Dan's Train Blog

Remembering Mike Stokinger (Mo, 11 Okt 2010)
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on October 17, 2010 Mike Stokinger A long time railroad buff and friend of many, died Sunday September 26th, he was 56 years old. There will be a gathering of friends to celebrate Mike’s life at the Josephine Randall Museum on Wednesday, October 20 from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. From [...]
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Ryan’s Railroad (So, 22 Aug 2010)
Cross-posted from my Autistry Studios blog. Ryan is another of our railroad-minded students and he chose to model a railroad yard. We used a classic John Allen Timesaver track plan and we added an Atlas turntable at one end. We built the layout on a block of pink foam-board and glued 1/4″ plywood on the [...]
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Erik’s Sausalito module (Do, 19 Aug 2010)
This is a quick progress update and a state-of-the-project report. Erik is one of our railroad-minded students at Autistry Studios. In the spring we brainstormed ideas by collecting and organizing photos of scenes that Erik liked. We found several trends in the photos that Erik liked and the one we focused on was Northwestern Pacific [...]
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California Railroad Museum (Mo, 22 Feb 2010)
Last week we took the Amtrak Capital Corridor train from Emeryville to Sacramento and walked over to the California State Railroad Museum. I had never been there before and it is really a great place. Pretty winter day in Old Sacramento. We had the place pretty much to ourselves in the morning. There are more [...]
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Finally Foothill Station (Mo, 08 Feb 2010)
In the summer of 1989-90 I worked at The Roundhouse model railroad shop in the North Hollywood/San Fernando valley area of Los Angeles. I really enjoyed that summer job and bought several kits while I was there. One of them was Detail Associates kit number 7003, Foothill Station. I’m very happy I recently finished the [...]
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Capturing the mood of an era: Northwestern Pacific and California in the 1920′s Part 1 (So, 03 Jan 2010)
I prefer to model the 1920′s. I settled on this era in a process I outlined years ago. However, I was not alive in the 1920′s. My parents weren’t either. My grandmother died over ten years ago and while she was born in the teens she was pretty young in the 20′s. I want to [...]
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Learning a bit about diesels (Do, 29 Okt 2009)
I’m not a big diesel guy. I like some of the early unit passenger trains like the Pioneer Zephyr and M-10000. I can usually tell E units from F units and I love the early slant nose E units like the E3 or the E6. I like steam and pre-Super Power steam at that (that [...]
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Review: Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine (Mo, 19 Okt 2009)
Note: This review is my own opinion, unsolicited, and based purely on my experience as a customer. I’m generally sad about the state of model railroading magazines. In August of 2006 I started a series of blog posts analyzing what has happened to Model Railroader to make it the raging wad of mediocrity it is [...]
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The Walt Disney Family Museum (So, 18 Okt 2009)
Walt Disney was a model railroader. Indeed, his idea of Disneyland was as a huge walk-in, live-in complete model railroad. Recently the Walt Disney Family Museum opened in San Francisco. We just went this morning and it is a very nice display of the work and life of Walt Disney. Photography is prohibited inside but [...]
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Basic terrain layout question (Do, 11 Jun 2009)
Mike recently commented on Nick’s next railroad and I wanted to respond in detail. Dan, a couple questions for you. I recently got back into model rr after only doing it as a kid…and those were the days when we’d run them like racecars to see if we could get train cars to tip off [...]
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Nick’s next railroad part 1 (So, 24 Mai 2009)
Having had so much fun with our first micro layout, Nick wanted to move on to something more ambitious. After pouring over my 30 year stack of Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazettes, Nick wanted to do a small lumber layout and we chose On30. Bachmann On30 Porter 0-4-0s can negotiate a 12″ minimum radius and [...]
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Great decal application tutorial (Mo, 11 Mai 2009)
David Lyman a.k.a. Dan D. Sparks posts a great description of how he makes and applies home-made decals to his Birney car project. Really nice work.
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Just horsing around (So, 03 Mai 2009)
There has been a wave of Warhammer 40K modeling and game playing sweeping my place of employment lately. A common scale is what is called “25 mm” and is taken as 1:72 scale. I think the methods routine in this modeling genre can be really effective for HO modeling. I found a horse that no [...]
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Nick’s Railroad Part 5 (Do, 23 Apr 2009)
Finishing up! Nick uses plaster-cloth to cover the hillside above the tunnel. We painted and ballasted the track, added a retaining wall and added an initial layer of dirt-glue-celluclay ground cover. Ready for trim: we cut some pieces to cover all four sides. Gluing the trim. Now for some grass and trees. Pretty much finished. [...]
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Nick’s Railroad Part 4 (Do, 23 Apr 2009)
Continuing with construction of the bridge. Using a “storey pole” marked with the locations of the bents, we shaped each bent pretty closely to the contour of the ground where they would be planted. Then we glued the bents to the span — laid out upside down on the bench. Once the glue dried a [...]
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Nick’s Railroad Part 3 (Mi, 01 Apr 2009)
We started building out the bridge abutments by cutting away the Styrofoam and making a retaining wall out of scribed siding a stolen from an old Campbell tunnel portal kit. Note that we pre-stained the wood with a simple ink-alcohol mix. Here’s the other side of the bridge. The temptation to play with a train [...]
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Nick’s Railroad Part 2 (Sa, 28 Mär 2009)
Continuing our build out of Nick’s HO micro layout. Once the base was set up and roadbed established we started to build up the hill and tunnel out of 4″ thick Styrofoam. We cut a mock tunnel portal for sizing. Then we gave everything that would become “ground” a good coat of dirt-colored latex paint. [...]
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On30 minimum radius? (So, 22 Mär 2009)
It looks like we’re going to be building an On30 (not On2-1/2!) micro layout and the typical question has come up. When you say “micro,” how micro do you really mean? We want to run trains round-and-round so we need a loop. The size of a small layout is dominated by its turn radius. The [...]
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Nick’s Railroad Part 1 (So, 15 Mär 2009)
Nick joined our “build stuff” group with no idea what he wanted to build. We suggested he look though our library of books and he saw my copy of Stindt’s “Northwestern Pacific Railroad” and started explaining to me that this was the railroad that used to run through our neigborhood. This, I knew. What I [...]
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What’s on the workbench? (Di, 21 Okt 2008)
I haven’t written much lately but I’ve been building a LOT. As I mentioned in July, We moved to a new house with a workshop . The plan was to use the shop space for the layout (of course) and a workshop space for model building. So much for plans. We’ve started teaching “build stuff” [...]
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