October 22, 2018

Chicagoland RPM 2018

The ballroom was empty when I arrived at the meet on Thursday
Last week was the latest road trip - a solo drive to the ChicagoLand RPM meet in Lisle, IL via Lexington, KY. It was a whirlwind trip.

The first stop in Kentucky was to see my son, Chase, and his girl friend, Mizuki.    I arrived in Lexington after about 10 hours of driving. The next day Chase and I played golf at the UK Wildcat course. UK has two nice golf courses. MIT didn't have any as far as I know.  While we golfed, we heard several trains go by. Lexington is a busy railroad town, as well as being a charming small city. The bluegrass country is beautiful and the weather was crisp and sunny.

The next day I drove up to Naperville to check into my hotel. I did not stay at the RPM hotel, as it was booked by the time I remembered to make a reservation. (Note to self, try to remember to book early next time). I got to the meet at about 6:00PM on Thursday. Most everyone was at a banquet or at dinner. So I set up some of my models for display and went to my assigned clinic room to get ready for my talk.

Where is everyone?
I presented two iterations of my clinic, "A High Tech Approach to a 19th Century Layout." These versions were slightly longer than the clinic I presented at the NER Regional Convention last month. This means that in the past 3 months I have presented this clinic 5 times, as well as two other clinics, at 4 different conventions.

George and Tsunami2 Clinic
I also attended some interesting clinics at the Chicagoland RPM.

Of great interest to me was George A. Bogatiuk's update on the Tsunami 2 decoders. I think he convinced me to standardized all my decoders on Tsunami 2. I already have them in my steam engines, but some of my diesels have LokSound decoders. I have no way to program those decoders as SPROGs and Decoder Pro can only do the basic functions. LokSound requires a special programmer that costs about $200. Instead I think I would apply that cost to a NCE DCC system with a Proto throttle for my HO layout. I wouldn't change my steam layout, as that uses EasyDCC.   The Proto Throttle doesn't work with EasyDCC- yet.

Plus, the NCE throttle makes Ops Mode programming easier on the HO layout. That is because my EasyDCC control panel, which is how I do ops model programming,  is near Potomac Station under the O scale layout in the front room. This making programming changes and testing the effects on the HO track inconvenient. The NCE dog bone controller has ability to ops mode built into the hand unit, so I could do ops model programming while standing next to PoLA.

These RPM guys are serious - Keith Kohlman's
One of the lessons I took away from George's talk was the proper use of independent brake and automatic brake, though  I think the latter would be better called "train air brakes." With proper programming, you can use the Tsunami2's to accurately portray train brake operation. Combine that with a Proto Throttle and you have a realistic and fun simulation of diesel locomotive operation, though I am not sure how the Proto Throttle handles independent versus air brakes.

My Aquia Line Easy DCC and Stanton throttles already do a pretty good job of steam engine simulation, so most of this new info would apply to PoLA. Of course, if I get rid of PoLA, then this is moot.

Kristen Dummler expounds on Chickens
Interesting weathering on an S scale turbine
I went to other clinics too. Steve Hile presented an interesting talk on the Decorah Branch in Iowa. Those granger branches do have a charm of their own. They seem exotic to an east coaster like myself. Keith Kohlman discussed the operations and presented a bunch of neat photos of the Erie Bucyrus plant in Milwaukee.  It is a very modelgenic facility and he is doing some nice work in modeling loads from the plant in N Scale. Kristen Dummler discussed the history and modeling challenges of  early live poultry shipping cars. She is building an assortment of models in HO scale. These could be a possible kit for Alkem Scale Models as they might benefit from some etched parts.

Of course the camaraderie at the meet and over meals was great too. I had lunch with Hal Miller and Cody Grivo, and went to dinner with some of my friends,  Jack Ozanich, Craig Wilson, Alan Bell, from the Michigan area. Along with Bill Neale, we decided to try to set up a ops weekend in the Washington DC area in Spring.

