Posts Tagged ‘Model Railroading’

Beam me up! Train layouts hide all sorts of goodies at Monroe WA show

Friday, February 24th, 2012

A few weeks ago was not just Superbowl Sunday but it was also a gem of a model railroad show, the 21st Annual Train Show & Swap Meet presented by the United Northwest Model Railroad Club in Monroe, WA at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds.

When trains crash, United Northwest Model Railroad Club figures congregate to discuss the cause, to scale.... - Photo by Cat Cook

When trains crash, United Northwest Model Railroad Club figures congregate to discuss the cause, to scale.... - Photo by Cat Cook

We had heard from lots of folks that this was a great show and they were right. It filled a large hall with lots of vendors and layouts, many of whom I hadn’t the pleasure of seeing before.  First up allow me to present the 4th Division of the Pacific Northwest Region of the National Model Railroad Association.

Half Circle Farms module by Al Lowe of 4DNTrak - Photo by Cat Cook

Half Circle Farms module by Al Lowe of 4DNTrak - Photo by Cat Cook

My favorite part had to be Rob Jones’ logging module though, not just because I like logging themes but because of the Star Trek easter egg!

McCullough Logging module by Rob Jones of 4DNTrak featuring Star Trek away team - Photo by Cat Cook

McCullough Logging module by Rob Jones of 4DNTrak featuring Star Trek away team - Photo by Cat Cook

Also, showing off their handiwork was the Boeing Employee’s Model Railroading Club O-Scale Division.

BEMRRC

The Boeing Employee's Model Railroading Club O-Scale Division gets some attention - Photo by Cat Cook

Another nice layout was had by Tacoma Northwestern Model Railroad Club.

Tacoma Northwestern Model Railroad Club Layout - Photo by Cat Cook

Tacoma Northwestern Model Railroad Club Layout - Photo by Cat Cook

scenery shot TNWMRC

Scenery shot of Tacoma Northwestern Model Railroad Club - Photo by Cat Cook

We also met Linda McCune who was in the booth next to us. Linda was on hand to share the Don McCune Library which she established to preserve the works of her late husband Don McCune. Don McCune created many radio and television documentaries and was perhaps best known for writing and narrating over 400 episodes of Exploration Northwest. After being exposed to some of his excellent work we have decided along with Linda to add some of the episodes to our library of train-related DVDs. They aren’t on our website yet but they will be very soon. For more information on Linda McCune, Don McCune, and the Don McCune Library you can visit www.donmccunelibrary.com.

Linda McCune of Don McCune Library

Linda McCune of the Don McCune Library at the show! - Photo by Cat Cook

Next show is the World’s Greatest Hobby on Tour show in Portland Oregon, February 25th and 26th at the Convention Center. We hope to see you there or at another show in the future!

 

 

 

 

National Train Day & Rickreall Model Train Show

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Last Saturday was National Train Day, a holiday started in 2008 by Amtrak to celebrate the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. The golden spike was driven home on May 10th 1869 in Promontory, Utah connecting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads. Although the holiday was initiated by Amtrak, all sorts of railroad museums, model railroad clubs, railfans, and model railroad retailers celebrate with events across the country.

Celebration of completion of the transamerican railroad on 1869-05-10 (May 10th 1869) at what is now Golden Spike National Historic Site.  Public Domain: From the NPS website at http://www.nps.gov/gosp/index.htm

Celebration of completion of the transamerican railroad on May 10th 1869 at what is now Golden Spike National Historic Site. Public Domain: From the NPS website at http://www.nps.gov/gosp/index.htm

This year we did our celebrating by being a part of the Rickreall Model Train Swapmeet & Show just west of Salem, Oregon hosted by the Polk Station Rail Model Train Club. This club was founded in 1993 and features an HO scale layout which is permanently housed in a large upstairs room of the historic Rickreall Grange Hall.

