Author Archive

From the desk: June 2015

Now that the unofficial summer has arrived, has begun doing some outdoor activities.

First up is the June meeting tentatively scheduled for Dave’s Diner on the ninth. usually does this venue a couple times each year. June will be the first one this year with possibly
more in the future. This is a fun time in conjunction with Dave’s Cruise In where all kinds of cars are on display. There is always a large crowd of happy people who are pleased to see the little trains running at such an unconventional outlet. members have a great time conversing with the attendees at these events and usually manages to attract some new interests in the model railroad hobby.

Last month provided a unique opportunity for when we were asked to come to
the New York Central System Historical Society’s annual convention and bring a small layout representative of the New York Central System railroad. was glad to oblige and set up a small layout with Jim Domser’s Rome Station out front and center of the layout. This was well received by the public and comments were all positive about how well the station reflected our area. Of course, Lorenzo’s tornado was also the usual crowd pleaser!

Even being at the back of the layout, people went out of their way to observe this unusual module and appreciate Lorenzo’s creativity in designing and constructing this amazing module. now has a large contingent of different modules ranging from Lorenzo’s tornado to the newer helicopter loop, eyeglasses
module set, and the still in the works interface tee supported by the Wilson modules, Flip and Flop. These three modules will be automated to allow the red line to be continuous and provide provision for the red line to be operated with DCC if so desired without conflicting with the conventional powered yellow line.

Innovation continues with at the forefront of new ideas.

Looking forward to a great summer!
Brian


From the Desk: May 2015

VRS_2015_01

“How many years have we been coming here?”

I had to look it up myself. The answer? Seven! Each year gets better. This year provided four scales for the public’s enjoyment: N scale, HO scale, Z scale, and the ever popular tinplate Lionel. The layouts all ran wonderfully, as expected, and everything cooperated fairly well.

John was able to get the one-trak portion of the layout to operate acceptably but not quite as perfectly as we would like. Hopefully, the new interface module that is under construction will overcome some of the shortcomings of the manual corner interface currently being used in the setups. There are some issues with the new construction as well. These are being worked on by Brian in conjunction with our supporting friends David King in Canada and Mark Bean in Australia. Who says international cooperation isn’t possible? The only problem is the amount of time required to communicate solutions between people in these far off locations. The time issue aside, progress is being made and the new interface module is well on its way to completion.

In support of the new module, two more supporting modules will be constructed. These modules, which Mark likes to call “flip modules”, will allow the red line to bypass the interface module, thus allowing the red line to be run on DCC without interfering with the operation of the yellow line. These two modules will be set up to automatically operate to stop any trains necessary to avoid collisions. They will also have radio communications between them to ensure the placement of the two modules is able to accommodate any length of train. Currently there are some programming issues, but these should be straightened out promptly. Innovation is one area where has been a leader in the model railroading field, especially t-trak. The club’s automated reverse loop module has made the one trak concept a reality and adds significantly to the operational abilities of any layout. The ability to change the direction of a train consist without having to do it manually “by hand” adds much to the realistic operation of the layout. The addition of a more automated interface module and the supporting flip modules will further enhance the layouts in the future.

Speaking of the future, our old friend Jeff Sorenson pleasantly surprised everyone when he showed up at the show on Sunday. Jeff has been busy with many things and taking time to visit us was greatly appreciated. We are all looking forward to seeing more of Jeff in the future.

“In the future” includes a display for at Hotel Utica in conjunction with the New York Central System Historical Society the first Sunday this month. will set up in the morning and stay until the show ends at 3:00 o’clock. This will be a small display dedicated to the New York Central and local sights from our area. Jim Domser’s Rome module will be there for the crowds to appreciate along with other highly detailed modules. Later in the month we will be meeting at Greg’s to discuss upcoming events, shows, meetings, and construction plans. was also fortunate enough to enlist a new member, Tom Mayer, at the show. Welcome aboard, Tom!

Until next time, keep on training!
Brian


From the Desk: April 2015

Spring is in the air and it seems it is time for “construction”. Out in the real world things have been slowed down somewhat by the rather lengthy winter that has hung on for what seems an eternity. However, this has not dampened ’s progress in the construction business.

Club members John Fleming and Brian King recently visited Matthew to assist him in the construction of his home layout. Discussions at the work session lead to another building decision and the three agreed to meet at Brian’s to help John assemble his new mountain “back track” modules. This pair of modules work together to bring the mountain line to the back of the module and back to the front when connected to each other. Future modules may be designed to utilize the rear location of the mountain line to allow more scenery toward the front of the module.

It is now getting very close to the club’s annual “Valley Rail Sights” show but, hopefully, John will have these modules ready in time to display them at the show. This years show is scheduled for April 18 and April 19. Preparations are already underway and progressing nicely. One of the items that was not ready for last years show was the reversing loop module and the one-trak tee. After much work both domestically and abroad, these modules should be set up and operating properly at this years show. Some minor details are still in the works, but these should not affect the workability of the modules. As has been noted before, the simplest of projects often turn out to be much more involved than at first thought.

