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  • Location
    Corowa, New South Wales, Australia
  • Interests
    micro layouts, ho / oo scale, layout building, dcc, electronics, switching / shunting

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jimsmodeltrains's Achievements



  1. Shortening some longer covered hoppers to enhance operation HO scale Box Street micro layout. After my recent successful shortening of a bay window caboose (see post on my Tropical Pizza / Bamboo Island layout on 1st September 2021), I was pondering some 56 scale feet covered hoppers that I purchased some years ago but couldn’t really use on Box Street or my other micro layouts due to their length. I have 5 of them, and wondered whether I could shorten them like I did the caboose. Each of the covered hoppers looked like this, but with different color schemes representing different railroads. The first thing I had to do was figure out how to dismantle the cars. As all the cars are the same, except for color scheme, I could dismantle one car and that would allow me to see how best to shorten all of them. After a while I was able to dismantle one, and upon investigation realised shortening them would be relatively easy. Because each car had 3 ‘panels’ on the side, I could remove the middle panel then glue the two ends together, then do something similar with the chassis, then cut the roof and walk way on the top to fit the shortened car. I decided to try shortening the car I had dismantled to see how it went, then if it went successfully I would shorten the other ones. On a Saturday night, I did the dismantled car and was rather pleased with the end result. On this first car, I made a mistake with the chassis which resulted in there being a gap between the two sections, but as it would not usually be seen and the chassis wasn’t where the car got most of it’s rigidity / strength from I figured it was not too big a problem. I thought I could shorten the chassis on the other subsequent cars a different way so that there was no gap. The next day, I shortened 3 of the others, but left one of them 56 scale feet long as the couplings on that car required attention. The end result was that I now have an extra 4 covered hoppers that are about 39 scale feet in length that I can use on the Box Street micro layout, but also on my other layouts where necessary. The joins can be seen on the sides of each model, but they’re not overly obvious, and can probably be disguised with some graffiti or other painting. Over all, I’m quite pleased with the result. (From https://www.jimsmodeltrains.ws/2021/10/17/covered-hoppers-for-box-street/ )
  2. I'm published! A few weeks ago, I read a post on here about a new Model Railway magazine / ezine called “The Micro Model Railway Dispatch“. Unlike most model railroad magazines / ezines, this new publication is dedicated to micro model railways, which are model railroad layouts that are 4 square feet or less in size as defined by the late Carl Arendt. I read that if anyone had a micro layout that they would like to see published in the magazine / ezine to send the editor an email. Over the course of a week or so I indicated to the editor that I would be willing to submit an article for the magazine, received a reply and wrote an article which was published not long after in the 2nd issue. I used to be the editor for a regional model railway club many years ago, and wrote an article for the NMRA Australia magazine some years ago, but this is the first time I have been published in a magazine / ezine for the general model railway community. The model railroad layout of mine that was featured was my HO scale switchback Brazilian Micro layout, but reading about every layout in the magazine was interesting and thought provoking as micro model railroad layouts often are. The excuse “I don’t have room for a model railway layout” doesn’t stand up against the plethora of micro model railway layouts in magazines / ezines like The Micro Model Railway Dispatch and Carl Arendt’s website and others with like-minded content. If you are interested in micro model railway layouts, regardless of scale, it’s worth having a look at The Micro Model Railway Dispatch.
