Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Playing with trains

Today I built a train. I know what you are thinking. This sounds pretty dweebish. I will explain. On the layout there are industrial and commercial clients that need servicing. Mikes mine will need to be serviced. There is Trudy Farms, Gregg Steel, and Mijo Meats. There will be others but for now these 4 need servicing.

Today each industry needed a car "spotted" at its location. I used the SW7 to do all the work. You start with a "cut" of empty cars. I had a slew of them parked infront of the station. The mine needed a hopper car, the farm needed a cattle car, the meat company need a refridgeration car, and the steal company need a box car. The thing about a train is that unless you have passing sidings or switching yards it is hard to spot individual cars without running into cars.

It took about twenty minutes to figure out how to get the job done. The cattle car was three cars into the cut of cars. I took the uncoupled after the cattle car and took it along with two other cars to Trudy Farms. I dropped it off, or spotted it infront of the livestock pen. Then I took the other two cars back to town and ran all the way down to where the mine would be, dropped off the hopper car, then did the reversing loop back to Gregg Steal to spot the box car. Then I had to spot the refridgerated box car at the meat co. This was tricky. The fridge car was in the middle of the remaining train. I ended up taking the back car down the track, parking it and then taking the SW7 around the track layout then moved the other car into the yard siding. Then when back and got the fridge car. I had to back it quite a ways but finally got it infront of the meat co's freight door. Yeah!

I figured this would take most of the morning to do this in real life. So by the time the crew was done doing that they could have lunch then pick up the cars and built the train for the west bound freight. I basically did the job in reverse and ended up with a completed train. It is like a big puzzle. I see why passing sidings and spurs are sooooo important. Right now the layout has industries wihtout spurlines. This puts cars in the way. But things can be done to get around that.

I added a coupler finally, to the SW7 and it also needs one in the front. If it had a forward mounted coupler then switching would be way easier. Anyhow it was fun and very brain taxing.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

ZHAN Lives!

Zhan Motorwerks of Hoestaffen Oberweissburg has moved to Gregg Junction to produce its 100% electric supere-car the all new 1100. It is true that the 1100 is the one and only production label of the Zhan car company. But they figure why muck around trying to come up with a different name, or number.

The old 1100 used Nuclear Fusion drive to heat the water that powered the crankshaft of cast iridium to give the old 1100 its impressive 2000 HP and 1600 ft pounds of trouque at 7000rpms. The liquid sodium cooling system provided superb nuclear reaction of the 1 pound ball of Uranium 235. Of course the big draw back to the old 1100 was the fact that it was totally illegal to drive almost everywhere. And all sorts of terrible side effects of a collision meant that nobody wanted to be anywhere around it if it did have an accident.

The new 1100 is totally different. It has shelved its nuclear reactor and in its place a subatomic reactent membrane delivers electical power to the motor. This mindboggling achievement is still a very tight secret. Aparently Zhan has been able to organically create a self-organizing gel that converts random subatomic interference with the cars surface into DC power. In principle it is similar to a photo electric cell that uses photons striking the cell to generate power. The faster the car goes the more power is sent through the skin to the powerplant. Since it uses particles other than photos, night driving is not a problem.

The new 1100 is not as fast as the elder machine. It only generates 750 HP @ 6300 rpms and 700 ft-lb of torque. However it does not red line until the full 6300 rpms has been reached. Its tops speed is in excess of 200mph and has a 0-100mph at 6 seconds. The engine is aircooled so don't get stuck in a traffic jam.

Money and work

We live in a world fashioned by a bunch of indebted Italian businessmen and the bankrupt princes and kings that claimed to rule them. Long ago money was money. Then in the 15th century money became an IOU. It has been that way ever since. When you look at a dollar you are looking at an IOU from the government. All it is is a piece of paper. In places like Florence so many IOU's were issued by princes and merchants that people took to collecting them and trading them. "I do not have a gold ducet but I have an IOU from Lorenzo D'Medici, and he is pretty rich so perhaps Don Carlo will accept Medici's IOU to me as payment?" And modern money was born.

