Running Bear's April 2020 Coffee Shop is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.

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The Alabama people will be officially locked down at 5 PM today when we "shelter-in-place" with the usual exceptions. I am waiting for MOH to awake
so we can make one more trip to the lake to make sure the pontoon boat will be secure when the water level starts rising in a couple weeks. We do not interact with anyone else.
I want to vacuum the layout and take some measurements to be able to draw a new track plan. There was a lot of wasted space with the old track plan. A little armchair modeling should be fun.


Same Ol' Buzzard
Good Morning Guys. 39° and cloudy. Got a lot cooler than the forecasters had predicted. While the wind from the north should gradually die down today, it most likely won't go above 50° until tomorrow. 80° by Tuesday, quite the roller coaster. Had to start a fire in the wood burning stove around noon yesterday; I was hoping that I was done for the season.
The self-imposed quarantine is still ongoing with the exception of the grocery store visit Thursday. My wife is getting itchy and will most likely go back to work Sunday and do some tax returns that have been languishing in her desk drawer for three weeks. Her clients won't let anyone else do them, nor is anyone else in her office qualified to do them. Management is making some accommodations for her since they need the $$$. Without her lucrative returns, their business is off almost 40%. At this point there have been NO Covid-19 cases reported for our county residents. Two persons tested positive about ten days ago at a nursing home east of Gainesville TX, both employees, but they don't live in our county so the state health department doesn't count them in our county. Unless mandated by corporate policy, most businesses (restaurants and bars excepted) have not shut down here. A few miles south in a different county they have shut down most businesses. Denton TX is a ghost town since they closed down the two colleges (UNT & TWU) and sent 40,000 students home.

Eggs over easy and sausage patties for me this morning Flo. And a toasted English Muffin to follow it down with.

Thanks for all of the likes and comments yesterday regarding the building progress pictures; Patrick, Guy Tom, Mike, Karl, Phil, James, Garry, Chet, Mikey, Sherrel, Johnny, Chad, Curt, Bob, Hughie, BBob, Joe. I'll keep them coming.

A somewhat busy day in the train shed yesterday. Did some trimming of rafters above and support legs below and I got that covered stairwell attached to the building.
04-04-20 001.JPG

I also added the diagonal bracing to the porch supports and scratchbuilt the missing back railing.
04-04-20 002.JPG

I still have some enhancing to do to the railing as well as painting the rough areas.
While all of that occupied the workbench, I made the roadway along the spur that will be used to get to the elevator. Here it is with the Bar Mills structure in place.
04-04-20 004.JPG

Today I will start on the handrail for the stairs to the porch and the loading dock to the right. I also have a few detail parts to add to the structure that went into the paint shop yesterday afternoon.
Note the unfinished scenic divider to the left. Now that I know its exact placement, I can cut the final section to fit. It was salvaged from my previous layout.
Stay tuned. Next week I will resume my quarterly layout cleaning project with the next section. Y'all seemed to like the tour in January for the first section, so I will attempt to resume where I left off. For those that are new to the Coffee Shop, I have my layout divided into eight roughly equal sections. At the beginning of each yearly quarter, I start a different section. I visually inspect all surfaces and clean and vacuum everything. I remove structures and vehicles and clean/repair/upgrade them over on the workbench before re-placing them on the layout. It's a two year cycle since the layout is too large for me to want to do the entire thing all at once. As in January. I will take pictures as I go along, both finished and unfinished areas. I had requests in the past for a layout tour and this works for me. It takes a week to ten days since I am stopping to take and post pictures along the way.

