were otherwise still sound, despite being stored on their endplates since 2011 and my less than perfect construction methods.

- Pay attention when buying plywood. Hardwood is HARD.

- I need a better work environment when working on large items or doing rough work like sawing.

- SAFETY FIRST! I need to buy new safety glasses as I couldn't find the ones I have and flying sawdust is no fun. Not to mention things that could have happened with a nail coming loose enough to fly away.

- And yes, old modules CAN be taken apart and the parts rearranged to make a different module.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

I started G&M Junction

De kop is er af, that is what we say in Dutch if we have started something, literally the head is off. No pictures yet but the first Fremo america-N module is now on a diet and has had the bottom half taken off. The ony reason the other module hasn't been done to that state yet is the fact that I ran out of battery power so couldn't drill more holes so the jigsaw could be used.

The lower half weighs ~700 grams and the top hald still weighs ~2100 grams.

Still to do:
- cutting at a diagonal
- remove more material to save even more on weight, including on top as the modules had a plate on top.
- New ends
- extra support for when I'm cutting through the top plate.
- glue polystyrene to the sides to hide the holes and less than perfect sawcuts.

And of course to lay track, wire everything and build the landscape. But those are other stages. 

Oh well, tomorrow is another day for doing a little bit.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Todos los dias un poco

Every day a little bit isn't just my motto for this year but I actually try to live by it. Today I put up 2 segments of an Ikea Ivar 30 cm deep storage system. Looking at the planks I put in somewhat randomly, I decided to measure the heigth. Turns out the levels are as follows:
- 50 cm
- 82 cm
- 114 cm
- 146 cm
- 180 cm

Both standing, 114 & 146 cm and seated, 82 & 114 cm, the levels were visibe. The 30 cm difference in heigth was pleasing. However, there is a connection between the posts at 119 cm so in practice the 114 cm level would have to be 120 cm high.

More tryouts are of course needed, including both trains and mockups of modules made out of cardboard. But a beginning for a homelayout in whatever shape it will take is there.