Show organizer and club president, Tom Pryor, welcomes everyone in at the front door. Photo by Cat Cook

Show organizer and club president, Tom Pryor, welcomes everyone in at the front door. Photo by Cat Cook

The subject of their layout is the Oregonian Railroad which was a narrow gauge railroad that ran through Polk Station to Dallas, Oregon until Southern Pacific acquired the line in 1890 which removed the narrow gauge and replaced it with standard gauge. The layout is quite large and has great use of light and sound. Below you will find just a couple of shots, one includes the Tim Burr logging truck from Woodland Scenics.

The use of lighting in the Polk Station Rail Model Train Club's layout is fabulous as seen in this part of the neighborhood. Photo by Cat Cook

The use of lighting in the Polk Station Rail Model Train Club's layout is fabulous as seen in this part of the neighborhood. Photo by Cat Cook

Section of the Polk Station Rail Model Train Club layout featuring a Tim Burr Logging truck by Woodland Scenics. Photo by Cat Cook

Section of the Polk Station Rail Model Train Club layout featuring a Tim Burr Logging truck by Woodland Scenics. Photo by Cat Cook

One of the best things about participating in train shows is meeting other vendors with unique items we haven’t seen before. This show gave us a few opportunities to meet such folks. First, we met Dave one of our ‘table neighbors’ upstairs. He does custom modeling and scratch building of HO vehicles and equipment. He displays and sells some of his already completed projects and takes on custom projects for customers looking for items that are not already available in the marketplace. Although he mostly works in HO scale, he is not vehemently opposed to doing projects in O or N scale. “If you can imagine it, I can build it,” he says. Dave can be reached at dgeo59@hotmail.com or 503-442-0140.

A custom detailed Ford F350 contactor's pick up by Dave. Photo by Cat Cook

A custom detailed Ford F350 contactor's pick up by Dave. Photo by Cat Cook

An drill that can be used for oil or water, custom built by Dave. Photo by Cat Cook

A trailer-mounted drill custom built by Dave. Photo by Cat Cook

Another unique vendor we met this show was photographer, Laurie Breier. Laurie’s collection of photography is called Graffiti Artistry and it provides a unique view of railcars acting as the canvas to graffiti’s paint.  Railroad graffiti is its own subculture which Laurie captures as striking images framed and ready to display. The subject inspires conversation about topics such as the history of ‘graffiti’ on trains back to the days of hobo codes, what is art, and how has graffiti affected railroads, railfans, and modeling. Laurie can be reached at wkndrs@cmspan.net.

Laurie Breier displaying some of her work at the Rickreall Model Train Show. Photo by Cat Cook

Laurie Breier displaying some of her work at the Rickreall Model Train Show. Photo by Cat Cook

Laurie sharing one of her photos featuring graffiti and rust taken near the Roseburg, OR rail yard. Photo by Cat Cook

Laurie sharing one of her photos featuring graffiti and rust taken near the Roseburg, OR rail yard. Photo by Cat Cook

If you missed participating in some of the events for this year’s National Train Day here are a couple of the other big rail events coming this summer:

And here are some lists of other rail events for your perusal:

Eugene Train Show: Railfans & Layouts & Speeders – Oh My!

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Last weekend (April 9 & 10, 2011) was the 23rd Annual Willamette Cascade Model Railroad Club Train Show & Swap Meet in Eugene, OR. It was our first time there and we met many new & friendly folks. We look forward to going back for this show year after year. In all, it filled 3 large rooms of the Expo Building at the Lane County Fairgrounds. There were layouts, equipment, vintage railroadiana, railfan goodies, model trains & accessories in abundance. Lee & Diane Temple were on point organizing the show, their hard work paid off with a well-attended and smooth-running event. When they aren’t organizing the train show they specialize in buying, selling, and consigning trains, paper, books, memorabilia, & more! Their business is Temple’s Trains and Things and they can be reached at ttandt@ram-mail.com.

