Friday, January 8, 2016

Misadventures in Track Cleaning

Ah the joy of nice, clean, shiny new track and trains running flawlessly. Unfortunately there comes a time when the forces of dirt and grime conspire against you making your trains stall out and jerk. I don't know about you, but nothing kills my enthusiasm for model railroading faster than balky trains. Yes you have a few allys in the fight against track crud.

First and foremost theres always the tried and true Bright Boy eraser and rubbing alcohol, or even better, denatured alcohol on a rag.

Now these work just dandy on small table top roundy rounders like my last layout. On big layouts like this, they're pretty much useless for anything other than spot cleaning. For cleaning the entire layout, especially the hard to reach areas, you need a less time consuming option.

That's where this Aztec Trains (Link) "Predator" track cleaning car comes in. And that's also where the trouble started. You get a hard rubber "Cratex" roller, which is made out a material similar to Bright Boy erasers. Then there's a cloth Handi Wipes roller, which is used with your choice of cleaning fluid and a canvas covered roller that can be used wet or dry.

Well, Ive always used the canvas roller with alcohol but found it dried out too quickly. In search of something better, I remembered reading somewhere that track could be cleaned with Goo Gone. Big mistake! While it worked wonders on the inside loop, the outside was another story. The goo Gone caused the roller to smear even more dirt on the rails. The only way to get the rails clean was to put the Cratex roller in the car and higball the train around for a few minutes. So lesson learned, Goo Gone is a no no.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Curtain Comes Down on the CFRR

Well, it's all over. The CFRR is no more. Ever since February, when I got my PRR layout operational, the CFRR had been sitting dormant, taking up space and gathering dust. Over this weekend I took on the difficult task of dismantling the layout. Most of the buildings, trees and even rock castings will be reused on my new layout. 

I must say tearing down the CFRR was quite a cathartic experience. I spent nearly five year building running and tinkering with it. To suddenly turn and start tearing it apart kind of felt like murdering my best friend. Okay, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic here but you get the point.

I've also managed to salvage the flour mill and lake scenes. So anyway, that's it for the CFRR. See you over at my PRR blog.


The lake scene in its new home.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

7/25/13 Every New Begining Comes From Some Other Begining's End

Wow, over a year since my last update. Well a whole lot's happened on the old CFRR. Ive added onto it and changed things around. But that's not why I'm here. There's been another huge change in my life. I got married and my wife and I bought a house. The house has a huge bonus room that's just begging for a ginormous train layout. You know what that means right? Bingo! It's the end of the line for the current CFRR.

The CFRR will be around for a few more months but will ultimately be either sold or dismantled to make room for the new layout. I must say the CFRR has been a great little layout. I ended up meeting all of my original goals and creating what was, to me at the time, the perfect layout. But things change.

Over the past few months my tastes in modeling began to change. For one thing I've come to the realization that freelancing simply isn't doing it for me anymore. When you build a complete fantasy railroad like the CFRR, you have to come up with a back story. Why was the line built? Where does it go? What does it carry? It's exhausting. When you model a prototype, you don't have to think about that stuff.

I'm also very interested in operating a model railroad. Watching the trains run in circles gets boring fast. But having a bunch of guys over and actually simulating the operations of a real railroad? Sound like fun to me.

When the CFRR was first built, I had four locomotives and a handful of freight cars. I didn't own any steam engines, long diesels or passenger cars. As such the layout wasn't really designed for them. I've since acquired some and they don't look good or run well on the layout. I'm looking forward to having broader curves and using Atlas' newer and nicer looking Code 55 track.

Also, since the layout was built in apartment, it would have to be portable and move with me every so often, which it did. Unfortunately during its most recent move, it took a beating. Nothing too terrible but still damage that's not worth repairing at this point.

I knowing I'm bashing the old CFRR a bit but I must say, I am proud of my accomplishment. I will be sad to see the CFRR become a fallen flag. But I'm also very excited about the new layout; I felt the same way starting Cherokee. I guess this entry's title sums it up; every new beginning comes from some other beggining's end. And in case you;re wondering, yes, the title is a reference to the Semisonic song "Closing Time."

So that's it for the CFRR. I'll be leaving this blog up for those who wish read it. But this will be the final entry. You can follow my new layout dpeciting the Pennsylvania Railroad here:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

12/29/20011 Finally, another update!

I know, it's been forever and a day since my last entry. Well the holidays are what they are and I've been busy. That's not to say I haven't been doing anything train-related. Far from it. In fact I seem to have developed an inexplicable passion for custom-painting/decaling rolling stock. The first car I did was this cheapie Lima/PMI caboose I picked up from eBay for a few bucks.


I stripped off the factory paint and painted the whole thing Floquil Caboose Red accept for the steps which I did in Testors Chromate. I added window inserts and fogged them with Dulcote to hide the empty interior and whipped up some Southern decals.

Friday, November 18, 2011

11/18/2011 Take a Train to Work Day

I took part in World's Greatest Hobby's Take a Model Train to Work Day. By bringing the small N Scale Layout depicting the John Galt Line from  Atlas Shrugged to the South Carolina Welcom Center where I work. I provided some information about model railroading and railroad-related attractions in the state.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

10/20/2011 Finished New Rail Models A-Fram Cabin Kit

This was my first laser-cut wood ever. And oh my god! These things are really hard to put together. The pieces are all tiny and very fragile and therefor tough to glue. When you do get the prices glued together, the whole thing feels flimsy enough it'll fall apart if you look at it wrong.  Also, getting the pieces out of the sprues is a bit of a challenge. I accidentally snapped more than a few of them. That said, the building looks very realistic, much more so then my plastic "wood" buildings.I guess I'll by using more wood buildings on my next layout.
In other news, I repainted the mobile home. My initial attempt ended up looking a like a kindergartener's finger painting. I repainted the roof Testors "Silver Metallic" for the roof, Testors "Flat Blue" for the walls, Floquil "Rail Brown" for the deck and Testor's "Light Yellow" for the awnings. Next I hit the thing with a coat of weather wash followed by Dullcote, brown chalks to simulate rust and then a filan coat of Dullcote. I also added a Gold Medal Models TV Antenna.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

10/12/11 Added Some Relay Sheds

I picked these up off eBay (Seller "Savonart"). They're made of solid cast resin and came pre-painted. All I did was hit them with some weather wash and Dulcote then stick them on the layout.