Nn3 Visits Fort Bragg February 1 and 2, 2003

Note the date. How many Fort Braggers remember this remarkable show?

The reason I ask is that Club Member Joe DuVivier is currently building an Nn3 model layout of the Caspar Lumber Company for a show to be held later this year (2017) in Denver. So, I thought a reprise of this show (one of two model railroad shows that have ever been held in Fort Bragg) was apropos.

Here’s the report I wrote for Club Members at the time:

Nn3 gauge is small. A locomotive, caboose and the entire consist can fit in the palm of one hand. Some handful!  Nn3 means N-scale three-foot narrow gauge. On a real narrow gauge line, the rolling stock is smaller than conventional standard gauge. Think Denver & Rio Grande compared to Union Pacific. So, Nn3 is proportionally tinier than N-scale. Engines are 4 to 5 inches in length, freight cars 2 inches or a little more, and a caboose is only 1 ½ inches.

Nn3 Locomotive in the palm of your hand

            Trains that size were rolling on a modular layout set up in the Company Store on February 1 and 2, 2003. The show was put on by four members of the Norcal division of Nn3 Alliance.

            The Alliance (which is world-wide) is representative of model railroading in the space age. Space and mobility are key. Members keep in contact, sharing information with fellow travelers all over the planet. Norcal people, for instance, plan and coordinate an event, converge separately on location (each packing one or more modules) and connect them up, ready to roll. Seven modules were assembled in the lobby of the Company Store.

            While Norcal and the Alliance may be “space age,” the motive power, rolling stock and modules on display at this meet were quite “turn of the century.” ONE CENTURY AGO. A desert location, for example, was identified as “Hawthorne, Nevada circa 1900.”

Wayside Village

            In olden times, narrow gauge railroads were legion in the United States, Canada and the Yukon. These prototype operations are perfect for modeling: funky, folksy, loaded with personality. They are ideal for imaginative people who want to build something unique.

            Joe DuVivier participated in this show, providing a reverse-loop module in a wooded mountain-side location, most of the loop hidden in a tunnel. Other participants were: Tom Knapp of San Francisco, David Smith of Concord, and Bruce Hunt of San Mateo.

            Tom Knapp, who furnished four modules for this event, was the “pilot truck,” shall we say, of the engine of Nn3 and narrow  gauge development. Tom tells of discovering in 1968 that Marklin Z- scale (6.5 mm gauge) track was “close enough,” as he puts it, to approximate three-foot narrow gauge in N-scale. At that time, he built a ten-wheeler using Marklin Z-scale mechanism and drivers on top of which he scratch-built an award-winning 4-6-0. It was selected best steam locomotive at the NMRA San Diego convention in 1974.

Joe DuVivier and Tom Knapp working on an electrical problem

            Tom developed what he then called a “sectional train layout” based on the three-foot gauge Pacific Coast Railway. The prototype began in the 1870s, running goods from the small seaport of Port Harford (now called Port San Luis) ten miles to San Luis Obispo. The line expanded south (in the period before Southern Pacific came through) to serve the communities of Santa Maria, Lompoc Landing, Los Olivos and points in between.

            Interest in Nn3 has grown in the past thirty-odd years. The sectional layout notion became today’s popular modular concept for portable miniature railroads. A module consumes little space at home while you build it. It folds up neatly and wighs very little when you pack it to a meet. Those Tom had on display, built of plywood and styrofoam, weigh less than seven pounds each. He said that he can load several modules in his van. When needed, he can lug more than the four he brought to Fort Bragg. Last year he carried a module on a commercial flight to a Rhode Island event. The airport inspectors, he said, took a long time checking it out.

            Perhaps one of those inspectors is on the net right now, gathering some tips for his new Nn3 module”

Tom Knapp (my view) is one of the geniuses of the model railroad world. He built this WORKING Nn3 Shay:T

I had a million photos of this show. Here’s the ones that I can find:

The Highest Train You Can Ride – Xining (China) to Lhasa (Tibet)

Talking to visitors to our layout, I have concluded, requires an encyclopedic knowledge of trains and railroads around the world as well as knowing where in town (Fort Bragg, CA.) you can find the best ice-cream (Cowlicks). The questions I can’t answer off the top of my head I jot down on a pad and see if I can find an answer when I get home.

