It’s not a model railroad until you have track to run trains on. Track can be expensive, so to start out I purchased only enough to build the mainline.

On my previous layout, I used Atlas code 80 track. In model railroading, the “code” of rail designates how tall the rail is. Back then, I didn’t know any better, but realized later that code 80 track is quite a bit out-of-scale. In fact, if scaled up, a piece of code 80 rail would be about knee-high on a person. So this time around, I decided to go with code 55 rail. It’s much closer to scale, and the tie spacing looks much more realistic.

Continue reading NEW MODEL RAILROAD BUILD PART 4: LAYING THE track and wiring

New model railroad build part 3: Laying the roadbed

Model railroad track is installed on top of a “roadbed” made of either cork or foam. This recreates the raised grade that the track of real railroads is built on. On “Scenic Ridge”, I used the foam roadbed included in the kit. To be honest, I was never that impressed with it. This time, I decided to go with the tried and true cork roadbed. It’s fairly cost-effective and as I discovered, easier to work with than the foam. I chose to purchase roadbed made by Midwest Products.

Continue reading New model railroad build part 3: Laying the roadbed

new model railroad build part 2: transfering the track plan to the layout

When I built Scenic Ridge, I had it easy. The kit from Woodland Scenics came with 3 sections of styrofoam with the track plan already printed on it, which made it easy to lay the track. This time around, I would need to figure out how to transfer the plan I’d designed in xtrackcad (a free track planning software package) full-size to the layout benchwork. After some investigation, I discovered that xtrackcad could print the plan full-size, breaking it into 8.5″ x 11″ sheets. It would also print the outline of the roadbed on the plan. I dumped it to a PDF file, then sent it to OfficeMax to be printed (doing so was much more cost-effective than using up a ton of ink in my own inkjet printer).

Continue reading new model railroad build part 2: transfering the track plan to the layout

New model railroad build Part 1: design and benchwork

Last year, I realized I was quickly becoming bored with my existing N scale model railroad. It was based on the Woodland Scenics “Scenic Ridge” kit, a basic 3′ x 6′ layout with a fairly simple track plan. It didn’t offer much in the way of operations (picking up and delivering freight cars) and was basically just set up to watch trains run.

My old “Scenic Ridge” N scale model railroad

Scenic Ridge had served me well. It was a great layout to learn many of the skills needed to build a model railroad, but it was time to move on.

Continue reading New model railroad build Part 1: design and benchwork

Star Wars Oxygen: The Music of John Williams

I’m not much of a podcast guy, but last year at Salt Lake Comic Con, David W. Collins did a panel on the music of Star Wars.  It was incredible, and one of the best panels I’ve ever attended at a convention.  He did a deep analysis on parts of the A New Hope soundtrack, played some non-Star Wars pieces that were used as temp tracks while they edited the original film, and more.

David W. Collins

During the panel, he mentioned that he co-hosted a podcast called Star Wars Oxygen: The Music of John Williams”.  As soon as I had a chance, I looked it up and started listening.  He and co-host Jimmy Mac spend several episodes on each of the iconic film scores, and it’s amazing.

They started the show in November of 2013, before The Force Awakens hit theaters.  The last episode that they seem to have recorded was done in December, 2016 – part one of an analysis of the music of Rogue One.  I haven’t been able to determine why they stopped, but the 38 episodes that are there are a fantastic look at the Star Wars scores.

I quit listening for a while (just got busy) but now I’m finishing up.  I’m currently on episode 25.  It’s incredible stuff.  Personally, I could do without some of Jimmy Mac’s rambling commentary, but David Collins has some great insight into the music.  I’ve learned a TON.

If you’re a fan of John Williams, and specifically his Star Wars scores, I highly recommend you check out “Star Wars Oxygen”.

David also has a new show, “The Soundtrack Show” where he discusses soundtracks from many different films.  He has several episodes on Star Wars on that show as well, including a commentary track that you play in sync with the movie.  I haven’t listened to this show… yet.


Han Solo vs Ant-Man

There are those in the Star Wars fan community who claim that Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has “ruined” Star Wars, and some of those voices have been calling for her to be replaced by Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige.  They seem to think that (among other things) Feige can do no wrong, and Kennedy has pushed a feminist agenda that has killed “their” Star Wars.  They further believe that Kennedy (one of the most successful film producers in the history of Hollywood) is inept and that she needs to retire or be fired.  Additionally, many of them take credit for Solo: A Star Wars Story under-performing at the box office, claiming their boycott of the film killed it.

Well, let’s compare apples to apples then, shall we?  Solo: A Star Wars Story recently left theaters (in fact, it’s still playing in a 2nd run theater in my town), while Marvel’s latest film, Ant-man and the Wasp, is currently in theaters.  If you consider the idea that everything Feige touches turns to gold, then it should be a no-brainer that Ant-man and the Wasp would out-perform Solo: A Star Wars Story at the box office.  Here’s the plot twist: It’s not.

Continue reading Han Solo vs Ant-Man