Money is perhaps the grandest illusion in human history. The paper dollar is easy enough, if you think about it, to show its absurdity. Gold coins are another matter. If you saw a 12" high pile of 1 dollar bills and an equally high pile of gold coins you would instinctivley go for the gold. People talk about going back to the "gold standard" But what is gold? It is a shiny rock. It is has no more absolute value than dirt. It is a great electical conductor. When Jesus was asked what to do with the Roman coin he said to give to Caesar what is his and Gods what is gods. Lots of people have thought that meant you need to serve the state with obidience and pay your taxes. This is nonsense. Jesus was saying give the shiny rock to Caesar and your imortal soul to God.

We slave over the shiny rocks and paper IOUs. We have spent 500 years building a worldwide slave system. We have put ourselves in bondage willingly. If you can see the absurdity of not being able to eat or have a home because you lack shiny rocks or pieces of paper, then you are half way there. This is insanity spread so vast that it seems normal. Like the insane person who see themselves as normal, we suffer the illusions everyday. Wars are fought because of rocks and paper. And good people suffer for no other reason than they lack rocks and paper.

Marx was right in his assesment of things. However his solution was the hight of vainglory and shear stupidity since his solution did not cling to the fundemental reality of human nature. He, idiotically, felt that human nature could be molded by philosophy and politics. Sorry Karl, millions of years of kill or be killed trumps your utopian clap trap.

There has to be a way for us all to live and not be ground to death by the lack of rocks and paper. It is nuts. But like the drug addict or the insane, we cannot even fathom what life would be like without the rocks and paper. I don't know how things would work. Let me know if you do.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Railroad Update III

A passenger gets out of her fancy black jag at the mainline station in Gregg Junction. The city is getting close to being finished. If it ever can actually get finished. There are a few more industries that need to be added and the water in the river needs to be added.

This train station was built back in 1975 by me when I was 10. It is the oldest model on the layout. It is kinda crappy but it has memories. Cattle pen is owned by Trudy Farms.

Trudy Farms now has the real house. The barn is totally scratch built from white styrine. To real modelers I am sure it looks crappy but I am proud of it. It looks like an old wooden barn to me. The farm also boasts 16 Herefords. The figure by the corvette is a guy we hired off the steet to pose as a model.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ack! Iraq!

More of my two cents worth on the big stink. The one man on the hill that has actually used my own verbiage on Iraq is Chuck Hagel (R). His statements yesterday were right on the mark and far more caustic than the limp bisckets around him.

Hagel pleases me and should please others too who tend to think that Republicans are all a bunch of preprogrammed charletans. I know that he is placing himself into the pot of potential candidates so I take what he says with a grain of salt. But his candor and clear communication regarding Iraq is refreshing. I am sure W and Cheney are busy trying to build a voodoo doll of him right now.

I still think that we are not having the debate we need to have. The arguments are all very slim and narrow. 21,500 or not 21,500. This is not a good sign. How much blood and money is it going to cost to "win" and what does "win" mean? This also is not a good sign. If we, 4 years into this war, are still arguing about what we want out of this war then that too is not a good sign.

Lots of bad signs all around. McCain says we need more troops. Okay Johnny where are they gonna come from? Kusenich says we need to get out now. Okay Davey how about Iraq? I mean we fucked it up and now were are just gonna leave it fucked up? Not very moral or ethical. Bush says we need 21,500. Okay W, lets cut the crap and tell all of us where those 21,500 are coming from. Mainly from the army that is already there. Stoploss GI's that are already there, and send back 3rd-time-a-rounders. And if 100,000 heavily armed guys in Baghadad isn't helping what will another 21,500 do?

Oh we are really in shit city over this big stinking mess.

Basically the new anthem of DC is written by The Clash:

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Rail Road Update

The sucky aspect of the G&G is that the curve radii are all 18" or less. This basically means that the math prohibits big locos from from running smoothly. Especially on the numerous turn-outs located near or ON curves. So the big 4-8-4 Northern with its gigantic 40 foot oil tender cant take it and will have to be shelved. It also is doom for the 4-6-6-4 Challenger and its centipede tender.

But no fear. The SP&S is coming to the rescue. This FA unit, along with a powered FB unit will pull freight and passengers with no prob. This is a Walthers Trainline loco with all wheeldrive and electrical pickup. And at $39 each it is affordable.

This little 0-4-0 also has no problems with any of the radii. However it is a Modelpower POS so is prone to jackrabbit starts.