I think I was in the right place - Willamette Cascade Model Railroad Show - Photo by: Cat Cook

I think I was in the right place! - The Willamette Cascade Model Railroad Show - Photo by: Cat Cook

There were a few layouts including Clay’s Trailer-n-Train Railroad, a 24 by 10 foot G-scale layout that is displayed right on the trailer used to transport it from event to event. Across the way were the Oregon Electric O-Gaugers with their 30 by 12 foot O-scale layout. In one of the other rooms Roger Fegles, one of the members of the Willamette Cascade Model Railroad Club, had an awesome N-scale layout displayed.

Gary & Roger of the Willamette Cascade Model Railroad Club were all smiles while working the door at the show. Photo by: Cat Cook

Gary & Roger of the Willamette Cascade Model Railroad Club were all smiles while working the door at the show. Photo by: Cat Cook

Nearby, Ken showed off Dawson Station, his 1 x 4 foot N-scale layout based on the Hull-Oakes lumber mill in Dawson, Oregon. If you’ve never seen Ken’s Dawson Station layout or his website please check it out! I love his video tours, especially the Nightfall at Dawson Station which includes a soundtrack of Willamette Valley frogs & the Arduino Control of Model Train which gives an overview of the circuit boards used to control the locomotive and sound (Hey Dad, if you are reading this, watch that one!) By the way, wanna see how to use a Wii Nunchuk to control a locomotive forwards and backwards (with realistic acceleration) as well as to operate turnouts? You can see it in the Arduino Control of Model Train video. It’s pretty cool and geeky (two attributes I appreciate equally.)

Dawson Station Layout based on Hull-Oakes Sawmill - Photo by: Cat Cook

Dawson Station Layout based on Hull-Oakes Sawmill - Photo by: Cat Cook

If you’ve been to a train show before, you may have seen one of these on display:

M-19 Fairmont Speeder - Photo by: Cat Cook

M-19 Fairmont Speeder - Photo by: Cat Cook

These railroad motorcars, AKA speeders, were used to travel on and inspect track although nowadays Hy-Rail vehicles are usually used instead. The North American Rail Car Operators Association (NARCOA) is comprised of people who privately own these rail cars and get together for excursions on tracks around the country. We met Guy and his speeder named Sophia (pictured below) at the show and got to hear about this fascinating hobby. Because NARCOA has an excellent reputation for safety, they are allowed to rent out rail lines for their excursions. Often these excursions take the motorcar owners and their lucky few passengers to locales miles from civilization for some very unique railroading experiences. For more information about this hobby check out www.narcoa.org and www.railspeeders.com.

"Sophia" the Speeder! Photo by: Cat Cook

"Sophia" the Speeder! She's a Tamper TMC-2 - Photo by: Cat Cook

On the way home I snapped a couple more pictures of Central Oregon & Pacific’s Winchester switching yard:

CORP's Winchester Rail Switching Yard - Photo by Cat Cook

CORP's Winchester Rail Switching Yard - Photo by Cat Cook

Here are some EMD GP20Ds in Central Oregon & Pacific (CORP) and leasing company Capital Equipment Funding (CEFX) paint:

EMD GP20Ds at the Central Oregon & Pacific yard in Winchester, OR - Photo by: Cat Cook

EMD GP20Ds at the Central Oregon & Pacific yard in Winchester, OR - Photo by: Cat Cook

We passed this mystery piece of Maintenance of Way equipment on a West Rail Construction flat bed, if you can identify it please email me (Cat) at media@theshortline.com:

Maintenance of Way Equipment (Unidentified) Photo by: Cat Cook

Maintenance of Way Equipment (Unidentified) Photo by: Cat Cook

Happy Railroading!

Great Train Expo – Portland, OR & Observations from the Road

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

We just got back from the Great Train Expo in Portland, Oregon. It was our first time attending this show and it was fabulous, we are definitely planning on doing this show every year! Luckily most of the snow melted from the storm that passed through the day before we were set to leave so we made it up north without any problems. We arrived and got our booth set up with an assortment of new inventory including Walthers models, DVDs from TSG Multimedia, Woodland Scenics landscaping materials and figures, and lots of new shirts and hats among other goodies.

