Sunday, October 25, 2015

A farewell visit to the Chicago and Utopia Railroad

Recently I was invited to the final trolley night running of Ed Halstead's famous O scale Chicago and Utopia Railway. It was a privilege to be invited and witness such a fine layout with fantastic models running for the last evening.

Below are some photo and a short video of the evening ...

And a video showing that the models run as good as they look:

But ... have no fear! Ed states that the Chicago and Utopia Railway will rise again in a smaller version in the near future. I can't wait to see it!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Spring time (in the fall???) and lighting things up

One of the issues I was facing was what type of springs to use on the end of my cars to simulate the springs that keep people from jumping between cars.

I've heard that HO spring belts from power trucks can work, however I couldn't find any of those. I've also heard that the springs from trolley poles also work, but again, I couldn't find any of those either. I searched the web high and low for micro springs and was able to find some that were suitable. However, the cost of these springs was $3.50 EACH. And, since 6 springs are need for each car. that was not a feasible option.

I decided to try to make my own. I striped 16 gauge wire to the bare copper and then untwisted the copper strands. One bare length of copper wire was then wound tightly around a very small diameter metal rod. 25 revolutions made for about an inch long spring.

The bare copper "springs were then painted with primer then brush painted with metallic silver paint. 

While not perfect, the cost was right (dang near free) and the effect is close enough for me.

Painted home made spring. Make a few extra as once dropped ... hard to find!

The copper wire is flexible enough to be wound tightly without breaking and the ends can be gently shaped into hooks to latch onto the eyelets.

The eyelets are from Blue Jacket Shipbuilders (link: ), part number F0505. The chain is a bit out of scale, but it was what I had from the local craft store.

I've also started to explore how to illuminate my buildings as I've started to detail the interiors. Without the illumination, you really can't see inside so there isn't any point in detailing the interiors.

I've started to experiment with Woodland Scenics Just Plug Lighting systems (link: Just Plug Lighting System). The system consists of a control module to which five LED lights can connect to. The LED's can be individually dimmed and the system is expandable.

So far I am happy with the results:

Currency exchange on right, fast food joint on left
No lights ... can't see what's happening!

The starter kit comes with two LED lights. Each storefront has one light. For HO, I think one light would do an entire building, but in O scale and multiple disconnected rooms multiple LED's are needed. What is nice is that each one can be individually dimmed.

The only downside is the cost. It appears that I'll have to buy a lot of additional LED's and expansion modules. But, as the whole system is basically "plug and play", it is very easy to add lighting.

And, just a few from around the layout:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On to the National League Championship Series ... Fly the W Flag!

The Chicago Cubs defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series three games to one!

The push for the pennant is on and its off to the NLCS! 

Celebrating the win, the folks brought out the W flag (W signifying a win) on the two flat!

Go Cubs! 2015 is the year!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Go Cubs 2015!

Go Cubs!

The L used to promote service to the various ball parks in Chicago with special signage on the front of trains alerting fans of the special service.

So, to celebrate the Chicago Cubs' appearance in the post season, the sign for Wrigley Field has been hung for special service.

OK ... so maybe a Jackson Park / Howard B train is a bit out of place at the Southport Station, but I didn't feel like changing the signage on the station.

Go Cubs!

Monday, October 5, 2015

A slow weekend

College and pro football are finally in full swing, so I was hoping to give the TV in the train room a workout while working on projects.

Alas, not much done.

Just some sights on the North Side...

But ... all was not lost. I've finally decided to work again on the new commercial building next to the Sheridan Road station. I've decided to detail the interior of the two storefronts.

Right now the interiors are just set inside the building. I still need to add windows, signs, some doors and some additional details.

On the right will be a new currency exchange. It has three cashier windows and the ever necessary security guard.

 On the left will be a carry out fast food / burger / gryos place.

Neither are super detailed, but they will at least offer some additional detail to the building.