 I also met a lot of new people. It was the first time I met Pierre Oliver of Yarmouth Models and saw some of the fantastic work he is doing. It was very impressive. He told me of his plans to build a SP branch line railroad based on a location in California. Got to love those branch line layouts.

I also met Jeremy and Kristen Dummler for the first time even though we have emailed each other in the past. They are a husband wife team that do modeling railroading together. That is so cool.

This was also my first time meeting Keith Kohlman, Paul Strubeck, and Cameron Tester, even though we have corresponded in the past.

Shout out to Mike Skibbe, Matt Gaudynski, and crew for doing a great job organizing and running the meet.

Alas, I didn't get to visit any layouts or hobby shops. Next time, I'll have to allocate more days to the meet.

I returned home on Saturday, doing the drive in one day in 11 hours and 59 minutes.

October 17, 2018

General Motors Exhibit at the 1964 NY World's Fair

My family went to the 1964 NY World's Fair several times. I was about 8 years old at the time, yet I vividly remember several of the exhibits. The Ford exhibit was cool as you rode in a convertible car to see the displays. But my favorite was the GM exhibit. I recently found this promotional video describing the GM exhibit at the 1964 NY Worlds Fair.


The visitors rode in seats on a conveyor belt that travelled through a series of large-scale miniature dioramas.   The scene I remember being most impressed by was the laser logging operation.  It was so cool to see it again in this video, much like I remembered it. I think this exhibit, and the dioramas at the NY Museum of Natural History, were largely responsible for my interest in miniature dioramas. My interest in trains came much later.

October 15, 2018

Video with Tips on How to Operate the Aquia Line

I posted a brief video explaining some tips on how to operate the link and pin couplers, waybills, working brakes and battery powered locos on my youtube channel.

This may help you if you come to operate the Aquia Line.

I’m heading to the Naperville RPM tomorrow to show the flag for the Aquia Line and MARPM. I will be doing two talks on the Aquia Line.  If you are there, please stop by to say hello.

October 14, 2018

October 2018 Op Sessions

Tom Pierpoint looks resplendent in his USMRR shirt as he pulls a pin at Falmouth 

After a five month break, the Aquia Line and PoLA hosted op sessions today. This was the 16th session for Aquia Line and the first with fully functional front links. It was also the 21st Official Session for PoLA. The sessions ran very well, despite the crews being a little rusty due to the long break.

On PoLA, Brad Trencamp was the conductor and Lance Mindheim was engineer.

The Aquia Line ran with two crews. Train 7 had a three-man crew with  conductor John Barry, Engineer John Drye, and brakeman  Tom Pierpoint. Train 8 had a two-man crew of conductor Doug Gurin  and engineer Shawn Fenn. Later Brad Trencamp replaced Doug and was the engineer.

Both Lance and Shawn were first time operators on the layouts.

Overall, the sessions went went, despite some ominous activity the night before. One of the turnouts on PoLA broke while I was cleaning track. I was able to fix it quick enough. Then, when I turned on the DCC system, the Aquia Line was fine but PoLA wouldn't respond, despite getting power. I rebooted everything and that solved the issue. Wait for it, .... yes, I HATE DCC! Fortunately, the DCC system worked without mishap on Sunday during the sessions.

A lesson we need to reinforce, Aquia Line crews must insure that the turnout levers are locked in place, as most of the trouble they had today occurred when stub switches were not fully locked into position.

This was the first op session where the Aquia Line crews could use the front links. They used them to good effect. They greatly increased their flexibility to switch the sidings. They even came up with some innovate ways to tag team switching at Brooke, as you can see in the video below.

Great session guys. Thanks for coming.

October 11, 2018

Bulk Carrier Superstructure Construction

Photo etched rails visible on deck
Superstructure is coming along
The boat deck is still unpainted acrylic. The stack is not
yet glued in place. 

