A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

April 29, 2010

Dinner and a Movie

We had a good work session tonight. Jeff and Christian Peck arrived first. Jeff went to work spiking track at Stoneman's Station. I fired up the Xbox 360 and Christian got busy with Modern Warfare 2.

Mark Anderson arrived and proceeded to fix the door to the garage, which I didn't even realize needed repairs. Then he teamed up with Marco to trim the bottom of the door to the work shop. Mark finished the door reversal, while Marco continued to work on the Aquia Harbor benchwork.

JD arrived and we took a break for "show and tell." I had ordered two prints from Brian Kammerer at CW Battle Art and we admired them. Everyone liked them though Alicia and the others really liked the Manassas scene. I think I like the Marshall House one better, so everyone is happy.

After that break JD worked on installing feeders. I went around with a drill and made the holes for the feeders. I marked them with toothpicks. JD prepared a set of wires and began installing them, with solder connections on the bottom of the rails. Red wire to the rear.

I worked on roadbed and gluing ties between Potomac Creek and Brook. It is ready for rail and spikes.

At 10PM we stopped work. We popped Brian Kammerer's DVD, "The Other Great Locomotive Chase" in the player and watched it. One idea inspired by the film that we agreed on was that I should add a balloon camp at Falmouth. The photos below show the balloon Intrepid at Yorktown and in the photo to the right the balloon camp at Falmouth in 1863. The balloon corps was disbanded later in 1863, but it was present in my time frame. That should be a fun and diverting project.

April 25, 2010

Public Presentation on ACW Model Railorads

I did my talk tonight entitled, "An Introduction to Modeling the Railroads of the Civil War." I've done a lot of talks over the years and I think I would say this one went off very well. I wore my BG Uniform which set the stage quite well. The talk was supposed to go 45 minutes, but with questions it lasted 1 and half hours. Many of the attendees commented that they were not initially interested in the subject, but found the discussion quite absorbing. It managed to suck them in.

A woman in the audience came up to me after the talk and commented on how handsome I looked in my uniform. Heck, maybe I should wear it all the time, but don't tell Alicia. :)

April 24, 2010

More visitors

Another group of visitors stopped by to visit the layout on Saturday. From the left; Paul Dolkos, Tony Koester, Keith Jordan, Andy Sperandeo, Lou Steenwyck, Greg Luiz, Mike Chandler, Jerry Dziedzic, and Steve Karras.

April 22, 2010

April Visitors

We had the pleasure of several visitors today, some expected and some unexpected. First Paul Dolkos, Chuck Hitchcok and Keith Jordan stopped by to see the layout. Chuck and Keith live in Kansas City and are in town for Prorail.

Here Keith is trying out the link and pin couplers. Chuck also took a try. Both are very experienced operators and they concluded that the link and pins are not unreasonable. They made some good suggestions on how to make the process simpler. I will try them out and report back.

In the second shot Paul and Chuck are marveling at my temporary wiring. As many of you know, wiring is my least favorite part of the hobby and I put it off as long as possible. So the layout is wired with alligator clips and an old MRC power pack. At some point I will wire it properly and add DCC with sound in the locos.

As Paul, Chuck and Keith were departing, I got a call from a college friend, Jim Caplan, that I hadn't seen in 11 years. He and his family were in town at a hotel one mile from my house. So we set up a quick visit.

Jim and Heather have two children that like trains, so Jim was able to convince them to leave the pool to see the layout.

In the video clip we see Matthew and Claire running a train across the layout. Check out the smiles on the children! They were very good operators and did a great job. They are delightful children and I was glad they got a chance to run trains on the layout.

It was great seeing Jim and Heather again. It is amazing how we can pick up right where we left off so many years ago. Of course a lot has happened and we just barely caught up on all the news.

April 19, 2010

Official Portrait

Thanks to assistance from Mike Doyle and some tailoring by my mom, I was able to assemble a uniform for a Union General during the civil war era. We based the uniform and details on the two known photos of BG Herman Haupt. In both photos Haupt did not wear weapons, though his uniform looks in accordance with regulations in other respects.

The frock coat that I acquired from the Gettysburg Sutler is a heavy weight wool. In studying the actual photos of officers from the 1860s. it appears to me that the weight of the fabric that most of the photos show is lighter than what I have. I based this on the creases and folds visible in the fabric. I would guess that most officers had sufficient money to buy lighter weight fabric for service during the hot summers. Lighter weight wool was available for my uniform, but at a greater cost.

I do not plan to do any reenacting in the normal sense of recreating battles, but will wear the uniform for special occasions, events, talks, etc. For example, I am scheduled to do a talk on Civil War railroading next weekend at the ProRail event in Rockville, MD.

