Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mauck Chunk / Jim Thorpe Trains & Museums

Went to central Pennsylvania to see a close friend (Pastor Harry Wonderland) retire from the Pastorate. He served our church for 12 years before moving to Danville and serving for another 26 years. He and a Sunday School teacher (Ed Evans) I had as a child had the most Christian impact on my life. Both men were models of Christ-like love. When Harry left our local church he left a hole in my emotional heart. But seeing him again it felt like he had never been gone. At his retirement service non-church members (head of local school system) and national church leaders lauded his character and work ethic. Particularly telling was that someone had secretly taped his routine when he would arrive early Sunday mornings and stop and pray over each pew because he knew the people that sat there, their lives, and struggles. His children all grew up to love and serve the Lord in their own families and careers. The world could use a few million more men like him.

On the way home we stopped to see the beautiful railroad station at Mauck Chunk (Jim Thorpe), PA. Evidently the scenic trains only run on the weekends so we missed out on that but managed to get a few shots of the tourist train and station. I thought the engine was a GP30 but it was labeled as a GP39RN. It was initially a GP30 when the ATSF got it. It was rebuilt to GP38-2 standards and, as it says on the side of the engine, the R&N refers to it as a GP39RN's. It is not the same as the handful (23) of GP39's built new by EMD. Neither was it the same as EMD's GP39-2's which sold 200+ units.

While in Mauck Chunk / Jim Thorpe to see the station (and miss the train) we stopped in to the town’s main museum. We got to watch a video on the area’s history. They claim to have started the industrial revolution in America. Evidently the area was used to provide coal for Philadelphia after the British cut off supplies in the Revolutionary War. Canals were used to get it to Philadelphia (and then the Lehigh Valley Railroad took over the chores). Initially a steep incline (they called themselves the Swiss Alps of America) got the coal down to the river.

The museum also contains an N scale model railroad (non-running) of the area, railroadian items, period dresses and pianos, and models of the downtown station. An interesting $5 investment of time!

As a final note I loved my Father’s Day gift:

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cleaning the Garage – the Final Chapter

Having gone through 55 years of Model Railroader magazines, I now feel as though I’ve come full circle. Having skimmed to my last issue (July 2012), the magazine has returned to sub 100 pages (where it started) from its glory days of 200+ pages. The new century brought a reduction in N scale material. It seems like the return to full HO emphasis started when they kicked Hedinger onto special hobby industry projects and retired Jim Kelley. Russ Larson returned on a temporary basis and they moved a Classic Toy Trains editor in. They were followed by a group of editors that I never really emotionally clicked with (other than Dave Propp). A lot of material from their new favorite overseas author didn’t do much for me either.

As to the demise of N scale material, which came first the chicken or the egg? Did the arrival of multiple N Scale magazines drain their material (and audience) or did their lack of published N scale material lead to the creation of the N Scale magazines?

They did do an interesting series on having different modelers list their 10 favorite or most used railroad web sites. Here’s mine in no particular order:
Model Train Stuff http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/N-Scale-s/3.htm (but if it gets any slower, it’s getting dropped from the lsit)
Brooklyn Locomotive Works http://www.brooklynlocomotiveworks.com/
PRSL Historical Society http://www.prslhs.com/
N Scale Locomotive Encyclopedia http://www.spookshow.net/locos.html
Model Railroad Hobbiest Magazine http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/

I was actually beginning to miss my Model Railroader subscription until my reading took me into the 21st century. Then I understood why I let my subscription lapse. I read it for the inspiration and the monthlies no longer gave me enough inspiring material. (I still do look forward to the yearly “Great Model Railroads” specials.)

My results: After going through 700+ Model Railroader (& N Scale)  magazines, I have kept 65 issues (+20 Trains magazines), ripped out 343 reference articles, and selected 52 additional issues that I will now try to get the local libraries to put in their 8-15 year old youth sections. I got excited about the hobby after running across a Model Railroader magazine, maybe a few carefully chosen (inspirational) issues will do the same for some other kids.

I have also managed to contribute to the physical enhancement of the local sanitation engineers by enabling them to cart off 11 cases of magazines.