After a long break, I restarted work on the bulk carrier for the PoLA layout.  As you might recall, this is a fairly large ship model at 62 inches LOA and 10 inches beam. I posted about its construction several times before, such as here,  here, and here.

The superstructure is a combination of 1/8th and 1/16th inch laser-cut, acrylic parts.

I add styrene parts to the basic acrylic shell to help detail it.

The superstructure is just about ready for the base paint. Then I'll add the hand railings and stairs, which will come from a new etching that Alkem Scale Models is going to introduce soon.
In fact, all the pilot etchings were sold, even before I advertised them, as visitors to my layout, upon seeing the pilot parts asked to buy them. I sold all that I had on hand, but a new large batch is coming.

This ship has a lot of hand railings, so the etching will come in very handy. I will also need a lot of railings for the borax silos too.

Wet sanding in sink

October 6, 2018

Cornorama, tool envy, and other tales

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks. Hopefully, I can take a breather next week, before I head to Chicago for the Naperville RPM.

Last week Alicia and I went to Minnesota to help my mother in law with some chores, attend Alicia's college reunion, visit relatives, and do some rail fanning. We got to see my brother-in-law's machine shop where he is building a Mustang II hot rod with a 427 (actually a restroked 351 V8).

Kevin and Alicia with the "famous" brian stimulation violin.
We also got a tour of a biomedical lab at the Mayo Clinic that is run by my fraternity brother Kevin Bennet.  They are doing amazing work in neurosurgery. Talk about cool tools, they have a complete machine shop with just about every tool you could want and then some. How about a femtolaser, a laser which emits optical pulses with a duration in the domain of femtoseconds (1 fs = 10−15 s). They use it to make tiny electrodes for deep brain stimulation.  They also developed a machine that makes synthetic diamonds for use in brain stimulation electrodes.  Wow!


Clark and his layout 
Earlier in the trip I got to spend a day visiting layouts in the Mason City, Iowa area and doing some rail fanning. After driving through seemingly endless corn fields, I arrived at Clark Propst's M&StL Branch line layout first. This layout was featured in MRP 2018. He put me to work as a conductor for an op session, while he was the engineer on a nice little mogul. It was very enjoyable session. I think layouts like this a perfect for a medium sized space. The layout is composed of three towns with lots of switching at each, yet spaced out enough to feel a sense of distance between towns. The scenery and structures are  well done.

Bob G and Bob D (l to r) 
After lunch we visited  Bob Gretillat’s Rock Island RR. It's a large double deck railroad designed for operations. We didn't operate it, but did get a good look.  Bob Drenth met us there. His house was the next destination. He has two railroads, a large ride-on outdoor railroad and a indoor HO layout. We had a great time riding the large scale trains, such that we just had time for a peek at the indoor railroad before I needed to head back. But the train action continued as I swung by Manly Terminal to watch wind mill parts being unloaded, and caught a short train in Lyle, IA with a few covered hoppers.

I made a video of the highlights of the trip. I apologize for misspelling some of the names in the video, I tried to correct them above. When I wuz a kid, i cudent even spel enjunear, now I are one.

MER open house guests
Once home, I hosted an open house for the MER NMRA and presented a clinic with an update on the Aquia Line. It's hard to believe, but the Aquia Line is coming up on its 10th year anniversary.

September 23, 2018

MARPM 2018

Brad Trencamp's American Can factory from Baltimore. A wonderful model.
To top it off, he is using it on a layout from my book, 45 Track Plans
We just wrapped the MARPM 2018. The event was a great success. The volunteers and I had a great time hosting it at the BWI Double Tree Hilton Inn, near Baltimore Maryland. About 150 people attended the event.