Cat Cook at The Short Line's booth at the Great Train Expo, Portland - Photo by Don Cook

Cat Cook at The Short Line's booth at the Great Train Expo, Portland - Photo by Don Cook

The show was at the Portland Metro Expo Center which is in North Portland across from Hayden Island and along North Portland Harbor. We stayed nearby at the Courtyard by Marriott from where I snapped this photo looking across the harbor at Hayden Island and Vancouver, Washington. You can see some of the Vancouver-Hayden Island Bridge in the background. This bridge (also known as the North Bank Bridge, the Columbia River Railroad Bridge, and BNSF Bridge 9.6) was constructed in 1908 and is a double-tracked swing through truss bridge. It is 2,808 feet long and has it’s longest span at 492 feet.

Hayden Island - Photo by Cat Cook

Hayden Island - Photo by Cat Cook

Of course there were lots of vendors and layouts. Those showing off their layouts included Rose City Garden Railway Society, Beaverton Modular Railroad Club, Longview Kelso & Rainier Railroad Club, Cascade Z Modelers, and the Portland Lego Users Group.

Cascade Z Modelers' Layout - Photo by Don Cook

Cascade Z Modelers' Layout - Photo by Don Cook

On the way home we passed this 1904 Baldwin 3′ Gauge locomotive painted in honor of the ongoing ‘civil war’ rivalry between the University of Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers. It can be seen from Interstate 5 as you pass the Keizer Station Village Shopping Center, just north of the 45th parallel which is halfway between the Equator and the North Pole.

U. of Oregon/Oregon State Civil War Train - Photo by Cat Cook

U. of Oregon/Oregon State Civil War Train - Photo by Cat Cook

North of Roseburg we passed the new 6-million dollar Winchester Rail Switching Yard for Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad that opened in September of last year.

CORP's Winchester Rail Switching Yard - Photo by Cat Cook

CORP's Winchester Rail Switching Yard - Photo by Cat Cook

A bit further south, here is the North Umpqua River Bridge (also known as the Winchester Railroad Bridge and North Umpqua Railroad Bridge) built in 1906. It is on the Central Oregon & Pacific railroad in Winchester, Oregon.

North Umpqua River Bridge - Photo by Cat Cook

North Umpqua River Bridge - Photo by Cat Cook

Finally, just before we crested Sexton Summit we passed a couple of CSX Intermodal containers on trucks.

CSX Intermodal on I-5 - Photo by Cat Cook

CSX Intermodal on I-5 - Photo by Cat Cook

And then, we were home just in time for the next snow storm to pass through! We are looking forward to the next show on our agenda: the 23rd Annual Willamette Cascade Model Railroad Club Train Show & Swap Meet in Eugene, Oregon which is happening April 9th & 10th at Lane County Fairgrounds. We hope to see you there!

From the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad to Union Pacific in Dunsmuir

Friday, December 31st, 2010
We attended the Great Train Expo in Pomona, December 18th & 19th, despite the torrential downpour that turned Los Angeles into a rather large puddle a week before Christmas. Attendance was likely diminished due to the historic rainfall (this is the third wettest December since they started keeping track in 1877) but it was a successful show despite it, and Don and his son Alan (who helped out in my stead) met some fine Southern Californian train folks.

We spent the holiday down in So Cal where our respective families still reside.  I was given a tour of the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad, my dad’s N-scale layout which is under construction, and took some pictures.  Below you can see the roundhouse and turntable in the foreground of this photo with my dad inspecting some track in the back section.

