When I woke this morning I had planned to write an article about a very different subject. But upon opening my Facebook feed I was greeted with a post I made on my wall 5 years ago, concerning the topic of “Are LEGO® Trains considered real model trains?” The post was spurred by a Eurobricks discussion going on at that time. Bellow is my entire post on the subject from January 2012 (excuse the typos). I found it very interesting to see what my thoughts on the LEGO train hobby were back then, compared to where we are now.
Over on our Facebook page, reader Martijn van der Linden asked a great question about where, exactly, some of us find our research material while building.
My short answer was, everywhere.
For a longer answer, here are a few of the places that I look for information and inspiration.
- Online: The Internet has, literally, the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. The difficult part can be sorting out useful information from not-so-useful information. I tend to follow some of the scale-modelers websites, some modeling blogs, and a lot of Facebook forums that include information on the railroads or scales that I am interested in.
- My Personal Collection: I’ve been collecting information on trains for a number of years, so I have a decent collection of books, magazines, and photographs that I’ve picked up along the way. Much of this was second-hand, either from modelers who were leaving the hobby, or from train show vendors with good deals.
- Libraries: Everything I have in my personal collection can be found in libraries. Here in rural Vermont, libraries tend to be small, so I may need to look in more than a few for the information that I need, but it’s usually worth it. Many libraries, especially the small local ones, haven’t had their collections digitized, so you’ll often find information that you can’t find online.
- Historical Societies: A number different organizations have historical societies who collect and sometimes publish information about the past. In my case, The Rutland Railroad Historical Society publishes a quarterly journal that contains photos, drawings, and sometimes interviews with past railroad employees. This gives me a wealth of information about that particular railroad. Outside of the Rutland, I also like to visit town historical societies. A lot of times these small places will have photos and documents that, like small libraries, can’t be found online. Some will even have museums with artifacts from the railroad that you’re trying to model.
- Museums: Museums are amazing places, ranging from the small town ones mentioned above, to the big railroad oriented ones like those in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. Several years ago I had a train display at the Danbury Railway Museum with a couple of friends. As it turned out, their collection of rolling stock included two Rutland cars that were being saved for preservation. I was able to get detailed photos of the cars, and chat with a couple of the guys who helped moved them originally.
- Train Shows: Train shows are my version of the best holidays. Surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other train fans, browsing through tables of products ranging from brand new to decades old, I always find inspiration. A couple of the large shows that I attend include collections of photographs, where I can sometimes find photos or drawings that have never been published before. I generally can find a book or magazine to add to my personal collection as well. A lot of the attendees go there to buy models. I go to attain information.
- Other Modelers: Many of my friends are modelers, and most don’t focus on the same things. For instance, while I tend to collect information about the Rutland Railroad, I know that if I ever need information about the Ma & Pa, Cale would be a good source. My friends also model in different scales, so I can, for instance, ask my Live Steam friends how a particular boiler arrangement might work, or an HO modeler where to find information about older diesel locomotives. Some of these friends have, or do, work for the railroad, so they can sometimes give me information based on experience.
For a few specific places that I like to look online, here are some links. Keep in mind that I’m a northeastern United State modeler. Other countries may have other sites worth looking into.
- Steam Locomotive Dot Com – Includes builder’s photos, specifications, and locations of existing equipment.
- Fallen Flags and Other Railroad Photos – Photographs and manuals, organized by road name.
- Railpictures.net – User-submitted photos from all over the United States, searchable by road name, locomotive type, and location.
- Google Books – Digitized books going back to as far as the 1700s. A couple of my favorites are the Car Builder’s Cyclopedia’s, and some of the Railroad Structures books. You can also sometimes find railroad timetables, and industry information from the time-period.
After Elroy followed up on my article about scaled Lego Trains within an already scaled L-gauge environment, this time around with a moving example, I had to follow-up on that one again. For good reasons though. Just check out the video and see it for yourself.
Of course all credits go to its builder, Alexander.
It’s time for part 2 of my Finding Inspiration in Strasburg Pennsylvania. In part 1 I introduced the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and the models I’ve built, that have been inspired from there. That article can be found here. Now it’s time to take a stroll across the street, literally, to the Strasburg Rail Road.
The Road to Paradise
There are a lot of divisions within the Model Railways community. They can be about scale (our own L-Gauge, 0, h0, N, TT, Spur 1, G), but also about era (Epoche I-VI), type of railway (continuous vs. point-to-point). Or, more specifically for our hobby: Stickers, Glueing, 6/7/8/9-wide and cutting.