Guy - Thanks for the compliment. Regarding the garden, it is my other main hobby. Been doing it for nearly 50 years. Yes it is early, but it is actually a few days later this year than normal. The season ends in late-June due to the heat, and resumes in mid-September if I plant a fall garden. I'm usually still picking some produce in late November. All that grows here from late-June until mid-September are sweet potatoes, okra and peanuts. I can pick the okra during that time, but the other two are usually harvested in late October. Anything grown during the summer requires weekly irrigation.
I can see why no one uses that pedestrian bridge. Way too many stairs for me! :(
Greg - Those signals/turnouts sure have been keeping you busy lately. Good Luck.
Bob - Glad to read that you and your family are all right after the storm. Too bad about having to purchase another generator though.
Joe - Stay safe up there. Never thought about that ramp being for wagons. I'm going for a loading dock, just thinking about the size.
Haven't had to use that Telehealth thingie yet. As impersonal as it sounds, it might beat the heck out of sitting in a waiting room full of sick people, which I hate even with no pandemic.
Sherrel - Bricked footings was a thought, but ultimately the concrete pad was easier despite being tedious.
I have a buddy who always purchases his TP in 100 roll packs at Sam's Club. When his wife was making the list in early February, she mistook the package in their storeroom for paper towels, so they got another 100 roll pack. They now have over 200 rolls!
Ken - That sucks that you don't have the test results yet. I continue to wish you and your wife well.
Tom - I use Firefox and I don't have any issue with logging in. It may be just a browser setting. Terry will figure it out.

Everybody have a great day and an awesome weekend. It is the weekend isn't it? A misnomer at best, only Saturday is the weekend; according to the calendar, Sunday is the week beginning.


Staff member
Good morning, it's clear and 42.
A couple of weeks ago, I pulled the tractor out of the basement garage, where it shares space with my wife's car. I had filled the gas tank last time I ran it. It was still full, and started as soon as I turned the key.
I have a theory, which seems to be working so far (10 years or so). Modern gas oxidizes faster than the older stuff, because it has alcohol in it. If a container is air tight, it should limit the amount of oxidation, and how quickly the gas goes bad. The gas that was in the tractor was from last September. I fill my equipment before storage, and so far have had no issues with the gas going bad.
I use “stabil” gas conditioner for my mower and generator and it seems to work really well. As you suggest pretty sure the problem is alcohol trapping moisture and it seems to prevent that.


Section Hand
Good Morning Everyone.....still over cast.

Had a good day in the layout room yesterday when I started re-wiring the two dwf signals. I took a close look at the over-all wiring and I was not happy so I decided to install an eight position termnal strip to eliminate the three smaller strip that were in place. I was careful to undo adn replace wiring in stages so I can test and keep trak of what was what on the finished terminal. Some positions have two or three wires and I label eah section of terminal positions so I can do future maintenance if necessary. I'm close to being finished and I have maybe an half hour before I start testing the Tortoise and signals.

I been really neat in my wiring and been using wiring terminal lugs which makes wiring of the of the terminal strip a breeze. The problem is I purchased a bunch of these lugs years ago from Radio Shack and I opened my last pack of 24. Wire was getting low so I order three spoons of 22 gauge wire from HobbyInc and I received shipping confirmation in today's emails.

During the night I when over my wiring in my head and I'm not sure about two wires that should control one of the Tortoise and I'll check on that first thing. I can't test them until I wire the Tortoise.

Now I have to order a good wire cutters, terminal lugs and electrical tape and I'll be set for the duration.

On most of my 20+ Tortoise switch machines I used card edge connectors where I soldered the connections, but in this area of the layout I used devices manufactured by Accu Lite called "Snaps" where the wires for the Tortoise and lighting are positioned in screw terminals and the device fits on the Tortise. Saves a lot of time and makes wiring easy.


Bob: Sorry to hear about the storm damage.

Willie: Yes, those dwarf signal have been giving me fits, but now its a good excuse to clean up some of the wiring under the layout. While I did the signals I also worked on the Tortoise wiring. The wire I ordered will be wiring clean that I'll work on during the virus problem. I keep think about a layout I visited years ago and the main wiring was done on fascia doors that opened to exposed the wiring.

