Friday, January 17, 2020

TRAIN TIME: The Edge of Town Layout Starts Getting a Makeover - Pt 5 Odds-&-Ends

Rejuvenating a layout - whether a large one or small one - is a series of mini-projects within the larger project. When I first built the layout, it was kind of a rush job so that I could get it up and running for train meets. The lines delineating the roadbed and river and roads were all drawn in and painted by hand - ahem, rather badly I hate to admit - and some areas didn't receive the attention they should have. Case in point: the 'river' just sorta stopped in front of the bridge LOL Okay, so now I at least painted the blue all the way to the rear of the board. Perhaps not too noticeable but I know it's there.

The area to the left of the layout was just one big patch of medium gray paint. I defined the roadway a bit better and painted it in with Woodland Scenics 'Asphalt' paint.

Back in the day, when the layout was new, there were operating crossing gates on the far left. Those were removed over the years. I decided to bring them back and made three insulated tracks used to activate them. The outer insulated rail needed a power hook-up by using spade lugs inserted into the bottom of the rail. A hole was drilled in the plastic roadbed and once installed on the layout isn't even noticeable. More to come. Enjoy! Opa Fritz

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

TRAIN TIME: The Edge of Town Layout Starts Getting a Makeover - Pt 4

Here's the last storyboard for the renovation of the Edge of Town layout and it covers removal of the old Marx plate girder bridge. I built foamcore and poster board mock-ups and then cut them up to mimic the scrapping of the old bridge. Enjoy! Opa Fritz

Friday, January 10, 2020

TRAIN TIME: The Edge of Town Layout Starts Getting a Makeover - Pt 3

Well, well, well, where did I leave off? Oh yeah, I was started to rejuvenate the small Edge of Town 3-rail train layout. Although we had lost our old computer that doesn't mean I was idle. Nope, work on the Edge of Town layout has been progressing, albeit a bit slowly.

I began the process by storyboarding the deconstruction. This fantasy sequence shows the removal of the black Marx stamped sheet metal plate girder bridge for eventual 'scrapping'. In it you'll notice the plastic construction vehicles that were in several iterations of Marx's Big Inch Pipeline Construction playsets. While the figures that came in those sets were quite large and out of place on an O-gauge layout, the vehicle's were spot-on and overall look great on a 3-rail O-gauge layout. Until next time - Enjoy! Opa Fritz

I'm Baaaack and A Happy Belated New Year!

Well, I hope you all had a great holiday season - whatever holiday it is you celebrate -if any! In any case it's over now for another year. Ours was sorta, kinda uneventful. The grandbaby of course got all the attention at Christmas - as one would expect - and her haul of Barbie toys was quite good. I revel at all the bloggers, YouTuber's, and facebooker's who show off all their goodies. Me? I got a small plastic candy cane filled with M&M's that ended up getting passed around for everyone to eat! hahahahaha...

...and life goes on!

Soooo, why did it take so long for me to post anything here? Well, we lost our computer again! When this happened back in 2014 not all of our stuff had been backed up and we lost a couple of years worth of photos. This time I believe we only lost the few photos Bettina had taken on the day the computer died - no biggie. I'm not quite certain if it was a virus or old age. The thing was old to begin with and started acting up a couple of months ago. To that end I made a concerted effort to back everything up in preparation for 'The Day'. 'The Day' finally came around the 23rd of December and it died. On Christmas day I ordered a new PC on-line (using my back-up laptop) and while I waited the week for it to arrive, used the time to assemble and put in place the new desk we had bought from IKEA. First though we had to disassemble the really horrible old corner desk that sat here like a big black and brown monolith sucking all light from that corner of the room! LOL Yeah, I bought that thing many years ago with the thought that, as a corner table, it would somehow save space and be efficient. Nope! Didn't happen.This particular design was big, bulky, ugly and ended up wasting space. The new desk still holds everything the old one did but does a better job at organizing what's put on/in it.

I s'pose the new PC was my Christmas present to my myself, but truth be told, Bettina uses it a lot more than I do. Looking at it now, this was a blessing in disguise as the new PC has a faster processor, more RAM and a larger hard drive, the lack of which made using the old PC a challenge. I haven't edited any of my train videos for a while now because the old PC's hard drive was maxed out for capacity and new space-hogging video editing software wasn't a good option. Also, trying to edit large files (of which I have several) was time consuming: type a few things, add a picture and wait forever for it to save! I hope that I can get back in the groove with some of my old projects that were kinda shelved!

