Putting the modeling efforts to sleep now for the next couple of weeks. This upcoming week the boys are off on spring school holiday, so we're getting out of town to San Antonio for a few days; the following week, I'm meeting some railfan/work mates in Phoenix, AZ and we're headed off into the desert mountains to chase EMD's on copper hauling shortlines (and maybe some Alcos on the Apache Railway as well). That'll take me to the end of the month, and by then spring will be in full swing and I've a feeling the first round of yard work will be calling.
I took a break on the Wee Waa efforts last week to clean the layout room and track prior to having Mr. Brad Hinton over for a look. Brad, of Canberra, was in nearby (320km give or take) Austin for a "work convention" (wink wink, nudge, nudge) and kindly decided to hire a car and come up for a look and a visit, which included a stop by my employer, BNSF Railway, for a peek at our network operations center (mind-boggling, especially if one comes from a land were freight railroading is a marginal proposition at best). Great meeting and visting with you, Brad. We had a few trains ready to operate on the Narrabri layout and we didn't burn up any decoders. Next day I drove him to our local mega-hobby shop where we both helped the U.S. economy with hobby purchases.
Inspired by Ray Pilgrim's video and tales of sound decoder programming a TrainO 44, I picked up a Tsunami* Alco 251 decoder and installed it in the newly-arrived 4483. I'll get to hooking up the headlights and tweaking the programming soon, but the sound decoder was too cool a toy to leave in the package until I could do a "full deal" install. It went in easily and the sound quality is superb (despite the lack of appropriate NSWGR air horn). Once I upgrade the software chips in my Easy DCC system, I'll have more sound functionality.
The stock wagon fleet is growing, following a swap between myself and a fellow in NSW who was looking for Trainorama steel S trucks. I'd purchased 8 of them before realizing they were too "vintage" for my era, so I traded for a couple of custom bogie stock wagons and a couple more wooden S-truck kits from Casula. And right after this, an e-bayer was selling a big lot of both Minimodel BCW's and MLV's, both of which I'm in the mood to add to the roster. Between these (and modifying the BCW's per the AJRM article) and the dozen or so wooden S-trucks kits I have on the shelf, I'll be busy building more wagons for awhile.
Finally, there's the IDR KF, MLV and KGH models nearing completion on the paint bench, and, while the spray gun was out, toyed around with a bit of weathering on the Austrains WHX's, which are turning out very cool indeed. Photos of these and hopefully a lot more in our next installment!
* given the tragic events of the last week in Japan, Soundtraxx may wish to consider renaming its flagship decoder line which offers "a huge wave of sound." Prayers and thoughts to all those dealing with the tragedy.