Such was the case with the reversing loop module. With lots of perseverance and more perspiration, Mark and Brian working closely together finally got the module to operate as designed. What takes much of the time is the lag in communications from Australia to America. However, Mark and Brian overcame this drawback and made the reversing loop do what it was made to do, allow the train to enter in one direction and exit in the opposite direction with minimum operator involvement. The next step involves disconnecting the local throttle automatically so as to avoid conflicts with the main line throttle. That is another matter entirely and currently will not affect the proper operation of the reverse loop as currently configured. When this is completed there are new ideas being bandied about and designed to keep on the cutting edge of technology and operations. Watch for the new items at the shows and check back here.

Brian


From the Desk: March 2015

March is again upon us and there is very little model railroad activity in the works. The end of the month brings RailRun, an annual activity in the Boston area where many club members have had the good fortune to be participants in the past. A large number of the local model railroad layouts are opened up to a select group of modelers for operating sessions over a weekend at the end of the month. This year, Brian, along with club members Lorenzo Franchi and John Fleming, as well as our Canadian neighbor David
King, have been invited to attend this happening. Participation in this annual event often leads to many ideas about other ways of operating model railroads, including club layouts.

When there is actually a purpose for the trains other than to just go in a circle, it makes for much more interesting train running. continues attempting to
incorporate this idea of operations into the T-trak displays. This has been a slow and ongoing task, but progress is being made and hopefully will be more successful in the future. The RailRun experience provides encouragement for club members to develop more operational ideas for use in our club layouts when the opportunity arises.

The idea of having a purpose has lead to the construction of specific modules that have particular industries on them to support railroad usage and encourage operations. With industry, schedules, and a purpose, it is easier to develop a plan for operations. The one-trak concept has been a work in progress for nearly two years now and lends itself greatly to supporting the operations concept with the t-trak modules. Although DCC adds to the enjoyment of operations because of the added features allowing trains to operate without having to accommodate conventional DC methods, ’s one-trak modules are being constructed with conventional DC power in mind. This allows anyone to use their own motive power regardless if it is DCC equipped or conventional. All DCC locomotives have a conventional feature while not all conventional locomotives can run on DCC. A great advantage of T-trak is that no two setups need ever be the same and the diversity of modules means operations will be ever changing to maintain more interest and challenge for operators. With all of these things in mind, has managed to keep ahead of the game by planning ahead in the design of many of the T-trak modules, anticipating the inclusion of the modules in a layout design to accommodate operations using the features mentioned. These considerations have made ‘s layouts both interesting and fun for both operators and viewers.

The annual “Valley Rail Sights” club show coming up in April should prove to be more fun than ever this year if many of these operational ideas are included when setting up the T-trak layout. Come onout and join the fun.

Brian


From the Desk: February 2015

“You know what I like less than the cold?” asks Clint Eastwood in a radio commercial. “What?” is the retort. Clint’s answer, “Not much!”

So here we are in beautiful upstate New York awaiting yet another blizzard and the numbing freezing cold enjoying it about as much as Clint. Fortunately, our primary pastime, model railroading, rarely involves the great outdoors at this
time of year, so the cold isn’t too much of a hindrance to our hobby. Other than having to go from the mode of transportation to the great indoors to set up for a show, we do not have to deal with the frigid
weather to enjoy our trains. Such was the case for the annual Union Station show in Utica this past January. Once set up, the trains ran superbly, as expected, and everyone was cozy and warm inside the expanse of the station. We have again established our presence at the show and have been kindly invited to attend again next year. eagerly looks forward to this annual event and anticipates continued
participation over the coming years.

To assist in this participation, recently welcomed our newest club member, Matthew de
Jongh. Matthew moved to Oneonta from Maine and quickly joined our ranks. Currently he is in the process of constructing a double wide t-trak N scale module. Club members have stepped up to help him in his efforts to build this module and expect it will be ready for showing in the near future. Welcome aboard, Matthew! We are all looking forward to your
participation and support in club and community activities.

And activities are arriving more and more often. This month, is participating in a new activity at Mohawk Valley Community College in support of the Boy Scouts of America. This should prove to be a very fruitful undertaking as we hope to encourage the younger generation to learn, build, and run model trains in the years ahead.

is getting back on track to attending approximately one show per month
again. This seems to keep the interest up in the hobby without overloading the workers involved. The t-trak concept has made this much easier since the trains are less bulky and more convenient to assemble at the
shows. Progress on new modules makes the variety of available layout designs different and intriguing and allows for an infinite combination of modules to keep everyone pleased with the changing scenery. Watch for the newest and differing layouts at the upcoming shows. members are all looking forward to seeing you at the shows.

Brian


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