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Monday, December 29, 2014

Ringing In The New Year!

Because A Good Traction Layout Should Have A Conductors Bell.

As you may or may not remember, the layout is housed in a protective canopy to keep off dust and household critters and provide layout specific lighting. It's been a lot of work to build when it occurred to me that the layout was unproven and if the intersection didn't work right then I'm wasting time and money building a useless canopy for it. Well, the layout has since proven itself and so I have decided to resume work on it.

Since the canopy has a remarkable resemblance to a trolley car, I thought it would be rather nifty to add a conductors bell to it. And it just so happens that many, many years ago, my wife and I took a trip to San Francisco where I managed to pick up a full sized souvenir brass cable car conductors bell. And wouldn't you know, its a perfect fit!

A length of leather cord was procured from the local fabric store to use as the pull cord. Brass eye-bolts installed to support it and its tied off at the end with an authentic bowline knot (Boy Scouting paying off there).

The fabric store also had these grommets that I thought would be a good way to thread the cord from the "main compartment" to the "motorman's compartment".

So there we go! We've established a means of communication between the conductor and motorman on this layout. Because you know, communication is important on a small home layout. 

And now for some real bell ringing, here is the 2013 San Francisco Cable Car Bell Ringing Champ:

Ding Ding! Yes sir! Ding Ding!


Monday, December 01, 2014


Short Video: I Managed to get Four Cars Running Simultaneously on the Layout!

Just before this blog was started I purchased this MEW 1936 PCC. I became curious about it recently and wondered if it would be able to run on the layout. Looking it over I noticed it has a can motor and that it wouldn't take much to rewire it for overhead. So I gave it a go, and what do you know, it went! You'll see it in the video above.

Excited buy the sudden increase in traffic, I wondered what else from my collection I could convert to overhead...

Then I remembered I have this Huntington Standard from Overland, the second brass purchase I ever made, way back in the early days of construction of the layout. I had already wired it for overhead. But its open frame motor makes it a poor runner and requires more "juice" to get it to go. It barely makes the tight curves, but it works! You'll see this one in the video also, complaining about the curve.

Pretty fun to see some traffic on the layout now. Yes sir! Fun to see some traffic!


Monday, November 17, 2014

The Rise and Fall of Tarnation

Construction Begins in Earnest on the Oil Drilling Module, but then Stalls because the Fates had Different Plans!

The big layout of the Southern California Traction Club is a magnificent layout with its City quarter, Suburban quarter, Industrial quarter, and Country quarter. Naturally I want to build some modules for the layout too. So I designed a few, then decided to start in on this one first for the Industrial quarter.

The Tarnation Supply Co. warehouse was the first structure that I built for the module. Its location can be seen on the plan and historical photo.

Then construction began on the module:

The module was built to regular HO modular standards: 1x3s with 2'x4' Homasote.

Cork roadbed glued and pinned into place.

The turnout was located first since its placement is critical having to fit between tanks and avoiding having its frog in the road crossing.

SCTC club member George Jones rasping the cork so as to bring the siding track below grade.

It is prototypical practice to have the sidings below grade. One of the reasons is so that cars sitting on the siding won't accidentally roll onto the mainline.

After the flex track was installed, the next step was to locate the main road. Thin strips of wood (paint stirrers) were used as forms for the road. I then mixed approximately a 50/50 mix of sifted gravel and Durhams water putty and spread it into the form.

After the mixture had set up a bit but was still soft, I used a vehicle to imprint some ruts in the road.

A small glimpse of what could have been. 

Here is a test shot I took to see how things were looking. But that was as far as work ever progressed on the module. The module has become a victim of progress.

The City Quarter of the Southern California Traction Club by far attracts the most attention and comments. Visitors are always crowded around the City marveling at the cars navigating through the steep canyons of the tall buildings. It was decided to extract the City Quarter from the main layout and expand on it making it a layout all in itself. It has been exhibited at a few shows now with great success. I'll explain more in a future post, but its proven to have been a very good direction for the club to grow.

So I don't know what the future of the module is. Besides the club moving into a new direction, there are exciting new projects in the works that have now captured my imagination and enthusiasm.