Hal Miller, Editor of Model Railroader magazine,
shoots pictures of
Jack Keane's O Scale D&H layout. The layout is about 30 percent complete. 
It started out with operating sessions and open houses on Thursday.  Hal Miller and I visited Jack Keane's O Scale empire and Don Marvel's freelanced HO Appalachian railroad.  Jack's layout has one level of three planned levels complete. It will be a monster layout when finished. Don's HO layout is nearly finished and is beautiful. There were other layouts open, such as David Vaughn and Lance Mindeheim,  that I did not get to visit this time.

On Friday and Saturday we had a steady stream of clinics from 0800 to 2100 with only a hour and quarter break for dinner, that's right - no lunch break.
Alicia and Kent did a great job helping staff the
registration table. 
You had to eat on the fly if you didn't want to miss anything.  The list of clinic presenters read like who's who of model railroading, and all were excellent public speakers too. It will be hard to top this group, but we can try.

John Steitz and Scott Wahl listen intently as Lance Mindheim
gives some backdrop advice
In addition to the presentations, we had hands on clinics for passenger car building and weathering techniques through out the weekend.

The sales area had 27 tables of model railroad goodies from 10 different vendors.  Hopefully our vendors did well. Several said they would consider coming back.

We held a raffle during the meet and it was a big success. There were lots of prizes for the lucky winners, all donated by our generous sponsors.

Shannon Crabtree posted a set of photos to his pbase website. You can find it here.

Craig Bisgeier describes how to do home photo etching
and get remarkably good results
On Sunday we had several layouts open for visits. I had 8 visitors, Ken Montero, John Drye, Tom Pierpoint, Michael Spoor, Ben Hom, Mat Thompson, Gary Boardley and John Stralka stop by. I put them to work running trains on PoLA and Aquia Line.  Alicia made brownies and coffee for snacks.

Thom Radice presented a wonderful talk on his home layout, replete with visions of reincarnation

The venue received nice comments from the attendees.  We are looking into using that same venue for next year's meet. We need to sort out possible dates and other details before we can announce a MARPM 2019.

A big shout out of thanks to all that attended and supported the event. If you want to attend next year there are three ways you can support the event.

  1. Register early
  1. Stay at the meet hotel (we did negotiate a good rate)
  1. Support the vendors at the show by buying supplies and models from them

Shannon Crabtree managed the raffle. Thanks to our sponsors for their support
(r to l) Bill Carl and Travars Stapac operate Don Marvel's layout
Guest operators work PoLA during my open house.

September 13, 2018

Hurricane Season

The south east coast of the United States is bracing for a large hurricane, named Florence. While we don't get too many hurricanes in our area, there have been some devastating storms in the past.  Hurricane Camille in particular caused a lot of damage in Virginia.

As I looked at the expected landfall of the current storm, right into the Carolinas, I was wondering what would have happened if a major hurricane hit land during the Civil War.  Wikipedia has a list of recorded hurricanes for the most of the united States history. The records are spotty, but the bottom line is that during the ACW, just a few hurricanes made landfall and they had minor effects.  This blog post by Brian Whitenton at the Mariner's Museum summarizes the effect of a storm on the Port Royal expedition. Another good summary of hurricanes during the ACW, and earthquakes too, is at this blog.

I will heading north this weekend, away from Hurricane Florence. I will be at the NMRA NER Regional Convention in New Jersey. I will be presenting two clinics and the key note talk. I look forward to seeing my northern friends.

I will return next week, to help host the Middle Atlantic Railroad Prototype Meet 2018. We have a great event lined up. Please see www.MARPM.org for info.

The Thursday op session is full, but some openings are available for the Sunday op sessions.
If you wish to attend the Thursday open houses you must preregister for the event.

We have a bunch of vendors signed up with 27 vendor tables, making this a great opportunity to pick up supplies for the up coming model railroad season.

Our top ranked clinicians are ready to present a carefully curated list of topics that will capture your interest.
Registration will also be available at the door with payment by check, cash or credit card.

Please stay safe during this up coming storm and we'll see you next week.

