Cigar Box Home at Christmas

When most people think of cigar boxes they don’t think of anything near this nice. But cigars today often come in boxes of very fine woodwork that make beautiful homes for valuables of all types – beyond the cigars they originally carried. Cigar stores charge varying prices for the empty boxes, but if you are friendly, ask nicely, and show an interest they will hold the nice one for you and you won’t have to pay too much. If you are good regular customer you might not have to pay anything at all! (Just saying …)

Hornby Trains on Cigar Box

So, for the small Christmas set I put together for a friend I used a limited edition Camacho cigar box. Now this is one that is not going to be easy to find, but there are many others out there. The only modifications I made to this box were the two clasps on the front (purchased from Michael’s Crafts for $4) and some small pieces of felt for feet underneath and in the clasp area to keep the lid closed a little tighter. Total price for the box including all modifications, um, yep, between $4 and $5.

Cigar Box Train Case

I had all the various train components from being a pack-rat over the years. All I had to do was sort through boxes and put it all together and make sure it all worked together. Oh, and a bit of cleaning and dusting. The Hornby locomotives  and three cars and cars are wrapped in soft cloth cut from a t-shirt. The oval of  track and transformer are from a Bachmann set.

Cigar Box Train CaseThe best thing about this? It made some friend very happy over over Christmas. It doesn’t hurt that the mother and grandmother are both English born and bread. Yes, that is why the British OO outline locos and cars. The young daughters in the family were thrilled. Who said girls don’t like trains? And with it all packaged up in a very nice box, it will make for a fun and attractive Christmas tradition.

I Been Working on My Railroad

I have listened to a couple of podcasts recently that proclaimed the value of “Just Do It” in model railroading. Both Model Rail Radio and The Model Railway Show have had segments that have basically said to quit planning, collecting, drawing, waiting, and generally procrastinating, but to instead just go ahead and build something. Anything. No matter how small or imperfect. The theory is that we need to break the ice and loose the entropy. I for one am great for analysis-paralysis. I will analyze and plan till the cows come home but never get anything done. It is much easier to surf eBay and buy parts that to actually put knife and glue to wood and get something accomplished.

But anyway, I decide to shock myself out of my plans and build a small layout no matter what. It is intentionally very small, only 1′ by 3′, and N scale so that it can fit on the book shelf at my office. I have a new job and they keep asking about my trains there, so this should be a perfect ice breaker. And yes, they are fine with me bringing it in. It is in the pediatrics department of a hospital by the way!

I am calling this little layout EuroNook, since it is going to be in continental European outline and in the basic configuration of an Inglenook. Probably going to be kind of Swiss/German. The Inglenook is billed as a “classic British shunting puzzle”. Much to my wife’s dismay, this is not a roundy-round American type of layout but one that stresses brain work and steady switching to keep the railroader’s attention. Basic theory involves having various cars on the track and using a sigle engine to switch them around to put them in a desired order on the main track. think of it as a railroad version of one of those slide-the-block kind of puzzles.

Picture 1 is of the bottom of the baseboard with small feed attached to raise the board a bit, aid in it balancing, prevent it from scratching a table or shelf, and let there be space underneath for an odd wire or two.

Layout 01 - The Baseboard
Continue reading “I Been Working on My Railroad”

Have You Seen My Caboose?

Southern Railway CabooseAnother dirt cheap purchase, that will of course need new couplers put on it. The trucks looks good and the wheels are metal, so I don’t think I will need to be replacing those. Since the model was so inexpensive it lacks some detail I would like to see – such a glass in the windows. When I go into it to replace the couplers I will most likely do a little detailing at the same time. The windows shouldn’t be too hard to add, but does anyone know whether I need to paint the window frames?

On a separate note, I finally got XTrkCad running on my Mac last night. There are some problems getting the layout design software to run correctly with the current version of the Mac OS, 10.7 Lion, due to a internal programming library. But, I found a great fix on the XTrkCad Yahoo group, and now all is well. Hopefully I will figure out how to us the program and start making digital maps of my layout plans soon.

Can You Say Baseboard?

I finally got a chance to spend some time working with the tools and got the baseboard assembled. I know it doesn’t sound, or look, like much, but I really wanted to take some care and make sure things were square. So, everything is glued together and then screw secured with #8 x 1.5″ screws. The screw heads are countersunk so that they will easily be covered over by scenery and not interfere. I was also careful to but them far enough out and in places not to interfere with the track. Of course that was going to be unlikely anyway since the track will not be close to the edge.

Next step will be laying out the track-plan on the board, penciling it in, and then cutting away for the recessed track.

I Am Board!

Well technically, I have boards. I really am not board. But I was finally able to gather up the few boards I need to make the framework for my very small N-Scale trolley layout. What you see in the picture is the 2′ x 4′ baseboard and then the various pieces of the side frames that are made of 1″ x 4″. Which brings me to the maddening point that lumber measurements are not real measurements! A 1″ x 4″ board is actually 3/4″ x 3/5″. What is with that? Why do they get to have false advertising and everybody else has to play by the rules?

No matter though, I have it all figured out and shall start assembling all the bits and pieces into the framework later today or over the weekend. Then I can really prepare to mark out the track plan on the baseboard and get working!