In Loving Memory of Simone Gauthier,
August 26th, 1915 - February 18th, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008


I've added a nifty new feature to my blog. It's called "AnswerTips". Basically you can now double click any single word in the blog and get a pop up with the definition of that word, that is of course if I spelled it correctly in the first place!!

Try it and have fun! Oh and just for the hell of it:


Cheers from DieCastoms

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tommy Two Toes

We've just discovered that one of our 4 two week old kittens has an extra toe on each front foot and therefore has become known suddenly as either Tommy Two Toes!!

Just thought you'd like to know!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

to add a helix or not..

I had an idea early this morning about the layout but am not on the right computer to do the editing so you will have to refer to my previous post for the diagram and this description of my changes:

There is a turnout in grid G1 that will be moved to grid I2 instead, and that track will follow the current curve. A second curve will get laid inside the existing curve so that the yellow section can still have a conituous run loop. The diverging track will immediately begin a grade to place it high enough to run directly above the other mainline through the closet, so that less space in the closet will get used by tracks.. The orange layout section's track plan wont look any different aside of the fact that the continuous loop on it will become a helix instead. This will give me more room on the orange layout for a large mountain and will also give me more tunnel portal options I think. May or may not be a good idea but it's just a thought at this stage, tell me what you think of it.

I'll edit the map when I get back to my own computer.

Mike, from DC.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Figured I would drop one more post before going to bed.. I thought I had my mind all made up and people changed it on me again.. Now I have to wonder if I should get the Digitrax Zephyr for $127 or the MRC Express for $135.. The Zephyr is all one unit but the Express has a hand held throttle..

I am still leaning more towards the Zephyr simply because it is self contained and can be extended easily but the things I would do to extend the Zephyr, the MRC system already has, at the expense of having a control system built directly into the base of the unit...

I guess we'll see what the shop has in stock and take it from there...

Have a good night, from DieCastoms...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New Post Office and Town Hall!

Also while at the flea market today, I paid 50 cents for this perfect little building.. it is a 1990 "Galoob" toy from the "Micro Machines" line which were close to N Scale. The hospital and emergency labels may get replaced with City Hall labels since it is a bit too large of a hospital for my little town.. I think a docter with a carry bag would suffice.

$10 box of magazines, catalog of covers

While out at the local Flea Market, I spotted a nice deep stack of "Trains" magazines. The guy said $.50 each for them so I started poking through them.. then he said "Tell ya what, gimme $10 and you can take them all!" So I did!

I am trying to catalog them based on their publication date and the headlines and image on the covers. This is what I have done so far, keep checking as I go through the box and add more to the list.. The first 17 are still in their original unopened plastic however a few seem to have had the bags chewed on by something. No damage to the magazines inside that I can see.

In no particular order:

Feb '89, The Great(?) Canadian Steam Rail Excursion / Jet Powered RDC / Georgia's Weekly state-run excusrion line / IMAGE: NEW GEORGIA 6901, inset jet powered RDC

April '90, Blue Mountain and Reading Story, Chicago Skybox / Sante Fe's Chicago-Kasnsas City steel freeway / IMAGE: Sante Fe 5172

March '90, Eisenhower Funeral Train of '69 / CP's new line at Rodger's Pass / Luxury ride between Chicago and D.C. / IMAGE CP Rail 5806 exiting Macdonald Tunnel

Jan '90, Grand Canyon behind steam / VIA system gets the axe / Farewell to Oregon's last logger . Chicago & Eastern Illinois: Worthy of Recall / IMAGE: C&EI 1401

Aug '92 Amtrak tests RoadRailer mail / Railroads in the L.A. riots / Illinois Central, a railroad for the '90's / TWO photo features--Before-and-After; and an interpretive salon / IMAGE: Illinois Central 6137

Dec '91, The "Movie Engine": Sierra RailRoad No. 3 turns 100 / Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern story / All-Color photo section / Milwakee Road's phantom canadian connection / IMAGE: Sierra #3

