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Trains!

Milwaukee 261


Now, people are always asking me "So, what's the attraction to trains?".  I can't say that I really know the answer. I've just loved them since I was a little kid.   If you've ever been close to a train as it's been screaming past the RR crossing you know how impressive they are.  There's something very romantic about railroads to me, especially when riding one.  If you're a rail fan, you know exactly what I'm talking about... if not, I won't try to explain it! ;-)  I only wish I could go back in time to the days before Airlines and cars, when trains were the main way to get from place to place. 

Last year I rode the Milwaukee 261 for the first time, I'm hooked!   The image above is the 261, an ex-Milwaukee steam engine that's been restored to near mint condition.   I took that picture when a friend and I chased it to see it cross the St. Croix river on the Wisconsin Central, on it's way to Chicago.  This year('99) it went to Duluth and Amy and I were on it! Once a year is just NOT enough. 

The real thing

On many weekends I can be found running around the Twin Cities chasing trains and taking pictures.   There are many places here to see the action.   Northtown yard, Pigs eye yard, Hastings, St. Croix Junction, Newport, Coon Creek.. the list goes on.  You can read about some good areas on the Twin City Area Railfan Guide, see my (growing)page about some of my favorite spots, or take a look at an old SOO LINE map of the area, from "SOO LINE in Color".  I need to invest in a radio scanner pretty soon, as it's hard to track any trains without one.  So, if you're ever out taking pictures and see me in a Dark Green Jeep wrangler, stop and say hello. 

I recently ran into a nice man at the Minnesota Transfer yard who was up from Chicago visiting family.  He had an interesting point.  Today train watching just isn't what it used to be.   There aren't as many types of diesels now and railroads are becoming more and more strict about individuals being close to their property...with good reason.   There are also fewer Railroads in general to see!  I still loving watching trains but I miss seeing all the different roads. 

I grew up in White Bear Lake, where I used to watch the Burlington Northern and Milwaukee Road run through town on the Scally line on their way to Duluth.  Those days are gone and it bums me out.  There also used to be a line from White Bear Lake to Stillwater... many of my younger days were filled chasing the local on my bike.  I plan to model this line, along with the Milwaukee Road from Stillwater to Hastings very soon in N scale, so it's not really gone in my mind. 

My dad recently told me a story about when we were kids.  My parents took us the St. Paul Union Depot to ride a GN dome car to Minneapolis.   It sounded wonderful but I was too young to remember it :(   I've recently been in the Union Depot in St. Paul, what a beautiful place.. I could almost see all the people going to their trains... 

I am certainly no expert in the prototype areas. I haven't memorized any Railroad rosters, and I still have a hard time telling the difference between a GP7 and GP9..or a GP38 and GP40 etc,  but I'm learning. 

Modeling

My first models

Some people are more into the real thing, and some are more into modeling.  I happen to be into both.  Model railroading can be very relaxing, and very frustrating at times... but I love it. 

I started out in HO when I was younger but have more recently switched to N scale.   My main interests are the Great Northern, Northern Pacific, Burlington Northern, and Milwaukee around 1970.  Above are a couple of my first custom detailed and painted units.   They're both Athearn units painted with Scale Coat paints and Microscale Decals. This was also my first attempt at photographing my own models.  It's in my back yard with what COULD be called a pinhole lens!   I was in 9th grade at the time so I hope I've improved over the years! ;-) 

I love to detail and paint my own models, which I've been doing more of lately.  I've recently bought my first house so money and time aren't as unrestrained as they used to be! 

I now use water based paints exclusively with a badger internal mix airbrush.  Painting is done in a spray booth I built in my shop.   I use a simple air tank that I found at Home depot and it works like a champ.   I'm getting better at doing my own weathering with washes and chalks.  Guys like Scott Seekins keep me motivated.  When I see his models I'm always impressed!  I THINK he lives here in the Twin Cities and I think If I'd ever meet him I'd probably be babbling incoherently!    Check out some of the many projects I'm working on.

I'm using  my OWN decals created on my Alps1000 Micro dry printer. Yep, I'm proud to say that I'm making my own.   I've created decals for Milwaukee Road, Great Northern, and Burlington Northern, all in N scale.   For those who are interested there are two very helpful Email lists on Yahoo groups,  alpsdecal and rr-decal.  All the guys on the lists are extremely helpful. 

My newest interest is molding, I'm hoping to create some of my own cars and shells very soon. I haven't jumped in yet but I hope to start soon. I was originally motivated by Jim Semikoski. He has done some very impressive molds that he has recently sold to.... I don't remember who.  Jim was kind enough to send me a document that describes his methods.

I'm continuing to learn new techniques and methods and I love doing it!   So I'll share more of my projects here as they occur. 
 


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