We are building a hill (mountain?) in the northy-west corner of the layout. Give or take its twelve foot high -300 G Scale feet. I had an animated conversation with a young lad and his mother about how we were building the hill and how his grandpa might build one on his N-scale layout. The lad and the mom were clearly impressed with our efforts – its going to be really high. The lad then asked what was the highest train you can ride. I confessed I didn’t know but thought that it might be in Peru. I promised to find out, post a blog and e-mail him with the result of my research.

Well, it took a couple of hours on the ‘net to find out that Peru is NOT the answer. The answer is the The Qinghai–Tibet railway that connects Xining to Lhasa. The length of the railway is 1,215 miles. The line includes the Tanggula Pass which, at 16,640 feet above sea level is the world’s highest point on a railway. Tanngula railway station  at 16,627 feet  is the world’s highest railway station. The 4,390 foot) Fenghuoshan Tunnel is the highest rail tunnel in the world at 16,093 feet above sea level.

Exactly where is it? This map helped me:

File:Qingzangrailwaymap.png

What’s it like to ride on? There aren’t too many vids to enable one to get a taste. This one is the best I can find:

I must confess, world’s highest or not it’s not one for THE LIST.

London Underground – Truly transportation for the masses

The iconic roundel - its design

The iconic roundel – its design

If you have ever been to London there is a VERY good chance that you have traveled on the Tube, The Underground.

I have been reading Bill Bryson’s latest book, “the Road to Little Dribbling” whilst I was trolling down to Joshua Tree to spend a weekend with Club Member Bill Shepherd who is working on the layout there.

Bill’s book (like all of his books) is hilarious and filled with incredible factoids. One of these was/is about the Tube. Let me quote:

“People forget how bad the Underground was once upon a time. When I first came to Britain, it was dirty, poorly managed and often unsafe. Several stations – Camden Town, Stockwell and Tooting Bec to name but three – were positively dangerous at night. By 1982, fewer than 500 million people a year, a decline of 50 per cent from the early 1950’s, ventured into the Underground. The King’s Cross fire in 1987, when thirty-one people died after a discarded cigarette started a blaze in uncleared rubbish beneath a wooden escalator showed how lamentably under managed the Underground had become.

Commuters

Commuters wait to board a tube train in Clapham Common station.

Well, look at it now. The platforms are the cleanest places in London. The service is smooth and reliable. The staff, as far as I can tell, are unfailingly helpful and courteous. Passenger numbers have risen to an astounding 1.2 billion a year, which is more than all the above ground rail journeys in the country combined. According to Time Out magazine, at any given moment there are 600,000 people on the Underground making it both a larger and more interesting place than Oslo. I read in the Evening Standard that the average speed of Underground trains is just 21 miles an hour, which doesn’t seem very much (unless you travel regularly by train between Liss and Waterloo, in which case it’s like being on a rocket ship) but it all feels pretty brisk, and to convey such a massive number of people over such an enormous and aged system with rarely a hitch is an extraordinary achievement.”

Flasher

Andrea Fernandes photo of a flasher on the London Underground

I never remember flashers when I traveled the Tube. No wonder ridership has soared.

If you a bit more on the Tube try these two blogs:

3,000 plus dead under London’s Liverpool Street Station

Steam train back on London Underground

Google Maps visits Minatur Wunderland (the largest HO layout in the world) in Hamburg, Germany

I don’t think that there are too many folks who have not read about, heard about or seen Google Maps street level camera. Well, Minatur Wunderland modified one of their cars and turned it into a Google Maps camera car and then sent it out onto their gigantic layout:

That was just the intro. Google Maps then published the pictures that the camera car took. Before I show you those pics I want to say that Google Maps may have got the idea from the photos that our club computer guru Roger Thornburn took or our layout. Here’s the link.

Now I’ll take you to Google’s tour de force. It took me a sec or two to get the hang of what Google have done. Click on the first page, “Explore the Wonderland.” On the next screen is a map – click on any of the balloons and sit back in awe. Here’s the link.

I spent nearly three hours gawking at the different scenes.

Thanks to daughter Annalise for the heads up.

 

Grand Central Station O scale model railroad

Daughter Annalise recently went to the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn. From there she and her friend went to see the O scale (3 rail) layout in the annex of Grand central Station. Here’s the pics she sent:

There aren’t too many public model railroads using 3 rail O scale – beautiful layout.

Thanks Annalise

Train World at Mevagissey (on the South Cornwall Coast)

Earlier this year we were on holiday in England. We were lucky enough to be able to stay at a cottage at Polzeath on the north coast of Cornwall – which is the county at the far south west corner of England. Sister Karen and her daughter Yasmin came to visit so a day trip was mooted. But to where? Mevagissey? Never been there. Fine by me.

The first order of the day was brekkers. We toddled round the corner to the local bakery which, we knew, served latte. That settled the beverage but what to eat?

Date slices and look at them there cakiepoos down below

Date slices and look at them there cakiepoos down below

I was rudely told that that section was for elevenses and we would have elevenses in Mevagissey. So how about ……

Mouth watering Croissants with Baked beans, banger and bacon

Mouth watering Croissants with Baked beans, banger and bacon

It was a tough choice but I finally settled for …….

Brekkers - a bacon butty

Brekkers – a bacon butty

Thirst and hunger satiated we set off across Cornwall. Cornish roads are, to say the least nerve wracking ……

This is a two way road - note the absence of a centre line or any line on the road

This is a two way road – note the absence of a centre line or any line on the road

Thanks to wife Sarah’s driving we arrived at Mevagissey in one piece. The first thing to do was find something to eat to calm my nerves. Saw a Grumpies van but couldn’t figure out where he/she had delivered the goodies.

Grumpies make delish baked goods

Grumpies make delish baked goods

As you can see Mevagissey streets are narrow so you park where you can which may not be adjacent to where you are delivering.

Mevagissay main street

Mevagissay main street

My foraging finally bore fruit in the form of an ice cream/chocolate shop …….. just look at what was on offer

The REAL reason for visiting Mevagissay

The REAL reason for visiting Mevagissay

Only one prob ……

Sign outside Ice Cream Store

Sign outside Ice Cream Store

Undeterred I emerged with choc AND cornish cream ice cream ….. oh man, heaven on earth. So as we are wandering around I see this:

Home of the Mevagissay World of Trains

Home of the Mevagissay World of Trains

A train museum in Mevagissey? You must be joking. Mevagissey has a population of 2,000 odd and it has a train museum.

What's inside

What’s inside

I swore to les girls that I absolutely had NO idea that there were trains in Mevagissey. They didn’t believe me even though it was the truth. So after a bit or argy bargy we went in. The world of trains was a very interesting collection of HO scale trains from countries all over the world. There some from countries which I made Sarah look up on her phone to see if they really did exist. The layouts were small but full of interesting detail …..

Looking down on a local market on an HO layout

Looking down on a local market on an HO layout

Town Recreation Centre including a maze

Town Recreation Centre including a maze

WWII celebration alongside Train Station

WWII celebration alongside Train Station

HOe layout

HOe layout

There were also some interesting odds and sods like this locomotive made of Meccano (the English version of an Erector set):

Train made from Meccono

Train made from Meccono

There were a couple of exquisite models like this one:

Town Hall and Marching Band

Town Hall and Marching Band

How about this diorama in a file case:

Interesting example of what a lot of Europeans do due to lack of space

Interesting example of what a lot of Europeans do due to lack of space

And then there were this dioramas built inside a chocolate box:

Diorama built in a Chocolate Box

Diorama built in a Chocolate Box

Second Diorama in a Chocolate Box

Second Diorama in a Chocolate Box

Third diorama built in a Chocolate Box

Third diorama built in a Chocolate Box

The girls finally dragged me out with the promise of a cream tea in the caff down by the quay …….

 

National (G Scale) Steamup in Sacremento – July 2015

If you want to see G scale live steam trains in action then the National (G Scale) Steamup in Sacremento (held every July) is the place for you. This year my traipse over the hill was a lot more pleasant than previous visits due to the temperature being in the low eighties versus the high nineties of bygone years.

The only other club members attending were Deb Smith and Denny Holsten. We had a great time visiting with other “steamers” and playing trains. Some of the photos are mine. The good ones were taken by Deb. Click on any pic to enlarge it.

 

Visit to the Great Train Show in Sacremento February 28th and March 1st 2015 – Part 2

Six club members mounted up and trolled from Fort Bragg over to Sacremento last weekend to visit The Great Train show being held at Cal Expo in Sacremento. Here’s a few more photos from our excursion:

Very busy Lego Train layout

Very busy Lego Train layout

Small trackside lumber mill diorama

Small trackside lumber mill diorama

Model of a Pile Driver

Model of a Pile Driver

Very detailed Hanging Rock diorama

Very detailed Hanging Rock diorama

Shot showing size of the Del Oro layout

Shot showing size of the Del Oro layout

Live Steam 2-4-2 with admirer

Live Steam 2-4-2 with admirer

Next show please.