Dad Working on the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad Photo by: Cat Cook

Bill Haigler Working on the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad - Photo by: Cat Cook

All of these switches work and the lights light up! It’s quite something.
The Control Panel for the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad - Photo by: Cat Cook

The Control Panel for the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad - Photo by: Cat Cook

Here you can see some, just some… of the detailed wiring involved in the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad. You can also see some washers used as counterbalances for the coal mechanisms.
Bill Haigler working on the wiring for the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad - Photo by Cat Cook

Bill Haigler working on the wiring for the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad - Photo by Cat Cook

On the way back home we took a spur of the moment jaunt into Dunsmuir, CA. Just as we pulled into town, so did a Union Pacific train coming from the south.  Don quickly navigated us down to the tracks and I jumped out to wave at the engineer and snapped this photo of the GE ES44AC and accompanying video in the nick of time.
UP 7736 (a GE ES44AC) entering Dunsmuir from the south - Photo by Cat Cook

UP 7736 (a GE ES44AC) entering Dunsmuir from the south - Photo by Cat Cook

And here’s a video of most of the rest of the train as it pulls into the station for a crew change:  Union Pacific pulls into Dunsmuir

I’ve been through Dunsmuir at least 8 times before while traveling on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight but as the schedule always puts the train there in the dark of night I’ve never seen the town properly before. Our plan is to go back and spend a day there since it is only a 2-hour drive from Merlin, OR.

A Semaphore in front of the Dunsmuir Post Office

A Semaphore in front of the Dunsmuir Post Office - Photo by Cat Cook

Happy new year to all and happy railroading!

Tilt-Shifting the Rogue Valley Railroad Show

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
Last weekend was the 33rd Annual Rogue Valley Train Show which was well-attended by happy train-lovin’ people. Here’s a picture of the show floor from my perch up in the balcony where our big ol’ booth was located.
Rogue Valley Model Train Show (Photo by: Catherine Cook)

33rd Annual Rogue Valley Model Train Show - November 27th & 28th 2010 Medford Armory (Photo by: Catherine Cook)

Have you heard of Tilt-Shift Photography? It’s a way of manipulating certain aspects of a photograph to make the subject appear smaller than it really is. For example when applying this technique to a picture of a football stadium full of people everything looks like it is actually a miniature, or model, if you will.  Often when we photograph our train layouts we try hard to avoid our models looking like models but this photography approach attempts to do just the opposite – make real life appear like a miniature model! I thought this was pretty cool so I decided to give it a go with some pictures from the train show… miniaturizing real-life people who are looking at miniature trains helps satisfy my daily recommended intake of irony, let’s proceed!

So I found a tutorial on how to accomplish this. Let me state first off, I am by no means a professional photographer, I’ve never taken any classes on the correct way to use a camera or frame a shot so forgive the amateur mistakes you may be subjected to in this blog.  First we have to choose a photograph. Possibly the most important requirement of a successful tilt-shift fake miniature picture is having the right kind of photograph. You want to mimic that the viewer is looking down at a miniature so a shot from a higher vantage point looking down at the subject is key. We are going to work with the photo shown above. Next you will need a photo editor, I’m going to use Photoshop 5.0.  Here’s how we turn the above photo into a fake miniature photo:

  1. Open photo in Photoshop
  2. Press Q to enter Quick Mask
  3. Select Reflected Gradient Tool in the Toolbox
  4. Left click in the center of where you want your ‘in focus’ section of your photo to be and drag straight up to where you want it to start going ‘out of focus’ (this adds a hazy red fog to part of your photo)
  5. Press Q to exit Quick Mask
  6. Click the Filter drop down menu and select Blur>Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 7.5 pixels (the tutorial referred to above says to use Lens Blur but my version doesn’t have that, Gaussian Blur seems to do a similar effect)
  7. Press Ctrl-D to deselect the areas you selected with the gradient tool
  8. Click the Image drop down menu, select Adjust>Hue/Saturation and increase the Saturation by 80 (or to your taste)
  9. Click the Image drop down menu, select Adjust>Curves and drag the tonal curve until you like the look of the shadows (may not be necessary)
  10. Save it as a new image, voila!

