Monday, February 23, 2009

model train show

(All photos by the so-called “old guy” with the dreaded and utterly reprehensible Nikon D100 with flash.)

At the model train show.

Last Saturday (February 21, 2009) I took my old friend Art Dana (“DAY-nuh”) to a model train show put on by Greenberg shows at the Dome Center in deepest, darkest Henrietta, NY.
Constant readers of this here blog, if there actually are any at all, will know that Art Dana is like me a retired bus-driver, and has fairly severe Parkinson’s Disease.
Art started driving bus before me, and retired from bus-driving well after my stroke.
We have similar interests, especially cars and trains, and I take him places since he can’t get around that well.
I was looking for an HO GG1 model, and I saw a few at the RIT model train show I attended at Rochester Institute of Technology.
Anyone who reads this here blog knows I consider the Pennsylvania Railroad’s GG1 electric locomotive to be the greatest railroad locomotive ever.
An incredible melding of raw speed and power with great styling — detailing by industrial designer Raymond Loewy.
I saw plenty as a teenager, and it seems every time I saw one it was doing 90-100 mph.
Which is why I want one; to go with my models of a TWA Lockheed Constellation, which is the greatest airplane ever, and my McLaren M8D racecar, which is the greatest automobile ever, an incredible melding of the Chevrolet Big-Block motor with HUGE tires and a fabulous chassis — incredibly light.
The ultimate hot-rod.
Despite the challenge of Parkinson’s Disease — Art has the shakes — Art is building a model-railroad layout, although I doubt it will look very real.
Perhaps even less real than the average model-railroad layout, which always has too much track to look real.
Art wants to do a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood to start, and it may only be a table to support track, on which to run his model trains.
Art is a sucker for bargains, which these model train shows usually have — the main reason he wanted to attend that show at RIT.
And he’s right. If I’d known any better I’d have left the RIT show with a GG1 model — nothing of interest at the Greenberg show in Henrietta.
Vendors set up, so that a model-train show is mainly vendors.
And hardly any customers were at the RIT show, so the vendors were letting stuff go for a pittance.
I probably coulda got an HO GG1 model for $70 or so; and perhaps one with the Brunswick-Green body and single yellow stripe I prefer.
Saw only one GG1 at the Greenberg show, and it was silver (but at least Pennsy, not Amtrak) with a single red stripe. $70; PASS! A nice model but wrong color.
Art was looking for “anything Santa Fe, and New York Central F-units.”
This was because he already has a Santa Fe Northern (4-8-4) steam-engine, and a bunch of classic dark-green Santa Fe passenger cars he picked up at that RIT show.
We arrowed toward the Dome Center, but became embroiled with the new Henrietta Weggers, a gigantic palace built on Dome Center land.
Weggers has walled off itself from the Dome Center, so we had to navigate back out. Watch out for Granny with her big-as-a-Buick shopping kart.
That Dome Center has to be at least 30-40 years old, and is smack in the middle of land for the Monroe County Fair.
But now some of that land has been sold to mighty Weggers, so they could build that palace.
Car parked, we ambled into the Dome Center; $7 each to enter, no discount for us Seniors.
The Dome Center is about two-thirds the size of the fieldhouse the RIT show was in. So there wasn’t that much to see.
We located Leif’s Sales and Service, Ltd., the people not far from where I live that sold me my zero-turn lawnmower, and also sell model-trains.
“We’re looking for New York Central F-units,” I said to the guy’s wife.
“F-what?” she asked.
“Please try to control yourself,” I said.
“You’re making me laugh,” she said.
“Any idea what an F-unit is?” she asked her son. “I have no idea myself.”
“Is this thing an F-unit?” she asked me.
“All these are F-units,” I said; “but none are New York Central.”
“What about this?” pointing to a cab-unit painted in the New York Central gray lightning-stripe scheme.
“Nope,” I said; “that’s a Shark.”
“What about this?” she asked, pointing to another lightning-stripe cab-unit.
“Nope; that’s a Fairbanks-Morse C-liner,” I said.
“Shark, C-liner, F-unit, Alco FA; I don’t know any of this stuff,” she said. “But you gotta write them guys at the Curve again sometime, and offer to get ‘em a new web-cam. That thing hasn’t been working for months. How are we supposed to eat lunch?”

This is an actual steam-locomotive, everyone.

