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

Saturday, December 14, 2019

TRAIN TIME: The Edge of Town Train Layout is Up and Running Again - For Now!

It's been nearly two years since I ran trains on my small Edge of Town layout having posted the last video of it in January 2018. Since then it had been cleared off and used for storage - a predicament I have to live with out in The Cave until I can get rid of stuff! I recently purchased a battery operated Marx train set very cheap and put it through its paces. In the video the tender derailed a couple of times. Once I stopped filming I messed with the coupler's and that apparently did the trick and it runs fine now. Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

Sunday, December 1, 2019

REMCO Electronic Radio Station

Here's an interesting toy from 1954: REMCO's Electronic Radio Station.  This has so many features and sports such wonderful mid-century modern design, it's hard not be enticed by it. Using this, a young lad or lassie can believe they're a police or fire dispatcher, or perhaps an air traffic controller or even at a base station directing troop movements on the front. There's plenty of knobs and dials to keep a young'un employed for some time and while some do nothing more than turn and change a display on the control panel, a couple make a telegraphic click or light the searchlight atop the panel. The walkie-talkies can be set up in different rooms and you can relay messages back-&-forth with a friend or just use one handset to play the role of a dispatcher or controller.

The station comes in a counter display box which I deliberately did not set up and photograph in display modedue to the fragility of the box. When you open it up all the components are displayed including the small instruction booklet. It's all plastic with a heavy cardboard backing and of course a long spool of wire from one of the handsets and runs on two 'D' cell batteries While the box proclaims it can send and receive voice messages up to half a mile you certainly don't get that long of a cord. I didn't unravel mine but I'm making a guesstimate that it's only about 20' long - long enough to reach from one room to another (if they're next to each other!). Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

Both masts should have a small ball at top - one of mine is broken off.

One handset for use as a one-person dispatcher or controller

Two handsets: one for use by your friend

Turning the knob will turn the searchlight atop the control panel

When the buzzer is depressed the needle will rotate

Morse code decoder - turning the lever reveals a different letter of the alphabet with the appropriate dot-dash symbols below

Pressing the telegraph key on the lower right of the panel causes the light to go on allowing the operator to send signals via light. There's even a small notepad to the lower left for writing down any messages received.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

TRAIN TIME: Karl Bub Nuremberg - Pre-war German House w-Fence for O-Gauge Trains

I've been acquiring a few small German style houses recently suitable for O-gauge. Maybe I can cobble together a small German style train layout - it would have to be small - got no room for a big layout! Anywho, nothing has gelled yet in my mind but gathering materials is the first phase. This measures:

Base: 5" (12.7cm) square x 3/8" (.952cm) H 
House: 3" (7.62cm) D x 4 1/8" (10.47cm) W x 3 7/8" (9.84cm) H 
O'all 4 1/4" (10.79) H  

It appears to be missing a pole - lamp post perhaps? but I have no reference books on German tin so can't say. In any case - Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina