Our mission is to promote education and fellowship through the sharing of information and the promotion of the world's greatest hobby. - Model Railroading.
Michigan Lines Railroad. Brook and Jay Qualman. HO-Scale. Picture taken by me during the 2019 NCR Convention.
This month certainly finds us in different circumstances from the last time we met! Of course we don't know where this virus crisis is going or what the timetable will be, so the Black Swamp Division will need to regroup as events allow. This is no time to talk about upcoming events, meeting activities, or plans of any sort. But there are things we can do to advance our primary mission: to educate people about the hobby of modeling railroading. There will still be fellowship, but it just won't be the face-to-face kind! Your Train Order editor, Paul Marsden, is going to work hard to bring new modeling content to the pages of the Train Order. I'm sending him some things right now that I've learned over the last few weeks and want to share with you. We need you do do likewise. Send Paul some pics and simple write-ups. Don't worry too much about fancy photos, just use your cell phone camera and Paul can edit if needed. The same is true of your text. You don't need to be a formal writer. Just get him the info and he'll polish it for you while he's fitting it into his page layouts. This includes Show-n-Tell too. Since we can't do that in person, send a picture and description of what you have to show, what you have built, or a modeling tip or tool. For the time being, this publication may be our only way to stay in touch as a group, so please, please step up and contribute to the cause. We can still have some fun until the next time we meet!
See ya on down the line,
What interesting times we are living in. I hope everyone is well. As I am putting the Train Order together, I just got an email, if you have not heard, the 1 Day Regional Convention scheduled for the 25th April in Kalamazoo has been postponed, and will be held next year now. We will keep you posted of the new dates, etc once they become available.
I hope to hear about all your big advancements in your railroad adventures, with all this free time on everybodies hands. But here I am having not touched anything railroad related for over a month now. Hopefully soon I can get the 'honey do' list finished (between just me and you, I am sick of painting) and I can get back to the railroad soon.
With the current situation I have very little to do (after working hours) except stay home and work on my train projects. If you are like me (and most modelers are) you have a stock pile of cars, structures, details and other misc projects that need to be done. The down side is that working alone and not sharing those results can be tedious and boring after awhile. After all, I think most of us attend the Black Swamp Meetings for the companionship and sharing the hobby. So what can we do to keep the interaction going while maintaining the healthy distance required these days? Well, I am sure many of you have taken to the social media sites out there. Sharing the hobby does not have to be an in-person event. There are many ways, levels, sizes and shapes to social interaction on-line. Many are free and do not require much knowledge to get started. And right now, we all have a little extra time on our hands to test some of these out.
Image posted on Facebook by Chris Nevard, just a sample of the fine modeling available on Facebook
Facebook is the most commonly used social platform for Model Railroaders. It is essential to some and the evil empire to others, Facebook has a lot of positives and negatives. The biggest issue with the platform is it mixes all the other undesirable content with the things you really want. If you can look past what everybody had for dinner last night, who is on the crap list for political/religious views and everybody's latest cute animal pictures, you can find an absolute treasure trove of great modeling, advice and how to information. A couple of my favorite Facebook Groups I regularly check include:
Social Media provides content from around the world. This photo comes from Emilian Cirtina for Targu Jiu in Romania. He is modeling American narrow gauge in On30.
YouTube is also a popular platform but its content is more one directional. You can host a live event and people can send you messages. People can also comment on your video if you make it public. Again, there is a lot of content on here, some good some not so good. One of my favorite channels is Luke Towan's. If there is a subject you need help with, chances are someone made a video of how to do it.
For social events and live sharing, I recommend Skype for small groups and Zoom for larger groups. Both Skype and Zoom at the basic level are free. Skype will work great for a few people with live video, is easy to master and runs on multiple platforms. Zoom allows up to 40 people on the free version and is specialized for video/multimedia sharing. So if you want to have a group meeting without actually being in person these two platforms can provide the service.Recent talk in the social media have been considering a number of virtual events in lieu of recent events. If one actually is scheduled, we will make it a point to get out an e-mail so interested parties can give it a try. In the mean time, best of health to everyone, stay safe and model on!! Marshall Stull,
Before I tell you about this tool, I want to give all the credit to my friend and fellow Black Swamp Division member, Doug Tagsold. I first used it when I operated on his layout, and got so excited about I made some for myself! Over the years, I've operated on countless layouts and thought I had seen just about everything you could use for uncoupling. In my opinion, there was always some downside. Either it was to difficult or tedious, hard to see, caused derailments, or ran the risk of damaging cars (fingers too!). Doug's solution was to modify a readily-available type of dental cleaning brush. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Doug uses a "medium" size brush and trims the bristles into a cone shape. The handles are long enough and provide a nice grip for fast smooth uncoupling. I purchased my first such brushes at Walmart and selected a finer or "tight" size because I use Kaydee's small scale-size couplers. A package of 10 cost me $3.97. I did not have to trim the bristles but the handles on these are too short. To remedy this, first I cut between the white and green handle sections at the brush end and threw away the white piece. Then cut a 2.5" length of .060 brass tubing and clean up the edges at both ends. Drill an .060 hole about 1/4" deep in the large end of the handle (that says GUM) and glue one end of the tube into the hole. Coat the wire on the brush with Ailene's Tacky Glue, insert into the other end of the tube, and let it dry thoroughly. (I tried super glue here but had some difficulty getting the brush to stay in place because the wire is so fine.) By flipping the handle around, you get a larger gripping surface with nice texture. Now I find that the brush slips easily between the couplers without any "hunting" and the bristles apply a nice soft pressure that separates the couplers with little or no wiggling. Even when there's a shadow or the reach is long, this tool is very forgiving and consistent. Depending on brush size, you can make this work for other scales. In the future, I am going to experiment with other brands and styles of dental brushes, but for now I'm quite pleased with what I can do with my 40 cents. Thanks again Doug!
Remember we are hosting the regional convention in 2020. We can never have too many volunteers. Let Dave McMullian know if you would like to help