Flirtin with HOs

Stuck in the middle with you... there I am...

Stuck in the middle with you...

After deciding what to model, I had another great idea.  So I thought…  I was going to switch to HO Scale.  Now, most of you know what scales are, but for those that don’t, let me cover it briefly.  HO Scale uses the proportion of 1:87.  That means everything is 87 times smaller than the real thing.  In the model railroad world, that is pretty big.  There are larger scales, but the hobby is dominated by HO scale and I wanted to be in that crowd.  I had been an N-Scale railroader all my life.  The proportion here is 1:160.  Again, everything is 160 times smaller than real life.  I had a very sizable investment in N-Scale, heck I had even been president of the New Mexico RailRunNers, our local N-Scale club.  But I wanted to be an HO-Scale guy.  The  detail you can get in HO is amazing.  Add to that it’s easier on the eyes!

So it was off to the Hobby Shop and e-bay.  I was able to find some great deals on Providence & Worcester locomotives and I snapped them up.  I loved it, this was the start of something big(ger) for me!   Yes, I threw a bunch of money at e-bay and everywhere else.  Then it hit me again.  Actually, Mike hit me, Mike being Mike Bandini, the second employee of the P&W CC Sub and VP of operations.  He was thinking about going to N-Scale.  Being new to the hobby, I was explaining the difference in scales to him and I kept realizing that for what I wanted to do, HO was too big.  Then I went to the shed out in the backyard and dug out my N-Scale stuff.  WOW.  I forgot how much I had on hand.  I had a ton of unbuilt structures too.

I soon realized that switching to HO was going to be cost prohibitive and very limiting, given the room I had to play with.  Another major factor in this decision was my DCC system.  For Christmas this year, my wife got me a great Digitrax Zephyr system and a highfalutin handheld throttle.  My fear with N-Scale was that I would not be able to update my 15 year old locomotives to the latest and greatest DCC system.  Then I did more research and found out it was really easy to modify the older locomotives.  Granted, they all had to be done by hand with wiring, soldering and frame milling, but I am a graduate of the USAF high reliability soldering course and I do have the equipment needed to modify the frames.  A few nights later and most of my loco fleet was modified for DCC.  There went the last vestige of my switch to HO.  I put all the stuff I just got from e-bay back onto e-bay and took the hit in the wallet that comes with a bad decision.

(A bad decision for me, mind you, I’m not dogging HO scale at all, it just doesn’t make sense for me to switch.)

I have also e-bay’d more than a few new N-Scale P&W items, but the real gem was finding Wig-Wag trains right here in my own town.  A whole store dedicated to N-Scale.  How can you beat that.  I am on a mission now to make them wealthy by buying everything from them :)

So, I’m done flirting with HOs and I’m on to making a plan for my model railroad.

A clean slate…

Well, it has begun.

Late last year I decided that the time had come to stop having alot of little hobbies that I sometimes managed time for and delve into one long-standing passion and be done with it.  So after a many year hiatus I decided to build another model railroad.  My last effort was at my house in Los Lunas, and it was not very well done.  In fact, it was crap.  It was small, poorly built and represented nothing of what I wanted.

This time around, the Minister of the Interior (you know, Pam, the wife) ceded a large chunk of the Sun Room to the effort and I have room to not only build it right, but build something that will bee not too big, but large enough to really do the things I want.  I have about 20 feet of wall space with 2 large peninsulas that will jut out, one 6 foot and one 8 foot long.  There will also be a 4 foot staging yard (that might grow to 6 feet).  In that magical space, I will try to create the thing I have been longing for.  A good, operating model railroad that represents a chunk of the Prototype but reflects what I want.  It will have a decent mainline run, lots of industry switching and a decent sized yard to keep things moving.  It will represent modern railroading, with all the new fangled gear and high horsepower stuff.

There were a few glitches on the way to deciding how to proceed.  The first was the most basic of all questions in model railroading… “What do I model?”.  I have been a Santa Fe RR guy for as long as I can recall.  I also really like the Clinchfield and it’s coal hauling days.  My grandfather was a NYNH&H guy.  ARRRGGGHHHHH!!!!

The easy route, given that I live in NM was to model the BNSF and be done with it.  All the stuff I would ever need is within a 30 minute drive.  I still do go out and take pics of the BNSF trains and physical plant all the time.  As I said, I’m a SF nut :)

But somehow, it didn’t feel right.  Deep inside, I didn’t want to model the SF, I just didn’t know it.  Then it happened.  I was at my local all-scales train store (Train’s West – great store!)  and I saw a railroad atlas.  I flipped to the page that had the map of connecticut, where I grew up, and there it was.  The Connecticut Southern Railway!  As I looked into the CSO, though, I didn’t find anything  I liked about it.  Then I looked at their interchanges and I saw the Providence & Worcester RR Co.  The more I looked into the P&W, the more I knew it was my future prototype.  They have a great, modern loco fleet, but it’s not too modern.  They have a bunch of industries on the line, they interchange with the CSX, my next favorite mainline road and they roll right through my hometown!  Not only that, but the P&W is the oldest continually operating railroad in the US of A!  I have since devoured everything I can about the P&W and decided that this is where I am going in the future.  The P&W has been growing over the past 30+ years since they won their independence from the Penn Central.  Good management and good timing have allowed them to grow and maintain while a lot of other regionals have gone by the wayside.

Here is the premise of the CC Sub of the P&W…

In their latest venture, they are picking up the trackage from the CSO, the ex – New Haven line north from New Haven, through Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, and points North.  They have picked up the CSO’s old interchange traffic to the CSX at New Haven as well.  By virtue of the new trackage acquired, there is a need for new Motive power as well.

Therein lies the seed of the Central Connecticut Sub of the P&W…. so stay tuned.