There is however one division which is easily neglected: Geography. Or, more precise: The division between modelling European or American railroads. Seeing BMR is supposed to be blog about all Lego trainheads, I thought it would be a good idea to explore ways how to bring the two continents a bit closer together. Therefore, this will be a series of articles which will try to bridge this gap. The emphasis will not only be on prototypes, but will also showcase some models that already have been build, for even more inspiration! Continue reading Bridging the Gap part 1: How the US met Europe
Have you ever thought about owning a 1:5 (more like 1:2 if you read Glenn’s post on scaling, thanks for pointing that one out Matt) scale Garden Modelrailway? You know, like the ones you sometimes see in parks that can actually pull carriages with actual passengers? But you, just as me, don’t have the finances, nor the will to build something like that? Thanks to domel, you can now make this dream come true! Not for you ofcourse, but your minifigs!
For several years I’ve wanted to write a set of articles covering the design and building of a LEGO® train layout from start of finish. With the new year and the launch of Brick Model Railroader, I have the opportunity to do so. This post is the kick-off to a series of articles that I’ll write as I design and build a new layout: Matson’s Landing.
The original Matson’s Landing is an HO scale layout designed by modeler Jack Matson. I discovered the layout years ago while scanning through “Micro/Small Layouts” at the Carendt.com blog. While many model railroading publications feature the grand basement-filling layouts of master modelers, Carendt.com focuses on small track plans that fit into a minimum amount of space. The designs on this site perfectly capture what S scale modeler and author Trevor Marshall defines as “Achievable Layouts”. In other words, layouts that are small enough to be worked on in a reasonable amount of time, but large enough to be entertaining. Given our large track scale, Achievable Layouts are perfect for the L-gauge builder.
As can be seen in the original track plan, the Matson’s Landing layout offers lots of opportunities for a LEGO builder. The display contains two scenes, divided down the center of the plan. One side showcases a waterfront logging camp, where logs are off-loaded into the river/lake to be floated to a mill, while the other side of the display features a wooded landing area where logs are pulled out of the forest. While not a lot of space is allowed for train cars, there is plenty of room for switching a few loads of logs with a small steam or diesel locomotive. The setting of Matson’s Landing could also allow for some steep grades with lots of brick-built scenery.
My initial plan is to scale up the HO design to fit L-gauge track size and geometry. For the article series here on Brick Model Railroader, I hope to cover the following topics:
- Benchwork – The base of the display
- Layout Design – How the track geometry is planned
- Landscaping – Everything visible above the base, covering brick-built hills and valleys
- Locomotive Design – Planning, testing and building of a small steam-driven logging locomotive
- Car Design – Planning, testing and building of log cars, and possibly others
- Scenery – Covering trees, water, shrubs and other natural features
- Building Design – The logging camp area features a couple of small buildings that are perfect for the LEGO medium
- Operations – How the layout is run, and various options for running it differently
During the process of building this layout, I encourage readers to offer suggestions as we go, making it a community project. I look forward to everyone’s feedback, and welcome the opportunity to learn from other builders.
One of the regular features we wish to provide here at Brick Model Railroader are articles to inspire builders. We’re not just LEGO® Train fans here at BMR, we’re fans of trains and railroading in all their forms. From scale model trains to full size, and from collecting books and RR paraphernalia to visiting museums and tourist railroads, we have a wide range of experience and knowledge in trains and railroading which we hope to use to help builders find that next project, and to increase the enjoyment of the LEGO train hobby.
This being the first of such articles, I wanted to highlight something that has been a regular source of building inspiration for me, and show how it has shaped what I build. Here is part 1 of my article on Finding Inspiration in Strasburg Pennsylvania.
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
One of the great rail fan joys of living in South Central Pennsylvania is that you are not far from one of the best railroad museums in North America: The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. And when you’re a LEGO train builder looking for inspiration on what to build, why not go to where the real trains are? Especially when that museum has more than 100 historic locomotives and railroad cars that chronicle railroad history in the state of Pennsylvania. The museum is located in Strasburg, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and is a hot bed of railroad history, and home to numerous railroad and train themed attractions. Which we will cover more of in part 2.
Normally I would not write about my own, older models here on BMR unless it was to highlight something i felt was worth noting. So bear with me here, but since many of my MOCs are modeled on equipment at the museum, I thought they would provide a nice tour of the great exhibits there, and an example of how real world inspiration can shape your model.