Too bad. This module would have been spectacular. Yes sir. It would have been spectacular.


Monday, November 03, 2014

What In Tarnation!

Plans for an Oil Drilling Module for the Southern California Traction Club

Today's post is presented by the Vice President for Planning of the Dan D. Sparks Plywood Development and Transportation Co. Arnie Clever:

Shareholders, interested parties and what-not,

Mr. Dan D. Sparks and the Board of Directors and such have declassified some documents plans and what-not and have asked me to share them with you to you today this week. As you might know, the DDSPD(and)TCo also has a vested interest in the Southern California Traction Club too. So the company had me draw up some plans for an oil drilling operation outfit for that clubs layout. And boy! Did I come up with a whopper of a plan! I call it "Tarnation" yep. And its packed full of oil drilling goodness. Check it out for yourself and see!:
Arnie Clever

Tarnation Oil Drilling Module

2'x4' HO Scale Traction Module
  • 5 Oil Derricks with containment ponds.
  • An oil supply warehouse with steam boilers
  • A freight and passenger depot
  • Various oil tanks
  • Oil loading racks with tank cars
-all in a compact space. And its very prototypical as well. I actually lifted the layout of these structures from an genuine prototype photograph!:

Huntington Beach, CA. c.1920s

Everything this side of the tracks in the photo are on the module! Starting at the lower right, a road passes a supply warehouse, past some boilers, past a derrick with containment pond, ending at a mainline with overhead trolley wire and what appears to be a cannery (which I substituted with a depot). On the other side of the tracks sits an oil loading facility with tank cars. To the right of the center oil derrick are two tanks and another derrick. And through all that, power lines are strung. Its all there!

The 5 derricks will use the Campbell Scale Models Timber Oil Derrick to start with and then built up to look more like those in the photos.

DPMs Schultzs Garage will represent the supply warehouse.

I'm not sure exactly what these boilers were used for, but I could easily imagine they came in very handy when dealing with sticky, clumpy tar! This one is by American Model Builders.

For the Depot, a modified American Model Builders Northern Pacific Depot fits the space nicely.

This Chama Oil Dock would have been perfect, but it doesn't seem to be available anymore. So other arrangements will have to be made.

The Oil loading platform could be populated with some 1920s era tank cars available from an assortment of manufacturers.

Non-rolling tanks are available from a variety of manufactures as well.

Throw in some Jordan Highway Miniatures vehicles and lots of assorted details, and I think we'll have ourselves a darn nifty oil drilling diorama!

Arnie Clever
Vice President of Planning
Dan D. Sparks Plywood Development & Transportation Co.

Monday, September 22, 2014

I Can't Believe It's That Time Already For:

The Annual State of the Company, Board of Directors Meeting of
 The Dan D. Sparks Plywood Development and Transportation Co.
A Pulled Out of The Posterior Corporation (the “Company”)
Held on 22nd September 2014, 8:00 AM Specific Daylight Time
at the Offices of the Company, San Dollar, California.

San Diego Electric Railway Class 1 1915 Exposition Car. Inkscape Illustration By David Lyman

 Board Members Present: 

President:                         Dan D. Sparks
Chairman:                         Lettuceleaf M. Malone
Traffic Manager:               Robin DeRail
Finance Manager:              Count DeMonet
Director of Development:  Arnie Clever
General Manager:             David Lyman
Quorum present?              Minimally so.

Others Present:
Man of Mystery:                Fred Gurzeler
Technology Genius:          Volkmar Meier
Company Orchestra leader:     Bill Bolton & Orchestra

Absent:                    Consciousness.

· Chair, Lettuceleaf M. Malone called the Meeting to order at 8:01 a.m.
- Secretary Mrs, Roundbottom recorded the minutes.

 · Secretary Roundbottom presented to the Board the minutes of the Sept. 2013 meeting of the Board for approval, whereupon motion duly made, seconded and recounted as the good-ol'-days.

You down with PCC? Yeah, you know me!

