Terry Thompson tries again (in the Aug. MR) [LONG]

Folks:
He comes up maybe a little short this time. I haven't bought the August MR yet, but might after a while. I did flip through it at the grocery store,
and read Mr. Thompson's editorial.
Well, I think his point was that we should not blithely follow current trends, or maybe it was that we shouldn't blithely follow old,reliable trends. It was one or the other. I'm sure about the trends. Let me forget the big picture and address his points singly.
Speaking as one who has occasionally used dyed sawdust, it does have its uses. It may look poor in photos but makes fair leaves and branch-bulk for homemade bottle-brush trees. It's also super-cheap if you make your own. Asbestos-fibered plaster was probably good stuff in its day too...fireproof, resilient, and able to sit on screen wire without excessive leakage...too bad about that whole mesothelioma thing. :-(
Steel or plywood benchwork - is fine, in theory. His remark about the difficulty of finding straight wood is odd; I usually use the 'least warped' stuff, but if you spend a bit more you can get straight lumber in almost any lumberyard around here. The very odd remark was about L-girders. To my mind, these actually minimize the problem with warped or bent wood, since your joists are not constrained at their ends, and you have more opportunities to compensate for crookedness. It's also easier to find 2 straight members for your girders than all straight pieces for your grid. I still prefer the grid because it is more compact, and use straight pieces where I need to, and let the warped pieces be warped. It all comes out in the adjusting.
The advantages of using dimensional lumber outweigh those of steel or plywood, I find. Wood can be worked easily with simple tools, and fasteners can be put in practically anywhere in any direction. It is also fairly rigid and smells great when you saw it.
Of course, my brother Joe once built himself a small (4x6) train layout with plywood framework. He ripsawed the 3" strips from 1/2" plywood...by hand... with a hand ripsaw...a Stanley 'Hard Tooth' model, with a plastic handle... and it was dull...I couldn't believe it when he showed me his handiwork.
Next is a point where I agree with Mr. Thompson. He mentions that extruded foam scenery is really popular now, but has its disadvantages, and he's right. I think the major reason for its popularity is that it takes less planning and fiddly labor than screen-wire or plaster-towel scenery does, with its elaborate supports. Foam does indeed take large quantities of material to achieve reasonable contours. I have in the past had some luck bringing the quantity down by carving a series of concentric, irregular rings with sharply beveled edges, then stacking the rings into a hollow foam mountain. It can also be difficult to get foam to stop looking like a stack of slabs, though in sedimentary rock country this is rather a good thing. Foam does have the advantage of lightness to offset its cost, and it's certainly fun to whittle away at it.
Now, Mr. Thompson's habit is to make some valid points, and some questionable points, and then to go completely off the rails, or my memory serves me badly. Remember the 'scale Bi-Polar with micro-axle-wound motor' idea? Ick. Today he addresses the non-issue of track power in such a way that I wonder if he expects the power to be actually sent through the air. Miniature microwave dishes, perhaps? I could be wrong; perhaps he is suggesting onboard batteries and radio control. In that case, the idea's not bad; however, the power pickup problem is eminently solvable, and the models it affects the worst are least able to contain batteries. It's hard enough to find room for decent weight in a small N scale steam loco.
But the guy does try, anyhow, and some of his points are valid. At least he doesn't present his personal views as the only way to go for many years and then completely fail to notice that the tearing down of the grand layout he built according to these views rather invalidates some of his claims...not that any regular feature writer would do something like this, since model railroading is fun...anyway, if Terry T. would just build a little 2 x 4 foot N scale pike and *tinker* with it a bit I'd bet his editorials would be much better for it. He seriously needs some perspective.
Cordially yours: Gerard P.
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Gee, I hate to think that I'm already behind times... my current layout is built with plywood cut into 3 and 4 inch strips with 1/4" luan plywood for a base and 3/4" foam. Oh well... day late and several dollars short.
One thing that I did learn by accident was that strips of foam about 2x2 can be simply stacked Lincoln Log style to make the basic shapes of hills & mountains. Then, I took a hot wire cutter and cut away all of the sharp corners then used damp, crumpled-up newspaper wads to fill in what didn't look right. A final layer of WS plaster cloth and I neded up with some pretty good looking land forms.
Yes, the concentric disk idea works well... even better if you use two sheets and alternate them for each layer. That's what I did. Only problem is that modification is really tough because there isn't much to cut into until you run into air!
dlm

