Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Modern diesel locomotives have working brass bells on them, same as steam engines from the old days. Nobody knows why – it’s probably because there’s an ancient federal law on the books that nobody’s bothered to delete, or it could be just because it’s an old railroad tradition. Instead of being mounted on the top of the loco it’s usually hidden away behind a fuel tank or inside a wheel well, but it’s still there and they still use it. You probably heard it the last time you were waiting for a train and you didn’t even realize where that sound was coming from.

Here’s what I wonder: Who makes bells? There are thousands of locomotives running around the countryside, maybe tens of thousands. If every one of them has a bell on it, somebody somewhere is working furiously to cast bells who otherwise would have shut down production decades ago, because who needs bells these days? Just railroads, that’s who.

bell | 8:49 pm CST
Category: daily drivel | Tags: ,
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Monday, January 16th, 2012

A dull, dreary day is a perfect day stay in the basement, working on the model railroad layout.

I spent most of the day running a subroadbed through a tight curve that will end up at one of the three terminals on the line, and at the very highest point as well. The way the lines cross over one another, I was having a little trouble getting the subroadbed high enough to pass over the level below it. After readjusting the height of the second level, though, I think I’ve got it licked.

This is the third and last level to be added to the back corner of the layout. The bottom level is the return loop, the second level is the switchback that leads to the passenger station, and the top layer is a short line to a commuter rail stop. If and when I ever get around to adding the scenery, you won’t be able to see the bottom layer, and most of the second layer will be hidden, too.

And so will all of the work I did today. I spent hours chopping up half-inch by half-inch sticks to use as supports for the subroadbed, clamping them to the frame and screwing them in place ever so carefully, checking repeatedly that the subroadbed remained level. It looks busy as hell. “Wow, that’s getting pretty complex,” My Darling B said, when she came down to ask when I wanted to eat supper. But after the scenery’s in place, none of it will be visible. All you’ll see is the track.

Some day. Not today. Not tomorrow, either. Come back in about a year. I might even have trains running by then.

subterrainian | 5:03 pm CST
Category: hobby | Tags: , ,
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