September 5, 2018

Concept Art for Fredericksburg Expansion

I was perusing the US National Archive files and I found this artist's concept of how the Fredericksburg expansion might look.  Two things pop out, the backdrop will be critical to a realistic scene and there are lots of neat structures that will have to be built.

With regard to the backdrop, the river scene behind the bridge will be difficult to execute. Also, many of the structures needed to depict a town scene will be rendered in 2D versus 3D. That will be a fun challenge as I would probably use the same technique I used on the Pioneer Mills diorama for the Lyceum as described here and here.

September 3, 2018

A Pittsburgh Potty, Yinzers an 'at

The finished table
We just got back from a trip to Pittsburgh, PA to help my daughter with some household projects. She and her husband just moved there. They purchased a house in an older neighborhood that is undergoing urban renewal. Her house has been thoroughly renovated and  is quite charming. The rebuilders added a modern bathroom to the first level, as the house previously only had a  small  full bath in an other wise unfinished basement. Turns out this is a quirk of many Pittsburgh homes, called a Pittsburgh Potty.

Top after cutting molding away. Some of the
 old molding strips are on the floor.
There are two theories about why this was a popular design. One was sewer problems were common  in the older cities, so a bath in the basement limited damage from a sewer back up to just the lower floor. And, my daughter and son-in-law did have a sewer problem as soon as they moved in that required demolition of part of the basement floor. The second theory is that mill workers could change their dirty clothes and wash up in the basement before coming up stairs into the rest of the house.  Alas, there are almost no mill workers left in Pittsburgh. Either way it is an odd quirk and part of the charm of Pittsburgh homes.

The basement is clean and dry, though relatively unfinished, just painted walls and joists. A nice layout could be built in it. However, they are not interested in a layout. Instead we built a kitchen table. The table was originally a thrift store coffee table that she and I customized with a new top and trim when she lived in Denver. The top has a layer of pennies secured in place with casting resin. She wanted to repurpose the top into a kitchen table.

Just like building a module
Disassembling the legs of the coffee table was fairly easy, but the trim on the top was not coming off. We had used a piece of PVC molding for the trim and it was securely attached to the resin. After some cogitation, we decided the only solution was to use a circular saw to cut through the table top, the pennies and resin. That worked pretty well as the saw cut right through. But to our surprise, the resin pulled away from the table surface in a few places and chipped in two others.  In addition, some pennies popped loose. We had used CAA to glue them.  I never would have expected that.

Now that we had a nice clean edge on the table top it was a relatively simple matter to add a mitered wood frame around the top. We used 1x4 oak, so the table became 7 inches wider and longer, which pleased the owners.  Building the legs and shelf underneath was very similar to building model railroad bench work, so the job went well.  The finished table is above.

While in Pittsburgh, we had a chance to visit Neal Schorr's O scale layout. He uses 3-rail track and equipment, but designed the layout is an otherwise scale manner.
Barn built board by board

 It's a hybrid approach 3-rail trains in a prototypical design. For example, his Duncannon Bridge scene is closely based on the prototype.

He has many detailed realistic structures, and an impressive backdrop. The layout is essentially a large folded loop built like a shelf layout. There are a few deep scenes to add realism too.

Neal cites the reliability of 3-rail equipment as the rational for the layout. He once had an extensive HO layout, so he has a good basis for comparison. But lets face it, big O scale trains are cool.
Bridge over Sherman Creek near Duncannon based on
prototype measurements

Engine terminal at East Altoona
The massive appearance, impressive sound, and even smoke that looks almost realistic, all add to the charm. 
 Check out video at the bottom for an example.