  3. Passenger depot improvements for the HO scale Petra Pizza micro layout. Since I built the Petra Pizza layout, the Petra Depot area was a fairly basic ground level gravel area with a shed. In the last few weeks I had a growing desire to do something to improve the scene. And in the last few days that desire translated into action. The first thing I had to do was remove the existing depot scene down to the baseboard including removing most of the ballast along the outside edge of the track. I decided that I would raise the platform using some foam core. This meant I had to cut a piece of form core to fit into the corner where the old depot area was – not an easy task as the area had unusually tight radius track that isn’t a constant radius. I cut a triangle section of foam core, and then slowly trim off the foam core near where it would be next to the curve until I had the right shape. Eventually I completed this so the platform was the required shape. I then added a platform facing / retaining wall made of coffee stirrers and matchsticks along the edge near the track. Next I covered the new foam core platform with PVA wood glue, and sprinkled a local sand mixture on it. I then placed the shed, a fuel tank, some foliage on it. At this point in the project, with the glue still wet it looked like this. The last thing to do was to add some extra scenic detail to blend the new depot into the surrounding area including two stetson wearing locals, and ballast the track that had been un-ballasted for the first step in the improvement. There is still a little more to do though. I want to add some decorative fencing on the platform area like what is often seen on passenger stations / depots to make it look a bit more pleasant to the eyes. But as it is now, it is ready to receive trains of 1:87 scale railfans and mountain dwellers. While I was doing this redevelopment, I realised I could also improve some other parts of the Petra Pizza layout to include a freight platform and / or bulk transload area which will make operation a bit more interesting, but that’s a post for another day. Regards, James (From: https://www.jimsmodeltrains.ws/2021/09/22/better-depot-for-petra/ ).
  4. Hi Chops. Carl Arendt was the guru of micro and small layouts until his death a few years ago. His website, which is now maintained by people who want to see his work continue after his death, is usually located at: https://www.carendt.com/ , although when I checked it at time of posting this it was not working properly and redirecting to somewhere else (somewhat suspiciously I might add), so might not be good idea to try that URL just yet. There is an archive of his website at: https://archive.carendt.com/ which appears to be website up until the time of his death. Hope you find this helpful. Regards, James
  5. Hi Chops. The track plan is somewhat similar to this plan: From https://www.carendt.com/wp-content/uploads/sfer.gif . The basic elements are the same: 3 spurs and a sector plate. Except that my layout is 4 square feet instead of 1 square foot, and in HO scale instead of G scale. A lot of the layouts I've built in the last few years have been inspired by Carl Arendt's books. Regards, James
  6. Shortening of the caboose used for passenger trains on the Tropical Pizza HO scale micro layout makes car movements easier. In the previous post I described a 22 scale feet flat car that I converted from a 22 foot ore hopper that suffered a mishap. I also mentioned that I had an ex-Southern Pacific caboose on the layout that could also be shorted. After some brooding over how best to approach the task of shortening that caboose, I finally settled on a plan of attack, and commenced to shorten it. It started off looking like this. I cut at one end of the bay window and close to the end of the caboose, discarding the section between, and then glued the two body parts together. I also had to shorten the weight attached to the floor, then shorten the chassis. By the end of the conversion, with some weathering and painting to enhance how it looked, it looked like this. To change the chassis to the same length as the shortened caboose body I had to cut the floor in a similar fashion to how I cut the body, then cut the chassis so that where it would join would be offset compared to where the floor was cut so that there was not a weak point with the floor and chassis needing joining in the same place. After all the sections were shortened, the weight was screwed onto the floor, then the chassis glued under the floor, and the end result is a fairly strong and very short (approximately 22 scale feet) caboose / passenger car for the Bamboo Island railways passenger trains between Harbour and Plantation. Short train of NSWGR X200 class rail tractor, short flat car and short caboose leaving the Harbour Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, and after operating it for the first time I was impressed with how the shortened caboose enhanced operations. Regards, James (From: https://www.jimsmodeltrains.ws/2021/09/01/hello-shorty/ ).