This beast has no problems either and is rock solid. I still have to get a coupler to attach to the loco. It also has all wheel dirve and electical pickup.

This leaves the GP38. This looks impressive but is another cheap POS. It has 4 wheel electrical pickup. So it has the same electical footprint as the little 0-4-0. Actually a little less since the distance between the drivers on the docksider is longer than the front wheels on the gp38.

I would like to paint the GP38, the FW7, and the Docksider with the grey, red, green color scheme of the G&G. Although I have no patience for such fine work. I would like Mike to do that.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

W's State of the Union 2007

Based on rhetoric: (1-10) 7
Based on intelligent argument: (1-10) 8
Based on proposals: (1-10) 4

Mr. Bush did as good a job as he could tonight. He seemed chastened albiet not humble. His talk of the stakes of our war I think are not indispute. The problem on that front continues to be that many of us think that our actions in Iraq have elevated the threats not made them any better. There is no sign that military action is going to solve the overall problem of islamic extremism. And the reality behind much of his rhetoric on combating this real enemy is that he has no real strategy to succeed. Other than to kill them. However the pot containing new extremists is ever filling thanks to our actions in Iraq.

Mr President I agree with you in your assesment of our enemy and their goals. But I strongly disagree with how you are going about fighting them.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Trudy's Farm

The railroad is a family afffair. So here is how Trudy's farm is progressing. The building is a stand in for the farm house that is yet to be built. Trudy did the painting and aging of the fences herself. She decided on the color and what to add to them to make them look old. She then set about mixing up her own ground cover. It looked so good that I am trying to copy it for use in the alpine area. The two cars are hers too. There is even a "burn pile" I had not thought to add one of those but it was the first thing Trudy thought a farm should have.

Here is another angle. Her farm is on a rural road that connects Portland with a small depot and water tower. She owns the cattle pen and ramp that gets her prize black Angus to market. She also has a pig pen and chicken coup. And a small vegi garden that you can see. We also added a hill behind her house. She named it Gertrude Hill. This is the olden days photo.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Summer Time Fun

We are all now or shortly to be 40 years + old. We have all had our fair share of physical problems. Blood pressure, cancer, colitis, pile driving off mountain bikes, cart wheeling down glaciers, and falling off scooters. So lets work the old bodies out and get them really buff for this coming summer attraction! Dragon Tail Peak via Asgard Pass.

The enormous north face of the peak, as it soars up 3000 feet above Colchuck lake looks daunting. However this is not the face we will be doing since that is for real climbers with real gear and hopefully real climbers insurance. No my fellow oldlings we will scramble to the summit via the southeast ridge. This is a non-technical climb. Sort of like South Sister but not as high and better rock.

Expeditioin itineary:

Day 1: Leave from PDX and head to Leavenworth WA. Car camp there for one night.

Day 2: Early we drive up a dirt road for about six miles then park. Thus begins the hiking. We hike up to Colchuck lake. About 2500 feet elevation gain over 4 miles. Sort of like the hike up Eagle Creek. We hike around tothe south west side of the lake and camp. CAMP 1

Day 3: We eat our dehydrated gunk then boot up for the slog up Asgard Pass. This is steep and gains about 2500 feet of elevation in short order. For Mike and John, this is about like that hike we did to Munra Point. Same elevation gain in about the same distance. Camp atop the Pass finding some sheltered spot. Beyond the pass is The Enchantments, a spectacular alpine valley with lakes and glaciers a plenty.

Day 4: We scramble to the summit of Dragon Tail Peak 8840ft. Then go back down. Pack up and go down to Colchuck. We either stay a night there or head back to the car. Probably the latter. If we hit the car then we drive back to PDX in one long slogging drive.

Gear: Ten Essentials
Clothing for various weather
Treking poles or ice axe
Tent (lets try to keep it to one or two.)
Sleeping Bag and pad.
Food and water with filteration
gas burner

Q: Where is this peak located?
A: In the heart of the North Cascades National Park.

Q: Do we need permits?
A: Yes and we should get them early since they only allow a limited number of people up there per day.

Q: Will we have to cross snow?
A: Have no idea.