Nice detailing on a narrow shelf portion

August 29, 2018

Finding a Foundry

The word "foundry" is clearly visible on a building directly behind and in line with the water mill along the river.
 This seems to match the approximate location of the Hope Foundry
Thanks for Brian Kammerer and his friend, Frank A. O'Reilly, the Lead Historian at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, some of the mysteries of the second train were cleared up. Their consensus is that the train is a fanciful artist conception.   Here is what Frank says,
 Sometimes, the art isn't about chronicling what is, but telling a story about what is going on.  In this case, the lithograph panorama in question is a retread on old promise.  The 1863 litho, with the legend, "View of Fredericksburg, Va. Nov. 1862)," really is a doctored 1856 lithograph of Fredericksburg.  I'm attaching a couple of detail-shots from the 1856 to compare.  Even the trains are in the same place with the same smoke.  The only difference is that the artist in 1863 cleared off all the ships on the city dock, wrecked the bridges over the river, added a couple of Confederate earthworks in the background, and a Union cannon in the lower right corner of the piece.  Truth is, the artists were lazy in 1863--they neglected to remove the bridge over the Rappahannock upstream at Falmouth.  
Now, to your point that artists added to the scene to enhance it, there are a couple of features that appear in the 1856 and 1863 litho that weren't there in reality--one is the Mary Washington Monument on the outskirts of town.  The town intended to erect a monument but never got past building a base by the time of the Civil War.  Yet, it was in the lithograph because that was the city's signature significance/identity before Union and Confederate armies shot it all to hell!  The other is the crazy Falmouth bridge.  It remained on the 1863 litho because no one was looking for it--it never existed!  It was a bit of 1856 salesmanship, promising the city was modernizing and becoming well connected to the rest of the transportation networks in Virginia.  In precisely the same light, the artist "finished" the unfinished railroad, connecting Fredericksburg to the Virginia interior.  The right of way had been cleared by the time of the Civil War, but the company went bankrupt.  Several companies failed trying to resurrect it after the Civil War before the P, F and P ran a small gauge line out through Chancellorsville and Wilderness to beyond Parker's Store at the end of the nineteenth century.
So, the easy answer is yours: artists were taking license to tell their story--the story that Fredericksburg in 1856 was reinventing itself, modernizing, and harmonizing its past--the Mary Washington Monument--with the future--the railroads and river crossings, making it a transportation hub.  Only thing is: it did happen that way.  

Frank also answered I question I had about the foundry that the USMRR used in town. 
The authority, Noel G. Harrison,... suggested Hope (Scott's) Foundry, He documented the foundry in his book on Fredericksburg Civil War Sites (Lynchburg, Va.: H. E. Howard, Inc., 1995), Vol. 1, pp. 35-39.
"The Hope Foundry's Confederate war production was interrupted by the Federal occupation of Fredericksburg in the spring of 1862.  Union officers seized the enterprise, staffed it with soldiers and former slaves, and even laid a railroad spur along Princess Anne Street to convey their products--including at least one repaired locomotive--to the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad."  

With this additional information, plus a citation that credits a union bakery at Falmouth, I made the following revisions to the plan for the Fredericksburg expansion. I had to adjust the streets a bit to fit my space, but it is starting to convey the feeling of a large town.

The turnout to the bakery in Falmouth would be on a curve, but at least it is a wider curve than I have there now.

August 28, 2018

Fredericksburg Plan Revised

A panorama from 1863 showing the region near the railroad bridge. There are two tracks with trains on then
 headed south from town.  The right hand track to Marye's heights is a mystery.
I revised the plan for expanding the model railroad to Fredericksburg a bit to better reflect the actual buildings and tracks in the city based on some more research. The information on what the town looked like, especially the area near the tracks, during the war is relatively sparse. One problem we have in trying to understand what the railroad looked like in 1863  is that the RF&P extensively rebuilt the right of way though Fredericksburg and north in 1910. They elevated the line through town on a viaduct and built a new station. They also relocated the line that was north of the river to remove curvature and built new bridges. The bottom line is that most vestiges of the civil war era railroad were destroyed. It is hard to look at the current right of way for prototype inspiration. So we must rely on the few photos we have, most taken from the north side of the river, and some maps that show the railroad right of way, most notably a hachure style topographic map from before the war, a Sanborn map from 1886, and the panoramic drawing shown above from 1863.