The wiring was neat, color coded and organized and I remember when the corporate office sent their Operations Auditors to do an Operations review of my departments and one of the auditors was a retired Navy Chief Engineer on a nuclear vessel. His mission was to visit our Central plant and see if everything was labeled properly and piping color coded so he could walk right in and operate the Central Plant without help, but just using the labeling and color coding. The Central Plant had 26k volt distribution transformers, three 600 hp heating boilers and three chillers from 1,300 to 750 tons capacity along with the related plumbing and HVAC equipment. We passed the review, but he had to find something that he didn't like. Plus, I had to deal with theaccounting auditors who worked us over like a IRS Audit.

Nice progress on your structure project.

Back to ordering my lugs and supplies....

Tomorrow a truck ride to a distance KFC for a treat and a chance to get outside.




Beach Bum
Joe - Stay safe up there. Never thought about that ramp being for wagons. I'm going for a loading dock, just thinking about the size.Haven't had to use that Telehealth thingie yet. As impersonal as it sounds, it might beat the heck out of sitting in a waiting room full of sick people, which I hate even with no pandemic.

Willie: The building looks great. nice work on the railings. Don't want to keep beating a dead horse over "Telehealth", it's going to be the wave of the future, especially since the insurance carriers are on board. Believe me, I don't like going to doctor's offices, simply because they are filled with sick people, and since I have retired, I have remained relatively healthy, avoiding . But...some things just require more than a teleconference call.

Terry: That's pretty good!

Ken: That must weigh heavy, waiting for your wife's test results. Hope you're both OK.

Got a good night's sleep for a change, so I'm less crabby this morning. Temperature is hovering around 50 and it's still foggy, with drizzle. I was going to try some yard work, but that might have to wait until tomorrow. I guess I'll spend some time in the train room today. As I go about re-wiring this layout, I'm going to wire it for either DC or DCC, using a DP-DT toggle switch. That will allow me to utilize DC only equipment when I tire of DCC.
It helps that I have some blocks where I can store DC engines, without interfering with operations. One other thing, I received notification that my new Booster shipped, and I should have it Monday. As I write this, it occurred to me that this will require a second DP-DT switch for the second power district. That way I don't have a sudden, unexpected light show.

Cumberland MD Summer 1970 #7 and #11.jpg

Cumberland, MD Summer 1970. Combined #s 7 & 11 out of DC are split to continue their journeys Westward. Both trains using ex C&O Power in the lead.


Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
Good Morning (here anyway) ... I have been reading posts on a couple different forums for two hours -- no wonder I hardly get anything done these days?
FLO - good mid morning to you as well. Please tell MEL to prepare a "clean the kitchen" omelet for me. I am really hungry this morning - I just realized that I had made myself a pot of beans yesterday with garlic, a piece of ham, some bacon, and a mixture of jalapenos and other spices. With some garlic toast, that was my dinner last evening - suh weet!

A friend put this on Frisco. org - thought I would share with you this morning?

When One Needs More Than a Blue Flag, an Old Tire Will Do


Section Hand
Boris: I have mandatory monthly visits to a local medical facility and blood tests every six weeks. I'll avoid the blood testing and take my chances, but the Mrs. has masks for me for the monthly visits. None of these trips are something I look forward to doing to making since one of my MD's told me no travel or outside contact with people for three months....two months to go, I hope!

I'm limited to trips in our vehicles.


Texas Hobo

Well Known Hobo
Good morning all. A rather cool morning here in H-Town, 58 degrees. Think a bowl of oatmeal would be nice Flo. With the stay at home order I have been able to catch up on some of those projects that have no real priority, but just need to be done sometime. I did manage a hour running a few trains yesterday. Thanks to all for the likes.
Well I'm off to see what kind of trouble I can get into. Check back with you guys later. Stay safe and a part!