Feb '91, Houston's Texas Limited; Conrail's Cleveland Dinosaurs / The central Vermont story / IMAGE: CV 4559

Sept '90, Tehachapi: California's bottleneck / Steam Spectacular in St Louis / rutland's short-lived Green Hornets / Beginning the WISCONSIN CENTRAL story / IMAGE: Wisc.Cent.Ltd 6523

Jan '89 New York cross Harbor: an unusual short line / New Haven, now and then / Columbia River Gorge Pictorial / IMAGE: triple headed freight crossing a lake INSERT: NH 2002

July '91, UTAH RAILROADS PHOTO SPECTACULAR / *Kalmback's rail tour of Great Britain / *Rare Lake Shore 2-8-0 survives in Maine / IMAGE: Quadruple headed freight led by SP 5393

May '91, I cannot see the cover of this mag since there is an additional insert in the bag with it. The insert says Switzerland's GLORY, Sept 5 - Sept 18, 1991 and British Rail Tour August 7 - August 22 1991

June '90, Old Colorado photos / Dining Out on the rails, a guide to dinner trains / IMAGE: an interior scene through the window of an unknown dinner train..

OCT '92, Morrison Knudsen's big gamble / Southern Pacific in the Windy City / *Dispatching on the Burlington Northern / *Bay Area steam revival / *special photo section / IMAGE: SP9757

JULY '02, Wings Return to Union Pacific Diesels / CSX Takes a Double-Whammy / RailRoading in the Prairie State, an ILLINOIS ALBUM / Great Circus Train / On Location: BNSF in Oklahoma / New York;s Cross Harbor Railroad / Selling Tickets for the Old Seaboard / IMAGE: Bloomer (?) double header lead by 91

SEPT '96, ON LOCATION: Conrail in Indiana / Short Lines & merger mainia / HORSEPOWER WARS, GM and GE battle for diesel supremacy . Museum of Treasures of St. Louis / Classic Photos by C.W. Jernstrom / IMAGE: Conrail Quality #4106

OCT '90, ANOTHER 4-8-4 BACK IN STEAM: SP&S 700 / GM's London locomotive pland marks 40 years / Aransas forester DeQueen & Eastern / operations on Wisconsin Central / IMAGE: Triple headed coal train on double main led by CN 5408

Feb '90, California's Trona Railway / INSERT: North Dakota Regional / Omaha Hot Spot Napa Valley Wine Train / IKE'S TRAINS, beginning two part coverage, the Campaign of 1952 / IMAGE: Eisenhower on Observation platform of campaign train.

This is the END of the list of mags IN PLASTIC. There are 38 more which are not in plastic that I will get to soon. Please keep checking back and if something interests you, either comment on this post or email me

Stay tuned for more, I will list each one that I have.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Posted - February 15 2008 : 09:29:23 AM

Ok, here comes the latest installment.. Several things to discuss here..

1.) I am playing with decisions about whether to get DCC or not..
2.) I now have 3.5 more sq.ft. to play with..
3.) Many people point out that there are two reversing loops in the layout, when there are none..

To DCC or not to DCC, THAT is the question...
Ok, since I have limited funding available at the moment and am hellbent on having more than I did as a kid when I had HO track nailed and hot glued right to a 4x8 piece of living room wall paneling..
I am estimating on $300 to start out with. I have narrowed my options to two distinct lists

  • Option list 1---------------------------Option List 2

  • Zephyr DCC command system-----Faller Car System $125 each

  • Atlass DCC equiped GP38-----------undecided starter set $75*

  • 5 random used freight cars---------undecided starter set $25*
    * one starter set, around $100

  • Both lists require a 4 x 8 foot, 2 inch thick foam panel, $35

  • Both lists require quite a few pieces of Atlas Code 55 flex.