Well, posting should continue again - more or less regularly as is my fashion. Until our next meeting - Enjoy! Opa Fritz

Friday, December 20, 2019

TRAIN TIME: The Edge of Town Layout Starts Getting a Makeover - Pt 2

On the one hand, I like taking pictures and story boarding changes to the layout. On the other, it takes time away from actually doing any work on the layout so the first few installments of the changes being made to the Edge of Town layout will be story boarded and from then on I'll just post pics of any progress made. Here's where we stand now. The big rigs are moving into town in preparation for dismantling the old girder bridge. Extra trucks have also appeared which will help in hauling away the smaller pieces. Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Holiday Stress, Decluttering, and Decorating

Gosh, I don't know about you but this holiday season has got me stressed out! The grandbaby - bless her 5 year old heart - wants a lot of stuff  (bad news for her: Santa's gonna bring what he brings and no more!) and wants us to do a lot of decorating. Now I get the whole "Let's bling the house to the max for the holidays like the Griswold's" shtick but that runs against our very nature here in Opa Fritz's household. We simply don't like dragging a bunch of stuff out for a few weeks only to put it back again! Let's face it, we're not the decoratin' type.

AND THEN Bettina and I have been busy getting rid of things. Too many things causes a type of stress all of its own and we have both come to the realization that we have too many unnecessary objects acquired after many many years. Normally Bettina is not a 'thing' person - I'm the collector in the house - but even she has accumulated a lot of stuff over time and both of us finally got to the point where we said "Enough is enough!!" and started pulling all manner of  things out: cookware, kitchenware, decorative chachkis, clothes, even furniture. Our huge shelving unit and room divider we had bought in Germany back in the '80s is no more (no, this wasn't Shrank, but a massive, modular, shelf unit) replaced by downsized furniture from IKEA. What did we do with it all? Some went to thrift stores, some went to my oldest daughter's friend who owns a small second-hand business,  and some ended up in the trash. It's a slow, sometimes painful, process but in the end we are both feeling a bit better for having done so. I think back on all the money we paid for some of these things but you know what? That money was wasted the moment we bought the whatever. The effort it would take to recoup some of that would simply cause more stress, so mentally we just have to say "Bye!" - and life goes on. We're not finished! Nope, still got a ton of things that will end up going but man-oh-man did we put a dent in it!

Okay, back to Christmas decorating. Soooo, the grandbaby wanted a big tree this year. For years now space was so tight because of all the extra (and big) furniture items in the living room that I ended up putting a small 4ft tree on a table and calling it quits! Well, that whole 'getting rid of stuff thing' - including furniture - freed up enough space to put up a 'pencil' tree bought on-line at half-price from Wal-Mart. Pencil trees are tall and thin - ours is only about 38" diameter at the bottom - made especially for people who don't have a lot of room. The grandbaby helped too in that she chose a lot of the decorations we used this year for the tree including the glittery star on top. I think she has wonderful taste! :-)  There's a circle of track with a cheap battery operated train from Wal-Mart underneath - I simply did not have the energy to do anything more substantial, sorry train guys, the 'oomph' just wasn't there!

Melody admiring the tree

...AND for the very first time ever, I put lights on the outside of the house!! I grew up in a big old house on top of a hill in an older neighborhood. Back in the '50s and '60s we didn't see much by way of exterior lights in my neighborhood and dad certainly wasn't going to go up on a ladder to hang any up. There were no exterior electrical outlets for him to plug lights into and he wasn't going to add outlets just for a bunch of lights that had to be taken down anyway. Anywho, that being said I grew up not being an exterior light kind of person. Same goes for Bettina - exterior lights at Christmas wasn't a thing she remembered in Germany (except for store fronts) and her family didn't do it either. Actually it wasn't such bad experience. I bought special clips which slide under the shingles and, hung four sets of lights up. Our house wasn't built with an exterior outlet out front but I had one added some years back and it came in handy. The lights are attached to a timer which sticks into the ground so I don't have to go outside and manually turn the lights on. As the lights are all LED the cost for electricity should be minimal (I hope) but then nearly all the lights in the house are now LED and overall the electric bill has gone down the past year or so.

...AND then there's driving during the holidays! Las Vegas is already rated as one of the cities with the worst drivers and the holidays haven't improved on anyone's skills!! Nuff said!

Well, the holiday season is almost over and with it - hopefully - the stress! Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

Sunday, December 15, 2019

TRAIN TIME: The Edge of Town Layout Starts Getting a Makeover - Pt 1

Wellll, after not featuring my small Edge of Town train layout in nearly two years I took one video last week and started re-doing the thing! After filming last week's video I had a real good look at the layout and decided it needed a change. That 'needing a change' feeling has been with me for a while but now was as good a time as any to act on it. When you run trains on something as small as my Edge of Town after a while it gets old, and it's been essentially in its current state for years now. The very first phase of the project was story boarded and will be presented in several installments. After that it'll just be updates. Photographing the progress in this story board format is kind of fun but it also takes time, but I'm always complaining about the time I don't have so that's why this initial phase will be documented and then periodic updates as work progresses.

The story board: For this I pulled out a bunch of Marx Big Inch Pipeline playset vehicles and some of my Marx 6in-4whl work train cars, then established a small construction yard on the The Green. Today's offering shows the loading of some of the old track onto trucks where they'll be hauled away and used for another layout someday - maybe! :-)

Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina