Take a quick look through some of the pages in our latest issue and then download and read the issue. It's the creation of train fans from around the world (not a commercial magazine). We love trains and train related subject matter and contributed to producing this great content!
After much waiting it's here. Sit back relax and take a virtual train journey through our interactive pages. Read that Railway Girl's Journey across Vietnam, find out who designed the Pennsylvania Rail Road's iconic GG1 locomotives and the coca-cola bottle! Take a tour of two great railroad museums separated by thousands of miles - Japan's Kyoto museum & Canada's Exporail. Find out about the preserved railway scene in Australia and even read a poem from another Aussie "What if Trains could think?" Now there's a thought to ponder on. Read straight away, it doesn't cost a thing and you can download the interactive version as a PDF to your phone, tablet or computer (and the video links still work). Go on! Click on the issue's cover to start reading
We have pulled together three cover options for the autumn issue of the magazine. Let us know which one you prefer by adding a comment to this post. One comment only please per person. On Thursday the 5th October at midnight British Summer Time we will close the voting. You can also vote on our instagram page, where the three covers are also displayed.
Us model train fans can't get enough of Mr Ken Patterson. Ken has been a model railraoder, photographer, videographer, writer and now vlogger for many, many years. His model skills and knowledge are second to none. So it was great that he's and his train mates have created a weekly vlog. Every Saturday night the guys meet at Ken's house in St Louis to record a 20-30-minute chat-type show about what's going on in their worlds of model railroading. The show usually is live on a Monday. The visitors to What Neat this Week are in their thousands and increasing and the show has some sponsors and a crowd funding scheme has been set-up. Do check-out the show.
Description Episode 3 - A new companion piece to the Model Railroad Hobbyist monthly segment "What's Neat". Introducing a new format for "What's Neat This Week" taking a weekly video podcast discussion. July 22, 2017 Ken Patterson, and Chris Palomarez discuss the next Monthly "What's Neat" show and recall a few interviews that lead to a discussion of the challenges of being a teenage modeler.
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Issue 3 of Off the Tracks will have a feature on mid-19th century electric traction. We've articles on the developments in Italy and the USA, and its GG1 class. Here's a snippet on the Italian
These machines were a product of the technology of the nineteen thirties. These machines were was large, heavy, very powerful and fast. Initially they could reach speeds of 150kp/h. The E.428s were only the third DC locomotives designed in Italy, and as such retained the legacy of the technologies and some of the solutions typical of three-phase locomotives. In all the class was built in four series, and the E428s soon became the most modern symbol of Italian railways. They were emblematic of speed and progress in an era of change from steam locomotives to the speeding electric train.
Words Francesco Bocchicchio and Andrea Sossio.
We set up a gofund me account to help with the on-going costs of keeping Off the Tracks running, if you'd like to make a donation, please do so! Here
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It's taking a little longer that imagined but issue 3 of the instagram sourced, social media train magazine will be with you soon. It's a hobby project for a couple of guys and editor John, so it's a case of having to fit it in around normal work and life commitments. This issue will again stretch to 100 pages plus and there are articles on Australian steam preservation, modelling German railways and even a poem. That Railway Girl also writes on riding the reunification line in - a 1,072-mile journey that at times proved more than a test!
There's even a poem in the issue and a great story about how trains and train travel can bring parents and their children closer together. Jack's Train Guide is just that a journey through the US (west Coast) taking in heritage lines and museums. We're excited and we know what's in the issue. And it's interactive with video links to stories. Check out some of the spreads below and do like us on facebook and instagram. Search Off the Tracks Magazine!
We recently visited the Nene Valley Railway in Peterborough, England. The line provides great entertainment for enthusiasts and people looking to have a great day out.
You can find out more by watching our video and just what 007 was doing on the line!
Woodland Scenics Just Plug Lighting System
Adding light to your model railroad adds a new dimension to the operating experience and the fun of watching trains run, but how easy is it? John Shepherd finds out that it can actually be quite simple (ish) as he gets to grips with Woodland Scenics Just Plug® Lighting System.
I’d wanted to add lights to my nineteen-fifties Southern Pacific Western Division-based model railroad but had thought it far too complicated for a relative beginner to the hobby. All that wiring, switches, LEDs, and just how do you fit lights to poles and inside building? After much scratching of head and Youtube watching I came across Woodland Scenics Just Plug Lighting System.
You may recall that I wrote an article previously on why I ventured into modelling American railroads in a past edition and that my efforts were far from permanent. At the time they actually took up a space on the floor! Didn’t really want to try to add lights to that set-up... In hindsight the pike’s residence was a little paradoxical as in the loft was my late Uncle’s OO layout. Now this was nearly finished and ran around the perimeter of the large space (the property being a bungalow). However, it hadn’t run for nearly a decade, although I did manage to get a line working to remember him by…
Just before Christmas I decided that as a train lover and fellow modeller Uncle wouldn’t (probably) mind a little Americanisation of his creation… And so I began gradually removing what had been built and then converting the train tables so that they could stage the SP.
I used foam insulating boards and cut them to fit on top of the tables and this made adding the lights a lot easier (the joins in the boards could be conduits and could be sceneicked over, for example). A trip to Sheffield saw me pop into Rails and I purchased a kind of get-illumination-starter-kit – this included a Woodland Scenics’ Power plug (this can power up to 50 lights), Lights & Hub Set (this has four light ports and comes with two warm LED stick on lights. You can purchase additional Hubs as separate items, for reasons that will be explained); Auxiliary Switch to switch the lights on and off (which you don’t actually need initially as I found out with just the one hub – this plugs into the control port on the Hub); and a pack of Wooden Pole Street Lamps (3-pack), which seemed to look like they would work as yard lights.
It is actually relatively easy to set the lights up. Using just one port on the hub – of which there are four - you can connect three streetlights, for example. Each light comes with red and black wires (positive and negative, I guess) and you simply wrap the respective colours together at their ends - where the wires are stripped for you already - to form one chord (one black, one red) for the three lights that you plug into the supplied Linker Plug and then into one of the Hub’s individual port’s push-fit sockets. You can control the brightness of the lights by turning a small dial next to each port – the dimmer switch. (Do this before burying the Hub under your boards er… someone learnt the hard way). The stick on lights are even simpler in that you attach the attached linker-socket straight into another free port on the Hub and you’re ready to go – well, that’s after you’ve run the cables to where you want them on your layout. I decided on one in the roundhouse (a Banta Modelworks laserkit of the Port Costa prototype and the other in a Walthers Sandhouse, which I was using as an outbuilding in the yard (being a novice I didn’t realise that the light could bleed through small gaps, but mote disconcertingly filter through the plastic shell of the building – I now, know a bit about what to do to stop this happening).
What was not so easy for me was the ability – should you wish – to extend the height of the street lamp poles. This, I guess, is something that you would do if you wanted to model a street with taller builders which would require taller lights or a bigger yard. You are supposed to be able to thread the wires from the main lamp (with bulb) thought the extension pole. This I could not manage. Now there must be a way to do this, but I just kept catching the wires inside the poles, so that they would not peep out the end. In hindsight this did not matter (really) as the lower level poles seem to look okay on the layout. (Although I had examined pictures of SP yards from John Signor books and they did look taller in reality). Note the length of cable is, for example, two feet for the warm LEDs, so you can reach quite a way into your layout. (Again I’d suggest that someone who knew what they were doing could easily splice additional cable onto this if required – it’s 30AWG Gauge wire – whatever that means!).
The Switch operates on a rocker basis and enables you to switch on the lights independently to the power supply. This fits into a specific port which requires you to remove a plug to make the port live. With one Hub, you can get a way with using the main’s plug to control your lighting – as I noted previously for a small scale lighting set-up you don’t necessarily need it. However, the Just Plug system enables multiple Hubs to be joined together by use of an Extension Hub. This can connect up to four Hubs, thus offering 16 possible lighting options (and apparently maxes out, again as mentioned, at a possible 50 lights potential from the one electrical supply). The Switch/Switches (of up to three more) can then control zones or even individual building’s lighting, for each Hub, should you desire.
Well after a little frustration…
When I switched on the lights I got a great sense of “well, that looks quite good” and I must get some more of the wooden light poles. (Okay, I’ll be honest I did break one trying to thread those darn wires through. I must have caught the LED – they are therefore delicate.)
As you can see from the shots the lights do add that other dimension and add a little railroad magic. I hope that my novice-status commentary on the Just Plug Lighting System will help others in a similar position answer the Let there be light conundrum, and may show more experienced modellers that there is a kit-based way to add illumination to your models. Woodland Scenics also offers vehicles that can be connected to the system – so working head and tail lamps I believe, and that sounds like something fun to add…
Note: these are my experiences of using the Just Plug Lighting System, I hope I have explained it well enough, but there are numerous detailed videos available (as there are additional related products) see, woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics.com
Instagram's That Railway Girl will be writing an article for the next issue of Off the Tracks. Here she shares one of her other rail escapades, a slow train to China, well in China really, but you get the idea!
I want to start this post with a disclaimer: By the time I took my first train ride in China, I had already been travelling for a couple of months, had been lost, conned, exhausted and hungry more times than I had anticipated… basically what I want to say is that my nerves had worn pretty thin. Okay, I’ll put it more bluntly, I was a bit of a wreck...
Right, now you’ve got a bit of context, I’ll begin…
Beijing is crazy. Stepping off the Trans Siberian, we soon realised that we had made the mistake of arriving during Golden Week Celebrations. So it was extra busy, crowded, noisy and utterly chaotic. For some ridiculous reason (despite having lived in Hong Kong in my early childhood) I had expected China to be peaceful, tranquil and serene… I literally have no idea why I had that expectation. Needless to say I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was an assault on the senses – at times in a good way, more often than not in a bad way. Visceral is a word I like to use when describing it.
To read more CLICK HERE and to find out more about That Railway Girl CLICK HERE
At one time considered to be the most expensive to operate in the world, the Northwestern Pacific Railroad traversed the seismically active unstable slopes of the wild and scenic Eel River on its route paralleling the San Andreas fault to the heart of redwood country in far northwestern California.
The NWP opened in 1914 when the Southern Pacific Railroad and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway combined 42 railroads upon realising there would be only one route through the Eel River canyon. SP took full ownership in 1929 and moved freight and passengers along the 271-mile line. But steep slopes constantly eroded trackbase and slid debris onto the tracks. Maintenance and operating costs skyrocketed. At times men would have to walk the track in front of the locomotives to insure it was safe to pass.
By 1969 passenger service ended. Before the end of the century nature prevailed and landslides doomed the friable northern 200 miles of the line, leaving abandoned equipment and failing infrastructure, some 20 years after its demise.
Today these ageing relics are trapped, unwanted, and succumbing to entropy, yet exuding character as they mark the passage of time.
Words & pics Doug Wallance aka instagrammer la-vida_rhombi
Do check out his page to see some great street art around his native area - San Francisco/California area.