The new expansion
Basically, the Mother-In-Law and I took another look at the space and the plans I had before were smaller than I had thought. I can extend the yellow section of the layout by another foot and still not actually have to move the dining room table.
The new expansion allows space for more city roads which will eventually have real moving traffic on them! If you want to know more about the traffic idea, look for my thread in Buildings and Scenery about the "Faller Car System"! ( City street and highway traffic in small scales, )

This drawing also shows my plans for building an enclosure in the wall of the closet in which to keep my eventual Zephyr DCC command center. I chose that location specifically because the switching yard (in blue) cannot be seen from there.
Since someone asked, here is my plan for wiring.. I intend to have a feeder system from the Zephyr to each section of the layout with some common connectors. The reason is, I intend for each section to be removable and portable. The green section will be a photo diorama. The same connectors will be used between the Zephyr and the feeder system so that the Zephyr can be connected directly to any of the individual sections.
The bright blue switching yard section will be entirely independent from the rest of the layout as far as power and control is concerned. It will be a classic "Inglenook" game with a turn counter as well as consist generator of some sort and will be stocked with some short side-tip coal cars filled with different colored craft beads, and a small gasoline 4 axle switcher. It will have access to the mainline, just for the hell of it. I understand that there are certain DCC decoders that will dumb down and run on DC if there is no signal present, and I also understand that address 00 on the Zephyr can control a DC loco, so the switcher doesn't really matter what it is.

Reversing Loops
Quite a few people have pointed out that my layout plans APPEAR to have two reversing loops when in fact there are none at all. In the image below, I have deleted everything but the rails from my plan images to make it easier to see the plan without interruptions, and to the lower right I drew a very simplified version of the plan with two colours to indicate each rail. If you put your finger on any location on any of my plan images and begin moving in a clockwise rotation, there is no way possible to take a combination of turnouts and end up traveling in a counter-clockwise rotation, therefore there is no way to reverse your travel. That's the simplest and most straight forward and failsafe way that I know of to be sure of that. Here is the image:

As always feel free to save any of these images on your computer and edit them to show your suggestions and repost them here.

That's it for this edition of my post, hope you enjoyed it.
Mike, from Diecastoms

[EDITED 12:50pm 2/15 just to add a few things I forgot..]
Edited by - DieCastoms on February 15 2008 09:46:49 AM

Posted - February 13 2008 : 08:02:24 AM

(Please Note: This blog entry contains an individual post made by myself to To see the post in it's original form, please use the following link: )

In a previous post, another member asked:
" so your taking up your dining room for a layout. Why don't you use one of the bedrooms?"

My response follows:

Well unfortunately all the bedrooms are being used, as bedrooms! There are 4 people living in this house. A single woman in the master suite, a married couple (my wife and myself) in bedroom 2, and another single woman in bedroom 3 and the last time anyone sat at the dining table was quite literally 3 years ago. If you were paying attention, yes, the married couple is in the smallest room in the house (by 2 inches) and yes, I am the only male in the house aside of my dog and a python..

Also, the layout is not taking up nearly as much as I expected it to take up. My mother-in-law and I were measuring yesterday and it turns out that I can add another 12 inches to the lower edge of the yellow section moving it right into row 4 and still not actually have to move the kitchen table!!

I need to do a little bit of framing so that the layout is cantilevered from the wall instead of having legs in row 4 if possible so that the table can get slid under the layout. We would somehow have more space that way than we do now!

More to come later, working on road placement at the moment.. trying really hard to think in three dimensions...


Posted - February 12 2008 : 10:47:01 AM

(Please Note: This blog entry contains an individual post made by myself to To see the post in it's original form, please use the following link: )

OK, people are still a little confused about where the layout will be in relation to the rest of the house, so here is a floor plan of the whole house.

For a size reference, the washer (W) and dryer (D) are 2 feet by 2 feet (24 pixels x 24 pixels), and the plan is to scale within 3 inches. [C] is counter space, [S] is the stove, and [F] is the refrigerator. The love seat is not scaled properly but its position in relation to the nearest corner of the orange layout section is accurate.

