Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Train World #1

Regular readers probably remember me writing about our model train back in December—it hasn’t gone to the isle of misfit toys, but is steadily “gathering steam” as it were (rimshot!) in what was our sitting room—an interesting den that has served as everything from a TV room to a Tai Chi room to a music-listening & jigsaw puzzle-building room—& also has an incredibly comfortable recliner for mid afternoon siestas. Unfortunately, I can’t do “before” & “after” pix, because there really aren’t any "before" photos—but I can assure you that it looked quite a bit different before we moved out three bookshelves & a loveseat, & otherwise re-arranged everything! As is so often the case with shifting furniture around—or so I find—we liked the end result better in all cases.

The next step in train evolution was getting a table to use as a base for train world. I’ve done a
fair amount of woodworking in the past, & knew I’d be quite capable of building such a table. On the other hand, because of my respiratory condition, it’s hard for me to work out in my unheated shop this time of year, & frankly, it’s not that easy to do woodworking at this point due to sawdust, etc. So we asked our contractor Chris, who’s in the midst of a couple of renovation projects here if he’d build one—he did a good job in much less time than it would have taken me even under good circumstances! The table is now covered with a single layer of 2 inch styrofoam (Eberle's cutting this in the pic; the next pic shows my fancy clamping job after gluing it down.)

Eberle—who’s also quite excited about train world (a very happy turn of events from my perspective) & I have decided we’re going to model a sort of late 1940s scene in a landscape like California’s Owens Valley. For those of you who haven’t traveled U.S. Highway 395 south of Bishop, California, or who haven’t seen the film Chinatown, the Owens Valley has a fascinating history—for one thing, its water has been diverted to the Los Angeles area, so you see successions of dry lakes & rivers, often with salt & mineral deposits covering the surface.

We aren’t aiming for any specific location, so the modeling will involve plenty of imaginative touches. The train
(not the one shown in the photos) will be a Union Pacific freight train, tho later on I’d like to add a Southern Pacific “Daylight” passenger train as well. We do know that there will be one town & another smaller settlement, pretty much kitty korner to each other, & there will also be a borax mine! It’s been interesting to do a bit of fun research on borax mining, which as fans of the old “Death Valley Days” know, took place in the more desert sections of the Owens Valley.

We’ll be getting some more track in
the very near future, as well as the components of our UP freight train—the latter thanks to eBay; it was difficult to put together a UP freight train in N scale for our time period, but eBay came to the rescue—including a winning bid on the all important locomotive in the last 20 seconds! I’ll have pix of the updated setting with the updated train in a couple of weeks. For now, we’re having fun with the old UP American 4-4-0 locomotive—a extremely old model of locomotive used as far back as the 1830s! Eberle’s idea is that we may run it as an excursion train in our mid 20th century model! Oh yesthe set up won't include stone bookends & wires draped everywhere; I'm waiting to get all the track in place to drill holes for running the wires under the table.

Hope you enjoy this brief look at train world as it exists today.


  1. My grandfather was a huge model train buff back in the early 1960s and outfitted his train world with all kinds of little goodies. It will be fun to see all your updates along the way!

  2. Hi Willow: Your grandfather's layout sounds like fun! Glad you enjoyed the update.

  3. Thanks for the opportunity to relive a small but important part of my childhood. Fascinating post.

  4. Hi Dave: & thanks--I also have some good childhood memories about model trains & am glad to be reliving them in my second childhood!

  5. Apparently, my cousin in England is an avid train-spotter. I should tell him about your blog.

    Nice that Eberle shares your enthusiasm. I remember jigsaw-days. Four cats preclude that activity now.


  6. Hi Kat: Yes, please do tell him! I love the fact that Eberle is into this; it's such a nice project to work on together! I can see that cats & jigsaw puzzles wouldn't be a happy mix!


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