Opening Message from the Chairman:

Wow what a year! This blogs "fiscal" year (Sept 2013 to Sept 2014) saw the successful completion of the complicated overhead and the railroad is now running and functioning as designed! AND this fiscal year saw the successful construction of the first few fancy Streetlamps designed to not only illuminate, but also support the overhead wires! These two mini-masterpieces mark a long sought after success. Now all the major projects that remains are the converting the layout to Digital Command Control, The completion of the Streetlamps so that the temporary poles in the building lots can be removed so that the construction of the city buildings can commence. And of course, the populating the layout with more streetcars. Here's looking to another successful year ahead.

· Traffic Managers Report  Provided by Chair, Robin DeRail:

Ach! Viewership of this blog has flattened out! BUT! We saw a real humdinger of a post that smashed all previous viewership records! "A Grand Union Intersection In Action" saw just shy of 1000 views (963) in its first week! That obliterates the previous record of 283 views of "Jumping on the 3D Bandwagon" last year! Alas, now with the construction of these intricate, complicated streetlamps, layout construction is progressing at the speed of molasses on a winters day, viewership has slowed a bit.   Prepare yeselves for the numbers breakdown!:

Unique weekly blog hits (visitors, not page hits) from 9/21/2013 to 9/21/2014:
  •  Viewership has increased nicely! This blog hosted 4,930 visitors this last year (Sept. 2013 to Sept. 2014). That's up from 3,355 last year, and 3,064 the year before that. They visited 8,960 times, up from 6,621 times last year and 5,484 times the year before that. That makes for an all time grand total of 34,396 visitors. Not bad eh? We'll see if we can hold on those number next year, heh! 
  •  This blog is now averaging 29 visitors per day. And they find our content slightly more interesting!  Their attention has increased to almost 2 minutes (1:58 minutes)! That's up from 20 average daily viewers watching for an average of a 1:39 last year! I'm sure the 3 minute Grand Union video really helped those numbers! We'll see if we can hold on to those number too!
  • The top 3 posts last year were (ofcourse):
    1. A Grand Union Intersection In Action!  1,953 views (11.55%)
    2. The Grand Plan (Layout track plan)          478 views (2.83%)
    3. Birney #301                                               408 views (2.41%)
I always say that the videos are the popular item on this blog, so I propose we build a theater on this site for easy access to the video archives.

· Finance Committee report provided by Chair:     Count DeMonet

Despite the surge in viewership, revenue from ads (the only source of revenue) on this blog has slipped. Further emphasizing the need of not having all the ads "below the fold". The Grand Union in Action video was "above the fold", so all those viewers didn't need to scroll down and thus no ads were loaded.
  • The Count reported that revenue earned slipped to an average of $0.05 per day, down from $0.06 last year but still up from $0.04 per day the previous year.
  •  DeMonet continued with that the annual earnings for this last fiscal year came in at $19.43. Down from $22.78 last year but still up from $16.07 the previous year. This now brings the grand total to $81.69. Google won't pay out until that total reaches $100, expected sometime this next "fiscal year" (Sept. to Sept.). The Board has agreed that the money will be put towards a DCC system for the layout. 
  • The Finance Chair went on to try, once again, to persuade the Board that placing a banner ad above or below the blog title, as is typical with almost all websites, would increase revenue appreciatively. As it is now, all ads are "below the fold", and no revenue is gained unless the viewer scrolls down and the ads load. With the prospect of the eminent Google $100 payout, the board is warming up to the idea to help speed things along.

· Board Development Committee's report provided by Chair,      Arnie Clever:

  • Mr. Clever has been very, very busy lately drawing up all kinds of plans. With the company finances strapped, planning is in abundance, since planning doesn't cost anything.
  • Plans usually aren't posted until the project has been approved and is moving forward. But this has resulted in some plans being buried and their prospect of ever seeing the light of day rather dubious. Arnie expressed concern that the Board is being too cautious (especially with structural drawings, and stalled projects) and encouraged the Board to publish these plans anyway to help generate interest or at least solicit comments. The Board agrees, so expect a lot of Clever posts this next year.
  • The Clever One has also conjured up a rather spectacular, innovative project that has to be kept a secret for now, but hopefully soon, it too can be published to the public.