April 10, 2010

Manassas Junction Art Print

I had a chance to visit with Chris Brannigan in Arlington, VA to see his layout plans and to get a sneak peek at Brian Kammerer's latest Civil War Battle print. Brian is doing a whole series of prints depicting the events of the civil war in the style of the American Heritage "aerial" views. You can see the the rest of the printed series at http://cwbattlemapart.com

His latest print of Manassas Junction in 1861 during the Confederate build-up is especially impressive. A low resolution image of the print is at the left, with a zoom-in of some of the detail shown below. The print is just filled with this level of authentic and highly researched detail. Based on the the highly detailed image, I plan to buy the biggest size he has available, which is 24 x 30 inches.

Brian is working on a Alexandria scene next and I am really looking forward to that.

Chris helped Brain research them Manassas image and has one of the first artist proof prints. I got a snapshot of Chris and the print in his home office.

The brass models below the print are some of the equipment Chris is using in his retro style W&OD layout. The layout will feature furniture grade benchwork, with unpainted brass and metal cars and structures. Chris is trying to capture the look of a model railroad as they were built in the 1950s with bullet proof operations over steep grades.

Chris was one of the original founders of the American Civil War Railroad Historical Society along with DC Cebula, Thom Radice, Lebron Matthews and Brian Kammerer. The group now has over 500 members.

April 8, 2010

Work Session Report

Thursday work session was a success. Doug Gurin, Mark Kempinski, Mark Anderson,and John Drye showed up for duty. Doug showed up first and he and I shared a pizza dinner.

John and Doug spiked track. When I lay my track, I spike every fifth tie or so, as frequently adjustments are necessary and having fewer spikes to adjust make things simpler. Once the alignment of the track is adjusted, I go back and fill in the remaining spikes. This is a tedious job and I am lucky that friends like John, Doug, Paul and Marty have helped drive spikes for me. As I posted earlier, four spikes per tie requires over 10,000 spikes to complete my layout.

The new spikes I ordered from Micro Mark are much closer to scale size than the Micro-engineering spikes I was previously using. They drive very easily. I recommend them.

My brother, Mark, built bench work in the workshop where Aquia Harbor will go. In the background of the photo you can see the hole in the wall, just above the workshop lamp, where the tracks come through the wall.

The Ikea Ivar shelves will serve as the supporting legs. The bench work will be 15 inches wide behind my workshop chair and then widen as it approaches the waterfront. The frame is made from 1x2s. Then we'll add 1 inch of foam to the top of the wood frame. The plywood road bed pieces will be glued to the foam. Where there is water, 1/4 inch panels of hardboard (Masonite) secured to the wood frames will form the water surface. Thus the tracks will be about 1.125 inches above the water level. This is much simpler bench work than the splines I used in the other room.

Mark Anderson worked on reversing the door to the workshop to make more room for the harbor area. This was not as easy as it could have been as the door frame was not square and the door would not close all the way. After thinking about it for a while, the two Marks decided to disassemble the door frame and square up the door. Unfortunately, the door casing splintered at the base and the sheet rock paper covering ripped where the casing was caulked. So some repairs will be necessary, but the frame did get squared up and the door closes nicely. Since there is carpet on the side where the door is swinging, the door will have be trimmed by about a half inch. We'll do that outside with a Skill saw when it is not raining so hard, as it was Thursday night.

The reversing of the door was clearly worth it, as it really opens up the left end of the workshop. Having the door swing into the room is no problem. Definitely an improvement.

Mean while, I was working on replacing the road bed between Brook and Potomac Creek. This area has been a problem child. Hopefully I have it resolved now.

Finally we had a design discussion on treatment of the area behind Brook to hide the return loop and the "huge" holes in the walls. Opinions were split, but most thought that making the track totally hidden with access from the bottom was a bad idea. Some type of "obscuration" that still allows access to the track seems to be the preferred solution. I decided to use flex track for these tracks to speed things up. We'll have to mock up some ideas and see how they work out.

The guys seemed to have a good time and want to come back next Thursday for more work. Alicia will be back then, so maybe we'll get some home made cookies.

April 6, 2010

Work Session - Thursday

Prorail preparation, finishing taxes, mowing lawns and other sundry tasks have stalled layout work. To compensate I am hosting a work session this Thursday. I hope to get the final bench work done, and some track laid. Lets hope for the best.

Fun fact for the day - US Army supply wagons were painted blue. I never knew this until a short while ago. Looks I'll be adding this book to my collection.