More MR Humor (collected 102 of them also):
1.1  "Dad, how old must I be before I can play with my train?"
1.2  "To my brother I leave my railroad cap, to my wife I leave the car, and to my layout I leave the house."
2.1  "I told you that model airplane remote control unit would never work in an F7."
2.2  "The house is filled with his railroad, but I still have my garden."
3.2  -
1.1  -
1.2  "I wonder how often John Allen had to replace his mirrors?"
2.1  "Oh yeah, I meant to tell you about that. Stuff sets up kinda quick."
2.2  "A guy named Charlie built all the mountains...
then all of a sudden he just quit comin' around."

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Clear the Garage III

Continuing my journey through my 55 years of paper Model Railroader issues, I have now completed the 1990s.  The issue sizes got into the 200+ pages rather consistently and then began to trend down into the mid one hundreds. The issue prices have reached well into the $3+ range.

To celebrate their 65th anniversary year they did an interesting series publishing "Milestones in Model Railroading."
Jan: Al Kalmbach starting Model Railroader magazine (what did you expect?)
Feb: Creation of the NMRA (they did create very helpful standards)
March: John Allen’s Engine house
April: Frank Ellison’s “The Art of Model Railroading”
May: Postage Stamp Trains (made the public aware of N scale)
June: Astrac starting command control
July: The Styrene Revolution (I guess wood wasn’t good enough)
Aug: Japanese brass (as if I could afford it then (or now))
Sept: Kadee Magne-Matic couplers
Oct: The Evolution of Scale Models (only discussed O & HO scales)
Nov: Ground Foam for Realistic Scenery (goodbye zip texturing!)
Dec: The Beginnings and Growth of HO Scale (we get no love at all in N scale!)

I should be able to complete the garage task (first pass) next week (my subscription ended in 2011).

And MR humor (into the 70s and 80s and the last of H A Smith (my favorite)):
1.1  "Before I can extend the mainline, I have to file an environmental impact statement with my wife.”
1.2  “Well, whaddaya know! The little bubble was stuck!”
2.1  "Want to see the 0-4-0 I bought for this room’s new layout!”
2.2  “This baby will cost you $179.99 plus tax, new drapes for the living room, a new gown, and a night at a French restaurant.”
3.1  “That the last time I visit a layout that has 27 duckunders and walk around control.”
1.1   “Services suspended until my kitchen shelves are put up – by order – Household Authority”
1.2   “There’s been a derailment somewhere in this area.”
2.1   “I made the mistake of asking Fred if he could break away from his trains long enough to fix the refrigerator door.”
2.2   “Captain, you asked me to remind you when we were over Denver.”

Friday, June 3, 2016

Clear the Garage II

Continuing my journey through my 55 years of paper MR issues, I have run through the 60s and 70s. The magazine was pretty steady through the 60s. 70 to 90 pages and 50 cents a copy, then we hit the rapid increases in price and pages: $0.65, $0.75, $1, $1.25, $1.50. But now we had color and 150 to 200 pages per issue.

Layouts at the time were center islands. You could guess their size by counting the number of access hatches embedded in them. The Smith cartoons went from 1 or 2 per issue to occasional status and the humor seemed to have changed. (I thought maybe someone else was writing under his by-line.)

The MR humor continues:
 1.1  “It sure is good to run the trains again. During the steel strike, in order to be true to prototype, my pike had to be idle.”
1.2   Termites with Diner’s Club Card
2.1  “Couls it wait a minute, Mac? Our leader is in the middle of a tricky train movement.”
2.2  “Train 711 for New Ritus, Clunkneyville and Chicago arriving on Track One.”
3.1  “Something tells me this picture isn’t going to be too authentic.”
3.2  “You and your live steamers.”
1.1  “I still think for a starter, we ought to keep the wiring simple.”
1.2  “Have you seen the latest L&N color scheme? All Black!”
2.1  “I vote we take up the question of couplers tonight.”
3.1  “All right! All right! So I’ll move it over a little.”
3.2  “It says, ‘This end up.’”