"Scale Tinplate" Christmas

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Guy64

Member
The first spot we hit for pixelation was the traditional "across from the station" location. We've taken many a loco portrait here, and new equipment is always noticed.

Like this American Models Fairbanks-Morse Trainmaster...
 

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CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
Well now! that's a spiffy looking roadster behind Bertie, although looks a bit airy with all the snow around :D

Willis
 

Guy64

Member
Well now! that's a spiffy looking roadster behind Bertie, although looks a bit airy with all the snow around :D

Willis
Yeah, that '33 Ford belongs to Parnelli the Snowman. He is the only one hearty enough to drive top down in this weather. With the crowd of tuners in town, some of the locals wanted to make their "old skool" preferences known. A traditional hotrod or muscle car would sneak onto the scene, appearing amongst the "ricers" now and then.

He'll be in another pic or two, later.
 
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Guy64

Member
Oh, yeah, about that bear...

That's Milhouse, the Christmas Polar Bear. He's not on the street, he's standing on what used to be my general-purpose utility flatcar. It has been seen in other shots carrying trucks, rocket ships, etc. Milhouse has made it his permanent home, with the help of my wife. He's literally glued to the thing.

What happened was, last year I got a call from a friend (I'll call him "John") needing some help with some S gauge stuff. He was working with the Train Collector's Association, putting together a large multi-guage holiday display at the Nixon Library. He'd never worked with S gauge much, and was having trouble getting the S gauge loop to work. When he told me they were running a brand-new set from S Helper Service, I knew something unusual was going on because you just don't normally have trouble with SHS product. It's very reliable. Anyway, John was panicked because the display was due to open the next night, and he couldn't get the loco to work smoothly. Also, the caboose kept derailing.

When I got there, after fixing the problems (which weren't the fault of the equipment), I noticed the SHS consist had no flatcar. I thought that was a little boring. I'd brought my GPU flat with me to wipe the track. It has a track wiper fitted into the center sill (see pic below) and I wanted to experiment with it on the display. The car is diecast metal, so it's plenty heavy enough to run empty, which I did. It was added to the consist right behind the loco. John invited us to the big "premier" of the display the next night, and I was going to pick the car up the next day after the display closed for the day. The Grand Opening was extremely crowded, though, and I couldn't get to the S loop, which was about 8 feet off the ground. So, I decided to just let my flatcar run with the train for the duration of the display; a seven week, 5-days-a-week marathon. 350 hours of running time. I figured it would be a great endurance test for the Ace trucks on the car. It would also be interesting to see how well the wiper worked over a long run. I pointed the car out to John, letting him know it belonged to me, and informed him of my plan. "Ok. We'll take good care of it!" he said.

A couple weeks later, I saw John and asked if he'd had any more S troubles. "No! That S stuff works great!" I asked about the track wiper under the flatcar, was it keeping the track clean? "Oh yeah! I never have to clean the S gauge line at all! How does it stay clean like that?" I reminded him about the wiper. "Well, it sure WORKS!" With all those 3-rail lines to keep clean (0 and Standard gauges) John was very glad to have one fewer line of track to clean at the end of every week.

Then, just to "make things perfectly clear", I reminded John that the flatcar wasn't part of the SHS set, it was my personal addition to the display. He looked a little worried. "Uh-oh. You're gonna hate me!" Now, why would I hate you, John? "Well, I thought the empty flat was kinda boring, so I glued a Christmas ornament to it. A polar bear." Is the polar bear 1/64th scale, John? "Uh, I dunno, probably not. But the glue is water based!" Oh well, I told him not to worry about it, I'd just pop the bear off the car and do whatever touch-up was needed. No biggie.

Except that, when I got the car back after Christmas, my wife, having a more acute sense of occasion than I, insisted the bear stay on the car. "It's a keepsake! Our special 2006 car!" Hafta admit, she's right.

Now I gotta make a new GPU flat, since Milhouse has hijacked the old one. Who's gonna argue with a bear that big?

Since then, I've been told that said polar bear is in fact a trademark for some company. I don't know what company, but apparently they got people's attention by displaying huge fiberglass sculptures of this polar bear--scarf and all--at various locations. The sculptures were bigger than life-size, so who knows? Milhouse may just be 1/64 scale. In any case, a fiberglass sculpture of a company logo makes a lot more sense as a load than a live polar bear does.