Mr. Sparks' closing speech summed up his confidence that things should be picking up with the blog soon and some interesting/entertaining posts are expected to be coming out soon. This coming year should be another good one for the layout. And he reminded us to "don't forget to scroll down, yes sir! Don't forget to scroll down"! We are all excited by the prospect of DCC around here!

· Meeting adjourned at 8:02 a.m.
· Minutes submitted by Secretary, Mrs. Roundbottom.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Now on Facebook!

Model traction activity is rather strong on Facebook, so I have created an account so that I may participate.

Though this blog will remain the main outlet for information about my traction action, I might elaborate with additional posts on FB or participate in discussions. So look me up and-

Let's be Friends?

Yes sir! Lets be Friends!


Monday, August 25, 2014

San Diego Transits Over The Years

Watercolor Sketches

Old San Diego Electric Railway
New San Diego Trolley
Former San Diego Transit Bus

Davelyman Out!

Monday, August 11, 2014

By The Light Of The Silvery Lamp

Chrome, Stainless Steel, Silver Plated, or Something, San Diego's Boulevard Lamps were Definitely a Bright Silvery Color.

Boulevard Lamp/Trolley Linepole painted Tru-Color Paint TCP-077 Silver

Well Hey! With a little improvising, I'm starting to get some decent photos of the layout now!

But yes- San Diego streetlamps were in fact silver:

Bright silver street lamps seem to be unique to San Diego. I'm not sure why this is. My guess is that Diego has a natural landlocked harbor that connects to the Pacific Ocean through a strait between Point Loma and Coronado known as the Silver Gate. It is believed that the name comes from Spanish times when silver from mines northeast of San Diego County was shipping out in Spanish ships. The first known recorded use of "Silver Gate" is from a poem written by a frontiersman poet Joaquin Miller (1837-1913). The term Silver Gate was further reinforced by San Francisco's strait being named the Golden Gate. But this gave the impression that San Diego was second to San Francisco, so "Silver Gate" was never officially adopted by the city and the term has since faded into history. But not before some streets, schools, (Balboa Park was almost named Silver Gate Park) organizations, institutions, ships and clubs adopted the term, and apparently, dotting some boulevards with some silver ornamentation in the way of street lamps. Yes sir! Silver ornamentation!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Leaky Light!

Painting the Boulevard Lamps

Since these streetlamps are cast with clear resin, it has been proven to be tricky to cover the lamp with enough paint so the light doesn't leak out!

As is normal with painting anything, these lamps were washed with soap and water first to get any oils off that would effect the paint from adhering. Then I airbrushed a coat of primer (Tru-Color Paint TCP-256 Light Primer). The torches part of the lamps still glowed pretty good when lit, so I hand painted some black to the glowing areas (Tru-Color Paint TCP-010 Black) then airbrushed a second coat of light primer over the whole lamp.

And still a lot of light is escaping! Mostly from around the bottom where I apparently didn't paint as well as the top. So I hand painted with more primer. I found it helpful to paint while the lamps were lit. 

There it is!

Finally after a few coats of paint, the light leaks were taken care of. Then I painted the lamp Silver (Tru-Color Paint TCP-077 Silver) (San Diego lamps were silver- more on that next post). Turns out that Tru-Color Silver covers really well and any trace of light was sealed in for good.

Wow! After all these years of false starts and disappointments and failures, I have finally achieved an acceptable working streetlamp/linepole that I've always envisioned for this layout. You know, its true, if you really want something and relentlessly keep working towards that goal day by day, eventually you get there! Yes sir! Eventually you can achieve your goal!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Small Time Casting

I Thought You Might Get A Laugh From The "Measuring Cups" I Use For Mixing The Resin For The Lamp Castings.

Top are the two parts EasyCast resins. Below them are the two part rubber mold with a light and linepole armature placed inside. And at the bottom are my measuring cups!

Yep, a couple of water bottle caps. They provide just a bit more than enough resin for a lamp casting. And they are cheap.

The caps actually have an inner cap that are filled with the resins. Then I pour the two part resin into a larger soda liter bottle cap and mix. It took some trying different cups, but eventually I found that these water bottle caps are just the right size and plentiful around here. Lucky me? Yes sir! Lucky me!