Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It all started under a tree. . .

My e-mail Christmas card. Click for the full effect. . .

It's been too damned long since I've updated this blog. So long, in fact, I've forgotten what format to publish this in! In this case, no news is no news, I suppose, since I've not touched the models since completing the first cement car last summer. But not working on the layout doesn't mean I've not been busy elsewhere: a great summer with the kids, visitors from Australia, and too much time doing computer-related stuff--mostly getting serious about scanning a good portion of my 30,000 35mm Kodachrome railroad slides dating from the mid-1970s, as well as jettisoning the old Wintel PC for a shiny new Macintosh. Yes, I'd drunk the Kool-Aide. And yes, it is a fabulous machine.

What's Santa putting under your tree? I'm keeping it simple this year: a couple terabites of computer storage for all those photos. And crossing my fingers my wife will brave international commerce and get me a copy of the Wheatley brother's new book. The "other" stuff I can get myself, and I'm waiting on some SDS RACE containers, some Austrains WHX wagons, and I need to get off my duff and order some resin kits from Ian up in Hornsby.

All this building and scheming and acquiring of model railroad stuff, for many of us, wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for the Holidays in the first place. There was always a Lionel 3-rail train under our Christmas tree growing up: my father, expecting to have a son for his first child, loaded up on Lionel trains in 1954, shortly before--oops! this was in the day before ultrasound--my older sister was born. It was another six years until I came along; and it took a dozen years, but by Christmas 1973 I was in full-blown infatuation with model trains. Our local hobby shop--the kind with erector sets, model trains and a slotcar track in the back (remember those? before the internet shut most of them down?)--had an AHM Union Pacific passenger train set for sale, and I literally had dreams night after night about owning that.

It wasn't a big surprise on Christmas day when it showed up under the tree: my father had spent many an evening and a couple Saturdays building me a basic 4 X 8 foot oval of track, passing loop, and industry tracks, fibre flex track laid down on a baseboard painted in glossy green enamel grass and black streets. Finally, my dad had someone to share his love of railroads with. He wasn't too pleased when I, imagination stoked by articles in Model Railroader magazine, began changing the track plan around and kitbashing buildings into something else. His pristine sheet of plywood was no longer pristine. No matter. My commitment to modeling began, whether my father was pleased or not. And it's led all this way over 37 years, layout to layout, dalliance with one railroad and then another. It all began with that Lionel train under the tree, and really got going with those hyper-speed AHM Union Pacific E-units.

To all of you who bother checking in and reading this occasional blog, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and all that stuff!!


Jonathan Smith said...

G'day Blair

Good to see you back again. Merry Christmas to you and your family. I look forward to reading more about your layout in the new year and getting myself motivated in the process.

cheers Jon

Ray P said...


So who is the good looking kid? :-)
Seriously, it is good to have you back and I look forward to your future posts when you 'finish' scanning your slides, about August 2015 I expect.

You, Mary and the boys have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe new Year.

Ray P

The Mighty Oz said...

Blazing Blair-

Ah, an update. Good to see it. Yeah, those AHM E units were screamers!

Better yet was an old Lionel HO scale FA of about 1965 vintage that I used to play "air transport" with. The layout room of our house had sliding glass doors that opened right up to the creek that flowed under the house (built on 10 tons of steel beams), and I would throttle the FA up to about 300 smph and line the switches up for a dead-end spur that stopped at the edge of the layout pointing towards to door. No derails or track bumpers.

I think the farthest it flew was nearly 15 feet and did a header off the rocks and suffered a cracked nose. But it did this for the amusement of the neighborhood kids many times before it finally landed in the water during a winter storm runoff and sunk. Found it a few weeks later when the water dropped.

I always thought that the Athearn Hi-F drive SP Black widow F unit was capable of faster running, but I valued it much more than that FA.