  7. A recent mishap on my Petra Pizza layout presented an opportunity to replace a longer flat car with a much shorter customised one a similar length to the 4 wheel open gondollas on the Tropical Pizza (also known as Bamboo Island) layout. I was walking past my Petra Pizza layout some time ago, and I happened to knock the baseboard, and one of the 22 foot open mineral hoppers fell off the layout, and smashed to the floor. The carriage was somewhat broken with the chassis and hopper section separated and bits and pieces strewn all over the floor. Originally the carriage looked like this one: As you can imagine I was annoyed at the carnage and I wondered whether I should try and fix it or scrap it or something else. I had been wanting a shorter flat car for a while for my Tropical Pizza layout, and as I surveyed the damage to the hopper that little light bulb above the head went on, and I realised I could convert it to a flat car. So after some further thinking and experimenting, I came up with this: Basically, it is the chassis of the 22 foot mineral hopper, with a 20 foot container glued to it. I think it’s come up ok. So now I have a short flat car in keeping with the other short rollingstock on the Tropical Pizza layout. After some looking closely at the ex-Southern Pacific caboose which is used for the passenger train on the layout, I am thinking that I could shorten it too by removing the platform and steps at one end and cutting either side of the side bay to make it a lot shorter – not quite as short as the flat car above, but still a lot shorter than it currently is. These changes are quite in keeping with a cash-challenged railway separated from other railways by ocean, and the need for the railway to make do with what is available in the form of quirky and unusual custom rollingstock. (From https://www.jimsmodeltrains.ws/2021/08/11/tropical-pizza-flat-car/ )
  8. I feel your pain! The other day I had to give a just-cleaned-and-lubricated loco I was 'resurrecting' for use on one of my switching layouts a good run-in, and I had to let it run on my 'Pizza' layout for about 20 minutes before trying it on my Box Street layout. Luckily, it could handle the 11 inch curves on that micro or I would have been reduced to running it back and forth on the longest switching layout I have (a bit over 4 feet) and having to keep nudging it when it stalled on points until it started running ok - that would have got pretty old pretty quick! Regards, James
  9. Thats sliding door is a cool idea! I've has numerous modular layouts, but only ever had a piece of ply screwed into the frame under the tunnel to stop trains exiting the last module. A sliding door such as yours is much easier to use!
  10. Hi all. It's been a while since I posted something on this forum, so thought I would add a post about intricacies of operations on the Box Street layout. I've been having regular operating session on my various micro layouts for a while now, and am getting used to the somewhat quirky nature of switching the Box Street layout, and having to think a few moves ahead when operating it. Mostly this is necessary because of the smallness of the layout, and my need to move as many of 6 or so virtually interchanged cars on some operating sessions. With 6 or more cars the layout it can be somewhat short of space for moving cars around. The cars at the start of the session I had today are shown in the photo below. There were 3 cars in the 'yard' (foreground right side of photo) which had insulated packaging materials for Midwest Foods which is in the tall building on the back left hand side of the layout. There were 2 reefers in the Team Track in the middle of the layout (1 of them being a 50 foot car) which had been unloaded and were ready to moved to Riverdale. There was also an empty box car to be moved to Riverdale and a covered hopper to be returned empty to Colorado at left hand side of the layout. To complete all the movements required for the operating session it took about an hour to complete. Part of the reason it took that long was the 3 cars for Midwest Foods could not all be moved there to be unloaded as the spur is only long enough for 2 40 foot cars, so I had to push 2 cars into that spur for unloading them shuffle one of those cars out to move the last of the 3 in to be unloaded after I had made other car movements. Because of the lack of available space to store cars I also made my fair share of switching mistakes (or are they switching experiments) which meant a bit more time to complete the session. Here is a screenshot the switchlist of the cars that had to be moved, from the web-based Model Railroad Interchange Car Forwarding application. Regards, James
  11. I have found that some DCC locos are more sensitive to dirt on the tracks or track geometry that has sections where there is no electric pickup (eg, frogs on slips and turnouts). Some of my US outline Bachmann DCC onboard can be a somewhat tempremental on those pieces of track even though they are all wheel pickup. By contrast my DC only Hornby 48DS (without the extra wagon for better electrical pickup) will go through most points without a problem inspite of it's being extremely short. I think part of the problem might be the loss of DCC signal that is caused by the temporary drop in voltage that causes the loco to stop. Regards, James
  12. Today I uploaded my first video of the Box Street layout to YouTube, featuring an operating session with an Also S2 and 4 cars. The operating session featured in the video was done yesterday. Regards, James
