About the MFR

The Metaline Falls Railroad (MFR) is a proto-freelanced model railroad based on the Pend Oreille Valley Railroad located in northern Idaho and north eastern Washington State. For the very latest on the layout, please visit my YouTube channel and follow along with my Instagram account.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Metaline Falls Revealed

Youtube user abekinney brings us this great view of the Metaline Falls revealed for the first time in 27 years as the Pend Oreille river reaches a historic low point behind the Boundry Dam.

It's fun to dig through Youtube for little gems like this while researching information on the area I've chosen to model.

If you are interested in learning more about the falls, here is a nice article about the falls from last year that is full of fantastic historical photos like the following:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What did you do on your Thanksgiving break?

What did you do on your Thanksgiving break? I finished my staging yard.

I have been inspired over the last few days to finally get around to completing the track work for my layout. The last component being this little three-track staging yard above my work bench. The construction when pretty painlessly and was done in a couple of afternoons. While photographing the construction process, I realized that I desperately need to upgrade the lighting in my train room, but that is a project for another day.

(Note: Click the images to view them at a larger size)

The first step was to remove the decorative molding from the wall and install the brackets which would support the base. The overall length of the yard is eight feet so I spaced four brackets appropriately and added a fifth to the layout directly underneath the hole where the trackage would emerge.

I then cut 2" thick foam core to the appropriate shape and rolled on flat black latex paint to the visible sides which included top, bottom, and front edge.

After the paint had dried, I fitted the two sections to the layout ensuring that everything was clean and level.

I then measured and carefully glued  the track and cork roadbed to the foam using Elmer's white glue and held it in place with thumb tacks until the glue had dried.  I decided to lay both the track and the cork at the same time, which I find helpful in ensuring that everything is aligned correctly.

The cork may be an unnessicary step, but in my opinion track laid directly to the foam base tends to look a bit unfinished.  I like the clean, purposeful look that the cork provides.

The final step (after running wires to the track from the main bus line) was to install a couple of Caboose Industries ground throws.  I've always wanted to use these as I like the idea of throwing a switch in a manner that mimics the real thing, but I find their size to be a bit of an eyesore for realistic modeling purposes.  The staging tracks turned out to be a perfect excuse to sneak a couple on the layout!

Here is a pretty bad photo of the far end of the staging tracks.  I had created a number of these bumpers about a year ago in preparation for the yard going in so attaching them now was quick and easy!

And finally we have another terrible photo and a view of the overall view of the yard.  I'm really pleased with the look of the final product.  It looks good above my work bench and makes the rest of the layout look pretty unfinished in comparison.  I guess I've got my work cut out for me!

Learning Points:
  • Have plenty of thumbtacks on hand when laying cork and track.  This allows the process to go quickly and minimizes the amount of stopping and waiting for glue to dry before continuing on with another length of track.
  • a quick coat of paint to cover the foam base goes a long way to making a staging yard look good.  Staging may not be the focus of your model railroad, but who says it needs to look bad?
  • Doing small projects (such as assembling and painting track bumpers) as time permits helps to speed up the time investment of a build and is a great way to maintain momentum on a project.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Maintaining Momentum

BNSF Unit Train headed west out of Spokane Washington July 2011

So, looking back at my previous posts I see that the last major construction push on my layout was back in February of this year when I completed laying and wiring my track-work.  That was ten months ago. Progress has been terribly slow.

I knew going into this project that this would happen.  For me, model railroading is just like any one of the many other hobbies I enjoy.  It's a hobby that maintains my interest for decades, but the passion for getting my hands dirty and actually actively working on the railroad tends to ebb and flow. (Which is yet ANOTHER great reason to design and build smaller and better, not bigger and quicker.) This is my first layout in a decade and I don't want to stumble down the basement stairs a decade from now to find that my layout is in the same unfinished state that it is in currently.

For a new model railroader, getting past these dry spells in our hobby intrest can be difficult if not impossible.  Maintaing momentum can be a tricky thing especially when you feel as if you've expelled so much energy getting to this point and looking down the road, there is a long way yet to go. What can one do to maintain momentum when trying to scrub caked on plaster of paris off of one's arms is just not terribly appealing at the moment?

First know that you are not alone. I take comfort knowing that everyone goes through these periods of disinterest. For me, the endless amount of information available through blog posts, magazine articles, Youtube videos, and forum posts keeps me excited. Following along with other modelers as they shape and mold their own little railroad empires keeps me excited. Knowing that yes, my intrest in getting my hands dirty may wane from time to time, but I've got my own railroad empire waiting patiently for me in my basement. That, more than anything else, keeps me excited.

For further reading, check out this article from the May 2011 issue of the Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine. Thanks goes to dfandrews for pointing me to it!