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Just the usual rant of someone who is seeing the same thing again and again with the basic construction of a layout. It isn't so much that an optimum method has been found so much as people do copy each other (what else is new, people do tend to work with processes that have been proven to be usable - not necessarily the best possible) and the guy is bemoaning that nobody is trying to "improve" the methods used. The sad thing with him is that what one person wants in a layout isn't necessarily the same as another person. I like hilly layouts that have minimal trackage in many parts while somebody else wants basically do model the urban NYC area with all of it's switching and so forth. For him, plywood on top of a framework will probably be the perfect base for a layout while I'd be doing a open frame base of some kind.
-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
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again
do
and
model
layout
Well put Bob.
For each of us, its OUR railroad. And the idea is that model railroading is (SUPPOSED TO BE) fun!
"Chacun a son gout" as a great grandfather of mine would have said.
--
Jim McLaughlin

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One needs to appreciate that Terry T. is really a tinplater acting as editor of a scale model railroading magazine. In spite of some occasional vague editorial comments to the opposite, it appears that he doesn't have a scale layout...perhaps never has. By what's here said in previous editorials, it sound like his participation in the hobby is limited to having a few pieces of HO rolling stock. In fact, his August editorial indicates he hasn't even finished his basement trainroom yet, let alone started a layout! I suspect this is why some of his commentary can often seem strange to the rest of us.
Honestly, I'm less and less impressed by layouts (hailed by MR in their videos) being built totally out of sheet plywood strips and foam panels. This may be a good approach for portable layouts or ones that need to be moved often but, in my book, they lack the necessary mass for permantent ones. One bump into, or trip over, a support on such designs sends everything on the layout flying, unless the substructure has been bolted to the walls.
I will agree, however, with Terry's August thoughts on getting away from track power (he's talking about hi-tech, on-board, battery-like systems, by the way). The day that comes about and I don't believe it's all that far off, will be a momentous occasion indeed for the HO hobby. If you think DCC is such hot stuff you are going to find that it will disappear virtually overnight when on-board power becomes a reality.
CNJ999
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CNJ999 wrote:

Youse guys who don't read MR regularly are talking through your (funny engineer) hats.
Terry Thompson wrote an article a while ago about upgrading the Marklin/Trix caboose to more closely resemble a NYC hack. Did a nice job, too -- fussier than I would do. Even changed the coupler mounting from the Yurpeen swing type (devised to accommodate those "radius 1" curves) to a straight body mount.
Now, a guy who goes to the trouble of adding itty bitty pieces of plastic to a very nicely molded model just because it's not exactly right for his chosen road is a what -- ?
Model railroading IS fun!
HTH
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

Wolf:
Is a source of confusion. Hmf. I thought I had him figured out before you brought *facts* into the argument.
Cordially yours: Gerard P.
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Marklin/Trix caboose to more closely resemble a NYC hack< This is MR! Did he really write it or just sign his name (with a little editing) to a staff article?
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Jon Miller wrote:

I would second that though about its originallity. If anything, my guess is he got the idea to do the article straight from someone knowledgeable like JH, was told what was obviously wrong with the model (which should have been panned for inaccuracies in its MR review, if you ask me) and exactly how to make it look closer to the prototype. It was a newbie-level project and demonstrated, nor involved, any particular modeling skills. Read all of Terry's editorials and you'll often find very little substance to them or that he's dancing around the real meat of the topic. Quite honestly, I don't see in him anything of the knowledge and HO modeling skills that were evident in the previous editors of the magazine. But then again, the magazine itself has become far more glitz than modeling substance over the past decade, so maybe Terry really is the man for the job!
CNJ999
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CNJ999 wrote:
(major snippage)

Now THAT says it all!
Bob Boudreau Canada
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Considering my experiences with MR some years ago, I'n more think that he just took an old article that had been rejected for some reason and rewrote it.
-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
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A Cone Head? Bruce
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On Fri, 28 Jul 2006 00:19:51 GMT, Bruce Favinger wrote:

A rivet head that hasn't been peened over?
--
Steve

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What never seems to be considered in these concepts is the FCC. Remember that NCE designed it's two way system and FCC changed the rules in the middle to something like a 1/10 of the power they designed for. Maybe this will come in the future but I don't think design will hold it up but the FCC sure may!
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snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu wrote:

I found it rather easy to straighten out 2 warped 1X2s into a workable L-girder. I just screwed one end together and started gluing and screwing as I went. If the bend was bad it got more screws. By the time the glue dried it all straightened out.
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