So, I'm happy.
 

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Guy64

Member
One of Diana's new kicks in this hobby is "funky stuff". No, not disco. Home-brewed model railroading tips and tricks, of the type seen during the Golden Age of toy trains, the early post-WWII era. She came upon a very old issue of Model Railroader, a Christmas issue as it happens. Inside were some "nifty" ideas for taking plain old train cars and decorating them for a Christmas train. What appealed to Diana was how cheap and easy the suggestions were, such as this idea: Stuffing a gondola car with excelsior packing material to carefully handle as many Christmas tree bulbs as would fit. Di upgraded the plan by using red decorative excelsior...
 

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Guy64

Member
While carrying out some necessary switching to unload the AF 919 dump car (gotta keep the M&Ms tray full), the train blocked a couple crossings. We had time to don our snowshoes, shuffle to the crossing at Smitty Avenue, and shoot some fresh angles. We were delighted to catch some newer celebrities, who seem to enjoy traveling in the cold...
 

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Guy64

Member
Some visitors are not as well known as the established celebs. We caught Bumbles' little cousin Grumbles hobo-ing behind a shipment of Nerds. He didn't seem to get the irony. Probably distracted by the tipple load of M&Ms in the car following...
 

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Those are neat little four wheelers Chuck. Who made them and where did you find them? Sure nice to see you adding to the Christmas thread.

Greg
 

Guy64

Member
Thanx for the kind words, folks.

Those 4-wheel cars are made by LGB as part of their "Gnomy" line. They seem to be down-sized versions of some of LGB's simplest G gauge equipment. These cars come with bright yellow wheelsets suited to trackless running, though LGB does make a system of track for the line. From what I understand, they aren't too popular lately, perhaps because the all-plastic wheelsets don't roll very well, and the locomotives are friction powered. Friction powering works ok for individual toy cars, but it's awkward and cumbersome for trains. Once you get the loco revved up, most of the power is gone by the time you get a few cars coupled to it. Not a good system.

Anyway, the dimensions LGB used for their guage, width, and height make the rollingstock easily adaptable to S gauge use. I just removed the LGB wheelsets and replaced them with Ace hi-rail wheelsets. A few additional tweaks were needed, but that's essentially what was done.

This caboose came from the same LGB line. It now holds the title for "Smallest Caboose on the C+D"...
 

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Guy64

Member
Some people in the town of Tinplate were apprehensive about opening up the place to a Tuner convention, but things worked out well. Street racing was non-existent, and the extra police brought in for the occasion left town well-rested. Some of them may have been a little bored--if not disappointed--by the lack of "action".

There was only one thing to do! Get some donuts!

Traffic at Di's Donuts was heavy!
 

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Guy64

Member
Even without widespread street racing, there was one incident...

Maybe it was the deceptively well-cleared roads that fooled these two, who decided to indulge in a bit of drifting. Apparently, they never drove on icy roads before. They found they could get their cars going sideways much more easily than expected. Straightening out was a different matter.

We got this shot just before both cars "drifted" right into a snowdrift...
 

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Guy64

Member
The "metal house" (as we call it) appeared early in the history of Tinplate Corners, but it was 2006 before the structure was fitted with a proper foundation. Being sheet steel--a Skyline building--it was made for a quick "plop down"; no muss, no fuss.

But seeing light leak out from under its walls always bothered the modeler in me, so I fashioned a foundation from hardboard which forms a dedicated socket for the house to fit into. Steps were added against the various doors, making them look a bit smaller, less out of scale. And, the foundation allowed the use of some internally lit "candlesticks", which reminded us of those big blow-molded plastic yard decorations you see during the holidays. The place looks a smidge cozier now.
 

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Guy64

Member
Whenever there's a line of traffic, Parnelli likes to be at the lead.

Especially if there's a line backed up at a crossing. Makes it much easier to see the trains...
 

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Guy64

Member
Disappointed at finding no Ferraris in the Tuner festival, Luigi's trip was nevertheless not wasted. He appreciates horsepower.

Especially big, heavy, mountains of horsepower, like an FM Trainmaster...
 

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Guy64

Member
Another local who is easy to annoy is Humbug, the crab. Humbug lives under the Tinplate Pond bridge, so he's accustomed to the rumbling of trains. But the buzzing of all those tuners has driven him into the open.

"Alright, who's making all the racket?!?"
 

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