Art walked outta the show with —A) six pieces of HO Code-100 Flexi-Track in three-foot lengths, the same stuff Bruce Stewart and I built his layout out of back in 1959; —B) a manual on repair of HO model-railroad equipment (“I can’t get the boiler of my Santa Fe Northern off the frame, Hughsey”), and —C) a Norfolk & Western Baldwin diesel road-switcher.
-RE: the Flexi-track..... “So what’s the difference between Code-100 and Code-83 track, Art,” I asked; “aside from the fact it’s cheaper?”
“Code-83 is more realistic; the rail is more scale, lower.” Art said. “But I just wanna get up and running.”
-RE: the N&W diesel....... “This thing steam-era, Hughsey?” Art asked.
“Well, late ‘40s, and early ‘50s,” I said; “the end of steam.”
Art had considered a U-Boat, but I said it wasn’t steam era.
I should add that model steam-locomotives usually cost quite a bit more than diesels; usually $100 or more. A diesel might cost $50-$70.
Lotsa B-units, and unpowered dummies; plus a NYC F-unit configured for DCC operation. “I can’t do that yet, Hughsey. Maybe some day; but right now I hafta operate the old way.”
So here we are returning back home toward Art’s humble abode in Pittsford, driving traffic-clogged Monroe Ave. next to Pittsford-Plaza.
Bumper-to-bumper. Locked solid. A parking-lot.
Suddenly a glittering black Lexus crossover pulls right out in front of me, and cuts me off.
“Hughsey,” Art says; “that lady didn’t look at all. She just drove right out in front of you.”
“Well, of course, Art,” I said. “I gave her a break. You’da done the same thing. We drove bus. It’s either —a) assert my macho manhood and risk a tee-bone, or -b) give her a break. Which keeps us going?”

The cap-pistols.

Back at Art’s, “here, Hughsey. You’ll wanna see my old cap-pistols.
We’re cleaning stuff outta my old house in Rochester, my sister and I after my wife died, and we were planning to move to the house in Pittsford. I wonder what happened to my old cap-pistols. Figured they were gone forever.
‘Hey, look what I just found in the basement,’ says my sister at our house in Pittsford.”
Old cap-pistols taken out and revealed.
“Holy mackerel,” I exclaimed to Art. “Don’t let go of them things!”
“An estate appraiser was organizing all our stuff for the estate-sale, and asked if I had any old toys. I told him about the cap-pistols, but said they weren’t for sale.
‘Can I at least see ‘em?’ he asked.
I showed him the cap-pistols, and he said ‘I’m leaving with them cap-pistols: $300.’
‘No you’re not! Not for sale.’ I said. I wouldn’t part with them things for even $1,000.
‘Okay,’ he said. ‘Just take care of them things. I wouldn’t part with ‘em either.’”