  13. Here is a video I made of trains running on the layout.
  14. Scaling back the track arrangement on my 4×1 feet HO scale Box Street micro switching layout to be more similar to the track plan that inspired it and re-arrangement of industries. A few days ago, I was contemplating my Box Street micro layout, and thinking about how I can improve it. I was initially thinking about a totally new track arrangement based on a Peco 3 way turnout, but when I saw how much they cost I decided against that idea. I looked through the Carl Arendt authored books I have for small and micro layouts, and I happened upon the Boxer Shortline plan on which my Box Street layout is based. After a bit of thinking, I decided I would change the track arrangement on the Box Street layout to be more like the Boxer Shortline plan. Here are the reason why I decided to do that: No extra cost to buy more track. Simplifies the track arrangement. De-clutters the layout. The proposed track arrangement would be almost identical to the Boxer Shortline plan, except for one extra spur in the ‘ interchange yard’ area. Revised track plan Two of the spurs would be removed, and replaced with scenery, and the location of industries changed to suit the new track arrangement. Here is what it looked like before the changes were made. Industries: Left: multi-industry building & Jaxxs Snaxxs; Centre: South Chicago Flour & Grains; Right team tracks. The Hot Mix Asphalt plant at the centre front of the layout can also receive cars, but they either foul the double slip or use the Jaxxs Snaxxs spur. After the industries in the back centre and back right of the layout and un-needed trackage was removed, and the existing track re-aligned and a turnout installed to replace the single slip, it looked quite bare. But it wasn’t long before the changes were complete, thanks to a Monday afternoon that I could dedicate to making the required changes. Industries: Left: multi-industry building & Jaxxs Snaxxs; Centre: team track; Right: South Chicago Flour & Grains. In the process of making the changes, the abandoned building that was next to the team tracks was removed, and some grassed areas were added where spurs and buildings were previously. Operationally, it will be a little different to how it was before. The capacity of the spurs has been lowered by 3 cars. But there is still room for about 6 cars in the various industry spurs, and 4 in the interchange yard. Although now the runaround track is also the track that serves the team track so that will make the layout more of a switching puzzle than it was before. This post derived from my blog at: https://www.jimsmodeltrains.ws/2021/01/19/less-is-more/
  15. Tropical palm and fern trees and some people add more life to a verdant tropical island HO scale micro layout. Since the last blog post about my Tropical Pizza layout, I have received and added tropical trees to the layout. I also found some HO size people to add to the layout, adding some much need human population to the layout. As a point of reference, here is the layout scenery before the trees and people were added. Harbour view Storage track Plantation Plantation passenger ‘station’ And here are the same views after the trees were added. Harbour view Storage track Plantation Plantation passenger ‘station’ The addition of the trees has made a marked difference in the over all effect. I guess that’s what happens when around 20 trees are added to such a small layout. But adding people has also added interest to the layout, providing glimpses of life on the island. from the old lady waiting for the next passenger train, to a cleaner trying in vain to keep the harbour area clean, to the man trying to convince of the size of the fish that ‘got away’. To finish off this post, here are some photos of the island’s palm and fern trees and other features. The $18 spent on the trees in the above photos was money well spent! A few of the left over palm trees were also used on my Brazilian HO scale micro switchback layout as well. In the time since the trees were added, I have also worked out a train sheet, with a few freight trains and some passenger trains depending on the day of the week being operated. Operating the layout is quite complicated, as siding space is limited and freight cars all have to be loaded or unloaded at the harbour, which means a lot of shunting is involved. I am quite happy with this little layout. It has been a joy to build, and it is fun to operate.
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