Monday, February 28, 2011

My expectations were derailed!

A business meeting lead me to Tampa, Florida and before the trip I searched for local model railroad stores in the area (like all good model railroaders do!) and discovered "The No. 2 train store in the country" according to their claim (made by others).

What I discovered on the web was H&R Trains located at 6901 US Hwy N. in Pinellas Park, Fl. Below is a picture from there site with their claim to fame. I was excited to be able and see this store especially since it's THE SECOND LARGEST IN THE COUNTRY!!!

Now, I like a good brag as much as the next guy, but come on - lets get real here! He is a picture of the shop from the air and note the car in the lower left to give you some idea of the size of the building.

As I entered the store with great expectations I was greeted by the silent stare of a store employee (or owner?) with narly a word of greeting, and while I roamed around NOBODY approached me to greet me or ask if I needed any assistance. And they were NOT busy - there was only one other customer in the building.

So if this building isn't exactly HUGE perhaps it's jammed with inventory? NOT!!! I actually counted the number of HO freight cars around 60! The N scale wasn't that big either. The did have the bigger scales.

I actually did purchase a freight car (reduced their inventory by about 1.6%) along with a couple of other items. When I put my items on the counter to check out the same "friendly" employee (owner) that ignored me to that point continued to be speechless for about 30 seconds (also not wasting eye contact on me!) before he finally "let" me pay.

In summary, if this is the "Number 2 train store in the country", then my little inventory at home would qualify me as "Number 3". If I had the money I'd pay for a round trip ticket for these guys to see TrainMasters - it would knock their socks off!



Friday, February 18, 2011

It lives on!!!


I was in Gainesville today doing a little railfanning waiting by the mainline for some action when I heard a train on a siding switching a grain plant. I walked over and what did I see on the CSX powered train but TWO Family Lines SCL /LN covered hoppers! Now, I know that Ken wouldn't be excited by this even though he's an L&N man because he is a pre - SCL guy. I'm glad to see anything with L&N on it.

I went and had lunch at a local cafe within walking distance and then returned to wait by the mainline. No luck by the mainline; however, the same train with the SCL/LN's was backing onto the same siding and this time it had FOUR of the Family Lines SCL / LN covered hoppers!

Dummy me didn't bring my regular camera, so I used my cell phone to take a number of pictures.

L&N - "Gone, but not forgotten"


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Richlawn RR Alcove Expansion - Benchwork

The work continues on the expansion of the layout into the alcove area and I've recently installed the joists on the L-girders. The weights are on the benchwork at the right are there because of a nasty twist caused by warped lumber. Once I attached the benchwork to the floor it won't be a problem.

I've never been happy with how flimsy the joists seemed when the risers are attached as the risers act as a "lever" to twist the joists from side to side. I don't like benchwork that isn't rigid, so I added stiffeners to the joists and they are much more rigid now.

The stiffeners are made from 5/8" sandply plywood that I cut using my 50 year old DeWalt radial arm saw. I had a bunch of scrap plywood, so other than the cutting time it was easy.

Here is a closer view of the joist and the stiffeners. The joists are attached to the top of the L-girder from the bottom using 2-1/2" coarse thread drywall screws screwed into pilot holes to avoid spliting the plywood. I attached the stiffeners using 1" coarse thread drywall screws without using glue. I may need to move things around a little bit for turnout motors, ect. and I wanted that to be easy to do.

Here's a little closer view of the stiffeners and joist showing the mounting screws.

Some might say that this is "over-designed" or "over-built", and that might be true; however, I'm all for "over" when it comes to a strong, stable benchwork.