  • RE: “‘Old guy’ with the dreaded and utterly reprehensible Nikon D100.......” —My macho, blowhard brother-from-Boston, who is 13 years younger than me, calls me “the old guy” as a put-down (I also am the oldest). I also am loudly excoriated by all my siblings for preferring a professional camera (like the Nikon D100) instead of a point-and-shoot. This is because I long ago sold photos to nationally published magazines.
  • “Deepest, darkest Henrietta” is a rather effusive and obnoxious suburb south of Rochester.
  • For 16&1/2 years (1977-1993) I drove transit bus for Regional Transit Service, the transit-bus operator in Rochester, NY. My stroke October 26, 1993 ended that.
  • “HO” gauge is 16.5 mm between the rails, half-O gauge. HO has become the standard for model-railroading, although there is an even smaller gauge: “N.” —HO gauge is 1=87.086.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology is a technology college near Rochester. It has a model-train club called “Tiger Tracks” (the college’s mascot is the RIT Tiger). They held a model-train show a few months ago.
  • The Chevrolet “Big-Block” V8 was introduced in the 1965 model-year at 396 cubic-inches. It was made in various displacements: 402, 427 and 454 cubic inches. It’s still made as a truck-motor, but not installed in cars any more; although you can get it as a crate-motor, for self-installation. The Chevrolet “Small-Block” V8 was introduced at 265 cubic-inches displacement in the 1955 model-year. It continued production for years, first at 283 cubic inches, then 327, then 350. Other displacements were also manufactured. —Their Can-Am motor was a lightweight aluminum casting.
  • The McLaren M8D racecar dominated the “Can-Am” (Canadian-American Challenge Cup series — Sports Car club of America [SCCA]), about 1968-’72, for unlimited, fully-fendered open sports roadsters that would seat two. —Team McLaren won a few championships, and dominated.
  • “Brunswick-Green” was the Pennsylvania Railroad’s standard locomotive color.
  • “Pennsy” is the Pennsylvania Railroad, no longer in existence. It merged with New York Central Railroad in 1968 as Penn-Central, and that tanked in about eight years. “Pennsy” was once the largest railroad in the world.
  • “Mighty Weggers” is Wegmans, a large supermarket-chain based in Rochester we often buy groceries at.
  • An “F-unit” is ElectroMotive’s freight diesel-electric cab-unit railroad locomotive introduced in 1939 — the freight locomotive that dieselized railroads. ElectroMotive Division of General Motors is GM’s manufacturer of diesel railroad-locomotives. Most railroads used EMD when they dieselized; although many now use General-Electric diesel railroad-locomotives.
  • The “Curve” (“Horseshoe Curve”), west of Altoona, Pennsylvania, is by far the BEST railfan spot I have ever been to. Horseshoe Curve is a national historic site. It was a trick used by the Pennsylvania Railroad to get over the Allegheny mountains without steep grades. Horseshoe Curve was opened in 1854, and is still in use. (I am a railfan, and have been since I was a child.) —Horseshoe Curve has a web-cam, but it’s awful, and currently not working. (I made them an offer to replace the clear-plastic housing, which was smudged.)
  • “Bruce Stewart,” a year older than me, was my next-door neighbor while growing up as a teenager on the northern suburbs of Wilmington, DE. Like me, he was a railfan.
  • “Amtrak” is a government corporation promulgated in 1970 to take over rail passenger service. It mainly runs passenger trains over the independent railroads with its own equipment, but it it also owns and operates its own railroads; e.g. the old Pennsy electrified line from New York City to Washington D.C., the so-called “Northeast Corridor;” although the Corridor has been extended to Boston over the old New York, New Haven & Hartford line.
  • Our “zero-turn” is our 48-inch Husqvarna riding-mower; “zero-turn” because it’s a special design with separate drives to each drive-wheel, so it can be spun on a dime. “Zero-turns” are becoming the norm, because they cut mowing time in half compared to a lawn-tractor, which has to be set up for each mowing-pass.
  • “New York Central” Railroad was the east-coast railroad that competed with Pennsy, based mainly in New York state (Pennsy in PA).
  • A “Shark” was a railroad cab-locomotive, styled by Raymond Loewy, and manufactured by Baldwin Locomotive Works. (Baldwin Locomotive Works was a main manufacturer of railroad steam locomotives. They began offering diesel-electric railroad locomotives when the railroads started dieselizing [e.g. the “Shark”], but eventually failed.) The “Shark” was very attractive, but not very reliable.
  • The “Fairbanks-Morse C-liner” was a railroad diesel-electric cab-unit made in the late ‘40s by Fairbanks-Morse.
  • “Alco” is American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, NY. For years, American Locomotive Company was a primary manufacturer of railroad steam locomotives. (It was originally a merger of many steam locomotive manufacturers.) —With the changeover by railroads to diesel-locomotives, American Locomotive Company brought out a line of diesel-electric railroad locomotives much like the railroads were switching to, and changed its name to “Alco.” Alco tanked a while ago; they never competed as well as EMD.
  • A “road-switcher” is a special design, as opposed to a full cab-unit, with both a short and long end. The long end contains the motor/generator, and the short end not much of anything. The locomotive can be easily operated in either direction, due to enhanced visibility compared to a cab-unit. (Cab-units [e.g. F-units] are no longer made; railroads use “road-switchers.)
  • RE: “This is an actual steam-locomotive......” —A small alcohol-fired boiler in the engine boils steam for propulsion.
  • The U-Boat was General Electric’s first attempt to market a general diesel-electric freight locomotive after splitting with Alco (American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, long out of business). At that time (1960), most diesel-electric railroad locomotives were from General-Motors’ ElectroMotive Division (EMD). —Now GE dominates the railroad locomotive market, and EMD is playing catch-up. Railfans nicknamed them U-Boats following GE’s “U” nomenclature. “U” stood for Utility.
  • A “B-unit” is a cabless version of an A-unit. No operating cab; but a power-unit that can be linked to, and operated by, an A-unit.
  • “Unpowered dummies” are locomotive models without a motor.
  • “DCC” (Digital Command Control) is individual control of one or more model-railroad locomotives on the same track. The locomotives have tiny computers inside, so that the locomotive can be controlled individually. —The “old” way was to vary the current in the track, so that all trains on that track responded en masse to track-current.
  • “The N&W diesel” appeared to be a Baldwin road-switcher. —N&W (“Norfolk & Western) no longer exists; it was merged years ago into Norfolk Southern Railway. N&W was very successful; it served the Pocahontas coal region in VA, WV, and KY.



    Anonymous Anonymous said...

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    5:57 AM  

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