    Tilt-Shift Fake Miniature Version

    Tilt-Shift Fake Miniature Version of the 33rd Annual Rogue Valley Train Show Photo (Photo by Catherine Cook)

This should (and does to some extent) look smaller, though I could use some more practice.  Below you can check out some more pictures from the show before and after my attempts at Tilt-Shifting them. First we have the Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club’s Layout:

Before Shot - Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club Layout (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club Layout (Photo by Catherine Cook)

After Shot - Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club Layout (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Tilt-Shift Version - Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club Layout (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Here’s another before and after shot showcasing the Siskiyou Toy Train Club:
Before Shot - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Siskiyou Toy Train Club - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

After Shot - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Tilt-Shift Version - Siskiyou Toy Train Club - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Before Shot - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

National Railway Historical Society, Southern Oregon Chapter - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

After Shot 2 - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Tilt-Shift Version - National Railway Historical Society, Southern Oregon Chapter - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Well that’s it for my initial foray into Tilt-Shift Fake Miniature photography. To see some well-done pictures using this technique (by people who know what they are doing) check out this page: Tilt-Shift Photography

Happy Railroading!

Klamath Model Railroad Show & New Donner Pass DVD Release

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

October 23rd & 24th was the 3rd annual Model Railroad Show in Klamath Falls, Oregon and we brought all our goodies over the hill (and through the woods) to share with the good folks of Klamath County. This is a nice little show hosted by the Klamath Rails Model Railroad Club. Members of the club show off their large HO scale layout  rain or shine (in this case it was rain and the rain threatened to bring down the ceiling tiles of the Klamath County Fairgrounds but the dedicated club members and show-goers were not deterred!)

Klamath Rails Model Railroad Club Layout (Photo by Cat Cook)

Klamath Rails Model Railroad Club Layout (Photo by Cat Cook)

The Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club also brought their traveling HO layout. Between the two layouts most of the exhibit hall was filled with railroad goodness. Along the edges of the exhibit hall were vendors of varying goods and the Klamath & Western Railroad out of Chiloquin, Oregon which offered rides on their passenger-ready ‘model’ locomotive.

The trains were great, of course, but it’s the people who make train shows especially enjoyable. Steve Hart and the rest of the Klamath Rails Model Railroad Club members made us feel welcome (this was our first time at the show.) It was great to see Bruce, Brad and the other members from the Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club, we will be seeing more of them next month at the Annual Rogue Valley Train Show at the Medford Armory November 27th & 28th.

We met some new friends as well. Our next door neighbors at the show included Al from Trains & Things (you can find him at most train shows throughout the Pacific Northwest with his selection of railroad Books, DVDs, and T-shirts) and Bob from Robert Gavora, Fine and Rare Books who has a huge selection of hard to find railroad books, magazines, time tables, manuals, and more! Both of these gentlemen will be at the Annual Rogue Valley Train Show in Medford so if you attend be sure to drop by their booths as well!

Donner Pass: Stacks in the High Sierras

Donner Pass: Stacks in the High Sierras

We’ve been featuring DVDs from 7Idea Productions for about a year now, at the Klamath show we finally got to meet Aaron, the man behind those fabulous videos. Aaron’s enthusiasm and passion for railroading is infectious in his videos and in ‘real life’ too! His latest video is Donner Pass: Stacks in the High Sierras which was just released! We are carrying it in both DVD and Blu-Ray!  Check out the trailer for this brand new Donner video here!

After the show we packed up and got back over the hill just as night (and snow) was beginning to fall. Now it’s time to get ready for the next show!

Happy Railroading!

I Coulda Been A Gongoozler

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
Today while watching the Pentrex DVD,  Southern Pacific Film Archives Combo, I found myself recalling childhood memories of waving at these very same trains in Southern California. These were the trains that turned me into a Railfan! This led me to contemplate the beginnings of Railfanning.