The hachure topo map from the LoC shows two sidings in the town. One on the north side of the main line that goes to the freight depot (we know it was the freight depot from the Sanborn map, though some think this was also the engine shed that Haupt refers to in his memoirs).  This map also shows a siding to the passenger depot on the south side of the mainline. The topo map shows a single track mainline, though a passing siding was probably likely, especially since the Sanborn map shows one too.

1886 Sanborn map
The Sanborn map gives a lot more detail, but it is from 1886. You must be careful as some things changed in the intervening 23 years from when I am modeling to the time of the Sanborn map.  You can also learn more about the area by comparing later Sanborn maps to this one. The good news is that many of the structures shown in the 1886 Sanborn map do match well with the ACW era photos.

By 1886 there was also a narrow gauge railroad that terminated near the RF&P depot. Some of its tracks show up on the Sanborn map, but those tracks were not there in the ACW. However, the panorama of Fredericksburg published in 1863 shows two tracks departing town to the south, one on the mainline and one to Marye's Heights. That track to Marye's Heights is a mystery to me as it doesn't show up on any other ACW era map or photo, except perhaps for the Mallory map that does show a junction south of the station. There was an unfinished railroad in this area that eventually became the Potomac, Fredericksburg and Piedmont Railroad. Could the rebels have built a line to Marye's Heights to supply their men there?

The revised track plan reflects the new information from these maps as well as some other study of photos that I have done. The track plan is a double ended siding, with stub ended spurs on each side.

The spur to the turntable is optional. Now that my locomotives have functional links on the pilots, I now longer need to reverse the engines at the south end of the line. However, I like how the turntable embellishes  operations by giving the crew something else to do, so I think I will keep it.

I included the bakery and the pickle factory in the design as they are interesting buildings. More on them later.

The following is a letter written by a soldier from the 2nd Wisconsin. It has some interesting detail about the railroad facilities in Fredericksburg in 1862.