There is a closet indicated in bedroom two by dotted lines. This is the closet that is now in the corner of the kitchen with the two mainlines running through..

Before anyone asks, I cannot build over the washer/dryer area unless I cut holes through the water heater closet, but any tunnels through there would have to be air tight to that enclosure since the furnace blower is also in that closet. Note that I did not forget to draw in the door to that closet, there isn't one.

Here it is:

Mike, DieCastoms.

Posted - February 11 2008 : 4:07:20 PM

(Please Note: This blog entry contains an individual post made by myself to To see the post in it's original form, please use the following link: )

Here is the latest update on my layout.

Since people seem to be a little confused about what is layout and what is not, I have added color coding as well as indexing letters across the top and down one side..

The gray cross-hatched area from B-1 to C-4 is a closet and will not be viewable during normal operation of the layout. The different colored areas of the layout are what I refer to as my modules, and are electrically independent from each other.

The lavender section A7, the closet section B-1 to C-4, and the green section D-1 and E-1 do not have their own power sources.

The other sections, blue, salmon, and tan can all have trains running on them at the same time independently.

I will make another update when I add some terrain and try to figure out where to put my roads.

Please feel free to save a copy of the most recent image, edit it to show me what you might do differently, and repost it. I will take the ideas I like and add them as I go along.


Posted - February 11 2008 : 11:03:05 AM

(Please Note: This blog entry contains an individual post made by myself to To see the post in it's original form, please use the following link: )

A recent update to the layout has added another 3 inches to various places, yielding larger radii in all areas. Here it is:

Later today I will start attempting to add topographic information as well as the layout for the highway, I hope..

Edited by - DieCastoms on February 11 2008 11:05:22 AM

Posted - February 10 2008 : 12:57:10 PM

(Please Note: This blog entry contains an individual post made by myself to To see the post in it's original form, please use the following link: )

First is first, let me tell you a little about my layout. It is a total of around 17 square feet (small considering a 4 x 8 foot layout is 32 square feet) but it is not in a conventional shape.. It basically consists of 5 modules. Two independent modules (one of which is 30 x 30, the other 30 x 50) offer roundy-rounds, one 6 x 50 diorama offers an Inglenook and a passing mainline, a 9 x 25 diorama offers a double track mainline over a trestle for photo ops, and the last module is approximately 5 feet of double track mainline that is hidden from public view.

My only construction restrictions are that I cannot build much larger than the layout in the picture below, and that it must be built higher than an existing bookcase and light switch. Also, I have permission to make holes in the walls anywhere I choose.

Feel free to save this image, open it in a bitmap editor, make adjustments as you suggest, and repost the image. Note that the grid is 12 inches. Edges can be pushed out an additional 3 inches to allow for wider radii.

The layout offers itself particularly well to the idea of two distant towns connected by rail, but I want to also add details like a mountain highway tunnel to the layout and I thought it would be cool to also add some moving traffic. To see a post I am working on with lots of resources on how to make moving traffic, look in the scenery and buildings forum here at SRO.

Yes, it's been forever, I know that... Hush.

My interests have turned a bit when I realized how impractical most of my other projects were without some sort of machine shop of my own. For a short time, my interest in G Scale trains was renewed and around Christmas time I bought several cheap locos but I lost interest in that a bit as I realized how much track would cost and how insanely little security my property could offer.. I spoke to my Mother In Law about building a layout inside the house and was given a significant chunk of the kitchen and dining room. It is not as big as I would like it to be but lets face it, neither is this house!

The following posts will be exact copies of my posts on the forum. Posting here is not an effort to take anything away from SRO, just as a way to make it more accessible to friends who have no interest in model railroading themselves but are interested in following along with the progress of my layout. If you are interested in modeling in the smaller scales please check out SRO, they have alot of good resources and a bunch of good people! If you are more into the larger scales, check out Again, a ton of good resources and a bunch for friendly folks!

Hope you enjoy reading along with me.

Mike from Diecastoms.