Well-Known Member
52 and a light drizzle.Temps are due to fall back into the 40s for the next couple of weeks. The one think I hate about warmer weather is the annual ant invasion. We mainly have little tiny ones that can swarm in their hundreds, that are mainly in the kitchen and bathroom, and my easy chair. The chair is only a couple of weeks old, so I don't know what draws them. We've got some stuff that kills them on contact, but it has no residual effect. Probably gonna have to break down and call an exterminator as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.


Burlington Bob

Well-Known Member
Good morning America! It's 68 with a predicted high of 74. It's nice and sunny, so I'll take advantage of it and mow the yard. Got a few projects to get done around the house, seems like we always find something to tweak. Maybe I'll get around to digging out some train related stuff and find a project to work on.

Just completed our grocery list to pick up at Walmart, it's sad to think that a trip to pick up groceries that we selected on line is the highlight of the week. We are taking the isolation thing very seriously. My wife and I are in pretty good shape for our age (65 & 64), but we definitely believe in puttin the odds in our favor. From what little we have been able to tell, the order to stay home is being taken half seriously around here. Cultural habits are hard to change.

My wife just finished getting dinner ready. Roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy and creamed corn! Flo, I know you try really hard and you and the girls do a good job, but after this darn virus thing gets over and done with, my wife will teach you ladies how to REALLY cook! She makes "lick the plate clean" meals on a regular basis, but where I would normally go for seconds, I've been limiting myself to a single serving and then we have leftovers for another meal or two. One of the good things that have come of it is I'm down to 156 pounds now. I hope to level out at about 150.




Living in Dreamland; not the Dream
Good Morning; with another 15mins to go before lunch. Feeling real lazy and I'm still laying around in the pj's. I really do like Saturday mornings.

Sherrel - Yes, indeed! The 'Bridge to Nowhere' is very real! I've been on it, though it's not on any map. It crosses the mighty Athabasca to the north; is paved on the friendly side, and leads in a NE direction to mud and gravel on the other side. Signage identifies it as the 'Bridge to Nowhere', and they ain't kidding.
Once on top of the bank, one can see that evil mist that identifies the poison tailing pits created by bitumen refineries; a place where there is no life apparent. I have been there. - I suspect that bridge was built with future development in mind, but it really does lead to nowhere land.
God help us if Greta ever gets to the other side of that bridge - but that's as far as I'm going in this discussion.

The front end of that brightly colored loco sure is purdy!!!

Willie - I think you have solved those building issues in fine fashion. You're blue building looks wonderful.

Boris - You really do find some wonderful photos. I'm thinking most of them probably come off the old 35mm Kodachrome slides.

Toot - There must be more than one species of Marmot, the ones we have don't scream like that.

Hughie - A truly great layout photo. Nice looking stream. It's actually easy for me to imagine that if a fella was in this hobby long enough, he might come to believe his older layouts are old news, and build others.

Bob - I hope Flo didn't beat you up so bad you can't come in tomorrow. This is a bad time to visiting aid stations.

Well, I've been typing for too long. Need to get moving. Hope I start on the flatcar kits today, as I'm always angry with myself if I don't do something. Laying around in pajama's is for girls who watch soaps and chew on bon-bons.

Here's the train related photo of the day; because I really like leaving a photo behind:

Note that this car is wearing camouflage for our area.

All have a great day


Well-Known Member
Taking a break from paint and decaling. Got 4 more painted to get decaled,6 are done waiting dull coat and 4 waiting paint. All detail is touched up and added. The bearing caps are painted blue, coupler rusted and uncoupler lever is painted orange. The blue will get dulled down in the weathering stage.
Pics for those that like pics.


Well-Known Member
The following is in Swiss German, and I don't understand all of it (though repeated listening helps). However, it is a comedy sketch set on a train in Switzerland. It is entitled "Der Feierabendbier Kontrolleur" which is roughly "End of working day Beer Controller". You can see what it is about by watching it, and get most of what is happening just by the circumstances.

Instead of the conductor checking the tickets, he is checking that each person has their beer for the trip. (The lady with the wine is sent to 1st class).

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