From the Second Wis. Regiment  Camp Ginnie's Station, Va.
May 26, 1862
Dear Tribune:-
Your correspondent has remained silent thus long from the fact that his department failed to furnish anything worthy of note. Since I last wrote you our time has mainly been occupied in giving "a fancy drills" and "parades" for the especial benefit of our new Brigadier General. But within the last few days the white glove style has ceased and we now find ourselves the peaceful occupants of a former secesh camp nine miles south of Fredericksburg and within four miles of Ginnie's  Station on the Fredericksburg & Richmond Railroad. How long we will remain here I know not but it is presumed that our forward movement will again commence by tomorrow.
To rebuild the railroad bridges a detail of six hundred men was made from this Corps, fifty-one of which are from this Brigade. The three bridges between Acquia Creek and Fredericksburg were built inside of three weeks-the one crossing the Rappahannock being three hundred feet in length and the other one about ninety feet each in length- the whole work is under the supervision of Mr. Stone, U. S. Bridge Builder, Philadelphia
An extensive foundry and machine shop owned by a Mr. Jones, a rank secessionist, was seized and from the Bridge force a detail of fifty men were put at work building cars, repairing locomotives, &c., a steam portable saw mill has been turned out of this building within the last week and is now at this station. A Battery of cannon has been cast here and will soon be ready for service. A blacksmith shop is attached to it where twenty-two hands are employed shoeing army horses. You will understand this force employed at labor in this establishment are all Western men - Wisconsin and Indiana. They have material a-plenty to work with and are capable of turning out anything man may desire - either of wood, iron, brass or copper. As a matter of complement let me tell you that Mineral Point is represented in this establishment in the person of Nicholas Geig.  Budlong is acting Commissary and general Orderly for the Commander of the force. He attends to the seizing of Secesh lumber whenever their representatives of the Davis click refuse remuneration for their property.The rebels when occupying Fredericksburg appear to have delighted in acting the part of barbarians. For instance the monument to Mrs. Washington, the mother of Gen. Washington, bears the marks of seventy-five bullets besides its being chipped off at the four corners. The monument is on  a high eminence and from the mound you have a fine view of the city and surroundings. The citizens assert that this piece of architecture was used as a target during last winter. I understand an effort will be made through the soldiers to repair the monument. Hundreds would willingly contribute to so humane an object.
From the monument of Mrs. Washington you have a full view of the two rebel burying grounds. In one there are three hundred graves and in the others a hundred and eighty. No regard appears to have been paid to color. The citizens say that the white soldier often became the occupant with the slave of the same vault. These are mostly North Carolina and Georgia troops and nearly all died with three months.
On Sunday the rebel magazine at Fredericksburg exploded killing a private who was guarding it throwing his right leg over thirty feet from the spot . The brother of this young solider was an eye witness and but a little way from him  but strange to say was unharmed. In the magazine there were seventy boxes of cartridges and two torpedoes which but a few days since were taken from under the platform at the depot and placed in the magazine for safe keeping. The cause of the explosion is unknown. A number of arrests have been made but whether any of the unruly secesh are implicated in the transaction is as yet unknown.
Soon after the explosion and while the affair was being investigated a secessionist standing by remarked to one of our soldiers, "that the private killed was served right and had received his reward for being among the invaders" this man had no sooner finished his sentence than he measured his length on the mother earth. He was roundly thrashed in the presence of his fellow citizens and raised on his feet and told to "hunt his hole," and not dare to ever again offer an insult to the Union soldiers. It will teach him as well as hundreds of others of sympathizing rebels that their lips must be sealed when in the presence of the Union boys that our soldiers know how to resent an insult notwithstanding their feelings.
This part of Virginia is thoroughly secesh and they have been bold in their remarks. The women in particular have a general abhorrence of the Union soldiers. To show their contempt rather than walk under the Stars and Stripes which are hung out in front of the City Hall, they will walk in the middle of the street, draw their veils closely over their pretty shaped faces, turn up their noses and trot along as gay as you please. If you look at one she become desperately fidgety and almost frantic with rage and if you speak to her oh! my the silly thing flirt's around almost beside herself and gives you to distinctly understand that her cap is set for a "bold southerner."- Perhaps they don't understand that we Northerners are inclined to furnish them with subsistence - that but for the ready hand of Abraham they would starve in less than a week. As for good looks you cannot flatter them - in fact they have become so used to turning up their noses in contempt for things to their disliking that it spoils their good looks if they ever possessed so necessary an article.
Last evening we received the news of the falling back of Gen. Banks but the stories are so mixed up that we fear to say anything on the matter. In fact we are watching McClellan and expect every hour of hearing of his taking the Southern Metropolis

August 26, 2018

O Scale National Finale

Judy and Tony Koester pose behind their new P48 layout while mom gets a ground level view.

My mom and I attended the O Scale National Convention on Saturday. We visited the dealer areas and saw some portable layouts, including Tony Koester's new P48 portable layout. Later in the afternoon I presented two talks to the attendees.

Can you image the layout needed to house this structure? Yes, O Scale is big.

Alicia and mom posing with their new toys from  the convention

On Sunday a few of the convention attendees visited my layout since they could not make the Thursday open house. On Sunday afternoon I went to Marty McGuirk's house to work on modules with him. We got his modules almost ready to lay track.
(L - R) Andy Brusgard (father), Andy Brusgard (grand father),
and Andrew Brusgard (age 6)
Robert Lavezzi tries his hand at link and pin couplers,
while his wife, Karen, looks on.
Peter Gentieu tries his hand at running an engine. Peter is a local guy a
and signed on to the call board as a future operator for the Aquia Line
George Wallace and his daughter Karen visit the layout.
George had previously visited in 2012

Working on Marty's module