G&G Rail is on the move

I sent out a story of the G&G Railroad and would like to ad it here. But it would take up a lot of blog space so forget it. Here is a photo of an EMD (electro magnetic desiel) SW7 (Switcher 7) These beasts started running back in the 1930's. They continued on in service until well into the 1980's This SW7 is the one and only desiel switcher locomotive that the Gregg & Gregg railroad has. It is going to be used to haul tourists up to glacier lake and picking up cuts of cars in the east. It was purchased from Southern Pacific.

Currently the roster of loco's for the ficticious G&G railroad is as follows:

EMD SW7 #100
EMD GP9 #150
Steam 4-8-4 Northern #300
Steam 0-4-0 #200

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Construction Zone

I am not sure why the construction of small scale things is as facsinating as it is. I have been working diligently on the G&G railroad for weeks now and things are progressing. But I look at it and conclude that there is not a single inch of it that serves a rational purpose. I am not facsinated with trains. I am not a trainspotter. I am not really much into industrial junk. However this is very very large part of the layout. along with the mountains. I like the mountains too.

The above photo is the portion of a town called Gregg Junction that is mythically located south of Portland on the Willamette River. You can see some of PDX in the background. The mainline train station is not present in this photo since it was not finished as of the date of the photo.

Gregg Junction is struggling to keep its urban look while alowing some gentrification. Some of the buildings above have been turned into lofts. The river front is still pretty poor and the spaces directly becide the traks are squalid.
The hotdog stand to the right is The Lunch Box.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In Response to W's mumblings...

Time Magazine - Friday, Jul. 14, 1967

"North Viet Nam is paying a tremendous price with nothing to show for it in return. The war is not a stalemate. We are winning, slowly but steadily." So said General William Westmoreland last week in Saigon as he briefed Robert McNamara at the outset of the Defense Secretary's ninth visit to Viet Nam. If his tone was uncharacteristically defensive, that was understandable. In recent months, it has become apparent that the war in Viet Nam is not going entirely according to the U.S. scenario for 1967. McNamara's trip will help to determine whether Westmoreland gets some or all of the additional 100,000 fighting men he now says he needs beyond the 480,000 scheduled for the end of this year. Perhaps significantly, one of McNamara's first questions was: How can more results be got with the 464,000 American soldiers now in Viet Nam?

Me: Ugh!

The End of Dictators

Shock in viewing the disturbing images of the execution of Saddam is natural. The outrage over the violent nature is also natural. However the end of Saddam is prototypical of many dictators.

Czar Nicholas: Whole family led to basement and gunned down.
Hitler: Shot himself after poisoning his wife
Mussolini: Hanged then disembowled along with his wife
Tojo: Hanged
Chowchesku: led into field and shot along with his wife

So the ending of Husain's life was about what you would expect. I am sure it came as no surprise to him.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

FYI to all right wing idiots

1: It is against the law to administer ANY form of religious test to gain access to the halls of power in the US of A.

Article VI section III of the United States Constitution says it quite clearly:

"no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

For people claim to follow the Federalists, or are "strict constructionists" this is great for you since Article VI isn't even an amendment. It was part of the law of the land that we could all agree on prior to any of the first 10 great admendments.

So if a man or woman wishes to take an oath on a Bible, or the Quran, or a Superman comic book, they can do so. But as far as the law is concerned they owe their duty to the people, in whos name they hold their office. Mr. Virgil Goode, for what I am not quite sure, is dead wrong in his assertion that a Muslim in Congress is a sign of the end. As far as I can recall President Jefferson, a Virginian, a slave owner, the author of the Declaration of Independance, did not believe that Jesus was God. I guess Jefferson, the veritable creator of American democracy, is un American or not in keeping in with some cock and bull tradition that never was.

As a Christian I am continually appauled by the shallow headed stupidity of those claiming to speak for me. Jesus Christ, GOD, is unconcerned about what piece of paper you hold in your hand or do not. He cares about how you interact with His borthers and sisters. So Virgil Goode can put his hood back on a go stand in front of a burning cross, and pretend that he serves God too, just like the empty headed idiots who thought they were serving God by burning Joan of Arc, or those that thought they were serving God by flying plains in buildings, or serving God by killing their families with shotguns before killing themselves. Yes by all means Mr. Goode, you and the rest of your Taliban please go and serve God. Just don't do it anywhere near me because flaming this or exploding that is not what I am into. Peace be with you brother, reform you life and return to God.