Division Meeting Recap
January 23, 2016We started with a great presentation by David Shannon about the Austin Steam Train Association. David updated us on the status of ASTA's rebuild of former SP 786, an Mk-5 class 2-8-2 Mikado (that used to be in service in the Austin area!) He also talked about all the new cars they have and are restoring. (The original Pennsylvania cars they used for some time are for sale - they will be transitioning to all air-conditioned cars.)
ASTA can use all the help they can get, with donations (786's rebuild is going to end up costing in the millions of dollars) but especially with physical help with the restoration. You don't need experience! You can contact them through their web site.
After David's presentation, we had our usual show-and-tell.
Jerry Wilson brought his artist's box to show. He has some tools and some kits he is working on. When he has to go somewhere where he knows he will have to wait for a while (like the doctor's office) he brings this with him and gets some work done.
George Zapalac brought a module from his HO scale railroad. Among other things, George's layout features a small traction railroad. He is building a scene in the back corner of his layout, which is hard to reach, so he built it as a removable module so he can work on it at his bench and then add it to the layout. This also helps him focus on one area of the layout rather than feeling overwhelmed by everything, and since it's in the back of the layout he doesn't feel as pressured to be as perfect with the details, so he can experiment a little. For example, he's using the water putty for the first time. (He reports that it starts to set up quickly but takes a day or three to cure completely.)
George is hand-laying the traction track (which features curves too sharp for flextrack) using PC board ties. He uses the tool shown below to curve the rails. He also created a "tool" out of an old credit card to help him spread the water putty evenly between the tracks, and a special track gauge that is the right height for the overhead wire (which he plans to string) as well as having both spacing for curves (to the left) and straight runs (to the right), to make sure the catenary poles aren't too close to the track.
After show and tell, we had some time for Questions In Search of Answers and general announcements.
Peter Bryan talked about the Comanche and Indian Gap Railroad - a live steam railroad in Priddy, Texas (just north of Goldwhaite, about a 2 hour drive northwest of downtown Austin). It is a point-to-point railroad with 9 towns, 50 or 60 spots for switching, a 500-ft branch line, and 3 turntables. During a typical operating session they run 6 or 7 freights plus passenger trains using 3 or 4 steam engines. The railroad is radio dispatched (not CTC). It is 1/8 scale (7.5 inch gauge).
They C&IG has an annual "Spring Fling" which is coming up March 6-13. There are hotels in nearby Hamilton and Brownwood, plus RV service (no sanitation) at the railroad. If you're interested in joining in the fun, please email Peter Bryan.
Steve Blackson let us know that the Spring Bloom Garden Model Railroad event will not take place this year. Instead, the outdoor model railroaders will be participating in the Zilker Garden Festival in April. They will also have a private layout tour, so they can visit each other's layouts.
There was also a reminder to vote in the Lone Star Region NMRA election that ends February 15. Peter Kazmir is running for re-election as your Division 4 (Cen-Tex) Director, and Steve Blackson is running for Director at Large. To vote, go to www.geekwithtrains.com.
Following that, we had social time for a bit, including some discussions about the NMRA's Advancement Program and NMRA membership.
When we resumed the meeting, Jack Merkel gave the first of a planned series of "micro clinics" about the benefits of being a member in the NMRA. We ended with our usual Deal or Duds drawing, sponsored by the great folks at King's Hobby in Austin.
After the meeting we held a mini layout tour of the Southwest Austin area, including three excellent railroads (see below).
Our next regular meeting is planned for March 12, 2016. We are looking for a new location, so details will be coming soon.