Evidence of the first Railfan (or Trainspotter as he would be known in the UK) can be found in the National Railway Museum in York. A 14-year old boy observed and wrote a description of the opening of the Stockton to Darlington Railway and the world’s first steam passenger train in 1825. In a letter home to his sisters, John Backhouse wrote:

It was a very grand sight to see such a mass of people moving on the road from Stockton to Darlington, 600 people were said to be in, on and about the wagons and coaches! And the engine drew not less that 90 tons!!!!!”

He even includes a drawing to help describe this new technological marvel to his readers.

John Backhouse Drawing of the Stockton to Darlington Railway

John Backhouse Drawing of the Stockton to Darlington Railway

Apparently, there have been Railfans since trains emerged onto the transportation landscape and luckily for contemporary Railfans, people have been documenting railroads since the beginning as well.

The first “train” movie was filmed in 1895; almost as soon as cinematic technology was available people were choosing to put trains on film! You can enjoy, Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (The Lumière Brothers, 1895), through the wonder that is YouTube. One of the challenges to Railfans has been the ever-threatening disappearance of the object of their affection, I’m grateful to those who spent their time and money creating video records of locomotives that Railfans of today would not be able to experience any other way. 

In reflecting on the origins of Railfanning, I wonder about other hobbies that share a common link with ours.  You may have heard of Aircraft Spotting…

Famous Russian Aircraft Spotter Sergei Alexandrov at Work (Photo by Villa16)

Famous Russian Aircraft Spotter Sergei Alexandrov at Work (Photo by Villa16)

But have you heard of Bus Spotting?

Bus Spotters in Action! (Photo Credit: Arriva436)

Bus Spotters in Action! (Photo Credit: Arriva436)

Satellite Spotting?

Ed Morana imaged the International Space Station as it crossed in front of the Moon.

Ed Morana imaged the International Space Station as it crossed in front of the Moon.

What about Roadgeeks? (fans of all things road-related) or Gongoozlers? (fans of all things canal-related)…. These are the Railfan’s brethren! Unite ye hobbyists! Embrace your inner geek!

How big is a Quaffle in O Scale anyway?

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009
A few nights ago on Ace of Cakes, Duff and the team reproduced the Hogwarts Express train (it looked like they had the Lionel O-Gauge version as a reference.)  As an owner of the Lionel Hogwarts Express train set I thought this was pretty cool.  As incredible cake designers, they must have to deal with scale on a regular basis, just like model train layout designers do!
Tom Felton, Duff Goldman (The Ace of Cakes) and the Hogwarts Express Cake

Tom Felton, Duff Goldman (The Ace of Cakes) and the Hogwarts Express Cake

I have started planning my own model train layout which when finished will be a replica of the Hogwarts Quidditich Pitch (pitch is what the field is called) with the Lionel O-Gauge Hogwarts Express train set going around it.  In order to design and make my own Quidditch pitch and accoutrement, math is involved. But fear not! I am equipped with fancy tools like, the Internet!
Hogwarts Quidditch Pitch

Hogwarts Quidditch Pitch

First I need to get some measurements on the pitch, etc.  Wikipedia is happy to oblige with their Quidditch entry.  Here I find some of the stats I need to begin. Next I need to convert these numbers into the scale for my layout, which is the US O Scale ratio of 1/48.  To help me do that I find another tool, a handy website with a Javascript scale conversion calculator.

Below you can see the table I started entering my data on:

My scale conversion table

My scale conversion table

You may have noticed the pitch is supposed to be 10 feet by 3.75 feet… this size is probably going to be prohibitive.  I think I can probably get away with shrinking the size of the pitch down while keeping the rest of the items (people, stands, hoops, balls) at the proper scale.

Granted, the Wikipedia entry on Quidditch didn’t have all of the measurements I needed but this will give me a great start in laying out some of the elements on my diagram (picture, if you will, many, many sheets of graph paper taped together…I really LOVE graph paper…but more about that in another installment.)